Saturday, April 28, 2012

What my boy reads in bed...

Walked in the other night to see Paco having fallen asleep while reading. The book "The American Presidents." Excited to see that it was Warren G. Harding that made him crash and not one of the more exciting ones ;-)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

60 Minutes and the anti-Israel bias…

Got this note from Stand With Us. It’s spot and and bears full-on copying and action.

Please Take Action Now


On Sunday, April 22, CBS` "60 Minutes" ran a shockingly biased episode, "Christians of the Holy Land" by Bob Simon. Even the always diplomatic Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren called the show a "hatchet job" on Israel.  You can watch the program here:

Ambassador Oren was right. Simon only paid lip service to the violent persecution and flight of ancient Christian communities throughout the region which is the real historical tragedy unfolding in the Middle East. Instead, incomprehensibly, he chose to bash Israel, the only Middle Eastern country that protects Christians. The program scapegoated and demonized Israel, distorting reality to blame Israel`s security measures -- the fence and checkpoints -- for the suffering of Palestinian Christians. Simon interviewed biased and sometimes anti-Semitic sources, treating them as legitimate.  He asked leading questions.  He dismissed the real reasons for the plight and flight of Palestinian Christians: persecution by Palestinian Islamists and the Palestinian Authority. His shoddy, irresponsible research produced propaganda, not journalism. This dangerous misinformation stokes anti-Israel prejudice and bigotry, shifting public attention away from the forces that are imperiling the survival of Christian communities in the Palestinian Authority and throughout the region.
Write to CBS executives.  Demand that CBS offer an apology, and give equal time to correct the misinformation and anti-Semitic innuendos.


"60 Minutes"
Jeffrey Fager - Chairman of CBS News, Executive Producer of 60 Minutes
524 West 57th Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10019-2930
Phone: 212.975.2006
Bill Owens - Executive Editor of "60 Minutes"
Phone: 212.975.7685
CBS News
524 W. 57th Street
New York, New York 10019

Feedback E-mail:
Phone: (212) 975-3247 (Leave a message at the tone.)


Dear _______,
We were shocked by the shoddy journalism in your April 22nd "60 Minutes" piece, "Christians of the Holy Land." We urge you to run a corrective piece and publicly apologize for the piece`s irresponsible inaccuracies, misrepresentations, and bias. Bob Simon either unwittingly or intentionally promoted hostility toward Israel and anti-Semitic views. In a pattern that he has repeated in the past, Simon interviewed biased sources and treated them as legitimate. He asked leading questions. More disturbing, he ignored and effectively belittled the real threats to beleaguered Christians, which come from rising Islamist persecution throughout the region and in Gaza and the West Bank. Instead, he focused on the one country in the Middle East that firmly protects the rights of Christians. If allowed to stand uncorrected, this program will have misinformed the public and irreparably damaged the reputation of "60 Minutes," which will no longer be considered a reliable news source.
Your Name

Despite the program`s claims, Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Christians` rights are fully protected and where the Christian population has grown instead of declined in the last 64 years.

  • Israel`s Christian population grew from 34,000 in 1948 to 154,000 in 2012.
  • Israel has fostered a positive environment for Christians, most evidenced by official recognition of 10 Christian denominations and by Israel`s distribution of free Christmas trees every year at Christmas time.

Christians have been emigrating from the Holy Land in a two-century-long trend, not because of Israel and the security policies -- the barrier and checkpoints -- it was forced to implement in just the last 10 years.

  • Major emigration occurred in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In some cases, emigrant Christian Palestinian communities grew larger than their communities of origin in the Holy Land.
  • During Jordanian control (1948-1967), Jerusalem`s Christian population dropped from 29,000 in 1944 to 11,000 in 1961. In Bethlehem, 75 percent of the population was Christian in 1947; in 1967, the percentage had dropped to 46 percent.

