Friday, July 30, 2010

iPhone 4 vs. EVO

A number of folks have asked me why I chose to buy the EVO 4G phone as my newest smartphone.

Well, I felt validated (despite the evangelical protests) of the iPhone lovers out there by this video, which speaks to my worldview, since I go for the geekiest phone available!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Global vs. Local Consciousness

SAN FRANCISCO - FEBRUARY 26:  Newspaper salesm...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

There’s little doubt that the arrival of the Internet and social media/social networks have increased our global consciousness (and probably global conscience).

I’m just wondering, however, what impact this will have on local consciousness.

With the decline of newspapers and diminishing importance of the local TV news, I wonder if we will be more connected to people on the other side of the world, than people in our own communities?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lawns, Water, and Habits

English Breakfast

Image by Hambo via Flickr

This summer in DC has been incredibly hot. I don’t know if its’ the hottest ever or not, but a number of days over 100 certainly qualifies for intense.

The implications are obvious.

Electricity systems are strained and water levels aren’t as high.

There’s a guy in my neighborhood who takes a great deal of pride in his lawn. Mows it often.

Driving down the street one morning, I saw that he had set up a number of sprinklers and was watering the grass.

Maybe I’m self-righteous, but that just struck me as selfish and irresponsible.

If I’m not mistaken, the idea of the lawn stems from the desire of the English aristocracy to demonstrate their wealth by showing off how they could own land, but afford to “waste” it by not using it for sheep.

Well, now, the game has changed and we have a greater level of consciousness about water and how we have mistreated it.

Maybe I can’t blame him. I probably shouldn’t. If water were more expensive, we wouldn’t have lawns (or at least those that required watering).

Still, it represented to me that we’re ALL continuing habits and behaviors that, in light of new knowledge, we may want to reinvestigate.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fallible Father Moments

At dinner the other night, a woman I know said, “that happened at the age when you think your father can do everything and is invincible.”

There are moments in your life when you realize that your father is actually just human….not superhuman.

When I was 9 years old, my dad took me to Israel and I can vividly remember the fact that I had to hold his head as he was hunched over the toilet, suffering from a stomach bug.

I bring this up not to paint my dad in a less than favorable light but because Saturday afternoon and into the evening, my kids saw me in the same way. 

I don’t know what it was, but I was hurting…in a big way and spent most of the time, as they say, “praying to the porcelain goddess.”

I felt like this was a generational transition moment (not a huge one, but certainly one) and wondered how they felt about it (in between heaves, that is).

I was particularly impressed with how they all responded with such sensitivity and compassion (from their mother’s genes, no doubt) and thinking that…one day, hopefully many years down the road, I’ll be looking at them to take care of me in a much more significant way.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cookies and Contentment

Floral sugar cookies.

Image via Wikipedia

The NFO found two great books called “Cookies: Bite Size Life Lessons” and the follow-on, Sugar Cookies” which do an incredible job of teaching children how to behave in a kind and considerate manner by using the process of baking and eating cookies as the paradigm.

I think both of the books are fantastic and provide a lot for adults to learn as well.

Sunday morning, I was alone with Lakkanen, as Tikkanen and Jokkanen were at birthday parties.

We read a number of books together and made our way through the Cookies book.

Lying there with my youngest child, appreciating the little girl that she’s become and doing so without her siblings to serve as a benchmark, we came upon the page in the book that said:

“Content means sitting on the steps-just you, me, and a couple of cookies.”

And I thought…lying on the couch with my 2.5 year old daughter…that’s Contentment.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Make new friends, earn more money

Well, sort of.

Daniel Petter-Lipstein sent me this article.

It talks to entrepreneurs specifically, but if your job/life is changing due to outside forces (it is), you kind of need to be one.

Bottom line...force yourself to meet people who aren't like you.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A 12 Year Odyssey

Torah inside of the former Glockengasse synago...
Image via Wikipedia
The 5 books of Moses are broken up into 54 distinct sections (known as “parshiyot”).

Over the course of the year, one of them is read each week to complete the annual cycle (yes, there are some double parsha weeks to account for the calendar)

Each of the “parshas” is then sub-divided into 7 sections (known as “aliyot”).

The torah is read aloud (almost always) by a designated chanter on behalf of the congregation.

Reading from the Torah requires a familiarity with Hebrew as well as the musical notes that instruct how the words are to be read (much like an orchestra knows how to play a note).

