Archive for November, 2013

22 November 1963

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

I recall in December 1961 an unlikely conversation between my father, a stockbroker, and Gerald Gelpi, a New Orleanian of the first order and an antiques dealer, reminiscing of their location when Pearl_Harbor was attacked. I sat in the corner or on the floor in our Broadway apartment fascinated by the tales and life experiences that appeared to have radiated from that historic episode.

It feels, although faintly, that this President’s assassination was a watershed moment for those nearly my age. To think that his astounding murder would characterize a decade of television amplified deaths from the individual, King and Bobby Kennedy, to the collective, race riots, including foreign, Vietnam. How nearly wonderful to be an oblivious teenager amidst the 1960s roller coaster.

We returned from noon recess at Holy Name of Jesus Elementary School. I was 11 and lived for sports at lunch. As the all-boys in khaki tramped up the stairs to our 6th grade class, Shorty Gay, a 7th grader, held the door open from the staircase. “the President’s been shot,” he said. We all watched Combat on tv and played army after school. Still, do President’s get shot?! Home at 3:30, my mother and sisters crying in front of the small black and white tv. JFK -we don’t use initials any more- visited New Orleans one year or so earlier. My mother with her 4 children and her friend, Jean Anne with her 7 (staunch Catholics for sure), carted us to the corner of Carrollton Avenue and Walmsley Boulevard to join the throngs gathered to see the presidential motorcade swoosh by. Can’t imagine the same today for a parade of presidential SUVs.

Our home was stunned and grieved over the weekend. Vivid is the ever-presence of Walter Cronkite detailing the multiple threads of concurrent events: new President, who shot the former President, plans for the funeral service, suppositions of foreign plots and haphazard interviews. Then Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald on television. I’ll never forget that sight. Those were still the days when families brought television sets to school to watch space launches and capsule recoveries. A live murder on tv was shocking. Then the funeral, John-John’s salute and the seeming loss of Jacqueline Kennedy as well.

The country stepped-back from its hopeful emerging self, from Eisenhower and the vestiges of the World War 2, to a modern future filled with promise for all as embodied by the Kennedy couple. Just a collective dream as we look back. In the present economy and with all of the immediate sources of news and opinions, it is hard to imagine the collective mood at that point in the 1960s. Naive, perhaps; confident, for certain. Then LBJ and a seeming return to a too near past. Then Nixon. then, then, then to the point where the President is nearly a side-show in the national wrangle to get something done on behalf of us all.


I sort of make my living talking in public, usually to corporate executives about technology patterns and trends. I realize now this aptitude was initially cultivated as I became interested at age 12 in all things alluding to an assassination conspiracy. My first public speaking class presentation was a book review of Mark Lane’s Rush to Judgement. As an adult, I’m persuaded that Oswald was the lone gunman, although I wonder why Jack Ruby was compelled to shoot him.

Camelot is past; so many Kennedys suffered tragic consequences to end their lives; just yesterday, the nephew of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, Michael Skakel, was paroled after conviction of murdering a neighbor in his youth and sentenced many years after the crime.

I’m certain that the past is best left to the past and what could have been was never a probability.

US Naval Academy Alumni Association Leadership Series

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Last night, 11/12/13, we joined with the local US Military Academy alumni to welcome Casey Carroll to hear his perspective on leadership. Casey is in his second year at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. A better described and more complete bio can be read here:

Our audience last night included lacrosse players and parents from Durham and Chapel Hill. In a way, his remarks appealed to them as much or more than they may have to the nodding heads of the Navy types gathered. Casey enlisted in the Army motivated by the combat death of another Duke lax player, Jimmy Regan. After serving 4 tours in combat, Casey returned to Duke for his MBA where he qualified for a year of lacrosse due to the time lost as a result of the infamous lacrosse scandal in 2006.

His remarks were thorough and brief. He recited how lessons of youth, at his father’s knee nearly, served him well preparing others for combat. Casey suggested to the high schoolers in the audience that bluster is not the mark of leadership, credibility and authenticity are. His preferred leader is competent and genuine. And these traits are not gifts but the results of consistent, personal initiative. These attributes apply to winning a national athletic championship, directing soldiers in combat or working in teams in business school.

