Face-To-Face. Hunger. May 1st Thoughts.

Business Interaction At Its Best. The Desert Has Nothing To Do With It. The Oligarchs.

  • Along with travel and hospitality, the corporate events industry was devastated by Covid-19 and the subsequent variants. Hundreds of thousands of workers who provided services to support the creation, planning, implementation, and execution of product introductions, consumer product experiences, trade and consumer shows, and private events were left on the sideline as clients and show associations’ event schedules came to a dead stop in March of 2020. Businesses shuttered and their employees, who in my opinion have the best work ethic of any service sector, all of a sudden downshifted from fifth gear to 1st gear as worldwide healthcare organizations tried, with no avail, to quickly halt what became a serious pandemic.

Fast forward two years, and last week’s personal experience thankfully showed me a complete pivot with the events world. I attended and participated at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference, usually held every year in Las Vegas. Pre-pandemic, this conference was one of the best attended, drawing over 100,000 attendees, exhibitors, partners, and suppliers to this mega-conference which involves any and all who work within or sell to the worldwide broadcast sector. After NAB cancelling the 2020 and 2021 events, they crossed their fingers and moved forward with last week’s conference, hoping that most attendees would make their way to ‘sin city’ and participate with the educational sessions and exhibition floor. Their bet paid off as the conference attracted 60,000, well off pre-pandemic numbers, but a strong number mostly made up of decision-makers, after two years of nominal face-to-face interaction.

Using technology, Zoom calls and email prevailed for the last two years, but there is no better business interaction than face-to-face meetings. Last week’s NAB conference clearly showed the world the importance of corporate events and the role they play with business interaction. My four days attending sessions and interacting at the expo yielded great contacts and business opportunities, and more importantly will provide a path for a high level of return on investment.

Let us all hope that we have ‘learned to live with’ future Covid-19 variants and that the world of face-to-face business interaction continues to regain its momentum. Well done NAB.

The exposition floor at last week’s National Association of Broadcasters conference.

In politics, humanitarian aid, and the social sciences, hunger is defined as a condition in which a person does not have the physical or financial capability to eat sufficient food to meet basic nutritional needs for a sustained period.

I have contributed to the Red Cross. I really do not understand, with the world’s resources, how after steadily declining for a decade, world hunger is on the rise, affecting 9.9 percent of people globally. From 2019 to 2020, the number of undernourished people grew by as many as 161 million, a crisis driven largely by conflict, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Children are devastated by hunger. In fact, “an estimated 14 million children under the age of five worldwide suffer from severe acute malnutrition, also known as severe wasting, yet only 25 percent of acutely malnourished children have access to lifesaving treatment.” This is so sad as the United Nations and other food organizations report that there is enough food produced worldwide to feed everyone on the planet.

I am writing about the serious subject of hunger due to a YouTube video sent by a friend of mine – a funny piece done by the vile Sam Kinison, who tries to make his point with why people are hungry. Though funny, this 1985 take, in present day, could not be further from the truth. Warning: this video contains vulgar language.

Great delivery, great timing…but the subject matter is not one to make fun of…

Things I Think For the First Sunday Of May:

  • You wonder when the Russian oligarchs, who have billions of dollars frozen by worldwide sanctions, will take a stand against Vladimir Putin. Sooner than later would be my answer.
  • Another Grammy-winning singer has left us. RIP Naomi Judd.
  • The Food & Drug Administration is banning menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. Why not ban all types of cigarettes? Ah, yes, I forgot about the politics.
  • I just read some information regarding Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. I have no words for these two. Just plain nasty people.
  • The premier of the British Virgin Islands was arrested in Miami, charged with conspiracy to import cocaine and launder money. You just can’t fix stupid.
  • Residential rental markets in the Sunbelt are skyrocketing. My hometown of Miami is now the least affordable city in the United States. While rent prices have risen 24% nationwide, Miami’s average rent has increased by a staggering 61%. When does this craziness stop?
  • Roman Abramovich has been forced to sell his Chelsea Football Club due to sanctions imposed on the Russian by the British government. An unfortunate circumstance for Abramovich until you realize that he paid $233 million for the club back in 2003. Friday’s bid for Chelsea F.C., by British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, is $5.3 billion. A nice ROI for the Russian.

