Friday, December 31, 2010

Pictures of India…

Ok, final India post (I think).

If you want to see some of the pictures, here’s the link to the 2 albums.



Thursday, December 30, 2010

Electric Reaction…

One of the little quirks of visiting India comes in the form of electricity.

There are periodic power failures. The lights just go out suddenly.

What’s really interesting is how people react.

They don’t.

In the US, we all say “Aaargh! The power is out.”

We get frantic (or at least a bit) and we take notice.

In India…nothing.

Conversations just keep going as if nothing happened at all.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mobile Innovation? Look to India

Tom Friedman had a great article a few weeks ago asking: “What if we are only at the beginning of the technical revolution?”

(no link, sorry)

The examples were of innovation in mobile banking in India.

Only 20-30 million Indians have Internet access, but there are 20 million new cell phone activations EACH month.

You see people dressed in rags…holding a mobile phone.

While there are certainly barriers to innovation (corruption being one of them), I’m going to keep an eye on the types of services that evolve there.

It’s one area where they could possibly lead the world.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

India and Sustainability…

I’ll say this…after seeing the traffic, trash, and pollution in India, it’s more clear than ever that our consumer habits are just not sustainable.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Inches Away. Worlds Apart…

As I write this, I’m sitting in the back of a hired car on the road from Agra to New Delhi.

Using my laptop, moving pictures from my digital camera, creating blog posts, access to the world via my cell phone, and thinking about my kids using Xbox Kinect.

At the stoplight, a young boy comes up to knock on the window, asking for a handout.

He’s 8 inches away from me, but it feels like I’m in a different universe.

Taj Mahal and Agra0113

Sunday, December 26, 2010

British Retrospective…

The period of British rule in India has traditionally not been viewed positively by Indians.

On the other hand, India has more English speakers now than the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand combined.

And, because of the British Empire, they have been positioned to create much of the economic growth over the past 20 years.

It seems that Indians recognize this.

Proof (again) that sometimes judgments change over time.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Separate Subway Cars…

As I rode the Metro into Delhi around 11am, I spent a lot of time looking around, just watching the people.

At some point, it hit me: there we NO women in the car with us.

I couldn’t figure out why. I thought it had something to do with gender roles. Women not being in the workforce or what not, but it didn’t make sense.

I changed trains at the Central Secretariat station and grabbed a strap from the ceiling.

The subway in Delhi are multiple cars, like any other subway system, but they are more like those extended buses, where there is an “accordion-like” structure connecting each one, so it’s kind of like one really long train.

My car was pretty full which, given India, wasn’t a surprise.

I looked to the next car and it was sparsely populated.

I kept looking, wondering why no one from my car went into the next car, to get more space.

Then, I saw that every single person in that car was a woman.

In fact, the first car of EVERY metro train is for women only.

The lines at many public places (Red Fort, Taj Mahal) are also segregated and there’s a partition for when they do the full body pat-down as well.

India may be modernizing, but tradition is alive and well, too.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal and Agra0105

Over 22 years, 20,000 different artisans worked on creating the Taj Mahal mausoleum to Emperor Shah Jahan’s third wife.

While the hype is huge, obviously, I didn’t walk away disappointed. Its beauty is exquisite.

Shah Jahan’s son had him imprisoned in a quest for power (the same son also had his 3 older brothers executed) and claimed that his father was wasting the money of the Indian taxpayer with a frivolous monument that was so expensive and ornate.

Taj Mahal and Agra0108My guide and I joked that the son may have thought he was wise, but didn’t have the foresight to understand the international tourism business.

Perhaps Shah Jahan wasn’t just lovestruck, but had a keen insight of the long-term Return on Investment he would gTaj Mahal and Agra0109enerate?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Corruption and Growth…

A few days before I left, there was an article in the New York Times about corruption in India.

So, I decided to investigate.

Turns out, it’s an even bigger problem that the article let on

And, I concluded, it’s what’s holding India back.

One refrain I heard was that “innovation doesn’t happen in India.”

Whether that’s true or not, the perception is that innovation happens in the West and then, when it’s mature, it comes to India for support and maintenance.

Then, the dots were connected for me.

As much as we like to make fun of lawyers, etc., the rule of law, property rights, contracts, etc….without these, you can’t reward and encourage innovation.

I knew that, of course, but it was reinforced.

An educated Indian here with an idea has too many levels of bureaucracy, graft, greed, and corruption to navigate in order to make his/her dream come true.

Ok, maybe a slight exaggeration, but from what I was told, you have to “pay to play” a lot and, even if you do, you still remain exposed.

However, it seems like corruption is endemic. The sense of “justice” that pervades in much of the West doesn’t exist in the same form here.

One Indian told me that there’s a connection to the Hindu concept of reincarnation. “If you do something wrong in this life, your payback is in the next life.”

What’s more, it’s clear to everyone that your first obligation is to your family…you need to protect and take care of them so, who cares if you take a bribe along the way?

That being said, there’s increasing frustration with corruption and the term for anti-corruption is “Vigilance” which seems to be picking up steam (albeit slowly).

Apparently, the Nov. 26 Mumbai attacks infuriated people (not just b/c of the terrorism), but because some suppliers of bulletproof vests to the police had cut corners thus causing unnecessary deaths.

Every now and then, I suppose it’s important to be reminded of the things we take for granted.

In this case, respect for the law.

So, go hug a lawyer. Lucky for me, I live with one.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Poverty and Numbness…

The poverty you see in India is heartbreaking.

