Monday, December 31, 2012

Books Read in 2012

I read some great books in 2012, including the hilarious Sh*t My Dad Says, Vertical (the sequel to Sideways), two books by Sarah Vowell, the inspiring Start Something That Matters, Factotum by Charles Bukowski, The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker, the elegantly crafted Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, and the brilliantly articulated Drift by Rachel Maddow.

Happy New Year and here's to more great books in 2013.

Full List of Books Read in 2012

Feed by Mira Grant
Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein
The Brand Gap: Expanded Edition by Marty Neumeier
Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern
One Day by David Nicholls
In the Plex by Steven Levy
The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni
The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur by Mike Michalowicz
The Blind Side by Michael Lewis
How Full Is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath
Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel
The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings
The Coming Jobs War by Jim Clifton
Unpossible and Other Stories by Daryl Gregory
Uprising by Scott Goodson
Malled by Caitlin Kelly
The Business Model Innovation Factory by Saul Kaplan
Cruising Attitude by Heather Poole
Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell
Me 2.0 by Dan Schawbel
The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell
The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
Standing on the Sun by Christopher Meyer
The Mirage by Matt Ruff
Firefighter's Handbook by Delmar, Cengage, Learning
Why Good People Can't Get Jobs by Peter Cappelli
Drift by Rachel Maddow
Redshirts by John Scalzi
Factotum by Charles Bukowski
Quiet by Susan Cain
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker
Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
Dare, Dream, Do by Whitney L. Johnson
Sideways by Rex Pickett
The Betrayal of the American Dream by Donald L. Barlett, James B. Steele
Vertical by Rex Pickett
The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty by Dan Ariely
iWoz by Steve Wozniak, Gina Smith
Sidestep & Twist by James Gardner
Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Pressure is a Privilege by Billie Jean King
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
How to Be Good by Nick Hornby
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
When It Happens to You by Molly Ringwald
The Long Walk by Brian Castner
About a Boy by Nick Hornby
Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie
Drop Dead Healthy by A. J. Jacobs
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Sunday, December 02, 2012

TEDxBuffaloWomen: Impressions

On Saturday, December 1, 2012, ten women gathered in the auditorium in the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library to tell stories to over a hundred invited guests, mostly prominent women from Buffalo and Western New York. The event was TEDxBuffaloWomen, the first TEDxWomen event to be held in Buffalo and the third TEDx Buffalo event overall.

I've had the amazing, good fortune to attend all three TEDx Buffalo events, and I can confidently say that the inaugural TEDxBuffaloWomen event was as good as any TEDxBuffalo event.

The event was memorable because of the quality and diversity of the speakers. The women who spoke at TEDxBuffaloWomen had quite different stories, perspectives, and delivery styles, yet all were interesting and wove in the event theme of "the space between".

My purpose with this post is to provide brief summaries of all the talks and links to additional information, when available. I know many people in Buffalo were very excited about this event, and I hope this will provide a sense of the talks for those who were unable to attend in person or watch the live stream.


Cecily Rodriguez
Twitter: @cecilyr74

Cecily Rodriguez led off TEDxBuffaloWomen by challenging employers to do more to keep their talented female employees in the pipeline through all stages of their life and career and thus ensure that women are on track to assume leadership positions. Flexible work arrangements and models, Cecily suggested, will go a long way to keeping women in the pipeline. Citing local examples West Herr and Synacor, and national models Sun Microsystems and PNC, Cecily demonstrated that flex is a powerful tool of productivity, especially for women.

Terri Parsell Hilmey

Author, mom, wife, and Junior League Buffalo volunteer, Terri Parsell Hilmey delivered a humorous and affirming talk about the differences and space between single and married life. Directed primarily towards single women who worry that they're not married yet, Terri revealed some of the tradeoffs in married life, including the fact that her hair has "been in a ponytail for nine years" and what most mothers want on Mother's Day is time for themselves. 

