Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Crowdsourcing and the Art of Flying with Kids...

'Crowdsourcing' is the idea of posing a question to a large group and allowing that group to offer up ideas for a solution.

Prior to our 12 hour flight to Israel, I crowdsourced (by email) the question of: how to cope with 3 kids ages 5 and under without going crazy.

The responses were very similar:

  • activities, activities, activities
  • snacks, snacks, snacks
  • portable DVD player
  • Benadryl to "knock them out"

And my favorite two were:

"I don't buy junk food for my kids, unless we are flying. It's a special treat for them."


"NEVER give your kids sugar on a plane. It's a quick high followed by disaster."

OK, so maybe crowdsourcing doesn't always work.

Obviously, the situation with Hamas and Gaza is quite serious and involves matters of life and death, so I certainly do not mean to minimize the gravity of that situation, but when a number of people asked me about my concerns for physical safety, I responded:

Honestly, I am more concerned with surviving the 12 hour trip than I am with Hamas

My only advice to add to this is: Manage your own expectations.

In "The Art of Happiness" by the Dalai Lama, he suggests that you imagine as many possible scenarios for a given event, so that if one does come to pass, you are mentally ready.

I was ready for total meltdown and Armageddon, but it was overkill. Combining that with the solid advice from the FOJ community, the team performed brilliantly.

Of course, the flight home still hasn't occurred.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Strong Father Bonus Points...

Longtime readers know that I was profoundly moved by the book, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters.

(Warning: next section is not for faint of heart).

Well, I took Tonka to her 5 year old checkup because the NFO doesn't like to be there when the kids get shots.  Understandable.

Part of it was the necessity to get a urine sample.

Tonka had never done this before, so I had to assist.

And let's just say it wasn't a totally clean operation.

A few years ago, I wouldn't have even been able to imagine participating in this activity.

Now, I am proud that I did.

I still can't get over how much having kids changes your worldview.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Feeling Kind of Sunday...

Kids Dining and Watching Football_2

Image by jer979 via Flickr

The end of the regular season of football is always a bit melancholy for me.

And now, that Paco and Tonka have become big fans as well, it is even more so.

Growing up, football sundays with my brothers and grandfather was a special time, a very special time.

So, it's nice that the tradition is continuing, but at the same time, I'm sad that we're pretty much done for this year.

The kids have made a lot of progress.

They can do simple math now.

They recognize the abbreviations on the screen and can guess which cities they represent.

They know the basic rules of the game.

For those of you who watch, you've seen the State Farm commercials, "Feeling Kind of Sunday," which the two of them can (and do) sing quite often.

It's clear that they cherish those times with me. And I feel the same way.

Just nice to know that we are making memories in a meaningful way.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wave 6 Stats on the Invite Strategy...

KMS Feb Group Bday party (19)

Image by jer979 via Flickr

For those of you fond of tracking the progress of our Sabbath Invite strategy performance, I'll share the results from the recently completed Wave 6.

  • Start Date: June 7
  • End Date: Dec. 20
  • Number of Families Hosted: 25
  • Number of People Hosted: 115

Here are the stats from Wave 4. Wave 5 was abbreviated due to NFO bedrest.


Wave 7 Kickoff is TBD.


Pic is of one of the couples who participated in this wave...and loyal blog reader.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Hitting for the Parental Cycle...

Eric Davis hit for the cycle in 1989.

Image via Wikipedia

I was originally going to call this the "overnight hat trick," but realized it doesn't apply if you have more than 3 kids.

Of course, on 2nd thought, "hitting for the cycle" implies four, so there's a more encompassing analogy, but I should really get to the point, no?

The idea is this:

If you have a night where you are woken up a different time for each of your children (in my case, 3), then you have a 'hat trick' or have "hit for the cycle."

There are nights where I get up and two kids are up at the same time, but the worst is where one gets up, you settle her, go back to bed, and the process repeats..and repeats.

It's the exhaustion that gets you more than anything.




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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Holiday Season Buffet Guidelines...

A Chinese buffet restaurant in the U.S.