With that background out of the way…
About 12 years ago, roughly, I decided that it would be a fun, attainable goal to set out to chant the entire Torah (all 378 aliyot) in a public, synagogue setting.

This would not be something that could be in one year (well, it could be), but, for me, on average (given the other constraints on my life), it takes about 4-6 weeks to get a full parsha down to a level of mastery.

Others do it faster, some slower, but that’s my pace without killing myself.

So, of course, I built a spreadsheet (here) where I could track which ones I had done and which I needed to do.

Well, this journey (God willing) is coming to an end this Saturday morning, as I have 4 aliyot in the parsha known as “VaEtchanan” to complete and then I will be done.

I don’t feel so much pride as I do an appreciation of the size and scope of the 5 Books of Moses and an intimacy with the text.

Some have asked “what’s the next goal?”

Answer: I don’t know.

Of course, I still have 3 states left to visit ;-)

If you are in the neighborhood, you can join us at the 7am service (and the reception afterwards which we are sponsoring) at 8.45am. [I get up earlier on Sat. morning than any other day of the week!]

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

68 Years of Racial Perspective

On a plane to Atlanta this past Monday, I sat in between two sisters, both African-American.

One was 68 years old. The other was sleeping.

Anyway, the 68 year old and I started chatting (surprising, I know) and she told me about her childhood in rural Georgia.

She spent her entire childhood in segregated schools. Eventually, she wound up at SunTrust where she rose to the rank of Vice President.

Now, she's retired and volunteers for Habitat for Humanity.

I asked her about her perspective on the amount of racism in America.

On a scale of 1-10, 1 being how it was when she grew up and 10 being perfect harmony "ebony and ivory," I asked where it stood in three regions of the country.

  • Georgia

  • Maryland (where she has a sister living)

  • New York City

She gave Georgia a 5. She gave Maryland a 6.

Then, a shocker. She gave New York City a 4.

I was intrigued.

Then a bit taken aback.

Her explanation as to the reason?

"Africans," she said.

She answered that the large number of African immigrants to New York City and their intolerance and condescending attitude toward American-born blacks/African-Americans (what have you) was at the root of the overall racial intolerance of New York City.

That certainly caught me off guard.

Annapolis-America’s First Peacetime Capital

Day trip to Annapolis, July 2010 (8)

Our latest DC area excursion took us to the capital of the state of Maryland, Annapolis.

As usual, our model was:

1 hour to get there

2 hours there

1 hour to get back

Declare victory.

So, we went to the State House, were we visited the room where George Washington resigned his commission as General of the Revolutionary Army and we discussed the role of the State Senate and State House of Representatives.

I was surprised to learn that Annapolis then became America’s first peacetime capital. Who knew?

We also saw a great memorial tribute to Thurgood Marshall, a Marylander (the BWI airport is named after him).

Day trip to Annapolis, July 2010 (5)Afterwards, we made our way to the US Naval Academy and talked about the role of the Navy and visited the inspiring Uriah Levy Chapel.

As always, the point of the visit is not to bombard the kids with facts, though we certainly do that…it’s to instill in them a spirit of curiosity and appreciation for the novel.

Joining us were my parents, my sister, my 1st cousin’s son (aka my kids’ 2nd cousin) and my long-time friend Shira Stutman and her 3 kids.

In August, we hope to visit the National Arboretum.

(The NFO doesn’t like pics of our kids online, hence the modification.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pictures stuck on your camera?

Now that we all have digital cameras, we all know how great it is to take pictures without worrying about film costs.

We get to see what the picture looks like so we don’t have to do the “ok, one more…” (though that habit is difficult to change).

But, one of the hurdles in the process, for me, has been: removing the card from the camera, inserting it into the computer, and downloading them.

For whatever reason, I seem to get stuck there.

Not anymore!

Thanks to the Eye-Fi!

Full disclosure: I received the Eye-Fi! for free as part of a promotion through Gowalla (which you should check out, since it’s a lot of fun).

So, here’s what is ridiculously cool about the Eye-Fi.

You connect the memory card in your camera to your home Wi-Fi network.

Then, when you walk into your house, the pictures and videos are AUTOMATICALLY downloaded from your camera to your computer (and, if you want, automatically posted to Facebook, YouTube, etc.).

I was shocked at how quick the set-up was. I time these things and and it was less than 4 minutes.

I’d heard about the Eye-Fi before, but never got around to buying one.