  • Chris Stapleton’s rise to the top of the music world is amazing. Incredibly talented with his voice and guitar, this song best represents what this fantastic performer is all about.
Chris Stapleton performing on Austin City Limits.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and remember that Mother’s Day is one week from today. Have a Funday Sunday.

Dominance on the Courts. Retail Woes. March On This.

Note: I am traveling so I wanted to repost a justmytake from January of 2017 – more than five years ago. To date, I have received more comments from this post than any other…and really have no explanation why.

As a tennis fan and recreational player I have followed the sport for a long time.   Many of the great players had their own style and temperament (Ilie Nastase, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors come to mind) and Serena Williams is no different.  There have been many times that I watched her behavior with disdain and often stopped watching her play.  With that said there is no argument that she is the greatest woman tennis player of all time.   Friday night Serena won her seventh Australian Open, her 23rd major singles title of her career.  She now is only one victory away of equaling Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.  Call Serena what you want but she has now won ten major titles after the age of thirty and her career winnings are a staggering $82m.  On the men’s side, last night’s final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal was an incredible five set match and after playing well over three hours, ended with Nadal challenging a ball that was clearly in.  After not playing for many months and enduring three 5-set matches during his run to the title, Federer now has collected eighteen Grand Slam titles and has earned close to $100m in career winnings.  On two consecutive nights we were lucky enough to see the two greatest tennis players of all time.

Weeks ago I wrote about the retail customer experience and how retailers must find new ways to change their styles and merchandising often to drive customers to purchase in-store.  Retail executives continuously strive for heightening the customer experience but it seems like to no avail.  Last week, Wet Seal, around since the early ’60’s, made the decision to close all of their 171 stores nationwide.  This followed American Apparel laying off 2,400 workers, The Limited closing all stores, and Macy’s announcing that they will shutter over 100 stores in 2017.  The economic landscape and the ease of online purchasing leads me to believe there is no end in sight for more retailers to either try and pivot their offering or decide, similar to Wet Seal and The Limited, to just give up completely.

Can someone, in simple terms, explain to me what the Women’s March was really supposed to accomplish?  I support human rights, LGBTQ, racial equality and freedom of religion, but I found the March and many of the ‘protestors’ embarrassing.  I talked to many people, both men and women about the march.  A few pointed out that most of women marching were protesting against then President-elect Donald Trump without understanding his platform and pending policies.  Too bad this massive force of women could not re-focus their time and energy on important issues.  Feeding the hungry is one that comes to mind.

Updates:  Matt Ryan, only sixty minutes left in the season….get it done.   To the terrorists in Yemen who killed another U.S. soldier yesterday:  SecDef Mattis is coming for you.  Please Wayne Rooney, don’t get selfish and piss away your career playing in China.  Showtime’s Homeland, once a crazy, action-packed sixty minutes has gone politico on us…..the producers and writers should be ashamed.  Six weeks to daylight savings time!!

Adios and have a Funday Sunday!! 

Short Takes For April 17, 2022.

My View Is Not Jaded.

I have discussed this vertical takeoff ‘air taxi’ in previous posts – and for the first time we all get a look at a test flight from Lilium, a German-based aircraft technology company that utilizes emissions-free electric jet service. Their first U.S. vertiport will be developed and built in Orlando, Florida’s fast-growing Lake Nona district. FAA approval is pending and will allow this fully electric jet service to shuttle passengers on short-haul routes between Orlando and Tampa, Jacksonville, and Ft. Lauderdale-Miami. It is very likely that vertiports and air taxi service will expand quickly to many major metropolitan areas.

