Surrendering Privacy For A Lousy Tuxedo, By Bob Sullivan

I’ve been raging about Facebook-style privacy invasions for a long time, so I’m glad that folks seem to be listening now. I’m not a Luddite, however. My complaints, typically about how we’re surrendering privacy at unprecedented levels with consequences we can’t possibly imagine, are a lot more practical, and personal.

I have a black tie event to attend soon, and since I no longer fit into the pants, I did what any sensible consumer who attends a black tie event every five years would do — I poked around Nordstrom Rack hoping to find a pair that could pass for a single evening.  I’ll be sitting at a table most of the night, so who’ll notice if they aren’t a perfect match?

I gave up in about 3 minutes, when the small degree of fashion pride I had set in, realizing that my plan wouldn’t work.  So I schlepped to a Nordstrom Rack store the next day and tried on a bunch of black pants to make sure I wouldn’t embarrass myself.

Fast forward to the next morning when I open my daily New York Times email, which came with an enticing headline about allergies.  And what do I see at the top of the email? An ad for tuxedo pants! And it was a bad ad. Uniquely bad. Catastrophically bad. Targeted bad.

It was an ad for something that I had just purchased…in fact, something I had just purchased from the very store that paid for the ad. There could be no worse time to show me this ad. Any random ad would be better than an ad for the very thing I need to buy the least, right?

But wait: There’s even more wrong with my tuxedo-ad experience. Being the game consumer that I am, I clicked on the ad to see what would happen. Maybe there’s a cheaper price for the pants I’d just purchased, and I could return them and save a few bucks. Alas, when I do, I see the curious chart above. While the price for the pants is indeed competitive, fully 16 of the 17 sizes shown are unavailable.  Only a single size — 42×32 — is actually for sale. Meaning, in reality, I got an ad for something that wasn’t for sale. How irritating!

Here’s what I know: Someone is stealing Nordstrom’s advertising money.  I know I’m telling you something you know. We’ve all glanced at a product online, only to be stalked by that product for days, at every website we visit. The ad industry calls this re-targeting, and claims these ads have superior click-through rates.  Solid data from the ad industry is hard to come by, however.

But this is not a story about tuxedo pants.  Or about annoying ads. This is a story about the false promise that is the utopia of targeted advertising, and the unexpected consequences that this foolish quest creates.

Years ago, when I first ranted against re-targeting, I talked — as I always do — about future unintended consequences.  This is exactly the point of this story. Who knows how my search for pants today might be used against me tomorrow? Will it signal to my health insurance company that my rates need to go up?  Will a potential future employer use that information to turn me down for a job?

I don’t know. But I do know these ads didn’t help. And they might hurt. That’s a bad deal for everyone.

Bob Sullivan is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! He worked for News for nearly 20 years, and continues to appear on NBC TV programs as a consumer and technology expert.

Summer Reads, By Mary Thompson

I could skip spring, skip the season’s attendant allergies and spotty weather and head straight into summer. Summer is warmth, sunshine and a stack of good books to read on the beach.

Fortunately, the official start is less than two months away so if you are compiling your summer reading list, I have two books to recommend. They are not traditional beach reads, but when you are done I guarantee your time will have been well spent.

My first recommendation brings you on a journey no one wants to take. Imagine you have an incurable form of cancer. The wonders of modern medicine keep the cancer from progressing, but the beast does not retreat. This is author Kate Bowler’s reality and as an inhabitant of this medical purgatory, she recounts the funny and thoughtful ways her friends and family respond to her situation in Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved.

More than a memoir, the book is a reflection on ‘whys’ of life and how we try to make sense of questions that cannot be answered. A professor at Duke Divinity School, Bowler is intimately familiar with those seeking these answers through her research on the prosperity gospel. As a young mother unsure if she will see her son’s next birthday, Bowler has plenty of questions of her own.

The questions are not easy, still she asks them, as do her friends and family. The reward in this exercise is not in finding the ‘because’ to the ‘why’, but in rediscovering how rich life can be in small moments and big milestones. As Bowler points out, in our rush to get to the next thing we often fail to pay proper homage to these moments. Now that Bowler’s unanswered question centers on how much time she has, grace, if not answers, is delivered in these moments, past and present.

