Greetings from Sunny California!

Now is an ideal moment to take stock of our performance, and reorient ourselves in the direction of peace, renewal, introspection, and togetherness.

However challenging this past year may have been for you or your business, we hope that the net effect has been a positive one, not only to your bottom line, but to your and your colleagues’ personal sense of wellbeing. We work to live, and may we all live to make our world a little better – whether through art, commerce, social service, or whatever pursuit gets you out of bed at the beginning of your day!

As always, our firm’s marker for success is how much we were able to learn and grow, in any given year. 2019 was no exception, though it had some unforeseen moments!

Our recent engagements have taken us into a variety of new markets and fields, for which I am grateful. Whether working with the UN Foundation on their “Girl Up” initiative, restructuring a nationally syndicated radio talk show for the podcast era, or celebrating the opening of a new local business venture. Our company’s focus remains on people, sustainability (environmental and fiscal), and innovation.

 

 

Grand Opening of Los Angeles’ Artesano Tamaleria

 

Attendees at the UN Foundation Girl Up Summit

 

Personal commitments prevented me from spending my usual couple of months with our London and Lisbon teams, but more time in the Los Angeles area allowed for greater participation in some local initiatives.

We continue to enjoy supporting the great work done by the film and TV industry’s Green Production Guide team, and I enjoyed spending a day at the Produced By Conference in early June, roaming the Warner Bros lot, challenging the thousands of industry professionals in attendance to rethink and upgrade their approach to sustainable production. Personal engagement remains the foundation stone upon which fruitful change is built.

 

Leaders of the Producers Guild of America Green Initiative

 

Our firm continues to work with and advise a variety of political and educational initiatives and organizations, including the City of Burbank, where we are based. We are passionate about improving the transportation infrastructures and community health of this beautiful city – no small undertaking in an area so slavishly devoted to the automobile! We were thrilled to participate this year in some milestone events and initiatives, including the groundbreaking ceremonies for a bikeway we’ve been working on for a number of years, the continued development of a regional rapid transit system (BRT), and ongoing improvements to the intersections between our regional and local traffic infrastructures (more access for bicycles, pedestrians, and public transportation!). There has been a lot of success in 2019, but, as with all such projects, the movement is glacial and there remains much to be done!

This was a great year for improving the city’s fiscal and functional health, and it’s been a pleasure to welcome new City Manager Justin Hess, while thanking outgoing City Manager Ron Davis for his service. Each person, though cut from different cloth, brings a standard of excellence and service worthy of appreciation. The inimitable Emily Gabel-Luddy, nearing the close of her term, will shortly be succeeded as the City’s Mayor by our other admirable friend Sharon Springer, and I look forward to a period wherein her infectious enthusiasm, love of community, and intelligence will continue to inspire and uplift not only City Staff, residents, and businesses, but the municipalities around us, as California continues to lead the way in facing the challenges and opportunities of our myriad communities.

 

Burbank City Council and Community Leaders at Los Angeles Bikeway Groundbreaking Ceremony

 

A summer opportunity to travel back to Seattle, Washington allowed me to catch up with a previous client, OneRedmond, and the numerous technology and entertainment companies with whom we collaborated during our most recent project in the area. Some very interesting progress has been made, including the establishment of a very promising Public/Private partnership serving the Greater Seattle Economic Development area. This region includes not only Seattle itself, but also the wonderful cities of Redmond, Kirkland, and Bellevue. We were also able to spend a good amount of time with another cherished client, one of the Northwest’s top event and hospitality firms with whom we are developing a growth strategy, as they expand into more strategic and global ventures relating to their already impressive core capabilities.

The Northwest region remains a favorite one, and I’m excited to see its continued growth as a hub of innovation and workforce development. The area’s renowned commitment to sustainability and community makes it an excellent breeding ground for the next generation of purpose-driven enterprises.

 

Back in Los Angeles, I was recently invited to participate in a long-overdue Mobile World Congress workshop session entitled “Women4Tech”. It was inspiring to see and talk with such a diversity of women leaders in the fields of tech, marketing, engineering, government, and creative production. Some of next year’s most compelling innovations from around the world will be coming from women-led enterprises, and we can only benefit from their contributions, guidance, and insights.

