Thursday, December 26, 2013

Books Read in 2013

I was very busy in 2013 launching Date on Purpose, and unfortunately did not read as much as in past years. Still, even though I read less, I enjoyed a lot of what I read from this past year. Notable titles included Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (go watch her TED talks right now if you are unfamiliar with her), Tina Fey's Bossypants (hilarious), and The Four-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss (an inspiring, get off your ass book). I also reread The Hunger Games trilogy and enjoyed them just as much the second time around.

Happy Holidays and happy reading!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink
The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise? by Chris Brogan and Juliet Stanwell Smith
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins
Bossypants by Tina Fey
The Shift by Wayne W. Dyer
Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash by Edward Humes
7th Sigma by Steven Gould
Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Calico Joe by John Grisham
The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz
Decisive by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? by Seth Godin
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future by Dorie Clark
The Four-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
Buffalo Lockjaw by Greg Ames
The Connected Company by Dave Gray
The Human Division by John Scalzi
Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye by Ellie Phillips
Liars and Outliers by Bruce Schneier
Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis
The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha
Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan
Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds by Ping Fu
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Been Awhile

I haven't blogged much this year, but not because I haven't had thoughts and ideas. I've been away for a number of reasons, but mostly because I spent a lot of my excess time this year working to launch Date on Purpose.

If you haven't heard of Date on Purpose yet, this is a sustainable business that gives away half its profits to charity. To do this, Date on Purpose has brought the traditional bachelor/bachelorette auction online and provides a platform allowing users to bid on dates with eligible bachelors and bachelorettes for charity.

Date on Purpose launched in my home city of Buffalo, NY. Our first online auction went live in September 2013 and the dates for that auction and launch party took place on October 18, 2013. With no major sponsors or outside investment, we were able to raise and donate $2,500 to Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo.

My thanks to an amazing startup team who were all instrumental in making Date on Purpose a reality:
  • Matt Carlucci
  • Jennifer Kowalewski
  • Tricia Piatkowski
  • Nicole Schuman
Looking ahead to 2014, I hope to do additional Date on Purpose auction/events in Buffalo, and expand to additional cities. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

WNY Iraq / Afghanistan Memorial (IAM) Fundraiser - September 21, 2013

My fellow firefighter Dan Frontera, a Veterans Service Coordinator, regularly runs in WNY races to remember those soldiers from WNY who lost their life in Iraq and Afghanistan and raise funds for a WNY Iraq / Afghanistan memorial.

Thanks to Dan's efforts, the memorial is going to be a reality, and there will be a fundraiser in September. Below are the event details

WNY Iraq / Afghanistan Memorial (IAM) Fundraiser
September 21, 2013
3pm-9pm
Harvey Morin VFW Post
965 Center Road, West Seneca, NY 14224

$25 donation per ticket

For tickets, access http://www.wnyiam.org/.


Saturday, June 08, 2013

Western New York Hero Rush Obstacle Run - My Impressions

On Saturday, June 8, I participated in the Western New York (WNY) Hero Rush Obstacle Run. This is an event designed by firefighters that breaks up a traditional 4-5K race with firefighter-themed obstacles that require lifting, crawling, climbing, and more.

The WNY Hero Rush course was at Chestnut Ridge Park this year and I participated with members of my fire company, Reserve Hose. Our team ran in the 343 Charity Wave, a heat dedicated to firefighters lost on 9/11, with each runner wearing a commemorative racer bib listing the name of a firefighter who lost his life.

The race itself was incredibly fun -- it was muddy, messy, and tough, but a real blast and adrenalin high to run and work through all the obstacles. Beyond the athletic enjoyment, I also enjoyed the opportunity to run with my fellow firefighters. As volunteers, we don't always get to see one another that often, and it was great camaraderie to be able to participate with them.

I was particularly honored to be able to run for the first time with my fellow firefighter and former assistant chief, Dan Frontera. Dan is a Retired Sergeant First Class who regularly runs in WNY races to remember those soldiers from WNY who lost their life in Iraq and Afghanistan. Only Dan doesn't just run, he runs with a 50lb backpack containing all the names of the fallen WNY soldiers. Though I will never hear the end of it from Dan for posting about him, running alongside him meant a great deal to me and I wanted to acknowledge it and all he does. Learn more about Dan and his efforts to fund a WNY Iraq/Afghanistan Memorial at https://www.facebook.com/pages/WNY-IraqAfghanistan-Memorial/212101188821651.

I was also humbled and proud to participate in the 343 Wave and wear Dennis M. Carey's name. I kept the name in mind throughout the race and promised myself I would make an effort to learn about him afterwards, how he worked and served, lived and loved.

Here's a little of what I learned today:

From all accounts, Dennis Carey loved to cook. One family member recalled that Dennis "put his heart and soul into cooking Thanksgiving dinner, and this is one tradition that we will never forget."

Dennis Carey
Dennis was also lively and fun, and devoted to his wife and children.

As a firefighter, in 2001 Dennis was a 20-year Fire Department veteran who was planning to retire the following January when the alarm sounded, and he and other firefighters sped to the Twin Towers. His body was found on September 30 in a stairwell in Tower One where he and his chief were trapped as they were rescuing survivors.

I find it fitting that on a day that when I was enjoying life to the fullest I wore the name of a man who always tried to do the same. Thank you, Dennis, for your service and sacrifice and for reminding me to "live deep".

