America’s Got Belly Dancing

(Credit Videos: Andy Blumenthal)

@Strathmore With Violin Virtuoso Zoltan Maga

Nice time today at Strathmore Concert Hall. 

Listened to beautiful music by Violin Virtuoso Zoltan Maga and The Budapest Gypsy Orchestra.

Zoltan was amazing and he played the violin with expertise that I have rarely seen in my life.

It was as of the violin literally came alive in his hands.

His son, Zoltan, Jr. also played wonderfully and seems to be a “chip off the old block.”

I was pleasantly surprised to hear Zoltan and the orchestra play a pretty mean Hava Nagillah!

Also, the Hungarian Ambassador was there to welcome Zoltan. 

It was beautiful at the end when they told how Zoltan does many charity concerts and donates hundreds of thousands of dollars to needy orphan homes. 

I shook Zoltan’s hand, but I could tell he was very protective of his magic hands.

Truly, he is a master and you can see the skill from Hashem in him–it was amazing. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy and Dossy Blumenthal)

Most Amazing Sculpture

This is the most amazing sculpture that I have ever seen.


Let me explain why?


It looks like a bust of a woman with a fine fabric lace veil over hear head and face.


But believe it or not, the veil is part of the sculpture.


And her eyes are just shadows of it. 


In other words, there is no veil or eyes. 


The museum tour guide pulled out a flashlight and pointed it and her eyes and they were gone. 


How any artist can have such a divine gift to make something like this is really beyond me.


All I can do is stare in complete marvel at this sculpture of a veil covering this woman’s face. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Jack Of All Trades

I saw this quote hanging on the wall. 


It’s by science fiction writer, Robert Anson Heinlein.

“A human being should be able to:

  • Change a diaper
  • Plan an invasion
  • Butcher a hog
  • Conn [control] a ship
  • Design a building
  • Write a sonnet
  • Balance account
  • Build a wall
  • Set a bone
  • Comfort the dying
  • Take orders
  • Give orders
  • Cooperate
  • Act alone
  • Solve equations
  • Analyze a new problem
  • Pitch manure
  • Program a computer
  • Cook a tasty meal
  • Fight efficiently
  • Die Gallantly

Specialization is for insects.”

It’s sort of fascinating all the things that are expected of people to be able to do. 

And this is a short list–I’m sure you can think of many, many more things that people have to be able to do to survive, to live, to thrive. 

What complex and magnificent creations of G-d we are! 

Not only in terms of our physiology, but also in terms of our cognitive, emotional, social, and spiritual capacities and desires. 

We are flesh and blood, but with a breath of life from the living G-d, and we are capable and can do so much. 

At the same time, we are imperfect, limited, fallible, and mortal. 

– Jack of all trades, and master of none. 

Expect the best, but plan for plenty of mistakes and disasters along the way. 

Live well, and return to the creator a better person. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Continued Softening Of Microsoft

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Microsoft should not be acting old and grey.

Yet they are throwing away another $26.2 billion dollars in purchasing the relative revenue and profit weakling, LinkedIn, the professional networking social media site (where odds are you have your high-level resume-type information).

Have you ever paid a dime to LinkedIn or have you ever paid attention to  single advertisement on LinkedIn (I can’t even remember if there is advertising on there—see I pay it zero attention!)?

Unfortunately Microsoft is following suite with it’s worthless purchase of Nokia in September 2013 for $9.4 billion that was all written off and then some with yet another ridiculous, desperate move.

Microsoft has been living off their legacy product suites of Windows, Office, Outlook, and SharePoint for years…and apparently, aside from the regular forced upgrades, they seem to have virtually nothing in the innovation hopper.

Hence, loser acquisitions of things like Yammer in 2012 for $1.2 billion (anyone use that BS Facebook-like service for inside their organization—work is not social playtime folks!).

Anyway, I like Microsoft products–they are functional, which is what I want from email, creating and editing documents, spreadsheets and slides, as well as sharing files–it’s great for bread and butter tasks–nothing sexy.

But every attempt that Microsoft makes in desperation to expand beyond their core competencies comes up soft and a big money loser.

Innovation and success is not bred by acquiring virtually worthless properties in terms of high-technology with no synergy to who they fundamentally are.

