Monday, April 16, 2018

Hearing Holocaust Survivors Speak...Before You Can't

Last night, as part of a local Holocaust Remembrance event, my family and I had the privilege of hearing the horrific, painful story of Mrs. Miriam Ingber.

Her story, like that of every other survivor, was heart-wrenching and painful.

After all this time, the pain she feels is still with her. It was obvious.  The story, like all other stories, still defies comprehension. No matter how many testimonials you hear, videos/movies you watch, museums you attend, or concentration/extermination camps you visit, it never makes sense.

I think the sadness I felt last night was even greater because of the eerie sensation that everyone in the room felt and the anticipated arrival of a moment that all of us knew would come one day, but is clearly getting closer.

That is, of course, the day when there are no more living survivors. 

It's been 73 years since WWII ended. That would make even the youngest survivors in their mid-late 70s.

I remember, while living in Germany as a 22 year old, that one of the questions I would ask my contemporaries and of myself is "what will happen when there are no more living survivors?"

And I worried that my kids would never have the chance to hear a survivor's story personally.  At least, on that front, the NFO and I have ensured that they have, but it's clear that time is running out.

And because the Holocaust is so difficult to comprehend, it becomes easy for people to dismiss or diminish or question.  Obviously that has happened and, more worrisome, will continue to happen as the survivor population ages out.

There is no easy answer and it's clear that many of the lessons of the Holocaust have, sadly, not been learned. Anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry/hatred still exist and, in some cases, seem to have been strengthened.

There are many things to do to honor and preserve the memory of the 6 million Jews and millions of others who were murdered by the Nazis. The fight is clearly not over, as if their sacrifice weren't enough.

However, I think that one of the things we all can do is to make sure that as many people as possible get to hear a survivor personally tell his/her story before they can't.

It's a regret that I think anyone who cares about justice and humanity should avoid having.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

2 Days in Seoul, South Korea

The last time I was in Seoul was 1997. I knew the city would be different when I got here (I was speaking at a conference), but even I was impressed by how much has changed.

Granted, when I was here last time I was a student and it was the middle of December and freezing. Still, a few things jumped out.

The infrastructure is first-rate. The airport (Olympics related) is immaculate and efficient. I was out of the plane and in the taxi in about 20 minutes, including immigration.

The subway works really well. I love the glass doors (I've seen this in other places) that keep people away from tracks and tell you where the train is going to open.

But I also love how they number each stop according to the line. So, for example, subway line #2 has 201, 202, 203, etc.  So, instead of having to remember a station name, you just say, "go to 214" or "403". Makes moving around easy.

Oh...and my favorite part? There are multiple wi-fi routers on every single car in the subway and the Internet connectivity is blazing fast. 

Speaking of subways, one thing that stood out were the emergency smoke masks that were available. A reminder that North Korea is about 25 miles away.

My sense is that Koreans, kind of like Israelis, have just gotten use to living under the pressure of being in a constant state of war.  Also, like Israelis, military service is mandatory for men (about 18-20 months, if I am not mistaken).

So, while it's a pressure point, it doesn't seem to be (nor should it be) a constant source of pressure.

I will say that it was a strange sensation for me to watch CNN in the hotel with so much news about the Korean peninsula...and to be on the peninsula while it was all happening.

In some respects, Seoul reminds me of Tokyo...but actually cleaner. The one thing that got to me, however, was that there was a strong, pervasive smell of fish in many parts of the city. Maybe I'm just over sensitive to it.

The roads were really impressive and the high-rises were gleaming.

All of that wealth, however, hasn't seem to be evenly distributed as there is clearly a pretty big divide between rich and poor.

I walked through the Namdeamun market and you still see a fair number of people who have much more of a day to day struggle. Also, not a huge number, but more homelessness than I would have expected. 

My basis of comparison for Korea is probably Japan (right or wrong) since I lived there for 2 years and have been back a few times.

I have only two regrets from the trip. The first is that I wasn't able to achieve K-pop superstardom (though I did hit Gangnam-with style, I hope).

The second is that I did not make it to PyongYang to talk with Kim Jong Un and try to defuse things before Trump gets here.

All in all, however, I think the South Koreans have a lot of which to be proud. 60 years ago, it was a rural, poor country and now they are an economic powerhouse with a highly educated society.

They've taken much of modern, Western civilization, but done it in their own unique way and it's exciting to see.

Friday, March 09, 2018

A $500 Cab Ride to New York

The other night, I was supposed to go to New York on an 8:57 pm train, but when I got to the train station, it was a 2 hour delay.