My second pick is Georgia Hunter’s extraordinary We Were the Lucky OnesWhile fiction, the book hews closely to her family’s mind-bending tale of survival during World War II. In the end, the Kurcs, the parents, five siblings, a grandchild and four in-laws survive the near annihilation of the Jewish population of Radom, Poland. They survive through will, smarts and a deep faith they would one day be together again.

I will say no more, except put it on your list.

Mary Thompson is a Managing Director for G100 Network, a leader in peer-to-peer executive education. She is also a recovering journalist having spent 26 years as a print, radio and TV reporter for CNBC and Bloomberg.

When The Wolves Bite, By Scott Wapner

By any standard, January 25, 2013, began like any other for the thousands of traders, money managers and financiers making their way to Wall Street’s canyons that morning, albeit with a snow-dusted commute — the first of the season.

But by 1pm, it wasn’t the wintery weather topping the tape. Rather, it was a public brawl so outrageous and audacious, few could believe what had just taken place. For the better part of the previous hour, investing titans Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman had hurled insults at each other on live TV – on my CNBC program — bringing trading to a near standstill in what some would call the Greatest Moment in the History of Financial Television.

Icahn called Ackman, “a crybaby in the school yard… a major loser.”  And worse.

Ackman said Icahn was a bully with a bad reputation.

From Davos to Dallas, mouths were agape.

Thus would begin one of the biggest battles Wall Street had ever seen – a fight to the finish with the multi-level marketing company Herbalife caught in the middle.  Ackman had massively shorted the stock, a billion dollar bet that came with a bold claim. Herbalife was a pyramid scheme, he charged, and the stock was destined for the dumpster.

If he only knew who was lurking.  And waiting.

Perched high above midtown Manhattan in his office overlooking the most enticing stretch of Central Park, the legend, Carl Icahn had seen enough.  Icahn had become one of New York City’s richest men by rarely backing down. He had spent decades dueling with CEO’s and others and was always looking for a score.  If that meant a fight, or two along the way, so be it. He had heard of Ackman’s assault, decried his histrionics and couldn’t resist. Icahn quickly took the other side of the trade – payback it seemed for a decade-old rift that had festered for too long.

For five years they would battle.  Other A-listers would jump in and take sides.

Wall Street would never be the same.

Neither would Herbalife, which would fight like hell for its own survival.  Ackman compared the company to the Nazis, said its CEO was a predator, likening its legions of distributors to near criminals preying on the less fortunate, mostly unsuspecting immigrants.

In the end, the struggle would put the art of activist investing in the spotlight – the methods and objectives of some of the most high-profile money men on the planet.  Had all of it gone too far, some wondered?

When The Wolves Bite is the fascinating true story behind the battle of the billionaires, with the book capturing the great lengths two of the world’s best-known investors would go to win, while offering a vivid portrait of the greed, power and ambition that runs rampant on Wall Street.

I wrote this book because I don’t think there will ever be a story like this again – a tale of two egos – two masters of the universe fighting so publicly, so openly and for so long.


Scott Wapner, an award-winning and Emmy-nominated journalist, is currently Host of CNBC’s Fast Money Halftime Report, which airs weekdays 12 pm to 1 pm. When The Wolves Bite, which will be released on April 24th (Pre-order here), is his first book.

Why are there so many data breaches? By John Ulzheimer

Unless you’ve been living on a desert island for the past 5 years you’re probably familiar with the some of the high profile data breaches that seem to happen with startling regularity. Even so, I’d almost bet the farm that there are considerably more data breaches that you haven’t heard about.

Sure, we all know about Target, Equifax, Home Depot, and Anthem breaches primarily because of their media coverage. But did you know about MyFitnessPal, Panera Bread, Lord & Taylor, Marriott, Walmart, Dollar General, and Bed Bath & Beyond? All of their breaches occurred in 2018, in the last few months. And, the MyFitnessPal breach was larger than the Equifax breach, plus now everyone knows what you eat and how much weight you’ve lost!

The real question you’re probably asking is why in the world are there so many breaches? There are several answers to that question.

1. The information is highly valuable and, thus, is constantly being targeted. Hacking is the new breaking and entering. And your personal identification information (Pii) is the golden ticket. Think about this from the fraudster’s ROI perspective (Return on Investment). Isn’t it easier and safer for me to open a new credit card in your name and use it to buy a television than it is for me to break into your house and physically steal your TV? Your Pii is essentially the crown jewels for credit fraudsters. Name, address, DOB and SSN…that’s all I need in order to apply for credit in your name.

