Blown Away


The new iOS10 has some great new features. But the best one is a secret, personalized for every user, and yours can only be found by you. Here’s how I found mine.

I’m a geek. If you read this blog, you know I love tech, gadgets and toys. I get my greasy, adolescent-fantasy hands on anything I can play with. If it’s new or different, I am magnetically attracted to it. An eternal kid.

After updating to iOS10, I saw the iPhoto app enhancements almost immediately, as everyone did. A few hours after updating, my phone had magically arranged some of my pictures of my children into an album, with a title based on the geo-tagged information, and set to music. The new gallery called to me to tap and open.

Over the next several days, the number of  those albums grew. Titled “York 2016,” and “Best of August,” they popped up like diamond-encrusted nuggets for my viewing pleasure, presenting familiar and forgotten images, stitched together with slick transitions and set to music. “A fun new way to see old things,” I thought, “How clever.”

But just today, a set of images popped up titled “Portraits 2006-2016.” They were pictures featuring images of my wife, Katie, over the 15 years we have (so far) spent together. Photos of us in the first years we met dissolved into our wedding day; then the arrival of our two children; then rewinding backwards to vacations and holidays with our extended family; and sprinkled over with memories of back to school and birthdays, new homes and old neighborhoods, soccer matches and baseball games.

As the photos danced across my screen, chronologically out of order but still thematically linked, I watched Katie’s face closely. First she was younger, then older; first a girlfriend, then a bride, then a mother; first on a beach then on a delivery room operating table; first hugging me, then clinging tight to our children, who gripped her in loving return.

In every image, her smile never waned, but over time, an evolving feminine wisdom spread across her face, the kind that only comes attached to those life-altering experiences one never expects or plans. In those images, a family began to gather around her and the dynamic shifted. Her presence became larger and grounded each passing photo, altering the hierarchy of those memories in an instant. She became the foundation of everything I saw. What had once been defined by an occasion or location dissolved entirely; replaced by the presence and power of this wonderful woman who was now the center of my narrative.

That’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks.

In our frenetic day-to-day existence, I might not have been confronted with such visceral evidence of how strong and beautiful and essential a gift my wife is to me and my children, and what a dramatically irreplaceable role she has played in defining our very existence. We all play a unique role in each other’s lives, but none so much as the partners who choose to love us. As my photos morphed, one into the next, it became wonderfully clear that none of us – me, our children, or our extended family – would exist as we do without her.

Don’t mistake me – I love and value Katie every day. I miss no opportunity to say “I love you,” and to teach our children then same. Honor, respect and gratitude are themes which hang (literally) on the wall of our home. We know how important- and how important letting her know how important – she is.

But those images, stitched together by a phone, an inert object, in a completely random way and over the most generic of music beds, was an electro-magnetic pulse that cascaded over my brain. Stopped in my tracks, I could only stare and smile, as a tear formed in the corner of my eye. This was my whole universe, in a 60-second movie, auto-generated by an app, and more mind-blowing and joyful than any physical photo album I had ever held in my hands.

That is the power of the best of technology, which goes beyond digital code to reach out and touch us;  technology that speaks to our hearts and to our souls; technology that brings us together in unanticipated and surprising ways that have lasting impact.

Thanks, iOS10 and its creators, for uniquely remindimg me what an amazing person I found, married, and with whom I created a family, a life and an identity. I’m looking forward to what “Memories 2016-2026” will be. Now I’m headed to buy some flowers.

Does What You Do Love You?


Do What You Love Love What You Do

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I am often contacted by job seekers, wondering if I have heard of new opportunities that might be “a fit” for them. While I am always happy to help, more often than not I am not the clear path to employment I think they think I will be. I hate disappointing people, but reality is reality.

