What, No Chocolate?

The Webman has done a lot of traveling over the years for business and for pleasure.  About 90% of that has been domestic travel so I am hoping to inverse that to 90% international travel in the years ahead.  Time to see the world!

Most of the places that I have stayed have been your very typical hotel chains such as the Marriott, Starwood, Hilton, Hyatt and all the others where we could get points and hopefully cash them in for an upgraded family vacation at a later date.  For those that have done extensive business travel, you know what I am talking about.  Not much join in this but accumulating a few million points – priceless.  Unfortunately even these small benefits are now being taken away by companies.  The last company I worked for actually had their own account for the airline miles that I traveled so that they could benefit with lower fares.  I get it but geez, let the employees get some benefit on this.

I was a very naive traveler when I first took to the airways.  The definition of a family vacation growing up was driving to Orchard Beach in the Bronx.  Out in the morning and back in the late afternoon.  Not that I am complaining as I really enjoyed my times there, but I had no experience with planes, trains or beds that were not my own.  I took my first business trip when I was 22 years old to Chicago.  At the time I was working for  a first class, industry leading beverage company and all travel, even for a peon like me was first class.  So I was picked up in a limo, flew first class to Chicago, was picked up by a limo there and was given the Presidential Suite at the hotel where I was staying.  I had never seen a bathroom with a phone in it before 🙂

Well those days have passed but as a consumer our choices for finding incredible places to stay has improved immeasurably.  AIRNB has created a website whereby you can rent just about any room almost anywhere in the world.  Yes of course there is some risk to this, but why not live a little.  www.airnb.com

AIRNB connects people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay. Guests can build real connections with their hosts, gain access to distinctive spaces, and immerse themselves in the culture of their destinations. Whether it’s an urban apartment or countryside castle, AIRNB makes it effortless to showcase your space to an audience of millions, and to find the right space at any price point, anywhere.

And they are growing like a weed.  It booked 4 million nights of accommodation in users’ homes in 2011 — that’s four times the amount of business it had done in the previous four years.  Most of this growth (75% of it) came from outside the U.S. — from Europe, for the most part. London, Paris and Berlin are three of Airbnb’s five biggest hotbeds of listing activity.

Here is a link to a really cool infographic from our friends at Mashable about AIRNB – http://mashable.com/2012/01/26/airbnb-infographic/

I have not used AIRNB myself yet but will when I can.  Let me know what your experience has been by commenting below.

All the best.


St. Paul’s Chapel – Coincidence 2?

St. Paul’s Chapel was not damaged on September 11, 2001.  Was this a miracle?

Last week I mentioned the book The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn.  www.amazon.com/The+Harbinger He has done a fabulous job of linking historical prophecies to the fates of Israel and the United States in this book and I would like to share another coincidence that makes you really think about the ancient prophets and the meaning of their writings.  The key writing highlighted in the book is Isaiah 9:10.

“The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone;the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.”

George Washington inaugural took place in 1789 in New York City, the first capital of the United States.  As we know, our founding fathers were very strong believers in God as many of our foundational documents reference.  Here is the final paragraph of George Washington’s inaugural speech.

“Having thus imparted to you my sentiments as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign Parent of the Human Race in humble supplication that, since He has been pleased to favor the American people with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquility, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government for the security of their union and the advancement of their happiness, so His divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.”

After the speech, George Washington, along with members of the United States Congress, worshiped at St. Paul’s Chapel on his Inauguration Day, on April 30, 1789.  Washington also attended services at St. Paul’s during the two years New York City was the country’s capital. Above Washington’s pew is an 18th-century oil painting of the Great Seal of the United States; adopted in 1782.

The chapel survived the Great New York City Fire of 1776 when a quarter of New York City (then confined to the lower tip of Manhattan), including Trinity Church, burned following the British capture of the city after the Battle of Long Island during the American Revolutionary War.

The Chapel was turned into a makeshift memorial shrine following the September 11 attacks.  The church survived without even a broken window. Church history declares it was spared by a miracle sycamore on the northwest corner of the property that was hit by debris. The tree’s root has been preserved in a bronze memorial by sculptor Steve Tobin. While the church’s organ was badly damaged by smoke and dirt, the organ has been refurbished and is in use again.

The rear of St. Paul’s Chapel faces Church Street, opposite the east side of the World Trade Center site. After the attack on September 11, 2001, which led to the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, St. Paul’s Chapel served as a place of rest and refuge for recovery workers at the WTC site.

