Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Web Secret 626: That's all folks

It has been 12 years and 625 posts since I started this blog. I have never missed a week. Now it is time to go on an indefinite hiatus so I can focus on my new venture, Impact Consulting and Training.

Here is an update on that venture:

On April 4, I became the first person in the world to be accredited in Mobile Instructional Design (MID) on a platform called Gnowbe. My knowledge enables me to create self-directed, cutting-edge learning experiences accessible on a smartphone, computer, or tablet.

If you are not familiar with MID, I created a fun little program that demonstrates its capabilities. Click on this link, and you will be prompted to download Gnowbe (it’s free, quick and easy). You can then enjoy “Demo in your Pocket: What Is Gnowbe?”

There are so many ways to use Gnowbe:
  • Onboarding – new employee, members and business partner orientation
  • Product/Service Knowledge - complex product and service knowledge
  • Training - soft skills and industry knowledge for frontline employees
  • Blended Learning – augment training and workshop experience with mobile learning
  • Stakeholder Engagement - continuous learning for alumni, volunteers and members
  • Culture Change - habit formation and culture change across organizations
  • Leadership Transformation - development and capability building for c-suite leaders
So far, we have created 3 programs:  
Managing Emotional Concerns During COVID-19 – quarantine

Managing the Emotional Impact of Covid-19 - as we reopen

Expand Your Clinical Revenue Stream With EAP Referrals – the first training program for affiliate providers of EAP services

If you or someone you know is interested in creating a Gnowbe program, or transforming an existing presentation into a Gnowbe program, please have them contact me at

To all my loyal followers, thank you for the journey.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Web Secret 625: Financial apps in the age of COVID

The pandemic is causing many to experience serious financial challenges.

Here are some useful apps for those of us struggling to make ends meet:

1. You Need a Budget (YNAB) budgeting software can help you save money and focus attention on working to get out of debt. You can try out the software for free for 34 days (or 12 months free for students).

2. The Saver Life app awards prizes for building up your rainy-day fund, making saving fun and engaging.

3. My Savings Jar is offered through American Association of Retired People (AARP). Their motto is that “We help you start and build up your savings — even if you’re on a tight budget.”

4. Fresh EBT by Propel, Inc is an app that helps you manage EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) benefits in real-time, save money, and earn income. EBT benefits help individuals access food supplement and other cash benefits.

5. Mint is a well-established online program that provides users with a free, safe, and user-friendly app for tracking your money, spending, setting goals etc.

6. The Financial Health Network/Financial Solutions Lab have also funded a number of interesting apps and programs for financial health which can be found here.

Info in this post adapted from Financial Apps in the Era of Coronavirus by Jodi Frey.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Web Secret 624: Impact Consulting and Training

This is an open letter to the readers of this blog:
On April 4, I became the first person in the world to be accredited in Mobile Instructional Design (MID) on a platform called Gnowbe. My knowledge enables me to create self-directed, cutting-edge learning experiences accessible on a smartphone, computer, or tablet. These programs include gamification, videos, interactive exercises, etc.

In addition, I am able to transform an existing webinar or presentation into an MID program for almost any industry.

Here is a free program for you to get the feel for the platform: My electronic journey to MID Certification. You will be asked to create a completely free Gnowbe account to enjoy this program.

I have now partnered with my long time colleague and co-presenter Mike Klaybor EdD, a psychologist based in Houston, Texas. We named our new venture Impact Consulting and Training. We are creating a library of training programs on mental health and wellness topics, as well as consulting and training on EAPs, mental health, and wellness topics.

The first program we created, “Managing Emotional Concerns during COVID19,” is based on a training Mike has delivered to over 3,000 attendees. Anyone from a high school senior to a professional can benefit from this program. You can recommend the program to your clients and patients. The program helps you define the strategies that are going to help you get through the pandemic in the best possible emotional shape.

Our second program is for clinicians looking to become an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) affiliate provider. "Expand Your Clinical Revenue Stream With EAP Referrals" is an innovative self directed micro learning program that provides an introductory look at employee assistance programs (EAPs) and employee assistance (EA).

The course describes the component services provided by typical EAPs, and the unique relationship between EAPs and the workplace, EAPs and human resources, EAPs and employees. It explains foundational EA principles, such as the dual client allegiance. Finally, it provides you with a list of resources so you can further your knowledge of the field and join affiliate provider networks to get referrals and grow this part of your business. The program takes about 90 minutes to complete and provides you with a certificate of completion. For more info, view the program here.

