Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Geitner Can't Sell His House...But Should He?

Check out this article on ABCNews about Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and his inability to sell his home. Most people probably just read this article and try to make some joke about how Tim Geithner is running our nations treasury but he can't even sell his home. But I think by doing that a lot of people miss a valuable lesson in home buying.

After leaving the tony New York City suburb of Mamaroneck to take his new post in Washington, D.C., Geithner put his five-bedroom Tudor home on the market for $1.635 million.

That was in February. By May, he cut the price $60,000 but still got no takers. A few weeks later, May 21, the home in New York's Westchester County was reportedly rented for $7,500 a month.

"Mr. Geithner's house is a textbook example of what is happening in the market here," said Leah Caro, president of Bronxville-Ley Real Estate and president of the Westchester Board of Realtors. "Many sellers are bringing their houses on [the market], finding that they don't have a buyer for it, making price adjustments in hope of luring a buyer into the marketplace. In the case of Mr. Geithner, he had to move. And renting was his best option."

That valuable lesson is that when it comes to real estate it is a lot easier to make a poor market decision than a poor overall decision. I love real estate and the benefits it has to offer, even in times like these. In fact I am in a very similar situation to Mr. Geithner. I just found some tenants for my condo, as I will be moving to Boston come this weekend. There are many people who would have sold and either taken a huge loss on the sale price or tried to command more than the market is willing to pay and would have lost money with the property sitting vacant. Geithner and I decided that renting was the best option for us. He likely paid someone to take care of it for him. I on the other hand have been working my ass off alongside my partner in crime to get my place rented out for the last two months (read here). People ask me if I regret buying and I have to say I really don't Yeah the last two months have been a stressful hell, but the learning experience has been priceless. I must say as I sit here on my air mattress in the living room with my computer set up on a makeshift desk of boxes, touch up paint still drying on the wall, I am extremely fulfilled with what Heidi and I have accomplished. I am not naive enough to think that everyone should own property and everyone should be a do it yourself landlord: to each his own. But for me it was a great decision, even with my Timothy Geithner like situation. More to come on my landlording lessons learned soon. I really liked the following passage because I think it illustrates the inherent flaw in peoples hindsight way of thinking.

"I don't think anybody is in a position to say that he overpaid, or anybody overpaid, when he bought his house because market value is market value," Stiefvater said. "Back in the those days, everybody was overbidding -- I'm not saying overpaying, but overbidding -- and getting into bidding wars and multiple offers escalated the sale prices to what I think was higher than market value."

At the time everyone makes the decision that they think is the best decision. If you get down the road a bit further and it turns out you were 'wrong' then just change your way of thinking now and adapt and overcome. If that means taking a loss on rent while the market recovers so be it. You are still getting a write off, depreciation expenses, someone else paying your mortgage and building your equity. Not to mention priceless experience. More to come on my landlording journey...I promise.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Another Athlete Investing Lesson

I don't know what it is about hockey players getting scammed all of sudden but it seems like this is a growing trend. Not too much detail yet in the article, but it goes back to a few central themes here at Badskiblog. Keep it simple. Invest in what you know and understand. Invest in people you trust. And if you don't understand what the people you trust with your money are investing in, don't let them invest in it. I spoke about these very lessons in a post a few weeks back where a bunch of other hockey players were scammed out of some money. Check it out here.

Former Detroit Red Wings star Sergei Fedorov says a man entrusted to manage his money during the past 11 years swindled him out of $43 million.

Federov, who played the last two seasons in Washington, won three Stanley Cups with the Red Wings. (Jamie Sabau / Getty Images)
In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Wayne County Circuit Court, Fedorov says Joseph Zada of Grosse Pointe Shores also broke a promise to repay him $60 million by April 20.

The suit says Zada "acting in concert with others" and "intentionally lied to Fedorov" whenever he asked about the money.

There was no answer Thursday at a number listed for Zada in Grosse Pointe Shores.

Fedorov, the 1994 NHL MVP and three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Red Wings, has signed a two-year contract with a Russian club of the Kontinental Hockey League. He has also played for Anaheim, Columbus and Washington.

It's sad this had to happen to a guy like Federov. He has been great for the game and is a class act. I just imagine what I could do with $43 million dollars. In fact, if Federov had done relatively little and sat on the sideline over the course of those 11 years stuffing his $43 million under his pillow, and then invested it in a money market fund that earned an average annual return of 4% his money would have grown to a cool $66,196,524.42. Vanguard's Prime Money Market Fund has averaged an average return of 6.27% since its inception. Although this ignores the effects of inflation it certainly beats losing $43 million over that same period. Imagine if he had merely bought a total market index fund? With all the time athletes spend on the road they could read enough personal finance and investing books to become dangerous, or at least to be able to claim responsibility for losing their own money instead of paying someone else to do it for them. Live and learn I guess.

The US China Relationship

Although this article from MSN Money may be a bit too simplistic and a little more gloom and doom than I like, I think it does a awesome job explaining China and the United States' interdependency. It is very interesting to read a simplified history of how we came to depend on each other and how our relationship poses some problems for the future.

Imagine becoming so successful at your job that you stack up $2 trillion in income, which you conservatively place in short-term U.S. Treasury bonds for safekeeping.

Now imagine that when you try to cash in those bonds to buy a few things for your kids, the clerk at the bank abruptly shuts her window and tells you to go away.

That is essentially the situation faced by China these days as it wonders whether its plan to manufacture goods for U.S. consumers over the past two decades in exchange for a pile of credit slips was really such a hot idea.

I have heard little political tidbits and people's random remarks about how China basically owns us. I always had a gut feeling this was exaggerated paranoia, however my ignorance on the topic had me refraining from commenting. The one positive I took away from this article is that as scared as many Americans are about China having such a large possession of US bonds, the Chinese may be just as scared to have such a large position in US bonds.

Well, now think about this in the context of a Ponzi scheme such as the one perpetrated by disgraced financier Bernie Madoff.
Madoff's clients for years thought they were rich because he sent them brokerage statements that said so. But that scheme worked only as long as new money kept coming in. When international money flows seized up last year and too many people wanted to redeem their accounts at once, Madoff's $50 billion game fell apart. Then his victims suddenly discovered that their brokerage statements were worthless pieces of paper. Madoff clients' households crashed, and now one-time millionaires are broke. The reality is that they were always broke; they just didn't know it yet.

The credit that has kept American families afloat for the past 10 years is similar to those Madoff-produced brokerage statements. The credit is good only so long as China keeps recycling funds through the Ponzi scheme. But if Beijing leaders ever decide that it's just too risky to own U.S. dollars and debt, then the system is going to come crashing down. Of course, it is not really in China's interest to stop the scheme, even if it wanted to, because its own economy would likewise blow up. Satyajit Das, a credit derivatives expert in Australia, likens this to stepping on one of those land mines that are activated by the weight of a victim's body. As soon as the weight is lifted, the mine explodes, and the person's leg is blown off.