Next to the 2 billion dollar metro system, there are people living in tents (if you can even really call it that).

People sleeping on sidewalks.

Kids covered in dirt, grime, filth coming up to you, asking for money or a handout.

You want to help, but after a while, you realize that you alone can’t solve the problem.

You have no idea how the problem can even be solved. (Of course, this assumes that poverty is a problem).

Hundreds of vendors, all selling the same thing for small amounts of money. Dogs (and people) scrounging through garbage.

You just wonder how it all works and how people make it from one day to the next.

I’m not a naturally empathic person (a blog post for another day), so maybe it was easier for me to step back and not let every image go direct to my heart.

Instead, I kept defaulting to the macro.

How does this society (assuming it wants to) begin to go about raising the quality of life and healthcare for its members?

What can we, as members of the global community, do to contribute?

What are our obligations?

But you keep coming back to the scale.

And you feel really small and insignificant.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Security in India….

One thing that surprised me in India was the amount of security…EVERYWHERE.

I need to ask if this is a result of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks or existed before that.

But, for EVERY hotel, every museum, famous location, etc., you walk through a metal detector, can be frisked and, in many cases, put your bag through an x-ray machine.

A veteran of Israel, I’m used to a lot of security, but this amount even surpassed that.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Unexpected Hotel Guest…

I had just checked into my hotel in New Delhi after a 15 hour flight.

After showering, I quite naturally sat down to check email, etc.

Sitting there in only pajama bottoms, I was surprised to hear my door unlock.

It was so unusual that I didn’t even move. Also, I was so tired, it probably didn’t even register.

The door swings open and there is a woman standing there.

No, she wasn’t naked or anything, but she was just as surprised as I was.

It turned out that the reception desk had told her the wrong room and miscoded her key card.

She was embarrassed. I was pleased that the hotel thought enough of me to send a woman to my room.

Just kidding.

She was also upset (understandably) about the security lapse.

The next evening, I got in the elevator and looked at the woman in it with me. “Hey, was that you last night?” I asked (sounds more X-rated than it really was).

Indeed it was.

Diane Mancene is a Senior Designer for Macy’s and comes to India to help get her designs manufactured.

She also is the newest member of the “FOJ” club (friends of Jeremy) and may, arguably, have the most unique “how we met” story ever.

Friday, December 17, 2010

New Delhi-No Expectations, No Objectives

In the month leading up to my visit, I tried to “get my head” around India, or as my dad might say, “India of the mind.”

I couldn’t.

It’s too big, too vast, too complex. The scale is just so massive.

Still, I had 3 days on the ground (one of which was work-related), so I figured I’d just make the most of it.

To do that, however, I had to bring my longtime travel philosophy back and recognize that, even if I were in India for 2 years, I wouldn’t “see it all.” Instead, whatever I saw, I saw. Whatever I did, I did.

What’s more, travel is less and less about the sights for me and more and more about the people I meet and learning their perspectives.

This post will be a bit more of “what I did” and expect a few future posts will be thoughts and observations.

In a unique twist of events that proves my quarterly email to my “FOJ” list is actually a good idea, I discovered that a former neighbor of my parents, Katrin van der Vaart and her husband, Bert, were living in New Delhi for 6 months and would be there when I arrived.

She graciously offered to be my companion for the day and arrange for a driver. What’s more, she put together an itinerary for me, but her sole conclusion was “you’re going to run out of time.”

I resights and sites of New Delhi (11)plied that this wasn’t possible, since I had no expectations and no objectives.

I was staying in a part of Delhi known as Guragon, which one of the centers of the “new India.” 

From there, I was able to take a subway into central Delhi and it’s phenomenal. It was completed within the past few years and it’s immaculate (unlike much of the rest of India), efficient, and modern. My favorite part?

They have outlets on the train for charging your laptop or mobile device.

sights and sites of New Delhi (5)Speaking of mobile devices, there’s something like 20 million new cell phone activations PER MONTH and it shows.

Everyone has a phone or so it seems.

And they LOVE using them.

Meeting Katrin in Khan Market which, I’m told is the 19th most expensive real estate in the world (though you wouldn’t know it from looking at it), we did a whirlwind tour of a few of the highlights, including India Gate (which is the World War 1 memorial to the 90,000 Indian soldiers who died fighting in the British army) and the Red Fort which was built by Akbar the Great in the 1500s (he, being the hero of India for his “modernization” efforts and the egalitarian way in which he treated Hindus—he was Muslim, among other things).

The Red Fort then was taken over by the British and symbolized the Raj period that followed.

On August 15, 1947 when India gained her indepensights and sites of New Delhi (15)dence, it was there where the flag of India was raised for the first time.

(No links on this post since I am writing it in the car as we drive from Agra back to Delhi prior to my departure and while I have secured mobile Internet on my phone a few times—mostly for fun—connecting my laptop seems to be too ambitious!)

India is made up of many different religions, including 150 million Muslims, so we stopped at the Jama Masjid which, I’m told, can hold 20,000 worshippers at one time.

Completing our religion theme, we stopped at the Haym Judah Synagogue where I met the curator who told me that the Jewish population of New Delhi stands at about 50 people (those of the Bene Israel) and another 100-150 expats.

They have services weekly and were preparing for Hannukah celebrations at the time.

sights and sites of New Delhi (6)

My final activity was a “Marketing Meetup.” Through the power of social media, I had reached out and with the help of some locals, was able to have a 2 hour conversation with some very bright minds in the Indian marketing community at the Taj Mansingh Hotel.

sights and sites of New Delhi (1)Not only was it fascinating, but it gave me some great insights which I was able to integrate into my presentation the next day.

