Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Political Endorsement: Josh Sharf-Colorado House of Reps

So my buddy, Josh, is running for the Colorado House of Reps. While he is a UVA grad and we don't agree about college lacrosse (as I'm a JHU bluejay), he's still a solid thinking guy.

What's more, he's an accomplished pilot (he took me up for a ride, here he is at the controls), a tech savvy guy, and a friend. So, without even knowing who his opponent is, I'm endorsing him.

Give him a hand, if you can...

Bring optimism to a battered woman on Mother's Day...

Not  that my blog is the biggest or the baddest, but from time to time, I get requests from people that say, "hey, will you put this on your blog?"

Most of the time, there's really no context and it just proves to me that  they don't really read the blog.

However, sometimes, I get a note that just touches me and really is a worthwhile cause.

My longtime friend, Roz, works at Jewish Women's International focused on raising awareness and doing something regarding violence against women.

They have a meaningful Mother's Day activity where you can send a card/flowers to a woman in a shelter and bring some light to their lives.

It's not an expensive proposition, but it's clear from the testimonials that it means a lot.

Need to act fast, orders must be in by May 5th.

From Roz:

Supporting the Flower Project is easy: Just visit the Flower Project online contribution page to make a secure donation online. In case that link doesn't work, please go to (You can also learn more about the project and see the card JWI will send to your honorees.)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Springtime for starting fresh...

There's probably some student of Zen or Buddhism who can explain it better, but it seems that the spring is the optimal season to start a new career.

Obvious, I suppose.

Went out for a run this afternoon (shout out to the NFO for watching the kiddios) and in the not too hot, not too cold, just blooming forest, my mind cleared out and then the ideas for how things will evolve started to appear.

I felt  the excitement of the moment and sense the opportunity in front of me.

Body in harmony with the seasons?

Leash the Dog!

I know there are a lot of big time dog lovers out there. I know I'm not one of them.

Also know there's a chance I'll get you upset.

So be it.

I'm a runner.

I have a hard time understanding dog owners who don't leash their dogs in the park (when required to do so) and when those dogs are prone to bark or chase runners. I guess the law doesn't really apply to you, does it?

It's even worse when I have a kid (or two) with me in the jogging stroller.

If your dog is completely passive, then, I guess it's not the worst thing, even though you still consider yourself above the law, right?

Anyway, it irritates the hell out of me and I've gotten to the point where I'll say, "shouldn't the dog be on a leash?"

Responses vary, as you would expect.

Of course, I do go out of my way to say "thank you for leashing the dog," when appropriate.

Rant over.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Leaving Microsoft....What's Next?

Here is the opportunity I see:

    1. Every company knows that it must harness the power of social media and social networks. But they don't know how.
    2. Most (thought not all) also know that the rules of marketing have changed significantly, but are not clear what this means for them.

Having seen these forces at play within Microsoft and had some success leveraging them, I realize that my skills would have even greater value outside of the Microsoft environment. Plus, the opportunity to make a difference for many companies is just ENORMOUS.

For a company (or any of us, really) the goal is simple:

  1. Do something that is worth talking about (that's Word of Mouth Marketing aka 'WOM')
  2. Make it easy for your customers and prospects to tell their friends about it  (and use social media/networking)

Right now, I am offering consulting services (WOM and Social Media) so stay tuned for client announcements in the upcoming days and weeks.

Of course, I am not alone in recognizing this opportunity and am in talks with some with some firms as well. Alone, small firm, big firm, it doesn't matter. What matters is to help companies tap into the ongoing Internet revolution that I've championed for 17 years.

Either way, it's a VERY exciting time and I just can't wait to get started.

It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of a world-changing organization like Microsoft.

Wish me luck and feel free to send some referrals my way!

Leaving Microsoft....

Let's see...I worked  at one of the wealthiest, most stable, most profitable companies in the  history of the planet (Microsoft), why would I ever give that up?

Here's the note I sent out to my colleagues:

I wanted to let you know that I have resigned from my role on the US Public Sector Partner Marketing, effective May 2nd.

One of the topics I blog about often is the need to protect and grow one’s personal ‘micro-brand.’ (e.g. here, here, and here).

