I hope this doesn’t offend anyone, but I think I was meant to be the next Pope. Let’s look at the chain of events.
1) Yesterday I mentioned to someone at work that I thought I’d be a great pope. Within a few minutes, she had made a custom-made Pope hat for me. Miraculously, it fit perfectly.
2) Last night when I left the office, I placed the hat on the floor of my office to go out with the days’ trash.
This morning when I arrived at the office. I found this ‘sign.’ A perfect rainbow on my hand-made Pope hat.
Now, I take signs very seriously. So beginning right now, I’m campaigning for pope. Here are my qualifications:
On the PLUS Side:
1) I’m organized
2) I’m good with people
3) I’m tolerant
4) I’m mostly kind
5) I’m not too sarcastic – although a planner who used to work here would probably disagree
6) I like Italy
7) I know a few words in Latin
8) I played Jesus in ‘Godspell’ – so at least I know the gospel according to St. Matthew
9) In high school, I dated a girl who went to Catholic school
On the DOWN Side:
1) I’m not Catholic
2) I’m married
3) I have children
4) I have absolutely no experience with the Catholic church.
And while those may seem like huge obstacles to overcome, I’m used to doing the impossible. Just last week, a client said the work we create was ‘heavenly.’ I think that’s another sign.
So until I hear otherwise, I think I’m a pretty good candidate. Please comment here, as I’d love to hear your thoughts on my chances of becoming Pope.
Oh, and Happy Ash Wednesday. See – I’m already getting with the program.
R (Soon to be known as Matthew James the First)
Did this ever happen to you?
Last night, I was tired so I decided to go to bed early. I climbed into my bed around 9:30 PM with my iPad and headphones to unwind a little bit before turning out the lights. I began searching YouTube for a video guitar lesson of a song I wanted to learn how to play – Tracy Chapman’s ‘Fast Car.’
I watched an 8-minute video, and was getting ready to go to sleep, when another video caught my eye. It was an a cappella group doing their version of ‘Fast Car.’ So I watched that 4-minute video.
That’s when I fell into the rabbit hole.
From there, I watch an a cappella group, The Vineyard Sound, singing Dion’s ‘Runaround Sue’ (which is great by-the-way). That video was 3-minutes long. I hunted through The Vineyard Sound’s catalog of videos. I watched ‘I’ll Be’ then ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ which was followed by ‘Midnight Train To Georgia’ and for laughs ‘Take On Me.’
By now, I was fascinated by the a cappella groups on YouTube. My next stop was a group from UMass called the Doo Wop Shop. They have an incredible video of them performing (in a classroom) a medley of songs from Disney movies.
Here’s where it gets weird. About 50 schools have done versions of an a cappella Disney movie medley. Now I took it as a personal challenge to find the best one, the most original, the most interesting. I watched as many as I could stand.
It’s now 11:45 PM. And I can’t sleep.
So I switch gears from Disney to a different a cappella favorite, Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ This group has over 3 million hits on their a cappella version. Its pretty damn good.
I ended the night with this version of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller.’ While it’s not as good as some of the others, you have to give these guys credit for trying.
So if you bump into me today, and I seem tired, it’s because I went to bed early. And fell down a rabbit hole.
OK – maybe this is funny because I know the person who created it. (She works with me at the agency)
Maybe this is funny because is so weird.
Or maybe, this is just funny.
The creator showed this to me about an hour ago, and I’m still laughing. In fact, her entire group was around me looking for my reaction. Everyone had to watch it more than once.
Click on this. Watch it. Rate it. Comment on it.
And yes, the star (not the cat) is an interactive art director at the agency. Please don’t steal her away.
Enjoy. Oh, and crank up the volume.
My first two years after high school were spent at Rider College (now Rider University) in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. I lived on campus in a cinderblock door room with metal furniture. The first thing I did was offer to work at the college radio station. WWRC-AM. Yes, it was an AM radio station. They wouldn’t get an FM license for years. (It’s now WRRC-FM, 107.7) After a quick trip to Philadelphia to get my FCC broadcast license, and an even quicker tutorial on how to run the equipment, I was on the air.