For eight months, hundreds of volunteers worked 12 hour shifts around the clock, serving meals, making beds, counseling and praying with fire fighters, construction workers, police and others. Massage therapists, chiropractors, podiatrists and musicians also tended to their needs.

The fence around the church grounds became the main spot for visitors to place impromptu memorials to the event. After it became filled with flowers, photos, teddy bears, and other paraphernalia, chapel officials decided to erect a number of panels on which visitors could add to the memorial. Estimating that only 15 would be needed in total, they eventually required 400.

So St. Paul’s survives not only the Great New York City fire in 1776 but it survives the devastation of September 11th because the lone sycamore tree protected it.  Coincidence?  What do you think?

Let me know what you think about this blog by commenting below.


Linked In – You Got Questions?

As many of you know Linked In is the place to be for connecting with business people.  As I am an early adopter of many technologies/capabilities, I received an e-mail from Reid Hoffman, Linked In’s CEO and Founder when they passed the 100MM member mark.  It was a very nice touch.  Here is what I received from Reid:

“I want to personally thank you because you were one of LinkedIn’s first million members (member number 145247 in fact!*). In any technology adoption lifecycle, there are the early adopters, those who help lead the way. That was you.”

Sweet, I an number 145,247 and now the community has over 135MM members and growing.  I use Linked In aggressively for any number of business networking activities such as folks changing positions, important business news, plugging into new groups for learning and knowledge.  I was fortunate enough to have a Linked In professional provide me with some counsel on the best words to use for search results, layout etc. so that folks can easily find what they are looking for.

Today we see these images everywhere, but if you want to network your career Linked In is the place to be.  Well, we do not see the last one everywhere yet, but the Webman predicts this will be the next big social idea, Pinterest.  More on that in an upcoming blog.

Many folks ask me how to better use Linked In.  My friend Martha is always asking this question “Hey, I signed up, so now what do I do?” And yes fans, she may be a bit naive to Linked In but she has all the other attributes we look for – fun, smart, low maintenance, loves football and smokin hot; yup a 5 tool playa!

I came across a terrific infographic that does an awesome job of providing the Linked In Boot Camp basics.  Here is a quick summary for you and a link to the great infographic from Column Five.

  • Complete your profile
  • Connect with everyone you can – More is better
  • Customize your URL and websites
  • Spice up your image
  • Recommend others
  • Join groups
  • Add your company’s profile
  • Optimize your search results
  • Add applications

Here is a link to the infographic – http://columnfivemedia.com/work-items/mindflash-infographic-linkedin-boot-camp-basic-training-for-the-personal-marketer/

Linked In is great.  Use it to gain advantage and stay focused on the value and benefits.

Let me know what you think about this blog by commenting below.

Enjoy the weekend.


Think Differently

Yesterday we covered the need to really focus to accomplish our goals on a daily basis.  One of the other critical areas for growth and success is to modify your approach and to make the changes necessary to succeed.

I was recently introduced to a person from China that was kind enough to share with me an old Chinese story about making the changes necessary to succeed.  The lesson is learn, observe, make the changes and keep learning.  The story below will provide you with an excellent example of what it means to Think Differently.

During the Warring States Period,there was a great military strategist named Sun Bin, an alleged descendant of Sun Tzu, the author of “The Art of War“.

It was said that Sun Bin was circumvented in the state of Wei by his fellow student Pang Juan, and thus was sentenced to face-tattooing (criminal branding) and had his kneecaps removed, rendering him a handicap for the rest of his life. Later Sun Bin escaped from Wei to State Qi.

In Qi, Sun Bin made good friends with Tian Ji, a high official and general.

One day, Tian Ji lost again, going home depressed. Sun Bin who happened to visit him said: ” Take me to the race next time, perhaps I can be of some help.”

At the next horse race, Sun Bin, sitting in the grandstand, carefully observed the race. He learned that everyone’s horses by their speed were divided into three different classes: regular, plus, and super, and thus different at decorations, and the rule is to have three rounds in a race; each of the horses must be used in one round; the owner who won two rounds was the winner. He also noticed that though winning every round, the king’s horses are not much better than Tian Ji’s.

So Sun Bin said to Tain Ji with a smile:” My friend, go ask the king for another race. I have an idea that can ensure you win this time.”

“Really? ” Tian ji was delighted and very curious about the details.

“My idea is very simple,” Sun Bin said,”I found you used your super horse against the king’s super, your plus against the king’s plus, and your regular against the king regular, and you lost all the three rounds. This time, you decorate your regular horse as the super, plus as the regular and super as the plus. In this way, your regular will compete with the king’s super,you will lose this round for sure, but your plus will beat the king’s regular, and your super will defeat the king’s plus. You still will be the winner.”