I was supposed to keynote a large industry event at 8am the next morning with 150+ and, with this delay, I would not be getting into my hotel and to sleep until 3am. Not an option.

Plus, the Amtrak station at BWI (where I leave from) was going to close at 9:45pm so I had no place to even sit without going to the airport.

After discounting the idea of driving myself to NYC (too tired and too many things to do) and exploring the possibility of flying from BWI to Newark or La Guardia (no flights), I ended up negotiating with Nidal.

As a side note, Nidal is Palestinian and we had a great side conversation about the Middle East. At the end, he agreed with my point that it's the fault of the Arabs that the Israelis are so strong and the primary problems with Palestinian leadership are because of their corrupt leadership.

Ok, back to the story....bottom line, by 9:05 pm, I was in the back of cab heading up to NYC on I-95. We stopped once for bathroom/gas and I was at my hotel by 12:30am.

Fare plus tip $500. Graciously, my host picked up the tab. Yay!

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Adapting to Life with Parkinson's

My first cousin describes her incredible attitude and living with Parkinson's in this video.  Watch it at 1.5 speed and it will take you 6 minutes.

You will be inspired.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Watching the Women's Hockey Gold Medal Game in a room of Canadians

I am in Alberta now and I had the opportunity to watch the thrilling US-Canada women's gold medal game in the 2018 Olympics in a room that was 95% Canadian.

I took a video because it was fascinating to watch and listen to their reactions as good and bad things happened over the course of the shootout.

Here you go.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A New Understanding of Bi-Polar Disorder

I will admit that, for many years, I had zero understanding of what bi-polar disorder is.

If I am being completely honest here, I will say that, when I was younger, I basically viewed it as a personality flaw/weakness.

Over the years, I have become more sensitized to it, but I didn't really understand it until my coffee companion from this morning, Charles Blackwell, explained it to me as succinctly as anyone ever has.

It's the difference between feeling down and worthless and KNOWING you are worthless.

The difference between feeling invincible and KNOWING you are invincible.

Read his fantastic post here.

It will, hopefully, shed some light on it for you. I know it did for me and I am grateful to Charles for his openness.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Answering my Door ....from Switzerland

Last week I was in Crypto Valley as part of the Crypto Explorers trip that I co-lead.

After the event one night, around 10pm Zurich time, I get a notification from the Ring doorbell app on my Mac laptop. I open it up and see a door-to-door salesman standing in front of my Maryland.

I proceed to have an entire conversation with him, tell him we're not interested, and see him walk away.

It was fantastic.

I generally like the Ring. I have an issue with the app on my Android, but I think that's my phone, not them.  

I don't have it wired, it's battery charged and, if you don't have motion sensor on, it can last for a few weeks. Just make sure not to lose the special screwdriver. I did and I had to replace it. I got it for free from Ring's customer service (which is EXCELLENT, btw).

This story, however, is why I bought it, so I'm happy.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

How to Get Paid to Read Emails

I have already earned $110.36 just answering unsolicited emails that would otherwise be spam.

This is the future of email marketing. You get paid to read emails.

Join here.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 65: Ambien

I'm in Switzerland now for our next Crypto Explorers event.  Trans-Atlantic fights can be brutal if you don't get any sleep.

However, a few years ago, I discovered Ambien...knocks me out and I can basically function.

Today, grateful for this aid in making international travel just a bit easier.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 64: scented candles

I have them in my home office and burn them almost every day. Creates a great environment for thinking and working.

Today, I am grateful for scented candles.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 63: vegan cheese

Of all the things I gave up when I went vegan, I think cheese was the most difficult. That's why I am grateful for vegan cheese. It tastes just like the real thing.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Gratitude Journal - Day 62: remote controls

Who remembers the days of having to actually get up and turn the channel physically on a television?

Wow...think about how the world has changed for you because of the existence of the remote control.

I can relax even more now because of it.

So grateful for the remote control

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 61: My kids

Sadly, the NFO has been down with the flu the last few days. Needless to say, I've been traveling and have some more upcoming.

What has been really great to witness is how the kids, aka "Team Finland" have rallied and stepped up to do more and support the cause of keeping things going.

I am grateful to them for having the presence of mind to up their game when our "Supreme Commander" (aka 'Mom/Ima' aka 'NFO') needs their help.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 60: Not taking the easy way

My driver this morning was a guy named Michael from Barbados.  He is a true "American Dream" success story. Came here with nothing and now he and his wife make $150k+ a year and are content with their lives.