Job-seeking is hard. You scour the internet and job boards, email all your friends and tell them to ask around but not broadcast it (for fear your current employer will find out and fire you), and even post on social media profiles (again, discreetly). You send countless resumes and try not to go blind writing cover letters and interesting tidbits about yourself. If you’re lucky, you score interviews and traipse all over creation (and sometimes all over the country) looking for that perfect job, often to find – sometimes after a few months on the clock – that it, too, is “just not right.”

Maybe it’s not the job. Maybe it’s you.

That saying “Do What You Love, Love What You Do” is deceiving. It implies that, if you search long enough, you’ll find just the right Monday-through-Friday-four-weeks-vacation-per-year-fully-funded-401k-matching nirvana. Your creativity will be unleashed, your bosses will praise you and heap bonuses at your door, and you will never “work” another day in your life.

I don’t think that exists. Anywhere. I believe we have to create that space for ourselves.

Perhaps you’re looking for your perfect job in the wrong place. Maybe you are in the right place, and just going about your job the wrong way.

All kinds of things will affect your job satisfaction. Some are beyond your control, but more factors than you might think are right at your fingertips. Steve Jobs said it best in his famous 2005 Stanford commencement address. But read between the lines. He stopped doing things that didn’t interest him, so he could do the things that did. He re-prioritized the mundane so he could engage in the fun. He didn’t stop doing the work he needed to. He just made sure he didn’t get caught up in it.

“Seek, and ye shall find,” said the wise man. I’m betting he was an optimist. You go be one too.

It’s a Jungle Out There (Trying to Get an iPhone5)


Waiting In Line For an iPhone

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Unless you were living under a rock (or you’re just a hater) you know that Apple announced the iPhone5 yesterday. The response was mixed, with some even harping that Apple has stopped innovating.

Of course, that didn’t stop pre-orders from going off the charts. One article even noted that iPhone4S sales raked in more money than Google made in all of 2011.

Personally, I don’t think I will be upgrading, and in fact I’m hoping I’ll be able to get a deal replacing my iPhone4S with the cracked screen.

Will you be buying iPhone5? And do you think Apple is tapped out when it comes to innovation? Let me know in the comments below.

Speaking of things that may have lost their lustre, are you still using Google+? The youngest of the big social networks (I’m not counting Pinterest, for reasons I may write about next week) just doesn’t seem to have caught sustained fire the way facebook and twitter did.

So for Friday ShareDay, let’s check in with our buddy Michael Stelzner for a great podcast “Why Marketers Should Not Overlook Google+”

I’ve Got Your Back (But We’re Not Talking Obama)


I've Got Your Back Obama

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Over the weekend, my six year old PC finally breathed its last, surrendering to the dreaded blue screen of death one final time.

Without the funds to acquire my coveted MacBook Air, I went to plan B: another PC that I’ve been saving for just this moment. It’s a newer (only four years old, versus six) PC that hasn’t been powered up in about four months. So on startup, I needed to update software, virus protection, and then bring iTunes (including all the apps I use on my phone) current.

Somewhere in that process, I lost about 40 apps that were on my iPhone but for some reason not synced to my profile. Now begins the long and painful process of finding and reloading those apps – one by one – and rearranging them on my phone’s more than 9 screens. Yikes.

My dilemma brought to mind something we should always be aware of in the PR world: backup and contingency plans.

We always aim high, and plan to succeed. But this world also hands us a fair share of “what if things go wrong” and so we need to have a couple aces up our sleeves at all times.

A few thoughts:

1. Have a backup plan and a backup man (or woman): You can’t be the boss all the time. Sooner or later, you’ll need to delegate, and that means having a wingman who is as well-versed in the big picture of what you’re trying to accomplish as you are. Appoint a backup man at the start of your planning process to make the inevitable bumps smoother.

2. Plan for the worst, hope for the best: We all want our campaigns to run smoothly. But the world is full of chaos, and we need to be ready for it. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Plan for that and you’ll never be surprised.