Gina Paigen
Twitter: @GPaigen

Gina Paigen brought the TEDxBuffaloWomen audience to its feet (and tears to many eyes) with an intensely honest story about physical and emotional abuse and her path to acceptance and recovery. Beginning with a recounting of physical abuse, Gina told how her abuse led to shame and continual need for validation and bad relationships. Only when she forgave herself for being human, Gina said, was she able to let go of the shame and move on and make better choices.

Peggy Brooks Bertram
Twitter: @peggybertram

You can't help but smile after listening to Peggy Brooks Bertram. Coming up on her 70th birthday, Peggy infused joy and humor to talk about the space between living and dying and aging gracefully into your seventh decade. Live well, Peggy. I know that all of us who heard you speak will live a little better after hearing your wisdom.

Karima Amin


Karima Amin is a natural storyteller and has clearly been telling stories long before there ever was a TED. Sharing some wonderful anecdotes from her parents, Karima talked about self-love and the space between what we think we can do and others think we should do. Two of my favorite lines from Karima's talk were quotes from her parents. From her father: "There are no bad days. Only good days and better days." And her mother, which sums up the talk: "I love me some me!"

Maria Angelova
"What's your dash?" Maria Angelova asked the TEDxBuffaloWomen audience. The meaning of the question was revealed in Maria's story, as she told how as a young girl she fled with her family from Communist Bulgaria. The harrowing experiences drove Maria forward and inspired her to help those who are hurting. The dash, Maria explained, is literally what's on your tombstone -- your purpose and what you did during your life. Maria knows her dash, and her talk will no doubt inspire others to contemplate their own dash.

Renee Martinez
Twitter: @reneemmartinez

Marketer by profession, Renee Martinez took to the TEDxBuffaloWomen stage wearing a superhero cape. The gesture took on greater meaning as Renee presented about the significant space between women and men in the digital world. Essentially, women's innate attributes translate to ease of use and mastery of social media tools, especially emerging platforms like Pinterest and Twitter.

Amy Jo Lauber
Twitter: @Amyjolauber

Amy Jo Lauber probably pulled off the most difficult feat at TEDxBuffaloWomen. She managed not only to combine a discussion about the right and left brain with financial decisions, but make the subject really interesting.

Amber Small
Punctuating her talk with key facts revealing the under-representation of women in Congress (women make up only 20% of seats despite being over 50% of the population) and several video clips demonstrating the media bias against women in politics, Amber Small passionately made the case for women to unite for change and consider running for office in greater numbers to balance the representation.

Tamara McMillan
Twitter: @Empowermee

The original TED is rightfully famous for rousing talks and "ideas worth spreading". Tamara McMillan's energized talk to close out the first TEDxBuffaloWomen was moving, inspiring, and the best of TED. Focusing on the space between "a rock and a hard place," Tamara reminded us all to not be so hasty to judge, and act with charity and compassion.


TEDxBuffaloWomen would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of many committed people. Thank you to the TEDxBuffalo Organizing Committee and members of TEDxBuffalo who volunteered at the event.


TEDxBuffaloWomen website

#TEDxBuffaloWomen Stream on Twitter

TEDxBuffaloWomen Videos

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

I always appreciate Thanksgiving and the opportunity to give thanks for what I have in my life. This year, my list emerged differently, as I reflected on the people in my life who on the surface have negatively impacted me but ultimately made me a stronger and better person.

I am thankful ...
  • For everyone who doubted me and motivated me to double my efforts and prove them wrong
  • For those friends who faded away and helped me realize that you always need to make new friends
  • For those who broke my heart and showed me it's important to feel and love rather than play it safe and never take a chance
  • For those who took without giving in return, for teaching me that true generosity means giving of yourself without expecting anything back
  • For those who put me down, and who made me realize that -- in this world -- self-awareness and self-worth is what really matters
  • For those organizations and groups that didn't accept me, for teaching me the importance of perseverance
  • For those sports teams I followed that didn't win a championship, for emphasizing that life goes on if you don't win and there's always next year
  • For those women who just weren't that into me, for reminding me to direct my attention to those women who were

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

BIF-8 as Literature

I tend to think and remember through metaphor. Whenever I meet someone or hear a talk, I form comparisons, usually to books, movies, or music. I don’t do this in every case, but enough so that I’m comfortable processing information in this way.