 

Women4Tech Conference at Mobile World Congress USA

At the end of last year, I was invited by Al Gore to become a Climate Reality Leader, helping to inform and inspire communities to become more actively engaged in combating the undeniable climate crisis we all face. In addition to giving presentations to schools, local governments, corporations, and community organizations, it was an honor to be asked to establish and chair one of the newest Chapters of the global Climate Reality Project. This proved a mighty and worthwhile challenge! During the course of this past year, we recruited more than 40 passionate advocates for responsible stewardship, and together we have made a marked impact on local, state, regional, and national policy and action. We look forward to helping the organization further consolidate and maximize the energy, knowledge, and commitment of these leaders.

 

 

The Southern Poverty Law Center has been a favorite organization, ever since I was a student at Duke University, helping to set up a chapter of the Center’s then-new “Teaching Tolerance” initiative. I’ve long enjoyed supporting the great work done by this laudable organization, and this year we were offered a marvelous opportunity to spend some time with co-founder Joe Levin, as we reviewed the extraordinary efforts undertaken by the SPLC, on behalf of the disenfranchised, marginalized, and oppressed members of our nation’s family. I remain in awe of their passionate zeal and commitment.

 

With SPLC Co-founder, Joe Levin

 

While 2019 provided a diversity of opportunities and discoveries, it also unhappily took away important treasures. I was greatly saddened this year to participate in memorial and funeral services for some great people, including my friend, Blake Byrne; an important mentor, David Picker; a previous boss, Michael Lynne; and former colleague and icon, Cokie Roberts. It would be pitiful to attempt here any sort of In Memoriam for such admirable people, so we will instead commit ourselves anew to conducting our professional business in a manner reflecting their integrity, passion, and service. We are sure that each of our friends, colleagues, and clients has experienced the pain of loss this year, in their own unique but equally important way, and we offer each our sympathy. Life is indeed a fleeting gift, the value of which we seem to fail to take full measure, until we find ourselves being ushered toward the exit. To borrow the latest aphorism: KonMari the year ahead, and share the joy you keep!

 

 

The future must always be seen with optimism. We are looking forward to continuing our work with our newest client: an exciting tech & creative startup venture focused on increasing access for the visually impaired to content otherwise out of reach. We’re eager to see what other opportunities and innovations present themselves next year, in markets and industries that will assuredly teach us new lessons and show us new wonders!

My thanks go not only to my colleagues, but to clients and friends alike who have welcomed us this year into their offices and labs, as well as onto the many studio lots and sets! The opportunity to learn from and watch you invent inspires me on a regular basis!

 

 

Wishing you the peace, renewal, and togetherness to which I alluded at the beginning of my post, I close, grateful for a year where the positives outweighed the negatives, and in the hope that this trend continues robustly in the year to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nicholas de Wolff

 

More than cellphones and 5G

Today’s the last day of LA’s Mobile World Congress, at the labyrinthine Los Angeles Convention Center. I had the opportunity to spend some time there earlier this week, and it was time well spent because I targeted specific gatherings. Of course, the exhibitions and keynotes featured lots of interesting discussions and demos (NVIDIA has an AI shopping experience that purports to match Alibaba Group, Amazon, and the few other players in this space. Will our retail shopping experience be disrupted and automated sooner or later?).


I had the pleasure of being invited to participate in a networking and coaching event hosted by the GSMA’s Women4Tech program, an initiative to drive more female representation in the technology industry. I met some impressive future leaders in engineering, programming, marketing, and government, and I gained invaluable insight into the aspirations of (and challenges faced by) female innovators and business execs. Sadly, this track was somewhat hidden from the main conference, which I feel was a lost opportunity for all. The big questions that invariably dominated the exhibition halls and panel stages included “how and when will 5G networks fully deploy, which standards (beyond the preliminary 5G NR) will prevail, and whose DCN will rule the roost?”. All good questions, but I would have preferred that the organizers had helped attendees expand their horizons a little more.

I do admit that the most fun for me was meeting some compelling startups in the 4YFN (4 Years from  Now) space. Many clever innovators focusing on solutions to improve health, connectivity, & community, though some of these bright-eyed and bushy-tailed founders need help with strategic planning if they seek viability beyond the first couple of years! Perhaps all they want to do is sell their idea and move on, like so many “serial entrepreneurs”, but that’s not entrepreneurism, in my opinion. It’s banking.