The first song I played was Elton John’s ‘Mona Lisa and Mad Hatter’ from the Honky Chateau album. I remember that because someone called into the radio station midway through the song to tell me how much she liked the song. That’s all I needed was a little encouragement. My next song was Eric Clapton’s ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ from 461 Ocean Blvd. That was followed by ‘One of the Nights’ by the Eagles. The song had only been released a few months earlier – and was still relatively unknown.
You may wonder how I remember all this. That’s because I recorded my first show. I have a reel-to-reel copy of an 18-year-old version of me spinning records, talking about liner notes, and discussing music. But the funny part is the commercials. Even then – I had to read commercials and public service announcements over the air. The boring – ‘Jim’s bar and grill just across from campus has a wide selection … – to the embarrassing ‘VD is for everybody, not just for a few.’ Yikes.
And don’t think I was some incredible music junkie. I played a lot – and I mean a lot of crappy music on my first show. The studio had a ‘playbook’ – these were the required songs you had to play sometime during your 90 minutes on the air. I think we needed to play them to continue to get free albums from the music labels. I played Bad Company’s ‘Shooting Star’, Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rhiannon’, Electric Light Orchestra’s ‘Evil Woman’, and the album of my freshman year Jefferson Starship’s ‘Miracles.’ That album was a staple of college radio.
But the album I loved to play was Peter Frampton’s ‘Frampton Comes Alive.’ Released in the middle of the year, I played that endlessly. One night, when I thought nobody would notice, I played the entire album start to finish without any commercial interruption. (It allowed me to take the elevator to the student pub and get a beer.) That album sold 6 million copies in that year. Amazing.
I worked at the radio station for two years. Had numerous time slots – including a poorly thought through morning radio show with a dorm mate – Wayne Hodges. (Hodges and Levy in the morning). AM, three days a week. I don’t think we wanted to admit that nobody is listening to a college radio station at 8 AM. I broke up the partnership quickly and changed to a better slot.
My time on WWRC taught me a lot of valuable lessons. How to present material to an audience. How to read something for the first time and make it sound good. How to get people to engage. It was a fun time. It was hard work. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
The one thing I didn’t do was have a signature sign-off. It never crossed my mind. I just ended the show with ‘that all the time I have, see you tomorrow.’
So, until tomorrow.
In case you’re interested I did the following (but not in this order):
Things I didn’t do
So that’s about it. I spent the past week doing a lot of nothing. Which is exactly what I needed. I’m looking forward to the new year. Here’s to doing a lot of good stuff in 2013.
By the way – My new office has a view of the Empire State Building. I’ll post the view out my window from time to time.
July 4th brings back a flood of memories for me.
I was brought up in a very patriotic family. My father served in WWII and was a flag waving democrat. He cried when JFK died, woke us up when Bobby was shot and never understood all the fuss over Viet Nam.
And he loved the 4th of July. This was America’s holiday. The flag went outside early and stayed out late. We had a very large, very old cloth American flag. It was proudly and properly rolled in our hallway closet. And on Memorial Day, Flag Day and especially Independence Day – my father would take great pride in unrolling it and placing it outside for all to see.
Growing up, we lived on a fairly main road. And when ever our town had a parade – it would pass right past our front door. For years, I proudly marched by my father’s side in our Memorial Day parade. I carried a flag in an Independence Day parade. And every year we would have a huge cookout in our back yard and the parade went past the front. And that giant old flag proudly waved in the summer breeze for all to see. This house is proud to be an American.
I’m sad to say, I don’t know what happened to that flag.
When my parents moved out of the house, the flag disappeared. Maybe it was too old and too tattered to be saved. Perhaps my father bought a new one. Perhaps it’s still in the house – being used by the new owners. But the flag is gone.
Now I have a flag. It’s new. It doesn’t have the same history. And it’s rolled up proudly in my front hall closet. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t put it out yesterday. I don’t know why – I had plenty of time to do it. I think it’s because this flag doesn’t have the same history for me as the old one. But that’s just an excuse. I think I have to change that thinking – and start some history of my own.
