Tuesday, November 10, 2009

To our parents

Haven't posted for awhile...things are good...working on our projects...slowly progressing...On the eve of Joseph & I's birthdays...I wanted to share a chapter text excerpt from TOOLS, my memoir audiobook, about my late Dad, John Occhipinti. Hope you enjoy reading it..as much as I enjoyed..living it.

Our Parents Were Young Once, Too…

My wife and I are blessed with a 21 year old daughter and a 15 year old son. We conceived our first born after one attempt with no birth control. Naturally, we felt confident that we could easily time the next birth and be successful again. Wrong! We then began traveling a painful road over the next two years to conceive a second child. We tried everything we could do following a natural course of vitamins and supplements. I also began eating Brazil nuts and molasses and drinking ginseng tea between meals. Still no luck! During this time, I remember my parents telling me many times that I was a surprise baby. My parents were nearly forty-years old, and mom had previously miscarried at least three times, from the time of my sister’s birth in 1944, till when I was conceived in 1954. In fact, her Doctor attributed Mom’s frequent morning nausea due to her gall bladder acting up. The Doctor finally ordered tests run, that proclaimed her gall bladder was fine, but she was definitely five months pregnant. Mom and Dad kept assuring us that we still could have another baby and to just be patient…and that God has his plans.

After nearly five years of our failure to conceive a second child, we visited a fertility clinic. The first month we tried to conceive was January of 1994. As soon as we pinpointed my wife’s ovulating time, we headed to the clinic where I proceeded to provide my own sperm sample to the staff for washing and insertion by tube. It was not very romantic. Still, no luck! We tried again the next month under the strangest of conditions. A major ice storm hit Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday, Feb. 10th at around 10:30pm. Within two hours, the ice crushed several power grids leaving the city and most of the state without electricity. We were lucky. We could keep a fire going in the fireplace for some warmth, and managed to ride the storm and it’s consequences out. By Monday, Feb. 14th, with still no electricity, my wife announces that she is ovulating. So, we packed up and visited the fertility clinic again and repeated our earlier try. Six weeks later, Anne’s OB confirmed the earlier at home EPT kit. The Doctor then calculated our due date as November 11th. We laughed because that is my birthday. I asked the Doctor “how can you be sure?” He explained that since we knew that we conceived on Valentine’s Day at the clinic, it was an easy calculation.
At that very moment, I realized that my parents conceived me on Feb. 14th, 1954, and was almost immediately overcome with nausea myself, at the thought of my parents having sex. Anne and the Doctor laughed and tried to console me, but I still cringed at the thought. Later that night, I called my parents. I told Dad the whole story about how we conceived on Feb. 14th, and the due date being Nov. 11th. He excitedly yells in the phone, “Tommy, dat’s ya birthday!” I said, “Yeah, it is…so I guess you and mom conceived me on Feb. 14th, 1954. You guys had some Valentine’s Day celebration that night, huh?” My father said nothing at first…and then replied, “Well….to tell ya da truth, Tommy, ahhhh…..I don’t remember. Ya want I should ask ya muther?” Before I could answer him “no,” Dad added, “Nahhh, I don’t think ya muther’d remember it either!”
Now that my parents have both departed, I’m able to see them in a different light. When I think about my birthday on November 11th or my son’s birthday on November 12th (my wife’s labor started on the 11th and lasted until 2am, the next morning!), I am sweetly reminded that my parents were young once, too. They laughed, cried, dreamed, hoped, played, worked, sang, danced, and most important of all, loved.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


August is an interesting time of year. Summer not quite over and Fall not quite here. Usually dry, scorching, oven roasting temps in Nashville, leaving us with brown lawns and dull Fall leaf colors. But this summer it's been different. Rainy with inconsistent temps and conditions. Just a subtle reminder that nature is a great teacher. Life, like weather, is filled with change. Unpredictable. Interesting. Irritating. Invigorating. Inconsistent. Keeping us a little off-balance. Just when you think you can predict or count on something..well...like my late dad would say, "Eh-wuh-ya-gonna-do!" If we're lucky, we learn to accept it and make the best of it. Nature also teaches us about cause and effect. Just like in our lives, though we have rainy days, there may be lessons to learn and benefits to reap at a later time. I'm looking forward to the end of Summer and beginning of Fall here in Nashville, with a greener lawn and more richly colored bouquets of Fall leaves. Not bad...not bad at all.

