Friday, April 30, 2010

You’ve learned well, son…

I was out of town the other day and the NFO (aka my wife) took the 3 kids out to dinner.

During the course of the conversation, they were discussing a topic and the NFO remarked,

“we’ll have to talk about that with your dad when he gets home.”

Paco said wit1hout missing a beat: “Why? You are the Supreme Commander”


As you know, I’m big on nicknames for the kids.

Calanit (Tonka or Tikkanen); Erez (aka Paco, Spencer, Maximus, Jokkanen); and Nitzahn (Gianni, Nadia, and Lakkanen).

My wife (aka NFO-nameless/faceless one) is known as “the Supreme Commander,” as in “don’t ask me, ask the Supreme Commander.”

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Civilizations die from suicide…not murder

This, according to Alfred Toynbee, and in Richard Evans’ scary screed against the public school education system in America, he warns that if we don’t fix things fast, that is our destiny.

Three pages into this book, I was shaken to my core, as I realized that Richard was on to something.

I’ve known Richard for 12 years and he advises some of the world’s largest companies. He was also a member of his local school board for a long time.

In short, he’s not an idiot and he knows what he’s talking about.

The real question isn’t whether he is right or not, the real question is if we are willing to listen and then have the cojones to do anything about it.

Unfortunately, I’m skeptical. Which saddens me.

Coloring Our Way to Calamity: Globalization, the Public Schools and Your Children is a parable of a lone woman (Beth) in a New Hampshire town who realizes the the combination of the Teachers Union (you know how I feel about the teachers union already), the school board, the grading system, and host of other issues are wreaking havoc on the educational future of our children.

Beth valiantly attempts (with marginal success) to make changes, but the forces of inertia and self-centeredness keep her at bay.

As the back cover states:

“Dealing with low wage competition from overseas is not just "an" issue for our children's lives, it will turn out to be "the" issue, completely dwarfing all others. In this century, globalization, and its inevitable economic impact on jobs here at home, will be the fight of America's life.”

From what I’ve seen of globalization and education, I think Richard is spot on. It’s going to be a fight and I’m not even sure that America is in it.

This won’t be a best-selling book. The folks who don’t want you to hear about it, will keep it down. That’s why you should get it.

Disclosure: Richard sent me a copy of the book for review.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bet you don’t know too many….

People who have been diagnosed with Iliac Arteriopathy.

I was talking to my friend and client, Michele Potter, who recently underwent surgery for this problem.

She’s an extreme triathlete and her abdomen muscles had become so tight that it constricted the blood flow through an artery to her legs.

Yeah, that’s a problem we all have.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Great collaboration tool…

If you use Windows and do a lot of work with other people (or need to sync information between multiple computers), you should definitely check out Windows Live Mesh.

It’s incredibly flexible…I sync folders between 3 computers and have access to all of the files via a browser as well.

What’s more, you can invite others to have access to individual folders very easily.

So, I have one folder which I share with my assistant, Mary (she’s virtual) and I have another folder for the 8 people around the world participating in a Microsoft-funded project.

It’s a critical part of my infrastructure and I highly recommend it.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Internet Intimacy and the Work-Life Divide

One of the questions I am most often asked in my professional life is “should I keep my personal and business life separate” in a social media world?

I say no, since I view it as a “cutting yourself off at the knees” type action.

What Stefana Broadbent’s presentation How the Internet enables intimacy did for me was to help explain in a larger context what was going on…and why I was gravitating toward that position.

Her insights help us remember that the world of the “isolated workplace” is really the anomaly and now, thanks to technology, we are coming back to the way things were.

My favorite line was when she said, “people used to live on top of their workplaces” and I thought, “well, I work in my basement, so I guess I’m old school.”

The facts/ideas that I found most compelling were:

  • despite all of this technology, people talk to only 4-6 other people most of the time (that is, most people)
  • and her suggestion that schools are training kids for an anachronistic paradigm

I think it’s worth the view…

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Soccer Parenting….

