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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Health, Wellness, and Awareness

Know anyone with Diabetes? Almost one in ten are affected, including my dad.

In my new role as the CEO of a healthcare company, I spend a lot of time with medical doctors and in the midst of medical research. One of the things that surprised me quite a bit when I first began with Healthy Humans was how much compelling research around certain illnesses is all but unknown by the general public. And, I’m talking about evidence-based research that can really make a difference.


Even more surprising to me was how many chronic diseases could not only be kept in check, but in some cases completely reversed! While I’m not a medical doctor, I certainly have a vested interest in seeing people get better outcomes.


Today I read a powerful study[1] that is fairly dated – it was published in the Journal of Clinical Pathology in 1988 – however, the results of the research are just as relevant today. People with diabetes who take metformin (a popular diabetes medicine that helps with blood sugar control) have a significant risk of hypomagnesaemia – low magnesium levels in the blood. Not only are low magnesium levels a suggested risk factor for diabetic retinopathy (damage to the retina caused by complications from diabetes that can lead to blindness) but also arrhythmias (abnormal electrical activity in the heart).

The solution seems simple – if you are taking metformin, then be sure to consider taking a magnesium supplement. [Actually, metformin also seems to deplete the body of Vitamin B12, but I’ll save that for another discussion.]

You’d be shocked at how many people with diabetes don’t know this information.



[1] McBain AM, Brown IR, Menzies DG, Campbell IW. Effects of improved glycaemic control on calcium and mangnesium homeostasis in type II diabetes. J Clin Pathol 1988;41:933-35.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I’m Too Young For This

It isn’t hard to spot the modern day social media heroes when you look beyond the blitz of self-proclaimed “online media moguls” amassing their hordes of “friends” and “followers” anxiously awaiting the next bathroom-break posting.

Last week, a few of us from Healthy Humans met one of those “real” heroes who not only has a remarkable personal story, but is touching the lives of many through an exploding grass roots movement.

His name is Matthew Zachery, and the organization he founded is called I’m Too Young for This [I2Y]. At age 21, Matthew was diagnosed with brain cancer. Many told the young concert pianist he’d never play again, let alone have much of a future. Now at age 35 and having survived his condition, he has built an amazing organization focused on young adults with cancer.

The first thing I saw when I walked into his office within the NYU campus was a poster that read:

Got Cancer?
Under 40?
Sucks, huh?

Get busy living!
The challenge that Matthew shared with us is that most cancer survivorship rates have gone up over the past few decades as technology has evolved, education has improved, and treatments become more diverse. Except in the young adult (18-39) demographic, where survivorship rates have remained unchanged for nearly 30 years!

I2Y helps young adults with cancer to connect, share, and tap into resources for topics like healthcare, dating, financial support, insurance, fertility, depression, and many others. They’re now promoted in over 200 cancer centers and 9 countries. I2Y groups are spontaneously cropping up all over the world. Matthew hosts a BlogTalkRadio show each week from his office/studio. The name of the radio show is Stupid Cancer and listener/subscriber rates are exploding as people tune in to Matthew’s brilliant blend of wit, humility, sarcasm, irreverence, and charming personality.

Wonder what someone like Matthew would do when told he would never perform classical music again? Well, besides starting I2Y and an underground movement that would make any open source enthusiast proud, he recently released a CD of his own compositions called Scribblings (available on iTunes) – 10 tracks of blissful tranquility.

It’s an honor to meet people like Matthew Zachary who really are “changing the world”.

Pictured is Matthew proudly displaying his “rack” of circa-1984 Macintosh computers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Secret of Managing Your Advisory Board & Board of Directors for Success

Long title, but another great topic hosted by the Entrepreneurs Forum where I again had the honor of serving as a panelist.

Along with Philadelphia lawyer (and jazzman) extraordinaire Steve Goodman, Neil Vogel (Recognition Media CEO and producer of the Webby Awards), Irv Safra (moderator and high tech speaker) and Marc Sinkow (Vistage Chairman and co-chair of the Philly 100) – we spoke about the nuances of Boards: how to use them, when to get started, issues to watch out for, how to find & keep the right members, and other related topics.

One of the great things about a room full of entrepreneurs is the incredible buzz of ideas and optimism. Pair them with information about how boards can potentially help them be more successful in funding, growth, strategizing, and even exiting – and we’ve got a plan for liftoff.

I spent some time discussing the concept of a “personal advisory board” which I’ve used throughout my career. To the audience’s surprise (as well as mine when I first began that board) was how easy it is to put together such an advisory group. There are a lot of really smart people who find great joy in helping cultivate talent. Many of them are very successful business executives who have learned a lot about what works, and perhaps even more importantly, what doesn’t work.

You can read all the great business and leadership books in the world (and there are plenty of them), but nothing will help you grow faster than real experience and hands-on guidance from and accountability to a personal advisory board. If you’d like more details on how I manage my board, reach out to me in email.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Radio Ga Ga

Check out BlogTalkRadio’s Frugal Friday. It’s a great show that focuses on “all things Linux and Open Source”. I have the honor of speaking on this week’s show. It is hosted by Ken Hess and Jason Perlow (Linux superstar who I’ve worked with in the past), and airs from 6:30-7:30 pm (eastern) on Friday evenings.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sign of the times?

