Monday, December 31, 2012

How To Be In Control in 2013

Life Is Full of Uncertainties.

Every day we are faced with the challenge of reacting to things that are outside of our control.  The actions and behavior of others, the weather, illness, loss, the economy, wars, accidents...  So many things that affect us deeply can seem so random and out of our hands.  We can ask why... We can live in fear... We can numb ourselves from seeing or feeling...  We can give up, since we have no control over it anyway... Or, we can take control.

We Do Have Control.

Granted, not over everything.  There are things, lots of things, that just occur, whether we like it or not, whether we are naughty or nice, whether we deserve better, or get what we deserve.  The reality of life, from a macro perspective, is as simple as two words: "Shit Happens."  So, we can wait for it to hit the fan, or we can go ahead and take control of the things that are absolutely, positively ours to determine.  And by being in control of just a few things, we can gain the confidence and strength to face up to the things we cannot control, and put them in a more healthy perspective.

5 Things We Have Complete Control Over:

As we head into a new year and everyone is thinking about their resolutions and goals and three words or simply reflecting on the year that was and the year that may be, I am thinking about how I can do a better job of taking control of the things I actually can control.  In particular, I want to do a better job of controlling these 5 things (and you can too):

1. My Body:  I have complete control over what I choose to put in my body.  It is up to me what foods I choose to eat, what liquids I choose to drink, what medicines or vitamins or drugs I do or do not choose to ingest.  How much I consume is also within my control.  Of course it is not as easy as it sounds to make all the right choices. It takes discipline and determination, but those are two things that each of us have the power to exercise if we choose to.  I've been a vegetarian for over 20 years, a vegan for nearly 5, but still I can take better control over what I put inside my mouth.  Most likely we all can.  As important as food is, you can't take control over your body without exercise too.  Making regular exercise as essential to your being as eating and breathing is the best way to take control.  Exercise is not a chore, or a task.  It is a way of living.  I am pretty good about my food and exercise choices, but I know I can do better.

2. My Mind:  I have control over what I choose to expose my mind to.  What I read, the movies I watch, the music and podcasts I listen to, the television programs, social media streams, pictures, art and other media I am exposed to is for the most part my choice.  I can choose not to watch the latest episode of "Keeping Up With The Kardashians."  I am in control of whether I allow myself to become addicted to "Homeland."  I can determine what I want to expose my mind to and control how I choose to teach and entertain myself.  Reading more, and watching less is something I can control better (and hope to).

3. My Attitude:  Attitude may not be everything, but it is darn close.  I am in control of my attitude.  I can wake up each morning and put a frown or a smile on my face.  I can carry that comportment with me all day long, and see the world around me through tainted or clear eyes.  That choice is mine to make, every day, throughout the day.  My attitude is mine to control, and I will reap the rewards or suffer the aggravation according to my choice.  The first step toward happiness is to simply be happy.  The right attitude can get us there.

4: My Time:  Time is a fascinating and powerful thing.  It can pass swiftly or slowly.  It can heal all wounds.  It can soften the hardest rock, and deepen or close chasms.  While we have limited (and unknown) time in each of our lives, from moment to moment we are in control of time.  What we do with our time each day is our choice.  What we do next is our choice.   What we do now is our choice. We can make time for the things that we deem to be important.  We all have the power to control our time enough to make room for thinking, for meditation, for quiet.  We all have the power to make time to listen better, especially to the people we care about.  I know I can do a better job of taking control of my time so that the there is always enough of it for the things I have made a priority.

5: My Heart:  Contrary to the words of countless songwriters and poets, we can control our hearts.  We can choose to be more loving and caring, and to be more open to the love around us.  To tell our children or parents that we love them is completely under our control.  To treat others with compassion and understanding is as easy as choosing to do so.  We each control that choice.  When you realize that you can indeed control your heart, you will also realize that our hearts can grow without limit.  If we choose to be more loving, we have an endless capacity to do so.  That's the path I want to try and take.  To control my heart, and grow it.

These are the things I believe I can control, and my goal for the new year is to step-up my game and take more control of each of them.

How about you?

Happy New Year!

Photo Credit: © stockshoppe -
Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Impact of Amazing Things (A Double Whammy Book Review)

The Impact Equation behind this post is to prove to you that Amazing Things Will Happen.  It is true.  I have seen it.  In fact, the authors of two books I recently read are living proof.  Let me explain...

The Years Before Their Overnight Success

I have known Chris Brogan, Julien Smith and C.C. Chapman since long before they were all best-selling authors.  I have had many opportunities to have quality, eye-to-eye conversations, and manly hugs with them all (though not necessarily at the same time... but a man can dream, can't he?)  I can honestly say that I have broken both bread and wind with each of them (though they were likely unaware of the wind part...)  I have watched firsthand as they have each come into their own as bona fide successes, making an impact on a huge community and living amazing lives full of amazing people and experiences.

Ok, What About The Books?