China is thus frozen in place, damned if it does and damned if it doesn't. It's a classic Catch-22. China's cache of U.S. bonds isn't worth anything unless the bonds are sold. But selling them on any kind of scale will gut their value.

"People need to realize that China doesn't actually have any real U.S. money," Das says. "Unless they can turn in their bonds and exchange them for something else, they're only paper assets. Yet if they try to exit the position, they'll destabilize the dollar, and the value of the rest of their assets will plunge. And that's not even their biggest problem. It's that they also need to keep buying Treasurys, or interest rates will go up and their capital losses will be terrible."

I don't really know if the situation is 'mutually assured destruction' like author Jon Markman claims, yet I don't really know the path to changing it either. Hopefully the recession has served as a wake up call that we cannot as a nation merely borrow our way to 'wealth'. Couple the wake up call with access to more information (financial education information) than ever via the Internet and maybe the US will begin to start living the Badskiblog definition of being rich.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Trip Review – Hawaii

As promised here is my trip review from Hawaii. As I have discussed before I am a huge proponent of the benefits of vacation and travel and this trip to Portland, Hawaii, and back to Portland was our big trip for this year. Besides the extensive travel to and from our various locations the trip was awesome.

We stayed at the Hale Koa resort on Waikiki beach in Honolulu. The Hale Koa is a military only resort, and as unappealing as that may sound to some it was actually an awesome resort. You would never be able to tell from the street that it is a military resort because it looks just like the other resorts, except the fact that its grounds are twice the size and arguable more beautiful than most. You can click here for the history and details of the resort. The crowd was varied but was primarily older or consisted of younger families there with their kids. This was a little different than our honeymoon where it was a couple only resort but it didn’t really matter with the Hawaii scene.

Typically we got up very early, not by choice. The time difference was six hours from Jersey. We worked out some of the days in the morning whether it was in the little gym in the resort or running along Waikiki. After our morning cereal and workout routine Heidi and I typically did some sort of activity or sightseeing. We would go to lunch after that and then make our way to the beach and pool. As it got closer to dinner we would go back to the room for some drinks and to shower before heading out. We typically were a little less conservative monetarily with dinners and drinks at night. We saved money on breakfast and booze by buying it at the mini base exchange they had in the resort. With lunch we tried to get some cheaper meals but Hawaii is pretty expensive. For dinners and drinks at night we just kind of went with it. The time change hit us pretty hard so we didn’t have too many late nights but it was a great time regardless.

Baking on the beach and by the pool is great and this trip was no exception, but what stood out for me on this trip was all the non-resort/beach things we did. To be honest it took us a few days to actually settle into the vacation mentality on this trip. With our pending move to Boston, Heidi’s career change, and attempts to rent/manage our condo from afar the stress levels of both of us were pretty high. However, it was the activities and cultural partaking that we did that really got my mind and worries off the stuff going on in ‘real’ life and put me at ease enjoying my wife’s company in a beautiful vacation spot. Here are a few of the highlights:

Dole Pineapple Plantation: We went to tour the Dole Pineapple Plantation one of the first days. It was pretty cool. There was a little kiddy train that we rode on that took you around and explained about the history of the pineapple on Hawaii and how Mr. Dole expanded the influence of the pineapple in the region and throughout the world. My favorite part was getting a pineapple ice cream waffle cone at the end. Beauty.

Waimea Bay: Being a huge fan of the movie Endless Summer II since about the age of 12 I was excited to go to the North Shore and specifically see Waimea Bay which is known for its monster waves. The North Shore was beautiful and I was surprised at how little commercialization at development is up there. However, when we arrived at Waimea I was stunned to see pristine flat ocean waters. No waves. I guess it was the wrong season but we laid on the beach and watched people jump on cliffs into the ocean which made for a nice relaxing trip.

Paddle Surfing: I really wanted to go surfing while I was in Hawaii but to be honest the waves sucked every day we were there, even from a novice perspective. Plus with the time change and insane quantities of sun I was pretty tired the whole trip. Heidi and I did paddle surfing instead. Basically you stand on and over sized surfboard with a big paddle and cruise around the ocean. It was definitely harder than I thought it would be as was evident by my numerous falls, but it was very cool. We cruised around for like 45 minutes and caught a glimpse of a giant sea turtle. Heidi was definitely better than I was which hurt my manhood a bit but it was a great time.

Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay: We went snorkeling at Hanauma Bay and it was pretty incredible visually. You watch a video about safety and preserving the habitat and not walking on the coral etc. Well we wanted to get away from the crowds so we started in an area down away from most people. We should have taken the lack of crowd as a hint because we were stranded walking on coral because it was too shallow to swim over the stuff. After a loser kid tried to yell at us for walking on the coral, the day was pretty cool. Lots of stuff to see and it was fairly easy for a couple amateurs to navigate the bay. I would definitely recommend doing it.

Hiking Diamond Head: We hiked up Diamond Head which is a crater/mountain/old military observation post east of Waikiki. The views were absolutely incredible. The hike was a bit harder than advertised and I was amazed at the amount of people who were trekking up the side of these mountain trails. There were a lot of out of shape and older people who were going up the mountain and here Heidi and I are sweating like crazy struggling up the side of this thing. With the exception of my strong “reaction” to heights standing on the top of the observation post, it was pretty cool to be able to see for miles and miles across Oahu and the Pacific Ocean. This is a must do for non beach activities in Oahu.

Luau: The luau was pretty cool. It started slow but after dinner it ended up being pretty entertaining. There is just something a little weird about luau's to me. We made friends with one of the dude's in the show and he said he was Samoan. I told him my buddy was Samoan and that he said Hawaiians and Samoans haven't really gotten along too well throughout history. He agreed and went on to do their show. It got me thinking about luau's in general. Basically these high school Samoan kids get up in front of a bunch of tourists and perform a bunch of Polynesian dances and routines. It was entertaining but it felt a little zoo like to me. Maybe that's just my ignorance about the culture that had me questioning how much of the show was truly traditional and how much was just to fill the demand of other ignorant tourists. Kind of like how Hollywood made an entire genre of movies about cowboys and Indians that may not be very accurate of how things truly were. Regardless it was entertaining and the smoked pork was amazing.

Honolulu is definitely more touristy that I am used to, but after I settled into it I really enjoyed it. It was different that our honeymoon where everything was at your disposal in an all inclusive resort and I think it made you have to do a little work each day figuring out what you were going to do. But I think it was a good thing because I don't think we would have done so many cool activities. Hawaii is a beautiful place and this vacation proved to be one to be remembered.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Personal MBA Update - Presentation Zen

Personal MBA Update - Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds: I never thought I would ever read a book on effectively utilizing and presenting with PowerPoint, let alone enjoy it, however it was on the Personal MBA reading list and I found it at the library so I picked it up. Presentation Zen has a new agey Gen Y vibe to it, but the information in it is incredible. The book walks the walk as well with an amazing set of visuals and examples to show. I really wish this book was standard issue for the Air Force because death by PowerPoint has become endemic. I have included a plethora of notes and key points from the book but to really get the full effect you have to see the visuals and examples as well. I look forward to testing out some of the techniques and am really interested to see how it goes over in my current line of work since it is the status quo to basically do the opposite of everything Presentation Zen says. As mentioned in the book, Presentation Zen is a way of thinking not a step by step guide which of course is easier read than implemented, but hopefully my presentation skills only progress from here.