News media has been working hard these past few years to find ways to engage with, and secure the loyal readership of, content consumers and citizens. The results have been mixed, and the experiment continues. One metric that I believe should not be compromised, though, is the actual quality of content. No matter how many bells, whistles, sound loops, or infographics you integrate into an article, there has to also be substance to the subject matter under study. Perhaps I’m wrong, though.

Consider the article from yesterday’s New York Times, “Are You Rich?”: As an interactive resource tool, it is effectively useless fluff. As a way to write a short article, and more intimately and meaningfully contextualize the message of the article, it could have been very compelling, but the authors (it took 3 of them!) of the article went for fluff and aggregation of 3rd party pithy data points over substance, when they could have written something truly resonant. Whether surprisingly or not, it was the comments that increased the value of the article.

“Every pathway has pros and cons, and editors and owners alike are, I sincerely hope, giving serious consideration to the promises and perils inherent in each possibility.”

Are You Rich? This Income-Rank Quiz Might Change How You See Yourself

 

Will journalism be well-thought, well-researched, investigative, and editorial in form, or will short-form clickbait designed to secure eyeballs win out? Will content be published to inform, educate, and empower, or will it be designed to incite swiftly targeted emotional reaction and engagement? Every pathway has pros and cons, and editors and owners alike are, I sincerely hope, giving serious consideration to the promises and perils inherent in each possibility. We, the readership, will be the richer for it, if provided a balanced diet of healthy and well-sourced information. Everyone knows that sugar, caffeine, and clickbait – however addictive – provide no value.

What is Storytelling?

Someone recently asked me what storytelling is and, more specifically, what it is not. The following observations from British poet and author, H.C. Morgan, seemed apropos. In today’s experiential and relational society, the narrative of a brand, and how that narrative intertwines with that of its workforce, market, community, and society…these are crucial considerations as the initial transaction alone no longer proves sufficient.

“Storytelling builds bridges between ignorance and understanding. 
These narrative conduits inspire and empower readers, listeners, and viewers to undertake a journey toward greater awareness, enlightenment, or simply knowledge. 
While a story may not be necessary for the acquisition of the aforementioned knowledge, it is (if properly structured) the most effective platform, channel, and vehicle for the journey in question: best structured to give the individual or collective the highest potential for sustainable realization of goals.

Storytelling is not a directionless engagement. 
Its goal should not be the use of language for effect, without purpose or objective. It ultimately should be about clarification, not obfuscation. 
A well-told story becomes, in its telling, the first chapter of a new story, taken up by the listener once they are inspired and empowered to make something of it that grows beyond the confines of the original narrator’s ken.”
-H.C. Morgan

 

I agree with the issues raised in this video from a couple of years ago, but the way Mr. Harris addresses it is naive, to say the least, and maybe even hypocritical, perhaps (did nobody else note the clickbait title of the video?).

First, who’s to say whether the content a user is paying attention to is something they *want* to be focused on, as opposed to content on to which they were “scheduled” by their newsfeed, app, or influencer? How do you differentiate and calculate that segmentation? Who decides the nature of the relationship which that content is having with you? Did you *want* to read this post, or did your subscription schedule it? At the time you clicked on it, it was the latter, which would suggest you were manipulated to watch something you might otherwise not have chosen to watch. Yet, once you finish reading this and watching the accompanying video, you may come to the conclusion that you found the 6 minutes well spent, and the presentation helped you to think about an issue of import, so it became the former scenario, i.e.: you wanted to watch it. Chicken, meet egg.

Furthermore, while it’s a lovely idea in some sense, why should a company that is only profitable if users spend time on its site invest time and money encouraging people to *leave* its site? It’s as if you expect a gas station to greet you, as you drive in to refill, with a big sign saying “please leave now, and go ride your bike”. Those of you who know me are well aware of my hope that people will walk and bike more, but that does not mean I expect gas stations and car companies to invest in that movement, to their own detriment.

I find these sorts of speakers spend so much time telling us how we are all unwitting victims of some nefarious illuminati, instead of reminding us that we are each responsible for our own choices and world views, and we need to increase our active participation in how our days are filled. Stop waiting for Netflix and Facebook to program your content, and program it yourself! Take agency.

Mr. Harris does close with a worthy observation, in that human beings have certain boundaries that ought to be acknowledged and honored (“sleep” is the one he mentions, but there is also eating – and especially healthy food choices, learning more positive information about cultures other than our own, understanding the benefits of more thoughtful and well-informed choices, etc, etc…).