The books I recently read are "The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise?" by Chris and Julien, and "Amazing Things Will Happen: A Real-World Guide on Achieving Success and Happiness" by C.C.  While I could happily review each of the books separately, it dawned on me that these friends and authors are actually perfect examples of the tenets espoused in each other's book.  C.C. has (consciously or not) actively fulfilled the promise of Chris and Julien's Impact Equation, building a large and active community who happily and whole-heartedly support all of his business and creative pursuits.  Chris and Julien are natural born practitioners of the short, smart life tips that C.C. so eloquently recommends.  They are the personification of Passion Hits.

C.C. Has Solved The Impact Equation

In their book, Chris and Julien break down their "equation" for Impact into the acronym CREATE: Contrast, Reach, Exposure, Articulation, Trust and Echo.  According to the authors these six attributes are at the core of what leads to success in today's connected, content driven world.  As I read their detailed explanations of each of these traits I can see how C.C. Chapman has embodied the spirit of exactly the behaviors Chris and Julien are presenting.  C.C. lives by the acronym CREATE, and as The  Impact Equation portends, by doing so C.C. has indeed made an impact, and leveraged his growing influence to create a life where amazing things happen.

Chris and Julien Make Amazing Things Happen

In his book, C.C. guides us with practical advice presented in short spurts.  Little purpose driven chapters that each make a resonant point.  There are many "aha" and "of course" moments, made pleasantly palatable by C.C.'s calming, conversational voice.  His warm personality leaps from the page as he breaks down, chapter by short chapter, the simple ways you can free yourself from fear and habit to leave yourself open to attract (and appreciate) the amazing things available to us all.  Chris Brogan and Julien Smith have done it themselves, and they've proven that C.C.'s welcome words do work.  C.C. says "Passion Hits are people who are able to make a living doing what they love."  This most certainly describes Chris and Julien (and of course C.C. himself).  As I read the chapters such as "The Power of Writing It Down" and "Learning To Say No" and "Rules Are Like Rubberbands" I could easily imagine Chris and Julien as avid followers of C.C.'s guide.

What's In It For You?

Both of these books are written in a personal and conversational fashion that makes reading them quite enjoyable.  Both books also provide practical "assignments" you can put to work while reading the book to help guide you on a path to making an Impact and enjoying the Amazing Things that can and will happen.

Read them, and let me know if you agree.

Disclaimers:  As noted, I consider all three authors to be friends.  I've worked with Chris on the blog Dadomatic, and C.C. and I are two of the five co-hosts of the Cast of Dads podcast.  You can assume I can't help but be a little biased because I like and respect all of these guys.  With that in mind, feel free to take my review with a proverbial grain of salt.  But really, the books are well worth reading!  I received a free "review copy" of both books, but since I prefer digital reading I also bought the Kindle versions of both books on my own dime. Lastly, the links to the books in this post are Amazon Affiliate links.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, December 15, 2012

We Are Broken...

(Originally published at Dad-O-Matic on Friday, December 14, 2012)

We are broken.

There is no other way to explain it.  As parents it is our innate need, our deepest mission in life, to provide for our children.  To keep them safe.  To raise them in a better world than we were raised in...

But it is not a better world.

When I went to elementary school (often walking or riding a bicycle) my parents KNEW I was safe.  The worst kids in the neighborhood - the WORST - maybe smoked a lot of pot and carried a knife.  They did not have guns.

As an elementary school student in Queens, NY I went places and did things UNSUPERVISED that we would NEVER allow our kids to do today, in this world.  In the world WE created.

Something is broken.

We are broken.

WE need to fix it.

We need to restore our faith in each other and our kids' faith in us and in others that CHILDREN are precious.  That WE are precious.  That they live in world that is better and safer than the world their parents grew up in.  That's the way it is supposed to be, isn't it?

Somehow it broke.

My heart goes out to all those touched by today's unthinkable, unspeakable tragedy in Connecticut.  My heart goes out to all of us, for we have failed.  We have not made the world a better place for our kids.      

Photo: © picsfive -
Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Keeping The Tools of the Trade Sharp

Before I began running regularly, I paid very little attention to the sneakers I purchased.  In fact, I would almost always opt for whatever pair that was on sale for $50 or less.  Then I started putting some miles on my feet and the pain and blisters that quickly appeared made it quite clear my random running shoes were not going to support my flat feet and pronating gait for any serious distance.

The Right Tools For The Job

Finally I broke down and went to the local Runner's Depot to be properly and professionally fitted for "real" running shoes.  I was told to replace them every 6 months or 300 miles, whichever came first, regardless how worn they looked (or didn't look).  As a newbie, I really didn't understand the significance of this advice, and when 6 months rolled around and my sneaker treads hardly looked worn, I continued running with them... Until the knee pain and heel spurs arrived...

Looks Do Deceive

What I learned (the painful way), is that running shoes lose their support long before they lose their looks, and without proper support, I was much more prone to injury and undue wear and tear on my own body, hence the knee and heel pain.  Now, I keep track of the time and miles I put on my kicks, and get a new pair as religiously as I change the oil on my car.  TIP: The Nike+ Running App I use makes this very easy by letting you tag each run to a pair of shoes and then tracking the mileage for the shoes.