The result of the second race turned to be exactly the same as Sun Bin had expected.

The King, surprised by the unusual lose, asked Tian Ji where he got those good horses in such a short time. Tian Ji told him about Sun Bin`s trick. The King met Sun Bin and the latter told him that when the two sides were matched in power, proper strategies may bring success. The King then appointed Sun Bin as the strategic adviser to General Tian Ji. Afterwards the Qi`s army, with the help of Sun Bin, won many battles.

Let me know what you think of this blog by commenting below.

Have a great day.


The Art of Focus

How many times have we all used the word focus?  With ourselves, with our children, with our co-workers.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”- Ferris Bueller

Classic, but I digress.  Life does move really fast these days and if you do not look around you will certainly miss the most important things in your life.  If you are like me, we are all juggling so many things that many days are just a blur.  Husbands and wives running in different directions: children trying to grow up and face the everyday challenges of school, social, sports etc. (I think it was easier when we were growing up but that was a while ago so my memory may not be accurate).  Keeping up with changes in technology, news, work, play, friends, acquaintances, neighbors, banking, working out, eating healthy, facebook, twitter, linked-in, business meetings, networking events, even a party or two now and then, sports…….I am exhausted just listing these things.

What we are most challenged by everyday is our ability to focus on what is important and to not worry about the small stuff.  Much easier said than done, I know.  We make lists, we prioritize, we get handed honey-do lists – we have lists at home, lists at work, lists of projects, lists of people to call – we have handwritten lists on paper, post it notes, on the refrigerator and if you live in my home, small little lists and reminders on post-it notes all over the house as subtle reminders of the daily to-dos.  So many things to do, so little time.

In order to be more successful in everything that we do it is critical to remain focused on the items that move the needle.  At work, what are the items that you work on that truly make a difference to the business and to you?  Here is a technique that I learned many years ago that has worked for me and one that I have used on many occasions in business.  It is called the Start, Stop and Continue technique.  Make a list of the things you do everyday (Separate business, life, goals, home etc.) and ask yourself the questions.  What should I stop doing?  What should I start doing?  What should I continue doing?  Do this regularly as priorities, goals and impact changes constantly, just like life.

Additionally think about the things that are really important.  I found this today and wanted to share – 10 questions that create success.  I know I am giving you another task but this one is worth it.  I am asking myself these questions starting today:

  1. Have I made certain that those I love feel loved?
  2. Have I done something today that improved the world?
  3. Have I conditioned my body to be more strong flexible and resilient?
  4. Have I reviewed and honed my plans for the future?
  5. Have I acted in private with the same integrity I exhibit in public?
  6. Have I avoided unkind words and deeds?
  7. Have I accomplished something worthwhile?
  8. Have I helped someone less fortunate?
  9. Have I collected some wonderful memories?
  10. Have I felt grateful for the incredible gift of being alive?

So slow down, take a breadth, enjoy that cup of coffee or tea in the morning and think differently.  Has worked for Apple, so why not you?

Please let me know what you think of this blog by commenting below.



I am currently reading a book called The Harbinger, by Jonathan Cahn.  I thoroughly enjoy fiction that is interwoven with historical facts, but this book really makes a very interesting case for the inter connectivity between America and Israel.

Before its destruction as a nation, ancient Israel received nine harbingers, prophetic omens of warning. The same nine harbingers are now manifesting in America with immediate ramifications for end-time prophecy.  Hidden in an ancient biblical prophecy from Isaiah, the mysteries revealed in The Harbinger are so precise that they foretold recent American events down to the exact days.

I have found the book to be a great read but one particular fact in the book really stands out.  According to the ancient Hebrew calendar, the seventh year is referred to as the Sabbatical Year which is the seventh year of the seven-year agricultural cycle mandated by the Torah for the Land of Israel, and still observed in contemporary Judaism. During the Sabbatical year, the land is left to lie fallow and all agricultural activity (including plowing, planting, pruning and harvesting) is forbidden. Other cultivation techniques (such as watering, fertilizing, weeding, spraying, trimming and mowing) may be performed as a preventative measure only, not to improve the growth of trees or plants. Additionally, any fruits which grow of their own accord are deemed owner less and may be picked by anyone. A variety of laws also apply to the sale, consumption and disposal of this produce. A second aspect of the Sabbatical year concerns debts and loans. When the year ends, personal debts which are due during that year are considered nullified and forgiven.