As a parent, you have to figure out the balance between pushing your kid to succeed and rise to challenges, but not letting them get discouraged by failure.

This can be encapsulated in a simple game of soccer in the front yard that I played the other day with Paco.

I could beat him 10-0, but he would get discouraged.

I could let him win 10-0, but then he would think he his better than he is.

The questions

  • when to let him score?
  • when to score on him?
  • when to make it easy for him to score?
  • when to make him work for it?

And, in each game, to ask: should he be the overall winner or loser?

It’s a constantly evolving assessment of the boy’s development and his attitude at that particular moment.

Which is, I imagine, kind of like parenting in general.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The iPad Impact…

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

At first, I thought “it’s a big iPod Touch, I don’t need that.”

Then, I said “wow, I think I want one.”

After it came out, I read the reviews (of those in my universe, that is) and I felt like “this is all about content consumption, not about creation” (which is what I love).

Then, my brother, Asher, said (essentially), “Idiot! It’s not for you. It’s for your kids.”

He went on to explain that his 3 year old was navigating his and how this was natural technology for her.

No, it wasn’t sibling rivalry, but that swayed me. It was time to take the technophilia of my household to the next level and the next generation.

So, I bought an iPad.

And…I am a believer.

First, let’s talk about what it has meant for me, however.

  1. it’s the first “instant on” computer.
  2. it has revolutionized my reading (of which I do a lot). Between the blogs I read on Google Reader and a fantastic service called Instapaper (which allows me to create a customized ‘newspaper’ if you will of all the links that I like but want to ‘read later’), I can now lie on my couch in the evening, after a long day, and quickly (MUCH more quickly than at a PC), read through all of them.
  3. it’s brought my 12000 photos back to life, since we can look at them in full splendor
  4. same for my videos and those I’ve posted on YouTube
  5. and a slew of other things (like scanning Facebook or Twitter.)

As for the kids…here’s a sampling of what Tonka did in a 30 minute session the other day.

  1. read part of Winnie the Pooh in iBooks (and she knows how to turn the pages)
  2. did a series of math drills
  3. did some drawings on the “doodle pad’
  4. and played a game that involved making an aquarium and caring for the fish
  5. find our house using Google Earth and then move around the neighborhood with her fingers, looking for landmarks

The whole thing is 100% natural for her (and Paco as well-who enjoys pulling up and reading the daily weather forecast.)

Seeing them touch, type, and manipulate the screen gives you the feeling that the keyboard/PC/monitor paradigm of the past 30 years is clearly on the way out.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Year 3 of the Never Stop Marketing Movement…

Last year, I shared with you the goals of Year 2 for my little consulting adventure.

I wanted to review them and use this same forum to start talking about Year 3.

I view the period between April 15-May 2nd as the “birth” of the company.

Here’s what I said I would do in last year’s post.

  • develop logo and overhaul look and feel of website (thanks to my intern)
  • get my Blook published (think of it as a 'Greatest Hits' of posts from my Igniting the Revolution blog).
  • Improve the website/blog visitor experience (we will be launching the Disqus commenting system, for one to improve interaction (i have a tech guy working on this) and remove some of the dumb glitches
    • Done. Disqus is implemented and I think the experience is better.
  • drive the CDM message farther and wider via more speaking engagements

All in all, not too shabby.

Last year, I wrote
“Year 3, by the way, will be focused on Innovation. Go back and challenge the assumptions. Don't believe my own BS.”

I think I’ve got a bit of a head start on this in terms of some of the service offerings, but here’s what I’d really like to do this year.