Last November, I switched from SMSP field sales/marketing to the Public Sector BMO.  For a variety of reasons, the ‘fit’ for which I had hoped wasn’t there. I was not adding value in the way I am normally capable, or that my manager and her team require.

And my ‘micro-brand’ was suffering for it.

Add in the personal challenges of my wife’s month-long bedrest, a new baby, and 1 month of paternity leave, and the ‘fit’ did not improve.

So, I figured, it was better to simply admit that the ‘fit’ wasn’t there, give my manager and her team a chance to find the right person ASAP, and prevent further damage to my ‘micro-brand’ by offering my resignation.

I’d prefer to take it on myself to find a new opportunity (at Microsoft or elsewhere) on my own time than to stay in a role that was hurting my reputation and my team’s effectiveness.

I am executing my backup-recovery plan (hint: read I Didn't See It Coming...) and am always open to hearing about opportunities.

I’ve spent 5.5 years at Microsoft and am tremendously grateful for the experiences I have had, but mostly for the people I have met. That’s why I am emailing you.

If you would like to stay in touch, please

· Let me know via email

· Subscribe by email or RSS to my blog

· Connect via LinkedIn, Facebook, Plaxo, Twitter, Tumblr (Skype: jer979)

As for what is next, see here...

Play Against Ken Jennings (Jeopardy Fame)

Ken is the guy who won 74 games in a row (and over $3 million) on Jeopardy.  But on Jeopardy Ken only had to beat two other players a night.  On Monday night, Ken will be playing against the world.

Neat little online activity to see how smart you are...

Facebook Anthem...

Some of you haven't joined Facebook yet.
Others...feeling the Facebook fatigue.

For the latter, enjoy the video.

HT to Dave Sobel (Twitter: @djdaveet)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Mind of the Child...

While the NFO was napping this AM, I had the privilege of watching the three kids.

Gianni was quiet and eventually napping and Paco decided, too, to lie down.

That left Tonka and me.

She said, "Will you play with me?"

Sensing that "Mental Snapshot" moment, I of course said yes.

Soon, we were cutting up Lincoln Logs with plastic Disney knives and placing Princess plates under a booster seat....making imaginary cookies.

First off, I cherished the vivid imagination that she displayed.

Second, for a moment, I really let myself go. I wasn't 'playing along,' I allowed myself to get immersed in the game and see it through her eyes. I think she sensed it, because she responded well to my questions of "do we really need that much butter?" and "what about using this as a rolling pin?"

Later in the afternoon, I began a new book called Presentation Zen and the author highlighted the beauty that is the child's mind. I don't have the exact quote in front of me, but it was something along the lines of:

"A child's mind sees many possibilities. An expert's mind sees only one way."

He stressed that in achieving creativity and envisioning, you need to approach things (at least initially) with the innocent mind of the child.

I felt like I knew what he meant...and were those cookies delicious!

Film Festival-Building the Fan Base...

In cleaning out for Passover, we came upon the 2007 Washington Jewish Film Festival catalog. Obviously, we missed the festival, but there were some good-looking films there.

I wanted to add most of them to my Netflix queue.

Went to the website and thought..."wouldn't it be cool if the Festival had a Netflix queue and shared it out (like I do mine) so that anyone could add a film from a previous year? If I saw a few from 2007 that was great, it might encourage my attendance (and those I tell about it) in 2008)"

I guess the story here is...if there's a way to share what you are doing so that you engage and excite others, it's probably worth it, IMHO.

I may have missed it, btw, on the site.

Friday, April 25, 2008

aka 'gianni'

number three enjoys the spring weather

Posted by ShoZu

flying 2 year old

of course, he fell right after this

Posted by ShoZu

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Story of Stuff

A powerful presentation (both in content and style) on the impact of our consumption on the world around us (not just environmental).

20 minutes long, but worth it.

Meatball Sundae (Book)

Any longtime reader of this blog knows one thing for sure. I am a huge fan of Seth Godin. And his newest,

Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing out of Sync?, continues to inspire.

The concept in this one is that "meatballs" are a traditional business selling generic products. We know how to make them efficiently and for the masses.