Friday, July 31, 2009


Been following my dear friend, Mark Montgomery's FB....he continues to fascinate and inspire me with this internet paradoxical concept of "giving away content" in order to "sell" content. Mark wrote an OPED piece for Billboard recently. Check it out.

In a similar vein...I recently heard the story of the succesful marketing of Jell-Oh...back in the early 1920's....a visionary "high school dropout" buys the 50 year old patented powdered recipe rights for $250(or so)...instead of immediately trying to sell the product outright...he first creates and inexpensively prints up "Jell-Oh recipe books" ..then goes town to town..door 2 door..gives the books away for FREE....then approaches each town's grocery store owners about buying a small order of the Jell-Oh product..sometimes even giving the stores a free complimentary order....his plan worked...he starts making a profit...later...as it was catching on....uses early radio shows(Burns & Allen, Jack Benny) to promote the product to a wider audience....and the rest is dessert history my boy...

There are other lessons here. The man(a successful 19th century inventor) who invented the powder and patented the rights in the 1850's...couldn't think of how to market it...so he sold it to his plant manager many years later. This plant manager holds on to the patent for a number of years...but couldn't think of how to market it either....so he eventually sells the patent for a few hundred dollars to a young, struggling, entrepenuer....who figured he needed to connect with people first with a free recipe book, before he tried to "sell" them this new product. Lots of lessons here....lots of lessons.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Other People

Years ago, my brother-in-law, taught me the term of OPM, as it referred to learning how to finance one's real estate ventures. Other People's money. As I explain further, just hold that thought. Recently I have been re-reading a favorite business book, whose theme is serving your customer's needs before your own. Sounds simple, yet it is easily forgotten as one sets their own priorities and goals for their company. This includes me. Emilia and I recently visited NYC and a client of ours that stretches back nearly 20 years. During our conversation at their headquarters, a theme kept coming up, as our client continued to voice insights and concerns about an internet social media project they recently launched. We listened and offered little suggestions at the time. Following our return, I drafted an email, reflecting on our meeting and following up with suggestions and solutions to their questions..focusing on their needs. As I reflect on this blog, I realize the importance of OPN. Other People's Needs. I also see our role as a helper. This has been the basis of our relationship over these many years, and probably the single most important reason for it. It's all about the relationship and finding ways to help someone else reach their goals. Simply a perspective...taking your needs out of the equation...thinking first about others.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer of Planting Grass Seeds

So far this summer, I have been working on my "pondering" of ways of marketing TOOLS ..My Test Tips..& Video Diary. I am often reminded of the spiritual lesson in the movie, Field of Dreams..."If you build it...they will come." Well I've never thought for a moment that all I had to do was create something..and it will be a home run(another baseball tag.) Even a little bunt would be nice...but it doesn't work that way. Just like writing and creating is a process....so is spreading the word about the baseball field of dreams you have just constructed. It is a process...it is a way...a thought...a hunch...a plan...a moment of inspiration...a moment of frustration and exhaustion......remembering relationships..making requests...and most importantly....knowing the difference between taking chances and taking action. I better get back to planting more grass seeds..right field is looking a little patchy.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Making Re-connections

I was googling an old friend's name the other night...and accidentally came across another friend....his name is Ray Cerimele...I first played original acoustical music with Ray back in Youngstown, Ohio in 1975-76...did our first coffee-houses at YSU. As I read Ray Martin Cerimele's MYSPACEMUSIC page, I noted my name listed by Ray as someone important in his life. I didn't realize that and was deeply moved and swept up in many memories. After sending Ray an email greeting, I heard back from him the next day. We hope to speak this weekend. It has been way too many years since we talked. Ray viewed my Video Diary & All Along the Way music videos...and watched as my family aged through these years. I realized the power of the internet at our fingertips to reconnect with old friends. But I realized even more, the power of friendship itself. An encouraging friendship that spawned and launched two young blue-collar italian-american boys...sons of steelworkers...grandsons of immigrants... musical dreams...dreams that ultimately shaped both our lives..led us to new places far from Steel Valley...where we planted new roots..made the best of opportunities...yes...for better and worst...our early musical dreams changed both our lives.