Please send the link to this blog post, our Impact website or these 2 programs to anyone you think would be interested.

Thank you!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Web Secret 623: Covid - 19 - What Comes Next

Readers of this blog know that I have featured a guest post less than a handful of times.

I'm going to do it again this week, because so very little has been written about the changes in the USA once the curve is flattened in our country. Full disclosure: the author is my son Eric and the article was published on You may or may not agree with his point of view, consider it a prompt to think about the future:

History is defined by a series of what I call “before and after moments”. These are the times when we collectively realize that there was a distinct difference between life before the event and after. Given I am already starting to forget what life was like before the quarantine, I think it is safe to say we are in one of those moments. However, it is important to not forget that there is an “after” part of the equation and although we are currently in an indefinite state of crisis, this too will pass. Right now, I think what people need and want is a vision of what the world looks like once this is over. Here are five ideas for what we could do next.

1) The Western world needs to adopt Asian facemask customs I lived in South Korea in 2015 and was struck by the normalization of wearing facemasks. I finally asked my landlord why people wore them and he explained that it was because they were not feeling well, so the polite thing to do is wear a mask. The dramatic urbanization (and the density that comes with it) that occured in Asia over the last 40 years, paired with the collectivist nature of their societies have created cultures, which based off of the current data, are better at “flattening the curve” than Western nations.

If we have to choose between an interconnected civilization with fairly free movement of people between nations and wearing a mask when we get sick...I think we know what choice we should make.

2) The world needs to collectively address China.

Let’s be very clear about something. What allowed for COVID 19 to become a global pandemic was the suppression and cover up of the virus by the Chinese Communist Party. Not the Chinese population, not Chinese Americans...the CCP. Had the Chinese government acknowledged, addressed and collaborated internationally...this simply would not have happened. I am not going to comment on the various responses by different governments around the world to this crisis because we will collectively learn from this experience (until 100 years from now when we lose that institutional memory).

Ever since China’s entrance into the WTO, the collective West has piggy backed on the explosive growth of the Chinese economy because they had the now obviously false belief that their political system would liberalize alongside wealth creation. Now, China has become such a global force that the EU is now seriously considering embracing Chinese global leadership, despite their clear unwillingness to be honest with the international community (this includes insidious economic practices), an abysmal human rights record and a fundamentally different system of morality. One must ask themselves, when are we (the citizenry and elected officials of the “Free World”) going to stop the Chamberlin-like appeasement of the most dangerous organized entity in the face of the planet? What could have been prevented if the world intervened when Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939? This is our moment to unify around this collective experience and hold the responsible party accountable.

3) We have proven that we are willing to dramatically change our lifestyles to address let’s actually address climate change I write to you from NYC and I must tell you how amazed I have been by the willingness of the most individualistic people in the world to make a shared sacrifice for the common good. Barring those spring breakers who should be air dropped into North Korea, the governments and citizens of the world have made drastic changes to their lives, in order to help end this pandemic.

The shift in lifestyle that would be required to address climate change pales in comparison. I am not talking about a “Green New Deal”, but a consumer led transformation of the economy toward sustainable capitalism. You can go to bars and restaurants, but make sure to use a metal straw and manage your red meat intake. You can use modern appliances, but be prepared to sacrifice a few Uber rides, so that you can pay for the adoption of renewable energy. Want a new look? Totally fine, but maybe try to go to a thrift store and donate your leftover clothing to those in need. Want to hang with your friends? Volunteer as a group for the Trillion Trees Initiative and build the carbon sink necessary to solve this challenge.

What’s worse...being quarantined or planting trees?

4) Let’s admit that we spend too much time in the digital world

We have been talking about the corrosive nature of social media use and the alienation that comes from not engaging with the analogue world. I am sure many companies will move to a partial or total work-from-home model and commercial real estate will take a hit (huge opportunity for those who figure out what to do with all that extra space - I liked how Faraday Futures thought about cars) once this is over. However, I think social distancing and the failure of the digital world to satisfy our human needs for connection have proven that we need to find a new normal, with respect to our technology usage.

I have no suggestions here, but please share yours in the comments section.

5) We need to acknowledge the success of science, modernity and capitalism and stop thinking the world is about to end

Let’s be honest about how people in the advanced world have lived through this once every-hundred-years pandemic. Most of us have spent this quarantine watching unlimited amounts of entertainment, eating food from our unnecessarily stocked fridge, while laughing at memes about the idiots who are hoarding toilet paper. If this is what becomes of the advanced world during a global pandemic, then we ought to admit a few things:

1) The Age of Enlightenment and the scientific revolution that followed it, have created societies of material and cognitive abundance. It is also what will allow for the cessation of this crisis.

