Monday, November 30, 2009

Eco-Friendly Business…

There were two days the other week that were notable for their eco-friendly nature.

On one day, I didn’t leave the house and didn’t drive a car at all.

On a 2nd day, I got a ride to the subway, took the Metro downtown, and got picked up on the other end. Didn’t drive myself at all.

Wonder if there’s some tax credit I can claim?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Washington Post…

For a long time now, there slogan has been “if you don’t get it, you don’t get it.”

I saw that slogan at a hockey game the other night and, since I’ve NEVER subscribed to it, and there’s plenty of evidence that the model is dead, I kind of felt like it should be:

“If you get it, you don’t get it.”

Maybe harsh, but hey, the blog is about creating controversy, right?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Just for kicks….

Click the top-right corner of this site.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Of Bassoons and Babysitters…

In one of those “step back and appreciate life” moments, the kids were treated to a bassoon concert (well, sampling, I suppose) by our dear family friend, Nancy Switkes.

Here’s the thing, however, Nancy was MY babysitter more than a few years ago, so it was really cool to see her sitting on the couch reading books to the kids and explaining to them how the bassoon (her instrument) works.
The book she read was about music and one of the kids’ favorites… Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Art and Portrait Outing…

outing to American Art Museum (3)Once a month, I make it a point on a Sunday to take the kids to do something “uniquely DC.”

With birthday parties and other activities, there are always reasons to not do it.

But, we’re in such a great city with so many attractions that it is a shame not to do it.

So, in our latest outing (here are some previous ones), we went to the National Portrait Gallery and Museum of American Art. (As a native Washingtonian, I am a bit embarrassed to say that I didn’t even know it was there.)

The point of these trips is not to turn the kids into art historians, it is just to give them a sense of appreciation for the place and, most importantly, to learn to ask questions.

There is a wonderful covered courtyard there as well, which, as usual, the kids liked more than the museum.
 outing to American Art Museum (2)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Facebook’s Nazi Security Password…

This has got to be some random thing, but check out the security validation that I got from Facebook the other night.

For background, see who Hermann Goering was.

It’s a Recession…Time for a New Job, New You

My new friend, Alexandra Levit, has a book coming out that I’ve checked out and think that it may be worth it for you as well. New Job, New You: A Guide to Reinventing Yourself in a Bright New Career is different than a lot of career guides (as is Johnny Bunko, by my client Dan Pink. Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

What I love about this book is how it is so based in the practical.

In fact, the bulk of the book are true stories of transition (and we’re talking TRANSITION in a big way) by regular people who figured out how to both reinvent their careers and, without sounding overly melodramatic, themselves as well.

Back in March when I got that nice mention in the New York Times, the focus was on how I was offering to assist the members of my network who had been laid off or “downsized.” (As we saw the other day, it’s not over yet, either)

So, I’ll now add this book to that list.

BTW, Alexandra also has a great blog where she cites a study she just completed saying that “half of employers say they currently have such a serious gap between their needs and employees’ skills that it affects their productivity.”

I think she’s got a very good read (having been a subscriber now for a while) for how our economy/workforce will need to change. 


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Another Milestone…

Tonka has slept over at her aunt’s and her grandparents before, but the other night, she was invited to stay the night at one of her friends from kindergarten.

Just one of those seemingly inconsequential moments when you step back and recognize that your little girl is growing up.

Just wanted to share.

Friday, November 20, 2009

At what price are you trading?

I promise you, I had this idea 11 years ago. I remember where I was on the streets of Tokyo, Japan when I came up with it.

Maybe I wasn’t the first, but it was there.

Now, however, I will share with you a very well-written description of it….what if you could invest not only in companies or products, but in people and their future potential?

Privatize the market for education and development.

The premise is intriguing.

Rafe Furst kicks it off as follows:

Imagine you are in your early twenties, out of college several years and your best friend, who recently came into an inheritance of $300K cash told you they could think of no better way to invest the money than to invest it in you.  Not the company you started, not as a loan, but invest it in YOU, as if you were a startup.  In return your friend said all they wanted was 3% of your gross income for the rest of your life.  Do you think you would take it?

So, would you?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Should be an interesting morning...

I was invited by a friend and her husband to be their guest at a "High Tech Prayer Breakfast."

Always looking for new perspectives and to expand my circle, I gladly accepted.

The featured speaker is a woman named Elisa Cafferky, who appears to be a Jew for Jesus.

Should be quite the coffee klatsch.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Purell Sharing Moment…

My love and admiration for Purell is well documented, so sharing that love with someone else is something I cherish.

A few weeks ago, I was at the Museum of American History with the kids.

In the gift shop, I overheard a woman say, “Ugh, I left my Purell in the car.”