Privileged were we for the benefit of this man’s experience. As Casey recited, “We Few, We Happy Few..”


Twitter: what’s the value?

Friday, November 8th, 2013

After several months of wondering why anyone would care why anyone else was having a latte, I met Phil Whitehouse, now the GM of Ogilvy & Mather in Australia, then a manager in a British Telecom internal start-up (you can guess the end of that story). We spent a day together at the 2008 Wimbledon (sounds posh?!), the year that Nadal defeated Federer in the 5th set in the dark. You can tell whom I rooted for.

After a couple of 10 am Pimms Cups, we talked about how his small team survives the currents of a much larger company. He replied,”we don’t ask for budget beyond our salaries. We use whatever free tools that we can get our hands on. Twitter, for example. It’s a fast, easy to use, no-cost tool. Plus you have to get your message across in 140 characters.”

We don’t’ use the BT CRM system. We’ve agreed that each day, each of the nine of us on the team will try to share one item that we think may be of interest to the other eight on the team. By the end of the week, we’ll have nearly 50 items of, hopefully, useful customer information.”

I’ve been a fan since to an extent that I’ve never rallied in Facebook’s favor. In my own realm, Twitter is, indeed, a valuable learning tool. I know the music, travels, personal interests, professional discoveries and humor of many people with whom I’d be lucky to have a 5 minute conversation at a conference. Twitter is the best source of my own professional development.


Two aspects of this media make me wonder. How many of a certain age still perceive Twitter as waste of public bandwidth by those who believe or hope that the world cares that they’re having a coffee? And if Twitter cannot make money given its membership and audience and near ever-presence, are we returning to the days of the dot com busts?

As answering machines replaced phone messages, as email replaced answering machines, as texts replaced email – for those of a certain age- I believe that the near instantaneous sharing of examples, photos, videos, links, insights and events will transform broadly how we connect and how we share. Twitter describes more an evolving capability for grand scale collaboration than it does an opportunity to make money an old fashioned or familiar way. It’s another step forward in a new way of sharing. I guess that if you are reading this, you probably know this. Let’s have a coffee sometime.

So, I bought a Liberace song….

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Liberace Boogie Woogie

iTunes offered me a prescient warning but I didn’t listen.

Búist er við því að gagnamagn muni aukast gríðarlega á næstu árum.

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

Áttatíu prósent allra rafrænna gagna hafa verið búin til á síðustu tveimur árum. Þar af eru 80-90% þessara gagna ómótuð eða hálfmótuð, eins og umsagnir fólks á netinu, tíst á Twitter, bloggfærslur, myndir á Facebook og tölvupóstsamskipti. Þetta sagði Christopher Perrien, hjá IBM, á Smarter Business ráðstefnu Nýherja og IBM í dag.

IBM býst við að gagnamagn og umsýsla gagna muni halda áfram að vaxa hratt á komandi árum. Fyrirtækið hefur því þróað ofurtölvu sem gerir fyrirtækjum mögulegt að vinna úr og halda utan um sívaxandi gagnamagn, ekki síst ómótuð gögn.

Nýja tölvan heitir Watson og byggir á hugrænni tölvun (Cognitive computing). Hún getur lært og átt samskipti við fólk á miklum hraða. Watson sameinar mannlega vitsmuni og býr yfir getu til þess að vinna úr og geyma áður óþekkt magn gagna.


Translated: every man is a hero to the Vikings. Correct citation here.

I spoke about IBM’s Watson and the opportunity for Cognitive Computing to audiences at the University of Iceland, Reykjavik University, a surprisingly well-attended CEO Roundtable and about 160 as I was the keynote address of an afternoon of discussion about trends in social media and computer storage. The former creates opportunity for the latter.

Please email me if you’d like a copy of the chart deck:

Three short videos overview well my remarks:
A Boy and His Atom

TED Talk addresses Cognitive Computing

Watson Paths Demo