At BIF-8, it was books. For most of the storytellers, I associated their talks with novels and memoirs I’ve read. When I returned home from BIF and went through my notes, I thought the comparisons might make an interesting or at least atypical BIF-8 recap. If not, I hope they at least provide introductions to some good books and authors that are new to you. Caveat: I favor speculative fiction and the genre is well represented in the list.

Carne Ross = The Mirage by Matt Ruff

Carne Ross led off by BIF-8 by describing himself as a diplomat turned anarchist and expressing that he lost faith in governments to manage affairs because "the world is not a chess board - it is a Jackson Pollock painting." His story brought to mind Matt Ruff's The Mirage, a novel about an alternate 9-11 in which the United Arab States are the world's major superpower and Christian fundamentalists crash four jetliners into targets in the Middle East.

Robin Chase = On the Road by Jack Kerouac

I learned a lot about collaborative consumption in the transportation industry from Robin Chase, and was reminded of Kerouac's On the Road during her talk. I even imagined the novel’s narrator Sal Paradise using ZipCar!
Andrew Hessel = Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Andrew Hessel described himself as a genomic futurist and talked about bacterium and bioengineering. Though his talk wasn't dystopian, his story steered me toward Scott Westerfeld's Uglies, a popular young adult novel in which everyone becomes ‘pretty’ at 16.

Darell Hammond = A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Darell Hammond reminded everyone at BIF that "play is the foundation of learning - plus it's fun." Thoughts of play and childhood summoned an image in my mind of young Francie Nolan, from Betty Smith's classic A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

David Stull = High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

I'm pleased that music was represented at BIF-8, and though David Stull might be surprised by the comparison, his story reminded me of one of my all-time favorite novels, High Fidelity.

Jeremy Heimans = The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham

Purpose and scalable social change were at the heart of Jeremy Heimans’ talk at BIF, and his story inspired me to reflect on the fictional character Larry Darrell, a WWI vet in Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge who returns home from the war deeply disillusioned with materialistic Jazz Age values and sets off to find deeper meaning.

Sherry Turkle = Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Sherry Turkle focused on technology and mobile devices and the extent to which we’re less and less likely to communicate directly with each other. When she said "we make our technology, and our technology makes and shapes us," I extrapolated beyond her example of people heads down and texting to Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, and one of the novel's deeper themes -- isolation.

Jeffrey Sparr = Birdy by William Wharton

During Jeffrey Sparr's inspiring BIF story, he attempted to convey what it's like to suffer from OCD, expressing that it's like what you feel when you turn around in a busy airport and notice your child is missing. Only you have the feeling all the time. His story was powerful and it took me all the way back to Birdy, a novel I read over twenty years ago about a man who retreats from the world following traumatic wartime experiences.

Marc Freedman = Old Man's War by John Scalzi

Marc Freedman focused on boomers and the need to create a new age demographic between middle and old age. He might be surprised by the possibilities author John Scalzi projects in Old Man's War, but you never know.

Lara Lee = The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Lara Lee reminded us that people generally fear change and in business there are five main fears associated with change: losing control, fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of the truth, and fear of success. Huck Finn wasn’t in the BIF theater when Lara spoke, but I might have imagined him there, as these are fears he surely wrestled with when he decided to flee down the Mississippi with Jim.

Dries Buytaert = Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I knew very little about Drupal before BIF-8 but have a sense now of its creation and how much the Drupal community does to enhance and grow the platform. Kind of like the OASIS online world in Ernest Cline's Ready Player One.

Tony Hsieh = The City & The City by China MiƩville

Everyone knows that Tony Hsieh is a born entrepreneur, so it was nice to see him stretch at BIF and talk about urban revitalization. As culture is to a company, he suggested, so is community to a city. He also listed three important components to growing a city: collisions, community, and co-learning. I wonder what Tony would think of The City & The City?