The sundae part is the "web 2.0" sexy stuff that some companies attempt to sprinkle on top to get the feel of being hip, e.g. a blog, without changing the underlying product to conform to the 'new marketing.'

I'm working on a bit more detailed review for the Igniting the Revolution blog to be published in the next few weeks, but for now, I'll say this. If you want to understand how the fundamentals of the game have  changed in terms of company-customer/consumer relationship, Seth, as usual, is your man.

And, for your video in-flight, entertainment, here's Jackie (she of the Metamucil Assist) doint her video of a "Meatball Sundae."


Sibling non-Rivalry

After getting out of the tub tonight, Tonka turned to me and said:

"Can we move my bed next to Paco's?"

"It's actually easier to move his bed next to yours. Why do you want to do that?"

"Well, then we can talk more and give things to each other before we go to sleep!"

Can't ask for more than that type of sibling love as a parent, can I?

Of course, I moved the beds for them. Too cute.

Kids and Toys...

We live in an age of abundance...of toys.

On more than one occasion as a punishment, I've taken away a "favorite" to from both Paco and Tonka.

I told them it would be for "2 days."

What I've noticed, is that all of us tend to forget about the toys. In some cases, weeks go by and the only reason I remember is because I find the toys in some corner where I've placed them.

The toys may be "cherished" for a moment, but the kids are fickle and, when all is said and done, they just don't really care.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Call me geeky...and a victory for Microsoft

So I obtained a Pharos GPS device which I connected using their Bluetooth dock to my Windows Mobile 6 phone (T-mobile Dash).

At first, it didn't work and I was frustrated. Or should I say, it didn't work with Google Maps for Windows Mobile (hey, I'd seen GPS on that program before so I gave it a whirl).

Then, I figured I'd give Windows Live Maps for mobile a try...and in the ultimate geeky moment, standing in my driveway at 11:30pm, we had success!

Knocked Up (movie review)

Knocked Up falls in the category of vulgar comedy that overshadows (and admittedly, at times, can reinforce) a nice, feel good movie with the same story of ultimate redemption.

It had at least one character from Superbad (review) and a similar feel to 40 year old virgin (review), but I think it was the best of the 3.

It was cute, but I wouldn't necessarily highly recommend it. 3 stars (probably 2.5)

The Last Lecture (Book)

Last September/October, my friend Jacob came over to hang out and said:

"hey, have you heard about the Carnegie-Mellon professor who gave his last lecture?"

He'd read an article in WSJ and together, we watched the video on YouTube.

To say it was inspirational would be an understatement of epic proportions. By now, you probably have seen it.

Randy Pausch, father of 3, husband, and Comp Sci professor is dying of pancreatic cancer and has only months to live. His lecture leaves you feeling uplifted about what it means to really live life.

Last week, Jacob dropped me a note:

I picked up 2 copies of "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch - the professor whose lecture we watched.  It's a very reassuring book that I think you'll like a lot.  It's also pretty short

I think Jacob was trying to send me a few messages with this book and I appreciate them. Some of them include:

  1. Continue to live your life with an appreciation for the moment
  2. Don't forget to be humble

and much more.

As I read this book, I thought of Randy's predicament, leaving 3 kids under 7 behind and how he desperately wants them to understand who he was...and struggling with the best way to do that.

I was reminded of a conversation I had with Michael Fishman after his mother's death, where he said:

"you know, I was thinking about your blog the night before the funeral. You know that you are leaving your kids...and your grandkids...such a gift. You are leaving them your own words and pictures, so they will really know who you were and what you thought. It's really great."

It made me feel quite good and encouraged me to continue my blogging efforts, if for that reason alone.

This book had me alternating between tears and laughter. It's not about dying. It's about LIVING.

I HIGHLY recommend it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

YouTube - Purell Lovers Unite

YouTube - Purell Lovers Unite
Looks like I am not alone out there...


Remember the Tobi I bought after seeing it on an infomercial?

Remember the self-doubt?

Well, I am feeling a lot better now, because not only does it work great on my shirts (even my mom was impressed), but I came up with an ingenious (at least I thought so) use for it.

