Boy, would I love to be a fly on the wall in…

June 29, 2007          Comments (0)

Denny Strigl’s office today. He’s the COO at Verizon quoted with pride about turning down the iPhone deal.

Nice work, Denny.

Actually, Denny isn’t so stoopid.

No one likes to challenge the status quo. It’s too much of a disruption. It’s too risky.

But, In 2007, being safe is risky. Preserving the status quo is risky.



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My mom and the best article anyone could ever hope for…

June 27, 2007          Comments (6)

They say we are a sum of all of our past experiences. I agree but I also believe we are a cumulative sum of the people we spend the most time with.

My beautiful mom is a former English teacher. She taught for many years and found teaching to be very rewarding and meaningful.

We are all who we are today because of experiences/events that have happened to us in the past. The following has had a big impact on my life.

Here it goes.

I remember in 5th grade my mom getting a phone call from one of her former students while we were sitting at the kitchen table eating dinner.

I heard my mom say, “It’s so great to hear from you, etc., etc.,” and then all of the sudden she screamed, “Terry!!! Yessss! I remember exactly who you are! How are youuu???”

45 minutes later my mom came back to the table smiling ear to ear saying you won’t believe who just called me.

It was a former student, who at the time, was one of the writers for the Cosby Murder Series. He said he was having a conversation with someone about how he got into writing and the person asked who inspired him to pursue his passion.

He thought about it and told the person it was my mother.

The person insisted he get in touch with my mother and thank her.

Most people would stop there. But Terry actually called his old high school and managed to get our phone number. (You just read about that above.)

Since that phone call my mom and Terry have developed a real friendship.

Terry has made my mom’s life complete. Every time we talk about Terry (and he certainly gives us a lot to talk about) she’s smiling ear to ear.

Terry went out of his way to thank my mom for inspiring him to pursue his passion.

There are few things more rewarding in life than helping other people realize their dreams.

Some of the amazing things Terry has done for my mom (and me) are:

-In 5th grade he called my mom and told us to watch a certain episode of the Cosby Murder show. Well, Lainey Gilbert was a main character in that episode.

-My mom retired a few years ago and Terry not only attended her retirement party but gave one of the most heartfelt and sincere speeches ANYONE could EVER hope for.

-Terry was one of the executive producers and writers for a little show called the Sopranos and invited us all to visit the set. (Click here to check that visit out.)

And now this article! (According to Terry, my mom is the one who inspired him to relentlessly go after his dreams

Update: Terry doesn’t stop. He is the series creator of Boardwalk Empire on HBO. We were invited to the set of this amazing show as well. The set is absolutely incredible! (One of these days, I’ll post the pictures.)

Update #2: NY Daily News. Terry mentions my mom in this article for the Daily News on 4/24/12 — a day before her birthday. Coincidence? I think not.

People ask me why I love helping, inspiring and impacting people so much. Well, this is one of the biggest reasons. I’m a teacher at heart. It’s in my blood. My mom was a teacher, along with my aunt and grandma.

Terry, once again, thank you for my making my mom’s life complete, and for helping me to figure out what I want to do!

You have no idea the amount of joy you bring to her (and all of us!). My only hope is that I can do the same with my clients…and I think I’m getting there.

The end. (Cut to black.)



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Resentment and the iPhone…

June 21, 2007          Comments (0)

The iPhone is generating some amazing buzz. The big day is June 29th…

I believe Apple is on the verge of another grand slam. Industry experts are all over the place with this thing though.

Steve Ballmer (Microsoft) says, “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.”

My prediction: In 2007, Apple will sell 1.5 million phones. And even more in 2008.

I want this phone. Badly.

But wait. Good ol’ Verizon has me [insert Akon’s “Locked up”…they won’t let me out] for another year.

Check this: I read a story about a company’s CEO who was very adamant on being completely honest with his clients and employees. He wanted the best for them.

When potential clients came to him and he didn’t think he could help them meet their objectives he’d tell them. When he came across remarkable jobs with challenges, compensation and benefits he couldn’t offer he’d tell his employees about it.

Wow! Imagine that.