“A blockquote highlights important information, which may or may not be an actual quote. It uses distinct styling to set it apart from other content on the page.”

 

 

April Perry


Following is an Interview with April Perry, Managing Consultant at Drake Beam Morin, now Adecco – the world’s leading Human Resource services consultancy.

 

de Wolff Advisors President, Nicholas de Wolff consulted to DBM and its Managing Consultant for more than a year, providing advisory and restructuring counsel, as the organization moved toward its successful acquisition by Adecco. The following are excerpts from an interview we conducted with the firm’s Los Angeles Director.

Q. What can you tell me about working with Nicholas de Wolff?

Nicholas always found time to help me and my staff with a variety of projects – everything from editorial rewrites on corporate documentation, to serving as an invaluable sounding board on some very high-level strategy we were exploring. As such, it is impossible for me to compare him to others, as I have yet to meet an individual so adept at wearing a diversity of strategic and tactical hats.

Q. What would you say are his greatest strengths?

Extraordinary insight, piercing intellect, and sensitivity. A marvelous sense of humor, and a degree of innovative thinking and creativity matched only by his tenacity and efficiency.

Q. What type of contributions did he make that had a definite impact on the company’s bottom line?

His ability to crystallize our messaging and positioning (and at extraordinary speed!) saved us time and money, as well as increased executive attendance at our events. He has a way of getting straight to the point, and clarifying reality, vision, and the ways to connect the two that ensure a superior degree of operational and strategic efficiency. He works at a fantastic pace, without sacrificing the quality of his contribution. I find him to be a motivational, inspirational, challenging, and charming collaborator.

Q. How responsive was he to the suggestions of others?

He is very open to input, and in fact requires it. However, he will be swift to challenge your position if it is not well-thought out.

Q. Can he communicate technical ideas to non-technical associates?

I have no doubt that, as the one-time Chief Marketing Officer of one of the world’s largest multinational technology service providers, he fulfilled this role with deceptive ease. On a personal note, I am consistently amazed at how much he knows about technology trends, and how he is able to explain them to me without making my head spin!

Q. Would fellow co-workers consider him to be a leader or follower?

Leader.

Q. What would you want a prospective employer to know about him?

Don’t let this one go. Do whatever you must to get him on your team.

Q. Would you hire him again, if you could?

Without question.

 

For more than a decade I have been railing against Unicorns, while concurrently coining the notion of Workhorse or Zebra startup mentalities. My passion for reimagining the approach that innovators and inventors take to building their business propositions is matched by my zeal for an equally aggressive repositioning at the other end of the enterprise scale.

Too many large enterprises (I’ve worked at a few) operate much as an aircraft carrier [if you’ve heard me speak on the topic, you know this analogy of mine all too well!]. They are slow to respond, costly to maintain, and require astonishing lead-times in order to effect any sort of course correction. I have long held that modern businesses need to model their operational efficiency on a “Jetski” principle: nimble, reactive, fast, and able to jump over any unexpected wave running counter to its objective. While one of the most telling characteristics of the lumbering giant enterprise is its slow response time, these sorts of megacompanies have mitigated that weakness by establishing, as best they could, de facto monopolies or regional agreements with competitors, so as to ensure themselves the lead-time necessary to implement unavoidable changes. That worked while technology and society moved at something close to the same pace as these brands. One of the most important aspects of jetski companies (as I have called them, for a while), is that – while they may not have the resources to individually manage the same volume of customers or clients as the aircraft carriers, they are able to adapt much more efficiently and effectively to sea changes.

Residential ISPs have been operating under a massively flawed business model for years now, and seem to have no interest in changing said model. AT&T, Spectrum (formerly Charter and Time-Warner), and others believe that customer churn is an acceptable cost of doing business.

So long as they can successfully seduce an equal or greater volume of new customers each month, to offset loss of customers due to their shady price hikes (or keep a sufficient volume of customers who are too lazy or ignorant to contest the price hikes), these near monopolies are happy.

Any intelligent market analyst will note, though, that inevitably accelerating changes in technology always disrupt long-established yet unchanging business models. These large behemoths are lumbering along as if their revenue streams are secure.

As 5G continues its maturation and deployment, and initiatives such as Loon point the way to yet more compelling alternatives, customers repeatedly abused by current ISP giants will be eager to explore emerging options.

In the face of these disruptions, no amount of retroactive price cuts will restore customer faith in the big brands that for so long exploited their market dominance.