- “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo Da Vinci
- If we desire to communicate with more clarity, integrity, beauty and intelligence we must move beyond what is considered to be normal to something different and far more effective
- Principles to be most mindful are restraint, simplicity, and naturalness. Restraint in preparation, simplicity in design, naturalness in delivery.
- Presentation Zen is an approach not a step by step method
- Putting the same information on a slide in text form that is coming out of our mouths does not help in fact it hurts our message
- Six right brain directed aptitudes: design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning
- Design: during pre slowdown your busy mind. Consider your topic and objectives, key messages and your audience.
- Story: Best story tellers are ones who tell true stories. Put personality, character and experiences into the material and form a narrative, which is illuminating, engaging, and memorable
Symphony: Synthesis and the ability to use seemingly unrelated pieces to form and articulate the big picture is crucial. Illuminate relationships we may not have seen before.
Empathy: Empathy is emotional, putting yourself in the position of others.
Play: Work is not about seriousness but play as well. Laughing people are more creative and productive
Meaning: Making a presentation is an opportunity to make a small difference in the world.
- Communication is about getting others to adopt your point of view to help them understand why you are excited
- “Communication is the transfer of emotion.” Seth Godin
- Make slides reinforce your words not repeat them. Use pro stock photos. No transitions. Create a written handout.
- Business and creativity are not mutually exclusive
- Start with the beginners or child's mind – They don’t know what is not possible so they're open to exploration discovery and experimentation.
- “In the beginners mind there are many possibilities, in the experts there are few.” Shunryu Suzuki
- “When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its utmost and will produce its richest ideas. Given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl.” T.S. Elliot
1. Constraints and limitations are a powerful ally 2. Creating your own constraints limitations and parameters is often fundamental to good creative work
- “Do only what is necessary to convey what is essential. Carefully eliminate elements that distract from the essential whole, elements that obstruct and obscure….Clutter, bulk, and erudition confuse perception and stifle comprehension, whereas simplicity allows clear and direct attention.” Richard Powell
-In Sum: Preparing designing and delivering a presentation is a creative act, and you are a creative being, creativity requires and open mind and a willingness to be wrong, restrictions and limitations are not the enemy they are a great ally, as you prepare a presentation, exercise restraint and keep these three words in mind always: simplicity, clarity, brevity.
- Planning analog - get away from the computer and identify your core message(s)
- “What a computer is to me is it’s the most remarkable tool that we've ever come up with and it’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.” Steve Jobs
- “If you have the ideas you can do a lot without machinery. Once you have those ideas, the machinery starts working for you….Most ideas you can do pretty darn well with a stick in the sand.” Alan Kay
- Busyness kills creativity. The reason presentations are ineffective is that people don’t take the time to assess what is important and what is not.
- “Others inspire us, information feeds us, practice improves our performance but we need quiet time to figure things out, to emerge with new discoveries, to unearth our original answers.” Ester Buchholz
- “In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.” Rollo May
Questions: How much time do I have, whats the venue like, what time of day, who is the audience, whats their background, what do they expect of me, why was I asked to speak, what do I want them to do, what visual medium is most appropriate for this situation and audience, what is the fundamental purpose of the talk, whats the story here, and this is the most fundamental question of all what is my absolutely central point?
- Whats my point and why does it matter? Can you pass the elevator test?
- “Never ever hand out copies of your slides, and certainly not before your presentation. That is the kiss of death. By definition since slides are speaker support material they are there in support of the speaker…YOU. As such they should be completely incapable of standing by themselves, and are thus useless to give to your audience, where they will simply be guaranteed as a distraction. The flip side of this is that if the slides can stand by themselves why the heck are you up there in front of them?” David S Rose
- Three parts of presentation: 1. Slides the audience sees 2. Notes you see 3. Handouts
- Avoid the slideument – no one goes back to read slides they aren’t great visually and don’t stand alone
- In sum: slow down your busy mind to see your problem and goals more clearly, find time to see the big picture, for greater focus try turning off the computer and going analog, use paper and pens or a whiteboard first to record and sketch your ideas, key questions are what is your main point and why does it matter, if you audience remembers only one thing what should it be, preparing detailed handout keeps you from feeling compelled to cram everything into your visuals.
-Why do ideas stick? SUCCES or simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions, stories.
- Simplicity: if everything is important then nothing is important
- Unexpectedness: violate their expectations. Surprise them. Make the audience aware of gaps in their knowledge and fill those gaps
- Concreteness: use natural speech with real examples
- Credibility: stats are relatively useless. What important is the context and meaning
- Emotions: make them feel something. Use images. Humans make emotional connections with people not abstractions. 100 grams of fat vs two burgers and a greasy set of fries
- Stories: all great presentations tell a story
1. Brainstorming - step back go analog ideas
2. Grouping and identifying the core - one idea that is central and memorable from the audience point of view. Use chunking to group similar ideas and a unifying theme
3. Storyboarding off the computer - use stickies or print blank slides
4. Storyboarding in slide sorter/light table view - pg 88
- always keep the audience in mind by keeping your story as short as you can while still doing an effective job telling your story and go back and edit parts that aren't crucial to the overall point.
- In Sum: make your ideas sticky by keeping things simple using examples and stories looking for the unexpected and tapping into peoples emotions, a presentation is never just about the facts, brainstorm your topic away from the computer, chunk (group) the most important bits, Identify the underlying theme and be true to that theme (core message) throughout the creation of the presentation, make a storyboard of your ideas on paper and then use software to lay out a solid structure that you can see, show restraint at all times and bring everything back to the core message.
- "Our lives are frittered away by detail; simplify simplify simplify." Henry David Thoreau
- Simplicity means the achievement of maximum effect with minimum means
- "By stripping down an image to essential meaning, an artist can amplify that meaning..." Scott McCloud
- In Sum: simplicity is powerful and leads to greater clarity, yet it is neither simple nor easy to achieve. Simplicity can be obtained through the careful reduction of the nonessential. As you design slides keep the following concepts in mind: subtlety, grace and understated elegance. Good designs have plenty of empty space. Think subtract not add. When simplicity is the goal it is possible to be too simple. Your job is to find the balance most appropriate to your situation.
- Signal vs noise ratio: communicating clearly with as little degradation to the message as possible
- SNR examples pg 123
- Picture superiority effect: pictures are remembered better than words, especially when people are casually exposed with minimal time.
- Great examples on page 137-139
- Photo sites on page 140: free ones are,, imageafter,com,,
- Use quotes! add credibility to your story
- "Emptiness which is conceptually liable to be mistaken for sheer nothingness is in fact the reservoir of infinite possibilities." Daisetz Suzuki
- Empty space: is nothing but a powerful something which gives the few elements power
- Use the grid and four power points:
1. Contrast: means difference. Were wired to notice differences. Make elements clearly different
2. Repetition: using same or similar elements through your design subtly using elements to show the design is part of the whole
3. Alignment: nothing should look as if it were placed randomly. Elements connected visually
4. Proximity: moving things closer or farther apart
- Examples 158
- "The more strikingly visual your presentation is, the more people will remember it. And more importantly they will remember you." Paul Arden
- In Sum: Design matters. But design is not about decoration or about ornamentation. Design is about making communication as easy and clear for the viewer as possible. Keep the principle of signal vs noise in mind to remove all nonessential elements. Remove visual clutter. Avoid 3-D effects. People remember visuals better than bullet points. Always ask yourself how you can use a strong visual - including quantitative displays - to enhance your narrative. Empty space is not nothing, it is a powerful something. Learn to see and manipulate empty space to give your slide designs greater organization clarity and interest. Use the principle of repetition to repeat selected elements throughout your slides. This can help give your slides unity and organization. Use the principle of alignment to connect elements visually through invisible lines on a slide. Grids are very useful for achieving good alignment. This will give your slide a clean well organized look. Use the principle of proximity to ensure that related items are grouped together. People will tend to interpret items together or near to each other as belonging to the same group.
- Awesome examples pg 165-178
- In Sum: A good visual will enhance the speakers message. The slides featured here are a very small sample that highlight whats possible when you combine images and text. From a technical point of view these slides were not too difficult to produce. All that was needed what powerpoint or keynote and image editing software such as adobe photoshop elements. What you design your slides or other visuals to look like depends completely on your own unique situation and your audience but keep the following in mind: create visuals that are simple with clear design priorities that contain elements which guide the viewers eyes. Have a visual theme but avoid tired overused software templates. Limit bullet points or avoid them completely. Use high quality graphics. Build animate complex graphics to support your narrative. Think maximum effect with minimum means. Learn to see empty space and learn to use it in a way that brings greater clarity to visuals.
- "Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so complicated?" David Bader
- Most important thing to remember when giving a presentation is to be fully present at that moment
1. Carefully observe oneself in ones situation and carefully observe others and ones environment
2. Seize the initiative in whatever you undertake
3. Consider fully act decisively
4. Know when to stop
5. Keep to the middle
- In Sum: Like a conversation presentation requires your full presence at that time and place. Like a swordsman you must be completely in the moment without thoughts of past or the future or of winning or losing. Mistakes happen but do not dwell on past mistakes or worry about future ones. Be only in this moment sharing and conversing with the audience in front of you. You will make it look easy and natural by preparing and practicing like mad. The more you rehearse the more confident you will become and the easier it will seem to the audience. Though you must plan well being fully in the moment also means that you remain flexible totally aware and open to the possibilities as they arise.
- In Sum: You need solid content and logical structure but you also have to make a connection with the audience. You must appeal to both the logical and the emotional. If your content is worth talking about then bring energy and passion to your delivery. Every situation is different but there is never an excuse to be dull. Don't hold back. If you have a passion for your topic then let people know it. Remember hara hachi bu. It is better to leave your audience satisfied yet yearning for a bit more of you than it is to leave your audience stuffed and feeling that they have had more than enough. keep the lights on the audience must always be able to see you. Remove any barriers between you and the audience. Avoid podiums if possible. Use a wireless mic and remote control for advancing slides so that you can move freely and naturally.
- "'What we think we become." Buddha
- How to improve: Read and study, just do it, exercise your right brain, get out, lessons are all around you, its within you already
- "A journey with a thousand miles begins with a single step." Lao Tzu