2) Capitalism has its faults and those should be addressed, but it is the system that has continued to refill big-box stores and supermarkets that have been the target of panicked consumers. It is also the system that will allow for us to reemerge from this crisis in the most efficient manner possible.

3) If this global pandemic didn’t end the world, Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders won’t either. Regardless of your political positions, the advanced world is as resilient as it is affluent. There are only two things that can existentially threaten it

- (See Number 1)

- Irrational fear and distrust of those that you disagree with

On that second point, we really must bring back two concepts that used to be the bedrock of our democracies. The first is the idea of the “Loyal Opposition”, which means that whatever party is not in power continues to work with the elected government and not consistently try to delegitimize or cause it to fail. There are signs of this emerging because of this crisis, so let’s pressure our elected officials to continue to build on this good will. The second is the assumption of good intent. Anyone who thinks that Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders wakes up in the morning with the intent on making America a worse place to live is being irrational. These two men entered politics to address the grievances of a specific electorate (actually there is a lot of overlap of constituencies, which says a lot about the problems faced) and should be met with criticism, indeed that is necessary for democracy to function. However, the idea that they seek to actively destroy US democracy is something there really is no evidence for and our constitution and the fifth estate are more than capable of preventing from happening.

There was the world before this moment and there will be a world after it. The question is...what does that world look like?

Eric Wollberg is a global innovation expert working for a mobile first micro-learning startup — Gnowbe.
That's my boy.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Web Secret 622: Put your smartphone on a data diet

I have 5 family members on my cell phone plan, consisting of myself, my spouse and my 3 adult children. The kids refuse to get off my plan because it would cost them more than staying on it.

I know, I'm enabling.

At this point, I have an unlimited data plan - I make them pay for it.

If you are not on an unlimited plan, here is how to save yourself from unexpected charges, courtesy of a recent New York Times article:

1. Connect to Wi-Fi whenever possible, especially when you’re at home.

2. See which apps are using the most data. If you just spent three days in quarantine bingeing Netflix on your phone, you can bet that’s your culprit. If you’re using an iPhone, open the settings app and head to the cellular section. Scroll down, and you’ll see a list of apps under the cellular data heading, in order from heaviest to lightest data usage. Under each app, you’ll see how much data it has used in the “current period.”

3. Tweak Your App Settings. Once you have an idea of the worst offenders, figure out ways to dial back their data usage. Here are some common culprits and how you can curb their appetite:

Dropbox, Google Photos and iCloud Photos: If you take a lot of photos and video, some apps allow you to automatically back those photos up as you go. By default, they shouldn’t back up your photos unless you’re on Wi-Fi, but if you have changed these settings in the past, they may be eating up your data (remember, uploading counts against your data too). Check the app’s settings and turn off uploads while on cellular.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: Many social networking apps have the ability to auto-play videos as you scroll through your feed, which can use data quickly. If you find this happening in your favorite social app, head to the app’s settings and look for the auto-playing video option — set it to Wi-Fi only, or turn it off altogether.

YouTube, Netflix and other video players: You probably already know watching videos can blow through your data, but you don’t have to cut yourself off cold turkey. For a compromise, look through your binge-watching app of choice for an option to lower the video quality. If you can stand to watch videos in standard definition (480 pixels or below) instead of HD (720 pixels and above), you’ll use less data.

Spotify, Podcasts and other audio apps: While audio doesn’t use up nearly as much data as video, you can still chug through your allotment if you jam from sunup to sundown. Streaming apps like Spotify allow you to download playlists at home for offline listening. Use these features as much as possible: Next time you’re on Wi-Fi, download your favorite playlists and grab podcast episodes before you leave home.

App updates: It’s a good idea to keep your apps up-to-date, but letting automatic updates run wild on cellular data isn’t really necessary. On the iPhone, head to Settings > Your Name > iTunes & App Stores, and turn Automatic Downloads off under Cellular Data.

If the app in question doesn’t have a setting that does what you want, you may be able to limit it at the operating system level. On the iPhone, head to Settings, scroll down to the app in question and turn off Background App Refresh, which will limit it from using data in the background. Or, from that Settings > Cellular screen, you can toggle the switch next to any given app to prevent it from using cellular data at all, allowing it to work only over Wi-Fi.