Next year – the flag goes up early and stays out late. It’s the least I can do for my father.
Happy July 4th.
A lot has happened since the last time I posted. I’ve been using the excuse that I’ve been too busy to write. The real reason is that I haven’t carved out the time to write. I control my schedule. But lately, I’ve been letting my schedule control me. I’m changing that. So no more excuses.
Here’s some things that have happened since my last post.
• Most Creative Agency – I’m very proud of this award. Recently, our agency was named ‘Most Creative Agency’ by the leading magazine in our field. This was an incredible achievement and one that every member of the agency helped win. This was the third year in a row that we won. Yes, people were actually using the work ‘three-peat’ for a few days. In an announcement e-mail to the agency, our CEO actually mentioned going for a ‘Four-peat.’ I was hoping to enjoy winning for three years in a row without having to think about next year yet. We were the first New York City based agency to ever win in back-to-back years. (Only an agency in Chicago has ever won it more in the entire history of the award show.) I’m very proud of the award. I actually think we have a good chance to win again next year. Although I shouldn’t say that. But secretly I think we have some amazing work in the pipeline.
• My Son Kicks My Butt In A 5K – Again. – My 10-year-old runs faster than me. I can’t believe it. My 10-year-old is in better shape than me. I’m in denial. My 10-year-old son is now acting as my personal trainer. I’m thankful. This Sunday, as a family, we ran the Tarrytown Trek 5k. I couldn’t keep up with my son. I was happy for him. Embarrassed for me. So now the training begins. This morning, my 10-year-old supervised my treadmill session. He kept increasing the speed. He kept telling me I wasn’t going fast enough. He kept choosing the music on my iPhone so I’d run a faster pace. And you know what. I felt great afterwards. He was right. I can run faster. He can push me further. Give me the summer. By the time we’re running a 5k in autumn or late summer, I’ll be able to keep up. Maybe even beat him. It’s time. No more Mr. Nice Guy. (BTW – as I was typing this last sentence, I actually typed ‘No more Mr. Nice Gut.’ Which is probably more appropriate.)
• My daughter completes her Masters Degree with a 4.0 GPA. This is huge. I’m so proud of her. As I’ve mentioned earlier – my daughter has learned to be a great student. This does not come naturally for her. She has worked very hard. She’s always tired. She’s always working on something. She’s always trying to get to the end. But its paid off. Great grades and a great attitude have helped her land a great position in a terrific school district. She’s thrilled. I’m thrilled. It’s every parent’s dream to have their child succeed. And her success is all due to perseverance and hard work. Congratulations and well done.
• My daughter (and her fiance) pick a wedding date. Less than a year from now, I’ll have a married daughter. Tentative date: June 1, 2013. Everything seems to be falling into place. The site, the band, the video guy, the photographer, the flowers. We don’t have a caterer yet, but that not far behind. I’m so happy. The place seems great. They both seem to really love it. It’s so fun to watch them making joint decisions and loving all the same things. Ah, a June wedding. How perfect.
• My son passes his black belt test. This Saturday, my son will receive his black belt in Taekwondo. You have no idea how hard he had to work to get this far. For the past 3-1/2 years, he’s been working toward this goal. The test was spread out over three days. First there was an outdoor test. Running. Exercising. Pushing yourself as hard as possible. Next there was an oral exam. The students were tested on their knowledge of all the work they have learned over the past 3-1/2 years. Answers in both English and Korean. Finally, the indoor test. The students had to perform everything they’ve learned since the beginning of their training. The indoor test lasted over 3 hours. The students were exhausted. But in the end – he passed. He found out a few days later the results. He smiled for days.
That’s about it for now. I’m sure I’ll think of more stuff that’s happened. But that will be for tomorrow. Thanks for reading.
I travel a lot for business. And I go to a lot of ‘fun sounding’ places. So there are times when people will assume that these trips are lots of fun. Let me give you a brief glimpse into a recent business trip. Tell me how much ‘fun’ this sounds.