Monday, July 20, 2009

Finally Some Good Legislation On TAP!

If you are a consistent BadskiBlog reader you know that my posts can give our politicians a pretty hard time. Don't feel too bad for those guys just yet, they are doing just fine. Besides what is more patriotic than being critical of your elected officials? If you aren't a watch dog who is going to be? With that said I am always willing to give credit where credit is due and that is why I am pleased to present all you readers with some great news regarding a trend in recent legislation. Ben Franklin once said that "beer is proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy." Well it seems like our nation's leaders are taking a page from the playbook of leaders past and instituting legislation that's striding farther and farther from the prohibition days.

As state lawmakers work on a budget that raises North Carolinians' taxes and slashes the services they use, they're also poised to offer something to offset some of the pain — free beer.
While wine tastings have become commonplace, states from Vermont to Texas to Washington have moved to let people take a sip of a cold one before deciding what brand to buy.

Beneficiaries include microbreweries that sometimes have few other ways to advertise. "One of the big benefits of a tasting is it allows a brewer to make a face-to-face connection with the person enjoying the beer," says Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association.

I am actually going to a beer tasting tonight at PJ Whelihans Bar and Grill in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The event is being hosted by a friend of mine who works for a wine distributor who has recently seen a large increase in demand for beer distribution. I have come across a few articles in the past that are speaking about the huge market share capture of the microbrew industry. I think that the new generation of beer drinkers are beginning to turn the industry into one that is very similar to the wine industry. People enjoy pairing it with different foods, are becoming educated on the different types, and are creating a social scene around a common love of beer. Good ol' Ben Franklin would be proud. Not everyone is thrilled with this trend, especially the large American breweries. However this is not always the case.

Tastings also can give an edge to larger breweries with the staff to make the rounds, Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association says.

Vermont started allowing beer tastings last year, one year after authorizing similar events for wine, says George Bergin, owner of the Beverage Warehouse in Winooski, Vt.

"Beer tastings are probably our most popular events, more so than wine," Bergin says. "We will have people standing in line for four hours to try beer."

Luckily for beer drinkers many legislators are not giving in to those resistant to relaxed laws on beer tastings.

Few North Carolina lawmakers have opposed the bipartisan effort to allow beer tastings, despite some objections. Mark Creech of the Christian Action League of North Carolina says beer, unlike wine, is the beverage of choice for underage drinkers.

Rep. Thom Tillis, a Charlotte Republican, assured lawmakers that tastings wouldn't attract minors used to cheap beer. Milwaukee's Best, he says, is unlikely to be on the menu.

I agree with Rep. Tillis. I actually worked as a volunteer at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver while I was in college and although the crowd was lively, there was little to no disturbing behavior and no underage drinking. The experience was a great one built around camaraderie and a love of beer. The thing about tastings is that the brewers interests are aligned with creating a positive atmosphere without pushing the boundaries of legality.