2. It’s clear the data is not secure enough and hackers are smart. I don’t want to go all tech geek on you, but if you can show me a truly secure server, network, phone line, internet connection, or mailbox I’ll be the first in line to buy it. Long story short…you can’t, because it doesn’t exist. Employee error, inside jobs, a lack of training or knowledge, and negligence can be blamed for almost all successful breaches. And please consider this, breaches are crimes being committed by criminals so your anger should be directed accordingly.

3. Your data is in too many places to truly protect it 24/7/365. Last year, I started compiling a list of external parties that have my Pii in their possession. My accountant, primary care physician, dentist, former employers, my clients, hotel chains, airlines, rental car chains…I stopped after the list became 3 pages long. And you’re partially to blame as well. How many of you have your DOB on Facebook? I can find your address using Google and I already know your name. That just leaves your SSN missing and then I can apply for credit in your name. Stop giving out your personal information!

What Can I Do?

First off, accept the fact that not only is your information already “out there” for all to see but it’s likely your data has already been compromised in any number of breaches. If you really care about protecting your credit identity from hackers then you have to place a security freeze on all three of your credit reports. This will prevent any new credit from being issued in your name and will also prevent new lenders from being able to access your credit reports or credit scores.

John Ulzheimer is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring, and identity theft. He has written four books on the topic and has been interviewed and quoted thousands of times over the past 15 years. Formerly of Equifax and FICO, Ulzheimer, who appears regularly on national news networks, is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. He has been an expert witness in over 300 credit related lawsuits and has been qualified to testify in both federal and state courts on the topic of consumer credit.

We keep pushing for lower sodium levels–here’s why, by Phil Lempert

As followers of our weekly new product reviews are well aware, I have been calling out brands that have high levels of sodium. And a new study, published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Hypertension, reaffirms two important points:

1) There is a need for widespread sodium reduction in the food supply.

2) Other foods that we consume may not counter the harmful effect of sodium on our blood pressure.

Researchers reviewed data on sodium intake and intake of 80 nutrients, such as proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and amino acids, that may relate to blood pressure in 4,680 women and men (ages 40-59) in Japan, People’s Republic of China, the United Kingdom and the United States participating in the INTERMAP study.

The results were not surprising. “Regularly consuming excessive amounts of sodium, derived mainly from commercially processed food products, is an important factor in the development of the elevated blood pressure patterns,” writes co-lead author Jeremiah Stamler, M.D. “To prevent and control the ongoing epidemic of prehypertension and hypertension, the salt content in the food supply must be reduced significantly.”

Get this: about 3/4 of the sodium Americans eat comes from processed, prepackaged and restaurant foods – not from the salt shaker when cooking or at the table. The American Heart Association recommends adults, especially those over 50 and those with a family history of hypertension, consume no more than one teaspoon of salt (2,300 mg sodium) total per day through all the foods they eat.

How much salt does the average American consume daily? About 3,400 milligrams, or about one and a half teaspoons. Some adults eat 1,500 mg of sodium in a single fast-food meal!

Hence, the focus on sodium, particularly as we learn more about the role other nutrients play in influencing the blood pressure-raising effects of sodium. “Restaurant and prepackaged food companies must be part of the solution because Americans desire the ability to choose foods that allow them to meet their sodium reduction goals,” says Cheryl Anderson, Ph.D., vice-chair of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee.

My take is that retailers should also be part of the “solution.” They should not only pay attention to their grocerant and prepared foods offerings, but also monitor those products that want to be on their shelves.

Having a responsibility for the health and wellness of American shoppers is critical.

Phil Lempert, known as The Supermarket Guru,® is one of America’s top food industry analysts.  For over twenty years, Phil has been profiled and interviewed by hundreds of publications and made regular appearances on ABC’s The View, FOX Business, Dr. Oz, 20/20, CNN, CNBC, FOX, and served as food trends editor and correspondent for NBC News’ Today show.

A distinguished author and speaker who alerts customers and business leaders alike to impending corporate and consumer trends, Phil is also the founder of, one of the leading food and health resources on the internet. Visited by more than 9 million people each year, offers thorough food ratings, analyzes trends in food marketing and retail, and features health advice, unique recipes, nutrition analysis, allergy alerts and many other resources to help consumers understand their food, health, lifestyle and shopping options.