More information can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shmita

The last day of the Sabbatical Year is the 29th day of the twelfth month of the Hebrew calendar, know as Elul.  As we remember all too well, our country was attacked on September 11, 2001.  The stock market did not re-open until September 17th due to the catastrophes in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.  On that day the stock market crashed and lost 685 point.  7 years later the stock market lost 778 points on September 29, 2008.  According to the Hebrew calendar, these two dates coincide with the 29th day of the twelfth month, known as Elul, exactly seven years apart to the day.  This is the day when all personal debts due during that year are considered nullified and forgiven.

Here is the link to the CNN article that documents the stock market losses for those two days – http://money.cnn.com/2008/09/29/markets/markets_newyork/index.htm

Coincidence?  You decide.

Let me know what you think about this blog today.  A bit off topic but quite interesting.

Have a great one.


Getting the Deal – Part 4

Continuing on the theme of smartphone enabled discounts and your ability to find opportunities that you never dreamed of, today we will cover a number of vertical industry solutions/applications that are aligned to your interests.  So not the stuff you do everyday (If you do I am very envious!), but the stuff you do to have some fun.

Can we dance with your dates?

Here are a couple of very interesting deal sites/applications that have disrupted the norm and provide awesome values:

  • Airbnb – They connect people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay. Guests can build real connections with their hosts, gain access to distinctive spaces, and immerse themselves in the culture of their destinations. Whether it’s an urban apartment or countryside castle, Airbnb makes it effortless to showcase your space to an audience of millions, and to find the right space at any price point, anywhere.  www.airbnb.com
  • GiltGilt Groupe provides instant insider access to today’s top designer labels, at up to 60% off retail. Become a member and find something new every day for women, men, kids and home as well as exclusive local services and experiences, and one-of-a-kind travel packages. www.gilt.com
  • Crowdseats – Crowd Seats gets you in the crowd for your favorite games with ticket prices 50-90% off face value! Crowd Seats is the only Group Buying/Daily Deals site for sports fans. All it takes is an email address to start receiving our exclusive deals for sports tickets to your favorite teams in your city.  www.crowdseats.com
  • Goldstar – Helps people get out more to live entertainment, like theater, comedy, sports, music, performing arts and even things like wine tastings, sushi making classes and rodeos.  www.goldstar.com
  • Zipongo –  Zipongo is a Unique Online Marketplace for Healthy Living.Finding healthy natural foods amidst a jungle of processed products isn’t easy for a life on the go. Neither is finding time for fun exercise with friends and a good night’s sleep. We let you zip through your shopping and planning with the confidence that you’re making the best choices for your enjoyment, health, and wallet, so that you still have time for active fun with friends. www.zipongo.com

OK everyone, go have some fun and save some money on the things you really like to do.  You can find these sites on the web or in the app stores for your smartphone.

Let me know what apps you are using to save some coinage by commenting below.

Awesome day!


Getting the Deal – Part 3

Lots of great feedback and interest in the first two Getting the Deal blogs, so here we go again with some more great insight into applications that can save you money through your smartphone. The number of applications either serving or that will be serving this market is growing rapidly so as consumers we can take advantage of as many of these opportunities as we can.  No shortage of chances to save money across our personal retail shopping area.

What do I mean by personal retail shopping area?  As a consumer, we have established our own footprint for where we spend money.  We have determined a certain travel radius that includes different types of retailers to satisfy our breadth of needs.  Included in your “shopping area” are grocery stores, drug stores, warehouse clubs, health clubs, spas, salons, car repair shops, books, electronics, restaurants, sports bars, clothing stores etc.  We now have the same shopping area on-line as well.  The on-line retailer provides us with in-home comparative shopping, product selection, ease of use and great convenience.  Together, each one of us has established of “footprint” for where we spend our hard earned money.

We are now presented with a variety of different smartphone applications and deal options.  Many of these are focused on your local retail environment.  If you are looking for a local deal right now, here are some applications that will help you:

  • Groupon launched Groupon Now on its mobile apps in April 2011. These are very short term deals structured to incent immediate action
  • Valpak’s mobile apps allow users to see coupons overlaid onto their phone’s camera, as well as a map.

  • AT&T’s ShopAlerts and O2’s Priority Moments services can alert the networks’ customers to exclusive offers and deals based on their location.
  • BiteHunter is an app which searches restaurant portals and social networks to show users nearby dining deals in real time.
  • ThinkNear automatically generates coupons during businesses’ slow trading hours.  When such periods occur, ThinkNear automatically generates coupons for nearby consumers, either as ads in mobile apps, or direct real-time alerts to those who’ve opted in.
  • Aisle 411 is a shopping app that helps shoppers find where products are located in stores, and delivers available digital coupons to users’ smartphones.