Nicholas Lowinger = Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent

Nicholas Lowinger literally asked BIF attendees to step into their neighbor's shoes to get a sense of what it’s like for children who regularly share shoes with an older or younger sibling. The immersion experiment reminded me of Norah Vincent's Self-Made Man, a memoir in which the author disguised herself as a man in order to observe the world of men as an insider.

Valdis Krebs = Foundation by Isaac Asimov

I've previously compared Valdis Krebs to Hari Seldon, so -- and with apologies to James Gardner -- naturally his BIF-8 talk and principles of network analysis reminded me of psychohistory and Asimov's Foundation Series.

Tom Yorton = Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

Tom Yorton and a few wonderful Second City comedians brought day one of BIF to a rousing close. The improv was entertaining and reminded me of Born Standing Up, the memoir by Steve Martin -- a comic who loved to innovate and who I suspect would be very much at home at BIF.

Teny Gross = Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman

Teny Gross talked about his experiences in Israel, Palestine, and the U.S., and his work with the Institute of the Study & Practice of Nonviolence. His story reminded me of Forever Peace, a science fiction novel about military collaboration technology that allows elite soldiers to link and work better together. Ironically, though, as the soldiers use the software more and more, they grow closer and more empathetic, and become far less inclined to war and violence.

Susan Schuman = Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

I sense that Susan Schuman knows a thing or two about forming great teams and ensuring groups are formed to succeed and comprised of key, complementary members with distinct skills (superpowers). Though I don’t know if the fellowship that was formed to help Frodo can be considered a great or successful team, I know that if I ever need to destroy the One Ring, I’m calling Susan to help me pick the fellowship team!

Felice Frankel = Maus by Art Spiegelman

I’m not sure if Felice Frankel uses metaphor like I do, but I very much enjoyed her BIF-8 story and presentation of visual metaphors to convey complicated concepts and ideas. Though science and history are quite different, Felice Frankel’s photographs reminded me of Maus, Art Spiegelman’s powerful graphic memoir that disruptively depicts different races and ethnic groups as different animal species during the Holocaust.

James Gardner = Love at Absolute Zero by Christopher Meeks

James Gardner launched his BIF talk by asking if innovation can be predicted and then he explicitly mentioned Isaac Asimov and the Foundation Series. However, because I had already associated Hari Seldon (and the Foundation books) with Valdis Krebs, I thought of a different novel when James was speaking. Love at Absolute Zero is about a brilliant physicist who attempts to use the scientific method to predict love and find a mate.

Jeff Lieberman = One Day by David Nicholls

Jeff Lieberman slowed things down at BIF and reminded us that sometimes innovation is simply recognizing that right now is the most important time. His story reminded me of the contemporary novel, One Day, which follows two should-be-together characters through twenty years who don't quite come together in the present until it's too late.

John Donoghue = Neuromancer by William Gibson

There are many problems in the world today, but based on Braingate and the advancements in neurotech that John Donoghue talked about at BIF, it's exciting and reassuring that so many real-world breakthroughs are happening and in the works now. From neurotech to Neuromancer?

Carol Coletta = Lush Life by Richard Price

Carol Coletta knows cities and remarked that connections, distinctiveness, and agency (the ability to influence) are the three most important aspects of a city. Unexpectedly, her story reminded me of Richard Price’s Lush Life, a police procedural that shows how a single event in a city can reverberate far beyond the immediate people involved, to their families and friends, to the police working the investigation, to the nearby shopkeepers and merchants, and ultimately through the whole neighborhood and city.

Rachel Shuster = Unbowed by Wangari Maathai

Rachel Shuster’s community activism reminded me of broader environmental and communal grassroots organizations, particularly the Green Belt Movement founded by Wangari Maathai that's detailed in her memoir, Unbowed.