Not missing a beat, I pulled my vial out and offered her some.

She was thrilled!

I know the feeling of wanting Purell and, God forbid, not having it on hand.

Her two companions rolled their eyes (I’d seen that before), but we shared a special bonding moment.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Grocery Store Cell Phone Plan…

I wish there was a word to describe the act I’ve committed and have seen other men do as well.

You are standing in the aisle at a grocery store and you can’t figure out which of the 5 products in front of you is the EXACT one your wife wants.

You have an 80% chance of failure.

So, you call and you are guided with laser-like precision to the right one.

There’s probably a word in German for it.

Send Flowers to Damascus…

League of Arab States

Image via Wikipedia

I had a geo-political revelation while reading Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle(which I reviewed from a business/innovation perspective on my other blog).

Were it not for the pressure cooker situation that Israel finds itself in because of the Arab world’s intransigence and desire to destroy the country, that Israel would not have the highest rate of innovation per capita in the world.

If “necessity is the mother of invention,” then “innovate or be exterminated,” certainly raises the stakes.

So, in a great ironic twist, the constant effort to destroy and isolate Israel has actually led to Israel’s increasing wealth and sought-after knowledge/innovation.

At the end of “The Believer,” a move in which an Orthodox kid becomes a neo-Nazi, the main character says that the way to get rid of the Jews is to “love them.”

Then, they will assimilate and be no more.

So, too, the Middle East, in some way.

Israelis will tell you this, “if the Arabs made peace with us and left us alone, we’d probably kill each other in a civil war.”

So, the 50-fold increase in living standards and having more companies on the Nasdaq than all of western Europe combined…well, that’s something the Israelis owe to the Syrians, Palestinians, and the rest of the Arab world that want them gone.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Eliezer, Abraham’s Servant…Master of Influence

Eliezer and Rebekah (illustration by Gustave Doré)

Image via Wikipedia

The other day, I was invited to give the sermon at my synagogue for the portion of the week known as Chayei Sarah (lit: the life of Sarah). It corresponds to Genesis 23:1-25:18

What I did was analyze the tactics used by Eliezer, Abraham’s servant, in his quest to bring Rebecca back as Isaac’s future wife and put them in the framework of social psychologist Robert Cialdini’s book “Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion.”

Here it is. Enjoy.

Friday, November 13, 2009

GWB Statute of Limitations…

Ok, so George W. Bush was the worst president in American history. A disaster and an embarrassment.

I get that.

What I’d like to know is: how long can the Obama administration and its supporters (and you know I am not one of them) say: “we inherited this mess,” or something to that effect?

At some point, it’s no longer about the problem you inherited and it is accountability for the decisions you actually make.

So, tell me…is it 1 year, 2 years, 4 years, 8 years, never?

Seriously. I want to know when the statute of limitations expires.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

How to react to sexism?

A few weeks back, I got some exceptional service at my car dealer, Fitzgerald Auto Mall.

I was so impressed that I interviewed the hero of the story and blogged about it.

The next day, I was back to pick up my car and I asked the 4 men in the room if they had seen the interview of their female co-worker on my blog.

One of them said, “All I saw were her ‘jimmies’ on the Internet.”

Now, it didn’t dawn on me until later, but I realized he meant breasts (I did a close-up of the logo on her shirt at the end…far from erotic, I will tell you.)

And I was really bothered by this.

Here was someone I was praising and here was a guy (who was generally nice enough to me) belittling his co-worker in a completely sexist way.

The question: what do you think I should do about it?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Anti-Semitic Believer…

So an Orthodox Jewish kid becomes a neo-Nazi….

Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but it’s not.

It’s the premise of the The Believer, a seriously warped movie that made me think A LOT. I really enjoyed the extremes to which your sensibilities were pushed in this one.

By taking you out of your comfort zone, you are forced to look at things in a new light and this movie did that.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tearjerker Movie…

The Notebook.

It’s a beautiful story. The NFO and I were a wreck by the end.

Watch it.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Taxes and Economic Recovery….

So, I get a note from the Maryland Unemployment Insurance fund that because they are running low on funds (due to high claims), they are raising taxes on employers.

As a business owner, here’s how I think about it.

“Ok, it just got more expensive for me to hire someone, so I will hold back.”

Now, personally, I don’t want any employees, I prefer the Free Agent Nation (disclosure: client) model of working with sub-contractors, but when I think about margins and profitability, I see this angle and it gives me pause.

When you raise taxes on employers, you are slowing down the very process you need to speed up to get more people off unemployment.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Homeownership…a pain in the ?

Before I owned a home, my uncle Bob said to me that “owning a home is a pain in the ass. Something is always breaking.”

He’s right, of course, but I’ve realized I enjoy the challenge of managing the house from a systems perspective. Plumbing, electrical, etc.