No matter how faithful these brands may have been to their shareholders, if customer volume drops, so will the share price.

The painfully obvious lesson here being that in an age of accelerating technological and social disruption, the relationship a product or service brand has with its customers is the most important relationship to establish, manage, and honor.

This doesn’t mean brands should become enslaved by the vicissitudes of mercurial and sometimes manipulative shoppers: “two wrongs don’t make a right”, as our parents often said!

It does mean that transactional relationships need to be more equitable, manageable, and transparent. ISPs and other businesses incapable of upgrading their methodologies and practices will be disconnected, beached…insert analogy or metaphor of choice.

 

2019 will be a year of upheaval in the social media universe, IMHO. Some predict the demise of one or two major brands, a prediction that can be rather easily diverted with some timely and judicious mixes of savvy marketing, PR, and policy change. I don’t believe Facebook is intentionally malicious, as some claim, but it has been more than a little dumb, to be blunt. Engineers are renowned for their brilliance, but also for their tone-deaf pursuit of iterative project advancement. This year should be a year of listening, adapting, and evolution. The consequences of doing otherwise could be dire. 

(December 2018 poll of 39,496 Twitter users)


I recently conducted a far-reaching poll, the results of which confirm that Facebook is struggling with its brand reputation. This needs to be addressed promptly. What also needs to be addressed is the reputation of social media platforms and channels, in general, as isolation chambers, echo chambers, and breeding grounds for extreme and intolerant voices. Social Media promised a brave new world of community, consciousness, and communication. The reality has been far less appealing. What will the likes of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and even LinkedIn do in 2019 to moderate the narratives and dialogues on their platforms, sufficient to more equitably encourage and realize the promise once seen? It’s not a request easily fulfilled, but it’s worthy of the effort, if businesses and individuals are to effectively leverage internet technology in pursuit of more meaningful and rewarding connections and relationships.

It’s worth noting that the results of the above poll are strongly influenced by several factors:
1 – the poll was conducted on Twitter, which partly accounts for the massive Twittaffection. Let’s subjectively assume a 3X factor of skewing, which means a more objective platform might have yielded a comparative 25% loyalty marker.
2 – Poll respondents seem to suggest that the Instagram brand is not as adversely affected by the Facebook scandal as investors have presumed.
3 – LinkedIn is the most specialized of the above 4 brands, focused as it is on those business communities that might benefit from digital networking activity. I estimate this means their 8% mark is a far stronger and more focused group, and thus less susceptible to having their loyalties changed.

Given the above, I posit the relative contextual strength of the four brands might be better compared as follows:

LinkedIn – 36% 
Facebook – 8%
Twitter – 35%
Instagram – 21% 

These numbers are subject to wide variances, depending on the business decisions made by Microsoft, Twitter, and Facebook, in the coming year.

 

A member of my Social Media community recently asked me to give them an example of what they can do as an individual, to address the inescapable reality of Climate Change. In their words, “…I don’t know if I am helping or hurting the situation.” I thought it might be useful to “recycle” my answer here:

I post a number of suggestions, as and when I find them, on my Twitter feed (which reflects only personal opinions, not those of the firm).

In the meantime, it would be great to confirm you are addressing the “situation”, as you politely call it, on 3 fronts:

1. Change the Lightbulbs

Many people feel overwhelmed by the dire predictions and visible signs of global climate change, and thereby fear that individual small actions amount to a waste of time. You may either assume everyone else is stuck in a paralysis of fear, and do nothing, or you may trust that active climate leaders outnumber the deniers, and collectively our small actions will have a mighty global impact! Obviously changing lightbulbs and turning down the thermostat are good places to begin, but there are so many more things you can do:

  • Make sure your air conditioning and heating units are ENERGY STAR models.
  • Set a non-ENERGY STAR air conditioning unit to “Quiet Guard” or “Power Save” mode.
  • Get a programmable thermostat that will automatically turn your AC and heater on or off to save on energy.
  • Always keep windows and doors tightly shut when running the AC or heater.
  • If you have central AC, close the air vents and doors in unused rooms to avoid cooling or heating unused spaces.
  • Turn off kitchen or bath exhaust fans as soon as possible.
  • Use ceiling fans to cool a room instead of turning on the AC.
  • You can set your thermostat to slightly higher temperatures if you have ceiling fans installed! In fact, you can probably change the setting by 3 or 4 degrees, regardless, without noticeable discomfort.