I asked him about his success.

He said, "I think life is about taking on the hard challenges, learning from them, and getting back up again."

I am grateful for people like Michael who provide me inspiration to do the difficult things.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 59- My Parents

We had a family conference call last night. Just the 7 of us. Some matters to discuss and it was great how we were able to do the call with sensitivity, thoughtfulness, and purpose.

It was a testament to how my parents raised us, with an ability to not shy away from the tough conversations. 

So, today, I am grateful for that.

There's a lot of work that goes into being a parent, as I've discovered, and this isn't the time/place to do a full analysis, but I did appreciate the environment and culture of openness and honesty and trust that we have with each other (most of the time ;-)

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 58: CodeAcademy

One of my goals this year is to improve my understanding of computer programming. I know some of the basics, but given what I think about the direction of technology, I'm personally more interested in it than ever before.

If you ask Team Finland, they will tell you that the one thing I ask them to do every day, it is practice coding.

But, in the 'practice what you preach vein," I have decided to do the same.

Today, I am grateful for CodeAcademy. It's a fantastic, free (with paid upgrade option) way to teach yourself programming skills.

No matter what field you are in, it's going to be valuable.

I spend about 10-15 minutes per day on it and it's already made an impact.

Grateful that this resource exists and that the world of programming is available to so many, if they choose to pursue it.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 57: Global Entry

I don't know who came up with it, but I am very grateful for the Global Entry process when you return to the US from abroad.  There's a fee and you have to get fingerprinted/retina scanned (so when the Russians hack that database, you are really up a creek).

Until then, however, it allows you to fly through immigration in under 1 minute.

After a long, international flight, that's a welcome relief to not stand in any lines.

Yay for government.

Maybe tomorrow I'll do Pre-check and Clear?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 56- Blogging and Ev Williams

I've been blogging for 18 years now and I still feel so fortunate that I can publish my thoughts to share with others on a daily basis with basically zero friction.

Plus, I've got a repository now of over 3,000 blog posts that serve as my open diary (for the most part).

I also like the fact that it's "pull" not "push" like email is. So, it's there and if you read it, great. If you don't, that's ok as well.

For me, though, it's been a valuable enhancer for life and I'm grateful to Ev Williams for inventing Blogger so log ago.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 55: the mountains

I spent 2 days in Boulder, Colorado this week and found myself in awe of the beautiful mountains to the west of the town.

They are inspiring. Moments like that, where I see nature in its beauty, make me realize how small I am in the world. At the same time, I feel grateful for the opportunity to experience them.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 54: Scott Doniger

As luck would have it, one of my best friends from Sprinklr moved to Boulder, where I am right now.  I had the chance to have dinner w/him and his wife.  As luck would have it, it was also his birthday that same day.

Scott was more than a friend. He was a partner, coach, and mentor.

Today, I am grateful for Scott Doniger.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 53: Flight Attendants

For the most part, I have a pretty good flying experience. Maybe it's because my expectations are low!

I talk to a lot of the flight attendants on the planes when I am traveling and, almost universally, I enjoy it.  It's not an easy job that they have.

Today, I am grateful for them.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 52: Portable Wi-Fi hotspots

Sitting on a plane bound for Denver, I am grateful for the fact that I can turn my phone into a mobile hot spot.

It helps me be optimally efficient at this moment.  That's key to my overall commitment to getting the highest ROI possible on my time away from home.

So, to whomever invented wi-fi and his/her partner who made it possible to hot-spot enable my phone, I thank you for your contribution to my objective of a happy home life.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 51- America

When I was 14, my dad took me to communist eastern Europe for 2 weeks. After time in the Soviet Union, Poland, and East Germany, we arrived in West Berlin.

I was 14 years old and I remember thinking that it was the first time in my entire life that I was grateful for having been born in the USA.

I was thinking of this in light of the President's "shit-hole" comments last night.  It's sad.

Not so much because I think the immigration debate is a legitimate one. I think it's ok for a country to decide who/how people should be allowed to come.

The reason I was upset was because it denied the very essence of what makes America great (and he seems to miss that).

It is great because so many people would literally risk their lives for the freedoms and opportunities we have here.

Yes, many countries are a basket case of mismanagement and corruption. It's really sad and there's work to be done, but by lopping the people in with the countries in such a negative way, it showed me that he doesn't really "get" the essence of America that I felt sitting 50 feet from the Berlin Wall in 1987.