Running Is Just The Example

Of course, the lesson I learned from my sneakers is not just about running.  In almost everything we do, using the right tools can make a real difference in both performance and productivity.  Obtaining the right tools, and keeping them properly updated, tuned, sharpened, etc., can be costly, but more often than not it is money well spent.  This is especially true for things that you do on a daily or very regular basis.  That's where it makes sense to splurge, rather than on the things you might use only once in a while.  If you do it daily, you deserve to have the best equipment, whether that is running, biking, even shaving.  If you spend your time on a computer all day, having a nice big display, fast processor and lots of memory and storage makes a difference.  If you cook every day, a fine set of knives will make your kitchen time more enjoyable.  If you're the dine out/microwave type, you won't benefit as much from the precision balance and sharpness of the finest kitchen tools. If you play golf twice a year, you probably don't need to invest in the latest and greatest clubs, if at all.  You get the idea...

Think about the things you really do and use regularly.  How would you benefit by freshening up the tools you use for those tasks?

What tools have you invested in and why?  Let me know in the comments.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Is There Really Such Thing As Failure?

Image by @gapingvoid (

I think if you take action, there is no failure, for the doing itself is success. Think how many times we just don't DO.

At the end of October I ran my second half-marathon (the Miami Halloween Half).  I ran it last year and "trained" quite a bit, with several 8 mile runs beforehand. Even with the training, last year it took me 3 hours and 16 minutes to complete. (Yeah, I run like a turtle).

This year I was ill prepared due to travel and other things getting in the way of any proper preparation. I desperately wanted to find an excuse NOT to run this year... "I'm not ready" "I didn't prepare" "I won't be able to finish" etc. But in the end I lived up to my commitment (to myself and the $90 I paid to register for the event).

I ran, and was so excited that I did. I started very strong and for the first 10 miles I was way ahead of last year's pace and excited that I would beat my prior time, probably by 8 or 10 minutes. Then, with 3 miles to go, I hit a wall - mentally and physically - and I was convinced I could not continue.

I struggled to keep moving forward. Fighting back tears and pangs of a psychosomatic asthma attack (I had asthma as a kid, but haven't had any issues for more than 25 years, so I know the sudden wheezing and shortness of breath was self-induced... maybe as that excuse to stop I had been looking for...)

But I kept moving.  Barely running, probably at a pace slower than I could have walked... but running nonetheless.

And I finished. 6 minutes SLOWER than last year.

Did I fail?  No!  I finished.  I took action.  I did something I set out to do, albeit, not quite as well as I had hoped.

Many lessons learned, including the true value of training and preparation... and not just for a half-marathon.

I may have failed to reach my goal, but I succeeded in completing another half-marathon, and I learned a great deal along the way.

I'll put this failure in the "win" column... until next year!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Light. Hearted. NYC.

Having relocated to South Florida in 1994 I have learned to live with the annual threat of Hurricanes and the recurring stress of a six month long Hurricane Season each and every year.  I've had my own brushes with the wrath of wicked Wilma in 2005 and understand firsthand what it's like to go without power for two weeks.  My heart goes out to everyone in the Northeast who has been affected by Sandy, including family and friends.  Mother nature has an uncanny way of reminding us what really matters by kicking us hard...where it counts.

As a small effort to honor New York (my home town) and remind folks how easy it is to contribute to the American Red Cross, we (the team at gapingvoid/Social Object Factory) produced this short animation called "Light Up New York."  We hope it shines a light on the needy up north and helps encourage donations to a very worthy cause.  Please share the animation if you are so inclined, and donate if you can.  Thanks!

Can't see the video? Click Here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, October 05, 2012

Lessons From The Web (Spider, Man)

Two nights ago I was walking around back to bring the dogs in when I almost walked right into an enormous spider web. It was a magnificent web, strung delicately and perfectly from the branches of a tall bush to the ground. It was probably seven or eight feet tall, tall enough so that the center of the Web, the bullseye, was practically at my own eye level, putting me face to face with the spectacular web's proprietor.

Spider, man!

The spider was right there in the middle, chomping on some smaller insect that had fallen prey to the sticky strands, as intended.  I didn't have my phone to snap a picture, and I didn't think I'd get a good shot anyway given the darkness.  I made a mental note to try and catch a picture of it when I put the dogs out again in the morning.

But in the morning the web was gone.

All that work, the perfect construction, form and function, just for an evening's feast.  As slick and symmetrical as it appeared, the web could not withstand the wind, rain and other vagaries of the night.  Oh well.  So much for getting a picture of the web.

Rinse, repeat.

Then last night, once again I went to retrieve the dogs and lo and behold, there was the web again.  Not quite as big this time, but almost in the exact same place, and once again with my friendly neighborhood spider right smack in the middle.  This time I got the shot.

And then I saw the lesson in the weaving of the webs...

Every day the spider has to create to survive.  He has to do the work to spin his web, and do it well.  Do it as perfectly has he can.  Even though that work may only last the day, it is the most important work he can spend his time doing.  Again, and again, and again.  He's not discouraged when the wind (or a person) ruins his work because he knows he is fully capable of doing it again, and maybe even more perfectly the next time.  He makes every web he creates count.  He has to.

Setting aside any aspirations to become Peter Parker, I'd like to approach my own daily creations more like the spider, putting forth my best each day, for that day...

What do you think?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Mobile Is Dead, Long Live Mobile!