I was cleaning out the freezer in preparation for Passover and noticed a fair amount of ice had accumultated along the walls. Initially, I went after it with a screwdriver (didn't have time to let it defrost).

I took a break. Looked around. Saw the Tobi.

Lightbulb moment.

Soon enough, I was steaming the ice out of the freezer. Worked like a charm.

Instant ROI. Nice.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Doing Good...and an Unwelcome Intrusion

Last Thursday, I went to the offices of A Wider Circle to drop off the blankets which were made as part of the projects of our guests at the Simchat Bat (and a big call out .

The office location was not clearly marked, so I went up a few flights of stairs to the floor where I thought it was located and opened the door...

I saw a woman...and she let out a huge GASP of surprise.

She just stared at me.

Another woman walked over to the door. I had clearly not opened the door to a hallway, but the back door to an office.

The woman said, "what are you doing here?"

Not really having a good answer, I smiled and said, "well, I've come to see you, of course. How are you doing?"

She wasn't amused.

By this time, I had figured out that I had just interrupted, via the back door, the session of a therapist with her patient.

The woman on the couch (the patient) kept saying, "wow, that really scared me."

The therapist asked "what do you want?"

"Uh, I'm looking for A Wider Circle."

"Down the stairs and to the right. ALL THE WAY to the right."

Eventually, I found the place and all was well, except for the shocked patient!

4 Questions from a 4 Year Old...

If we had only done one thing during our Passover seder and that one thing was having Tonka and Paco stand on a chair and sing the 4 Questions (which they had been practicing), then that would have been enough(i.e. Dayenu!)

In my fatherhood experiences to date, I daresay, it was that moment which made me feel the most pride in the accomplishments of my offspring.

I felt honored and excited to give them the Jewish education to enable them to sing it.

I was elated to see this beautiful tradition carried on to the next generation.

And I was glad I had a role in making it happen.

And, if we had 2 things to do, the 2nd was when they went off to search for the Afikoman.

As they were looking, I had a flashback to a different time, when I was the one looking for it, when Poppy was involved in the search.

I felt like I was simultaneously standing in the past, in the present, and in the future, thinking about the day when Tonka and Paco would be watching their offspring in the way I was watching them.

That is part of the beauty of all holidays, but particularly, Passover, as it is the "spring holiday" and with it comes re-birth and the hope for the future.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Why is this night different from all other nights?

When the kids (who share a room) can't fall asleep, they know they are permitted to talk with each other (as long as they stay in bed.)

The conversations range in nature, but last night, it turned to Tonka educating Paco about the proper way to recite the "Mah Nishtanah" (4 questions) at the Seder.

She kept correcting him and encouraging him to do it properly.

Just one of those moments where you sit back and appreciate being a parent.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Awards on Display...

Every now and then you do something just for yourself and not for your readers.
Here are some of the awards I've picked up at Microsoft in the past 5.5 years.
Ok, Shameless Self Promotion is over.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A son's tribute...

I read the blog of a technologist named Jeff Pulver. Today, he posted a tribute to his dad, who died 10 years ago. I commented on his blog.

A beautiful testament to your father. I was so moved I forwarded it to mine, like yours an adamant implementer of the family trip, despite some resistance at times.

I think this is the side of blogging that many people don't get. It's ok to share this "personal stuff" as it enriches the experience for your readers.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How many of me could you take? ;-)

Back in the earlier days of the web, say 2000, somehow I became part of the "all Jeremy Epstein" mailing list.

Since first names didn't help, we had nicknames. I was "frog" as that was the SilentFrog days. There was "Brooklyn" and "Shearman" and "Tulane."

Every now and then, we'd get emails intended for another one. It was all quite humorous (particularly when one of them wrote an anti-Microsoft letter to the Washington Post and my boss got a call from HR!)

Today, one of my namesakes sent out an article about people who look for others with their same name and why people like to do it.

We had a mini-Jeremy Epstein reunion. "Brooklyn" now teaches high school math (he was in finance) and we've got an artist in our midst, see

Jeremy's welcome to the blog!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Context matters...

I worked with a guy for a year whom I liked personally, but just seemed to be ineffective in his job.

His co-workers didn't respect him.

They mocked him behind his back.