Simon Majumdar = The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham and Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Personally, of all the BIF-8 stories, I related the most to Simon Majumdar's BIF story and his emphasis on reinvention, serendipity, and self-investment. His story made me think of both a novel and a memoir -- Somerset Maugham's The Moon and Sixpence and Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love

Beth Coleman = Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson 

X-reality. The city as platform. Located network experiences. These aren't tomorrow's disruptions, but real-world innovations that Beth Coleman and her teams are exploring. Her line "Repeat, mutate, grow," summed up her BIF story and could have been lifted from Snow Crash.

David Macaulay = Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

I'll be honest. I could barely keep up with the breathless connections and relationships that David Macaulay demonstrated during his BIF-8 story. His talk was not unlike the experience of reading Infinite Jest. Amazing!

Bill Taylor = Big Fish by Daniel Wallace

Bill Taylor focused on the human side of innovation and told of a how an automobile dealer won over his father as a customer by being kind and how Umpqua Bank is redefining banking by positioning around all five senses. The appeal of the human made me think of Big Fish, a larger-than-life story about the life of Edward Bloom.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Technology for the Class of 2025

Check out my guest post on Business Insider. This piece is about the technology kids who are entering kindergarten today will be using when they graduate.

Here's How My Daughter Will Be Using Tech To Manage Her Career In 2025

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Open Letter to Kevin Everett

Dear Kevin,

You don't know me or my family, but our lives are intertwined. You see, five years ago -- on September 9, 2007 -- while you sustained a horrific neck injury in the Buffalo Bills opener against the Denver Broncos, I was sitting in a hospital room awaiting the arrival of my first child. My wife went into labor early that Sunday morning and we settled into a hospital delivery room just before the Bills game started.

Though I was more excited than anything to welcome my baby into the world, I was still a devoted Bills fan and kept peeking at the game on the TV monitor in-between my wife's contractions. We muted the volume, but I was able to follow the action and noticed immediately when you went down to the turf. The swarm of medical personnel and the stretcher indicated the seriousness of your injury. You lying there motionless was in surreal contrast to the activity going on in front of me, with my wife's heavy breathing, contractions, and the baby's constant kicking. I kept hoping and mentally imploring you to tap into some of the positive life force my soon-to-be-born child was feeling and get up or just move a limb.

As the day wore on, my wife's labor intensified, and thoughts of football and your injury receded from my mind. I vaguely recall that the Bills lost the game in the final moments on a field goal (typical Bills loss), but otherwise your injury is all I remember from the game. Eventually, at 9:30pm EST, we welcomed a baby girl into the world. I was tired and my wife was exhausted, but we made it, and were now jubilant, proud parents. At the back of my mind, though, I felt the cruel irony, knowing that while I was holding my wiggling newborn you were lying in another hospital bed a few miles away, insensate and paralyzed. It was a reminder that while we're at our happiest, unfortunate events are occurring elsewhere.

I've followed the reports of your recovery and am thankful that you're able to walk now and are happy with a loving family. I know you've expressed some concern in other published reports that your "story has died out", but I wanted to reassure you -- on this fifth anniversary of your injury and my daughter's birth -- that at least one family will never forget your story. 

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Guest Post on Business Insider

Check out my guest post on Business Insider. The piece was inspired by the film Sideways and is about maximizing network contacts.

10 Tips For Building Strong Professional Relationships

Monday, June 25, 2012

Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs by Peter Cappelli (Book Review)

It’s 2012, and in the United States we’re fast approaching another presidential election cycle. Different issues drive elections, but with a jobless recovery and a flat unemployment rate (8% officially but probably over 11% once you adjust for the millions who have dropped out of the job market or are underemployed), it’s very likely that jobs and unemployment will figure prominently in the upcoming November election.

There are many good articles and posts that provide explanations and opinions about the jobs picture. Many point out that companies today are banking their profits or making investments instead of creating new jobs, while other point to a skills gap and shortage of available talent.

Among the best analysis I've recently read is Wharton professor Peter Cappelli’s text Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs. Here the author offers fresh perspective and insight about the topic and challenges whether we really have a skills gap and the effectiveness of automated software in matching candidates to jobs. Cappelli also makes a strong case for renewed training, arguing that companies should invest much more in training talent to meet their needs and consider more apprenticeship and internship models.

Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs is a short, fast-moving text that I believe will benefit anyone involved or interested in creating jobs. Some of the material for the text was expanded from previous articles, including the following:

The Skills Gap Myth: Why Companies Can’t Find Good People

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Business Model Innovation Factory by Saul Kaplan (Book Review)

As a culture, we strive for personal transformation. Whether it's eating better and getting fit, redefining our professional value proposition through training and education, or simply trying to be kinder and gentler, we're constantly reinventing who we are and what we can do. We may not be successful all the time, or achieve breakthroughs like those featured on The Biggest Loser or facilitated by Tony Robbins, but millions of people successfully transform and reinvent themselves every year.

Unfortunately, the very organizations where we work generally do not do the same. As Saul Kaplan elaborates in The Business Model Innovation Factory, most organizations struggle to transform from their core, initial business models and tend to become stagnant and vulnerable to disruptive competitors.

The example Kaplan leads with is Blockbuster, which for a time owned the brick and mortar video and DVD rental space, until they were "netflixed" by a disruptive competitor (Netflix) with a radically new business model that challenged and eradicated Blockbuster's traditional model.

Just as individuals must continuously reinvent themselves, Kaplan urges organizations to nurture and try out alternate business models separate from their original models. Kaplan makes the point that this is different than invention and traditionally accepted innovation, which often amounts to introducing tweaks or improvements at the margins of traditional business models. Business model innovation means trying something different, developing a wholly new way to "create, deliver, and capture" value. Think Apple and how it invented the iTunes ecosystem to supplant traditional distribution channels for music.

In the third section of the book, Kapan recommends strategies for creating new business models. Here, the author cautions not to setup a business model to compete directly against a traditional model. Traditional models, vulnerable though they might be to disruption, are still often represented by people with vested interests and sufficient power to block alternative business models and maintain the status quo. The author cites the example of the auto industry which to date has kept at bay a system change to all electric cars. A better approach, Kaplan contends, is to develop new business models alongside existing models, in the adjacent possible, and to test those models in the real-world.

I've tried to capture the essence of The Business Model Innovation Factory, but there's much more in the text that will reward your reading investment, so I urge you to read the book.

You can read more about The Business Model Innovation Factory and read the introduction for free at

Full disclosure: I know Saul Kaplan personally and have previously attended the BIF summit that he hosts. I also received a complimentary copy of the book. However, these comments and opinions are mine and were not reviewed, influenced, or impacted in any way by the author.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Miracle for Mitchell

In a December post, I mentioned how a local sports team brightened the burden of a boy with a degenerative liver condition. Unfortunately, while the gift made a big difference, the boy's medical problems have worsened and he now awaits a new liver.

At this time, I would like to introduce you to the boy. His name is Mitchell Simon, and he is an 11 year old who resides just outside of Buffalo, NY. Mitchell was born with Biliary Atresia -- a congenital liver disease -- and the disease has progressed rapidly over the past year such that a transplant is necessary.

Because medical and related expenses for a liver transplant recipient typically exceed $100,000, the family is accepting donations and a fundraiser benefit will be held on June 2, 2012 to help defer costs for the transplant.


You may send donations to the address below or donate online at

Miracle for Mitchell
10595 Miland Rd.
Clarence Center, NY 14032


Saturday, June 2, 2012 @ 4-9 PM.

Our Lady of Pompeii Ministry Center Hall, 86 Burlington Ave
Depew, NY 14043

Event Details:
The event will be hosted by local radio personality and stand-up comic Rob Lederman, and there will be live music and a buffet dinner.

Tickets to attend the benefit are available for a donation of $25.00 per person. Each ticket includes one chance for a door prize. Children under12 years of age are free. To obtain tickets, please contact Diane Moyer @ 716-741-4047.