Your boss telling you about a job he thinks you’d be interested in while turning away potential business.

If your boss is that honest and sincere you wouldn’t want to leave.

If Verizon actually cared about their customers instead of acting like a monopoly then they wouldn’t have countless people ranting about their awful service.

Now, if Verizon really cared about their clients and really believed they had “America’s most reliable coverage” they should (and would) let their customers go and try Cingular and be confident that they will come back.

I want this iPhone and Verizon is holding me back.

I resent you Verizon. I really do.

Once again, can you hear me now?



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Be the best…or quit!

June 18, 2007          Comments (6)

Several weeks ago I had the awesome fortune of meeting Seth Godin, one of the most brilliant business thinkers in the world. He was speaking about his new book, the Dip.

The Dip is any rough patch you have to get through before achieving your big goal…if in fact you’re chasing the right goal.

Every new project (or job, or hobby, or company) starts out exciting and fun. Then it gets harder and less fun, until it hits a low point that’s really hard and not much fun at all.

And then you find yourself asking if the goal is even worth the hassle. Most people, don’t think the goal is worth it, causing there to be a major superstar shortage.

Unless you have a chance to become the best in the world at your particular craft you need to regroup and focus your efforts elsewhere.

Anyone who is going to hire you, buy from you, recommend you, vote for you, or do what you want them to do is going to wonder if you’re the best choice.

Best as in: best for them, right now, based on what they believe and know. And in the world: as in their world, the world they have access to.

For example, if you live in Syosset and want the best pizza in the world you might choose La Piazza. Or you might choose Mario’s. But, Mario’s or La Piazza doesn’t get to decide if they are the best in the world…we, the consumer do.

If you can get through the Dip to become the best in the ‘world’ and can keep going when the system is expecting you to stop, you will achieve extraordinary results and become a superstar.

But most people won’t push through the dip.

Every time Men’s Health or Cosmopolitan puts a picture of a guy or girl with an insane body, newsstand sales go up. Why?

Well, if everyone had an insane body, it’s unlikely that guys or girls would buy a magazine that teaches them how to get that physique.

The very scarcity of this attribute makes it attractive. Scarcity is what creates value.

95% of the people in this world quit when the going gets tough. But superstars shine when the going gets tough. They lean into the dip.

They realize that if there is no pain…there is no gain.

Maybe you’re in a Dip – a temporary setback that you will overcome if you keep pushing. But maybe it’s really a dead end, which will never get better, no matter how hard you try.

Microsoft’s Zune is a dead end. They have spent over $200 million dollars promoting that thing.

Does anyone have one?

You need to choose the right Dip to get through. What can you become the best in the world at?

Unless they reinvent the game like making a complete new MP3 player that does crazy things that the iPod is not remotely capable of doing they have no chance of gaining ANY market share.

Microsoft word and excel will be around forever. Who does Google think they are trying to compete with Microsoft?

Losers, on the other hand, fall into two basic traps. Either they fail to stick out the Dip – they get to the moment of truth and then give up – or they never even find the right Dip to conquer.

Google is Google because they aren’t competing with Microsoft.

They are reinventing the game. MS word and excel are PC based. Google’s version of word and excel are web based.
They changed the platform. They know they could never compete with Microsoft if they sold software.

MyBodyTutor has no shot of competing with Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers or any of the other big online or offline companies. My belief is that we all need that extra push…on a daily basis.

FYI: Nine percent of all USA Today bestsellers are diet books. Yet today the New England Journal of Medicine reports that one year after going on a diet, on average, people weigh more than when they started because they don’t have a trusted support system.

Anyone can give you a diet.

It’s what you do with it that counts. It’s the ability to get through the Dips that make you a successful dieter.
MBT makes it almost impossible for you to do the things you don’t want to do and very easy (and fun) to do the things you really want to do.

MBT is reinventing the game. No company on Earth offers as much daily and personal accountability as we do. MBT helps people get through their Dips on a daily basis by providing the accountability, knowledge, inspiration and the personal, trusted support system we all need without embarrassing and annoying weekly meetings.

