I told you before about my band

It started 17 years ago. I’d only sung in the shower before that.

One night at a party, this guy was strumming guitar by the fire – playing Shooting Star by Bad Company. I was drunk enough to stumble over and belt along. “Don’t you know that you are…” It was hazy after that.

A few days later, that guy called me, asking if I would sing in his band. Was he joking? I told him I had to think about it. I was really busy. I’d just gotten married. I had laundry to do. Excuses.

It was Tara who talked me into it. She said it would be lame if I was just trying to relive my glory years. But this was new. It was cool.

I was a hot mess at first, downing a Xanax before every gig and a beer every song just to handle the nerves. I couldn’t make it through half a set before frying my voice.

Over time, I took lessons, my nerves settled, and I cut back to a beer every two songs. Now I love it. Best rush I’ve ever had – a complete escape.

Eventually, we tired of haggling with shady bar owners over money we didn’t need. All the guys do well professionally. That guitarist? His name is Mike Delligatti and he owns more McDonald’s than I own pairs of socks. His dad invented the Big Mac. Our bass player, Matt Bahr, kicked his way to Super Bowl rings with the Steelers and Giants. I’m low on the totem pole.

So, we started giving all our gig fees to charity. We cajole the crowd into making donations and auction off the band occasionally. We’ve raised a few hundred thousand dollars by now – and picked up an award or two along the way – all from playing music and drinking with our friends.

And all because my amazing wife convinced me to try something crazy and unexpected.

I hope you can take a leap like that sometime. Learn a language, ride horses, build a treehouse, write an email to your friends every Saturday morning. Something.

Life’s too short. It’s never too late. Carpe diem. All of that.

It’s New Year’s Resolution season, after all.

Here’s what we’re seeing as 2018 draws to a close:

The media cares way more about Facebook’s data scandals than anybody else does. I know it’s lazy of me to post the same study in back-to-back emails but since only a few of you clicked on it last week – and it’s even more relevant now – I’m doing it again. Consumers are resigned to data and privacy breaches at this point. Even as journalists scream until they’re blue in the face, people don’t seem to care. Maybe because nobody’s been harmed by it. Or maybe they just don’t know who or what to believe anymore. But how else are they going to stay in touch with their friends? Put me in the camp of people who believe Facebook will be just fine.

If I had to describe America circa 2018 in one word that doesn’t start with an ‘f,’ it would be “calcified”. Nothing was more predictable about our data this year than its predictability. If a topic or issue had even a hint of political undertones – the Roseanne reboot,Nike/Kaepernick, you name it – you could bet all of your Bitcoin that sentiment would be divided, almost uncannily, 2/3rd to 1/3rd. That wouldn’t seem so noteworthy if roughly 1/3rd of Americans didn’t demonstrate the power to elect our President. People are entrenched right now and they’re not listening to anything that doesn’t affirm their position.

The news media landscape is changing on nearly every possible dimension – but local reigns supreme. We published arguably our most important report of the year last week, looking at shifts in consumption and trust in news media. The most troubling takeaway: Trust is eroding everywhere, except local – especially in rural America. The problem is that local news is struggling to stay afloat, with or without the subscription revenue that rural Americans aren’t willing to pay for anyway. The scary end result could be a world where people with less financial means are pushed further and further away from trusted, reliable news. In other findings, the use of ad blockers appears to be in decline. What a complicated challenge.

To get away from all of this craziness, there appears to be a rise in so-called ‘mindfulness apps,’ particularly among our more enlightened young people. We’ve been tracking the proliferation of apps like Headspace and Calm, which guide users through meditation. Given that I’d never even heard of them, I was surprised to learn that over 15% of Americans had either tried them or are intending to. They’re particularly popular among women – who seem to be bearing the brunt of stress in America today. I hope they work. Every little bit of serenity will help right now.

A quick pause to show you our most popular poll questions of the past two weeks:

Does dieting work?

Is “Die Hard” a Christmas movie? (I’m so over this debate)

Have you ever had your name called over the loudspeaker in an airport?

If you wear socks for just a couple of hours, can they be worn again?

Do you believe people are generally good?

Be honest: is there someone you aren’t looking forward to seeing on Christmas?

Have you ever been certain you were the recipient of a regifted item?

Finally, there’s a decent chance you’re reading this somewhere away from home right now. A majority of Americans (73%) will be staying close to home this holiday season – slightly higher than the 71% who said the same about Thanksgiving. Women are more likely to be flying, men are more likely to be driving, and single, unmarried people are the most likely to be leaving at all. One big correlation we found was job type: Professional/Management-folk, like most of you, are the biggest group of expected travelers. Perhaps because you’re most able to afford it or maybe because you were most likely to move away from home for a job in the first place. 


Wherever you are today, I hope you’re relaxing and enjoying time with your favorite people.

I’m out until 2019. The happiest of holidays to you and yours.