I have made you aware of this great shift in beer drinking freedom, now go forth and make Ben proud, and enjoy some free beer.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

New Megadeth Song - Headcrusher

I ran into this new Megadeth song the other day and it is just plain awesome. These guys have a few albums where they were treading dangerously down modern day Metallica road getting less and less metal and more and more unforgettable. Their last two albums have gotten increasing heavy and back to their roots and this next album looks to be even better if this song is any indication. I saw Megadeth a long time ago and it still is one of the best shows I have ever seen. They shredded for like 3 hours and played all their songs to perfection. I love Megadeth because they truly are amazing musicians and they can pull it off live better than on an album. You can't successfully play thrash metal for 20+ years for a living and not be doing something right. Enjoy this beauty track and share it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Personal MBA Update - Work Less Live More

Personal MBA Update: Work Less Live More - The New Way to Retire Early, was fairly underwhelming to say the least. For those who don't know I have been completing the Personal MBA (read the manifesto here) which is a book list dedicated to providing those who are committed to pursuing self education with a core group of books that represent many topics and concepts you would learn in an MBA program. So far I have really enjoyed every book from the list. This is the first one I haven't been too impressed with. It definitely has some good information in it, however having read many other personal finance books I found that this did little to educate or entertain me. Maybe part of that is my fault due to the numerous other books Ive read, but part of the fault lies on the book as well. I would recommend skipping this one ladies and gents. Here are the few notes I took from the book.

- "What do you want from life?" - The Tubes
- First rule of early semi retirement: figure out why you want to do this
1. Identify and honestly face up to aspects of your life that just aren't working anymore
2. Grapple with questions like: If I had all the time and money what would I do? What would it feel like? What could I become?
- "We work in order to have leisure." - Aristotle
- The importance of working together: requires buy in from spouse
- Moderation is key: you can get obsessive about saving but burnout will be waiting for you
- What do you want to make of your life when you have it back?
- Create your spending plan: 1. make it reasonable 2. make it easy to track 3. make it a group effort
- &
- Rational Investing: 1. Allocate your investments 2. Rebalance your portfolio 3. Keep management fees low
- Myths: Find a hot fund manager, bonds are for wimps, all bond portfolios are all safe, good companies make good stocks, the S&P is the stock market, foreign assets are un-American
- Sandwich portfolio pg 163
- A safe withdrawal rate is about 4% a year
- Graphs showing withdrawal rates on page 190

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Concert Summary - A Death Metal Monday

I went to my first show in quite a while the other day and I must say that I think the recession has hit the music industry because the crowd was pretty light. Or maybe it was just the fact I was at a death metal concert in a shitty area of downtown Portland. Only two bands worth mentioning and that is Abysmal Dawn and Abigail Williams. I basically went to see Abigail and they didn't disappoint, but it was Abysmal that surprised me.

My buddy and I were talking about how death metal can be so unimpressive live. A lot of the bands just come off as a wall of unmemorable sound that is pretty muddled and undecipherable live. Good death metal uses dynamics and actually considers songwriting instead of just resting on their unimaginable technicality laurels. After a few bands that fit into the aforementioned unforgettable category, Abysmal Dawn came out and put on a good show. Without knowing any of their songs prior I was still able to dissect what they were going for and was pretty engaged the majority of the show. Having been to quite a few shows I think this is a band who is on the cusp of doing some good things. I imagine their next album is going to make a mark in the metal world. Check out some of their stuff here.

Abigail Williams came out and like I said before did not disappoint. They play more of a black metal style with atmospheric keyboards and more emphasis on melody from the guitars. They came out to a fairly unenthusiastic Monday night crowd and soon had the limited crowd base engaged and excited. For how simplistic the guitars sound on the albums I was amazed at some of the technical riffs they had layered together to achieve their overall sound. Their drummer was insane and in the black metal style you must have a solid drummer to anchor the band and to mix up the feel of the riffs. They had good stage presence and killed it. Here are a few pictures of the band I took on my antiquated blackberry as well as a sample of my favorite song from the show. Enjoy.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Back From Hawaii.....With Movie Reviews Pt. 1

If you have noticed a slight decline in the number of Badskiblog posts that are commonly used to quench your thirst for cranium stimuli, it is because the wife and I were in Hawaii for the last week living the dream. More to come on a trip summary post, however I figured I better get back into action blogging again. On the long leg of our trip from Salt Lake City to Honolulu we were on a pretty large Delta plane both ways that had personal TV's at each seat. The TV's had a touch screen and a pretty decent free movie selection. Between the two trips there and back I got my fill of 4 different movies that definitely made the trip seem a little faster and much more enjoyable. Here are some short reviews of the flicks.

The first film I watched was "I Love You Man." IMBd has the following to say about the movie's plot.

In I Love You, Man, a comedy from John Hamburg (Along Came Polly, co-writer of Meet The Parents, Meet The Fockers, Zoolander), Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd, Knocked Up The 40 Year Old Virgin) is a successful real estate agent who, upon getting engaged to the woman of his dreams, Zooey, (The Offices Rashida Jones), discovers, to his dismay and chagrin, that he has no male friend close enough to serve as his Best Man. Peter immediately sets out to rectify the situation, embarking on a series of bizarre and awkward man-dates, before meeting Sydney Fife (Jason Segel, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), a charming, opinionated man with whom he instantly bonds. But the closer the two men get, the more Peters relationship with Zooey suffers, ultimately forcing him to choose between his fiancée and his new found bro, in a story that comically explores what it truly means to be a friend.

I have to say that I really enjoyed this movie. Any guy who starts to go down the road of commitment with a minx of the opposite sex can relate to the struggles of remaining close with friends and staying in touch with their manliness. I would say this movie is a must see for any guy age 21-40, especially if you enjoy the comedy/down to earth storylines of other movies starring Rudd and Segal. My favorite parts have to be when the guys are hanging in the man cave jamming Rush tunes. It's an instant classic scene and it only makes the actual Rush concert scene that much funnier. Check out the movie and tell me I am wrong on this's a classic. All in all this is a great comedy that has a cool quasi-meaningful lesson to be learned feeling about it. I would go out of my way to watch this again.

The next movie I watched was "Gran Torino." This movie's plot looked a little thin from the previews I saw in the theatres a while back but with the selection on the plane I figured Id give it a whirl. It was pretty intense and about as polar opposite of I Love You Man as you can get. IMBd said the following:

Walt Kowalski is a widower who holds onto his prejudices despite the changes in his Michigan neighborhood and the world around him. Kowalski is a grumpy, tough-minded, unhappy an old man, who can't get along with either his kids or his neighbors, a Korean War veteran whose prize possession is a 1972 Gran Torino he keeps in mint condition. When his neighbor Thao, a young Hmong teenager under pressure from his gang member cousin, tries to steal his Gran Torino, Kowalski sets out to reform the youth. Drawn against his will into the life of Thao's family, Kowalski is soon taking steps to protect them from the gangs that infest their neighborhood.

Upfront disclaimer: don't watch this movie if you are easily offended by racial slurs or scenes involving racial tension! I know its only a movie but for someone from my generation who is typically so far removed from that kind of language and behavior it can be a shock. Other than that I thought the film was pretty good. Enough Clint Eastwood badassness to be entertaining while also showing the development of him and those around him as people which adds some depth to a plot I thought was a little thin going in. Not the best movie I have ever seen but I definitely didnt feel like I wasted two hours either. Rent it.