As you make your way through Delhi (actually all of India), you are doing it among an absolute crush of humanity. There are people everywhere. There are cars and vehicles everywhere.

There’s also dirt…a lot of it. And, an environmentalists’ nightmare…trash everywhere.

You see wealth and modernity sitting right next to abject poverty.

There was a guy on his knees in the middle of a main thoroughfare, begging for money. How he didn’t get hit is beyond me.

There is a love affair with the horn on the car as well. Close your eyes and it’s like a symphony (well, not really). More like a cacophony.

The movement of traffic is like a lava lamp. It flows, but there’s no real order to it. People and vehicles are  going in every possible directions, like a miasmic soup.

I’m sitting here, trying to think about how to do India justice in a blog post (or 20) and I find myself frustrated.

I keep thinking how, like Warren Buffet said, “I won the birth lottery” and how fortunate I am that my grandparents immigrated to the US.

I wonder about the challenges ahead for India. A country with so much potential in terms of human capital, but with hurdles the scale of which defy my limited brainpower.

Infrastructure, health, education, environment, waste collection, water. All of these things which are basically taken for granted in the US are very real and very pressing here.

My head hurts just thinking about it.

Which, I guess, is one of the reasons why you travel, isn’t it? Expand your mine.

Sorry. I feel like this is jumbled, but it’s just such a massive shock to the system that I can’t fully process it.

Still, I have to say, there’s something about Indians that I really love. The ones I’ve met (granted not at EVERY level of the socio-economic ladder) have a great attitude.

A great sense of humor, a willingness to chat and engage, a desire for knowledge, and a helpful kind spirit.

I feel so blessed that I had the opportunity to see this part of our ever-shrinking world.

What happens here in the future is going to impact ALL of us, so having a small clue as to what they are going through is something that I believe is critically important.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

In the land of Outsourced

During my recent trip to India, I had to deliver a webcast at 11am EST. That’s 9.30pm in India.

To obviate any technical issues, I decided to go to the Microsoft office in Gurgaon (a suburb of Delhi).

Gurgaon is one of the hearts of the “New India.”

Driving down its streets, you see the names of pretty much every major foreign corporation that you can imagine.

When I emerged onto the street at 11pm, instead of a quiet area, I saw a bustling commercial area.

I met a guy who works at IBM and answer tech support for US customers.

This is where the call centers are. These are the people we all call during the day and who answer our questions (some better than others).

They are laughing, smiling, smoking, walking, talking…real people just doing their job.

It put a unique face on the whole Outsourced phenomenon for me.

Now, I can picture the people and the places of this globalized world.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Travel Made Easier…by Skype

It’s never easy being away from home, but now that my team knows how to set up Skype on their own (no help from NFO), it’s a bit easier. And fun.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Doing What You Love…and Getting Paid

Long time readers of mine (pre-dating the blog) will remember the guiding principlce of my two years in Japan and one year in Germany.

“Try to get people to pay you what you want to do anyway.”

It’s no secret that I love travel.

Love meeting new people and seeing new things. It’s a HUGE adrenaline rush for me.

And, while I could only spend 3 days in India (barely scratching the surface), I smiled as I thought “hey, I’m getting paid to do this.”

I’ve seen a lot recently about how values are changing and people are taking comfort in the simple things, plus reconnecting with their passions.

In reading a book called “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs,” the author claims that one of the reasons Job’s has been so successful is because he isn’t in it for the money.

Do what you love and the money will follow.

I know it’s a hard leap of faith, but I’m believing in it more and more.

Monday, December 13, 2010

“Business or Pleasure?”

A number of people on the flight to India asked the same question: “Are you traveling for business or pleasure?”

I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to be able to say “both.”

And not just “both” as in I have time for both (though I do), but “both” as in “I love my job.”

I am very, very grateful for this time in my life.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Training for Jet Lag…

I resent all of those times when I was awoken by the scream of  a child asking for something and I would stumble out of bed to get it for them.

(Let’s not pretend that the NFO did it 10 times more often, shall we? I’m trying to make a point and be the hero here.)

On the flight/arrival to India, I realized that those nights of zombie-like sleep had prepared me for jet lag quite well.

I guess I resent them less now Winking smile

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Your iPad…at any angle

It’s really more than a stand and case, it’s a flexible rotational system. Ok, enough with the mumbo-jumbo.

Here’s the video, if you don’t see the embed below, but what you’ll really like about this product is not just that it’s a case, but that it allows you to position your iPad in almost any angle imaginable. Typing, planes, looking at recipes in the kitchen, business presentations, drawing. That flexibility to optimize your interaction with the device is what sets it apart.

Disclosure: I did receive a complementary copy.

They have cases for a whole slew of devices at their website:

Great holiday gift for the iPad-lover in your family.

Just some thoughts on the Zerochroma iPad case…

Friday, December 10, 2010

Charity Pitch on a Plane?

I was on a flight from Chicago to Delhi on American Airlines.

About 1 hour before landing, someone gets on the PA system and makes a pitch for UNICEF.

It lasted about 3-4 minutes.

Now, on the one hand, I don’t want kids to die of preventable disease.

On the other hand, this pitch struck me as a bit interruptive of my flight and certainly not inline with expectations.