I've been involved with the Mobile Industry for a long time, and for more than 10 years there has been a "buzz" about the so-called "year of mobile."  Has it already passed?  Is it finally going to arrive? What do you think?

Last week I gave this presentation to the South Florida chapter of WITI (Women In Technology International).  I've given many presentations over the years, and I enjoyed giving this one.  Since I am working with cartoonist Hugh MacLeod (@gapingvoid) at Social Object Factory, I used a number of Hugh's insightful cartoons to illustrate my talk, which is called "Mobile Is Dead, Long Live Mobile."

There is no question that the smartphone has changed the face of mobile, but there are other forces at play as well.  As addicted as we may be to our smartphones, we are also now creatures of multiple devices - "Digital Omnivores" as comScore calls it.  Thanks to the prevalence of apps and the ubiquity of "the cloud" the idea of mobility goes way beyond our phones.  So, while an older vision of what mobile is may well be dead, our multi-device, cross-platform mobility is most certainly here to stay.  Long live mobile!

I'd love your feedback on this presentation.

Can't see the video? Click Here.

For more information about Jeff and to book him as a speaker, please visit or Cartoons courtesy of @gapingvoid.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Smart Use Of Smartphones: Emergency Weather Alerts

The old adage "fish where the fish are" can also apply to the latest application of the Emergency Broadcast System.  When I was young, the television was the uncontested center of our media universe.  If you wanted to reach the masses, all you had to do was get your message on TV.  Thus, my childhood was filled with the high pitched warning signal followed by an odd image on the screen and the announcement, "This is a test of the emergency broadcast system..."  But putting such a message on TV today is no longer a sure way to alert the citizenry...

We Live In A Mobile World - So Fish Where The Mobile Fish Are

Tonight, as Tropical Storm Isaac passed into the Gulf of Mexico, safely to the west of my South Florida home, after a dreary, rainy day, I was sitting at the kitchen table watching HBO GO (catching up on The Newsroom) on my Android phone when suddenly I heard that familiar "warning" tone.  But my TV was not on.  Then the message above, popped up on my phone's screen, pausing Aaron Sorkin's pithy banter midstream.  Within minutes, I could hear the wind outside winding up... things outside rustling and shaking and moving.   The dogs, inside for the day, huddled together, happily not out in the yard, where surely their dog house would soon be airborne a la The Wizard of Oz if indeed the tornado threat proved to be real.

Safe and Sound

I was not aware that the Emergency Alert System had gone mobile, but I am glad it did.  Like many of you, my smartphone is practically a physical extension of myself, a near permanent appendage, by my side more than my most loyal of pets.  I am naked if not accompanied by my handy Android, and based on countless studies and statistics I am not alone.  So it makes perfect sense for emergency warnings to move from our kitchens and living rooms to our pockets and purses.  It makes perfect sense to take advantage of the fact my phone is far more location aware than my TV...  To make sure warnings can be targeted and accurate, to be delivered into the hands of those who most need the information.  Sure enough, as the warning predicted, right around 10:15 the winds calmed down.  If there was a tornado in my area, thankfully it did not make its way into my yard.

I guess I will turn on the TV to find out...

Have you ever received an Emergency Alert on your phone?
Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, August 19, 2012

From Transcendent Man To Transcendental Meditation

Ray Kurzweil
I recently was fortunate to attend an information and inspiration packed event in NYC.  The theme of the event was "Abundance" and the roster of incredible speakers included everyone from science and tech stars such as Ray Kurzweil, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Peter Diamandis, media giants like Arianna Huffington and Steve Forbes, best-selling author Neil Strauss, and countless others over two packed and powerful days.  I took more than 20 pages of notes at the event, which I am sure will fuel a number of blog posts here over the coming weeks.

The Singularity Is Near

One of the highlights (of many) for me was to hear inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil speak.  I have long been a fan of, and fascinated by, his works and visions of the future.  As an avid science fiction fan it is hard not to want Kurzweil's vision of Transcendent Man to come to fruition (and science fact seems to increasingly be on Kurzweil's side).  His talk focused on "how to create a mind" and how "you are what you think" and, thanks to technology, the advent of our "expanded mind."  Heady stuff about exponential growth, abundance, and both the true power of our human brains and the shortcomings that technology will help us overcome.

Transcendent Man to Transcendental Meditation

While the theme of the event was Abundance, many of the very successful, highly motivated speakers shared their personal stories of how they are motivated and maintain their focus to keep their businesses and personal lives moving forward.  Quite a few referenced meditation as an essential part of their daily routines.  Feeling inspired myself, I was reminded that, back as a senior in High School, I went through the Transcendental Meditation program and practiced "TM" for a number of years thereafter.  I don't exactly recall when (or why) I stopped meditating, but it was certainly a decade or two ago.  Repeatedly hearing of the benefits of meditation from so many provided the social proof I needed to reengage myself with the process.  As I sat in the audience the conclusion for me was clear.  I should start meditating again.