Stay tuned for part two of my movie reviews.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Troops In The Middle East

A lot is going on the middle east right now. American soldiers are 'leaving' Iraq and we are surging in Afghanistan. It's crazy times in that area of the world and I am not sure that there is a clear vision of how things are going to play out in the future. Here are some highlights from the past week or so.

Iraqi forces assumed formal control of Baghdad and other cities Tuesday after American troops handed over security in urban areas in a defining step toward ending the U.S. combat role in the country. A countdown clock broadcast on Iraqi TV ticked to zero as the midnight deadline passed for U.S. combat troops to finish their pullback to bases outside cities.

"The withdrawal of American troops is completed now from all cities after everything they sacrificed for the sake of security," said Sadiq al-Rikabi, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. "We are now celebrating the restoration of sovereignty."

The Pentagon did not offer any comment to mark the passing of the deadline.

This article was published on MSNBC last week. I must say that I am really happy to hear this. How different our overall troop footprint is remains to be seen but this can only be seen as a good thing, even if violence increases. At least responsibility to control the violence will have been shifted into the hands of the Iraqis. I think that the occupation fear is running ramped in this area of the world and who can blame them when you look at history.

The Economist has more.

Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Al-Maliki, is certainly marking the occasion as one for celebrations. He says that the deadline for American soldiers to leave Iraq’s cities is a “great victory” over the occupiers, not unlike a rebellion against British soldiers in 1920. Tuesday has been declared a national holiday.

But nothing is so clear cut in Iraq. For a start, despite the official claims, many Americans will remain within cities. American trainers will stay embedded with Iraqi units, and those trainers themselves will be protected by other American troops. (The American forces still worry about attacks from within the ranks of the Iraqi army). All told, at least 10,000 trainers, and possibly thousands more, will remain in Iraq’s urban areas.

In addition, large numbers of Americans remain in big “forward operating bases” in some cases in the desert, but in other cases very close to the cities. They are to be called on when needed by the Iraqis, according to the Status of Forces Agreement that was signed by Mr Maliki’s government and the Bush administration last year. An indication of the circumstances in which Americans might need to return to active, urban operations came in recent weeks. A spate of attacks by insurgents, including spectacular bombings in Kirkuk and Baghdad, and several co-ordinated bombs last week, was a show of strength designed to show that Mr Maliki’s government will struggle to contain opponents. One big bomb was planted in Sadr City, a part of town where the Americans had asked to keep an outpost but were told to stay away by the Iraqi government. The attack happened days after the Americans left.

Obviously when you are talking about situations like the current situation in the middle east you must talk about some of the political implications of each and every move.

Thus the eventual withdrawal of American soldiers from the country will be a complicated task. Next year, according to last year’s agreement, American combat troops should not be active in the country. And by 2011, all America troops are supposed to be out. Mr Maliki and others will of course cheer the exit of the foreign forces, but will also know that—if violence flares again—he may have to ask for foreign help once more.

What isn’t discussed in either article is that the majority of these troops that are supposedly leaving are merely being shifted over to Afghanistan. This is where I see that Obama’s relatively high popularity is giving him an advantage. Most people are likely under the impression that we are pulling troops out of the middle east when in fact we are merely shifting them to a different and arguably much more difficult area. Couple that with the fact we still have a very significant troop presence in former battlefield from Germany to Korea to Japan, it is pretty safe to say that we are not leaving anytime soon. However it is also safe to say that shifting responsibility to the native government, whether its a political play or merely the agreement that we must be invited to help now, is a good thing for long term relations with the most important and relevant portion of the middle east; the general population.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dumb and Dumber: The Dumbest Biz Moments of 2009 Mid Year

I found this slideshow today on CNN Money and it is entertaining but pretty sad. Oh well someone has to be the dumbest. My favorite one is highlighted below. It shows why being a contrarian and practicing a long term investment strategy is the way to go. Enjoy.

It's often said that fear and greed drive the stock market -- they also make poor market timers out of most of us. And the behavior of mutual fund investors over the past several months is just more evidence.

From September through December of last year, as the S&P 500 plummeted 30%, investors pulled some $99 billion out of domestic equity funds, according to data from the Investment Company Institute. During the first three months of 2009, they withdrew a net total of $23.5 billion more. And in March alone -- when the S&P 500 bottomed at a value of 677 on March 9 and then rallied 18% to finish at 798 -- investors withdrew $16.2 billion.

Then, just as the market began to rally, they started buying. Since the end of April -- when the S&P 500 closed 29% higher than that March 9 low -- investors have plowed $16 billion back into domestic stock funds. Time to sell?

Personal MBA Update - The 4-Hour Work Week

Personal MBA Update - The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss: I have been wanting to read this book for quite some time and I finally got around to reading it. It was also part of my Personal MBA self education journey which was a bonus as well. I really liked this book a lot. I am sure this book gets a lot of criticism from the typical naysayers who think that people who write books like The 4-Hour Work Week just write them to make money. It is one of those books that gets you pumped up to get started. To go do something. To change your way of thinking. However, I couldn't help but think throughout the entire book that Timothy walks the talk. You can learn more about him here. He must be doing something right. There were a few key points that I took away from this book that I think are permanently embedded in me. First was the emphasis on the new rich. The new rich is all about a lifestyle design. People think they have to be rich to do the things they always want to do so they slave away in the corporate world for years sacrificing a lot of years of their lives to have a good life post retirement. This book encourages people to live how you want to live NOW. I kind of have this mentality already but I definitely could be better at actually living it out. This book provides a far end of the spectrum view of living a four hour workweek and creating your ideal lifestyle design. But if the book is the furthest point north, just head that direction. If you get anywhere closer from where you are it was worth it. The other huge lesson I took away from this book was the purposeful creation of a business with automation in mind. The goal should not be to start of business with you as the vortex of all business operations. The goal should be to create a system that runs itself and provides you with a mindless stream of income so you can pursue the things you have always dreamed of. A very simple concept but very enlightening. Obviously the book is a lot easier read than done but that shouldn't deter a reader from learning from its valuable lessons. I would definitely recommend this book, especially to aspiring entrepreneurs as they are susceptible to starting a business that creates a life they don't enjoy instead of freeing them from one they don't enjoy. Here are my notes from the book.

- " Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." - Mark Twain
- "Anyone who lives within their means suffers from lack of imagination." - Oscar Wilde
- What I do with my time and what I do for money are completely different things
- The new rich are those who abandon the deferred life plan and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the new rich: time and mobility. This is an art and a science referred to as lifestyle design.
- People don't want to be millionaires they want to experience what they believe only millionaires can buy.
- What is the pot of gold that justifies spending the best years of your life hoping for happiness in the last?
D for definition turns misguided common sense upside down
E for elimination kills the notion of time management
A for automation puts cash flow on autopilot
L for liberation is mobile manifesto for the globally inclined
- Entrepreneur is one who shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher yield - JB Say french economist
- "An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field." Niels Bohr
- "Ordinarily he was insane, but he had lucid moments when he was merely stupid." - Heinrich Heine
- "Reality is merely an illusion albeit a very persistent one." - Albert Einstein
- "These individuals have riches just as we say that we might "have a fever" when the fever really has us." - Seneca
- "I also have in mind that seemingly wealthy, but most terribly impoverished class of all, who have accumulated dross, but know not how to use it, or get rid of it, and thus have forged their own golden or silver fetters." Henry David Thoreau
- The new rich can be separated from the crowd based on their goals, which reflect very distinct priorities and life philospohies.
- "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool." - Richard P Feynman
- Money is multiplied in practical value depending on the number of w's you can control in your life: what you do, when you do it, where you do it, and with whom you do it. Called the freedom multiplier.
- 80 hr per week investment banker making $500K may be worth less when we look at lifestyle output of their money.
- Options: the ability to choose is real power
- "Civilization had too many rules for me so I did my best to rewrite them." Bill Crosby
- "Once you say you're going to settle for second, that's what happens to you in life." JFK
- " I cant give you a surefire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time." Herbert Bayard Swope
- "Everything popular is wrong." Oscar Wilde
- Kickboxing champ by exploiting the rules
- If everyone is defining a problem or solving it one way and results are sub par this is the time to ask what if I did the opposite? Don't follow a model that doesn't work. If recipe sucks it doesn't matter how good a cook you are.
- The basic rules for successful new rich are surprisingly uniform and predictably divergent from what the rest of the world is doing.
1. Retirement is worst case scenario insurance
a. Predicated that you don't like what you are doing now b. most cant maintain a good standard of living for 30 years c. if you cant maintain your ambitions you'll be so bored you'll be out of retirement anyways so why wait?
2. Interest and energy are cyclical
3. Less is not laziness
4. The timing is never right
5. Ask forgiveness not permission
6. Emphasize strengths don't fix weaknesses
7. Things in excess become their opposite
8. Money alone is not the solution
9. Relative income is more important than absolute income
10. Distress is bad eustress is good
- "Many false step was made by standing still." Fortune Cookie
- "Named must your fear be before banish it you can." Yoda
- "Action may not always bring happiness but there is no happiness without action." Benjamin Disraeli
- "Set aside a certain number of days during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with course and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: "Is this the condition that I feared?"" Seneca
- "Theres no difference between a pessimist who says, oh its hopeless so don't bother doing anything and an optimist who says don't bother doing anything its going to turn out fine anyway. Either way nothing happens." Yvon Chouinard
- Are you better off that a year, month, week ago? If not things wont be better by themselves. Fear is disguised as optimism
- What would seem like a disaster from the outside was the most life affirming epiphany he'd ever experienced: The worst really wasn't that bad. To enjoy life you don't need fancy nonsense but you do need to control your time and realise that most things just aren't as serious as you make them out to be.
- "I'm an old man and have known great many troubles, but most of them never happened." Mark Twain
1. Define your nightmare
2. What could you do to repair the damage?
3. What are the outcomes or benefits?
4. If you were fired today what would you do to get things under financial control?
5. What are you putting off out of fear?
6. What is it costing you financially and emotionally and physically to postpone the action?
7. What are you waiting for?
- Doing the unrealistic is easier than doing the realistic
- If you are insecure guess what the rest of the world is too. Don't overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself.
- Dreamlining: 1. The goals shift from ambiguous wants to defined steps 2. The goals have to be unrealistic to be effective 3. It focuses on activities that will fill the vacuum when work is removed. Living like a millionaire requires doing interesting things and not just owning enviable things.
1. What would you do if there were no way you could fail? If you were 10 times smarter than the rest of the world? 6 Months and 12 months 5 things you dream of having being and doing
2. Drawing a blank?
3. What does "being" entail doing? Convert into actionable items great cook-make Xmas dinner without help
4. What are the four dreams that would change it all?
5. Determine the cost of these dreams and calculate your target monthly income
- Sample page 56
6. Determine three steps for each of your 4 dreams and take the first step now
- There is a direct correlation between an increased sphere of comfort and getting what you want
- Comfort Challenge: Learn to Eye gaze 1. Focus on one eye and blink so you don't look like a psycho or get your ass kicked 2. In conversation maintain eye contact when you re speaking easier when listening 3. Practice with bigger or more confident people
- "Once does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity." Bruce Lee
- "Perfection is not when there is no more to add, but no more to take away." Antoine De Saint-Exupery
- "It is vain to do more with more what can be done with less." William of Occam
- A few words on time management: forget about it.
1. Doing something unimportant well doesn't make it important 2. Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important
- What you do is infinitely more important than how you do it. Efficiency is still important but is useless unless applied to the right things.
- "What gets measured gets managed." Peter Drucker
- Pareto: 1. Which 20% of sources are causing 80% of my problems and unhappiness? 2. Which 20% of sources are causing 80% of my desired outcomes and happiness?
- Being busy is a form of laziness - lazy thinking and indiscriminate action
- How is it possible that all the people in the world need exactly 8 hours to accomplish their work? It isn't. 9-5 is arbitrary.
- Parkinson's law - a task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion
1. Limit tasks to the important to shorten work time 2. Shorten work time to limit tasks to the important.
- At least thee times a day ask the following question: Am I being productive or just active? Or am I just inventing things to do to avoid the important?
- Define a short to do list and a not to do list
1. If you had a heart attack and had to work two hours per day what would you do?
2. If you had a second attack and worked two hours per month what would you do?
3. If you had a gun to your head and had to remove 4/5 of different time consuming activities what would you remove?
4. What are the 3 activities that I use to fill time to feel as though Ive been productive?
5. If this is the only thing I accomplish today will I be satisfied?
6. Put a post it or outlook calender reminder to alert you 3 times a day with the question "Are you inventing things to do to avoid the important?"
7. Do not multitask
8. Use Parkinson's law on a macro and micro level
- Comfort Challenge: Learn to propose - stop asking for opinions and start proposing solutions. Both personally and professionally. "Can I make a suggestion?" "I propose" "Id like to propose" "I suggest that...what do you think?" "Lets try....and then something else if that doesn't work."
- "There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant." Ralph Waldo Emerson
- "Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace." Robert J Sawyer
- "Do your own thinking independently. Be the chess player not the chess piece." Ralph Charell
- "Meetings are an addictive, highly self indulgent activity that corporations and other organizations habitually engage in only because they cannot actually masturbate." Dave Barry