Just not sure how I felt about the whole thing.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Power of Facebook…

If you are still skeptical of the power of Facebook (and social applications, for that matter) to help bridge connections, here’s one small anecdote.

I didn’t connect with Jeremy at the airport, but I made plans to see Jon (who lives in Seattle) in Delhi.



Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Security at the Airport….

I used to resent the PLO for the advent of airplane terrorism and the requisite long lines of security at the airport.

I seethed at the indignity of the world they had created.

Now, however, I have a different attitude.

I still am resentful, but now I suppose I have moved into “acceptance.”

I also realize that the wonderful technology which I love so much has its uglier side.

And, I have to recognize that this is the cost.

I don’t know if this is a good or bad development, but I noticed the change in my mentality during my most recent jaunt through TSA-land.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Getting Old…or Responsible?

Every year on Thanksgiving Day, I play in a football game.

This year, a few days after Thanksgiving, I was slated to go to India for 5 days…for a (what I considered) pretty big business opportunity.

With the forecast of cold weather and rain, I wondered if the risk of illness or injury was worth it.

I’ve been sick on a 12 hour flight and it was a terrible experience.

I couldn’t decide if my debate about whether to play or not was being responsible or silly.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Am I missing the roses?

I really love my job.

A lot.

Love it so much that I enjoy doing it whenever I can.

Yes, I know it’s crazy and maybe difficult to believe.

I’m also lucky.

It’s like a painting on a huge canvas that I want to keep improving, tweaking and beautifying.

Every now and then, though, I wonder if I am missing something?

Is it worth spending all of that time on something that, when all is said and done, is ephemeral?

Should I be spending more time with my family? With my community?

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Home Ownership Anniversary…

One of the dates that I mark in our family history is the date when we bought our first house.

Different than the birthdays of our children, at least for me, it represents a concrete, unchanging (for the most part) fixture representing a transition to adulthood and responsibility.

The other day, we hit 6 years in our home.

Just made me ponder the passage of time.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

How much should you control creativity?


On the one hand, I want to encourage my kids’ creativity.

I don’t know many 5 and 6 year olds who know how to use Canola Oil, baking powder, sugar, and salt to make perfect cookies with NO adult supervision.

I’m at the point now where I can take a nap (while Nadia takes one too) and leave Paco and Tonka on their own.

More often than not, I wake up to some culinary concoction having been put together in the kitchen.

They cracked the eggs, put in the vanilla extract, mixed the batter…everything.

IMG_0003All they need me to do is put the stuff in the oven (they’ve already put it on a baking sheet-and applied the non-stick spray).

Truly remarkable.

On the other hand, they tend to leave a mess and use a ton of confectionary items (choc. chips, M&Ms, etc.) The floor is, shall we say, not the cleanest.

And, it’s up to me to clean it up.

I’ve told them that “clean up is part of baking,” but that doesn’t always work.

What’s the right balance?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Agony of Defeat

Goal keeper in action. (Youth game in Germany).

Image via Wikipedia

This year’s was Paco’s first playing competitive sports.

All along, I told him that my only standard for success was “leave it all on the field.”

I didn’t care if he won or lost, scored or didn’t. I cared how hard he tried.

And tried he did. Every play. I was very proud of him.

Now, of course, we like to win as much as anyone and his team made it to the championship game.

With minutes left in the game, his team was leading 1-0.

Paco was in goal.

The other team (Blue) kicked a ball from a relatively far distance, it took an admittedly weird bounce and went over his 3’5” frame into the goal to tie the game.

Ultimately, the game went into overtime and Blue beat Paco’s team (Gold) for the victory.

Surprisingly, Paco wasn’t that upset about the goal. That is, he didn’t feel like he had cost his team the victory, but he was DISTRAUGHT about the loss.

He cried on my shoulder for a good few minutes.

He wanted to win so badly and I felt his pain so much that I started to get choked up.

I admired his guts and his determination. His desire for excellence and victory.

I didn’t like that he was too upset to go shake hands in the post-game lineup, but I suppose I get it.

Still, I was proud of him.

Even beyond that, I was surprised by how much my emotions were wrapped up in his.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Seinfeldian Economics….

Like chocolate and peanut butter, we now bring together two perfect complements.

Seinfeld and Economics.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kinect for Xbox 360-Controlling by Moving Your Body

imageUntil now, I didn’t want my kids playing video games. Too passive.

Well, not anymore. Personally, I think this video of my kids is more powerful than Microsoft’s official video, but I’m biased.

“You are the controller” is the tag line for the Xbox 360 Kinect system and, well, let’s just say that that is indeed the case.

You can play a video game without holding any controller or any type. You just stand in front of the camera and move around.

It’s pretty crazy.

Best of all, it’s active and, now, I have a 5 year old who thinks it’s totally normal to stand in front of a TV and have his actions reflected on the screen.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Which do you “like” better?

I’m going to put a “reveal tab” on the Never Stop Marketing Facebook Fan Page (become a fan, if you aren’t already).

Here’s how you can create one for yourself, if you want.

Now, vote in this poll and let me know which one you “like” better?

Version 1



Version 2



Thursday, November 25, 2010

Illness as a Gift?

On this day of Thanksgiving, here’s an interesting take on gifts and being thankful.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Feeling Like a Sell Out…

For a long time, I’ve taken pride in the fact that I mow my own lawn and rake my own leaves.

This year, mostly due to work commitments, I just didn’t see how I would have the time to rake the leaves prior to the collection date.

So, I hired someone to do it.