Image via Wikipedia

You know how when you get to an event and there's a buffet set up, all pristine and everyone is mulling around, yet no one is brave enough to be the first to break the buffet barrier?

Well, my experience says, that there's a huge value in being first.

Not just because you get first pickings, but because the other guests are waiting for YOU to be the first. They want the buffet line to open, but don't have the courage to do it themselves.

What's more, have you ever had a conversation at the end of a party where someone said, "I can't believe Joe was the first guy at the buffet line?"

No, of course not.

So, this holiday season, do yourself and your friends/co-workers a favor.

Break the buffet barrier and enjoy yourself!

They will thank you later.

To my friends who celebrate Christmas, have a Merry one.


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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Taking one for the team...

When I read Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, the book made a point of how critical it was for fathers to make special time with their daughters.

To create memories for them.

To help them understand that women are to be valued.

I've taken that to heart.

A few weeks ago, I gave a presentation and one of the attendees was the Director of Marketing for the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders.

Afterwards, she invited me (and Tonka) to attend a special VIP practice session at FedEx Field in Landover, MD.

Now, there are plenty of things I'd rather be doing than stand in a dance studio for 90 minutes watching 40 scantily-clad, extremely fit women perform dance moves, but since I know that my 5 year old daughter really likes cheerleaders, I figured I would take a deep breath and just do what my paternal responsibility required.

It was difficult, I took a bunch of pictures and videos to prove it. Here's one of them.

This parenting thing is tough work ;-)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Thank You Note By Email...

So, we received a thank you note by email the other day.

I'll admit did feel a bit impersonal.

And I'm not sure I liked it.

Of course, I took a step back and said..."new mother with a lot to do."


I'd rather not even receive one at all. I'd be happier that way.

For people new to the blog, there's a LOT of history on this topic ;-)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Hiding and Seeking

Nazi-Era Płaszów Labor Camp

Image by P.J.S. via Flickr

A tremendously powerful movie, Hiding and Seeking is about an Orthodox man in Brooklyn who is determined to go to Poland to find the places (and the people) who made it possible for his father-in-law to survive WWII.

In doing so, he hopes to demonstrate to his 2 sons, who are committed to the Israeli yeshiva world that there are non-Jews who are good people. His concern about rising Jewish extremism that says that all non-Jews are evil is creating a closed-mindedness that is unacceptable is one of the driving forces.

The film is about 90 minutes in a documentary format and I found myself getting choked up at times, particularly when the family finds the location of the barn where one layer of hay was all that separated their father/grandfather from certain Nazi death.

The implication of that moment and place was palpable.

A very different, highly personal take on the Holocaust, it's worth the time.


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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Blogging Illusion...

If you knew that I didn't write this post today, how would you feel?

Truth is, there are often days when I don't have a moment to blog, so I compensate by overblogging on some days and just scheduling them to release on a future date.

Since most of my posts aren't really time-sensitive and while I may have the thought to blog about it, I don't think you want to read all of them at once.

Plus, I like having one post per day show up. Feels like a nice rhythm, you know?

But, I've heard from at least one vociferous individual that this fact "destroys the illusion" that I've had that thought on that actual day.

So, now that I've come clean, what do you think?

Shout out to SW-thanks for letting me write this on your computer.
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Friday, December 19, 2008

Two Kinds of Tired...

There's bad tired and there's good tired.

The other night I was up until 2.30am.

Got up at 6.30am.

But felt fine.

I'd had a "power" evening of productivity (that makes me feel good) and I was fired up about the upcoming day's events.

Good tired.

Now, there's the non-stop of life's demands, when you're sick, and it's cold, and you have to do the less pleasant taxes.

And you're up late cleaning the house/apartment.

And you wake up in the middle of night and can't sleep.

And don't know why.

Bad Tired.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stress Relievers...

Just wondering what your stress reliever of choice is when things get challenging.

I hate to say it, but I'm a comfort food guy.

What I should do: sit in the sauna more often.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A dash of perspective...

Not sure who this guy is, but he sure is funny. Some good perspective on technology and modern America.

HT: Michael Eisenberg

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Memoirs of a Geisha

Satellite image of Japan in May 2003. :The isl...