The program interviewed one businessman only to deny the real problem facing Christians: rising hostility and persecution by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestinian Islamist groups. Why didn`t the program mention any of the following?

  • The PA declared Islam its official religion, committed to Sharia law, and does not offer civil protection to other religions.  A few weeks ago, the PA declared that the First Baptist Church of Bethlehem is illegitimate.
  • Christians in the West Bank have been victims of repeated persecution, violence, and rape. In 2005, Palestinian Christians, including Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, custodian of the Holy Land, documented 93 incidents of abuse and violence by the "Islamic fundamentalist Mafia" against Christians.
  • Christians face intimidation, brutality, theft of their property and boycotts of their businesses.
  • The PA Ministry of Information reported in 1997 that "any Muslim who [converts to Christianity] or declares becoming an unbeliever is committing a major sin punishable by capital punishment."
  • Christian history is denied by Palestinian Muslims, including Yassir Arafat`s and the recently retired Mufti of Jerusalem who claim that the Jewish Temple never existed in Jerusalem.
  • The Christian population in Gaza has plummeted from 2,500 to under 1,000 because of persecution by Hamas.

Simon implied that Israel`s policies and the fence are harming the West Bank`s economy.

  • In fact, the terrorist war known as the Second Intifada, not Israel, is what harmed the West Bank`s economy.
  • As the PA has tried to control terrorist groups, Israel has been able to relax its counter-terrorism measures, bringing the PA extraordinary economic growth of 8 percent per year in the last three years.

Simon interviewed only biased sources -- and did not bother to investigate whether many Christians were afraid to speak out of fear of endangering themselves and their families.

  • Simon did not interview clergy and ordinary Christians who might have had the courage to speak up, such as Rev. Steve Khourani of the First Baptist Church of Bethlehem; Samir Qumsiyeh of Bethlehem, director of the Catholic radio Station; or the Christian leaders who signed the 2005 document detailing the PA`s persecution of Christians.

Simon asked leading questions to provoke answers that fit his political agenda.

  • Simon asked the woman who lived near the security barrier, "How can you live like this?" The barrier may be unpleasant, but his very question suggested it is unjustifiable and intolerable, and he got the answer he wanted.
  • When the woman said she wouldn`t move but would stay and "fight," he never asked what she meant by "fight" or why she didn`t instead say she wanted to seek peaceful coexistence so the barrier could be removed. Instead, he stoked the sense that the barrier was intolerable and her reaction understandable -- even though her anger betrayed why the barrier is necessary.

Simon interviewed and promoted anti-Semitic sources.

  • Mitri Raheb, the main pastor he interviewed, is well known for promoting replacement theology which Vatican II condemned as a prime source of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust.
  • Raheb delegitimizes Israel and the right of the Jewish state to exist.
  • Simon uncritically promoted the Kairos Document though it has been exposed as using high-minded rhetoric to camouflage the authors` sinister motives -- delegitimization of Israel, opposition to the existence of the Jewish state, and calls for boycott and divestment from Israel.

Simon engaged in anti-Semitic innuendos.

  • Simon claimed that Israel treats Christians well and wants to promote good Christian-Jewish relations because of the money it gets from Christian tourism.
  • In fact, Israel protects Christians, not for tourism dollars -- an anti-Semitic "Shylock" innuendo -- but because those are Israel`s values.

FACT SHEET -- Read more about the persecution of Christians by the Palestinian Authority at: WWW.STANDWITHUS.COM/FactSheets/PDFs/PPCPA.pdf.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Story of Persistence: The Accidental Client

