A Letter From (Homeless) Dave

Dave's not to you, back

Dave’s handwritten note to you, his “Team Dave”

As you may know, it has been a few weeks since I last saw Dave. (If you haven’t been following his story, you can start reading about it here.)

Suddenly, and without warning, I lost contact with him. Life has been so busy with travel, work, and family, that I haven’t been able to get out on the streets and look for him — until today.

I spent about 2 hours searching Santa Ana and Costa Mesa, driving, parking, and walking around spots I recall him speaking about. I looked under bridges, behind buildings, and in parking lots. I drove around in circles, wondering, praying, and asking for guidance to find a needle in the haystack of a busy city.

About to give up, I decided to look in the parking lot of a Starbucks we’ve sometimes met. I parked, and walked around, hoping for something.

I suddenly remembered

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Israel Diary Day 5: HP Indigo Plant in Kiryat Gat (+photos)

day_5_coverToday’s agenda is scheduled from start to finish by HP, and is focused on events at the Kiryat Gat Indigo plant.  At 7:45, a bus picks us up to take us on an hour’s journey.

On the bus, I meet Frank Hood, who runs InfoVine in Houston, Texas.  We have a great conversation, and end up seeing quite a bit of each other over the next few days.  Frank is working on his second company, having built and sold the first a few years back.

At the plant, we are scheduled to see various parts of the facility, demonstrating the enormous amount of innovation and engineering that goes into supporting the Indigo.  We start by hearing from Alon Bar-Shany, who runs the entire Indigo Division.  After Alon, we hear from various parts of the organization, and I pick up a lot of interesting ideas.

For example, I learn that HP has a support mechanism called “shared support,” which Frank explains to me is devised to motivate clients like him to invest in training their press operators to a designated level of competency.  When the operator reaches that level, the support fees charged by HP drop considerably (something like 60%).  The idea resonates with me, and I immediately think about how we might be able to apply that to our multichannel marketing automation.

In the evening, HP arranges for dinner at Reading 3, which is at the Tel Aviv port.  We have an enjoyable dinner, and are treated to a show by a local group of entertainers.  Plenty of laughs ensue!

We arrive home around 11:30, and although I’m a bit wound up, sleep is necessary, as tomorrow is filled with more HP activities.

Here are some photos from the day; click to enjoy!

[VIDEO] MindFire & HP SmartStream Production Center Integration

At last month’s DSCOOP in Nashville, we unveiled integration we’ve been working on with the HP SmartStream team.  It’s been fun working with their team, as they’re dedicated, passionate, and very hands-on (as you’ve seen from the Israel diary, I got to spend some quality time at their office in Israel).

In short, our marketing automation workflows can now easily output print-ready PDFs (via the HP Composer), and those PDFs are sent to HP’s Production Center for print on the Indigo.  This is what our Marketing Studio looks like, and an example of marketing automation workflow:

multi-touch

Our Marketing Studio, which is a drag-and-drop environment for creating multi-channel workflows

We invested in this integration because both MindFire and HP believe that marketers are rapidly adopting marketing automation technology to optimize their lead generation.  While most marketing automation campaigns use digital channels (like email, mobile and social media), print is sometimes underutilized because of workflow complexities.  (Or in some cases, not used at all!)

This is why we made it our goal to enable our mutual users to generate a triggered print piece as easily as a triggered email or text message.  While there’s more work to do, I certainly think we’re on our way.

Above is a short video the HP team put together on their Production Center, showing how marketing automation print pieces are prepared for print.  Enjoy!

Israel Diary Day 4: Pageflex and Caesarea (+photos)

israel_day_4

This is the fourth day in my Israel diary, where I’m attending the HP Indigo VIP Event in Tel Aviv.  See Day 1 in Tel Aviv here, Day 2 in Jerusalem and Bethlehem here, and Day 3 at the HP Indigo offices in Nes-Ziona here.

Another successful night of sleep.  After a great breakfast downstairs, I make my way back to the room to take care of some emails.  There’s some follow-up to do on a patent we just filed (here’s a post on what the patent process is like), as well as a few other things to check on back home.  Overall, there don’t appear to be any major fires (a concern whenever I travel).

At 9:00, Gadi from Pageflex picks me up to head to their office.  Gadi is responsible for customer support at Pageflex, and we have an engaging conversation about life, work, and Israel/US relations.  As we’re traveling on the freeway, traffic comes to a complete standstill.  I don’t mean we’re moving a few miles an hour — I mean that people are completely stopped, getting out of their cars and walking around.  Waze tells us there’s an accident ahead.