I truly believe my company has a chance to become the #1 health and fitness company in the entire world. In fact, I won’t stop until it is because I know I have the best program in the entire world (But, that’s not for me to decide…that’s for the consumer to decide.).

So, I’m going to leave you with this:

What can you become the best in the world at?

Are you stuck in a dead end job that you hate?

Are you running a company that’s just another me-too company?

Are you bored as hell at work?

Don’t you think it’s time to quit and go after something that you truly love doing. Something you have a chance to excel in?

Average is so boring. Average is for losers.



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What really happened at the end of the Sopranos?

June 12, 2007          Comments (6)

The anatomy of a buzz…This is exactly why HBO is HBO. If you give people a reason to talk then they will talk!

I can’t (and everyone I know) can’t stop talking about the finale last night.

I believe Tony was killed.

In fact, the ending was genius if you’ve paid attention to the show.

Here’s why:

In the last scene there were 3 people in the restaurant who had a reason to kill Tony.

In one of the earlier seasons two black guys were paid to kill Tony. Obviously they didn’t succeed and he was only shot in the ear. These two guys were in the restaurant.

Also, in an earlier season we met Nikki Leotardo. Well, the trucker who was sitting at the barstool (the camera kept focusing on him) is Nikki Leotardo, Phil Leotardo’s nephew.

In one of the early seasons Phil, Nikki and Tony have a sit down.

Here is where the genius comes in.

When Tony is walking in the diner (you see the camera focus on him) then it switches to his perspective and you see him looking at the booth he is going to sit at.

Then the camera switches back to Tony’s face. Then it once again switches to his perspective and it shows him looking at the door and him looking and the people coming in.

Every time the door opens the chimes sound.

Carmela walks in…chimes sound.

AJ walks in…chimes sound.

While Meadow is attempting to parallel park the camera switches back to the trucker who goes in the bathroom.

Then it skips to a scene where Meadow finally parks and starts running in the diner.

The door is about to open and Tony looks up…

and No Chimes…

No Music…

Everything just goes black.

In one of the early episodes of the Sopranos Tony is talking with Bobby about what it must feel like to die.

Bobby says, “At the end, you probably don’t hear anything, everything just
goes black.”

That scene was revisited in the second to last episode during the last seconds when Tony is about to go to sleep and he flashes back to the memory of him and Bobby on the boat…”You probably don’t hear anything everything just goes black.”

So in the last few seconds of the show (while the Journey song was playing) the chimes on the door sounded but when Meadow came in, the guy in the trucker hat came out of the bathroom and killed Tony.

The reason you don’t hear anything when he died was because it was from his perspective and everything went black and then the credits rolled.

Actually, I have no idea if I’m right. I believe David Chase wanted to leave it up to us to interpret how life goes on (or not) for Tony and his family.

I’m going to ask Terence Winter, one of the writers and executive producers of the Sopranos, and ask him for his opinion and I’ll update this post with his answer. And if you haven’t read my interview with Terry please check it out. It’s very cool.

UPDATED 11:58PM TUESDAY NIGHT:

Hey Adam:

Unfortunately David Chase has specifically requested that none of us discuss the finale; he’d rather let the show speak for itself. What follows, however, is an article by Alan Sepinwall from the New Jersey Star Ledger in which he interviews David. As always, it was great seeing your mom – talk to you soon.

-Terry

Who knew that the music of Journey could be used so ironically? At the end of an otherwise satisfying “Sopranos” series finale, creator David Chase threw one final curveball at his audience. In his first episode as both writer and director since the series pilot, Chase sent Tony to a family dinner at Holsten’s ice cream parlor in Bloomfield. Many previous seasons had ended on a Soprano family tableau — A.J. even quoted something Tony said at Vesuvio back in the season one finale — but this one was edited to seem far more ominous.