- Bully example page 91
1. Time wasters 2. Time consumers 3. Empowerment Failures Principle Int eruptions
- limit email to 2 times a day noon and 4pm
- limit outgoing phone calls
- master the art of refusal and avoiding meetings
1. Most are non urgent so make order of communication email, phone, in person
2. Respond to voicemail via email when possible
3. Meetings are only to make decisions not to define a problem
4. Define an end time for a meeting
5. Don't permit casual visitors to office
6. Use the puppy dog close
- Create systems to limit your availability via email and phone and deflect inappropriate contact
- Batch activities to limit setup cost and provide more dreamline time
- Set or request autonomous rules and guidelines with occasional review of results
- Comfort challenge: revisit the terrible twos - say no to all requests
- "The future is here. Its just not widely distributed yet." William Gibson coined term cyberspace in 1984
- "Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you're a man, you take it." Malcom X
- getting a remote personal assistant is a huge departure point and marks the moment you learn how to give orders and be commander instead of commanded. Training for critical NR skills remote management and communication
- "The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency." Bill Gates
1. Each delegated task must be time consuming and well defined
2. Have fun with it
1. Accepted the first VA at the firm and made no special requests
2. Gave imprecise directions - needed one possible interpretation at a 2nd grade level
3. Gave a license to waste time
4. Set deadline a week in advance - no more than 72 hours Parkinson's law
5. Gave too many tasks and no order of importance
- Example email to VA on page 134
- Questions and actions: 1. Get an assistant even if you don't need one 2. Start small but think big 3. Identify your top 5 time consuming non work tasks and 5 personal tasks you could assign for fun
- Comfort challenge - use the criticism sandwich: Praise, deliver the criticism, close with topic shifting praise to exit sensitive topic
- "Just set it and forget it" Ron Popeil
- "As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble." Ralph Waldo Emerson
- What would you do if you didn't have to think about money? Its time to find your muse.
- "When I was younger....I didn't want to be pigeonholed....Basically now you want to be pigeonholed. Its your niche. - Joan Chen actress in Last Emperor and Twin Peaks
1. What social, industry, and professional groups do you or have you longed to or do you understand?
2. Which of those groups have their own magazines?
- "Genius is only a superior power of seeing." John Ruskin
1. Pick an affordably reachable niche market 2. Brainstorm products a) resell b) license "I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow." Woodrow Wilson c) product creation "creation is a better means of self expression than possession; it is through creating, not possessing, that life is revealed." - Vida D Scudder
-Comfort challenge: Find Yoda - call at least one superstar mentor per day for 3 days, email only after calling
1. Market selection 2. product brainstorm 3. Micro testing 4. Roll out and automation
- Comfort Challenge: rejecting first offers and working away
- Websites on page 180
- Most entrepreneurs don't start out with automation as the goal
- This intentional absence has enabled him to create a process driven instead of founder driven business. Limiting contact with managers forces the entrepreneur to develop operational rules that enable others to deal with problems themselves instead of calling for help.
- Begin with the end in mind pg 185 chart
- "The system is the solution." AT&T
1. Contract outsourcing companies who specialize in one function with numerous people to replace each other as needed
2. Ensure outsourcers are willing to communicate amongst themselves to solve problems
- "Companies go out of business when they make the wrong decisions or just as important make too many decisions. The latter creates complexity. Mike Maples
1. Offer one or two purchase options 2. Do not offer multiple shipping options 3. Do not offer overnight or expedited delivery 4. Eliminate phone orders 5. Don't offer international shipping
- Use lose win guarantees
- Comfort challenge: relax in public - lie on the ground in public
- "It is far better for a man to go wrong in freedom than to go right in chains." Thomas H. Huxley
- "By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be a boss and work twelve hours a day." Robert Frost
- "On this path it is only the first step that counts." St Jean Baptise Marie Vianney
1. Increased investment - company to invest as much as possible in you so the loss is greater if you quit
2. Prove increased output offsite
3. Prepare the quantifiable business benefit - show benefit of working outside the office
4. Propose a revocable trial period
5. Expand remote time
- "Recently I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him. Thomas J Watson founder of IBM
- Questions and actions:
1. If you had a heart attack how could you work remotely for four weeks?
2. Put yourself in your boss' shoes. Based on history would you trust you to work outside the office
3. Practice environment free productivity
4. Quantify current productivity
5. Create an opportunity and demonstrate remote work productivity before asking for it as a policy
6. Practice the art of getting past no before proposing
7. Put your employer on remote training wheels - Propose Monday or Friday at home
8. Extend each successful trial period until you reach full time or desired level of mobility
- "Would you like me to give you a formula for success? Its quite simple really. Double your rate of failure." Thomas J Watson founder of IBM
- Mexican fishing story pg 232
- "There is more to life than increasing its speed." Mohandas Gandhi
- "This is the very imperfection of man, to find out his own imperfection." Saint Augustine
- mini retirements: 1. take an asset and cash flow snapshot 2. fear set a one year mini retirement in a dream location 3. choose a location for your actual mini retirement a)choose starting point and wander b) scout a region and settle on your favorite 4. prepare for your trip - eliminate and automate
- Websites pg 256
- "To be engrossed by something outside ourselves is a powerful antidote for the rational mind, the mind that so frequently has its head up its own ass." Anne Lamott
- "There is not enough time to do all the nothing we want to do." Bill Watterson
- "Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another." Anatole France
- "People say that what we are seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think this is what were really seeking. I think what were seeking is an experience of being alive." Joseph Campbell
- "What man actually needs is not a tension less state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task." Viktor E Frankl
- Life exists to be enjoyed and that the most important thing is to feel good about yourself
1. Continual learning 2. Service
- Service is an attitude
- "Adults are always asking kids what they want to be when they grow up because they are looking for ideas." Paula Poundstone
- "The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive." Thich Nhat Hanh
1. Revisit ground zero: Do nothing 2. Make an anonymous donation 3. Take a learning mini retirement in combination with local volunteering 4. Revisit and reset dream lines 5. Based on 1-4 consider new or part time vocations
- "If you don't make mistakes your not working on hard problems. And that's a big mistake." Frank Wilczek
- " Ho imparato che niente e impossibile e anche che quasi niente e facile (ive learned that nothing is impossible and that almost nothing is easy...) Articolo 31 Italian rap group
- Mistakes of the new rich: 1. losing sight of dreams and falling into work for works sake 2. Micromanaging and emailing to fill time 3. Handling problems your outsourcers or co workers can handle 4. Helping outsourcers or coworkers with the same problem more than once or non crisis problems 5. Chasing customers 6. Answering email that will not result in a sale or could be answered by FAQ auto responder 7. Working where you live, sleep or should relax 8. Not performing a thorough 80/20 analysis every two to four weeks 9. Striving for endless perfection instead of good enough 10. Blowing minutiae and small problems out of proportion as excuse to work 11. Making non time sensitive issues urgent to justify work 12. Viewing one product job project as end all be all of your existence 13. Ignoring the social rewards of life.
- "There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living there is nothing harder to learn." Seneca
- "For the past 33 years I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: If today were the last day of my life would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been NO for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something - all external expectations all pride all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Rememberin that you are going to die is the best way I know to aboid the trap of thinking you have something to lose." - Steve Jobs
- Books page 288