After waiting about 20 minutes, we notice Read more of this post

Israel Diary Day 3: HP Indigo and Nes-Ziona (+photos)

israel_day_3_coverThe third day in my Israel diary, where I’m attending the HP Indigo VIP Event in Tel Aviv.  See Day 1 in Tel Aviv here, Day 2 in Jerusalem and Bethlehem here.

Finally, I slept a complete night, and awoke feeling rested.  I can’t recall how long it took my body to adjust last time I traveled to this part of the world, but I’m starting to feel a bit more alive.

After a wonderful breakfast, I retreated to my room to write, respond to emails, and check on my wife and baby.   All seems OK at home, except that Abby has been a bit more difficult that usual.  I hope she doesn’t drive mommy crazy!

On my agenda today is a visit to the HP Indigo offices in Nes-Ziona, to meet with Gershon Alon (he oversees the Workflow Solutions at HP Indigo) and further our integration with SmartStream (which we unveiled in Nashville a month ago), and discuss other cooperative goals.

I struggle to find a Read more of this post

Israel Diary Day 2: Jerusalem & Bethlehem (+photos)

Israel Diary day 2

The second day in my Israel diary, where I’m attending the HP Indigo VIP Event in Tel Aviv.  See Day 1 in Tel Aviv here.

I awoke at 3:30 AM, fully aware that it was too early to get up, but unable to coax myself back to sleep.  So around 4:30 I gave up, and resorted to responding to emails and checking the news.

At 6:30, the hotel’s breakfast opened, which provided a wonderful array of options.  The display reminded me of being on a cruise — so many yummy things to try!

After eating and pounding a few cups of coffee, I made my way to the front of the hotel to wait for a tour bus (which I arranged the night before).  I choose a tour of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, which cost around $90.  Compared to what I’ve paid in other countries, it wasn’t too expensive.

Promptly at 7:20, our tour guide (Absalom) appeared, requesting that I follow him to boarded his tour bus.  He was a friendly and very helpful guide, and when I return to Israel, I’ll definitely look him up again.  After picking up a few more tourists, we made our way for about 45 minutes to Jerusalem.  I made friends with a number of my fellow passengers, including an attorney from Ohio, and an auditor for Shell.

For the next 8 hours, he led us on a journey of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, a kibbutz, and back to the old city of Jerusalem.  Here are some (but certainly not all!) of the highlights: Read more of this post

Israel Diary Day 1: Tel Aviv (+photos)

israel_covershot2Leaving my wife and baby was harder than usual.  I’m headed to the HP Indigo VIP Event in Tel Aviv, Israel.

As we stood outside LAX’s Bradley Terminal, Abby seemed to know something was up.  Usually, she seems oblivious to what’s going on, but this time she held on to me, and even seemed hesitant to go back to mom.

She gave me a bunch of little hugs and squeezes.

Dave, Abby, and Sarah

One last picture before flying to Israel. Going to miss these sweet girls of mine!

We took our usual family picture, and I watched as they pulled away.  I said a prayer for their safety and protection.

Arriving at the El Al check-in, there were at least a dozen people ahead of me.  I wasn’t in line for more than one minute, when an El Al official came up to me.

“Sir, may I see your passport?” he asked.  I handed it to him.  “Sir, I’m going to need to ask you some questions,” he said, leading me towards the front of the line.  He asked me where I was going, and what my plans were.  After a few minutes he left, but returned with a young lady.  She introduced herself, apologized, and said that she would need to learn more about my trip.

I nodded and smiled.  In these types of situations, I enjoy experiencing the rush of adrenaline that comes from new situations.  I know I’m weird, but I like practicing remaining calm while my brain goes into overdrive.

“Sir, who are you visiting?” she asked, watching my face as I collected my thoughts.  I told her about the HP VIP event, my plans with Pageflex, and other objectives for the trip.  She continued asking about where I was going, and what I planned to do each day.  She asked who I would be with, and how I knew them.

After a few minutes, she excused herself.  I lost sight of her as she mixed with a sea of El Al reps behind the counter.  A moment later, she returned.  “Did you buy your own ticket? Who made your travel arrangements?” she asked, peppering me with questions about how I arrived at LAX.