As the sounds of Steve Perry wailing on “Don’t Stop Believing” filled the soundtrack, Tony kept eyeing the door and the other patrons as first Carmela, then A.J. arrived, while we spent an interminable amount of time watching Meadow double park. The camera kept focusing on a shady-looking character at the bar with more than a passing resemblance to the late Eugene Pontecorvo (down to the Member’s Only jacket) who was studying Tony, but then his advance on Tony turned out to be a trip to the men’s room. Meadow finally
parked, dashed towards Holsten’s, the camera cut back to Tony in close-up looking at something, Perry sang the words “Don’t stop,” and…

… nothing. No hint of whether Tony was looking at Meadow or something else entirely (perhaps the feds coming to arrest him after Carlo Gervasi apparently flipped), no music of any kind, just a fast cut to black and then the closing credits playing out in complete silence.

Whether you were waiting for one of the more popular predicted endings — Tony in Witness Protection, Tony killed by Phil’s guys, Furio and/or the Russian coming back for revenge, what have you — or just for (ITAL)an ending(ITAL), period, chances are that cut to black had you pulling a William Shatner in “Wrath of Khan,” pointing your face at the heavens and bellowing,”CHAAAAASE!!!!!!”

And yet the finale, both the first 55 minutes of it and that sadistic last scene, fit perfectly with everything Chase has done on this show before.

Did we get the violent fireworks of last week? Absolutely not, as the only deaths of the hour were Phil Leotardo (gunned down at a gas station, then, in a gruesome indignity, his skull crushed post-mortem by his rolling car) and A.J.’s SUV (which caught fire while idling near a pile of leaves). But that’s been the pattern of every season: the major action goes in the penultimate episode, while the finale is saved for quiet reflection and the odd whacking or two.

So Tony and Butchie DeConcini negotiated a peace treaty — with the tacit understanding that Tony’s guys could eliminate the out-of-control Phil — a third of the way through the episode, and the bulk of the hour focused on Tony’s lower-case family.

Janice faced life without Bacala (and a lifetime of torment for Bobby’s kids), and once again invoked the name and memory of Livia Soprano, going about in pity for herself. Janice and Tony each visited Junior in the run-down state facility he was banished to when his cash ran out, but Corrado didn’t recognize them.

Meadow planned her wedding to Patrick Parisi and badly wounded Tony (without realizing it) by telling him that she decided to quit med school and become a lawyer because of her relationship to him.

And in the episode’s centerpiece — and the origin of its title, “Made in America” — A.J. continued his political awakening, only to have Tony and Carmela seduce him back into the same comfortably numb existence he used to have.

When some of the guests at Bacala’s wake started discussing “American Idol” and “Dreamgirls,” A.J. harangued them for focusing on entertainment fluff.

“The world. Don’t you see it?” he complained, then later said, “It’s like America. This is still where people come to make it. It’s a beautiful idea. And then what do they get? Bling and come-ons for (stuff) they don’t need and can’t afford?” He talked of enlisting in the Army, though he wavered on whether it was to make the world a better place or just to get a job as Donald Trump’s personal chopper pilot.

Yet by episode’s end, A.J. had abandoned his newfound morality in favor of a shiny BMW, a job as the “development executive” for Little Carmine’s movie company and his parents’ promise of his own nightclub to follow.

From the start, Chase has used “The Sopranos” as an indictment of modern American values and how, time after time, we all sacrifice principle in favor of self-interest. Maybe A.J. had achieved enlightenment or maybe not. But Tony and Carmela couldn’t have their little boy risking his own life in the military (they
wanted him to get the discipline without the risk), so they anesthetized him back into the materialistic lifestyle they understand so well. This is what America makes today, Chase seemed to be saying: permissive, selfish parents and kids who mimic them.

Back to that final scene. Without it, we have a completely reasonable finale, one that provides closure on enough plot threads (the war with New York ends, Paulie is promoted to the captaincy of the Family’s lucrative construction business, A.J. finds new direction, etc.) that the few left open (notably whether Carlo flipped and what the means, legally, for Tony) don’t particularly
sting. It’s the “life goes on” ending I’d been speculating on for months.

But then, but then, but then… then Chase has to do what he loves to do more than any other man in show business: completely mess with his viewers’ expectations (and their heads). I don’t consider it a cliffhanger, something to set up a movie, as I doubt there will ever be a movie (and if there is, it’ll be set in the past). He did it because he hates the conventions of TV series narrative in general, and putting a bow on things in particular.