I should have gotten one sooner. BIG timesaver.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Business/Personal Line and “social” media…

One of the questions I get asked most often is:

“do I really want my ‘business’ associates to know anything about my personal life?”

My answer has always been:

“While I may not care that your 7 year old niece had a birthday party, it’s not the kind of thing that will keep me from doing business with you. Now, if you are cavorting around with prostitutes in Bangkok, well, that’s another issue.”

And the flip argument is that…when all is said and done, people buy/work/connect with other people and, when you have a fuller understanding of the people in your world, you are more likely to be able to work with them more effectively.

As it turns out, I ran into a former Microsoft colleague of mine, Michael Moore, the other day. He reads both this blog and my “work” blog.

In this video, he shares why and the benefit for both of us.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

When you put your heart into it…

You don’t even have to know the songs (and most of them are melodies without words) to appreciate the love and joy that the men who got together to produce “Songs at a Table” had for their project.

The vision?

Simulate the experience of sitting at a Sabbath table, with no pressures of the workweek, and engage in uplifting, emotional songs to rejuvenate the spirit.

Mission accomplished.

I found myself uplifted and buoyant just by listening to them. I could FEEL their passion. Just remarkable.

Called the Niggun (a melody with out words) Project, the group donates all proceeds from their CD to a charity in Israel to help fee the hungry.

They got a nice write up in the Washington Jewish Week as well.

Jewish or not, Religious or not, give the music a listen.

No matter what, experiencing people who have a passion for their project is worth the time.

Friday, July 16, 2010

I Will Survive Dancing Auschwitz

I have chills. A Holocaust survivor dancing to "I will survive" at Nazi death camps.

The Soundtrack of Your Life…

A friend of mine, Emily Waldman Ebner, once told me that when she listened to music on her walkman (yes, that’s how long ago this conversation was) that she viewed it as the “soundtrack of her life.”
The other day, Nadia and I were driving back from the pool and Neil Young’s song “My My, Hey Hey” came on and I heard the line:
It made me think of the sign I saw the other day and raised the question of “what are some of the other songs on my personal soundtrack?”
  Neil Young - My My, Hey Hey.mp3  
Found at bee mp3 search engine
So far, I’ve settled on two.
Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” and, as my friend Alan told me a few months ago…”the theme song of Never Stop Marketing should be ‘Start Me Up’ by the Rolling Stones” as in “if you start me up, i’ll never stop…marketing!”
So, I have to go with that one as well.
  Frank Sinatra - My Way .mp3  
Found at bee mp3 search engine


  The Rolling Stones - The Rolling Stones - Start Me Up .mp3  
Found at bee mp3 search engine

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Why I Blog…the Movie

If you haven’t seen the iPhone4 vs HTC EVO video yet, it’s hilarious (though NSFW).

Apparently, the creator is getting fired, which is pretty sad about BestBuy.

Anyway, I figured I’d give my movie making skills a whirl.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Inside the Suicide Bombers School…

A fascinating talk about the schools that train Islamic suicide bombers.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

On the whole, you’re a great guy…

Some people go through life worrying at every turn that they might offend others.

I don’t.

It’s not my goal to irritate people, of course, but my personality is such that, on occasion, it does happen.

A few weeks ago, I made a mistake and upset a friend.

He was hurt. Really hurt.

I apologized and figured that the relationship would either:

  1. never be the same
  2. take a long time to heal

He sent me a note about something else and we began to exchange emails. I brought up the issue of my immediate past transgression.

His response:

Despite the occasional failings, on the whole I still think you are a great guy! 

That meant a lot and said a lot about him. He wasn’t going to let one incident outweigh all of the other positive experiences we’ve had.

And I guess that sums up my approach…I will certainly do my best to be a great guy so that, when the inevitable misstep does occur, that’s the reaction you have.

Sure, it doesn’t work for everyone, but it does for me.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cancer Free Blood Donor…

imageI gave blood every 3 months for about 13 years.

Then, when I was diagnosed and treated for thyroid cancer, I was told I was ineligible for 5 years.

Last month, the American Red Cross contacted me, saying that the rules had been changed. It was now only 1 year, so I went back and donated my O negative blood and got my sticker and lapel pin. It’s something that always makes me feel good.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Comeback 2010 Award Winner

Honored to have been selected by Cortera as the winner in the “Hanging Out the Shingle” category in the 2010 Comeback Awards.

Looking through the nominees, it was clear that there was some stiff competition and the judges were no slouches, so I’m pretty excited about this one.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Lay Off LeBron

It seems like a lot of people are ripping on LeBron for leaving Cleveland.