Sunday 3PM – Leave for the airport. Fighting Sunday afternoon traffic to JFK airport is always fun. Which direction should we go? Is there a Mets game? Is there traffic on the Van Wyck Expressway (there’s always traffic on the Van Wyck – hence the nickname van stuck)? I get to the airport, check in, go through security, head to the gate.
Sunday 6:55 PM – Board flight for 6 hour flight to London. Of course, I can’t sleep. I watch the movie ‘Hugo’ hoping it will make me tired. It doesn’t. I finally fall asleep 1 hour before we land. I get off the plane a little groggy. But I’m in England.
Monday 6 AM – Head to UK Customs and Border Security. I don’t know what it is about Heathrow – but I can never get through customs in under an hour. Today it was 1-1/2 hours. Standing in line next to people who haven’t slept all night. But I’m in England.
Monday 7:30 AM – Taxi to hotel. I should have reconsidered taking a taxi. First of all, it’s far. Secondly, I hit morning rush hour traffic. Plus the taxi drivers insisted on talking to me the entire ride. He called me “guv’ner” a few times, which I thought was cute, so I let him talk. I have no idea what he was saying.
Monday 9:00 AM – Check in to my hotel. Somehow our travel service placed my reservation in my assistants’ name. So for 30 minutes, the woman behind the counter can’t find my reservation. Only when I produce my confirmation number and a few phone calls to someone did she ask the question “are you Laura?” Clearly, I’m not Laura – but she made my reservation. A few more phone calls, and I had a room. I go to my room. Unpack. Shower. Head down to the conference room.
Monday 11 AM to 11 PM – I’m in a conference room preparing for a meeting the next morning. I could be in any room in any hotel anywhere in the world. The only tip that I’m in England is that I need a converter for my plugs. The room in beige and a little smelly. The food is bland and beige, too. At some point during the day, I walked outside for about 5 minutes. ‘Look, a double decker bus – I must be in England.”
Monday 11 PM – I can’t sleep. The time change has me in it’s grasp. I know my alarm is going off at 6 AM. I manage to get 3 hours of sleep.
Tuesday 8 AM – Head down to breakfast with the team. We eat a light meal together before walking down to the conference room to set up for our meeting. We’ve been told we can begin setting up at 9 AM for a meeting that will begin at 10:00. We walk in the room at 9:30 – after standing outside the room for about 45 minutes.
Tuesday 10 AM – We begin our two-hour presentation. We finish and talk to our clients until we get kicked out of the room at 12:30 PM
Tuesday 1 PM – Debrief in the hotel café. We’re all exhausted. We talk for about an hour. We agree to meet for a walk at 3 PM.
Tuesday 3 PM – We decide to go on a little walk around downtown London. Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Oxford Road. We walk around for a little more than an hour. It’s raining. I don’t have an umbrella or an overcoat. My sports jacket doesn’t keep me warm enough. Luckily I have a scarf. But, hey, I’m in England.
Tuesday 7 P M – I have dinner with two co-worker. We actually can relax for a few minutes – with the exception that it’s only 2 PM in NYC – which means I’m still working and responding to e-mails from the office.
Tuesday 11 PM – I have to leave for the airport at 5 AM, so I try to fall asleep. I can’t. I’m still awake. Plus, in New York is the BIG advertising award show. We’re nominated for 5 awards. I’m hoping we do well. Sometime around 1 AM, I fall asleep.
Wednesday 2:21 AM – My phone is buzzing like crazy. Every 20 seconds, another text message or e-mail. I’m thinking, “Something good just happened at the award show,” so I decide to look at my phone. Yes, something good happened – we won ‘Most Creative Agency” for the third year in a row!!! I can’t believe it. I’m excited and can’t sleep now. I start e-mailing people at the award show. I decide to stay up for the rest of the night. We win 3 awards.
Wednesday 5 AM – Leave the hotel for the airport. Check in, go through security, go to the gate, get on a flight to Hamburg, Germany. This part of my day was very easy.
Wednesday 9 AM – Arrive in Frankfurt, buy train ticket, walk 20 minutes to the train platform. But a bottle of water and something to eat for breakfast. I eat while I’m walking, because I’m afraid I’m going to miss the train to Mannheim.