  1. Take the concepts that I laid out in Dandelion Marketing (PDF eBook) and work with 2-3 innovative, cutting-edge clients to help pilot and then seed a true Dandelion Marketing Culture (with the metrics and ROI to prove the value for them)
  2. Extend and improve upon the various Assessment offerings (Customer Touchpoint Assessment, Marketing Anthropology Assessments, Made to Stick Assessments) and increase the impact and effectiveness of them. (with the hard metrics and ROI to demonstrate that it was really worth it)
  3. write another eBook that continues the effort to “jump the innovation curve” as I prep for year 4.
  4. and then innovate on the operations side….after getting ripped by my accountant, I am going to implement a financial accounting system. Excel is great, but it’s getting a bit ugly ;-)

And, as I said last year, there's NO way that the business could have evolved to even this small, but notable, point, without the  tremendous support of the FOJ community (and most importantly, the NFO). I love how people keep pushing me on all points and suggesting improvements, both large and small. It's like having a team of 1000.

Thank you.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

500 Days of Summer

500 Days of Summer

Image by wendyness via Flickr

Ever fallen in love and felt like you were floating?

Ever been dumped and felt like your world was crashing down around you?

Ever been in a situation that didn’t quite play out according to your much-visualized expectations?

If you think/have thought about these things, I think you’ll enjoy (500) Days of Summer.

Following the recommendation of my LA tour guide, Jeremy, who told me that it was one of the “quintessential movies of modern day LA,” I watched it and really enjoyed it.

Light and dark at the same time, it just felt very real.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Why the Internet trumps TV

If a guy with drug-resistant TB can pull this off while being quarantined, the masses beat the few for entertainment over the long haul.

Here’s the video

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Should insurance cover IVF?

A surgical team from Wilford Hall Medical Cent...

Image via Wikipedia

I hardly know the ins and outs of the new healthcare bill and don’t plan on reading it in full.

So, all I have to go on is a philosophical leaning about insurance, healthcare, and society.

The primary tension that I see is the needs/desires of the individual with the needs/desires of society.

As I mentioned last week, a lesbian friend of mine visited me with her wife and 2 kids.

Since I’m not shy (I know, hard to believe), I eventually asked “so, do both kids have the same father?”

Each of the women had given birth to one of the kids and, in fact, did have the same biological father.

This led to a fascinating conversation about the economics of sperm donation and banking as well as to the various methods of impregnation.

As I understand it, there’s IUI (which I may have crassly called the ‘turkey baster’ approach) and IVF, which is more complicated and more expensive.

Now, my friends live in Massachusetts and told me that IVF is a part of the state’s health insurance mandated coverage.

If you are visiting this blog for the first time, you probably know by now that I love my kids and I think it is the greatest blessing to ever happen to me (excluding send my first email in ‘91, of course).

Actually, if you are visiting this blog for the first time…what took you so long?

Seriously, kids are awesome. It’s a blessing and the thought that people who want kids couldn’t have them pains me deeply.

On a personal level.

And that’s the tension.

I want my friend and her wife to have the joy of children, but as a society (when you scale it out to hundreds or millions of people), is that where we should be putting our collective healthcare resources?

If the money that goes to cover IVF comes from money that could fund cancer research or prevent heart disease or save a preemie, is it worth it?

If you assume, money is infinite, then no need to comment here, since choices don’t need to be made.

If, however, you believe that the money for expenditures is finite, it’s a challenge.

And that’s where I sit on ALL of these healthcare issues. Until we have some sort of rationing (be it ‘death panels’ or insurance companies denying coverage), I just can’t get my head around paying for all of it without breaking the bank.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Check out what Nadia drew on Doodle Buddy for iPad

My 2 year old just just drew this on Doodle Buddy for iPad. 

With Doodle Buddy you can create awesome drawings on tons of backgrounds and even use cool stamps. Doodle Buddy is also available for iPhone and iPod touch. Check it out at

Sent from my iPad

Bloggestion Box...

It's a Blog Suggestion Box.
Want to see me blog on a certain topic?
Well, now you can.
Over on the right side of this blog, there is now a Skrbit Suggestion Box.
Go ahead, add your ideas in there.

Jamie-thanks for the motivation in this comment.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

“Some women marry women…”

The day after I explained sexual intercourse to my kids, I was confronted with another unique challenge.