The sportswriter for the Washington Post said:

Oh, and he can't be Magic now. Or Bird. Or Michael. Or Isiah Thomas, Tim Duncan or Bill Russell or any other NBA supernova who stuck around long enough to win championships for a town and its people.

As a legacy guy, he needs to know: His decision to spurn the Cavaliers for more talent and hope in Miami forbids LeBron from ever being one of those all-time greats who persevered through coaching changes, roster changes and wrenching playoff losses to lift a trophy to the rafters for the team who drafted him.

The double standard that we put on athletes is ridiculous.

First, we say “it’s all about the money,” but then LeBron leaves $30mm on the table.

Then, we say “he needs to suffer to be recognized as a great one.”


Look at your own career.

You work for 7 years at one company and you accomplish a lot, but then along comes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with some of your best friends, to have fun with them, to express yourself creatively.

What do you do?

You take it, of course.

So, maybe he wins a few championships and he’s not “one of the all time greats,” but maybe LeBron doesn’t care.

Maybe he just loves playing basketball and loves to win and he wants that feeling of being a champion, not of being a legacy.

He’s playing the odds…he says, “sure, I could labor/suffer in Cleveland and, maybe, in a few years, I might win a championship and be one of the greats…or I might suffer and NEVER win a championship.”

But, he looks at his chances, says, “I’m 25 and I know that I have maybe 10 years at most to make this happen. I know that injury could end my career at any moment. Look at all the ‘supernovas’ who did stick around and never won a championship. Just because I’m a star, doesn’t mean I will win.

I also know that no matter where I go, the playoffs are hard and I still might not make it, but I know I want to win and I want to increase my odds of doing that.”

Good for him.

When Tragedy Strikes…

I’m still kind of in shock.

I found out Thursday afternoon that a friend of mine from JHU, Sarah Doshna, was in the ICU, having suffered a massive intracranial hemorrhage.
Hours later, I found out she had died.

And that’s when I started to cry.

For her, my friend, Jeff, but mostly for their 3 young kids. There’s no making sense of it.
There’s no “why bad things happen to good people.” It’s a tragedy, plain and simple and asking “why?” doesn’t really matter. It just is and now Jeff is left as a widower and the kids have no mother.

Sarah wasn't in my class, but she and her husband Jeff (also a JHU grad) were a big part of my life there. Not only at “the K,” but also during my senior year voyage to every JHU lacrosse game (home and away) and MUCH in-between.

I was invited to their wedding back in 1997 and was living in Japan at the time.

Jeff emailed me, asking for my address, and I wrote back, “save your money, just email me the invite.”

So, he scanned it in and sent it…perhaps the world’s first wedding e-Vite.

Sarah was one of those people who was just kind, through and through. From Ohio, she had a midwesterner’s nicety and politeness about her.

Warm and inviting, I remember going out for one Shabbat to Flemington, NJ right after I had moved to NYC from Japan and we all just hung out.

She was an engineering major,uet, she wasn’t super stressed (as many others were). She had a relaxed demeanor, found A LOT of time to be involved in the Jewish Students Association and also work (with Jeff and me) at the Annual Fund raising money for the school.

There’s so much to say and, yet, so little to say.

Every now and then you have a life experience that stops you cold in your tracks, knocks you silly out of your day-to-day.

Sarah Watson Doshna, Z”L. Baruch Dayan HaEmet.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

You should never be bored…

Chris Anderson is the curator of the TED (Tech...

Image via Wikipedia

Growing up, my parents forbade us from saying that we were “bored.”

Their contention was that there was always something we could be doing.

These days, should you never be bored, but the reality is (when it comes to information consumption) that there’s no excuse for you to not be reading/watching/listening to EXACTLY what you want when you want.

The other day, I was at the dentist, and for whatever reason, the hygienist wasn’t so talkative (difficult for me to talk, right?).

So, instead of listening to the muzak mindlessly for 20 minutes, I pulled out my smartphone and watched a few YouTube videos I had queued up.

I have 80 of the excellent TED talks sitting on my Zune in my car and you’ve seen how the reading material is organized on my iPad.

Same goes for working out…thanks to the DVR and Netflix on Demand.

It’s a great world we live in, isn’t it?

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Other Boleyn Girl

Anne Boleyn, granddaughter of Elizabeth Tilney...