3. Let your client know there’s a backup in place: There are some folk who like to practice “mushroom PR” – that is, keeping everyone in the dark because you think they will complicate things. While you want to save a client from your minutiae, your most potent weapon is your client having faith in you, and you can only accomplish that by demonstrating to them that you’ve got everything covered.

What’s your backup plan?

A (well intended) “I Told You So” Friday ShareDay


Apple Vs Competitors

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It wasn’t that far back that I waxed philosophic about which companies do their core business better – focusing on Google and Microsoft.

Since then, what has fascinated me more is the way technology has finally come into its own for our living rooms, and the ongoing battle between Microsoft and Apple for control of our big screen TVs.

So for this Friday ShareDay, here’s a post that updates those thoughts, with news that the XBox360 seems to be making some amazing content available through strategic partnerships and innovation with the Kinect system.

What will the future bring? Stay tuned. But either way, I win.

Happy Weekend!

Sunny Friday ShareDay


sunshine

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In New York City, we’ve declared winter officially over, less because of the official start of spring and more because of the amazing weather we have been having! (You all can thank me, by the way. This year I acquired my first gas-powered snowblower, thus ensuring a snow-free winter.)

Also in 2012, my family started our conversion to Apple devices – we picked up a pair of iPhones and an iPad so far and we are instant fans (see last week’s Friday ShareDay post). MacBooks are next on the list.

All that data consumption on our wireless devices has us becoming more and more mindful of our data plans and on what seems like a constant quest for wifi.

The first time I got an iPhone in my hands, I understood (and frankly, changed my mind) on the need for free wifi hotspots in major traffic areas, incluing downtowns, at train stations and in commercial buildings. The wireless companies are making huge investments in their high speed networks, mostly to cash in on expensive data plans that power social media, streaming entertainment and texting. But even the best 4G/LTE infrastructure can’t measure up to a robust wifi hotspot.

So this article on a wifi usage study from TechCrunch comes along almost serendipitously, showing that we’re not only not alone in our mania, but quite normal. What do you think?

Happy Weekend!

I Have Seen the Future (On this Friday ShareDay)


AppleRainbow

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I’ve been an Apple fan for some time, even though I don’t own a Mac or an iPad, and only recently got my first iPhone.

My first (modern) Apple device was none of the above – it was an Apple TV. And as an entry device into the Cult of Mac, it couldn’t be more perfect. Recent improvements have made this $99 wonder an even more essential addition to my home media setup, with the ability to play all my purchased content, including music, movies, TV shows, podcasts on my big screen and 5.1 surround system. It also does a great job (better than my Xbox 360) of streaming instant Netflix and other content.

I originally dove in with Apple TV for practical reasons: so I could streamline what I anticipated would be a growing collection of Pixar and other kids’ movies over the next ten years (with a three year old and another on the way, there’s only so much shelf space).

But now I am also a huge fan.

So for Friday ShareDay, here’s a great post from TechCrunch about the impact Apple TV (now in its latest iteration, with a recent software update)is having – and what the future is bound to bring.

Yes, the DVDs days are numbered.

Happy Weekend!

Target: Apple


Apple & Target

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Over the weekend, Mashable reported news that Apple would soon experiment with mini-stores inside Target locations.

Pair this with the news that plans for the Steve Jobs action figure have been abandoned by its creators (thank goodness), and it raises a question I’d like to throw out for debate: is Apple in danger of watering down its brand?

There’s no argument that part of Steve Jobs’ genius was his showmanship, and his understanding of what when into great marketing of a product to turn it into a mega-brand.

My perception of that genius has, at its core, the balance of an “exclusivity of brand” with a “there’s room for everyone” concept.

Jobs communicated that Apple products are special, and so the people who use them are special.

But admission to that club came – and still comes – at a price: whether it’s a $99 Apple TV or a $2,000 MacBook, you aren’t a full member of the tribe before you have one of those shiny new gadgets in your hand.