In Winter…

  • Reverse your ceiling fan’s direction to run clockwise and at low speed so that the room air is being pulled up, and warm air is distributed from the ceiling down into the room.
  • Keep your thermostat settings at around 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit at night to save on heating costs.
  • Remember to reduce the temperature setting on your thermostat whenever you leave the house. Many thermostats have an “Away” function, FYI.

In Summer…

  • Turn your ceiling fan’s blades so that it runs in a counter-clockwise direction. This will direct the air down into the room and create a cooling wind chill effect.
  • Try to keep the difference between the temperature of your thermostat setting and outside temperatures to a minimum. The bigger the difference, the more energy you will lose.
  • Increase temperature settings on your thermostat when you leave the house – there is no need to keep cooling excessively when no one is home. Again, many thermostats have an “Away” function, FYI.
  • Consider turning your AC off entirely every time you leave your house or apartment, especially when you are traveling for business or leisure. If you have a pet and live in a hot climate zone, consider your pet’s comfort and safety, of course.
  • Clean your air conditioner and heater’s air filters regularly.
  • Check if any ducts to your heating or cooling equipment are leaking and fix them to increase efficiency levels.
  • To keep your central air conditioner unit working efficiently, clean the outside compressor on a regular basis.
  • Keep plants at least one foot away from an outdoor AC unit to provide sufficient airflow.
  • Plan to have your entire heating system inspected by a professional on a regular basis, especially if it’s natural gas.
  • Invest in an energy-efficient heat pump to save on heating costs.
  • Electric baseboard heating can be very effective. To keep it that way, you should leave a clearance of at least three inches under the heating unit and avoid placing furniture or draperies too close to it.
  • While portable heaters are very convenient, they also waste a lot of energy. Limit your use of the same and opt for the regular heaters instead.

Insulation & Ventilation

  • Check your roof and basement for water leaks. Insulation that gets wet is ineffective!
  • Seal any cracks in the attic, basement, or crawl spaces with materials like caulk and spray foam.
  • Block gaps around windows and door frames with weather strips or draft guards.
  • Beware: air vents blocked by drapes, curtains, and furniture can increase heating costs.
  • Make sure your walls are insulated properly to prevent energy loss and shield your home from outside temperatures.
  • Cover bare floors with carpeting or rugs to help insulate your home.
  • Shut the damper in your fireplace when it is not in use to keep warm air from escaping.
  • Keep the doors inside your home open to allow conditioned air to circulate freely (while noting point 5 above).
  • Most homes come equipped with about 3 inches of insulation in the attic. You can easily upgrade this to 12 inches to reduce both heating and cooling energy usage.

Lighting Your Home

  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED or CFL models, which are slightly more expensive to purchase, but will last longer and save you significant amounts of energy and money in the long run.
  • If you have halogen light bulbs installed, you should consider replacing them with CFLs, which don’t emit as much heat and use much less energy.
  • When purchasing new light bulbs, double-check that you are purchasing the correct bulb size and brightness for your light fixture to avoid losing energy by installing light bulbs that are too big or too bright for your actual needs.
  • Check all your light fixtures to see if they have an “Energy Star” label. If not, it might be a good idea to invest into “Energy Star” certified lighting.
  • Manual timer controls are a great way to set certain times during which you want lights or electronics to be switched on. Once that time period ends, all of the connected devices will switch off automatically.
  • Install dimmer switches to control your lights can be a great and simple way to save on energy. By dimming a light, you reduce its wattage and energy output.
  • Install motion sensors in your exterior, which turn your lights on only when something or someone is moving.
  • Like thermostats, which control temperature, there are now digital systems you can install that control lights throughout your home. Some even offer remote control features through a connected mobile app. These digital systems can help you determine the most efficient use of light and automate the turning on and off process.
  • Reduce the overall amount of free-standing, redundant lights throughout your home to avoid turning them on out of habit.
  • f you want to increase the efficiency of your free-standing lights, try installing light-colored lampshades and placing them in corners, because from there they will reflect light from two walls instead of just one (especially in front of bright wallpaper).