Then, to my surprise, she said Read more of this post

Someone Please Create This Company: Travel Freely

I hate packing!

I hate packing!

Every time I travel, I think of a service I’d like to have.

In a nutshell, I really dislike packing.  I’m not sure exactly why, but I think part of it is that I used to be so dirt poor, that I’d stress about forgetting something that I wouldn’t be able to afford at my destination.  I’d worry that I’d forgotten something that would render the trip useless.

Of course, I can’t recall one time these fears actually came true, but nonetheless, the packing process wreaks havoc on my OCD-impacted psyche.

To ease my concerns, I’ve made a checklist of the items I usually need, along with a “best-practices” section so that I can remember lessons learned (example: waking up at 4 when a taxi is arriving at 4:30 isn’t good; wake up at 3:45 instead).  Yah, I know I’m weird — but having a list seems to shave a bit of the mental anguish from the experience.

Though I’ve done it dozens of times p/year and nothing really bad ever happens, I still find myself disliking the process.  Ask my wife; she’ll tell you what I go through.

So here’s the idea: What if you could pack the ideal suitcase, and ship it to a company.  Let’s call them “Travel Freely”.  When you make your travel arrangements, you simply send your reservation to Travel Freely, and magically, upon arriving at the hotel, your luggage is waiting with everything you need.  No waiting around at the airport.  No need to pack.  Just click-and-go.

Opening your suitcase, you see all your favorite clothes have been cleaned, pressed, and are ready to rock.

When you’re done with your trip, you check out of the hotel and they ship it back to Travel Freely, where everything gets cleaned and replenished, awaiting your next trip.

Of course you’d have some options when you make your request, like the # of days you’ll be gone (so that the right number of shirts are available), or if you need any additional items packed (like extra Advil).  These items would pull from a list of your favorite necessities and would be added with a few clicks or swipes on your iPhone.

What do you think?  Am I the only one that hates packing?  Is there a service like this?  Would anyone use this?

44% of Americans Are One Emergency From Financial Ruin

Despite having jobs, nearly half of all Americans are one emergency away from ruin.

Despite having jobs, nearly half of all Americans are one emergency away from ruin.

My sister recently posted a comment on this post, where another reader mentioned he felt most homeless are that way because of substance abuse.

While I have not found data to substantiate this claim, I did come across an LA Times article reporting that nearly 44% of American households are one emergency away from financial ruin.

As I’ve come to realize through my time with the homeless, it seems that most of the folks I meet didn’t have enough in savings to cover their basic living expenses at the time of their “event” — and according to this article, they’re not alone. Of the 44% that are one step away from the edge, most do not have savings capable of covering three months of living expenses.  This means that losing a job, becoming ill, or losing their family support system can be devastating.

Speaking of savings: according to a study by the Corporation for Enterprise Development, nearly a third of Americans have no savings account at all.

Of households that are on the edge, about 75% are working full-time, with slightly over 15% earning a middle-class income of more than $55,000 a year. Even so, they’re one paycheck away from the edge.

What do you think?  Does it seem likely that nearly half of all American households are that close to the edge?  If so, what can be done about this?

“I’m 54 Years Old, And I’m Not Going To Change!”

Sometimes, when I’m engaged in conversation with someone, they’ll say something like:

You know what?  No way.  I’m 54 years old, and I’m not going to change!  I’m sorry, it’s just not going to happen.

When confronted with such a response, I don’t know what to say.  I usually just end up looking at the person, scrunching my eyebrows and scratching my head.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever said this in conversation, which is why it confuses me.  (If you know me personally, please point out if I’m wrong …)

When I was in my early twenties, I took this response as a put-down (as in: listen you little twerp, I’m far wiser than you; what you’re asking me to do is stupid…), but now that I’m in my 30’s and much more mature (come on, I’m joking), I’m even more confused.

I’m confused because I find myself changing.all.the.freakin’.time.  I don’t think I’m unique in that way.  I see people changing all around me.  Aren’t you changing, too?

As I reflect on this response, I’m left with an observation and two questions:

  • Observation: I think I typically hear this response from people older than me
  • Question: In general, what do people really mean by this?  What are they trying to tell me?
  • Question: Twenty years from now, will I also say this?

What I believe to be true is that I’m 34 years old, and I’m definitely going to change.

What do you think? If you have any insight, or if you’re uttered these words yourself, please share your thoughts.

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