In a business sense, I outsourced a non-core competency, but I did feel like a bit of a sell-out.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Never Stop Marketing TV

Just a public service announcement. If you are  YouTube user, you can subscribe to the Never Stop Marketing channel.

Some self-promotional stuff, but trying to put augment with good, solid interviews up there as well.

Not all of them make the blog, but they are there.

As with everything. Feedback welcome.

Just click on Subscribe.


Monday, November 22, 2010

The Little Moments and the Big Picture

“When I go to college,” Paco announced, “I am not going to live there. I am going to stay at home because I want to be near you and Mommy.”

“That’s nice, Jokinen,” I said, “but one of the reasons you go to college is to begin to learn how to live on your own. You’re not going to live with us forever.”

“Will you start teaching me how to live on my own when I’m 18?” he asked.

“Every time you watch me doing something, you’re learning how to live on your own,” I said.

“You just don’t realize it yet.”

Made me appreciate how these little moments all add up to the whole of the childhood experience.

And the awesome responsibility of every day.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Angels and Football in the Bible

Sarah and Abraham hosting three angels

Image via Wikipedia

There’s a story in the Old Testament about 3 angels visiting Abraham and Sarah in their tent.

There’s also a song which many parents sing at night to their kids which indicates that there are 4 angels (one on each side) that serve to protect us.

Paco and I were discussing which of the 3 angels (Raphael, Uriel, Michael, Gabriel) had visited Abraham and Sarah.

We concluded that Uriel was the one who was absent (not sure how).

“Where do you think he was?” Paco asked.

“I think he was probably at home, watching football,” I responded.

“No way!” Paco exclaimed emphatically.

“It wasn’t Sunday!”


Friday, November 19, 2010

Ending Family Traditions…

A friend of mine has been going to her husband’s family’s Thanksgiving celebration for every year they have been married (over 10).

Last year, shortly after the holiday, we were discussing the fact that she never had the opportunity to spend the holiday with her own family.

She wanted to.

I suggested to her that she “hold on to that feeling” and 6 months before Thanksgiving, announce to the family that she would like to do something a bit different this year.

Otherwise, when it was too close to the holiday, she would just “cave” and end up going, despite her own wishes.

I should add that Thanksgiving at her in-laws is a BIG deal, with over 30 people from multiple generations and branches attending.

So, I gave her the strategy and she executed.

Made a note on her calendar and reached out to her mother-in-law, well in advance.

The response?

Not so warm.

Mixed, actually.

Her husband’s grandparents took it in stride. “Life happens, goes on” was kind of their philosophy.

Her mother-in-law was pretty hurt.

Her husband’s cousins were FURIOUS!

“You’ve ruined the holiday!”

“You won’t ever be forgiven!”

Now, many others have taken the attitude, “well, if she and her family aren’t coming, maybe we won’t” and the family tradition could be at an end.

On the one hand, maybe it was well past time for it to end.

On the other, maybe she (and I, indirectly) should have just left it alone.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Marketing in India…

I’ll be heading to Delhi in a few weeks to deliver a marketing training session.

I’m very excited (since you know I love travelling and marketing) and am doing my best to figure out how to make sure the concepts “land” with an Indian audience.

As part of my prep, I watched a fantastic presentation on the difference between Western and Indian mythology and how that affects business.

Wanted to share it.

I actually think that some of my ideas will resonate better with an Indian than with a Western audience.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Once Brothers…

As a sports fan, the names Vlade Divac and Drazen Petrovic meant something to me.

Some of the first (if not, the first) foreign-born players to play in the NBA, they were well-known in basketball circles.

I also knew, tangentially, that they both hailed from the former Yugoslavia.

What I didn’t know was the story of how their once strong friendship was another casualty of the civil war in the Balkans.

As luck would have it, I watched the ESPN 30 for 30 film “Once Brothers” and got an entirely new perspective on them, basketball, and the world.

How two people who, ostensibly, were all about basketball and friendship, got caught up in events out of their control.

A humbling reminder for all of us.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On Empathy…

I’m not naturally gifted in the area of empathy.

And, I’m the first to admit that it has definitely come back to hurt me at times.

The other day, I heard a sermon where the person defined empathy as a skill:

the ability to anticipate the needs of others

I found that refreshing.

It gives you a clear definition and a binary Yes/No…”either I did anticipate or I didn’t?”

I guess the next question is…just because you CAN anticipate someone else’s needs, does that mean you should act on them?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Secret Life of Garbage

I had recorded this, but was afraid to watch it…for fear of what reality I would have to confront.

It’s pretty sad and disheartening (with sprinkles of cause for optimism). We’re all guilty here.

I’m definitely a bit depressed now. It’s like the Wall-E vision is really happening.

Here’s info on Trash in your state and the “life of a water bottle.”



Sunday, November 14, 2010

That Great Idea of Yours…

I’ve been told MANY times by people that “I have an idea, but I need an NDA before I tell you.” Or “I’m worried that someone might steal it.”

I always tried to convince people that most others don’t have the passion or drive to take it, so you’re better off sharing it and getting feedback than keeping it to yourself.

Now, I have the best response yet.

“Don’t worry about people stealing your idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats.”

Howard Aiken, US computer scientist, (1900-1973)

as written on p. 149 in The Mesh

Friday, November 12, 2010

My dad knows too much…

National seal of Brazil, according to Decree n...

Image via Wikipedia

I’m going to Brazil in a few months and my dad who, was there last year, offered to sell me his Reales at the market rate.