Diane Moyer

Evelyn Simon

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Uprising by Scott Goodson (Book Review)

We live in an era of sweeping change and uncertainty. There's economic nervousness and under-employment, climate change and wild weather, concern over peak oil and the future of energy, globalism and a flat world, and a dizzying array of social networking tools for connecting like never before.

Such a mix creates both strain in the system and new opportunities to connect, and this has led to a dramatic rise in cultural movements, including the recent Arab Spring and Occupy movement.

In Uprising: How to Build a Brand--and Change the World--By Sparking Cultural Movements, author Scott Goodson looks at movements from a marketing perspective and offers a fascinating survey of recent movements as well as an elaboration of how marketing and business are beginning to add value and collaborate with movements, without co-opting them. Goodson terms this new marketing "movement marketing" and cites several examples, including the Pepsi Refresh project, the InnoCentive movement, Tom's Shoes, and the massively popular Livestrong movement.

I've only scratched the surface of what you'll find in Uprising, but if you have any interest in cultural movements or branding, you'll probably find this compelling. The book also built well on previous works about social technologies and branding, especially Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody and Rob Walker's Buying In.

You can also learn more about the author and the text at

Full disclosure: The author did send me a complimentary copy of the book, although he never mandated or requested that I review the book. These comments and opinions are mine and mine alone.

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Coming Jobs War by Jim Clifton (Book Review)

Gallup chairman Jim Clifton offers a timely and compelling exploration of the urgency of job creation and the current "all out global war for good jobs". Jobs are critical, Clifton contends, because they underpin societies and allow people to prosper, thereby creating well-being and fostering new achievements in all areas of human development.

Unfortunately, we face a global job shortage approaching 2 billion with no apparent driver for jobs imminent. The country that does the most to enable job growth will become the next economic superpower. The text explores the multifaceted dimensions of this topic, with plenty of corroboration from Gallup data.

As an American, Clifton admits to a U.S. bias and speculates on what America must do to maintain its predominant economic position and prevail in the coming jobs war. His ideas include encouraging job creation in cities, emphasizing entrepreneurship over innovation, drastically cutting healthcare costs, improving employee engagement, creating friendlier economic conditions for small businesses, encouraging American business to do more to establish global customers, and promoting the need to increase exports several-fold during the next decade and beyond.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Article on 12 Most

Check out my new article on 12 Most that compares technology companies to countries.

12 Most Striking Comparisons of Technology Companies to Countries

In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives (Book Review)

In little more than a decade, Google has grown from a smart, disruptive search company to an Internet behemoth, with over $39 billion in revenue and a product portfolio now spanning advertising, mobile, cloud computing, and video.

Since Google's inception, millions have used its search engine and services and come to rely on the company for fast, reliable information. Indeed, the company name itself is now a verb meaning "to search".

Steven Levy's In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives chronicles the story of Google, from its origins and founding, through its incorporation and rapid growth, and to its ascendancy as one of the biggest and most influential companies on the planet.

I found the text well-crafted and fascinating. Though a work of journalism, the narrative flowed very much like a story, with Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt cast as the main characters. The book elaborated all the major developments in the company's history, including the founding, the maturation of search and advertising as major revenue streams, "Don't be evil" and the distinctive company culture, incorporation, the acquisition of YouTube, Google's moral dilemma in China, and the company's recent challenges with privacy and social media.

I highly recommend In the Plex for anyone interested in learning more about the history and DNA of Google.

You can read more about In the Plex at

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Remember Win?

Super Bowl week can be tough on Bills fans. On the one hand, the coverage and retrospectives force reflection on probably the greatest run in the franchise, but one that did not end with a championship. Lately, Super Bowls are a reminder of how irrelevant the Bills have become and how far they are from even competing for a playoff spot, let along reaching a Super Bowl.

It’s now been twelve years since the Bills last played a playoff game. This was the “Music City Miracle” against the Tennessee Titans that was played on January 8, 2000. Think that was long ago? The last time the Bills appeared in a Super Bowl was eighteen years ago, in Super Bowl XXVII, when the Bills lost to the Cowboys, 30-13. The date of that game was January 30, 1994. Since then, seventeen Super Bowls have been played, with another one coming this Sunday.