Friday, April 17, 2009


I have been educating myself lately about car repairs and marketing our website creations..the two aren't neccessarily connected...yet they can be...learning to diagnose and repair a car problem and a commercial venture..are not that different.....both can be costly and quite the adventure...

I have been finding the irony in many things these days. As previously noted, Panasonic re-licensed an old song of ours a few months back...picking up where we left off many years ago. They have recently brought in a major marketing consultant named Joseph Jaffee and his company, Crayonville. They made some changes to the site...produced and posted a podcast..it's like a commercial..but much more..it was real..the narrator pulls you in..she is one of us..it even features VIDEO DIARY half-way through it..it was a total surpise for us..they just forwarded the link.

Tonight, I searched the web and found Joseph Jaffee's website. I then proceeded to learn much about the new era of marketing and social media. As I learned these many new things from Mr. Jaffee(cool English accent..I assume it's real)...I was painfully made aware...of how much I DIDN'T KNOW. Thank you, Mr. Jaffee...I needed that! I wonder if he works on old GM cars?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spreading the word....

Just completed the revisions of our My Test Tips page. Now to spread the word. In other news, the Panasonic site, LIVING IN HIGH DEFINTION, is being revamped and better marketed. You can visit both sites from www.paintedeyesenterprise.com

Strong parrallels to draw. It is one thing to create something to sell...it is another thing to create interest in something to sell..and yet another thing to sell it.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Thank you again..Thom Flora...for all your help in getting My Test Tips up and running from our site...now the new challenge...spreading the word about our product...already I have encountered from traditional news sources..."Well...we don't usually do stories about this kind of thing....until it's a rage..." Makes sense doesn't it? Not really. Another of life's weird Catch22 examples. So we'll continue to try to get the word out everyway we can...I'll keep planting my young seeds in good soil....pray for a little sunshine and rain...keep tending to my garden...and keep dreaming of new things to plant...because...anything is possible...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Life's Road is a Circle.

Over the past few months, I have concluded once again that life's road is not a straight line...but a circle. In late August, I had emailed a former contact at the Panasonic Co.,(I wrote a couple of jingles for them in the early 1990's) and invited him to check out our new website. He emailed back and shared that he was moved by the things I wrote about Dad, in TOOLS. He then shared that he had recently lost his father over the past year. I mailed him 2 complimentary CD copies of TOOLS, and asked that he pass a copy on to his former supervisor, as I mention the relationship with Panasonic in TOOLS(Chapter-Humility).

The very day he had earlier given the copy of TOOLS to his former supervisor, now a corporate VP, a strategy meeting was proceeding in Manhattan. The ad agency for Panasonic proposed that the final cap to their year long campaign development to help Panasonic launch a web based interactive community called, Living In High Definition, needed a song. The VP took out the CD he had earlier received..and shared that I had written their Olympic commercial in 1992...a young ad exec went to my website...clicked on the YOUTUBE video of another song, and said..."That is it!" Unfortunately, that particular song is co-published by SONY MUSIC. Undaunted, the Panasonic VP simply said, "Tom has another song called, VIDEO DIARY, that will work even better." After 14 years had passed since we last worked together, he called me that afternoon, and we renegotiated our license. As part of the deal, he wanted copies of my own home videos. So..over the next month, I truly created a "VIDEO DIARY," for them. Go to my website...


Clearly, this would not have happened if I hadn't written & recorded TOOLS or built a website this past summer...and made a fun YOUTUBE video of ALL ALONG THE WAY.(Co-writer-Don Henry). So many threads..so many people to thank.....starting with my friend, Mark Montgomery, for bluntly asking me.."You do have a website?" ...when I didn't. And thanks again to Thom Flora..for designing and re-designing my website.

And most importantly, thanks Dad...you continue to touch my life.....even in death........Love to all...Tom O.