Harnessing the Sun

  • When purchasing a new home or installing new windows, keep an eye out for the “National Fenestration Rating Council” label, which certifies energy-efficient windows.
  • Installing light-colored curtains is a great way to allow sunlight to enter and brighten the room without inviting too much heat.
  • A natural way to shield your home from sunlight is to plant trees on the sunny side of the house.
  • Make use of your shades by blocking sunlight from entering your home during the day in the summer. This will help keep it cool inside.
  • During the winter, leave the shades wide open during the day, which will allow the sun to heat your interior with natural, free energy.
  • Use shades to block warm air from escaping your home in the winter by keeping them shut on the north side of your home during the day
  • At night, keep shades shut all around the house to keep warm air in.

Combatting the Sun

  • Upgrade to reflective roofs to reduce heat buildup.
  • You can also apply a reflective coating to your existing roof to slow down deterioration.
  • Consider placing screens and films on your windows to reduce the impact of UV rays.
  • Apply reflective coating on window glass to reduce the amount of heat entering your home.
  • Invest in high-performance windows that will help your AC system run more efficiently.

Refrigerator

  • Use the power-save mode on your refrigerator (if available).
  • Set the temperature to somewhere between 30 and 42°F.
  • Refrigerators purchased in or before the 1990s are “energy vampires.” Replace them with ENERGY STAR units as soon as possible!
  • Did you know that an empty fridge uses more energy than a fully loaded one? Make sure to keep it stocked and consider filling the freezer with large containers of water.
  • A slightly inconvenient yet simple way to increase your refrigerator’s efficiency levels is to dust its coils, which are located on the back.
  • Check if moisture is collecting or if you can feel cold air around the closed door of your refrigerator. If yes, it might be time to repair the door seals to avoid wasting energy.
  • Do you really need that second fridge in the garage or basement? Probably not. Get rid of it and save energy.

Oven

  • When your meal is almost finished, try turning off your oven or stove burners early. The remaining heat, in most cases, is enough to finish the cooking.
  • When heating up leftovers, considering using the microwave and toaster oven, as they will use less energy than your conventional oven.
  • Opening and closing the oven causes temperature changes of up to 25 degrees. So keep the oven door closed while cooking to avoid making it “work harder” to maintain high temperatures.
  • Immediately clean your oven after cooking or baking, because a clean oven has much shorter warm-up times than a dirty one.

Cooking

  • When preparing a meal with many ingredients, take as many as possible out of the refrigerator at once to avoid opening and closing its door; every time warm air enters the unit, it ends up having to use more energy to cool down again.
  • Some stove models provide burners with different sizes. If that’s the case with yours, try to find a pot that perfectly fits the burner on your stove, because small pots don’t need all the heat of a big burner.
  • Copper-bottomed pots and pans are a great investment if you would like to use heat more efficiently when preparing food on the stove.
  • Pay attention to stove reflector pans and keep them clean so they can reflect more heat upward.
  • Not every pot has a lid, but if it does you should use it because it can contribute to building up heat much faster and shorten your overall cooking time.
  • If you have a door separating you from the rest of the house, try keeping it open during winter months to let the warm air around the oven and stove help heat your home’s interior.
  • While it’s nice to feel some of the oven heat when baking or cooking during colder months, it can unnecessarily heat up your home during the summer. So, consider preparing meals on the grill outside to avoid AC overuse.

Dishwasher

  • Use the “economy mode” setting on your dishwasher as much as possible.
  • Start your dishwasher only once it’s full, to avoid washing a smaller number of dishes over the course of several washing cycles.
  • Turn off your dishwasher as soon as the wash cycle finishes, then air-dry the dishes.

Washer & Dryer

  • Only do laundry when you can use the machine at capacity. Otherwise, you’ll end up doing more frequent washing cycles with smaller loads and waste energy that way.
  • What many don’t know is that laundry detergents work just as well with cold as they do with warm water. Consider keeping your washer’s temperature setting on cold to avoid wasting energy.
  • If you do not have enough laundry to wash a full load, change the settings so the washer uses less water.
  • When doing laundry, try to wash and dry more than one load at once, so that you can take advantage of the dryer’s leftover heat and put in the second load when it is still warm.
  • Consider air-drying your light fabrics and only using the dryer for heavy fabrics
  • To keep your dryer’s efficiency at the highest level, clean the lint filter before every load.
  • Check on your clothes earlier than usual when they are in the dryer. They might already be dry. Over-drying not only wastes energy but also causes static and sometimes wrinkling.
  • Make sure that your dryer is venting to the outside – especially during summer – so that your AC unit does not have to work extra hard to keep it cool inside.