Even the process of purchsing my iPhone4S recently had an “induction” feel to it; I stood with a store employee who actually high-fived me once the phone was set up (or maybe I high-fived her?). That was a first.

Jobs balanced these two concepts well, so the thought of making Apple so ubiquitous that you can pick up an iPad3 two aisles down from the laundry detergent and dog biscuits seems odd to me.

Yes, Best Buy sells Apple products, but that seems right – it’s a personal electronics/gadget store. And so putting the MacBooks across from the gaming consoles and OLED TVs is more of a fit than alongside toothpaste and motor oil.

I’ll probably have to eat these words in a year or two, after the Target experiment has been crowned another stellar Apple success. But for now I’ll call it an unusual choice, and admit I’ll be watching this closely.

What do you think?

RIP, Steve Jobs


Red Apple

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I let out an audible gasp upon hearing the news. I don’t gasp, but this was one of those moments.

So much will be said and written in the coming days about Steve Jobs and his contributions to technology. But he was more than a computer guy, gadget maker or technological innovator. His creations went far beyond that little magic brick in your pocket. He literally changed the world.

For better or for worse (and I think better) Jobs can be credited with:

iTunes forced music companies to rethink distribution, and all but abandoned the concept of the “record store.” Purchasing music, movies and books instantly, the moment you want them, is now the norm.

– He created a new economic model with the 99-cent song and provided a platform to buy only what you wanted, obliterating the concept of the “album.”

Mac-based music and video production put once expensive tools into amateurs’ hands, allowing art that may never have been able to be made to flourish and spread. And make money where they might never have.

Pixar created a treasure trove of movies and opened new pathways of storytelling. There’s a slew of Academy Awards that were basically created for this genre of movie-making.

The major telcos are far richer because of the iPhone and have created entire divisions solely dedicated to making sure voice and data pushed across their networks function properly. The explosion in subscribers and the data they consume is directly attributable to iPhone, which paved the way for all other similar devices.

Running after Apple is an industry unto itself, with thousands employed in the sport. Hundreds of magazines, books, reporters and publishing companies owe their existence and profitability to covering Apple products.

To say Steve Jobs will be missed hardly does his passing justice, because our world won’t get to see where he was going to take us next.

Apple Still Shiny


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The news that Steve Jobs is stepping down from the top spot at Apple is certainly a surprise, but not altogether shocking (or maybe the reverse?). We’re all aware of his ongoing health battles, and we wish him well.

Jobs’ statement said nothing about leaving Apple; in fact, he took pains to explain the roles he would still like to play. As corporate statements go, this one was remarkable in its specificity and humanity. But Jobs has always done business that way, and had his company/employees do it the same.

Jobs’ decision is one of a good CEO: he’s outlined a succession plan, and started to make his company less about him. (See Mashable’s great Post-Jobs org chart) And the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg wrote a great breakdown of Jobs’ and Apple’s impact on not only computing, but the entire world.

We’ll certainly miss those annual stage presentations, and incoming CEO Tim Cook will have large shoes to fill just when it comes to that. It will be interesting to see how that piece of the puzzle fleshes out, and if he chooses to do them at all, or reinvents them somehow.

Wall Street will no doubt make a mountain out of a molehill here, and the stock will dip. (It was down 4% overnight, so silly.) It will also rebound. My advice: buy. And here’s why:

Apple’s product line is strong and its pipeline is full. iPhone5 is rumored to be coming in October; an iPad3 should follow. And let’s face it, Apple make products that are more popular with a broader base of consumers. Barring a major catastrophe or shift in culture (unlikely with Jobs as Chairman of the Board), Apple will continue to do well.

So while the company’s business and strategy will be relatively unchanged, you will read stories over the next few days that will lead you to believe the opposite. Go ahead, Google it.

Here’s how I see it: if my 2-year-old, upon waking from a night’s sleep, continues to ask for “my iPad” before “milk” or “cereal” the way he’s done for a week now, Apple will be just fine.