That’s why the Russian never came back, why the Melfi rape plotline was dismissed with a single word (“No”), why none of the FBI’s previous rats ever amounted to anything, etc. He’s convinced the audience doesn’t need to be spoon-fed, to the point where he might go for a non-ending like this, something so jarring, so abrupt and so filled with misdirection (my guess is there was no danger at all, that Tony was simply watching Meadow’s entrance) that it might
come across like an insult to the audience who have stuck with the show through thick and thin.

Somehow, though, it feels like the perfect final note. Why wouldn’t a show that’s taken such pleasure in rewriting the rules of storytelling — from making a sociopathic thug its hero on down — go out in the least conventional way possible? It may be maddening, but it’s what David Chase does.

Some other thoughts on “Made in America”:

-A theory proposed by a reader of the NJ.com Sopranos blog using the handle Lorbnash: the nine episodes of this season have represented the nine circles of Hell from Dante’s “The Divine Comedy.” The fourth circle, for instance, is for the greedy and the miserly; the fourth episode was Tony and Hesh’s gambling showdown.

The seventh circle is where the suicides go; A.J. took his dip in the family pool in episode seven. The ninth circle is for the traitors, and Butchie implicitly betrayed Phil. (For added fun, reader Joe Adler pointed out the similarities between the Eugene Delacroix painting “The Barque of Dante” and the Annie Leibovitz promotional image on the season five DVD set. Google them both if you want your mind blown.)

-Lots of surrogates and callbacks throughout. Junior confuses Janice and Livia (and Janice and Nica). Tony uses A.J.’s shrink (a leggy, coolly professional woman in the Lorraine Bracco mode) as a Melfi stand-in. A.J. quotes Livia’s “Always with the drama,” and later Tony’s line from the season one finale. Paulie believes the cat from the safehouse has some supernatural connection to Christopher and also notes the bad history of the captains in charge of Jersey
construction (though he left out Jimmy “The Rat” Altieri).

-Another “Whatever happened to Gary Cooper?” moment: the tour bus drives through Little Italy while the guide explains how the thriving neighborhood is now essentially a single block of shops and cafes — so tiny that, when Butchie gets too wrapped up in a phone call to Phil, he wanders out of Little Italy altogether.

-Who knew Agent Harris had such a dark side? He’s conducting an affair with his counterpart at the Brooklyn field office, and he’s actively rooting for Tony to take out Phil.

Thanks Terry!

P.S. If you have friends and love the Sopranos you’ll love Terry’s new movie, Brooklyn Rules, starring Jerry Ferrara (Entourage), Alec Baldwin, Scott Caan, Mena Suvari and Freddie Prinze Jr.

I saw it opening night and it was absolutely awesome!



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Lil’ interview…

June 8, 2007          Comments (0)

My friend Rohail Rizvi interviewed me for his blog. I especially liked the question about what makes me get out of bed every morning and what my inspiration is for getting into business.

Check it out here.

Thanks Rohail!



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What does a tuna sandwich have to do with an umbrella?

June 4, 2007          Comments (1)

As yesterday was torrentially pouring, I learned a valuable business lesson.

In today’s hyper cluttered, super busy world we all are extremely loyal to brands.

Or are we?

Some people wouldn’t switch for anything, no matter how cool, expensive and exclusive it may be. Others are always looking for a bargain and don’t really care what the tag or label says. And some are constantly in search for the next best thing. These early adopters become the trend setters.

We are in such a low trust world, no one believes anything anymore!

There are more scams, more emails from Africa claiming that I’m going to be a millionaire and not enough time to sort through all the clutter.

People practice professional skepticism. (Oh my God, that reminds me of my former career. Excuse me. Sorry. I just threw up in my mouth.)

I enjoy going to the gym in the afternoon and then once in a while getting a whole wheat bagel with Dirty sour cream and onion potato chips and a couple of free pickles from my local deli.