It just so happens that I saw the Google News headlines and caught that a new President had been elected on the day prior, as a successor to Lula.

My dad quoted me a rate.

I glibly responded:

Check's in the mail. You are probably buoyed by yesterday's election  of Lula's successor, but I'm happy to pay for Brazil's optimism

My dad replied:

I don't know that I have a reaction to the election of Lula's successor. IF she remains oriented towards a free market and growth then okay.

Lula danced with the Presidents of some trouble-making countries. I don't know where the new President will go.

The economic policies that have brought growth to Brazil were put in place by Lula's predecessor, President Cardoso.

Lula continued those policies, though his previous history would have suggested a different course.

He called my bluff. Ouch.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Man vs. Food and Sustainability

There’s a show on the Travel Channel called “Man vs. Food
Basically, the host goes to various locales and challenges himself to eat ridiculous quantities of food (7 lbs of fish, 12 egg omelettes, etc.)
I saw this while flipping through the channels the other night and contrasted that with a  TED talk I had heard that morning about how we are fishing the Bluefin Tuna to death.
Knowing what we know about the threat to our food eco-systems, I just wonder if these types of shows demonstrate the right values and are anachronistic. Kind of like the Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Key to Success…

“I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”
Bill Cosby

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Learning to Samba…

IMAG0067It’s a long story about WHY I had a free dance lesson coming to me, but I did, so I figured: what the heck?
I went to the Arthur Murray Dance studio in Silver Spring where the fantastic Jenny patiently took me under her wing.
I told her that I wanted to learn Latin dances, so we started off with the Bachata before progressing to the Samba (I’m going to Brazil in Feb) and then some Salsa.
Now, I’ve watched enough “So, You Think You Can Dance,” “Shall We Dance” (Japanese version) and “Dancing with the Stars” to be dangerous, so I had a particularly good time in adding in some extra hip movements.
Though, I have to say, I’m not giving up my day job just yet!
They put on the “soft sell” and I’m not sure if I’ll go back for more…but I did have a GREAT time.
Also, got a chance to watch some serious dancers. Here’s the video.


Monday, November 08, 2010

The Mayor of Divorce…

For those of you unfamiliar with Foursquare, it’s a service where you “check in” to places (a Starbucks, an event, a restaurant) and then, if you wish, you can share that info (with a comment) to your network on Facebook or Twitter.

The person who checks in most frequently at a location becomes “the mayor.” Sometimes that brings privileges, but mostly not.

It’s interesting to me because it is part of the new era of “Location-based services,” but the other day I saw something that was a first for me.

It’s probably been done before, but Adam checked in at the courthouse and then announced that “at long last. I am now divorced.”

It really is a new world, but certainly an easier way to get the word out.

adam schorr divorce on 4sq

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Serendipitous Art of Arcimboldo

A few weeks ago, the kids Fall 2010 Field Trip to National Gallery of Art (4)had a day off from school and while I was tempted to get them some “playdates,” Tonka and Paco insisted that we “take the Metro and do ‘something’ in Washington DC.”

Proud of them for that alone, but even more so when they suggested the National Gallery of Art (primarily because they love the moving walkways in the basement there, but hey).

Well, as luck would have it, we ran into two GREAT exhibits. One was the drawings of Edvard Munch (yes, we saw “the Scream”), but also wel earned about the insanely good work of Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

His paintings, almost all commissioned by Maximillian II, the Holy Roman Emperor were exquisite compilations.

For example, he painted a series called the “4 Seasons,” but they were paintings of people, but made up of items like marine life and fruit.

I couldn’t believe I had never heard of him, but was doubly excited to make this discovery with the kids.



Friday, November 05, 2010

If you don’t ask…

You never get.

That’s kind of the salesman’s motto, right?

I guess the question is: at what consequence?

The other Monday, my kids didn’t have school (professional day) and I took them to the pediatrician to get their flu shots.

I was promptly told that flu shots were only given on T-F.

“Do you ever make exceptions for your best customers?” I asked.image

I mean, we were there already and it was a day off.

The receptionist, a bit grumpily said, “well, if the doctor says it’s ok, it’s ok.”

I went into the business manager’s office. He knows me (after all, I am the mayor.)

I ask him the same question.

He says, “well, it’s fine by me if it’s not too busy.”

It wasn’t.

He went in…next thing I know and there’s a small (but loud) disagreement in the back between the nurses (who apparently didn’t like the change in process) and the business manager.

I have no idea if I am right or not, but afterwards, I feel like we are getting some cold stares from the staff.

And, yes, we got the flu shots.

Was this the right call?

I don’t know.

But, I did use the opportunity to explain to the kids the ideas of “customer service,” “processes,” and “efficiency.”

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Unexpected Stamp Surprise…

I received an envelope the other day with the state flag of Mississippi on it.

I guess I didn’t realize or wasn’t aware of what it looked like.

But it took me aback.


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Election Day and the “Apple Ballot”

001 Even before one of the Board Members of the NEA made anti-Semitic remarks to me on a plane, I had negative feelings about the Teachers’ Union.

After reading Richard Evans’ great book Coloring Our Way to Calamity: Globalization, the Public Schools and Your Children (review here), those feelings intensified.

So, today, when I go to the polls, I will take the “Teachers Recommend” list here and vote AGAINST these people.

Now, it’s not about the teachers, it’s about the union. I think they do MUCH more harm than good.

Most of my friends who are teachers know that they pay union dues, but really don’t understand what the union does.