Some called him "incompetent."

Not surprisingly, he left his job at the end of the year.

I saw him a few weeks ago.

He's in a new role now. He's thrilled.

I talked to a few of his co-workers. He's perceived as a rock star.

We're so quick to judge an individual by performance within one environment, but we don't always take the larger view.

It may not be the best example (due to attitude problems), but look at Randy Moss.

He goes to Oakland and it's a disaster. People say he doesn't have a work ethic. He's a trouble maker.

He gets traded to New England and he breaks all types of records.

Right player, wrong system.

Wrong player, right system.

Context matters.

Next time, I may be less quick to judge about an individual person and ask myself, "is he just a good player who's on the wrong team?"

Just like that...

For the last year and a half or so, Tonka and Paco have taken a bath together. They play very nicely and it's quite relaxing for me. I sit there, read a book, and let them play.

The last few days, however, Tonka has insisted on a shower. It's become her new routine.

Now, Paco takes a bath by himself and he's done quickly. Then, Tonka's shower is up.

Just like that, the period of joint baths is over. The kids are growing up.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Fleeting Magnolia...

We are blessed with a gorgeous bloom of a magnolia tree every spring.

Thing is, if you blink, you miss it.

It's there for just about a week. It peaked on Friday morning (this is from Thurs PM) and after a massive storm on Fri. night, the end had begun.

I tell people that this is my favorite week of the year, but it's sad in a way. Reminds you how fleeting all living things are in their own way.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Holocaust Survivor and a Dose of Perspective...

I read Torah every few weeks at a local synagogue (not the one I usually attend).

This morning, while I rolled Tonka in the stroller, I was feeling a bit low, given my rough week.

When I arrived, I saw that the entire service was being led by the synagogue youth group. They were doing a fine job, but I definitely thought, "whoa, I'm feeling down, but whatever is going on with me, puberty is far worse!"

But, that's not the story I want to tell...

The real story is that in the middle of the service the Rabbi calls up one of his congregants, Nessie Godin, to announce her upcoming 80th birthday.

Nessie is somewhat well known in the DC Jewish community for her Holocaust-memorial related activities. She also happens to be the grandmother of one my high school classmates.

The Rabbi turns to the congregation and says:

"Some of you may know that Nessie is a Holocaust survivor and I bet there were times when she never thought she would make it to 80 years old."

Then, Nessie begins speaking. She's got an authentic, eastern European accent that added to the moment.

"You know, I look around today and I see all of these beautiful children leading the service and showing how much they love their religion. And it makes me really feel like we had a victory over Hitler."

My job of reading Torah wasn't done yet, but I was choked up. The woman in the 2nd row was crying. Just one of those moments to keep it real.

Friday, April 11, 2008

One of those weeks...

First, I find out that I've been using our nanny's alien number instead of her SSN when I play unemployment taxes on her
(yes, I'm one of the few people on the plane who do this. It's a nightmare to fix this.

Next, I come out of the house this AM to discover that the minivan has a flat tire
(huge call out to Moshe for fixing the tire while I was out this AM so NFO could save her day...sort of.)

Finally, a tough week at work for a slew of reasons.

Calgon...take me away (is that product still available?)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

How many days can I go?

In the attention economy, the thing I value most is that you are reading this post now. Thank you.

Now, here's the question I am struggling with.

What is your expectation for this blog?

If I don't blog tomorrow, will you come back on your regular schedule?

How long before you come back and when you don't see an update, you boot me from your routine?

I know there's a value play here...if there's garbage, you are gone, but what's the frequency you need for it to feel fresh?

Ah, the anxiety of the blogger.... After all, blogging is dangerous to your health.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

FOJ Retrospective...

Two weeks ago, I lamented that I am Waiting for Godot in terms of a high speed scanner for my past writings. Aliza graciously offered to send the emails she's received over the past 10 years (from the pre-blogging days), but I told her not to worry.

Well, Gail sent them (and it turns out that it wasn't all that difficult to post, so Aliza, go ahead and send)

For those of you who have been w/me for that long, you *may* enjoy this trip down memory lane.

