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Getting to the Point | The Exkalibur Newsletter | August 25 2017

The Total Eclipse was the big national story this week, and I am excited to share a spectacular photo taken by one of our Exkalibur Team members. You don’t want to miss this gorgeous picture.

In our business segments, read Why You Should Care About Transparency? | 5 Tips to Get You Started to understand the advantages of creating a more transparent organization and how to jumpstart that process. You’ll also learn about our upcoming Leadership course from Exkalibur University, R.E.S.P.E.C.T. – 7 Remarkably Simple Steps to Earn Respect. Early next week, you’ll begin to receive specific details about this course. In our Business Brief, you also find a fascinating article about The Secret Economic Lives of Animals, whether CEOs should get on their soap boxes about social issues and some insights on the baffling story about a revolutionary technology called blockchains.

Visit Under the Apple Tree to get the latest skinny on the major upgrade just around the corner in iOS 11 for your IOS devices (iPhone or iPad). When you go Around the Web, you’ll be disappointed to learn that the long line you see snaking around a new restaurant might not be real, how big dreams become really big, how positive thinking might not be the best approach and the story of counterfeiting as a $400 billion industry in China. Don’t miss the latest on Internet shaming so you and your children remain mindful of how dangerous and disruptive these practices can become.

On a lighter note, there’s some great kids’ humor up in here … and some adult humor, with valuable and clear instructions, you don’t want to miss. There’s also some stunning numbers about money in sports, a nut-job of a movie, a maybe crazier TV series I just started and the latest novel, introducing a new heroine, from the talented pen of Michael Connelly.

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Internet Shaming is Over The Top!

You need to watch this CBS report, Internet shaming: When mob justice goes virtual, to see how Internet shaming is out of control and the damage it can do to innocent people.

Along these lines, The NY Times last week featured an article about Mitt Romney’s Facebook response to the President’s comments regarding the Charlottesville, VA protests.

So, I decided to visit Mitt Romney’s Facebook page to see the details.

Whoa, baby, did that create a firestorm! To get a sense of scale, Romney’s Facebook page has over 10 million followers, and for this post, 129,000 Likes (or hates or any of the other current Facebook options), with over 40,000 shares and 66,000 comments of this post.

The diversity of responses is mind-blowing. They cover the waterfront from “Romney’s an idiot”, “Trump’s an idiot”, both are racists, both are losers … and every possible variety of love, hate, passion, distaste and revilement you can conjure.

What’s so fascinating, revealing … and sad … about our national character is how there can be such radically different responses to one single statement.

It makes you feel pretty hopeless about ever bringing everyone together.

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A Spectacular Picture of the Eclipse: Tennessee Totality

One of the many talented members of the Exkalibur Team, Caitlin Bumpus, was instrumental in capturing a spectacular picture of the totality of the eclipse high above the Nashville, TN skyline.

What a spectacular day in Music City!

You can purchase a print of this beautiful picture in several finishes (Lustre, Metallic, Canvas and limited edition Gallery Prints) and in a wide range of sizes: 10×5,14×7, 20×10 and 30×15. The prints use Kodak Professional Supra Endura VC Digital Paper.

The Limited Edition Gallery Prints are signed and numbered in a series of 100. They’re printed using archival inks on museum quality 100% acid free, cotton rag paper with a bright white surface for excellent color reproduction.

The Canvas Prints are printed directly onto canvas using Epson archival large-format inkjet printers.

Congratulations to Caitlin and her partner, Richard Sparkman, on creating such a spectacular view of the Eclipse.

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Why You Should Care About Transparency? | 5 Tips to Get You Started

Want to know how to raise the level of Transparency in your organization?

When I began my business career in the 1970s, the word “transparency” was not in the business lexicon.

You knew what you were told … and you were told what someone thought you needed to know … but it was unlikely that you’d hear much about where the company was going or your role in it.

That’s all changed, overwhelmingly for the better. Today, if you want engaged employees committed to your common mission, you need to raise the level of Transparency across your organization.

You don’t have to put it all out there, but if you want to raise the level of transparency in your company, here are 5 Tips to Get You Started.

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Your Next Step to Becoming a More Effective Leader

I’m excited to announce the first course in the Leadership Development curriculum being launched at Exkalibur University.

On September 18, we will begin our first Leadership course, R.E.S.P.E.C.T. – 7 Remarkably Simple Steps to Earn Respect. It’s designed to help you accelerate your Leadership Journey based on this indisputable premise:

“To Become a More Effective Leader you must first Become a Respected Leader.”

The course will include a series of emails over a two-week period. Along the way, we will hold THREE LIVE Office Hours sessions where we will dive deeper into some of the subjects you will read about, with a Q&A period each time to answer all of your questions. You can also expect a few special bonuses along the way to supplement the course materials.

