John Shalam, Founder, Voxx and Gary Shapiro, CEO of CES
I went to a CES event tonight at the Metropolitan Pavilion on 18th Street. This is a preview event for the annual CES held every January in Vegas. It was good to see that writers in their 50s and 60s were still very much in attendance. Most have been in the consumer electronics business for three decades. Over the years, many of these folks have accumulated lots of gadgets because they had to bench test them or write features on them.
One of the topics a few of us talked about tonight was what we were going to do with all the devices. Some had closets and bathtubs filled with them. Being the age we are, many claimed they wanted to dispose of their inventories so they could downsize. One guy who recently moved to Arizona from New Jersey said, “One of the toughest things about my move was getting rid of all the samples I’ve kept over the years.” Most of the products were out-of-date, but he couldn’t bear to part with them. He finally boxed them up and dropped them off at a nearby church. To this day he feels like he abandoned his children.
When I got home tonight, I read a story in the Boomers section of The New York Times about a similar topic: getting rid of sex paraphernalia before your children find these embarrassing items when you are no longer around.
I am going to let you read this study on your own. Be sure to catch the part about human sense of embarrassment after death. Ouch!
Jason Henriques with Steve Greenberg and Adam Sohmer.
Murray Slovak and Ken Sander
Peter Lesser .
I can’t remember if I found this cartoon on Facebook or someone sent it to me in an email. Either way, it applies to many of us.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I attended a tech convention last week where I met up with a number of tech journalists when I was stationed at my client’s exhibit, Westinghouse TV’s. I thought it might be fun for you to see the faces of some of the people whose stories you read all the time.
John R. Quain, New York Times, chatting with Rey Roque, Senior VP, Westinghouse
Roy Furchgott, New York Times
Dennis Wunderlin, The Giz Wiz, and Dick De Bartolo, Mad Magazine
Tobey Grumet, Details Magazine and iVillage
Jim Willcox (on left), Consumer Reports
Gary Shapiro (right), CEO of the Consumer Electronics Show
Barry Myers of gdgt (right)
Steve Smith, TWICE Magazine
One of the greatest things about being in the tech industry for so many years is that I get to meet hundreds, maybe thousands, of people who have a dream of building or creating something. I can probably tell within minutes of meeting that person if he or she is going to be successful.
Scary isn’t it? Not really. Most of the time the person’s success really depends on his or her personality. There are certain ingredients that an inspiring entrepreneur must have in order to be successful. Sadly, most people just don’t have what it takes. I know a lot of seniors live vicariously through some of the young folks today who created something out of nothing and sold it for a billion dollars, like Instagram, or now have their companies valued at a $100 billion, like Facebook. I have to tell my generation that 99.9 per cent of the young people in the digital world today are not capable of inventing something and turning it into gold.
My advice is to hold on to your money. I am not trying to be mean or negative. I just want to be the conveyor of reality. Most angel investors are prepared to lose their money. They deal with percentages. If one out of 10 deals work, they have made back their losses and if they are really lucky they made a sizeable profit. Investing in social marketing or smartphone apps is an art. The average person doesn’t know what questions to ask or how to evaluate the business plan. A word to grandparents. If you finance a grandchild’s dream, consider it a gift. You most likely will never see a return.
Everyone thinks they are Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs but the truth is unless today’s tech entrepreneur is obsessed with his or her work, compulsive, controlling, fearless, articulate and a problem solver, they will fail sooner or later. I even dare to say that unless today’s entrepreneurs are willing to give up quality time with their families, they are dead ducks. That is just what it takes to make it in the age of the Internet where one week is like one day, one day is like an hour and one hour is like one minute. Internet time is much different than what the rest of the world is used to. Everything is instant response and instant gratification.
I have witnessed so many people with tons of ideas that went nowhere fast. They just didn’t know how to execute. They were either so in love with their concept that they thought it would just take off, or they liked the idea of creating something but really had no interest in exerting enough sweat to see it to fruition. I can remember so many times, when I truly got excited about handling the public relations for a new invention or service only to have the creator flame out. Many of these guys are screw ups and can’t handle success so they unconsciously do something that causes their downfall.
My next blog post will be about some of the characters I’ve come across over the years. Get ready for a good laugh. You can’t make this stuff up.
One of the first things I want to write about is the desire I have to stay relevant in the work force. I don’t know where this ambition comes from. I have my suspicions but it is too early in this series of blog posts to discuss that. I was never a good student unless I had an excellent teacher who inspired me.
The workplace was a whole different story. I was 18 when I got a job as a copy girl (messenger) at WWD in Greenwich Village on September 9, 1966. The minute I entered that copy room I felt a rush of excitement that has stayed with me for 45 years. Being a part of a content engine that produces editorial has been totally exhilarating. Without it, I am not sure what would happen to me.
I have had friends who felt the same as I do about their fields of work. Months after they retired or got fired, they got debilitating or terminal illnesses. Some say I am exaggerating. Maybe those folks love their retirement so that they don’t understand those of us who identify ourselves by our work. That may be a sad statement to some but not to those who love the rewards of their careers.