These are from the 5 week X-country trip that the NFO and I took in 2002

  • Awe Inspiring Canyons of the Southwest
  • Across the Ages Across America
  • Vegas, Baby!
  • We Love LA!
  • The Rocky, but beautiful, California coast
  • City by the Bay
  • Of Mormons, Gamblers, and Barren Land
  • Friends in the Rocky Mountains
  • From the Plains to the Prairies to the Range and i...
  • Into the Heartland: NYC-Chicago-Minnesota

    And these are 2 others that she sent along.

    Tuesday, April 08, 2008

    Hypocrisy, Censorship, and Irony...

    If you love to see bad guys get their comeuppance, then you'll really enjoy This Film Is Not Yet Rated.

    It's a documentary about the lack of transparency, numerous conflict of interests, and "extensions of the truth" that the MPAA has in the way that it assigns ratings (NC-17, R, PG-13, and PG) to films.

    The ironic twist about 2/3rd of the way through the film had me saying "NO WAY!"

    The film made me truly think about the questions of ratings.

    Obviously, as parents, we need someone of knowing whether a film would be appropriate for a child. No question.

    The question, however, is HOW can we best get that information.

    The producers of This Film Is Not Yet Rated make a pretty good point that sex and violence are not treated equally, that the MPAA doesn't really have the interests of the public at heart, and that the current system amounts to censorship.

    But, I think there's a light at the end of the tunnel that will break the "command and control" structure and force transparency on the filmmaking industry. Namely, the internet.

    If you are a filmmaker looking for distribution, why not put your film online and let the "wisdom of the crowds" takeover. Individuals can watch it, rate it as appropriate and then we'd all probably have a better sense of what is in a film than a closed door process of 8 people in Hollywood.

    I'm not sure the form that it will take, but the Internet will break the stranglehold on film, just like it did on Music. No doubt here.

    There was one part where an expert is asked:

    "So, do you know of any organization that is as closed-mouth and lacks transparency, promoting censorship the way the MPAA ratings board does?"

    He answers: No.

    I thought: these guys don't know how the Kosher-certification organizations work :-)

    The Free Hug Campaign...

    Get inspired by the ability to touch people

    Monday, April 07, 2008

    Redefining Marriage and the Jewish "Singles" Crisis...

     The last line of Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage tells the thesis and the conclusion all at once:

    "For better or worse, we must adjust our personal expectations and social support systems to this new reality."

    In other words, this marriage isn't your father and mother's marriage.

    I never took an anthropology class in college (that I can recall), but if I had, this is the type of well-annotated book that was probably served up.

    The author traces marriage's evolution over a multi-century span and (convincingly) explains how the experience has changed for a few key reasons, including urbanization, birth control, and societal influences.

    At times, I found the book a bit challenging to wade through (I read it in 5 page increments while sitting in the bathroom watching the 2 kids playing in the tub, so that could be my fault), but one can't argue with the thoroughness of the presentation.

    I am sure Ms. Coontz has an agenda, but I didn't feel like it came across with a vengeance in this work.

    She takes the attitude towards marriage that I take towards technology. It's here, you have no choice but to deal with it.

    The question, then, is if indeed the expectations of marriage are forever altered  and the nature of relationships that individuals can have can take multiple forms (same-sex, co-habitation, divorce/re-marriage), then where are we headed next?

    Will plural marriage (as practiced by some Fundamentalist Mormons, for example) be considered just as 'normal' as a same-sex union?

    And what about the proclaimed "singles crisis" within the Jewish community?

    I wonder if Esther over at JDaters Anonymous would be open to the idea that, maybe, just maybe in the effort to address the crisis (mostly for single Jewish women) that we should repeal the ban (takana) or Rabbeinu Gershom  that prohibits polygamy? 

    Suspend conventional thought for a moment and think about it. If Coontz is right, marriage and relationships are being redefined in previously unimaginable (and inconceivable ways).

    Particularly with women's increased economic independence, you could have a marriage with one male and more than one female (or vice versa, but I'll focus on multiple women, since that's at the core of the "crisis") that is certainly economically viable, would probably increase the abysmally low Jewish birthrate, and allow many of the women affected by the "crisis" to participate in loving marriages with committed mates...

