November 16, 2018

Advertising Platforms As A REAL Business Model?

So I read in the Wall Street Journal yesterday that 3 major technology companies get over 80% of their revenue from advertising:

These companies and their percentage of advertising revenue are:

Facebook - 98.3%
Twitter -- 86.4%
Alphabet (Google) -- 86%

It's a wonderful thing how advertising pays for the wonderful free Internet services. 

Looking back to when I was a kid, I guess that how we got all those marvelous TV shows without having to pay for a cable subscription. 

But what I always wonder in the back of my mind is whether collecting advertising dollars is a REAL business. 

Yeah, sure these companies are mammoth and have made themselves and their shareholders gazillions of dollars.  

But somewhere I keep telling myself this doesn't quite add up. 

If you make something of value then someone is willing to pay for it. 

If it doesn't have value then you have to give it away for free. 

If facebook or twitter actually charged money for their service, I can't imagine anyone would actually pay squat for it.  

Google is another story, but if they started to charge, you'd just go to a service like Explorer or Safari that doesn't.

So if the only way to provide the service is to shove advertising down your customer's throats, again I have to ask is that really a business. 

If I can't see how a company can sell something based on the VALUE they are providing, honestly it's not something that I can really get myself behind. 

Out of the three companies--Google is perhaps the only one that I can see as a real something. 

As for Facebook and Twitter, despite the Presidential tweets and Russian interference in our elections, I don't see the underlying greatness. 

Maybe I am way wrong, but if you don't want to pay for it then what the heck is it really worth! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 15, 2018

Listen, Empathize, Give A Little

A colleague was talking to me about negotiating and working with others:

He said something I liked: 

Listen, empathize, and give a little. 

Yes, we each have our beliefs and positions on things.

But we don't live in a vacuum.

Other people have their own views, sensitivities, and wants. 

We have to get along so we can work together, and get things done. 

It starts by listening--not just hearing, but really listening to what the other person is saying. 

But that's not really enough. 

To really understand the other person, we have to try to empathize with what they are feeling--we need to try to walk in their shoes even if just for a moment. 

But that also isn't enough. 

We can't have it all our way--we need to give a little to get a little. 

No one can have everything and have a good relationship like that. 

We need to compromise--as long as it's not on things of integrity, conviction, or G-d. 

Everything else we have to listen, empathize, and give a little.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 14, 2018

Winding Path Of Life

Thought this was an interesting commentary on life. 

Perhaps, we seek a straight line--with no bumps or bruises--to go from where we are to where we want to be. 

But life has others plans for us. 

The road ahead is often winding and where we truly end up is often unknown. 

Certainly, staying frozen in place and doing nothing with our lives is not an option. 

So we move forward, one step at a time, and occasionally taking a leap forward. 

Also, sometimes, we have to take a few steps backward before we can advance again. 

Other times, we may even stumble and fall. 

Whatever happens, we continue to work our way towards the landing at the top to see what we shall see. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 13, 2018

Beautiful Song On Being A Jew


This was a beautiful song that we learned this week in Ulpan.

I love it--being Jewish and the song!  ;-)
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November 12, 2018

Beautiful, Peaceful Picture For Veterans Day

Today, it's Veterans Day. 

So I just wanted to share this beautiful, peaceful picture.

Let there be no war anymore!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 11, 2018

Stretch Goals That Break The Band

So I learned some important lesson about stretch goals. 

You want to have stretch goals because they make your strive to do and be your best. 

When you have to stretch yourself above your normal then you can take yourself to whole new levels of performance and achievement. 

However, if the stretch goals are ridiculously unachievable than you simply set yourself up for frustration and failure. 

Goals need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. 

But too often they are DUMB goals: Directed by others, Unachievable, Made to fail, and Based on false assumptions. 

For example, if someone tells you to jump off that bridge into the whitewater beneath because they assume that somehow you can spread you bare arms and fly--guess what is going to happen to you?

Goals can help you get to new heights of accomplishment in life or they can pull you down in false condemnation and despair. 

Like in fighting the good fight...be careful when you are sent to the front lines in trench warfare with heavily dug fortifications, machine guns and artillery placements aimed your way and yelled at with no rational strategy to "Advance!"

The only place that is going to take you is to an early grave. 

Instead, fight smart and take the hill when the hill is takable--you save a lot more lives that way and you actually take that hill! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 10, 2018

Democrats and Democracy

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Democrats and Democracy--Could It Be Again?"
The polarization, opposition, racism, and hatred is despicable and seems to only be getting worse. Two more people came to me today after synagogue to tell me they are “resigning” from the democratic party. We all used to love the Democratic Party and what it stood for, especially as Jews, who know the endless and murderous barbs of discrimination and anti-Semitism. What has happened? What once stood for freedom, respect, and dignity for all has turned upside down and inside out. All I hear now is hate, hate, and more hate.