Habits Eat Intentions For Breakfast

In order to get back into meditation it was clear to me that I had to figure out a way to make it an inexcusable part of my daily routine.  I had to make meditating a habit, not a goal or an aspiration.  For my work with gapingvoid we recently put together a presentation on some of the science behind changing behavior through visual communications.  We cite neuroscience expert Robert Cooper whose work on behavior change highlights the importance of creating habits to effect change. His line, "habits eat intentions for breakfast" resonated with me, and the intention to begin meditating again seemed like the perfect objective with which to prove Cooper right.

An App To Create A Habit

So how was I going to turn meditating into a habit?  Since the singularity is near, I turned to my extended robot brain, my (aptly named) Android smartphone, and sure enough found the perfect app to help me reintegrate meditation into my daily life.  There were actually many choices, but based on ratings and reviews I installed Meditation Helper Pro by Neill Alexander.  What I love about this simple program is that it instantly makes you accountable by adding a widget to you phone's desktop that shows how many days in a row you have meditated, and your longest stretch of continuous days meditating.  This little reminder system, inspired by Jerry Seinfeld, has made it easy and fun for me to begin meditating regularly (going on 10 days now...).  The app lets you set the duration of your meditation sessions, marks the start and end (and other points at your option) with a soothing gentle bell, and best of all, during your meditation time it puts your phone into airplane mode, so there is no chance of being interrupted or disturbed by the beeps and buzzes of our connected world.  Meditation, by definition, should be a respite from all the "noise" and this app, for me, is a great way to help create the right environment for some peaceful moments of meditation, twice a day, every day.

I may not yet be a transcendant man (yet), but I am well on my way to becoming a meditating man... and hopefully the better for it.

Do you meditate?  If so, what is your method for making it part of your daily routine?  Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Colorful Tribe, Just Be-Cos (At Florida's Comic-Con)

Some tribes are hard to spot, but we know they exist.  People with similar interests have greater opportunities to find each other today than ever before... if you know where to look.  Other tribes are very visible when they come together and are quite easy to spot.  There's a large gathering of one massive tribe of comic and pop-culture fans going on right now in San Diego at Comic-con. 

Con-Men (and women... and children...)

 If you've ever attended a "con" before, you have probably witnessed a very colorful sub-tribe of attendees, dressed as their favorite characters, competing and collaborating in "cosplay" (short for "Costume Play.")  Where else can you go to see people of all ages dressed in elaborate costumes to rival the best of Halloween and Hollywood?  From toddlers to grandparents, a good con gives everyone the chance to release their inner superheros in a very public way.  As an attendee in "civvies," it is a blast to witness this tribe in action and see such a motley cast of characters so comfortable dressed so colorfully.

A Super Time at Supercon

I was recently invited to speak at Florida Supercon, which, while smaller than the San Diego uber Con, still attracts an awesome local crowd as well as many comic and film world celebrities (including Alex Kingston of Dr. Who and ER fame, cast members from The Hunger Games, and many more).  At Supercon I interviewed my former employer, Troma's Lloyd Kaufman, and I gave a workshop presentation based on a book I am working on called "Everything I Know About Business I Learned From The Toxic Avenger."

Why Finding Your Tribe Rocks

While I enjoyed catching up with Lloyd and giving my own schpiel, the most fun I had at Supercon was watching the cosplay tribe in action, and seeing so many people, young and old, embrace their fandom so fully.  It really demonstrates the best aspects of finding your tribe.  Once you do, you have the comfort of being part of a true community and the satisfaction of fitting in and belonging, no matter who you are or what you may look like.  At a comic con there are no geeks, freaks, whackos or weirdos...  there are only fans!  It was fun to be one for the day.

Have you ever dabbled in cosplay?  If you need some inspiration, here is a video of some pictures I took at Florida Supercon .  Enjoy.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Measurement and Motivation

I am not a numbers guy, but I am a gadget guy.  Lately my love of gadgets has been teaching me the value of numbers, and more importantly, the value of measurement and tracking when it comes to achieving goals.

Is the Weight Over?

As someone who has always been "big boned" (read: overweight) I work very hard to be health conscious.  I have been a vegetarian for over 20 years and vegan for the past 5, and generally I eat well and healthy.  I go to the gym, run and bike ride regularly.  Yet still, the older I get, the harder it seems to be to drop weight.  However, I recently lost 10 pounds and I attribute my sudden success to my gadgets.

Satellites and Smartphones

Even before every smartphone was GPS enabled I used a bulky Garmin GPS watch to track my walks, runs and bike rides.  While it was fun to know how far and fast I went, the data stayed on the watch and I didn't really watch it, except when I was in the midst of exercising.  When my smartphone became GPS enabled, I gave up the Dick Tracy sized watch and starting using apps such as CardioTrainer and RunKeeper to keep track of my physical activities.  With the smartphone it became easy to share my exercise progress on Facebook and Twitter, which led to lots of "moral support" from friends and followers - a great motivator. But still, I was not losing any weight...

