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.




Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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 :-)
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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!"


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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?"
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Fritz Scholder and American Indian Art

Unsure of TitleImage by tbridge via FlickrHad the privilege of a "sneak peek" at the new Fritz Scholder exhibit at the National Museum of the American Indian.

I had never been there and the building alone is worth it. Just beautiful. And, there's something interesting or ironic about its location-the closest museum to the Capitol building.

I had zero idea who Fritz Scholder was prior to entering the exhibit, but the introductory video was just a first-rate overview for the novice.

It touched on his personal struggles with identifying as Indian (or not-as he was 25% Native), and how he put that into his art...which redefine the genre.

The art is powerful.

If you are in DC, I'd recommend a visit to both, if you can swing it.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Blogger Ego...

On December 6, 2002 Josh Marshall's talkingpoi...Image via WikipediaIn the last few weeks, I've seen 3 examples of bloggers whom, in my humble opinion, got a bit "too big for their britches."

No need to call them out (as that would prove the point, right?), but I wonder if blogging (and, to some extent, all of the craze around social media/user-generated-content) leads us to a heightened sense of self-importance.

I mean, if there is more than 1 person reading this blog (after me, that is), well then, I must have something important to say...

As we move into an era where everyone is a reporter, broadcaster, etc., it's something to remember.

"With great power, comes great responsiblity...."

[and on that topic, matter what, if you are eligible, go vote]

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Voting in a Beautiful Thing...

Just explained why voting is important to my kids.

I got a bit emotional. This really is an amazing country.

It is stupid though that you don't need any picture ID in MD. Just name, address, and birthday.

Seems ripe for fraud

Monday, November 03, 2008

30,000 Haircuts...

Pleating Hair - IImage by carf via FlickrWent to the Hair Cuttery the other day and was asked, "would you like a specific stylist?"

"Whoever is available now," I replied.

I met Patricia, who dutifully asked me what I wanted with my hair.

"Make it look good and keep it low maintenance."

She was very friendly, but she kept asking questions about whether I liked X or Y.

"Patricia," I asked, "how long have you been cutting hair?"

"14 years."

"and how many hair cuts do you give a week?"

"About 40 or 50," she replied.

"So, you've given close to 30,000 haircuts in your life. I've probably had, I don't know, 100 or so. You are the expert. I trust you!"

She laughed and I thought about how often we don't let experts just do their jobs without interfering.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday, November 02, 2008

My Apologies to the Obama Campaign

Sorry for costing you the election.

This is great. No matter which side you are on.

Election: Let's Just End This...

Reform logoImage via WikipediaCan we just end this? I'm suffering political fatigue and I can't escape the borg. Forget campaign finance reform.

Forget term-limits.

What we need is campaign-timing reform.

From now on, you may only start your campaign 364 days prior to the election!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]