It is almost heartbreaking to see a once great company like Microsoft continue to drown in its own excess cash and strategically hollow ideas.

Microsoft will only be successful by thinking beyond the boxed in windowed organization that they have imprisoned themselves in.

I hope they can break a few windows and escape to some new technological thinking again soon–but the big question is whether they currently have the talent to make it so. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Stack Theory Doesn’t Stack Up

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Christopher Mims’ article in the Wall Street Journal today on why big companies get disrupted by others doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. 

He discusses the “Stack Fallacy” of Anshu Sharma a venture capitalist that it “is the mistaken belief that it is trivial to build the layers above yours.”

Mims explains that the stack is like a “layer cake of technology”–where one layer is built on another.

Similar to the OSI technology model where there are architecture layers for physical, data, network, application and so on. 

Basically, Mims explains that tech companies can only invent at a single layer of technology (or below). 

But when companies try to invent up the stack, they fail.

Here’s why…

Mims says that companies despite their size and resources can’t innovate up the stack because they don’t understand the users there. 

But this doesn’t stack up to me. 

Companies can and do use their resources to study and understand what users want up the food chain and what they can’t easily build, they can acquire. 

Apple successfully went from a iPod and iTunes music player and song store to producing a highly sophisticated and integrated iPhone and Apps store where music is just an afterthought.

Similarly, IBM went from being primarily a mainframe and desktop company to being a top-tier consulting firm with expertise in cloud, mobile, social, artificial intelligence, and analytics computing. 

But it isn’t easy for a company to change. 

And to me, it’s not because they can’t understand what users want and need. 

Rather, it is because of something we’ve all heard of called specialization. 

Like human beings, even extraordinary ones, companies are specialized and good at what they are good at, but they aren’t good at everything. 

A great example of this was when NBA superstar, Michael Jordan, tried to take his basketball talents and apply it to baseball…he was “bobbling easy flies and swatting at bad pitches” in the minor leagues. 

As even kindergarteners are taught that “Everyone is good at something, but no one is good at everything.”

Companies have a specific culture, a specific niche, a specific specialization and expertise.

And to go beyond that is very, very difficult…as IBM learned, it requires nothing less than a transformation of epic proportions. 

So I think Mims is wrong that companies can’t undertstand what users want in areas up the innovation stack, but rather it’s a monumental change management challenge for companies that are specialized in one thing and not another. 

Welcome to the world of Apple after Steve Jobs and his iPhone and to the the recent 25% decline in their stock price with investors and customers anxiously waiting for the possible but not certain next move up the technology stack. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Awesome Northeast Fall Season

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Just wanted to share this awesome photo that my beautiful daughter, Michelle, took this last week. 


I love how it vividly captures the Fall colors, the falling leaves, and the changing seasons. 


The bridge seems to magically span the lush green before with the orange and tan hues of the after all under a clear light blue sky. 


The scene definitely looks like a cozy and happy time and place I want to be in. 😉


(Source Photo: Michelle Blumenthal)

The Millennial Workplace

Keep Mouth Shut

So a colleague from a law enforcement agency told a funny story the other day.


When he was an agent-in-training he said they told them, “Keep your eyes open and your mouths shut.”


Basically, you are new–so watch and learn before you do something stupid and potentially get yourselves or someone else in trouble. 


But now as someone who been there for decades and is a supervisor, he was interviewing someone right out of school, and in the interview the kid says, “I want to be in charge!”


The difference from Generation X and the new Millennials couldn’t have been starker. 


But what did this guy do, he didn’t show the candidate to the door by his earlobes, but rather he ended up hiring him. 


Times have changed–not only with all the technology we use–but also in terms of people’s expectations from the job.


What do people want these days–aside from good compensation and comprehensive benefits?


Engagement through challenging and meaningful work that has tangible outcomes from day one

Innovating and creating versus pushing paper and doing routine, repetitive work

– Using current and cutting-edge technology

Opportunities to stay and advance or building the resume to “move out to move up”

– Lots of feedback, teamwork, sharing, and transparency

– Considerable work-life balance 


The bottom line is don’t be surprised by the kid who wants to be in charge from the get-go, instead relish their gusto and unleash their talent in your organization–with guidance, they can do amazing things. 


It’s not your fathers workplace anymore. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to g Tarded)