Image via Wikipedia

With two years of life in Japan under my belt, I particularly appreciated the deep investigation and story of the culture in Memoirs of a Geisha.  Having read the book about 10 years ago (and I remember liking it, but had forgotten the bulk of the story), it was fun to go back and see the movie.

Also, since it has been a while since I left the Land of the Rising Sun, it brought back a lot of memories.

The deep appreciation for nature. For minimalism. For making the simple into the sublime.

The Japanese really do some things just so spectacularly that it's just special to behold.

The film does a good job of capturing that.

And the cinematography of the natural beauty, in particular, was magnificent.

It's about 2.5 hours long, but the story is compelling and it doesn't feel dragged out.


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Monday, December 15, 2008

In December's Oprah Magazine...


Congratulations to two of my clients, Dan Pink and Yes To Carrots! for some nice publicity and validation in the December issue of Oprah's magazine.

Update (just to clarify):I didn't get the Oprah placement. Just celebrating the fact that my clients are there.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

More reasons to be anti-Gift Cards

My opposition to gift cards is well documented.

I say, just give cash and be done with it.

But now, there is a practical reason.

A new company Gift Card Rescue offers you bankruptcy protection should the company that sold you the gift card go out of business.

Another risk you don't face with cash.

And don't tell me, "oh Barnes and Noble won't go out of business."

Yeah, that's what people said 40 years ago about GM and Ford...and they may as well be.

Friday, December 12, 2008

New nickname for Paco...

Football fans will get this.

When my 3 year old boy runs around naked (pre-bath), his new nickname is:

T.J. Tushmandzadeh

For the rest of you, a chance to learn something new.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Real Football Weather...

Driving in the pouring rain the other day and with cold winds blowing, Paco says suddenly from the backseat:

"this is REAL football weather!"

I think my job here is done!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Happy Birthday Tonka...

She made me a father.

Has shaped what Father's Day means to me.

and I've used (some of) the great advice I was fortunate enough to receive from all of you.

So, 5 years down the road, join me in marking the day.

And if you are interested in a trip down memory lane, here's the write-up of Day 1.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Good News or Bad News?

When someone comes up to you and says, "I have good news and bad news," which do you say you want to hear first?

I always select the bad news.

I've found that the bad isn't usually as bad as the person thinks it will be.

Plus, I find it easier to absorb the blow of bad news from a neutral state.

And the good at least returns me to even (if not better), but on a positive trajectory.

End on an upbeat note.

Deferred gratification, I guess.


Monday, December 08, 2008

Is America Really Worth It?

After reading about the events at Walmart in NY where a man was killed by a Black Friday mob looking for a deal (and seeing this video), my initial reaction was:

If this is the state of American culture, why bother preserving it?

I know (hope) that was knee-jerk, but man...what does this say about our overly materialistic society.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

3rd Child QT

I think it is fair to say that Gianni (nickname for child #3) doesn't get as much attention as Tonka (#1's nickname) or Paco (#2's nickname) at a comparable age.

It's not fair, but the words of every parent are "Life's not fair."

While the NFO works on Sunday and I have focused time with all three kids, it's rare that I have focused time just with Gianni.

So, when the Nanny called to say she was sick and the NFO had to go to work, I had the opportunity to take Gianni on some errands (CVS and the bank) and play one on one with her.

She's almost 10 months old and really beginning to develop into her own little person.

It's tougher with later kids to appreciate all of the milestones (because you are so busy with all of the other kids), but it was fun to have a "strong fathers, strong daughters" moment with her...if only for a few before she crashed for her nap.

Of course, there are trade-offs and seeing how the siblings play and interact with each other is but one of the many ones.

And, as my friend said, "don't feel too bad, you did give her LIFE."

True. True.

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Parent-Teacher Conference...

The NFO (my wife) went to Paco's (my son's) parent-teacher conference the other day.

The news was both comforting and funny.

Comforting because he is pretty much 100% the same at school as he is at home.

Funny because the teachers used their own words and basically were

Or, at least how I perceive myself.

They talked about his energy, how he gets along with people, how he likes to learn...and, uh, sometimes he could do a better job of listening.