My Most Satisfying News Story, By John Gibson

I picked up a copy of Sea History magazine, and thought I saw the familiar lines of an old friend. Sure enough it was a painting of a tugboat, the California Eagle.

The California Eagle was owned and captain’d by an old friend, Tom Decker. He kept the boat in the Richmond Yacht Harbor, in the industrial section of Richmond, California, on the north end of the San Francisco Bay.

In 1985, a major story was playing out in the far reaches of the waterways that supply San Francisco Bay. In a shallow water slough, a juvenile humpback whale was stranded in mud and struggling to break free and get himself back into swimmable water.

The media had named him “Humphrey,” and was following his struggle with every newscast. Humphrey and his plight was even the subject of network news. Humphrey had become a national meme, though we didn’t throw around odd words like “meme” in those days.

I was the reporter assigned to San Francisco by my employer, the NBC affiliate in Sacramento. Of course, the Sacramento station was on nearly 24/7 Humphrey coverage, live shots in every newscast, and the Humphrey story promoted all day and all night. Frankly, I was grateful the whale had got itself stuck in a river far out of my coverage zone, and I didn’t have to bother with it. I fully expected the whale to die in the mud, and its bones to one day be on display in some Sacramento River town small-time museum.

But then–an ominous turn in the story. Humphrey got free of the shallow slough and was back in the big river, and worse, he was headed down river to the San Francisco Bay. Toward me.

It was with a sense of dread that I watched the coverage over the next couple of days and saw that Humphrey would soon be in the Bay, which would mean he would be my story.

I was not excited about covering the biggest story in the country.

That’s because the San Francisco Bay is huge, and I had no idea how my cameraman and I were going to get out there and get video of the confused whale as it made its way back to the sea.

My cameraman Bob was a Bay sailor and he reminded me we had done a story on a tugboat captain, maybe he could help.

So I called Tom Decker. “Could you take us out on the Bay when the whale arrives?”

He said sure thing, and I thought we were set.

On the morning Humphrey got into San Francisco Bay, I realized I had a new problem.

The Coast Guard had established a large exclusion zone for media boats. Meaning, a camera crew was not going to be able to get near the whale. The reason was that Humphrey was being lured to sea by a boat carrying some whale experts who were playing whale songs through an underwater hydrophone. The idea was that Humphrey would follow the sound of his own kind, and he could be guided through the Golden Gate and out to the Pacific.

The Coast Guard really wanted that whale gone, and was fiercely enforcing their exclusion zone.

Tom Decker said, “Let’s just go. We’ll see what happens.”

And so we did.

Tom advised it would be best if my cameraman and I stayed in the wheel house, just in case the Coast Guard commander would let a working tug transit the exclusion zone. We might be able to grab a shot or two, and scoot away without being noticed as one of the forbidden media boats.

So Captain Tom chugged into the exclusion zone, well in front of the boat luring Humphrey out of the Bay, and we were all set to snag a quick shot or two and be done with it.

Then, an odd thing happened.

Humphrey decided he liked the sound of the California Eagle better than the sounds of whale songs!

All of a sudden, the experts on the whale boat were on the radio complaining that Humphrey was no longer following them, but seemed to have broken off to follow the sound of “that damn tug.”

The Coast Guard commander came on the radio to Decker.

“The whale is on you now,” he said to Tom.

“What you want me to do?” Tom asked the commander.

The radio crackled with the order. “Back her out the Bay, Cap!”

And so in the flash of a couple moments, Humphrey The Whale was following the California Eagle and we were leading the lost whale back to the open ocean.

It was a heady feeling. News choppers overhead were focused on us. I was giving live reports back to my station in Sacramento. Humphrey was following us like we had him on a string, twenty yards off the stern of the tug.

As we passed the San Francisco city front headed for the Golden Gate I told Bob, “Ok it’s time. Get out there and get this shot.”

So he did.

As soon as he emerged from the wheel house with the camera on his shoulder, the radio exploded. “It’s a media boat, a media boat!!!” cried the frustrated and disappointed whale experts who had been denied their moment of glory.

The Coast Guard commander shut it all down with a stern transmission to Decker. “Get that whale through the Gate, Cal Eagle.”

Decker gave him a “10-4,” and on we went. When last we caught a glimpse of Humphrey, his tail fluke was splashing beneath the Golden Gate Bridge.

It wasn’t my only “exclusive” as a TV reporter, but it might well have been the most satisfying.