Steps Count, And Make You Accountable

When the first FitBit came out I was intrigued.  I had tried a standard pedometer before, but found it inaccurate, and a bit boring.  But the first FitBit had received some mixed reviews and I decided to pass.  Instead, when Jawbone introduced the UP bracelet I was sold.  I own a few great Jawbone products already so I had high hopes for the UP, and liked the idea of a smart bracelet that could be worn all the time.  And I loved the UP... while it worked.  As you may have read, the UP turned out to be a downer, with Jawbone maturely acknowledging its flaws and taking them all back for a full refund.  So it was back to the FitBit, and by now the much improved Fitbit Ultra was available.  I love my FitBit the accompanying software and apps, and being able to see my steps and progress.  I also have a Nike Fuel band and a Motorola MOTOACV gps sports-watch (yeah, I am a gadget geek).  The bottom line is, no matter which device you choose to use, tracking your daily movement will change your behavior, and changing behavior is the best way to lose weight and improve your fitness.

A Daily Race Against Time

All these fitness trackers generally re-set to "0" at midnight, and I find myself frequently taking late-night jogs or extended walks with the dogs just to make sure I hit my daily number, and that, I think, is the magic benefit of tracking your activity.  Knowing where you stand (or move) at any given moment makes you far more likely to take that extra step to hit an attainable daily goal.

Lesson Learned

I am enjoying tracking my Fuel, steps, miles and calories and, based on my experience watching the numbers for my personal fitness, I am finding myself becoming more focused on metrics and measurement in business as well.  The same principles apply.  If your goal is clearly defined, and you know exactly where you stand at any given moment, then you are far more likely to put in the extra effort to make sure you reach that goal.

I'll always be a gadget guy, but now my gadgets have made me more interested in being a numbers guy too...  How about you?  How do you track your fitness and business goals?

*Note: Some product links above are Amazon Affiliate links to help support my Gadget habit...Thanks!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Be The Entrepreneur of Yourself

The world has changed.  My grandfather came to the United States at a young age, with a young son (my father) and he went to work in the Brooklyn shipping yard of an industrial pipe manufacturer.  He stayed with that same company for his entire career, a lifetime, working his way through the ranks from physical labor, to sales, to management, to the proverbial gold watch at retirement (in his case, semi-retirement... I come from a long line of workaholics.)  

There Is No Such Thing As Job Security.

What was a relatively common experience for my grandfather - spending a career at one company - is virtually unheard of today.  The notion of "job security" simply does not exist anymore at any level, from the "C-suite" on down.  Today, the best job security one can have is to not need job security.  Today you truly need to be an entrepreneur.  You need to be the entrepreneur of yourself.  You are the startup.  These are the lessons I am trying to practice myself,* and instill upon my kids, all in their 20's.  This is their world.

The Startup is YOU.

Being the entrepreneur of yourself does not mean you can't be working as an employee for someone else's company.  It does mean that you approach being an employee the way you would approach starting a business.  YOU are the business.  Your current product is the job you hold, and your mission is to attack that job as if it is your company, so that you can produce the best product possible - your work, and your work ethic.  Like a startup, you want to grow your business (yourself) and improve, and learn, perform well and grow a customer base of people who respect, rely upon, and value your product (you).

Be The Product.

When you are the product, and the product is simply awesome, your customers will stick with you. It is no different than with a company.  Apple customers buy every new product Apple makes because their products are great.  Your customers - your co-workers, employers, people you do business with, people you encounter online and off - will support your product - you - no matter what you are doing or where you are working, if your product is always awesome.

Stay Focused, But Plant Seeds.

As the entrepreneur of yourself, you need to stay focused on the product, but also remain aware of the marketplace.  Being awesome at your current job (current product) doesn't mean you can't also have a product roadmap for the future.  You need to.  To prepare your startup (you) to become a sustainable business, you need to have an eye on the future. You need to be aware of other products (opportunities) that may fit into your longer term plan, and you need to plant the seeds (reputation, relationships, resourcefulness) that will leave you prepared to roll out new products (changing a job, starting a new venture) when the market is ready.

I firmly believe that being the entrepreneur of yourself is the best way to take control of your own work destiny, so you can be ready to create your own opportunities within or without your current job.

Do you agree?  Are you the entrepreneur of yourself?

(* In an attempt to practice what I preach, I recently updated my own product and changed my role from a full-time employee to that of a consultant in order to pursue additional opportunities including Social Object Factory. More on that soon...)

Photo Credit: © Konstantin Li -

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Ultra Fun With An Ultrabook and an Ultrabook Dad

(This sponsored post originally appeared at

I think you’ll agree that computers are now a part of just about every family's lifestyle (not to mention our business lives...). It has been fascinating to watch the rapid evolution of computers over the years.  Remember the first computer you bought for your home?  Chances are it was a huge desktop PC with a large CPU, and awkwardly heavy CRT display.  Today that early PC is a digital dinosaur, and, arguably, the idea of a big CPU for a “desktop” PC is perhaps on its way to extinction as well.

Lap It Up...

When laptop PC’s first hit the market we were enamored by their portability, but we wanted them to have the same power and capabilities as our workhorse desktops... and soon they were just as fast and capable, with powerful, yet power friendly microprocessors, great graphic and media capabilities, sharp, wide screens, and hard drives with the same capacity as their desk-trodden counterparts.  Indeed the laptop could be a primary PC, but you might not want to carry it with you everywhere (if you value your shoulder).  For many, that big, bulky (but capable) laptop became our main PC, spending more time on our desks than our laps.