At least the Montgomery County Educators Association made it easy for me.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Struggling American Dream

You should read this article from TIME magazine.

I see part of what he describes already happening in my own business.

For those of you who don’t know, I have a personal assistant. She lives in the Philippines. She can do as much online as pretty much anyone you know.

And her rates are…shall we say…VERY competitive.

It’s my perspective that Americans haven’t fully come to appreciate this fact yet.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The National Archives…

U.S. Declaration of Independence ratified by t...

Image via Wikipedia

Our latest excursion took us to explore the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights AND as a bonus, we saw the Magna Carta and the Nuremberg Laws.

The kids, who are fascinated by all things Presidential, were excited to see Thomas Jefferson’s and George Washington’s pictures on the murals on the wall.

Also, seeing the documents that Jefferson (and they learned about George Mason) wrote was a bonus.

Though they couldn’t remember the name of the person who signed the DofI so big that “King George could see it” (John Hancock), they did remember that someone had.

A nice, quick visit and another benefit of living where we do…hoping to inspire an appreciation of their hometown.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Hateful bigotry? Condoning Obesity? Grossed out?

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a stir brewing on the Marie Claire blog and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Over 1700 comments (at last count).

It started because a blogger took up the issue of whether it was a good idea to show obese people on TV in intimate situations.

I am not even going to begin to debate this one, it’s fascinating.

Just go read it.

Hat tip to Dani Klein for posting this on his Facebook feed.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Composting Update…

A few months ago (June 29th to be exact), I started composting.

So far, I’d say the results have been mixed.IMAG0059

While I have been completely unsuccessful in terms of generating any type of mulch for spreading in my yard, what has been an overwhelming success is the fact that now almost all the organic waste that we produce goes in the composter.

What happens there is nothing short of a wonder of nature.

It is so fascinating to watch the insects inside go to work and the food just gets reprocessed.

There are so many challenges to our world and while this is just a minor step, it makes me feel good (and involving my kids as well) that, instead of putting our stuff in a landfill (where I suppose it might decompose anyway), we’re making a small contribution to the eco system in our backyard.

It’s made all of us feel more connected to the larger biosphere.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Skype via Facebook


Nifty little add-on to newest version of Skype.

Now, you can get your Facebook newsfeed directly within Skype…and then call people.

Makes sense to integrate your social network with phone, directly from your desktop/laptop (my hunch is that this isn’t available on mobile version yet).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What Innovation Requires…

More than anything else.

A thick skin.

When you try something new, you will be ridiculed, criticized, and doubted.

Just have to believe.

More important than brains or the idea. Persistence and a relentless refusal to take things personally.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tools of the Trade…

Three models of the Zune (not including Zune H...

Image via Wikipedia

I don’t travel light.

I like to be prepared.

Not just clothes wise, but in terms of time-saving and productivity-enhancing technology.

On a recent four day trip, I brought the following with me

  1. my Windows 7 Netbook
  2. an iPad
  3. a Zune
  4. my Sprint EVO smartphone
  5. the LiveScribe smartpen
  6. a Flipcam

And, because I did, I was able to make the most of a number of unexpected opportunities (that’s the idea behind being prepared, right?)

The laptop? Obvious. iPad—also, obvious, I would expect. The Zune…I synchronize it with my Media Center at home and thus have a DVR-like experience when necessary.

Phone, also obvious, but I did use it to capture an impromptu chat in a parking lot, the FlipCam allowed me to capture a video of my client who is willing to do my laundry, and listen to a lecture by a leading marketing thinker and capture it with my LiveScribe pen as a Pencast.

Like a carpenter carries a toolbox, so do I. Need to have many tools to get the job done.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Urban Legend….

This is a slightly off-color/risque post. If you get offended by these types of things or think you might, don’t read any further.

You’ve been warned.

I met a guy at the Bag Claim in BWI the other night who has 2 girlfriends—and they are ok with the fact that the other one exists. Here’s his unique story.

His email address includes the words “urbanlegend” in it. Indeed.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Early Morning Arrival

I flew from Seattle to Chicago on the red-eye the other night (not doing that again…the flight is too short to get real sleep).

My plan was to go straight from the airport to my sister-in-law’s house and go to bed.

Thing is, I got in to O’Hare at 4.45am and was in front of their house at 5.30am.

There was no way I was going to wake them up.

So, I pulled up their lawn chair, connected to their wi-fi network with my laptop and iPad and proceeded to just get stuff done.

One of the stranger moments in my travel career.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Client Who Does Laundry…

I’ve been blessed to have some great clients in my career, but  this is the first time a client is so dedicated that she’s willing to do my laundry ;-)

Enjoy the video.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Good News, Bad News

best toilet-training aids EVER
Image via Wikipedia
We’re working on potty training Lakkanen (2.5).

We got her undressed the other night in preparation for the bath then, for a few moment, turned our attention to the other kids.

Moments later, she comes running in yelling, “I made a poopie.”

“That’s great!” we shout.

Then, she continues, “I did it in the container on the floor in Tikkanen’s room!”


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It’s not every day you witness a revolution…

I apologize if this is a bit of an exclusionary post since you need some background in order to understand why I think this is groundbreaking (and I can’t really go into all of it right now).

This video shows two Orthodox rabbis in an Orthodox synagogue providing musical accompaniment to a Bat Mitzvah girl leading the service during a women-only, women-run service.

The men, meanwhile, are occupying the seats/sections which are usually reserved for the women.