So when I saw the California Eagle again, on the cover of Sea History magazine, I had to look up the cover credits. Sure enough, there was the artist’s name, and her website.

I got in touch with her and made the proper arrangements. And now the portrait of the California Eagle is on my wall.

I keep it there so that in the midst of all this political mayhem, I don’t forget my great adventure with Humphrey The Humpback Whale.

John Gibson currently hosts “The John Gibson Show,” a nationally syndicated radio program that provides top news coverage and features interviews with leading newsmakers. Previously, he was host “The Big Idea With John Gibson” on Fox News, the network he joined in 2000. Prior to that, Gibson was at MSNBC hosting the network’s news talk programs, including “Newschat” and “Internight.” He also served as substitute anchor for CNBC’s “Rivera Live.”  Gibson, the author of several New York Times best sellers, is perhaps best known for his extensive coverage of the O.J. Simpson criminal trial.

How do real estate investors feel? By Mitch Roschelle

Let me start with some historical perspective. In addition to my day job on behalf of PwC, I serve as the co-publisher of “Emerging Trends in Real Estate,” for the past 39 years one of the most widely-read forecasts in the real estate industry. Each year we ask market participants, “What are the prospects for profitability for the upcoming year?” Reflecting on responses for nearly four decades provides an interesting basis for analysis.

Let’s look back to 2007. At that time the real estate market was on fire, and real estate investors were bullish about the year ahead. In fact, over 80% felt that 2007 would be another banner year.  But then came the Global Financial Crisis, and the following year real estate investors realized their glasses may have been rose-colored. While in 2007, a slight 1.6% felt that prospects were poor, in 2008 that negative sentiment jumped to more than 22%. What a difference a year makes.

Ok, you ask, so how do these folks feel a decade later? In a word, optimistic. The sentiment remains strong, with 80% of those surveyed seeing the prospects for the upcoming year as “good” or better yet “excellent.”

Now, keep in mind these surveys represent the collective views of more than 1,500 real estate folks, compiled in the late summer and early fall of the previous year. In other words, the outlook for 2018 was captured from July to September of 2017.

Since 2007 had a rosy outlook, clearly, based upon their seemingly blind optimism (hindsight is always 20/20), the real estate industry did not see the Financial Crisis coming.  As a result, when I first looked at the 2017 outlook results, I paused. Ten years later, and results look the same as they did before the Financial Crisis. Thankfully, it’s now a year later and optimism remains strong.

Being an impatient sort, I couldn’t wait for 2019’s survey results — especially with all that has changed in the market, not to mention tax reform, stock market volatility and so on. So we went back to the group with our thermometer, to take their temperature again.

The first thing we needed to know, with all the change in the market, has the industry revised its outlook? Interestingly, 65% indicated that they have not. Of the 35% who feel their outlook has changed, an overwhelming 60% have upgraded their outlook, while 40% downgraded it.  While those numbers may be interesting, we need to know why.

Like the famous (or infamous) quote goes, “It’s the economy stupid,” the big driver of the change for the good and the bad is the economy.  While economic growth is the primary cause for improved optimism, at the same time, the improving economy is the catalyst for rising interest rates. And in the eyes of those with less optimism, higher interest rates could chill the real estate market.

When one reflects on the past several recessions, the real estate industry was at the center of two of them, namely, the Savings and Loan Crisis of the late 1980’s and the Global Financial Crisis. While one can never predict what might cause the next bubble to burst, the glasses worn by real estate market participants are not as rose-colored as they were a decade ago.

Mitch is a partner at PwC, and currently serves as one of its Business Development Leaders. He was a founder of PwC’s Real Estate Advisory Practice, and has over 30 years of experience serving a wide array of real estate investors. A widely-recognized expert on real estate, as well as capital markets, the retail industry, and the economy, Mitch is a sought-after speaker and guest commentator.  He appears regularly on Bloomberg News, and the Fox Business Network, where he serves as a panelist of one of its top-rated shows, Mornings with Maria.

Jewish Meatballs, By Brandon Fay

March 9 is a National Holiday in my family. Why? Because it’s the holy day of meatballs: National Meatball Day. Hark—let every red sauce joint rejoice!

I’ve been the “Direttore Generale” of Trattoria Dell’Arte, a classic Italian restaurant across from Carnegie Hall, for over 10 years. To say I’ve had my fair share of meatballs is an understatement.  But none of my Italian chefs beat my grandmother’s meatball recipe. Which is funny because we’re Jewish. Growing up, our Passover feast included potato latkes…and spaghetti and meatballs. That was always a fun delicious twist for the holiday!