Casting (out) the Net(book)

Recognizing the consumer’s desire for “smaller and lighter,” notebooks evolved from the laptop, and then the netbook evolved from the notebook PC.  Small, light and inexpensive, the netbook was one step forward in portability, but two steps backward in power and function.  The shrunken keyboards could be a challenge, along with the small screens and general lack of “oomph” when it comes to speed and pure processing prowess.  A netbook has its place in a pinch, but it is unlikely to ever become a “main” computer.

Enter The Ultrabook!

The desire for small, light, powerful and portable is now being addressed by the many Ultrabooks hitting the market, driven by an Intel reference design.  As I mentioned in an earlier post in which I unboxed the Asus Zenbook UX31E, Ultrabooks are thin, sleek and light.  Most weigh less than 3 pounds, and the Asus Zenbook that Intel sent me is 9mm thick in the back, sloping down to 3mm in the front.  It is an eye-catching brushed aluminum package... and with “instant on” and solid battery life it is a computer you truly can (and will want to) take with you everywhere.  It is a full featured portable computer that fits into any lifestyle and a laptop that is just as comfortable on your lap on the couch as it is on your desk.  The Asus Zenbook is an impressive example of the Ultrabook category and at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) there were some exciting Ultrabook announcements from a number of manufacturers.

The Ultrabook Dads Geek Out On Video

When Intel sent @HighTechDad and I the Asus Zenbooks to review, we wanted to do something a little different.  Any reviewer can tell you the specs of a device.  We wanted to have some fun and give you a good perspective on the Asus Ultrabook at the same time. While we each made our own video, they are actually closely tied together and I hope you’ll take the time to watch them both for the full UltrabookDads treatment.  And please, let us know what you think!

 Can't see the video? Click this link:

 And here is the companion video from @HighTechDad:

 Can't see the video? Click this link: 

Michael and I have enjoyed using and talking about the Ultrabook and having the chance to be “UltrabookDads.”  We held a Google Hangout and a fun live Twitter Chat, and one lucky Twittizen, @BadMofo33, was the random winner of an Ultrabook Intel provided as a giveaway. I hope you’ve enjoyed this inside look inside Ultrabooks, sponsored by Intel.

Which Ultrabook features are most appealing to you?

Disclosure:  In accordance with the FTC Guidelines and WOMMA Code of Ethics, I am disclosing that I have a material connection because I received a gift or sample of a product for consideration and/or am being otherwise compensated by Intel in preparing to create this content. I was/am not expected to return this item or gift after my review period. My opinions about Intel, Asus, and Ultrabooks are entirely my own and not those of Intel, Asus or any other party.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Latest Social Networking Addiction: Pinterest

For some, the gateway drug was their first tweet.  For others it was the constant poking on Facebook that nagged at them until one day they realized they had become become addicted to Social Networking.  For the afflicted, every desktop, laptop and smartphone screams out at them to "use me..."  Temptation is everywhere.  Even Twitter co-founder Biz Stone recently warned against becoming addicted to his own baby, Twitter.

So Many Followers, So Little Time

Since I launched Social Networking Rehab back in August of 2007 there has been no shortage of shiny new social networking services to fuel the pangs of the addicted.  While Twitter and Facebook may remain the cocaine and heroin of the socially addictive services, just as on the dark corners of cities everywhere there is always the threat of a new, more powerful drug making its way to the streets.  It seems the latest digital drug to feed the needs of social junkies is Pinterest.  In my humble opinion it is too soon to tell if all the interest in Pinterest is well founded, or if they are riding a wave of aggressive Facebook connecting and the early adopters' seeming obsession with whatever is perceived to be "the latest" shiny new object.

Anything Further For Fodder?

Not one to let the hype go unnoticed, Pinterest seemed like a ripe subject for me to tackle for a (long overdue) new post over at, where the INVITATIONS staff will happily take the necessary steps (12 or more) to help folks overcome their uncontrollable passion for pinning.  Whether you are a true pinhead or not, I thought you might enjoy this (ahem) "news" story, re-posted here with permission.  :-)   Are you addicted to Pinterest?


Acupuncturist Takes Pinterest Too Far

(Pittsburgh, Pinsylvania) February 20, 2012.  A 47 year-old Pinsylvania man has been arrested for aggravated assault after pinning 134 photographs to the body of an unsuspecting, but very patient, patient of the Always Accurate Acupuncture Center.  The suspect, Ivan Toopoke, is a licensed acupuncturist known for pointedly practicing his profession with piercing perfection prior to this point.  This is the first time he has been stuck with charges of needling a customer the wrong way.  

The patient, who's name has been withheld thanks to the privacy settings on her Facebook account, is a regular customer of the AAAC.  She dozed off during what was to be a routine session of stress relief sticking, only to awaken on pins and needles.  According to one witness, an apprentice acupuncturist, "I walked into the exam room with a cushion full of freshly sterililized needles, and there she was, covered head to toe with pictures of kitchen appliances, shoes, pasta dishes and Ikea Furniture, pinned to her as if she was a human pin-board.  It was shocking."