Image via Wikipedia

If you believe the movie, Henry VIII basically split from the Church of Rome to found the Church of England based solely on the fact that he really wanted to have sex with Anne Boleyn.

A reading of the Wikipedia entry on Henry VIII (which watching the movie inspired me to do—how’s that for a recommendation?) suggests that it is a bit deeper, but that Anne certainly played a significant role in his decision.

You think about the course of history changed because of testosterone and this has to rank up there pretty highly.

I hadn’t read the book, but I thought this movie was EXCELLENT and the acting was superb.

I remembered some of the history from high school, but this story really brought it home and made me curious for more.

Worth the watch!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Thoughts on Independence Day…

One of my favorite bloggers in the marketing/social media world is a guy name Chris Brogan.

In his post on July 4th, he shares another perspective on the idea of Independence and how he relates it to his (and, I suppose, my) consulting business.

Essentially, a part of the American Dream, as it were, is being able (to the extent that you can) control your own destiny.

I felt his insights were spot on for me.

Monday, July 05, 2010

At what price Green?

BAICHENG, CHINA - APRIL 20:  Wind turbines are...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Received this solicitation the other day, offering to let me move our family power consumption to 100% wind power generated, at a cost of $240 per year.

Given some of my recent thinking, I’m inclined to do it.  I realize that it’s a subsidy of some sort, but I kind of feel like it’s strategic for Western Civilization.wind power solicitation

Just like I’m willing to pay a premium to be an early adopter of technology tools, I suppose I am willing to do so for this as well.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

How to get a 14 year old out of bed during summer vacation

Marketing is about telling stories to people so they can then tell (true) stories to themselves about why they want to do something.

The other day, I was in Seattle, and had a meeting at 8am.

The friends with whom I was staying have a 14 year old son who, in his own words, was “doing nothing” this summer.

The night before my meeting, we realized that, if I took the 14 year old in my car at 7am, I would be able to use the HOV lane to get to my meeting faster.

The question?

How do you motivate a 14 year old to get up at 6.30am during his summer vacation, go to Bellevue, and then spend 2 hours walking around by himself?

So, instead of saying “hey, will you get up at 6.30am and jump in a car with me?”, I said

“Let me tell you a story.”

I have a mantra called “Remember the Maine” and it has shaped my life for the last 17 years.

“One day, many years from now, you are going to look back at tomorrow and think, ‘wow, I had a really cool adventure. I did something different. I got to explore a part of the world on my own.’

I want to give you that adventure so that tomorrow is a day you will always remember.”

Got to my meeting in 12 minutes. HOV lane was great.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Things I did on my smartphone in one day…

Took a trip from DC to Seattle the other day with my new Sprint EVO 4G phone.

Here’s a list of how I used it. I think it’s pretty cool.

  1. made a few calls on the way (yep, no big deal)
  2. used Trapster to identify potential speed traps on the way to Dulles (no tickets!)
  3. made a recording of the location of my car (section 1U)
  4. checked in on Foursquare and Gowalla, earned a new badge
  5. passed through security using United’s new mobile boarding pass
  6. watched part of Germany vs. England (live) in the World Cup while sitting on the mobile lounge transporting me to Concourse D on ESPN Mobile TV (saw Germany score a goal)
  7. passed a Starbucks and checked the balance on my account
  8. scanned Facebook and commented on a few posts
  9. scanned Twitter and retweeted
  10. “tethered” the phone to my laptop, so I could work off it while in the gate area and have internet access
  11. boarded the flight using the same mobile boarding pass (video here)
  12. listened to Pandora radio on the shuttle from the airport to the rental car
  13. listened to a TED talk while I was driving
  14. use Google Maps and Sprint Navigation to get me from the airport to my destination
  15. sent a bunch of text messages..(does that even count?)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

What’s a “Broken Record?”

A compact disc (CD) utilizing chalcogenide gla...

Image via Wikipedia

The kids started a new camp the other day and we love it, but there was some glitch that prevented Jokkanen from getting the swimming lessons for which he had been signed up.

After the first missed lesson, we mentioned it.

Then, he missed a 2nd one.

I went back to the head counselor, a young woman of about 17 and said, “I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but…”

Then, it occurred to me that, while she probably KNEW what I meant, she had never experienced the sensation of HEARING a broken record.

Perhaps I should have said, “I sound like a scratched CD that is skipping” or “an mp3 that is stalling because your microprocessor is being taxed too much.”

Interesting how colloquialisms we use can become outdated without even realizing it.