Whichever political party and leadership can do what's right for the nation and adhere to civil rights, human rights, and doing what's right--that's the one for me. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 9, 2018

A Half Truth

So everyone is always playing with the truth. 

They don't want people to really know the truth, but they don't want to call it a real lie.

Hence the saying:
"It's just a white lie!"

A white lie is usually taken as in "pure" or "righteous"--in other words, there is a good reason (like to prevent someone from getting hurt) for lying, . 

Yes, sure there is (LOL).

Sometimes people lie to themselves:
"What you don't know can't harm you!"

Most often, people tell what they call half truths.

This is commonly referred to as:
"Beating around the bush!"

However, don't tell anyone:
A half truth is a lie!

And just like beating around the bush arouses the birds to fly and get caught in a net--that's what telling half truths do too. 

Why is it so hard to tell the whole truth, because that would make most people look pretty bad. 

If people only knew.

But someday, of course, they will. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 8, 2018

Think Back, Think Forward

So yesterday I attended a colleagues's leadership program graduation. 

There were about 20 people in the graduating class. 

One thing that I liked was that when they called up each person to shake hands and get their diplomas, each graduate was given the opportunity to say a few words. 

It was amazing to me how 20 people could give a thank you, what I learned, and what I will do with it speech in 20 completely different ways. 

20 people, 20 personalities, 20 ways of thinking and saying something. 

We really are all the similar to and different from one anther at the same time!

I remember one graduate in particular.

He talked about how the leadership program challenged him, and he said:
It made me think back, and it made me think forward. 

I loved that!

This is really what learning is all about. 

Reflecting back and using that to think forward--how to apply it, how to shape it, and how to innovate from it.

Thinking forward starts with thinking back to where we came from and all the lessons learned in our lives. 

It all starts at the beginning and it goes forward from there. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 7, 2018

Bills, Health, and Purpose

So I wanted to share some wisdom from one of my best friends. 

He was telling me about some of life's stresses at work, home, etc., and he said even though every looks forward to retirement "one day," the problems don't go away. 

He mentioned some examples of people he knows that retired relatively young and with a pension.

Nevertheless, he said:
They still worry about bills, about health, and mostly about purpose!

And even though they don't have the day-to-day grind in the office, he said:
Their own stress is as real to them as mine is to me.

I couldn't help reflecting on his words and thinking how smart this was. 

No one has it all!

Everyone is this world has fears, worries, and problems. 

And you know what?  It's okay.  

Life is about us confronting what seems unconfrontable and becoming better human beings because we did. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 6, 2018

Training Them To Be Like Us

So I saw this in the supermarket. 

This kid was pushing the shopping cart with groceries in it. 

And a little sign at the top that says:
Customer in Training

His mom is nearby with the big shopping cart full of even more groceries. 

It's interesting how we teach our kids to be just like us and at the same time to be not like us. 

They emulate some things and they reject others.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

But no two apples are the same either. 

Teaching is an important component of parenting and schooling. 

We need to impart important lessons from the past, so children don't have to recreate the wheel in the present and future. 

But spitting out little clones is not helpful to innovation and the engine of "what's next." 

Sometimes, I envision that there is a really big war--maybe World War III--nukes are used and all our bits and bytes are wiped out, and we are thrown back to the Stone Age. 

All the teaching is evaporated in the vapor of the blasts.

All that's left in what's in the soul of the remaining. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 5, 2018

Election Day Dead of 2018

This just seemed so perfect for election day this year. 

With the country torn asunder between left and right. 

We are the grateful dead of the U.S. of A. 

- Our political system is stymied and our representatives are only self-minded. 

The integrity of our founding fathers has vanished and last century's great national hope has languished. 

Cause the liberals hate the conservatives. 

And the conservatives hate the liberals. 

All of my folks hate all of your folks, and everyone blames the Jews.  

- The Constitution has become malarkey, and the Bill of Rights now makes people snarky. 

Polarization and they're a lyin', fake news and no one is even tryin'.

It's either my way or the highway, and everyone else can go to h*ll. 

- Throw a fit and curse your neighbor, chase the opposition to the wayward. 

Know that threats and violence are better than silence, and resistance means persistence. 

How could this have even happened, and you're all on the wrong side of history. 

- Are we making things great, and they're only about hate. 

Or are they racist deplorables, and we're the self-righteous ennobles. 

From the economy to trade wars, and from immigration to healthcare. 

Why is it that we can't listen, negotiate, compromise, and play fair. 

- I don't know why we're even having an election.

When we only want to defeat the opposition. 

Cause the Democrats hate the Republicans.

And the Republicans hate the Democrats. 

All of the Obamanicks hate the Trumpeans, and vice versa is certainly true too. 