The NFO and I were in Nashville for this service and the two rabbis there just AWESOME.

For those of you in the egalitarian fold or not familiar with the politics of women’s issues in the Traditional/Orthodox world, this may not seem like a big deal.

But, it is.

I have so much respect for how Rabbis Strosberg and Levitt pushed the envelope here to give women as much opportunity to participate as is possible under halacha, traditional Jewish law.

I really don’t know if this is the first time something like this has happened, but it was the first I’d seen it and the first I’d heard of it.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Travel People

It’s really easy when we travel to stay in our own worlds.

iPods, Kindles, hotel rooms, etc. We can build a cocoon.

The point of travel, at least for me, is to expand horizons.

And, to do that, it’s about people.

When I travel on business, I’m focused, that’s for sure and I always try and do at least one thing unique to that place to make it memorable.

I’m also going to try and chronicle at least one interesting conversation.

This one is William Abbey, a retired Seattle police officer who is almost finished with his goal of bicycling across the entire country.

You can read his stuff at Crazy Guy on a Bike

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Zen Class Bag Review

Sophisticated travelers know that one of the best things you can do is to be prepared for delays and that a plane trip can be optimized for productivity.

I travel with a lot of stuff. A laptop, a phone, sometimes an iPad, maybe a book (for takeoff/landing), water bottle, healthy snacks, and more.

I frequently find myself reaching under the seat in front of me or trying to navigate the pouch in the back of the seat, so I was particularly excited when Brent Hollowell told me about his business, Zen Class Travel and the tote bag that is designed to fit right over the tray table in front of you.

On a flight to Seattle, I gave it a whirl and hung it up in front of me for a large portion of the trip.

Here’s my video of the experience.

It certainly made access a LOT easier and more pleasurable. I had more within reach and simply than before.

The bag folds up nicely and has a shoulder strap, so you can easily prep it beforehand and then just put it up when you get on board. I chose not to do this.

When bringing the tray table down, however, the bag can’t stay on it. Since I use my laptop a lot on the flight, I found that the bag was on the floor next to me (I had a window seat, so for this flight, it wasn’t a big deal).

While there were a lot of pockets and they could hold my laptop (NetBook) and my iPad, the bag couldn’t fold up in half (for the carrying portion) with those devices in there.

A minor point, but I noticed it.

I happen to love pockets, and this thing had a lot of them. With a bit more practice, I could probably become quite adept at it.

I can’t say that it revolutionized my travel experience, but I can say that I liked the convenience of it, the design was clever, and it certainly made for a more pleasant flight.

I’m intrigued enough that I will continue to test it out on my next set of flights (we’ll see how it holds up going to India!)

Disclosure: Brent sent me a free bag for purposes of trial, but with no conditions attached regarding the review.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Global Network. Global Consciousness.

The more time that I spend online (and it’s a lot), the more the power of networks helps me understand how we’re all interconnected.IMAG0059

Perhaps this technical understanding of networks has opened my mind, eyes, and heart to the biological network we inhabit and impact.

Back in June, I began composting and this post was originally going to be about the progress of that initiative.

So far, I haven’t really taken any mulch out of the “end” of the process, but what continues to AMAZE and astound me is how much food we are now recycling and how effectively nature recycles it.

Watching the insects at work is truly an appreciation of God’s handiwork and I am at the point where I don’t even care if I get mulch out. It’s just a great feeling to contribute in this small way.

But, while I was thinking about this post, I watched this fantastic video called How Big Brands Can Save BioDiversity and it made me concerned about the future that we all will inherit…and hopeful that, as more and more people come to the realization that our past patterns of consumption are not sustainable, that there is indeed a brighter future around the corner.

I’m far from a model of non-consumption, but, as Lao Tzu says, “the journey of a 1000 miles begins with 1 step” and my step is the one out my back door to the compost bin.

What’s yours?

Now, watch the video…

Thursday, October 14, 2010

‘Probably a Black or Hispanic Kid’

A few weeks ago, someone entered our neighbors’ house.

We live in a mostly white, relatively affluent neighborhood.

As part of their efforts, the police asked me if I had seen anything (I hadn’t) and, after telling me that my neighbors had left their windows open, said in passing, “look it was probably some black or hispanic kid.”

With no information about the perpetrator, that kind of took me off guard.

Even if the odds are that it was some black or Hispanic kid, I am not sure how helpful or relevant that information was from the officer.

Seemed like just something that shouldn’t have been said.

Now, guess the race and gender of the police officer who made the comment…

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Video: The NSM Client Experience

Put together a small video describing the "client experience” of working with Never Stop Marketing. This is the first version.

Feedback welcome.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Education: China vs. US

High School Musical

Image via Wikipedia

I heard a fascinating report on NPR the other day about how film makers are seeking to adapt classic US movies to the Chinese market…with mixed success.

One of the movies that failed was High School Musical.

But, the part of the story that got me was the fact that:

China's High School Musical wasn't actually set in a high school. It had to be transplanted to a college.

That's because Chinese high schools involve such a huge workload, it would be impossible for students to take part in the singing contest around which the film revolves.

The more I think about American competitiveness, the more this kind of thing drives home the point that I should be concerned.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hi Tech Nephew…

My newest nephew was born the other day at 12.22pm.

As you can see from the clock behind us, it was only a matter of hours before my sister and I began educating him on the merits of various mobile device technology.

Mazal tov to my sister, Dina and brother-in-law, Eitan.