Jeremy 2.0 is in full on development and testing

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Peter Schiff Was Right 2006 - 2007

I'd never heard of this guy until today, but wow....

Next time, maybe I'll listen to the contrarians a little more.

Movie Reaction: Akeelah and the Bee

A captivating story  about a young African-American girl from south Central LA who confronts a lot of internal and community challenges to win the national Spelling Bee.

The movie, which was financed by Starbucks (yes, Starbucks), was a solid feel-good story and had some good actors (Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett) and a solid plot line.

I'll admit it...I got a bit emotional at the end, which I guess is a sign of connection with the movie's heroine.

It had the usual elements of heroine, personal adversary, feel-good ending, but a nice twist on it.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Let Me Google That For You...


Search Google (trust me, worth the click)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Helpless Parental Feeling...

There are probably worse moments in parenting, but for me, few outweigh that of holding a vomiting infant.
Sure, the visual isn't great, but it's the one that gets to me.
They can't tell you what is wrong. They are scared. There's really not much you can do and the danger of something bad happening, say suffocation, seems pretty high, since they can't rollover.

The other night, Gianni was in that predicament and I found myself first up with her for 3 hours at 3am and then, sleeping on the floor in her room (as did the NFO, we took turns), just trying to make sure nothing really bad happened.

Fortunately, she seems better now and the "night journey" has passed, for now, but of all of the moments, this is one of the toughest.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Your Type of Blog?

According to the Blog Typealyzer, I am an ISTP personality type.

Here is the description

ISTP - The Mechanics

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.










HT: Greg Mankiw

Sunday, November 30, 2008

On Trickle Down Economics and Job Creation

Not to re-open old wounds, but I was reflecting on the post and series of comments around "trickle down" economics which got a lot of people involved last month.

The reason?

I created a job.

Sort of.

Fortunately, I am at the point where, for now, my business is at 100% capacity. It's a good problem to have, I suppose.

And, I realized that there were a few administrative tasks that I could profitably outsource.

So, I hired someone.

It's not a lot. Not big, but did trickle down.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Can I call it a Movie Opinion?

Dresden Frauenkirche (Our Lady's Church) taken...

Image via Wikipedia

Well, since I'm not allowed to call them "reviews," I'll just let you know that I really liked Slaughterhouse Five.

AT some point in high school, I think, I picked up the book and well, I put it down pretty quickly. I just couldn't follow it.

Well, now that I've seen the movie, I guess I know why.


But, there was something about it...I really liked it.

I had always wondered where the name "slaughterhouse 5" came from...and now I know. It's the location of the barracks where Billy Pilgrim, the hero of our story, spent some of his POW time in Dresden towards the end of WWII.

I'm not sure exactly if I got the lesson of the movie, though it could have been "enjoy each moment as it occurs, it's the only real thing."

About 100 minutes long, it has elements of weirdness a la Pulp Fiction in a 60's kind of way, but certainly fascinating.




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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Being Among Your Own Kind...

BOSTON - MARCH 16:  Jacob Micflikier #9 of the...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Whether it is co-religionists, fellow countrymen/women, or people who share your passions, there is something comforting about being among your own kind.

Loyal blog reader, Jacob, invited me to attend a hockey game with him, as he did last year.

We agreed on a date.

2 weeks later, a business opportunity came up that would allow me to moderate a pretty prestigious panel.

For some, this would be an awkward situation.

After almost 8 years of marriage, I am more sensitive to these situations than I once would have been.

So, I delicately explained the conflict I was feeling to him.

He looked at me, "you idiot. Go for the deal!"

He's a Biz Dev guy, so he gets it. No hard feelings, at all.

Similar to how I felt when I was at the Social Media Jungle on 11/13. Didn't need to justify my Twitter/FB/Plaxo/blog mania, etc.

Ah, refreshing to not have to explain yourself. The common meta-language is a given.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

How good (or not) is my presentation style?

I need your help.

After watching Jerry Seinfeld's documentary, Comedian, I have become *mildly* obsessive about perfecting my presentation style.  Shocking, I know.

You know, what works? What doesn't?