Friday, May 17, 2013

12 Most Critical Prerequisites of a Brand Refresh

Check out my guest post about branding on 12 Most:

12 Most Critical Prerequisites of a Brand Refresh
http://12most.com/2013/05/16/prerequisites-of-a-brand-refresh/

Friday, May 10, 2013

What’s Next DC 2013: Go To Where the Puck Is Going

“Go to where the puck is going.”

It was Sonny Ganguly (@sonnyg), one of the What’s Next DC speakers leading off day two and quoting hockey legend Wayne Gretzky. Sonny was extending the Great One's maxim to marketing technology in the all things digital era. Those who can best make sense of the rapid changes we’re seeing in technology and position themselves as early adopters and influencers will find themselves with the puck and a one-on-one opportunity to beat the goalie.

Fortunately, for those of us in attendance at What’s Next DC and the many following along on social media, nearly all of the conference speakers shared their insight about not only current trends in digital but what's on the horizon.

From Responsive Design to Responsive Content

Many of the speakers commented on the continued growth of mobile and responsive design. George Alafoginis () informed us that Facebook is now a “mobile-first” company, while Sami Hassanyeh () of AARP expressed how mobile web and mobile apps are now a consideration in everything his organization develops and how AARP is looking seriously at responsive design. Still, the proliferation of mobile and responsive design is where the puck is now. Where it's going, at least according to Katrina Klier () from Accenture, is toward responsive content, where truly appropriate content will be served depending on the device. Factor in reverse IP lookups that allow for visitor segmentation by industry, as presented by Cherilyn Stringer (), and you have even more content personalization.

Instant Consumption

Maturing mobile payment and one-click shopping continues to drive commerce on devices. This is the present, but Kate Watts () suggested that digital content will soon intersect with universal shopping carts that will allow users to peruse (responsive) content and impulse click to buy products or services mentioned or depicted in content. Big data and intense algorithms will fuel instant consumption via personalization, as Heidi Browning’s () Pandora case study suggests is very close to market.

Privacy

Gadi Ben-Yehuda () of IBM noted that identity management and advanced sharing tools will become increasingly important as social search, constant connectivity, and revealing social location apps like SocialRadar () compel people to take privacy seriously. Demand for password tools, trust monitors, and reputation management services will be strong in the near-future.

Video

One can argue that the puck has been on video for a while but all the trends and What's Next DC stories point to it remaining there for the foreseeable future. Rick Reilly and Stephen Curry joining forces to fight malaria, Mr. Rogers remixed, and the Goldman Sachs Titan International progress piece all demonstrated how effective the right video at the right time can be.

Authenticity

The puck always goes to the authentic, and it was reassuring at What's Next DC to see how organizations remained true to their brands, even when trying something new and creative. Goldman Sachs, Honest Tea, PBS, and the World Bank took some risks but remained genuine while showing stories of progress, conducting a social experiment, remixing Mr. Rogers, and doing data viz.

There were many future trends discussed at What's Next DC. The above are just a handful. Where do you think the puck is going?

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Ancient New

I received my advance copy of Ancient New yesterday. This is the anthology that will include my speculative fiction story "The Anachronism" -- about one of the few remaining human football players in a sport that has become dominated by stronger and faster robot players.

I'm so excited that I wanted to share some images from the advance copy until the book goes on sale in a few weeks.




Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Guess These Famous Science Fiction Novels By Their First Lines

I really enjoyed the recent Book Riot post Guess These Famous Novels By Their Second Lines. As an SF fan, it made me wonder about famous second lines in speculative fiction. And first lines.

Some searches revealed many posts of famous first lines in SF, but as I browsed I noticed many of my favorite first sentences from SF novels weren't well represented. So I decided to compile my own list as a quiz, in sincere imitation of the Book Riot quiz that inspired this effort. Like the Book Riot quiz, answers are in hidden (white) text next to the ANSWER label.

Good luck!

1. The Deliverator belongs to an elite order, a hallowed sub-category.

ANSWER: Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson

2. "I always get the shakes before a drop."

ANSWER: Starship Trooper by Robert A. Heinlein

3. His name was Gaal Dornick and he was just a country boy who had never seen Trantor before.

ANSWER: Foundation by Isaac Asimov

4. The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

ANSWER: Neuromancer by William Gibson

5. Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.

ANSWER: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

6. It was a pleasure to burn.

ANSWER: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

7. I'll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination.

ANSWER: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin

8. The idiot lived in a black and gray world, punctuated by the white lightning of hunger and the flickering of fear.

ANSWER: More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon

9. "Tonight we're going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man."

ANSWER: The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

10. A merry little surge of electricity piped by automatic alarm from the mood organ beside his bed awakened Rick Deckard.

ANSWER: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick

11. I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday.

ANSWER: Old Man's War by John Scalzi

12. "I've watched through his eyes, I've listened through his ears, and I tell you he's the one."

ANSWER: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

13. There was a razorstorm coming in.

ANSWER: Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds

14. In the nighttime heart of Beirut, in one of a row of general-address transfer booths, Louis Wu flicked into reality.

ANSWER: Ringworld by Larry Niven

15. The Hegemony Consul sat on the balcony of his ebony spaceship and played Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-sharp Minor on an ancient but well-maintained Steinway while great, green, saurian things surged and bellowed in the swamps below.

ANSWER: Hyperion by Dan Simmons


Friday, April 12, 2013

Stand out from the crowd

Check out my guest post in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. The piece focuses on the back-story behind a business services company's brand refresh.

Nextperts: Stand out from the crowd
http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20130403/BUSINESS/304030009/Nextperts-Stand-out-from-crowd?nclick_check=1