Electronics

  • Always turn off all your electronic devices when you are not using them.
  • Unplug electronics that are not in use to prevent them from using energy.
  • Unplug a device AND its charger as soon as the battery has is recharged! Even if your device is unplugged, chargers will continue to use energy.
  • Adjust your TV and computer screen settings to lower contrast and brightness levels, but make sure that you are not damaging your eyes as a result.

TV & Computer

  • When purchasing a new TV, make sure to get a model that is “Energy Star” certified.
  • Change or turn off its factory settings, because newer models are mostly set to “showroom” mode, which uses much more energy.
  • Instead of getting a desktop computer, invest your money in a laptop. It will be more convenient and energy-efficient.
  • Computer screen savers can be fun, but they also use up energy. Instead, adjust your computer settings to sleep or hibernate mode for longer periods of inactivity.

Water

  • Fix any leaky faucet or showerhead immediately!
  • Also frequently check your hot water pipes, especially older ones, for leaks.
  • Shorten your hot showers or use lukewarm water instead.
  • You can install low-flow faucets and showerheads to reduce your use of hot water.

Water Heater

  • Consider reducing the temperature settings of your water heater to about 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This is plenty to keep your water hot enough for everyday use.
  • Some water heaters come with built-in timers, but if they don’t, you might want to connect it to a manual timer. Either way, it is a good idea to set it to be turned off when no one is home.
  • When you are going on vacation or leaving your home for a short business trip, make sure to turn off your water heater while you are gone. Otherwise, it will keep heating the water in a sort of “standby mode.”
  • A small and cheap trick to save on energy when it comes to your heater is to insulate the first six feet of the water pipes connected to the unit.
  • Save energy by insulating your old unit with insulation wrap. Make sure to keep any vents uncovered.

(tips were compiled using resources from sites such as homeselfe.com, greenage, and energystar.gov)

2. Change the Laws

It’s amazing that, in the midst of a political climate that suggests bipartisan citizen-led democracy is a fading fantasy, we can find ourselves suddenly reminded how powerful we actually are, as individuals. Last week, the California Assembly voted on SB100, a landmark energy conservation bill. The vote fell 4 votes short of passing, until I and a strong group of associates at the Climate Reality Leadership Conference jumped on phone, email, and text, and bombarded 4 Assembly members with our desire to see them switch their votes. Joined by (I’m sure) many others outside of our gathering, we managed to change all 4 minds in less than 2 hours, and they flipped their votes, in response to the powerful citizen push. Your voice matters!..

…except when it doesn’t.

3. Change the Leadership

Special interest groups and corporate lobbyists have corrupted the sanctity of Public Office. Nobody can claim otherwise. There exist a number of honorable elected officials, from all points on the political spectrum, who wish this were not so, and are willing and, in some cases, actively trying, to fight this blight on our democratic landscape. Others sit comfortably in the pockets of big money, dark money, corporate greed, and other special interests that obstruct the will of the People. Unless these forces openly hack the electoral system on a massive scale (hello Russia!), your vote matters immensely. Americans vote in pitiful numbers at Election time (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_turnout_in_the_United_States_presidential_elections), and this has to change. If you have already registered to vote, help 4 other people who are eligible, to register, and help elect sincere public servants who want to represent their constituents and our planet with sincerity, humility, and vision.

Thank you for caring enough to take action.

What do you do to address the Climate Change crisis?

 

Finally got to test “Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire”, launched last year by The Void, a location-specific “whole-body, fully immersive VR experience”.

While this experience is certainly superior to their other immersive walkthru, Ghostbusters, I continue to question whether these platforms for VR tech will ultimately be able to settle on a sustainable price point? is still trying to find its place in Entertainment, IMHO (ed.: I admit I’ve not had the opportunity to try their third, older walkthru, “Nicodemus”)

While experiencing this product, I returned to my now decade-old claim that AR would likely prevail in M&E long before VR. Is it fair to label an immersive walkthru, with physical cues and feedback, haptic feedback, and multisensory components (smells, physical environmental audio, etc) as , strictly speaking? The parameters seem much more akin to , in a sort of inverted fashion.

VR is showing itself to be enormously compelling in construction, healthcare, research, and real estate, among other market sectors. Not Entertainment.

AR is a marvelous and *still* undervalued opportunity for the Entertainment industry, and I remain eager to see how brands, both creative and technological leverage that potential.