After 18 years (since high school graduation), I was going to see a good friend of mine from my early years. She was coming with her wife (they are married in Massachusetts) and their 2 kids.

Now, I probably could have let the whole thing slide and they would never have asked, but I guess I was on a kick of “keeping it real” for them) and saw that this was another chance to help them understand the world beyond the walls of our house.

So, I shared that there are some women who marry other women and that some men marry men.

They seemed to take it in stride and that was the end of it.

Of course, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was glad that they didn’t ask the question that put the two discussions (sexual intercourse and lesbianism) together. That would have been a bit much ;-)

Note: for those of you who are wondering, the NFO approved of both conversations.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Steal a Pencil for Me (Movie)

{{BArch-description|1=KZ Auschwitz, Einfahrt P...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve seen a LOT of Holocaust subject movies. I lived in Germany and studied the topic.

At one point, I even had a tattoo on my arm with the number “6,000,000” on it (a subject of another post…someday). Suffice it to say, I’ve spent a huge amount of time on the subject and firmly believe that we can NEVER FORGET.

Yet, despite that, (and I’m extremely embarrassed to say it), the thought of “another Holocaust movie” was what held me back for a few weeks before watching Steal a Pencil for Me.

(And it’s just that type of attitude which must be confronted since, no matter how much you study it, you just can’t understand it.)

Still, the move was on my Netflix queue (and recommended to me) for a reason. So I watched it and I am so glad I did.

Not just for a moving, completely unique perspective on the Holocaust, but for a moving, completely unique perspective on life and love.

The couple portrayed (the Polaks) met, fell in love, and developed as a couple in the most horrific circumstances, but they show you the power of love to motivate us.

Jack, at one time, traded his daily ration for a pencil just so he could write love letters.

The story is both romance and horror all at once and, what makes it so special is its ability to bring light to such a dark time.

Get it…and watch it. Don’t delay like I did. Your worldview will be better off for it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How does a baby get in the tummy?

A picture of my wife

Image via Wikipedia

We found out recently that a friend of ours is pregnant.

The kids were very excited about this and innocently enough, began asking questions like “when is the baby coming?”

Then, my 4.5 year old asked, “how does the baby get in the mommy’s tummy?”

In parenting, as in life, there are moments where you are acutely aware that you stand at a fork in the road.

This was one of them.

Yes, the kids are 4.5 and 6 and, yes, I certainly expected to have a few years before I would have this type of conversation, but I decided at that moment that I was going to take the straight, honest, and narrow path.

The tooth fairy may be one thing I can bend the laws of honesty on for the time being, but somehow, it just felt like the topic of sex and reproduction required me (if only for myself) to start off on the right foot.

And, so I did.

Trying to keep a straight face (only because I was the only one in the room who realized the cosmic significance of the moment), I calmly explained the concept using words like “penis,” “vagina,” and “puts in.”

I didn’t go into the full biology of it and I made sure to explain that there are MANY things that go into the decision like love, age (they are very aware of age now), ability to financially support, having a job, etc.

By the time I was done (and it was probably only 2 minutes, though it felt like an eternity), I think they had lost interest (though I had corrected some misconceptions such as “the baby comes out of the tush!” and “no, you can’t buy a baby at Target.”).

Still, I had overcome my initial fear and awkwardness which, I hope, will make the real Birds/Bees conversations more natural, open, and constructive when the time comes.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Photographer sits in watering hole for 3 months to get perfect shot of wild lions drinking.

Saw this on Twitter. Had to share.


augieray Photographer sits in watering hole for 3 months to get perfect shot of wild lions drinking. Here's the great shot:
Mon, Mar 15 02:12:32 from

Name: Augie Ray

Location: San Mateo, CA


Bio: Sr. Analyst of Social Computing @ Forrester, tracking Communities, Twitter, Influence, & WOM/Social Media Marketing. Fan of jazz, Disney & FLWright; Pianist.