Whenever I’m not in the restaurant, I’m spending time at home cooking for my wife, Victoria, and my two-year-old daughter, Hudson Billy. The meatball recipe below usually makes it on the menu at home.  I always know I’ve cooked them just perfectly when Hudson yells “More, More!!”

Bon appetit!

Meatball Sliders
Serves 4

What you’ll need:
For the meatballs:
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
½ lb. ground beef
½ lb. ground pork
½ lb. ground veal
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 egg
½ cup grated pecorino
½ cup grated parmesan
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 cups canola oil

For assembly:
12 mini buns (I like King’s Hawaiian)
½ lb. burrata cheese
1 bunch basil

How to make it:
1. Heat oil in a saute pan, and sweat onions and garlic until translucent and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove and let cool.
2. When onion mixture is cooled, mix together with all remaining ingredients except for the blended oil. Portion into 2 ounce meatballs. [TIP: Use an ice cream scoop for consistency.]
3. Heat 2 tbsp. of canola oil in a large ovenproof saute pan until it starts to shimmer, about 3 minutes. Evenly distribute meatballs in the pan, making sure not to crowd them. Sear on all sides until nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. Repeat with remaining meatballs until all meatballs are seared.
4. Pour tomato sauce into the same pan, and add back the meatballs. Transfer to a 350 F oven and finish cooking the meatballs, about 25 minutes.
5. When ready to serve, assemble the sliders as such: Place a meatball on a bun, top with a dollop of burrata and a basil leaf. Serve with extra tomato sauce on the side for dipping.

Spaghetti & Meatballs
Serves 4

What you’ll need:
1 lb. spaghetti
12 meatballs (see recipe above)
1 qt. tomato sauce (see below)
¼ cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
Basil leaves, for garnish

For tomato sauce:
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2, 28 oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes, hand crushed
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1 tsp. granulated sugar
Kosher salt, to taste
1 cup basil leaves

How to make it:
1. For the sauce: Heat oil in a medium sauce pan; sweat garlic until fragrant (do not brown), about 3 minutes.  Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and let cook until reduce by half and thickened, about 35-40 minutes. Remove from heat and adjust seasoning if necessary.
2. When ready to serve, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.
3. In the interim, transfer tomato sauce to a large sauce pan. When pasta is al dente, add to the sauce and toss. Mix in ¼ cup of parmesan cheese. Add in meatballs and toss until reheated. Transfer to a large platter and garnish with more parmesan and basil leaves.

Brandon Fay is a TV Personality, Celebrity Restaurateur and Hospitality Guru. Native to New York City, Brandon has over 20 years of experience working in the hospitality industry. Brandon joined the Fireman Hospitality Group over 15 years ago. Throughout his tenure, he has held many titles and responsibilities, from Maitre D’ to his current role as Managing Director of The Trattoria Dell’Arte, which he has helped propel into one of New York’s most successful, profitable and iconic Italian restaurants. Known as the “Go To” for all of Trattoria Dell’Arte’s “A-list” celebrity guests, Brandon appears Sunday mornings on CBS-2 in New York City for his popular recurring segment, “Cooking with Brandon.”

Follow Brandon on @cookingwithbrandon and watch his cooking videos here.

5 Things You Might Not Know About Leadership, By Elizabeth McCourt


1. People Are Intimidated by You
I’ve worked with many intimidating leaders who didn’t realize it. Really? How could they not know? When you’re very smart and quick on your feet, people can get intimidated because they fear you might think they are stupid. Let’s face it, there are certainly stupid questions, but sometimes you want the question. Without self-awareness of your intimidation factor, you could be hindering growth and innovation as well as creating a stressful and less productive environment. You might actually be inspiring, but do you want to be unapproachable?

Tip: Try to be curious and ask a question rather than firing off the answer. Something as simple as “What kind of feedback are you looking for?” could go a long way.

2. Vulnerability Builds Trust
I don’t mean crying or showing inappropriate emotions on a regular basis. Relating to someone or sharing a weakness can help build trust. Trust is one of the most important factors for building highly successful teams. If your team thinks you are stoic and unflappable, they are not going to come to you with issues they should be coming to you with. Never underestimate the value of connecting with someone in a more personal way.