Forget the Florida Turnpike – this flying taxi will get you from Orlando to Miami in one hour.
  • Tiger Woods did the unthinkable after flipping his car just over a year ago. His decision to play at The Masters provided golf fans with expectations of his health and performance. He has a long way to go but maybe there is one more Major win left for him to take?
  • I do not have any answers or even suggestions on how a transit system or shopping mall can prevent someone from bringing a weapon or incendiary device onto a train or inside a mall. Terrorism or extremely sick individuals – what is the answer? This was my take, posted on August 20, 2020 – 20 months ago: The world continues to undergo a socio/economic change due to terrorist groups and other factions dovetailing off of horrific events. This past week the Charlottesville and Barcelona events showed the world that hate is not only prevalent, but now has become a factor affecting everyday life including travel, tourism, and worldwide stock markets. There is no end in sight and these types of events feed the television and social media network’s content – which drives ratings and advertising dollars. It is interesting that after 9/11, people all over the world seemed to take a step back, offered up kindness, and in general just got along… understanding the shock and horror from a few deranged terrorists. Can you stop someone from renting or stealing a car and driving it into a crowd of people? Can you convince racists that their efforts would be better spent organizing charity events instead of hating people that just happen to have a different skin color?  There is an island somewhere in the far reaches of this planet for all these people…in my mind, that is the only solution. Other than then Covid and its variants slowing down, has anything really changed in the last 20 months?.
  • I proposed this idea and business service to a friend of mine years ago: create a cord-cutting platform that provides consumers with a simple way, based on their television viewing wants and needs, to select streaming services from one online portal with a menu of options. One-stop selection, one invoice, and one customer service outlet. “A Streaming Service Aggregator.” It is a bit of a daunting business proposition, but if anyone is up to discussing the idea…I am all ears. Serious.
  • I am very surprised that I have received few comments from readers on the sad situation in Ukraine. Do you feel like the United States is doing enough? Does the NATO charter prevent the U.S. from doing more? How long can NATO and non-NATO countries stand by and watch the horror Vladimir Putin is inflicting on Ukraine and its citizens? Someone correct me if I am wrong: Has the U.S., in previous conflicts, not employed its armed forces to try and stop warring factions across the world? I would like your take please.
  • My favorite boat, without a doubt, was my 27′ pontoon boat – basically a floating living room. Now, without regard to costs, I have found my new favorite boat. By volume, it is the world’s largest yacht, with two helipads, a salon, gym, and the largest swimming pool ever installed on a yacht (25 meters). There are accommodations for thirty-six (which for me is 32 too many), and the yacht is valued at $735 million. The upside: it only costs $5 million a month to maintain. You will need to negotiate the purchase of the yacht with the German government, as they seized the ship last month when it docked at the port of Hamburg. It seems the yacht is owned by the sister of a Russian oligarch. Sanctions are sanctions.
A yacht for sale.
  • The pharmaceutical world at its finest: “In both trials, the antidepressant response to psilocybin was rapid, sustained and correlated with decreases in fMRI brain network modularity, implying that psilocybin’s antidepressant action may depend on a global increase in brain network integration,” the study reads. I am not sure, other than some healthcare professionals, who would actually understand what this trial studied, but upon further review it relates to the use of ‘magic mushrooms’ to improve everyone’s mood. In today’s world, once the FDA approves its use, psilocybin will fly off pharmacy shelves.
  • It is apparent, after watching this video, that most children are incredibly resilient. Sheltering in a bunker, this adorable young Ukrainian girl’s version of “Frozen” went viral, attracting attention from Broadway and the worldwide media. Sweetness and fortitude all wrapped into one.
She is simply amazing.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Easter Sunday!

Wake Up NATO. Things I Think.

Is It Time For NATO To Impose Their Will? The NBA Playoffs. JLo. Real Comedy.

  • Define Boris Johnson, the U.K.’s Prime Minister, in any manner you see fit. The one characterization of Johnson you can define is bravery. Yesterday, Johnson visited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the capital city of Kyiv. Zelenskyy and Johnson, obviously escorted by a very imposing squad of Ukrainian special forces, took a long walk through the streets of the city, greeting and engaging with both their armed forces and civilians who decided to remain in their homes.

After arriving in Poland, Johnson’s trip in Kyiv was accomplished by a ‘secret’ train ride into Zelenskyy’s country, some of the territories demolished by Vladimir Putin’s Russian forces. After his walkabout with Zelenskyy, Johnson announced that the U.K. would no longer stand down with their tangible support of Ukraine, and though the balance of NATO support is tricky, he would authorize the immediate deployment of eight hundred additional anti-tank missiles, Javelin anti-tank systems, and an additional Starstreak air defense system. Zelenskyy’s call for immediate action was emphasized with the statement: “Freedom does not have time to wait” has been answered by Boris Johnson and the U.K. Though the balance of powers and the hint of Putin’s nuclear weapons have kept NATO in check, is it time for President Joseph Biden and other NATO countries to stand up to the crazed leader of Russia? Yes, it is.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for a walk thru Kyiv.