So, I'd love to get your opinion about how I can continue to raise my game as a presenter. (BTW, this event was a 'power point free zone')

Go ahead, lay into me. I can take it.

I was honored to have Jeff Pulver select me to present at the Social Media Jungle event in Melville, NY on Nov. 13th, 2008.

My topic was: "The Case for Community Driven Marketing" (CDM)

The video is about 25 mins long (including Q&A at the end)

a big shout-out to Sanford for shooting the video

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Last Word, well maybe, on Jdub, Obama, and Race Relations

I'm coming back to the one of the most-commented on posts in FOJ blog history.

I probably shouldn't write this post, but hey, the motto of the blog is "create a little controversy," right?

Also, I'm throwing in the fact that I've received more than a number of comments (online and offline) from people who "can't stand jDub."

They were particularly incensed with his comment about Obama being the "affirmative action President."

So, while I will probably end up creating more discontent, I hope that I can at least begin to explain (after conversations with people on both sides of the issue) what the other is thinking in, hopefully, a neutral voice.

The 'affirmative action President,' was offensive to many because it implies that there was NOTHING in PE Obama's record to suggest that he is qualified for the job.

It implies that ALL of his achievements (Harvard Law Review, Columbia, US Senate) are cast in doubt...and that he's done nothing on his own, when it is quite possibly the case that he actually worked harder and achieved more because of the fact that he knew he might be perceived as a beneficiary of affirmative action.

There, I hope I did that justice.

Of course, that would also imply that there were accomplishment of George W. Bush that he had which occurred independent of the fact of the family into which he was born, but that's another topic. Maybe.

On Jdub's side of the issue (and I am putting words into his mouth here), it might be worth to read this blog post by Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks.

I *think* Jdub and Scott's point was that they believe there are people who were willing to overlook elements of Obama's record, policies, and leanings simply because they think it would be beneficial for America to have a Black president.

In their view, (again, I am conjecturing), this is equally bad because it is racist. It is making a decision based solely (or primarily) on race.

I hope I did that justice.

A few weeks ago, listening to the conversation at my sister's wedding weekend, I overheard someone say about the election, "Race wasn't an obstacle, but it was a factor."

While many would have said before the election,

"there will be white people who won't vote for Obama because he's black" (which would be bad), what wasn't said was "there will be white people who will vote for Obama because he's Black."

I guess the question is: Is that equally bad?

Friday, November 21, 2008

I told you it was about connecting... ;-)

I think this is the first time that an FOJ (Friends of Jer) meetup has led to someone getting a job, but I am pumped that it did.

Back in September, we had 2 separate FOJ gatherings in NYC

Now, Roz writes in:

Can't remember if I ever thanked you for hooking me up to Jan Kaufman.

I met with her in September and she was really nice -- she gave me a number of people to contact and also sent my resume out to a listserv she's on and to several friends/colleagues.

And it turns out that it paid off -- she connected me to Carolyn Green, the deputy director of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and I just accepted a job with them doing communication and development work!

So, there you go...FOJ Meetups: Your defense against a down economy!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

On Candor...and its reward

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate candor. And candor has a reward.

A few weeks ago, a friend from high school told me that he had been harboring some negative feelings towards me because of the way I had treated him about 4 years ago.

It hurt to hear that, of course. But, my respect for him skyrocketed.

And his commitment to maintaining the relationship was evident.

So, I offered to buy him lunch and talk about it.

We did. There were elements of misunderstanding and miscommunication, but the important thing is, we cleared the air.

And, we came out of it with a newfound appreciation for each other's strenghts...and now we are off helping each other build our respective businesses.

Being frank is difficult. People like to avoid confrontation (for the most part), but if you have the strength and the humility to approach it in a respectful way, I think it's worth it.

OK, go ahead and vent about me now :-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Learning Sarcasm...

A packet of Reese's Peanut Butter CupsImage via WikipediaOne of the things I think of which I am most proud is the fact that my kids have learned to appreciate my intense sarcasm.

They just get it. They can tell when I am joking.

Which is great...and a lot of fun, since the NFO and sarcasm aren't necessarily peanut butter and chocolate. Now, Tonka, Paco, and I can get all giddy on our own.