Next week, we will share additional details with you, so keep your eye on your inbox for further information. If you’re already an Exkalibur Subscriber, you’ll receive a super special discount to make it easy for you and your team to enroll in our new Leadership Series and advance your professional development.

I hope we’ll have a chance to talk together in class.

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The Animal Kingdom as a Chamber of Commerce

In The Secret Economic Lives of Animals, there’s a fascinating series of studies pointing to the entrepreneurial spirit of animals … and some interesting questions posed:

“Why do animals not always kill each other? Why is aggression limited?”

“How could two animals work together when Darwin’s theory of evolution taught about survival of the fittest? Shouldn’t natural selection always favor ruthless self-interest?”

Some of this may apply to us homo sapiens, too!


Should A CEO Get Up on His/Her Soap Box?

With all of the acrimony stimulated by the recent events in Charlottesville, VA, more attention has been focused on what employees expect from their leaders and the level of social influence they should demand.

In Millennials Really Want CEOs to Mount their Soap Boxes, Chief Executive tackles this issue, summarizing two recent studies about the rising expectations from CEOs:

“Evidence is mounting that millennial consumers and employees expect today’s business leaders to be willing to speak out on social issues. Yet, it might surprise many CEOs to find that it does them and their companies more harm than good to be vocal even on matters that seem divisive.”


Anyone Else Trying to Figure out What a Blockchain Is?

There’s a lot of hype these days about blockchains, but my guess is that few understand it … which is usually the first step toward disaster for investors.

Nonetheless, as I also struggle to understand this unique phenomenon, here are several articles attempting to describe it and some of the applications finding their way across many industries.

In 5 Ways Businesses Are Already Using Blockchains, there are some interesting applications of this “technology”, but for more of an understanding of the general framework, you could start with Why Big Business Is Racing to Build Blockchains.

“A blockchain is a kind of ledger, a table that businesses use to track credits and debits. But it’s not just any run-of-the-mill financial database. One of a blockchain’s distinguishing features is that it concatenates (or ”chains“) cryptographically verified transactions into sequences of lists (or ”blocks“). The system uses complex mathematical functions to arrive at a definitive record of who owns what, when. Properly applied, a blockchain can help assure data integrity, maintain auditable records, and even, in its latest iterations, render financial contracts into programmable software. It’s a ledger, but on the bleeding edge.”

Here’s a more cynical definition:

“Peter Smith, CEO of Blockchain, a London-based cryptocurrency wallet provider, half-jokingly defined blockchain as a ‘marketing term exploited by salespeople to ink deals.’”

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Want To See the New American Domino Record?

Yup. A science team set up 250,000 dominoes and in a time-lapse video of less than 3 minutes, you can it all happen.

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The Release of Apple’s iOS 11 Is Just Around the Corner

In Apple releases six new videos covering iOS 11 iPad features, you’ll get a preview of some of the great additions coming to iOS 11 this fall.

iPad and other iOS users are really looking forward to a new file management system, long awaited on iOS devices. You can count me among that number.

“The new videos cover: how to use the new Dock, manage files, be more efficient with multi-tasking, markup with Apple Pencil across different apps, scan, sign, and send documents, and how to use the new multi-touch gestures.

Check ’em out. All the videos are about a minute long. You’ll be excited to learn what’s on the way!

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Talk about a Circus … I mean Surkus!

Whenever you see a line around the block for a new restaurant, aren’t you tempted to check it out?

Me, too … but what if an app pays people to stand in line just so our mouths water? Kind of a bummer, as you’ll read in See the cool kids lined up outside that new restaurant? This app pays them to stand there:

“Surkus, an emerging app that allowed the restaurant to quickly manufacture its ideal crowd and pay the people to stand in place like extras on a movie set. They’ve even been hand-picked by a casting agent of sorts, an algorithmic one that selects each person according to age, location, style and Facebook ”likes.“”


Big Dreams for a Small Town

Here’s a feel-good story about how one person can make such a powerful difference.

You may have seen recent news reports about A small town dreams big … but you may have missed that the man responsible for all of the sculptures has provided them to his small town at no cost … solely to help bring his hometown back to life.


Does Positive Thinking Work … or Does It Sap Our Motivation?

In Don’t think too positive, Garbriele Oettingen, a professor of psychology at New York University and the University of Hamburg, wonders whether positive thinking helps us achieve our goals … OR, does it only make us …

“ … feel better in the short term, but over the long term it saps our motivation, preventing us from achieving our wishes and goals, and leaving us feeling frustrated, stymied and stuck?”


Got a Hole In Your Head? Might Be Good!