To crystallize the long run of Bills futility and remind everyone how long it's really been, I’ve listed 46 facts about 1994. One for each Super Bowl.
  1. In 1994, Bill Clinton was President of the United States, George W. Bush was preparing to run for Governor of Texas, and Barack Obama was teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago. 
  2. Windows 3.1 was the current Microsoft operating system. Windows 95 would not be released for another year and a half. 
  3. Reality TV was just starting, with shows like MTV’s The Real World beginning to define the genre.  
  4. The average cost of a gallon of gas was $1.09. 
  5. There was no Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Google. 
  6. Wayne Gretzky was a member of the Los Angeles Kings. 
  7. Tiger Woods would enroll at Stanford in the fall of 1994 under a golf scholarship. 
  8. The movie Forrest Gump would be released in the summer. 
  9. Nancy Kerrigan would be attacked at a practice session during the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. 
  10. A few months after the Super Bowl, the Buffalo Sabres would win a 4 OT game against the Devils but ultimately lose the playoff series. 
  11. Seinfeld was on top of the sitcom world. 
  12. New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was four years old. 
  13. The population of the city of Buffalo was approximately 310,000 (today it is around 260,000). 
  14. The 1994 Winter Olympics would take place in Lillehammer. 
  15. In November of 1994, George Foreman would win the WBA and IBF World Heavyweight Championships. 
  16. Five months after the Bills’ fourth straight Super Bowl loss, OJ Simpson would flee law enforcement in his white Ford Bronco. 
  17. There were only 28 teams in the NFL. 
  18. 1994 was the year of the Rwandan Genocide. 
  19. The cost of a Superbowl ad in 1994 was $900,000. 
  20. Arkansas would win the NCAA Tournament in 1994.
  21. Michael Jordan had retired, and the Houston Rockets were preparing to take advantage of his absence to win their first title. 
  22. There were no iPads, iPhones, or iPods, and Steve Jobs wasn’t even working at Apple. 
  23. In July of that year, Brazil would win the 1994 FIFA World Cup, defeating Italy by 3–2. 
  24. The Internet was just forming, and there were under 10,000 websites. 
  25. Anthony Masiello was the newly elected mayor of Buffalo. 
  26. The Sabres were still playing in The Aud. 
  27. Grunge was popular, but Kurt Cobain would commit suicide. 
  28. The Swedish band Ace of Base would achieve international fame with their hit “The Sign”. 
  29. Very few people had mobile phones. 
  30. The Bon-Ton would buy local Buffalo department store chain AM&A’s.
  31. Encyclopedias were physical books. 
  32. The New York Rangers would win the Stanley Cup, and NY would celebrate an NHL championship for the first time since 1942.
  33. The movie Pulp Fiction was released. 
  34. Chatting meant talking to someone. 
  35. A players' strike would end the MLB season prematurely on August 11, 1994, and there would be no postseason or World Series. 
  36. In the mid-term election in November 1994, the Republicans would gain control of both houses of Congress. 
  37. People still used typewriters. 
  38. In 1994, all of these teams were active in Buffalo: Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo Bisons, Buffalo Bandits, Buffalo Stampede, and the Buffalo Blizzard. 
  39. Popular television shows of the day included Seinfeld, ER, Home Improvement, Grace Under Fire, N.Y.P.D. Blue, and Murder, She Wrote. 
  40. Irv Weinstein was an anchor for WKBW.
  41. Bruce Springsteen would win a Song of the Year Grammy for "Streets of Philadelphia". 
  42. The events of 9/11 were still six years away. 
  43. Nelson Mandela was elected the first black leader of South Africa, after the country had its first free multiracial election. 
  44. Star Wars was not yet sullied by the prequels.
  45. Doug Flutie was playing for the Calgary Stampeders (and threw for 5,726 yards in 1994).
  46. None of us thought it would be more than a decade -- and conceivably a quarter century -- for the Bills to reach another Super Bowl.