I used to actually get tuna on the bagel but then I realized that I make tuna better than my deli. The key is to really mash it down so it’s very fine. Then, I cut up celery so small it literally won’t come off the knife. Next, I take a carrot and peel off a few slices so they are razor thin. I make sure to cut the slices up into micro pieces.

The crunch from the celery and carrots is so subtle yet so amazing. Add some mayo and we have a party.

It’ll make you part your eye brows with your tongue!

Finally, I let it cool in the fridge for 30 minutes because I can’t eat warm tuna.

I digress!

I don’t have an umbrella. I seem to keep losing them or they keep disappearing. So, all I wanted to do yesterday was run quickly to my deli and spend my $2.00 on my bagel and chips.

I didn’t want to get drenched though. So, I decided I’d ask the parking garage guy if I could borrow his (very visible) umbrella.

“Hola Amigo!!! May I borrow your umbrella? I’m literally going 300 yards to the deli. I just don’t want to get soaked.”

“Ohh no my friend. This isn’t mine.”

“Well whose is it? I just want to borrow it for 2 minutes. I live in this building.”

“I wish I could. I can’t. It’s not mine.”

“Really. That’s strange whose is it?”

“Some guy who just parked his car. He had to run down the street quickly. He’ll be right back.”

“Aww really. Just for 2 minutes man? C’mon. I promise. I’m not going to take your umbrella. What guy is going to run down the street without his umbrella right now? It’s pouring!”

“Ahhh amigo you got me. Okay, okay. For only two minutes though?”

“Yes. I swear. I’ll be right back!”

And this was all to get an umbrella! And he knew where I lived. But in his defense, he didn’t know me from a hole in the wall.

Wait a second. Isn’t that how business works?

Could you get a perfect stranger to lend you there umbrella?

Well, that’s exactly what I do every day for a living. And so does anyone else with a business.

How can you make your product or service as risk free as possible for strangers to give you a chance?

3 things you should do.

1. Stop marketing your product/service right now if you don’t believe in it 1000%. People sense sincerity (or lack of) very quickly.

2. Offer a money back guarantee. If you really believe in what you are doing then you shouldn’t have to think twice about offering a money back guarantee.

3. Include testimonials. People like to see that other people are using (and loving) your product/service. And don’t be afraid to include testimonials that are less than stellar. The more real and honest you are the better. (Note: In my type of business a lot of people are hesitant to include their full name, etc. If that’s the case, be prepared to hand over a list with your clients contact information – of course, you must ask your clients for permission to do this but if you can, that’s impressive!)

So, here’s my question to you. How can you umbrellerize your business?

Boy is my tuna good!



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Observation: Do you fuckin’ do this?

June 1, 2007          Comments (1)

I was running (literally) really late to a meeting this morning and as I was running I kept looking at my watch. Every 5 seconds I looked at my watch and kept saying, “Shit! Shit! Shit! I can’t believe I’m going to be late!”

I was doing this the entire time I was running to my meeting. Somehow, I guess, by looking at my watch and cursing, I believe, I’ll get there quicker.

I’ve noticed I do this all the time when I’m running late. I spend more time looking at my watch then at the task at hand…getting the fuck to where I have to be!

Everyone does this, though.

Ever have to be some where but you are really late and you’re driving as fast as you can while looking at the clock every 2 seconds?

Who hasn’t?

Well, you certainly aren’t listening to Goumba Johnny or Funk Master Flex all relaxed.

Most likely, you’re banging on the steering wheel screaming, “Get the fuck out of the way! Let’s GOOO!!! Moveee!!! Please Move. Shit. I can’t believe I’m late. I’m dead!”

On a side note, I’m reading a Tom Peters book and he talks about how it’s hard for him to trust someone who never ever curses. He wants to see emotion in a business partner. Realness. Soul. Passion. There’s nothing wrong with getting excited! (Obviously, if you don’t ever curse then don’t curse but the moral is BE YOU! There is nothing wrong with expressing your excitement!!!)

For example, what’s going on with MyBodyTutor and my clients is FUCKING THRILLING!

This post is a bit edgy and I apologize if I offended anyone.

And if you didn’t like it, well, too fuckin’ bad!



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