My top of mind things I think:

  • JLo is back in the news again. This time it is Ben Affleck. Does anyone care about the ongoing romance of JLo? Seriously?
  • I have been a big fan of basketball, both college and the NBA, for a very long time. I go back as far as the American Basketball Association and the Miami Floridians, who not only touted the ‘world’s tallest Cuban’ in Al Cueto, but Mack Calvin, who I still consider one of the best point guards ever to play the game. Professional basketball has exploded worldwide, with top leagues not only in the U.S., but in Europe, South America, and the Pacific Rim. Understanding that television rights are the big driver of revenue for leagues, it is amazing to me how the NBA has devised their playoff scheme and the ‘play-in’ round even to make it into the playoffs. Living in Atlanta before moving to Orlando over 4 years ago, I was and still am a big supporter of the Atlanta Hawks. As the regular season comes to a close later today, here is an example of the Hawks’ ‘play-in’ scenario: The Hawks get the ten seed tomorrow with: Loss + BKN win + CLE win + CHA win OR Loss + BKN win + CLE loss + CHA win OR Win + BKN loss + CLE win + CHA win OR Loss + BKN loss + CLE win + CHA win. Obviously, the NBA employs high level mathematicians and actuaries. 🙂
  • The drama with Will Smith and Chris Rock is hopefully over. The ten-year ban the Academy imposed on Smith has somehow overshadowed how talented and funny great comedians can be, whether scripted or not. Here is an example of Eddie Murphy’s impromptu (and brave) delivery at a ceremony celebrating Sammy Davis Jr. So good. (Excuse the video quality).

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!

Oscar Drama. Words. Opportunity. Rule Changes. Quote This. Taylor.

Thankful For Lady Gaga. English As A Second Language. Opportunity Knocks. The NFL Is At It Again. Being Authentic. A Tribute To Taylor.

  • In last week’s post I mentioned how put off I have been with award shows, and that due to the grandstanding of attendees and award winners, I would not watch last Sunday night’s Academy Awards. The Oscars are regarded by many as the most prestigious and significant awards in the entertainment world, with award-winners being honored for their artistic and technical merit in the film industry.

I did not watch the Will Smith-Chris Rock incident until sometime last Monday. I am not downplaying the seriousness of the incident…to me a criminal act of battery, but how sad for this once glamorous award show now diminished to one of personal mockery. In fact, Smith’s behavior overshadowed an Oscar presentation to Samuel L. Jackson. Despite Jackson’s illustrious career, and being the highest grossing box office actor of all time, with over $27 billion worldwide, the 73-year-old had never received an Oscar, until last Sunday night.

Chris Rock’s joke about Smith’s wife was not necessary and may have been a bit over-the-top, but what right did Smith have in leaving his seat, walking up on stage, and slapping Rock during a live broadcast? Was this incident fueled by the over-sensitivity of men these days, fueled by the ‘woke’ madness that has integrated itself into every thread of this country? Can you imagine this same shameful reaction from a studio audience watching and listening to Richard Pryor, Don Rickles, or Rodney Dangerfield? Will Smith: how about taking a step back, understanding that you are nothing more than an entertainer, and do something positive for the Academy. Or, with more relevance, support a former entertainer who is now the President of a sovereign country under attack from Russia.

The optics were and still are so bad for the Academy Awards, but thankfully the presentation from Liza Minnelli, supported onstage by Lady Gaga, brought some real significance and dignity back to this awards ceremony.

Liza Minnelli is among a rare group of performers awarded an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony.