4. Get a Better Deal on Your Data. If all else fails, it may be worth looking into a better data plan for you and your family. Unlimited plans have made a comeback in recent years, but if they are too expensive for you, see what other carriers have to offer for the same price. In fact, if you are still with one of the big four — Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint — you might be able to get better bang for your buck by switching to a mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO, like Cricket Wireless, Mint Mobile or Metro. They use the same networks as their bigger competitors, but with lower prices. If you can get a bigger data plan for the same amount of money you are currently paying (while eschewing expensive features you don’t use), you won’t have to ration your internet usage like it’s 1993 dial-up.

That's it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Web Secret 621: Plus ça change...

The French have a saying "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose", the more things change, the more they stay the same.

To wit, a letter from F. Scott Fitzgerald, quarantined in 1920 in the south of France during the Spanish influenza outbreak:
Dearest Rosemary,

It was a limpid dreary day, hung as in a basket from a single dull star. I thank you for your letter.

Outside, I perceive what may be a collection of fallen leaves tussling against a trash can. It rings like jazz to my ears. The streets are that empty. It seems as though the bulk of the city has retreated to their quarters, rightfully so.

At this time, it seems very poignant to avoid all public spaces. Even the bars, as I told Hemingway, but to that he punched me in the stomach, to which I asked if he had washed his hands. He hadn't. He is much the denier, that one. Why, he considers the virus to be just influenza. I'm curious of his sources.

The officials have alerted us to ensure we have a month's worth of necessities. Zelda and I have stocked up on red wine, whiskey, rum, vermouth, absinthe, white wine, sherry, gin, and lord, if we need it, brandy. Please pray for us.

You should see the square, oh, it is terrible. I weep for the damned eventualities this future brings. The long afternoons rolling forward slowly on the ever-slick bottomless highball. Z. says it's no excuse to drink, but I just can't seem to steady my hand.

In the distance, from my brooding perch, the shoreline is cloaked in a dull haze where I can discern an unremitting penance that has been heading this way for a long, long while. And yet, amongst the cracked cloudline of an evening's cast, I focus on a single strain of light, calling me forth to believe in a better morrow.

Faithfully yours,

F. Scott Fitzgerald
Nothing more to add.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Web Secret 620: Network TV

Two things about Millenials: they don't have landlines and they don't have cable TV. They use smartphones and streaming services.

In a Fast Company article, Joe Berkowitz writes how "he replaced Netflix and HBO with network TV for a week", and his brain is different now.
"Back in the ’80s, network TV was everything. It was what you were watching if you were watching TV. .. The past couple decades have seen an increasing erosion of network TV’s sovereignty...Nielsen ratings among adults 18-49 for broadcast TV dropped about 35% between 2014 and 2019, thanks to cord cutting and the rise of streaming. Everybody with the means to subscribe to premium platforms, can watch whatever they want to watch, whenever they want to watch it, on a variety of devices big and small. It’s almost hard to believe now that in previous generations, families would gather around a living-room TV set together at night and simply watch What Was On."
Characteristics of ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC shows:

1. Easier decisions: It's 7pm and there are only 4 shows to choose between.

2. Everything is the same: Watching network shows again feels like swathing yourself in a cozy, familiar blanket. Everything on network TV is as it once was: The cadences are the same, the patter is the same, the fantastically unlikely “relatable” situations are the same.I t’s a soft parade of uniformly telegenic people in clothes that always fit perfectly. Nothing bad happens and if it’s not, it’s headed for a quick resolution, typically within the episode.

3. Holidays impact programming: "This network TV experiment happened to fall during the week of Valentine’s Day, and I forgot how network TV shows all converge around each holiday." We’re in this together.

4. There are reality shows, news shows, game shows, sports shows and cop, doctor, and firefighting procedurals. That's it.

5. Network TV is "deliciously undemanding. You can play Candy Crush or online shop or get a snack at any time and not miss a thing, and all the while feel like you’re in the company of friends." In contrast Netflix et al are intellectually demanding, often require reading recaps to even understand and are consequentially exhausting. Also many of these shows are very disturbing, showcase hair raising violence and graphic sex scenes best watched when you are alone. And not right before bedtime.

"Sometimes you just want to lie down and be counted, to sit in television’s warming glow and feel comfortable. That’s when network TV will always (probably?) be there for you. Come on in, the water’s still nice."

Thanks Joel.