Anyhow, got me to thinking...
  1. how do you explain what sarcasm is to someone who doesn't understand it? (in a foreign culture or a child, for example)

  2. how do you learn/teach sarcasm?

  3. what does it say about someone who is/isn't sarcastic?
Curious on your thoughts?

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Just when you thought it was safe...

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - NOVEMBER 22:  Spectators ...Image by Getty Images via Daylifeto flush the toilet water...

We had another backup. You'll recall the first.

Now my trusty contractor, Jorge, told me that I'd have to snake and video the main sewer line ($800. Yep, you read that right).

I'd been trying everything. Root killer (per Steve's comment on the previous post) and it backed up again.

So, being a "pull the band-aid off fast" kind of guy, I said, let's just get in there and find out what's going on.

I have the video (no, it's not on You Tube yet, it's just backed up water), but they determined that the root problem was....actually on the main sewer line!!!

Celestial choirs were singing because that's not my problem!!

It's all of Washington DC taxpayer's problem. Yea, baby!

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission is responsible for keeping their own lines clean and we had evidence that it was their fault. (Had it not been, I was looking at a $8k digging up of my front lawn and replacing the pipe-ouch).

And then, it got even better...I got a note from WSSC saying I may be eligible for reimbursement. Sweet.

Justice :-)
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Monday, November 17, 2008

We'll Be Liked Again...

Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.), rebounds the ba...Image via WikipediaOne of the phrases I hear often from Obama supporters is that, "at least, the rest of the world will like us again."

Notwithstanding the fact that I'm not sure that all 6 billion people around the world hated the US for the past 8 years, I wonder, "why is that something that should be important to us as a country?"

Sure, you need friends and you don't want to go around making enemies.

get that, but thinking about my kids, for example, do I want them to do something because 'other people will like them?" Or because it will "make them popular?"

Or do I want them to do "the right thing?"

Sure, it's not fun when people are angry with you, don't understand you, or disagree with you, but don't we teach people to trust in themselves and persevere?

Now, I'm not saying the Pres. Bush has always done the right thing. He hasn't. Not nearly.

I'm just asking the question of:

Why does it seem that people place such a high value on 'being liked" as the goal.

Shouldn't the goal be that we should do what's best for the US and accept that, some times, people won't agree with that?

(Note: this is for Obama as well, not just Bush. Since I know the anti-Bush people will say that he did the wrong thing and we were disliked. )

What am I missing? Bring it!

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Obama, Social Networks, and Legislative Power...

The House Financial Services committee meets. ...Image via WikipediaYoni Engelhart shared with me recently some observations of a presentation by some of Obama's top staffers at Harvard Business School.

The question was: "what are you going to do with the massive social network you've built via the campaign?"

The answer: "Use it to affect and drive the legislation we want." (see:

For example, let's say that there are 3 congressman (could be Dems or Reps) who are holding up the passage of a bill that Obama support.

What does Team Obama do?

They email all of their "folks on the ground" and say "call your congressman and tell him to vote our way."

Well, you don't have to be a lifelong Washingtonian to understand that if 10,000 people call a given congressional office, that congressman will take notice...and probably change his vote in the name of job security.

Now, this is powerful, but it's also a bit scary.

Never before has a Chief Executive had the ability to directly contact people and drive legislation down at the precinct level.

It's a ton of power concentrated in the hands of a very select few.

Now, Yoni thinks that it is only a matter of time before Congressmen get tired of getting pushed around by Obama (this on both sides of the aisle) and start building their own organizations.

Yoni thinks that this is, in the long-term, a good thing for Democracy. He may be right, but what happens in the interval?

Sure, I don't agree with many of Obama's policies, but the idea that the traditional process of working with Capitol Hill to drive consensus legislation may be circumvented is a bit tough to handle-mostly because of the concentration of power. (Of course, when Obama says "Change" maybe he means this as well, since the 'traditional method' is what leads to 'pork-barrel' politics based on 'special interests.')

And, you read it here first: 6 years from now, you will see a movement to repeal the XXII Amendment and try to give Obama a 3rd term.