That's unfortunate, of course, but ironically, his comment helped re-kindle my gratitude for what is beautiful about the American experiment.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Gratitude Journal-- Day 50 - house slippers

I lived in Japan for 2 years in my twenties and I love the fact that people take off their shoes and put on slippers whenever they enter a house (and even some offices).

We're pretty good about it at our house and the kids' friends all know that it's the custom here.

I used to walk around in socks (or barefoot in the summer), but the NFO got me a great pair of slippers that I now wear all the time while I'm at home. Comfortable. Very comfortable.

I appreciate the NFO for getting them, of course, but I REALLY appreciate the people who made these slippers. Wow.

So grateful for their contribution to my peace of mind and stability while I'm at home.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 49: After Shave

I've worked from home for nearly 10 years now. I am well past the "get distracted" phase, but there have been days where  I jumped into activities and realized at 4 or 5pm that I hadn't shaved.

It's not a big deal, but I've noticed that a shave in the morning is what helps me say "ok, game time."

And about 6-7 months ago, I started putting on after shave (long story as to why, but we'll skip that.)

There's something about the sting of the liquid on my face (and head) that I love.

So, today, I am grateful for after shave.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 48: Live Sports

I wanted to go to bed last night, but I had a sense that the Alabama-Georgia game would have some sort of interesting finish.

And it didn't disappoint.

In our "on-demand" world where algorithms can predict what we are going to want before we want it, there is something powerful about the fact that we can all share an experience simultaneously and all be surprised.

I think that is why live sports still command such high amounts of attention. It's a human, emotional, and social experience that happens with other people at large scale.

I am grateful for live sports that can help us feel in unexpected and human ways.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 47: 30+ Nephews and Nieces

Between the NFO's 6 siblings and my 4, we have 30 nephews and nieces...with 4 more on the way.

(Note: if you had taken the "over" on the over/under of 33 set by my cousin Barry in the months leading up to our wedding 17 years ago, you would have won).

Yesterday, I saw 4 of them and I am lucky that, fairly often, I get to see many of them.

What is particularly cool about having such a large number and wide variety of "niecews" is that you get to see personal development over a period of time with a large data set.

This allows you to see common patterns emerge while simultaneously appreciating the evolving, unique characteristics of each individual.

Since all but 3 of them pre-date my entry in to the family and I've known all but 2 since their births, it is remarkable to see so many life stories unfold in real-time.

Today, I am grateful for my 30 (and counting!) nephews and nieces

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 46: Network Collaborators

It sounds like I am organizing a revolution of some kind, but today I am grateful for all of the people who give of their time and energy to help me become a better professional.

Every day, there are multiple people who provide introductions to people in their network, offer feedback on my blog posts or articles, or suggest new ways for me to add value.

There is no way I could list all of them here, but recently people like Josef Katz, Jason Schwartz, Joe Jaffe and others (I guess the name must start with "J"?) have all done it, but there are countless others.

Abe Pachikara reads all my stuff and is an amazing source of inspiration and refinement as well.

My brothers are fantastic in this respect too.

Today, I am grateful for the people who give their time and energy to help me become better as a crypto/blockchain marketer.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 45: Compression Underwear

Paco and I have made the wholesale switch to wearing compression underwear only.

It's been a game-changer for us.

Don't tell anyone, but sometimes, when the NFO and the girls aren't home, we will just walk around in the compression underwear alone, just to celebrate our passion for the comfort.

Whoever invented, we are both grateful to him (or her). Though, in this case, I suspect it's a him ;-)

Hey, cultivating gratitude is about the little things, right? ;-)

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Gratitude Journal-Day 44: Marvin and Ingrid Clark

I met Marvin when I lived in Frankfurt in 1996. He was retired from USAF but had married a German woman and lived there.

He was a stock broker and I interned with Merrill Lynch, where he worked.

He befriended me, even going so far as to invite me to his home to watch the Cowboys-Steelers Super Bowl game from midnight to 4am at his home, with his wife, Ingrid.

I haven't seen Marvin or Ingrid since then, but I called him on his birthday, sent him the quarterly email update and, once a year, would get an Xmas letter from him and Ingrid.

It followed the same analysis of global politics, an update on their travel destinations, and a few other smaller items.

I knew that Marvin had contracted Parkinson's, but this year's letter really hit me as it was the first one that Marvin couldn't write himself. Ingrid wrote it for him and in a straight up German style basically said "it was a rough year." But she kept her head up and was pragmatic at the same time.

It was sad as I realized I am probably not going to hear from Marvin directly again. 