Following: 4428 Followers: 4175 Updates: 9144

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Child Guardians…

The NFO and I are the appointed guardians in the event of a disaster for some of our nephews and nieces.

Hopefully, we’ll never take on that role.

However, one of the conditions we’ve laid down for the parents of these children is a “break glass in case of emergency document.”

It’s a list of all of the financial information of the family. EVERYTHING.

I keep it in the safety deposit box, but the last thing I figure we need in a terrible moment like that when we are consoling distraught children is to try and figure out how to sell the house or claim the life insurance, etc.

It takes work to put together, but I recommend that everyone do this and share it with a trusted family member.

Then, update it annually.

Yes, a pain, but it’s the same idea of why you buy insurance…hopefully, you’ll never need it.

BTW, I’m going to ask them to all provide the healthcare directive/quality of life directive as well in their next annual revision.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Your Quality of Life Directive…

Let’s say you are (God forbid) in a horrific car accident.

Then, you are in a coma, on a ventilator and using a feeding tube.

What happens now?

Many of us have wills explaining what will happen when we die, but given the state of medical science now (and the cost associated with that), have you taken the time to explain what you want to happen if you are technically alive, but not really living?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, following my recent chat with Susanne Carlson (on a plane, so no link at the moment).

As a culture, my impression is that we don’t spend a lot of time with our loved ones (and those who would bear the brunt of the burden) sharing with them our wishes for care in these extreme circumstances.

It’s naive to think “that kind of thing happens to other people,” of course, so what’s holding you back?


Of what?

Of telling your kids and friends and lovers that you may die one day?

I’d rather say, “hey, look, things happen and hopefully it won’t, but if I’m ever in a situation like that and these quality of life criteria aren’t met, then you know what? Pull the plug and get on with your lives.”

According to Susanne’s data, only 5% of people die peacefully from “natural causes.”

The rest of us?

We're going to have some malady that forces the end.

So, get your healthcare power of attorney done and your healthcare directive done (this isn’t expensive and I bet that templates can be downloaded for free somewhere online).

What do mine look like?

I am going to flush them out (pending feedback) over time, but for starters, I’d say something like the following:

  1. if I have to be fed intravenously for more than 2 months
  2. if I am in a coma for more than 2 months
  3. if my care requires me to be on a ventilator for more than 1 month
  4. if my cognitive ability is impaired to the point where I can’t recognize my own family members
  5. if I require 24/7 care

I don’t really know if this makes any sense at all.

But I do know that it is critical to have the conversation BEFORE YOU HAVE NO CHOICE and before the added stress of the moment puts the burden (unfairly in my opinion) on your loved ones.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Dying with Dignity…

What is your Quality of Life plan?
If something tragic happens to you, does your family know how you want to be treated?
Sue Carlson (she of the H1N1 plane interview) has a LOT of experience in this regard.
As the author of Who Do I Become When I Am No Longer Me, she has helped many families confront death with dignity.
Listen to the interview with her here or below (5 mins)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

“Don’t Buy the Book” now available on Amazon…

Not that I would want you to buy it, but just so you know

It's ALL on the Blog, DON'T Buy the Book  is now available at Amazon.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Tooth Fairy Milestone…

Along the road of life, I suppose one of the more interesting moments is when you get to be the tooth fairy, for the first time.

Tonka/Tikkanen lost her first tooth (finally!) and I got to lead her down the fantasy path of the tooth fairy.

Sanctioned deception.

Then, I had the emotional moment, where I removed the tooth and replaced it with a $1 bill.

Just one of those things that marks your arrival at another stage.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Boomers…

The U.S. baby boom generation is seen here as ...

Image via Wikipedia

Whether you are one or are not one, you know the Baby Boomers are a force of monumental significance.

You’ve heard the term, but we don’t always think about this group of 60 million people at “roughly” the same age moving through life stages together.

That’s what I really enjoyed about the CNBC program with Tom Brokaw about the Booomers.