Updated: a friend forwarded me this article from NYT on Obama's plan.
Update 2: Jdub forwarded me a grassroots effort for the GOP to combat it.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

My Kind of Baby Shower...

imageA shout out to long-time blog reader, Jamie, who sent me this invite for a "Virtual Baby Shower."

You can join via webcam on Skype and participate in all of the proceedings.

Best part: you can multi-task while the mother does all of the gift-opening and no one knows!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My first experience with a Health Savings Account...

MIAMI - OCTOBER 03:  University of Miami Pedia...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

People often me ask about the post-Microsoft experience.

Aside from the comfort of the regular paycheck, it is the benefits I miss the most.

We're on a new plan now that has an HSA associated with it.

And, so far, I have to say that I am impressed.

You put money in (tax-deductible) ...remember, it's all about the taxes, and then, it grows tax-free, and then, (yep, tax-free again), you take it out to pay for medical expenses.

Plus, they give you a debit card that draws only on that account.

Considering I have a high-deductible account now. This is starting to make a lot of sense for me.

Any of you have HSA experience?

Advice or suggestions?

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Obama and the Long Tail Marketing Challenge

US Senator Barack Obama campaigning in New Ham...

Image via Wikipedia

image  Was thinking on the morning after Obama's victory on how he felt when he woke up that day.

Much like many people feel after making a sale.

"Ok, I did it! Oh man, that means I now have to actually do it!"

In consulting, you often hear the phrase "under-promise and over-deliver."

When dealing with metric-based assignments, this can be helpful.

As in, "I'll have the project done in 3 weeks."

And then, of course, you get it done in 2 weeks.

Everyone is thrilled.

image George H. W. Bush (41) said, "No new taxes!" as a campaign pledge.

It was easy for him to be held accountable. Everyone knew if he had succeeded or not.

Now, Obama said, "the Change We Need."

The challenge is your change and my change may not be the same.

We may both say, "we don't like the status quo," but which status quo are we talking about?

And which one is our top priority?

So, Obama built a coalition of people who want "change" in something. But, change in what?

And more importantly, what's the distribution of the desire for change across issues?

Is it a long tail or a bell curve?

If he can affect change in Iraq and Health insurance, but none of the others (for example), what percentage of the people who voted for him this year will feel that "change" has arrived?

And, as important, what percentage will say, "uh, he didn't deliver on the change that is most important to me!"


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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

FOJ Blogger Meet-up...and Hardcore Feedback

One of the unexpected side benefits of my sister's wedding weekend was the opportunity to meet up with some of the most loyal and dedicated FOJ blog readers.

Jamie (aka Internet soul sister and of the Thank You note saga), her husband Jonathan, and Annie spent about an hour with me offering up their suggestions, feedback, and criticism of my blogging style.

  1. Jamie took issue with my calling them "movie reviews." The movies are multiple years old, so it's not new information. Call them "impressions from the movie" or something, but given the way my Netflix queue works, by the time I see a movie, all of you have already seen it. Point well taken.

  2. Lose the ego. Annie pointed out that for a while, I was trying to pass myself off as the guy who found all the "cool sites" and technology, when in fact, that wasn't the case. They've said I've become more humble, however, and instead, I should just focus on telling the stories of how I use technology to its maximum potential, when I do find it.

  3. According to Jamie, I punish my most loyal fans when I send my quarterly email updates and all I do is link back to the blog. I have to give them something new. Ok, I'm in!

  4. Along the lines of the recent Obama spats and Trickle Down Economics, it isn't so fair that I control the post/blog and that those who disagree with me have to make their case in the comments (with Jonathan doesn't read, for example). In effect, I am censuring. Her point: give those people some equal opportunity and don't twist their words. [Hmmmm...the fairness doctrine?]

  5. Jonathan likes the posts on my family observations. I always wonder about whether those have meaning, but for Jonathan, at least, they do.