The witness's reference to human pin-board was on point, as it turns out.  Investigators who confiscated Mr. Toopoke's office computer found evidence of an obsession with the popular on-line pin-board,Pinterest.  Toopoke had set up more than 750 "boards" and had personally pinned or repinned more than 150,000 images since signing up for the sticky social network six days ago.  According to Detective Dick Richardson, "it appears that Mr. Toopoke was addicted to this Pinterest thing to the point where he could no longer distinguish between digital pins and real pins.  In his mind, his brutally abusive acupuncturing of this patient was merely a means of sharing the things he loves."

When asked about the source of the 134 images pinned to the victim, Detective Richardson noted that CSI's involved in the case had photographed for evidence a large refrigerator in the Acupuncture Office that was suspiciously devoid of any cut out pictures on it, despite the presence of a large number of small magnets.  The acupuncturist Toopoke may face jail time as well as revocation of both his acupuncturist license and his Pinterest account.  He has been sent to the prominent Social Networking Rehab facility,INVITATIONS, for observation.  The victim is expected to fully recover, and has asked if she could keep several of the photos of shoes and furniture for future reference.

A spokesperson for Pinterest was not available for comment on the incident.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, February 10, 2012

Don't Quit (And Why Giving Up Is An Oxymoron)

Don't quit.  Sometimes it is the overused, trite and true cliche that still says it best.  Don't quit.  Never quit. Don't give up.  Never give up.  It's all the same, and it is all the truth.  The real truth.  You can't quit.  We can't quit.  You can't let your kids quit, or your friends quit, or your family quit.  Lead them by example. Don't quit. Never quit. 

"Giving up" is an oxymoron.  If you give up, you are not giving anything at all... you are taking away.  You are taking away opportunity. You are taking away dreams.  You are taking away hope.  You are taking away the chance to be all you can be (yup, love those cliche's).  Seriously, the only things you should ever even consider quitting are those things that truly damage you.  If it is toxic, toss it.  Anything else, you have to hang on.  Hang on tight.  For the long haul.  Forever.

If you never quit, time is always on your side.  If you never give up, you always have more to give.  Another step, another try, another shot.  Better this time because you've done it before.  Better this time because you haven't quit, you haven't given up, and you've gained knowledge and experience along the way.  If you never quit your journey continues, and the journey is what you live. Getting to the goal is just the gravy.

Last year I started running, and worked my way up, slowly and surely, to be able to run a half-marathon in  October. It was an awesome feeling of personal accomplishment.  Then I had an accident in December and could not run for several months.  Now I am starting from the beginning again.  I can't do the distance yet.  What was becoming fun and easy last year, is hard again.  Really hard.  It would be easy to quit.  I want to quit.  I really want to quit (especially during those first few steps every time I run).  But I won't quit.  I can't quit. I've done it before and I know I can do it again.

Business is the same.  You can't quit.  Dreams are the same.  You can't quit.  Goals are the same.  You can't quit.  It is NEVER too late.  Anything you want to work toward you can start RIGHT NOW.  Or in an hour.  Or tomorrow. Or next week.  The choice is yours.  You have the power.  We have the power.

Just don't quit.

Photo Credit: © gunnar3000 -

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Everything I Know About Business I Learned From THE TOXIC AVENGER!

Lights, Camera, Action!

Early in my career I spent 7 years working for Troma, the low budget film studio probably best known for the cult Classic, The Toxic Avenger…  As I am sure you know, The Toxic Avenger is the heartwarming story of Melvin, a lowly mop-boy, who, teased and taunted, falls into a vat of radioactive waste and emerges as… The Toxic Avenger - The First Superhero from New Jersey! (And affectionately called "Toxie.")

Making movies is hard work, especially making movies on a shoestring budget… (OK, eventually we were able to advance from shoestrings to Velcro budgets!)  But I learned a lot… how to mix theatrical blood…  How to make a cantaloupe substitute for a head crush…  but making movies also taught me a lot about business and being an entrepreneur...

In truth, an independent movie production is like a start-up on steroids.  You go from screenplay (business plan) to product completion (launch) in a matter of months.  You have to hire, fire, build, tear down, raise money, spend money, rally the troops, fight deadlines and external forces, and make constant compromises all the while fighting to stay the course and make the best film (i.e. product) you can.

Nobody sets out to make a bad film, just like nobody starts a company with the intention of failing...

Ignite Toxie (Thanks to Ford)

I recently attended a great event for bloggers and online influencers sponsored by Ford (who paid for my trip to Detroit) in connection with the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). During a dinner event the Ford team organized an evening of Ignite Talks. If you are not familiar with Ignite, it is a great format for short, thought provoking and inspiring presentations.  The presenter has 5 minutes and 20 slides, and the slides advance every 15 seconds, no matter what the presenter is saying.  While I do quite a bit of public speaking, I've never given an Ignite talk... until now.

I thought the Ignite format would be perfect for sharing 5 lessons I learned from my Troma days that I think apply to all businesses and entrepreneurs:

1. Show Up (and be prepared)
2. Collaborate & Delegate
3. Be Passionate, Real and Believe
4. Sink or Swim
5. Commit To Your Culture and Vision

Here is a video of my Ford Ignite presentation, called "Everything I Know About Business I Learned From The Toxic Avenger."  Please let me know what you think in the comments!

Enhanced by Zemanta