    You wouldn't have to settle for "good enough" and you could have the man of your dreams as long as you could accept the fact that s/he had another spouse.

    And while I'm thinking about marriage, let's remember that I married way above myself and have a spouse (the NFO=Nameless/Faceless One b/c she doesn't like to be pictured or cited on the blog) who lets me blog about topics like this :-)

    I'll give this book to anyone (no book report required, just add a comment here saying you want it.)

    Appreciating America...

    Everyone's got their beef with America/Americans. If I have one, it's people taking for granted the freedoms we enjoy.

    I've told the story of my time in Berlin when I was 14 that had a profound impact on my life, but I particularly enjoy talking with immigrants to American (especially those from former Communist countries).

    They DO NOT take liberty and freedom for granted because they know what it is like to live without it.

    My old friend from the Snickelways days, Mike Petrov, brings his family of 6 to Washington, DC every year (not an easy job, to be sure) to help instill in them a pride/appreciation for America.

    I hadn't seen Mike in 8 years or so, but we picked up right where we left off, talking technology.

    Plus, I had the chance to pontificate about how he should think about the marketing of his company (if you need a reliable IT firm in NYC, he's your guy...who wouldn't trust a former boxer in the Russian army to get the job done?!)

    Anyway, always great to reconnect with old friends and, in this case, to appreciate what we've got through the eyes of someone who cherishes it. Thanks, Mike!

    Sunday, April 06, 2008

    paco the rock star

    goody bag from tamar shem tov bday party

    Posted by ShoZu

    Kid Management: Back to Square One...

    After the NFO's successful return to her workplace last week, the stakes have been raised.

    Today, I am on my own in an "extended zone" taking all three for the entire day.

    Thinking back to the first time I had 2 kids by myself, I remember the strategy: Survival.

    If I got them out of the house and for a walk around the block, the day was successful.

    Of course, later we progressed to field trips (like this, this, and this, this, and this)

    So, I'm taking the same, deliberately slow approach to handling all three.

    Our goal today: survival.

    Since the NFO has already handled all three while I was out last week, I'll you this. I appreciate my wife even more now.

    Check in with me at the end of the day. We'll see how I did.

    Medical Opinion vs. Mother's Intuition

    Seven years ago, my brother-in-law was a Pediatric ER resident.  He would often complain about his 12 hour shifts and how tired he was.

    At one point, I said, "I'm tired of your moaning about work, I am coming on the job with you."

    So, I joined him on a 7pm-7am "graveyard" shift one Saturday night/Sunday morning (well let's call it a 7pm-6.20am since I crashed on a couch in the staff lounge.)

    I had the scrubs, the stethoscope, and was assisting in basic procedures (like holding supplies) while seeing patients.

    We did have 3 traumas come in within a 20 minute period, which was crazy, but the eye-opening part of the experience was how 99% of the cases presented could be diagnosed with

    "It's a virus. There's nothing I can do. Go home and get some rest."

    By the end of the night, I was making the diagnoses.

    As a result of that night, I tend to think that when my kids get sick, "it's a virus," and there's no reason to  go to the doctor.

    The NFO doesn't subscribe to that philosophy.

    Last week, Tonka 'presented' with some symptoms and the NFO said, "I think she may have strep throat, let's get her to the doctor." (Note: in my house 'let's' means 'you', but I digress)

    I took the Tonka in, told the pediatrician the story above. She said, 'it's probably a virus, but we'll do a culture anyway."

    They did a rapid test, it was negative. The MD confirmed virus, but did say "we'll do the overnight culture as well."

    Know what happened the next morning?

    The pediatrician's office called and confirmed what the NFO knew all along!

    Tonka's on anti-biotics and is doing much better now.

    Friday, April 04, 2008

    3rd party references...

    Following Seth Godin's lead, I tell people that I don't maintain a resume anymore.

    Between LinkedIn and my blog, I figure, anyone who would look at a traditional resume would have a deeper contextual understanding of my abilities and perspectives with those two vehicles.

    Plus with LinkedIn, you get to see

    • the extent of my network
    • recommendations from others

    And, now I'll add one more thing...the comments and blog posts written by others about you.