Every now and then, it’s good to go back to the beginning and think about the roots.
Thanks to Rajesh Setty for giving me an opportunity to tell the story of how I got my first client…on the Unpaved Road.
The Accidental Client
There was a movie, back in the 80s, I think called “The Accidental Tourist.”
The story of how my consulting firm got off the ground might as well be called “The Accidental Client.”
I’m an avid reader and a passionate connector. I love ideas and I love people. Even better….talking about ideas with people.
I picked up a copy of Dan Pink’s book “A Whole New Mind” and just LOVED it. Really made me think about how I think, the hallmark of a great book.
Somehow, I deduced (I don’t remember exactly how) that Dan lived in the Washington, DC area, where I live.
I figured, since I was passionate about the ideas in his book and he lived in the same area that he would, of course, be more than happy to sit down and have coffee with me. Why not, right?
I emailed Dan with my passionate plea and his response was, “I’m travelling like crazy now, can you ping me in a month?”
I did.
The answer that came back was “Things are still crazy, try next month.”
I did.
Same answer.
This continued on for 10 full months.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my career (actually, I’ve learned many), it’s that often times, it’s just a question of “who wants it more?”
More than talent, more than connection. Raw, rugged determination.
In other words, if someone says “follow up,” you freaking follow up. It shocks me how often people don’t follow up. Really, really shocks me.
Anyway, Dan finally relented and agreed to meet me for coffee.
I didn’t have an agenda, other than to chat or connect. I was gainfully employed at Microsoft and I had zero intention of leaving.
When Dan sat down, I saw a look in his face saying “Why exactly am I meeting with this guy?”
We got to talking. Just sharing our passion for ideas, his book, and marketing (my passion.)
After five minutes, I saw a light go on and Dan said, “you know, I am working on my next book now and one thing I’ve discovered is that traditional book publishers are just not very good at marketing. Would you like to help me with marketing my book as a side project?”
Of course, I would, but I thought it more of a hobby or a petri dish than an actual business. It would be fun to have an environment where I could test out my ideas.
He even offered to pay. Bonus!
Not much, but I didn’t really care.
“Ok,” he said, “great. I have some more things to take care of before we can get started, so follow up with me next month.”
Believe it or not, the cycle repeated itself as I followed up with him every month for ANOTHER 10 months.
At last, he said, “ok, I’m ready to go,” and the project was underway.
Keep in mind, folks, I was STILL gainfully employed at Microsoft. This was just my hobby.
However, I discovered something…something really important. I was having MORE fun and learning more doing my hobby than doing my regular job and it dawned on me that, “hey, maybe I can make a living out of this.”
Having a New York Times best-selling author as your first client seemed like a good starting off point and, in fact, it was. A few weeks later, I met an executive from Johnson & Johnson and we were just chatting as I told him about what I was doing to help Dan market his book “The Adventures of Johnny Bunko.”
The exec from JNJ said, “you know, we have a couple million dollar ad budget, do you think you could do something for us like you are doing for Dan?”
Uh…let me see if I can work that into my schedule!
And that’s when I knew…it was time to leave Microsoft and hang out the shingle.
Sure, I was scared out of my mind, but it felt right.
While it wasn’t a million dollar deal with JNJ, Dan’s cache (and ultimate glowing testimonial) led to a Fortune 50 client all within the first week of being on my own.
Luck? A bit. Sometimes you hit a homerun on your first swing, but the knowing when to swing and how to hit are the result of years of practice and preparation.
In this case, it was a relentless curiosity, a desire to learn, and persistence.
The best part, in my opinion, was that Dan’s book “Johnny Bunko” offered up 6 rules for business success.
Number 4 was “Persistence Trumps Talent” and Dan later told me that my display of living by this rule was what ultimately gave him the confidence to invest his book’s marketing success in my hands.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Little Judgment Indicators…

My mom likes to say that you can know 100 things about a person simply by looking at what the bumper sticker (s) on their car say.
Sure, it’s a generalization, but generalizations work because they are generally true.
This came up on a recent flight when I had a window seat and a father/daughter (she was about 6) pair took the seats next to me. Predictably, the 6 year old was in the middle.
The first thing she pulled out was a math/numbers workbook.
This made a strong impression on me as it is the first thing that I ask my kids to do on planes too…by the time we get to hour 3, it’s iPad city all the way (but that’s just survival).
I immediately made a bunch of assumptions about him based on that alone.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dallas to Austin via Washington