As you can see there is a lot of very cool stuff out there that helps to save us money.  Download a few of these applications and let us know what you think by providing feedback below.

Have a great day!


Do It Yourself Health

Smartphones empower us with information, ease of access, games, social interaction and many other opportunities to connect in real time to just about anything that we are interested in.  Many of the applications that are available have been created to put us in charge of our lives and to expand the utilization of do-it-yourself tools.  For example, your banking application let’s you do just about everything (pay bills, transfer money etc.), Pandora/Spotify let you listen to any genre, artist etc. and PayPal let’s you make payments and transfer money in a more secure way.  The headline on all of these applications is that they empower you to do-it-yourself.

Another area where consumers are moving to do-it-yourself is with monitoring our own health.  Today, there are over 9,000 mobile health applications available in Apple’s app store.  That’s right over 9,000 mobile health applications.  These applications are in the areas of cardio-fitness, diets, stress and relaxation and specific men’s and women’s health apps. http://mobihealthnews.com/

As a way of introducing you to these amazing capabilities, here are a couple of examples of some of the current options:

  • Jawbone’s Up is a wristband personal tracking device that tracks a user’s moving,eating and sleeping patterns. The device syncs with an iPhone app, and users can set the device to vibrate when they have been inactive for a period, compete against friends and even earn real life rewards for completing activity challenges.  http://jawbone.com/up
  • The Play It Down app enables users to test their hearing.  The app offers several interactive features including ‘The Ear Knob’ that lets friends compare who can hearthe highest frequencies, and ‘The Volume Zone’ which measures sound volume in decibels.  http://playitdown.org/
  • Withings‘ Blood Pressure Monitor plugs into an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch and takes the user’s blood pressure. Data can be sent directly to a doctor or published (confidentially) on the Web.  http://www.withings.com/en/bloodpressuremonitor
  • US automotive company Ford demonstrate three apps offering in-car health monitoring. The sample apps use Ford’s SYNC Applink software to enable drivers to access certain mobile health apps while driving to keep track of chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma and hay fever.  http://corporate.ford.com/news-center/press-releases-detail/pr-ford-and-healthcare-experts-34627

As consumers, we now have the ability to consistently monitor our health, get recommendations for improvement and learn more about how to stay healthy.  The above examples are just the tip of the iceberg.

Let me know what you think of this article by commenting below.

Have a great day.



Getting the Deal – Part 2

The convergence of the coupon and your smartphone is about to happen…….

In part 1, we reviewed many of the “terrestrial” based coupons that are available today through traditional print mediums (Newspapers, FSI‘s, direct mail, in-store, etc.).  Those where we must clip or cut a physical coupon and present it at the point of purchase.  We also discussed the plethora of digital/on-line coupons available; yes they are on-line but most of these still require a printer and are redeemed at the point of purchase in the traditional way.

With nearly 50% of the US enabled with smartphones we are on the precipice of an incredible transformation through the range of applications and capabilities on your smartphone, both domestically and globally.  Innovative companies such as Starbucks have now connected your point of purchase behavior and the capabilities of your smartphone.  Their smartphone application was only one part of this connective tissue.  In order to enable this coupon/purchase card capability at the point of sale, they needed to replace their scanning technology to make sure that these capabilities worked right every time.

For coupon redemption via smartphones in grocery and other retail outlets to become a reality, it is critical that the process and the technology is aligned at the point of sale.  Most scanners in grocery stores cannot read a bar code displayed on the screen of a cellphone.

“Couponing has been one of the tried and tested tools to incentivize consumers to try our products,” said P&G’s VP of Global Business Development Jeff Weedman. “Ads around the world have moved digital but there was a hole in the system. You can deliver coupons digitally, but frankly our customers weren’t happy about it. It doesn’t scan at most grocery scanners and it slowed the system down because the check-out person would have to plug-in the numbers manually.”

One company that is working on this specific opportunity is Mobeam.  www.mobeam.com – In October, Cupertino, Calif.-based Mobeam raised $4.9 million in capital to solve this exact problem, by converting the bar code data into a beam of light that can be read by most scanners found at the check-out counters.  They are still early in the process, but it is apparent that our point of purchase behavior around using coupons is about to change radically.

Enjoy the ride and the savings!

Let me know what you think about this blog by commenting below.

Have a great weekend.