    A big call out to Jimmy Gardner for his profile of me. I'm honored.

    Hypnotic Writing...

    If we're truly in the "attention economy," then a book like Hypnotic Writing could definitely be a competitive advantage for any of us.

    I liked the concrete suggestions on how to improve your writing, the recognition that it's not a "quick fix" to do it, and that there are MANY complex parts to a well-written story.

    What I didn't enjoy so much was that, well, to be honest, I didn't find the book all that hypnotic. I wanted to be enraptured the way I was with,say,Kite Runner, but that didn't happen. In fact, it's taken me about 3 months to finish it (ok, we had a baby-liveblogged birth here, but still).

    At the end of the day, good writing, like anything else is a discipline. It requires practice, refinement, and hard work. That much, I got out of this book.

    If you (or I) am not willing to make that investment, it's probably not worth the read.

    Thursday, April 03, 2008

    Keeping in touch...

    I know I've got a different approach than most when it comes to keeping in touch with distant friends (time/space).

    But, there are a few folks who really do a good job of providing high value updates, even if they are infrequent.

    My ol' buddy from Japan, Steve Wechsler, did just that today. I provide the below, with permission, as an example of a solid update that doesn't take a long time.

    Just wanted to check in and see how you're doing as a family of 5. Having a 3rd child has been described to me as "It doesn't cry and less, you just hear it less". That being said, our 3rd, has been a pretty easy baby. She's now 10.5 months old.

    We just got back from 5 days in Florida and it was good to get away and spend some time in the warm weather. The kids enjoyed being in shorts and swimming every day.

    Following your email about your seeing Carnie and Paulie in St. Louis, Ken Hartman emailed me. We had lunch a few weeks ago. He works only a few blocks from here.

    Well done. I think we can all learn from Steve's approach. Brief, but filled with content.

    Building your brand through word of mouth...

    Call out to my cuz, Ben, for this one.

    Wednesday, April 02, 2008

    Hillary and Obama

    For those of you who saw the Jimmy Kimmel/Sarah Silverman/Matt Damon video, here comes the (inevitable) Hillary/Obama spoof.

    HT to GBrandonThomas for the link.


    On Poverty...

    Interesting read on The sting of poverty: What bees and dented cars can teach about what it means to be poor - and the flaws of economics

    Too many dates...

    I was changing Paco's diaper this morning. A #2. Large and malodorous.

    As a family, we've gotten into the habit of saying, "we have a Poop Doggy Dogg" so I said "Whoa! We've got a large Poop Dogg here!"

    To which Paco replied, "that's because you gave me too many dates!"

    (I had explained the connection...sort of...between fiber and body functions when I limited him the other day.)

    Back 2 Life, Back 2 Reality...

    Anyone besides me remember that Soul 2 Soul (I think) song from the 80's?


    Today, the NFO heads back into the office for the first time in 2 months. Paternity leave ended for me on Monday.

    It's showtime.

    We'll now see if we can really handle 3 kids.

    Wish us luck. Feel like we'll need it.

    Better than a shotgun...

    I told people when Tonka was born that

    "As the father of a daughter, now gun ownership is starting to make sense to me."

    The NFO doesn't approve of this and now, thanks to Best Life magazine, I've discovered some other ways of achieving the same result (call out to DeNiro in Meet the Parents.)

    Movie: Balls of Fury

    It's not a secret that I enjoy stupid comedy. It's cathartic somehow.

    Balls of Fury did exactly that. A fair amount of chuckles, nice spoofs, and some clever, innovative lines. Short movie as well.

    Tuesday, April 01, 2008

    On Wearing a Tie...

    When I lived in Frankfurt in 1996, I was befriended by the Lisker family there. The man of the house, Shimshon, was a straight-talker.

    I remember one conversation when I told him that "I wanted a job where I never had to wear a tie."

    "You'll change your mind," he said.

    Well, I've come around.  Thanks in part to the fact that I've had the good fortune of coming into some nice clothes from Poppy and a few nice ties as well (thanks, Stewart), plus the overarching recognition that the little details do matter...

    Let's just say that the strategic deployment of neckwear as a brand-builder is something I've come to appreciate.

    Shimshon-you were right.