- It's up to everyone to put the country first and stop the bickering and the hate. 

Practice patriotism and nationalism, tear down the walls so progress does not stall. 

No one is all right and no one is all wrong, instead we've got to come together and just let everyone belong. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 4, 2018

Problems Are Earthly

This was a saying that I really liked. 
"G-d is greater than you problem"

- Problems may seem like the end.

But G-d is the root of all BEGINNINGS!

- Problems may be overwhelming. 

But G-d is your HEAVENLY FATHER AND MOTHER!

- Problems may be big.

But G-d is INFINITE!

- Problems may be tough.

But G-d is ALL POWERFUL!

- Problems may be challenging.

But G-d has all the ANSWERS!

- Don't let your problems get you down. 

See the bigger picture. 

Know you are not alone in the universe. 

Have faith that everything is in G-d's hands and will be alright. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 3, 2018

Appreciate The Good

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, called "Seeing the Good in Life."
After synagogue services today, we sat at the Kiddish with a lovely couple, and the lady took the opportunity to go around the table and ask each person: “What good thing happened to you this week?” I really appreciated the idea of focusing on the good and the miracles we live through every day rather than the bad things. It was interesting though that people seemed to have trouble saying something really positive from their week. In truth, they seemed more enveloped in the problems of the times rather than the opportunities that each day brings.
But truly, there are so many good things that we can appreciate each and every day, and that inspires faith and hope for many more good things to come. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 2, 2018

At The Border: Immigration Or War

So it's interesting how this whole immigration crisis is playing out in real life and simultaneously on TV. 

In real life, we have a caravan of thousands of people marching from Central America (Honduras and Guatemala) to the U.S. border seeking asylum, mostly for economic reasons. 

On TV, we have the Last Ship Season 5, where South and Central America are at war with the U.S., "no longer willing to sit at the children's table of international politics," and they are coming to the U.S. to fight.

In the U.S. today, there are over 40 million people that were born in another country.  Of these, there are over 12 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S. (55% from Mexico), and we know that we need immigration reform.  

In the truest sense, we are almost all of us immigrants to this country, with ourselves or our families coming over at one time or another, and we are grateful for the generosity and open doors that allowed us to come here and make a good life.

Of course, we want to pay it forward and give others the same asylum and opportunity that we had and which they as human beings deserve. 

Yet, the country continues to debate the mix of compassion and giving to the oppressed and needy versus the merit principles for bringing in needed skills, talents, and investment, and how many is the "right" number to allow in at any one time.

In real life, we are beefing up border agents, building a wall, and calling in the military to halt the illegal flow of immigrants, so that we can channel immigrates through a process and vetting that leads to legal and safe immigration to this country

On TV, we are fighting in the air, on land, and at sea an alliance of countries from the south and central that want to take over the U.S., and we are also holding our own and holding them back.

In both cases, we need to have and maintain borders to be a sovereign country, to protect our country, and to ensure that caravans of illegal immigrants or foreign troops are not crossing the border and doing harm. 

It's high time for true immigration reform that is compassionate yet principled, but overrunning the border isn't an option that is practical or fair.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 1, 2018

Some Reflections From The Procedure

So I had a little procedure this week. 

I hate going to the hospital--who doesn't?

But I figured better to take care of something before it gets worse. 

I think of it like taking the car into the mechanic for a tuneup every once in a while. 

This analogy stuck with me years ago, when the orthopedist told me I needed to get a hip replacement and started to describe it as having a flat tire that needed to be repaired. 

Leading up the the procedure, someone sent me this funny cartoon:
This really hit a nerve too because even the best medicine these days reminds me of the truly horrible medicine not so long ago.  

Ah, have some liquor, bite on this piece of wood, and now we'll saw your leg off!

I remember my father never even liked to go to the doctor, and he had total faith that G-d was his doctor--I think he actually managed to avoid the doctor for literally something like 30-years.

He also used to joke that many doctors were butchers, and he didn't want to get caught under their knife. 

So that's certainly some apprehension going in to this. 

The other thing that was interesting-sad that I saw this week when I went for an MRI was someone taking a homeless person into the radiology center for a scan. 

But when the lady asked for insurance the person didn't have any, so the lady asks for "proof of homelessness."

I was flabbergasted at this as the guy was obviously homeless and literally was wearing tattered clothes.

They wouldn't do the scan until the person escorting him would come back with this proof.  

I felt so bad for him and thought to myself is this what the healthcare system and care for the poverty-striken in this country has come to? 

While I am so truly grateful for the miraculous care that I received this week, I am equally saddened at the care that others don't get that need it, and pray that we as a "caring society" will do better. 

Anyway, I want to express my gratitude to the doctor, the hospital, my wonderful family who stood by me, and most of all to G-d for seeing me through the procedure this week and for watching over me always. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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