When the BGE Home guy comes to do the pre-winter check of my furnace, it leads to a 20 min conversation on water heaters, gas vs. electric dryers, and furnaces. I learned so much.

I just completed a 2nd energy assessment of my house and am doing a bunch of weatherizing which will (hopefully) have a 2-4 year payback period.

I kind of feel like the captain of a ship and just have to know how all the parts work (or at least the roles they play) so I/we can make the most informed decisions.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

spreading anti-semitism

Following up on the Unprepared Jewish Generation, we have this video of current day activity.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Enjoy the Fall Foliage…

Have some fun…click the “full screen” on this video.

Then enjoy the ride

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Video: The Never Stop Marketing Story…

A few months ago, I got a call from Lori at Johnson & Johnson (client).

She had heard me speak and thought I might be a good fit for another project.

Lori asked for a 'capabilities deck.' I felt like a deer in the headlights… 'uh, I don't have one. People just hire me.' “Can you just quickly put something together?”

Now, when you live by the “Remarkable” mantra, you set yourself up for a high standard…and I couldn’t just send her a “deck” full of bullet points.

But Lori had laid down the challenge/opportunity and I thank her for that…(well, not really, but I made it one anyway).

“Could I make a 'remarkable' presentation that tells the story of what I do and why it matters?” Well, it was not really I. There was a team (see who really gets the credit below).

This is the effort. Let us know how we did.

The voiceover artist is Kathryn Schwab, who also turned my Community Driven Marketing whitepaper into a Podcast/mp3 file. She is great to work with and I’ve heard from a number of folks who have actually listened to it that it made a big difference for them.

But, the true hero of this story is Amy Detrick from the Tangible Group.

As you can imagine, I am not an easy client, but Amy was more than up to the task.

In my career, I have NEVER met a designer who was so able to integrate the brand identity into her work and take the raw vision I gave her and execute it in a way that made me happy. My basic direction to her was “this should make Nancy Duarte proud.” I don’t know Nancy, but I think she might be (or hope she will).

In short, I cannot recommend Amy highly enough.
 Is this video perfect?

No, of course not, but our goal is to be remarkable, not perfect and then iterate via perpetual beta with feedback from you.

Looking forward to your comments. Big thanks to Lori, Kathryn, and Amy for making this a reality.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Facing Up: Living and Dying With Grace

I’m pretty Type A and very driven.

Sometimes, however, as I’ve aged (and hopefully matured), I sit back and ask myself “hmmm…I wonder how many years I actually have left?”

I think that when we are younger we tend to believe that “I’ll live to 80 or so” and have a full life (like my grandparents did, for example.)

Of course, as we all know, life doesn’t always work out that way.

The question, of course, is how do you deal with it when it doesn’t?

Some of you knew Ned Stutman. Some didn’t. But, his approach to life (and death) is something that everyone can appreciate.

That approach is shared in his book: Facing Up: Grateful Ned's Guide for Living and Dying with Grace

Now, a bit of disclosure…I consulted on a pro bono basis to Ned’s widow, Suzanne, on how to market the book (and, if you buy the book from the link I’ll earn something like $.04)

The jacket to the book reads “What a Nazi-hunting comedian and lawyer can teach us about cherishing life at every turn.”

And it is through those multitude of unique character intersections that your perspective will be changed, I think, for the better.

His story chronicles his ordeals at multiple US cancer treatment centers, but the beauty of the story isn’t how it ends (you already know that), it’s in the journey itself.

His humor, flirting with the nurses, making a top 10 list of the benefits of having cancer (#1: you don’t have to worry about getting cancer), just show a man who has “figured out” what it means to be present.

For friends of Ned (and there are many), this book is a natural. The marketing challenge is “why would someone who doesn’t know Ned want to read this book?”

I’m biased since I knew him and he touched my life in many ways since 4th grade.

So, let’s try this…if you didn’t know Ned and you post a comment below about one experience you had that made you “more present” in your day-to-day life, I’ll pick one of the submissions and send you my copy of the book.

Then, you can tell me if you think it works for someone who didn’t know Ned.

Fair enough?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Appeal of Facebook…Sharing Moments

If you know any skeptics out there, here are two examples of the power and excitement of social software to build connections with our friends and family and to, in general, be more human.


Here are two moments that I experienced.

A glorious cloud formation and some beautiful fall foliage.

Once upon a time, I would have been alone in these moments.

Then, maybe, I would have snapped a pictured and emailed it to a few people…or just said “hey, I saw some great clouds the other day.”

But now, I can share those moments with others and they can participate in it, reflect on it and add their own comments.

Some may say, “why do you care?” But, I think that being a part of each other's lives in this way enriches all of us.