In How to deliver drugs to the brain? What about a permanent hole in the skull, drilled through a nostril?, a new technology gives you an opportunity to tell Mom, “yeah, that’s a good thing, huh?”. (May require login.)


Counterfeiting is a $400 Billion Industry in China

Yes, you read that right … in BILLIONS.

You’ll find this article, To Catch a Counterfeiter, very troubling as the curtain is pulled back on the widespread and enormously costly “business” of fake products.

I’m amazed to learn that there are car dealerships selling fake cars built by illegally copying legitimate auto body parts and cobbling them together?

Here are a few of the statistics reported in the article, which follows a certain Pinkerton detective around some of the black markets in China:

“… black-market counterfeiting [is] a scourge that costs the automobile industry an estimated $12 billion annually.”

“Fakes account for some 20 percent of all the name-brand products sold in China each year …”

There are real car dealerships selling knockoff cars and fake Apple Stores where the employees aren’t in on the scam.”

“ Microsoft generated $85 billion in revenue in 2016, but lost an estimated $10 billion in potential earnings to commercial piracy in China, where some 79 percent of all software is pirated.”

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Do You Know How to Properly Use Toilet Seat Covers?

I think you’ll be surprised to learn you don’t know how.

Now you do … with a few yucks tossed in.

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The Media Gets Things Wrong? Really?

Here is another prominent illustration of the errors so often made by members of the Fifth Estate. The Washington Post, one of the venerable members of the mainstream media, reports in New York Times guilty of large screw-up on climate-change story how the Times got a story so wrong.

As you know, you can’t always believe everything you read.

Too bad so few readers are discerning and accept everything they read as the gospel.

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Anybody Watching The Leftovers?

A long-time acquaintance of mine, Tim Goodman, who writes the TV column for the Hollywood Reporter, recently restarted his Power Rankings and ranked The Leftovers at the top.

I’ve watched the pilot … Connie left the room about midway … and I can’t say I really understand what’s going on, but it is an intriguing premise with so many mysteries that I’m going to hang in there for several more episodes to see if I can figure it out and buy into the premise.

Any watchers out there? Hit the Facebook icon below and let me know if you think I should keep watching … or bail?

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Horrible Bosses (2011)

Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of favorable comments about this nut job of a movie, but I never gave it a thought until I stumbled across it, recognized the name and got a chance to watch it. There must be something to it, as it grossed over $200 million.

A lot of funny and ridiculous scenes in Horrible Bosses, kinda like the keystone cops trying to kill someone.

The plot is simple: Three buddies have horrible bosses who they decide they need to kill as the only way to get rid of them.

A great cast with roles from a wide range of recognizable stars … Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Fox, Donald Sutherland … in addition to the lead characters played by Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day.

It’s worth a little laid back time. Some pretty funny moments as you realize these guys would give the Three Stooges a run for their money. (It turns out there’s a sequel I haven’t seen but, cleverly titled Horrible Bosses 2.)

AND … if I hadn’t looked it up … I would never had discovered the Golden Schmoe Awards!

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There’s Big Money in Sports? There’s a News Flash!

In Introducing The Forbes SportsMoney Index, The Definitive Money Ranking In Sports, you’ll get some of the highlights of the money surrounding the world of sports.

  • “The Dallas Cowboys, for example, are the world’s most valuable pro sports team, now worth $4.2 billion with a staggering $700 million in revenue last season.
  • “Cristiano Ronaldo is the world’s highest-paid athlete, taking home $88 million.
  • “Nike is the globe’s top sportswear brand, worth $28 billion and clocking $30 billion in annual revenues, and
  • “Creative Artists Agency beats all sports agencies, with a whopping $290 million in maximum commissions.”

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The Late Show by Michael Connelly (Rene Ballard #1)

For the first time following 20 books in the Harry Bosch series, Michael Connelly has developed a new character … introducing Renee Ballard, a fierce young detective fighting to prove herself on the LAPD’s toughest beat.

Here’s a quick description of The Late Show:

“Renee Ballard works the night shift in Hollywood–also known as the Late Show–beginning many investigations but finishing none, as each morning she turns everything over to the day shift. A once up-and-coming detective, she’s been given this beat as punishment after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor.

But one night she catches two assignments she doesn’t want to part with: the brutal beating of a prostitute left for dead in a parking lot and the killing of a young woman in a nightclub shooting. Ballard is determined not to give up at dawn. Against orders and her partner’s wishes, she works both cases by day while maintaining her shift by night. As the investigations entwine, they pull her closer to her own demons and the reason she won’t give up her job, no matter what the department throws at her.” [Amazon]

It took me a while to warm up to Renee, but she is an interesting character with a markedly different background. I’m sure Connelly will continue to flush out her features as this series continues.

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