  6. Don't afraid to be controversial. Be respectful, but continue to ask the tough questions (at least that's what I heard!)
That pretty much does it, I think. Ladies-let me know if I missed anything.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

A Wedding: Be In the Moment...And LiveBlog

Dina and Eitan Levisohn wedding 098 The moment during the wedding when my perception of my sister changed from "little sister" to "married woman" occurred during the reception, actually. She was standing in front of a room of 300 people, holding their rapt attention as she gave one of the most mesmerizing and engaging speeches ever delivered by a bride.

It was the story of how she had met and fallen in lover with her husband.

It was, as they say in sports, an "instant classic," and as she described her emotions, I remembered the experience I had when falling for the NFO and it dawned on me, "wow, my sister isn't a little girl anymore."

Now, of course, I knew that, but I guess the wedding did what weddings are supposed to do.

Help you mark time.

Help you appreciate the "moment."

Help you recognize change.

Her beauty radiated and her presence was just that: PRESENCE.

It showed everyone that this wasn't someone making a rash, foolhardy decision, or someone who didn't know what she was doing. It was confidence, poise, beauty, elegance, and maturity (and more) all wrapped up into one.

And I realized that somewhere along the way, as life does what life tends to do, I had missed this epic transformation in my younger least on the grand scale. I think you know what I mean.

Maybe I hadn't missed it. Perhaps I just hadn't appreciated it. Yeah, that's probably more like it.

And, then, as the music started up after her speech, I looked at the little 5 year old girl sitting next to me and asked, "would you like to dance with your Abba? (father)"

She said yes.

And we danced...a lot.

And I got quite emotional, thinking that one day (hopefully), I will play the "father of the bride" and it will be a Sunrise, Sunset moment when I think back to today, and how I danced with the little girl in my arms.

And I though about how my dad must have felt at that moment.

It was powerful.

imageNow, over the course of the weekend, I had received a few "shout-outs" (though shout-outs are generally positive and I'm not Dina and Eitan Levisohn wedding 078sure these were) about my propensity, fondness, and joy for blogging/technology.

One skit even questioned aloud if I would "liveblog" the wedding.

Well, never one to back down from a challenge, I called their bluff. Why not? Right?

While blogging itself would be tough, I figured, thanks to a few different technologies, I could capture quite a lot.

It started off with a "tweet" to Twitter (which connected to Facebook) saying "walking down the aisle at my sister's wedding." (and thanks to all of you who sent comments!)

Next, I followed that up with a live video stream as my sister made a few of the customary 7 circles around her groom (keep in mind, too, that I was holding one of the chuppah-wedding canopy poles, while all this was happening.)

And then, just for kicks, I took a picture with my phone and posted it directly to Facebook.

So there!

A beautiful day on the "life milestone/emotional" side as well as the power and beauty of technology.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

A Swab to Save a Life...

Call this a Public Service Announcement.

I got a long, heartfelt email from someone in a dire predicament who needs a bone marrow transplant.

I won't re-print all of the details, just ask you to consider taking a moment to get registered.

Either of these sites can help.

You never know.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Daddy, What Do You Do?

TonkaImage via WikipediaTonka came to me the other day and said, "Michael's daddy is a doctor. What do you do?"


That took a while. I struggled...for a while. (In fact, I'm still thinking about it.)

Finally I said to her, "well, I help people tell good that other people will want to buy things from them."

She seemed to get it.

But, it made me think...if you can't explain your business to a 4 year old, is the concept simple enough for an "elevator pitch?"
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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Away From Her...and Why Netflix Rocks...

Away from Her

Image via Wikipedia

I don't even look at my Netflix queue anymore. I don't rearrange it. I add stuff and whatever shows up, shows up.

So, when I received Away from Her, I was puzzled.

I didn't remember adding it (ironic, given the subject of the movie) and had NO idea who recommended it to me (I wish Netflix would add that feature so I could say thanks).

But, man, is it a great (and very sad) movie.

The premise is the wife in a couple that has been married for 45 years gets Alzheimers and the story is about how the husband (for the most part) has to deal with the pain associated with it.

It really makes you think. Makes you appreciate what you have now.

It's intense and emotional.

In a pre-Netflix era, there's no way I would have:

  1. been able to find this movie
  2. picked it even if I had found it

But now, I just add it to the list...and then it shows up.

And I feel enriched because of it.


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