3. Celebrating Failure Inspires Innovation
Google is famous not only for innovation, but for celebrating failures. Failing doesn’t necessarily feel great, but by experimenting and testing limits, you might have a fantastic result that might not have seemed possible. Creative risk-taking isn’t for every project, but giving people some leeway to fail might lead to an invaluable discovery.

4. Pivoting is Essential
Has there been a time when your vision seems unattainable or you’ve come to a crossroads? Great leaders don’t get stuck when a project isn’t going as expected— they pivot. If you’ve rallied around “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” then you’re as old as that saying. Innovation and doing things differently is exciting and essential for growth. Utilize the dynamic skills of your team to inspire you to try something new. In fact, it might be time to try some reverse mentorship and invite the skills of your millennials. Ask those younger team members about some of their ideas, then mentor them about more high-level ways of business. Beyond mindset, people are an important element in the pivot.

5. Combine Performance & Presence
Are you a leader who has presence, performance or both? Presence is when a person enters and takes control of the room. Performance is that driven person you know who always gets it done and executes at a high level, but may be less center stage. A leader will have a nice combination of both and that’s how to be inspirational.

Tip: Ask three people to be brutally honest and give you 3 words that describe you. Notice a theme or something missing that you’d like to have.


As founder of McCourt Leadership Group, you might find Elizabeth McCourt supporting a C-suite client on leadership challenges or giving a Ted talk sharing her thoughts on the power of vulnerability and openness. Elizabeth is a sought-after speaker on resilience, mindset and the non-linear path to success. On March 6, she’ll become a novelist with the publication of her first book, Sin in The Big Easy.

Investing (Differently), By Robert Bailey


What does your investing give you: More money? Or more worry?

Hearing a stock tip from Cramer or a neighbor might seem innocent. But overhearing a Cramer rant shouldn’t create angst and doubt. If you think Zut! I’ve missed the BIG ONE (again), you have a problem.

Even for pros, investing is an emotional exercise. Unless you’re buying Tesla, stocks have nothing to do with rocket science. The antidote to investment blues is rather obvious. Read books that shape your critical mind. Warren Buffett partner Charlie Munger states the point. “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time — none, zero.” Wise people yes—and rich. But which books?

Why not get to know Warren Buffett? “Snowball” by Alice Schroeder tracks the emergence of Warren Buffett’s persona. Inclined to research and personal development Warren’s methods refined over time. He regards “How to Win Friends and Influence People” as formative. Such wisdom is Buffett’s investment system.

You have missed clear economic logic without Thomas Sowell. In “Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy” Dr. Sowell covers a range of terms and concepts. Yet he shatters the dull gravity of academia—and economics. Zippy true statements such as “prices are what pay for costs” are normal. At 87, Dr. Sowell recently retired from writing. He is a dedicated researcher and thinker. His work on the causes of global poverty, racism, and debt will remain some of the most readable around.

In his previous book, Nasim Nicholas Taleb added a new word to the everyday lexicon: The Black Swan. These are unlikely events with lasting long-term impact. As a top former options trader, probability is Taleb’s passion. Don’t shrug. He is entertaining, erudite and clever in writing. With “Antifragile,” the author lays out a compelling argument. Fragility is the cause of our complex problems. Fragility? Rigid buildings, entrenched institutions and stagnant political and business processes, for starters. He writes: “Much of modern life is preventable chronic stress injury.” Allowing randomness leads to fresh courses. Novel ways of thinking about and solving dilemmas become more likely.

Could equity investing be a rigged game? “Trend Following” says it is. Michael Covel critiques traditional broker-based ‘buy and hope’ strategies and suggests the alternative. Traders trade, says Covel, and markets are not about investing. They are for trading. High returns become probable with a rules-based system for entering and exiting trades. Trend followers are in good company. Bernard Baruch and Jesse Livermore had similar systems. Billionaire John W. Henry is owner of the Boston Red Sox and other sports franchises. He has turned his trading system into real life money ball.

You won’t find the BIG ONE in these. But with a little reading you might one day say, like Babe Ruth: “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”


Robert Bailey is a real estate investor, advisor, author, and speaker. He was Managing Director of the Investment Management Institute for 12 years, advising on financial marketing to institutional investment professionals. “The Billionaires Little Black Book” is based on these experiences. “The Plan: Running The Machine That Runs The World” updates that work as a suspense novel for family offices and individuals.

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