Wednesday 11 AM – Arrive at the hotel. It’s not that nice. But it’s clean. I get a room. I check in the room. Of course, I’ve checked into the wrong room. (See recent blog entry for that story)
Wednesday 1 PM – 10 PM – Prepare for meeting in the hotel conference room. Eat really bad food. Drink lots of coffee. The room is cold, damp and musty smelling. We rewrite the presentation. We double-check everything. Leave the room to go to sleep.
Thursday 2 AM – I finally stop answering work e-mail
Thursday 7 AM – Breakfast with the team before we present at 10 AM.
Thursday 10 AM – 3-hour presentation. It goes really well, so we’re feeling pretty good. Dash for the train station.
Thursday 2:20 PM – Jump on a train from Mannheim, Germany back to the Frankfurt airport. I fall asleep on the train and almost miss my stop. Jump off the train with about 30 seconds to spare.
Thursday 3 PM – Check in at the airport, have 2 hours until my flight. Make a few phone calls, answer a few e-mails. I’ve seen absolutely nothing of Germany.
Thursday 5 PM – Board flight. Exhausted. But now I don’t want to fall asleep, because I want to be tired when I get home. Get in my seat. Watch 3 movies. Arrive in New York, JFK airport.
Thursday 6 PM – After my 7 hour flight and 6 hour time change, I arrive at US Customs and Border Crossing. The line is really, really long. Two hours long. I’m tired. I’m cranky. I can’t wait to get home.
Thursday 8:30 PM – Arrive home. Hugs and kisses all around.
I flew to 2 different countries; saw the inside of 4 different conference rooms. 8 different taxis, 3 planes, 1 train, made 2 presentations, and slept a total of about 12 hours in 4 days. Business travel is important, it’s critical to business, but it’s certainly not all fun and games.
I had a very unusual thing happen to me last week. And in a way, I really can’t believe it happened.
Let me start at the beginning.
Last week, I was in Mannheim, Germany for a business meeting. Mannheim is a pleasant little town about a 40 minute train ride south of Frankfurt. I stayed in a fine hotel where the meeting was being held. I checked into the hotel around noon. They handed me a key and on the keycard envelope was written the room number — room 527.
I took the elevator up to the 5th floor, walked down the hall, put the keycard into the door, the door opened, and I found a small but clean room with a bed, chair and desk. The very basic business hotel room.
I took the next few minutes to unpack, charge my electronic devices and have a quick shower.
Exactly as expected. Nothing unusual.
After I got cleaned up, I got dressed and went downstairs into one of the conference rooms for an all day meeting. At around 8 PM, I headed up to my room to get something I needed – and I found my keycard wouldn’t work in my door. I tried again. It still wouldn’t work. Convinced I could make it work, I tried a third time, still no luck. Just as I was about to head down to the front desk, a woman walked out of my room. She was clearly surprised I was standing there – just as I was surprised that someone was coming out of my room.
Luckily, she worked for the hotel. In her broken english and my high school german, here’s what we discovered. I was given a key for room 527. Somehow, I used that key and walked into room 528. I didn’t even notice that I had entered the wrong room. Probably I didn’t notice because my key worked in the door. Later in the day, they gave a key to someone else for room 528 – and they went up to the room and announced that someone’s stuff was all over the room.
The hotel spent the entire day trying to figure our who was the mystery person in room 527. Since I was in the conference room all day, I never picked up the message or never went back to my room. I have no idea how long the hotel employee was camped out inside my room. I don’t think for very long.
But it got me thinking – how did that happen? How did my room key work in more than one door? Do all hotel keys work in multiple doors and we don’t know – because as honest people we only try our own door?
And what would have happened if the real owner of room 528 entered to find me fast asleep in their bed? Or I walked in on them showering or getting dresses?
I’ve checked into hundreds of hotels during my career, and I don’t think anything like that has ever happened to me before. But I know it will definitely do one thing differently next time I enter a hotel room. I will 100% chain the door behind me.
Because you never know who may have a key that fits into your door.