Every now and then, as a blogger, you just have to document craziness.
This is one of those times.
I took my kids to Dallas for the weekend a few weeks back for my cousin’s son’s Bar Mitzvah.
The NFO had another family event, so we decided that I would take the 3 kids with me (a slew of reasons).
Got up early on a Friday morning to take them on an 8.15 flight. It was not the easiest, but by and large, they were champs.
We had a great weekend, except that we were all over-tired. Oh, and in a different time zone. Oh, and that was the weekend of Daylight Savings Time, so we lost an hour of sleep.
Sunday, however, was insane.
We left Dallas on a flight at 11.15am and flew direct to Dulles, arriving at 3.15. The first hour was brutal, but thanks to Steve Jobs (even dead, he’s the best babysitter around) and the iPad, we made it.
But, here’s where it gets interesting.
For work, I was going to attend part of the South by Southwest Interactive gathering, the biggest event of the year, in Austin, Texas.
It had started the previous Thursday, but this family gathering had been on the calendar for 2 years and I had promised my kids that I would take them. Not willing to compromise on that…and glad that my teammates understood that, a good reflection on them and the corporate culture.
So, after packing my kids into the minivan (the NFO met us as there), I switched bags (had to pack for BOTH events at the same time) and turned RIGHT AROUND, back into the airport.
I’ve done a lot of traveling, but never have I walked out of an airport after one flight and, literally, 5 minutes later, turned back around for another flight.
I then took a flight to Charlotte, connecting to Austin, arriving at 11pm CST.
So, in 12 hours, I travelled the 200 or so miles between Dallas and Austin, but visited Virginia and North Carolina, took 3 planes and went to 4 airports to make it happen.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Which is better?

Would you prefer to have basically no money, but have everybody love you and think you are the most noble person on the face of the earth?
Or, have some money and know that some people think you are a complete and total jerk with no regard for their personal feelings whatsoever?
It’s just a thought exercise. You may not reject the premise that it’s either/or. Just pick one Winking smile

Sunday, April 08, 2012

How to keep your kids believing in Santa…

IMG_6260 Xmas Santa Dec 24 2011

Met a fascinating guy on the train a while back. We got to chatting. Nice fella. Canadian. Well, that’s redundant, but anyway.

So, at some point, we start talking about our kids. His daughter is 8 and this year, she finally caught on that it was he, George, who was the one dressing up as Santa every year.

Now, George, bless his heart…wanted to keep his daughter’s innocence alive for just a bit longer so after everyone in the family gathered around Santa for the annual family picture, George sent the picture to a friend.

That friend then Photoshopped George (that would be him standing behind Santa with the goatee) into the picture.

George then showed the picture to his daughter saying, “see, I’m not Santa, I was right there behind all of you.”

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Daddy—you should blog that.

A toilet paper roll

Image via Wikipedia

As 4 year olds are wont to do, sometimes they get silly.

The other night, Lakkanen was in the bathroom and started singing “Happy Birthday.”

But, then, each line would end up differently and involve some sort of inanimate object.

“Happy Birthday dear lamp.

Happy Birthday dear couch.

Happy Birthday dear toilet paper.

Happy Birthday dear cereal.”

It went on for about 5 minutes.

The rest of us were in hysterics.

When it was finally over, Paco turned to me and said

“Abba (Dad), you should really blog that.”

Monday, April 02, 2012

Little Moments and Big Moments...

It's easy to recognize the big moments as a father. The graduation ceremonies, (if only from kindergarten-which is a marketing activity for the school, but I digress), the ballet recitals, Tae Kwon Do belt tests. Those are obvious.

Somehow, I prefer the little the time when Paco was finally able to bike up the small hill on the way to the tennis courts where we go riding.

Something about those moments that I really love.