  • I had an interesting discussion last week regarding the English language. Many people around the world speak English as a second language, and most people who learned the language as their second (or third) have reminded me that English is not easy to learn. After a quick look-up, English has more phonemes than most languages, and an unusual amount of vowel sounds (11). There are an estimated 172,000 words in the Oxford English Dictionary with the average active vocabulary of an adult English speaker around 20,000 words. Without thinking too long, using Google, or a dictionary, answer the following regarding the English language:
  • What is a phoneme?
  • What is the shortest sentence in the English language?
  • Provide three examples of words that sound alike but are spelled differently (homophones).
  • Name three words where the rule “I before E except after C” does not apply.
  • What is a plural noun that does not end in ‘s’?
  • What is one word that looks exactly the same, but with different meanings and pronunciations?

I have been told that English is not always easy to learn – as a native speaker I cannot imagine the trials and tribulations people deal with learning English as a second language. Some of us may take the English language for granted, but learning the language and its anomalies, including the number of contranyms imbedded in the language, is sometimes overwhelming. Yes, I said contranyms.

  • A past contributor to JustMyTake provided his perspective on the subject of ‘opportunity’. Thank you Chris A., for your very powerful and relevant content:

When I am on the NC Coast, I go to church in Southport, NC. The priest there is a Vietnamese man. When I first started attending, it was very difficult to understand him. Over the years, he has worked hard at his delivery. Now, I can understand every word and it turns out, he is quite a wise, thoughtful person.

He writes an article in the bulletin each week. Below is one from last year that I saved. I’ve had a few recent events that made me revisit it. For me, when I was younger taking advantage of opportunities usually meant career. As I get older, it’s about relationships … family & friends.

Taking Advantage of Your Opportunities
“In the days before modern harbors, a ship had to wait for the tide before it could make it to port. The term for this situation in Latin was “ob portu”, that is, a ship standing over against port waiting for the moment when it could ride the turn of the tide to the harbor.
The English word “opportunity” is derived from this original meaning. The captain and the crew were ready and waiting for that one moment, for they knew that if they missed it, they would have to wait for another tide to come in.
You may remember one of the most famous passages of William Shakespeare:
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune:
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries
On such a full sea are we now afloat:
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
We tend to think of “opportunity” as something that lies in the distant future. We dream of all that we could do and be if only given a chance. At the same time, opportunity knocks at our door every day that we live, with every breath that we draw.
What opportunity do you plan to take advantage of?”

  • To: Danny, Aaron, Anne, Annica, Art, Becky, Ben, Brendan, Bob, Bret, Chris, Cody, Daniel, Darren, Dave, Doug, Gary, Jason, Jeff, Jen, Jim, Joe, John, Jon, Kay, Kelley, Kirt, Les, Mario, Mark, Marty, Matthew, Nick, Pat, Pete, Peter, Phil, Rhonda, Richie, Rick, Salvatore, Samir, Sarah, Steak, Steve, Steven, Tom, Tracy, Wes, and Yvonne, and anyone else I may have missed who would have interest in chiming in on the NFL Competition Committees’ proposed rule changes. There a few proposed rule changes that are interesting, but this one is eye-opening: Make field goals 55 yards or longer worth four points. While it sounds like fun and adds some new math to the game, I have this bizarre thought in my mind with this scenario:

The Indianapolis Colts, now led by quarterback Matt Ryan, have the ball on the Atlanta Falcons’ 37-yard line, and it is third down and 16. Instead of running a positive play to pick up a first down, Ryan takes the snap, steps back a yard, and takes a knee, downing the ball at the thirty-eight-yard line. The Colts now line up for a field goal, with the ball now at the thirty-eight, plus the 7 yards where the holder sets up, plus the 10 yards with the goalposts on the end line. The Colts’ field goal kicker now lines up a 55-yard field goal attempt worth FOUR points. Am I missing something, or did I just describe a negative yardage play that yields the offense a chance for four points over three by losing a yard? Call me crazy, but to me that is strange. Note: there were more than eighty field goal attempts from 50+ yards in last year’s NFL season.

  • Shakti Gawain is a pioneer in the field of personal development. A best-selling writer, for over twenty-five years she has authored books on the subject, selling over ten million copies. I have only read random samples of her work, but this quote on living authentically is one that I really enjoyed reading:

“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.”

  • The tributes to the late Foo Fighters’ drummer Taylor Hawkins continue to pour in. Last weekend, Elton John performed in Des Moines, Iowa, and provided this heartfelt tribute and incredible version of one of his many great songs.
RIP Taylor Hawkins.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!