He put this group into some perspective in terms of the positives (social change, civil rights) and negatives (over-developed sense of entitlement and living beyond means).

Obviously, not everyone, but if 30% of them do something, that’s still 18 million people.

As a history major, I like to take the step back and sometimes look at the historical swaths, so I appreciated the framework of The Greatest Generation (like my Poppy) to the Baby Boomers (my mom) and then to me. I saw how I fit (a small bit player, of course) into this larger trend.

And, of course, the warning signs…particularly around healthcare costs. One estimate says that 33% of every dollar in 20 years will be on healthcare. That’s a lot of money.

Anyway, understanding (or at least thinking about) the Boomers may help you navigate the next stage of their lives because, no matter where you fit on the demographic spectrum….it’s going to have a sizeable impact.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Do You Have Status Anxiety?

I read this

Image by Bill McIntyre via Flickr

It’s no wonder, according to Alain de Botton, author of “Status Anxiety.”

He starts off by offering an equation that:

Self Esteem= Success/Pretensions

From there, he winds through various philosophical, artistic, religious, historical, and cultural/anthropological analyses as to WHY people feel this anxiety and what they can do about it.

Some of the examples are fascinating, particularly how the definition of “status” has changed over time, say from the ability to kill someone with a sword, to the ability to create a virtual business.

But, at the same time, some things are constant…we strive to associate with people who don’t necessarily want to associate with us…and, we tend to ignore those who are begging for our attention.

When all is said and done, he says that the raw pursuit of success is ultimately unfulfilling and you can’t control what society deems “success.” Instead, lower your pretensions.

We can do that by “contemplating our mortality” which “may give us the courage to unhook our lives from the more gratuitous of society’s expectations. In the presence of a skeleton, the repressive aspects of others’ opinions have a habit of shedding their power to intimidate.”

What I liked about this book was how far-reaching it was, how these doses of perspective served to “keep it real” and his obvious investment in the subject.

Plus, he’s passionate about helping people realize what is important, ultimately, in life and he advocates for those universal values (outside of a religious framework.”

Bottom line: you are going to die, so don’t waste your time on the frivolous. Make it count.

Post was written while listening to: James Taylor - Greatest Hits - You've Got A Friend

Friday, April 02, 2010

Suburban Dad Decathalon…

Having recently finished the annual Passover-related cleaning of the minivan (during which I removed all of the seats from the car and took the house Oreck vacuum outside to attempt to complete the task), I began to contemplate the demanding skill set of today’s suburban dad.
From there, it wasn’t much of a leap to think of an ESPN X-games like event where dads would compete in events such as:
  • inserting and removing minivan seats
  • inserting and removing child safety seats
  • folding up strollers (one-handed)
  • handing a sippee cup to a child seated behind you (while driving, of course)
  • taking out the trash
  • taking your wife’s relatives to the airport (at 6am)-[hat tip on that one to my brother in law, Ami, who did just that]
  • changing a diaper on the floor of the minivan (bonus points for a public restroom with no diaper changing station)
I’m open to other suggestions, so let me know what I missed.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The ROI on Blogging (personal edition)

In the corporate world, there's a big discussion on the "ROI" (return on investment) of blogging.

Well, I can prove some ROI on personal blogging.

Long-time blog readers know that I am a huge fan of my financial advisor, Josh.

We had our semi-annual "calibration" session the other day and, as usual, he had done his homework in preparation.

What's more, he had spent quite a bit of time reading my blog. As a result, he was up to date on some of my macro-economic thoughts and concerns.

Now, we don't work on an hourly basis, but if we did, I can foresee a scenario where his reading of my blog actually saves me money (since I don't have to spend the time with him explaining it in person).

But, beyond that, his understanding of the issues that are of concern to me, makes him a BETTER advisor (and he's already really good).

That means I get more for my money in working with him.

Bottom line: when I share information with many people, the input that I get back is multiple-fold greater than my output.