I receive unsolicited resumes all the time, and I’ve yet to see one that really impressed me. As a matter of fact, not even a single email has yet lured me to open the attached resume.

Why is that?

It certainly isn’t through lack of purported “hard skills”

  • Generated 107% of $7.4 million quota in my first year with XXX
  • Closed many high-profile customers
  • One of the world’s best rainmakers
Nor is it lack of “schmooze tact”
  • Dear esteemed colleague
  • Anthony, you won’t be disappointed by what you read below
  • I’m the strategic sales ace you are looking for

I think I’ve seen and heard it all. Unfortunately, it misses the point.

Do I want rainmakers or sales aces? You bet. But, if you can’t blow me away with your first entree into me, then you really aren’t either of those.

What do employers really care about? Themselves and their businesses. So, while you may have generated a gazillion dollars in revenue for company XXX, tell me how that is relevant to me and my business. Show that you understand my challenges and directly correlate that to what you’ve done.

And, in this incredibly interconnected world in which we live, you have no excuse for not getting an introduction from someone who knows the employer. Who are they connected to in LinkedIn? What organizations do they belong to or what interests to they have? Find the overlap with your network and take it from there.

Are you following them on Twitter and working your way into that “circle”? When is that employer presenting their next webinar, and how can you ask the right questions there to get “noticed”?

Everyone I know is so inundated by email. There is no way you are going to cut through the clutter without it being extremely relevant to the reader.

So, to Mr. Strategic Sales Ace and Ms. Rainmaker, while you’ve succeeded in leading me to write this post, I doubt that was the outcome you were seeking.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Blood and Entrepreneurs

Ever heard of the Entrepreneurs Forum or the American Society of Inventors? I hadn’t until last night, when I spoke on a panel session at their monthly meeting held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Both are great organizations that I plan to get more involved with.

Our panel’s topic: Commercializing Your Intellectual Property. The session was moderated by Frank Taney of Buchanan Ingersoll (friend, and now famous lawyer for his unusual Second Life prosecution case) and I was joined on the panel by Adam Rosen (CEO of k-Technology Corp) and Marilyn Montross (VP at QVC).

So, how do you commercialize your IP, and what are some of the “tips of the trade”, so-to-speak? Below are a few of my talking points from last night’s engaging session.

Important factors to consider:

  • Understand what your core strengths are and find others who can help you with the other important pieces. Don’t try to do it all yourself – you’ll likely drive yourself crazy. There are plenty of online resources that can help.
  • Find good legal counsel. You don’t have to spend a lot to get basic guidance, and the best lawyers are very well connected.
  • Regarding patents, start the provisional route. It is far cheaper, and gives you time to really get your business going. BUT (and this is a big but), it’s probably best to have legal counsel help write your provisional. Why? Because if you improperly write a provisional application, it may be worthless. And, it is not too expensive having legal help with a provisional. I know a few firms that will do one for under $500.

Lessons learned (the hard way):
  • Don’t be too over-protective nor under-protective of your intellectual property. There’s a fine-line you need to walk there.
  • Just because you can patent something doesn’t mean you can make money from it – and not just because of market limitations, but because of legal issues.
  • If you have a “great” idea for which there is absolutely no competition, then be wary, be very wary.

Resources that might help:
  • uspto.gov is a must to learn who is doing what related to your (potential) invention. While reading patents can be incredibly boring, there are some great nuggets to be gleaned. I’ve yet to read someone else’s patent application that didn’t lead me to think of a potential “spin off” ideas.
  • Innocentive.com – great for people who want to create solutions for challenges that others pose – and make some money from it.
  • Social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) can be great resources. Lots of noise? Yes. Value of cutting through the noise and reaching lots of people very inexpensively? Priceless.
  • Great books: The Art of the Start (Guy Kawasaki); The Adweek Copyrighting Handbook (Joe Sugarman); The 4-Hour Workweek (Tim Ferriss – please note that I’m not a fan of the author or his self-aggrandizing methods, but there are some really good nuggets in that particular book).

Closing thoughts:
  • Good marketing trumps even great products.
  • Pay no attention to the “naysayers” – and there are plenty of them. Yes, you want to be sensitive to market trends, product viability, barriers to entry, and all those sorts of things. But at the end of the day, it will be your passion/drive coupled with your network that will get your through.
  • Baron Rothschild: “The time to buy is when there’s blood in the streets.” Well, there’s plenty of blood out there. Use this opportunity to make your mark.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The end of an era

Open source and new beginnings: it was obviously a very tough decision to make, having spent so much time there. But after 24 years, I’ve made the decision to leave Unisys and spend more time working with non-profits, doing some writing, and advising for startups.


ebizQ posted my “Unisys story” on their site.


The Open Solutions Alliance, a non-profit dedicated to furthering the reach of open source and open solutions in the enterprise, remains one of my top priorities. And, in this economy, open source is being looked upon even more aggressively for its ability to offer substantial infrastructure cost savings.


But another component of open source that isn’t talked about as often (yet) is how its model of self-selection and mass collaboration is changing all facets of society. I plan to further study and write on this topic.


Other non-profits that are close to my heart include organizations that focus on individuals with learning disabilities and other such challenges.


Hello, new world!