So today, I am grateful for Marvin and Ingrid Clark, their friendship and their approach to life.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Los Angeles, Winter 2017, Vacation Checklist

A quick recap of places we visited and a 1-5 star rating for each for posterity sake

  • Warner Brothers Studio tour-- 4 stars
  • Museum of Tolerance- 5 stars
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame- 2 stars
  • Manhattan Beach- 5 stars
  • La Brea tar pits- 2.5 stars (I liked it, kids didn't)
  • Santa Monica Pier- 3 stars
  • Getty Villa in Malibu- 5 stars
  • Reagan Library- 5 starts

Gratitude Journal- Day 43: Ken, Marcelo, and Crypto Explorers

About 10 months ago, I had the idea to go to Zug, Switzerland to explore Crypto Valley.

I was content to go on my own and just build the network, but Ken Berger and, a bit later, Marcelo Garcia saw huge potential in the idea.

They reached out to me and over the past few months, we've done 2 trips there, leading nearly 75 people on an exploration of the decentralized future through the Crypto Explorers group.

Now, we have another sold out trip coming up at the end of January and a 4th planned for April, plus some other opportunities as well.

I'm grateful to both of these guys for helping me think bigger and broader, for offering complementary skills, and showing me how ideas can be additive and create greater value.

It's a good lesson to remember and it's a good feeling to have as well.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 42: Heated, Private Cars

Drove the kids to school today and, on our way, we passed a bus stop with people waiting.

It was something like 26 degrees. Really uncomfortable.

I felt very fortunate that I have a car that I can jump in and, after a few cold minutes, be pretty comfortable.

I'm grateful for my car and for its heating system.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 41- Ronald Reagan

Yesterday, on our last day in California, we visited the Ronald Reagan National Library in Simi Valley, CA.

For me, Reagan is a special president. 

I remember before he got elected and during the campaign, that was the time that the American hostages were being held in the Embassy in Tehran.

My dad clearly said to me (I guess I was 7), that "if Reagan beats Carter, the Iranians will let the hostages go."

Now, remember, the hostages had been held for 444 days so that's a bold statement.

Sure enough, that's what happened.

It made a strong impression on me vis a vis foreign policy.

My dad took me to Reagan's first inauguration. 

Reagan was also the president for me from age 8 to 16 and he benefits from the positive association of an upper middle class childhood that included private education, ability to travel, extracurriculars, etc.....and most important of all, the Washington Redskins won 3 Super Bowls during that time, plus we had tickets to the games!

So, power of association connects Reagan with good experiences.

More than that, I like his policies on small government, taxation, individual liberty, freedom and life as my life experience has verified it.

Finally, he was effective, but didn't take himself too seriously.

That's a unique set of leadership traits.

I actually found myself getting emotional at the end of the tour watching the video of his funeral as I thought about his impact on my life.

So, today, I am grateful for our 40th President, Ronald Reagan.

If you are considering going at some point, I will also just add that the Library and its grounds are absolutely magnificent as is the exhibit itself.  The Air Force One visit is not worth the wait, however.

What I love about Christmas---as a Jew and as an American

I really like the Christmas experience in America and I am a pretty committed Jew.

What I like about it is the fact that, for about 2-3 weeks, most of the country is just in a slightly better mood. Yes, there are challenges with family schedules and neuroses and flights/train/car travel time, but there's a much SLOWER pace to the workday.

It's as if, building off the quote from Andrew Carnegie [ I think] that "the business of America is business," we all kind of agree to take a break for a short time.

I think that's a good thing. The other 50 weeks of the year are so hectic, it's just nice to have a little festive cheer.  It so happens that, it began, because the holiday has Christian significance, but now it's become an American holiday...and that, I think, is part of what makes America great. 

The best of the world come here and make a contribution. That contribution is uniquely yours and what you get out of it is uniquely yours....and that's what America represents. The chance to be uniquely you.

Coming back to Christmas, then...there are two components.  The religious (originating) component and the secular (modern) component. The secular components has become part of America's Operating System, which basically says "we do christmas and we celebrate the year at that time with people we care about, but it doesn't necessarily HAVE to be about Jesus/religion. It can be, if you want it to be and that's your right, but it doesn't have to be either because that's our right. Understanding that balance is the key to understand what it means to be American.

So, since we've incorporated the secular components of Christmas into the American OS, I can easily say that, as an identified and proud Jew and identified and proud American at the same time, I love Christmas because of what it means to me on both levels. 

I don't celebrate Christmas as a Christian, but I do celebrate the time around Christmastime as an American and I cherish that shared experience with all other Americans.