Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Last night was my first class for the Kaplan GMAT preparation course and I must say that although I am a bit rattled about the test, the class was pretty enjoyable and will definitely serve me well as I progress. More important than the class is going to be my own commitment to intense studying. The most common theme that Kaplan has found amongst those who score 100 points or more higher than their diagnostic test is that they study more than 100 hours over the duration of the course. I have broken that down to roughly a two hour a day study commitment, with the flexibility to miss a day or so as long as I make up for it on the weekend. To me that is an intense study commitment, even having come from a service academy where I was intellectually overmatched by the average cadet and faculty member. However, it is an intense commitment that I plan to stick to for the next 6 weeks or so. Although I am slightly intimidated looking holistically at the challenge ahead I am excited to fully dedicate myself to the cause. Unfortunately this will undoubtedly place a major damper on the amount of quality writing I can commit to deliver to you, the badass reader of Badskiblog. My mitigation strategy is to post some quality video clips that will minimize my time invested while still providing those interested with some valuable content. If any of you would like to break into blogging for the first time or would like to expose your content to a different audience please feel free to write up a guest post on a topic of your choice and send it my way. Thanks and wish me luck on the long journey towards hopeful GMAT success.
Monday, January 25, 2010
"I look for three qualities in hiring people. Integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don't have the first then the last two will kill you, because if they don't have integrity you want them dumb and lazy." - Warren Buffett
The quote above is why I love and admire Warren Buffett. He has an innate ability to say things in the lowest common denominator. He puts everything in its simplest form yet makes it sound like the most insightful piece of advice you have ever heard. Unfortunately, the same reasons I admire Buffett are also the same reasons that it is nearly impossible to expand upon his ideas. Take a look at this video of Buffett as he speaks to w a group of MBA students on the importance of integrity, and I dare you to say it better than he does. Prove me wrong and you have just earned a spot on BadskiBlog.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
People practice in order to prepare. We prepare for things that we feel are important or things that have little room for error. So what happens when that practice is preparing you for something completely different than you intended? Likely decreased performance.
Last week I was in a military exercise. All the bases do similar exercises to prepare for deployments, practice first aid, and gas mask utilization. The problem is that we practice deploying using Cold War era methodologies. I cannot count the number of people I hear every exercise talk about how this is not how we really deploy. It is tough for someone like myself who is thirsting for knowledge and preparation surrounding how we really ship out. So why do we practice something we don't do and likely will never do again? Because the military values preparation. I don't want to say it is a box checking mentality but it is important in that culture to consistently test and evaluate ourselves. This is actually a good thing, and when it comes to training the military has a long tradition of implementing large scale training initiatives that have proven their worth through a string of successes in actual war time scenarios. With that being said I think the question is not whether we should practice, but are we actually practicing the right things? What is the end state? And is our preparation positively affecting that end state?
Athletes understand this concept. Athletes are constantly seeking training that most parallels their actual sport. Whether it be drills in practice or weights in the gym, athletes want to mirror the game as to best prepare for success. Don't think that the military is alone in their struggles to mirror future conflicts. In fact, given the nature of their business the military probably does better than most organizations.
I started to transfuse this concept into other areas of my life. What am I doing that is just wasted effort? Am I performing activities in the name of preparation that in actuality may have unexpected outcomes? I think I am going to make more of an effort to ask what the desired end state is for activities that consume my time.
A good example is blogging. Many people get into blogging with illusions of grandeur and dollar signs in their eyes. Doubtful at best. I personally blog to maintain a consistent writing presence in my life, to better my communication skills, to challenge and solidify my beliefs, and most importantly to grow. With that end state in mind the activities like finding content, brainstorming, and writing are worth the commitment invested. However, if my end state was to make money I would likely be performing the wrong activities. Yes content is important as that is what people ultimately come back for, but I would probably be better served spending more time growing my readership.
I am about to start my Kaplan GMAT preparation course. I chose to take the course because my end state is a high GMAT score. Kaplan not only forces me to go to class and study, which is much needed, but they also have a system that is highly aligned with the actual GMAT test. Everything from the practice problems used in previous GMAT years, to the way they segregate the question types, to the scoring methods, to the adaptive practice tests, and a practice at an actual testing facility mirrors the experience I will likely have when I take the actual GMAT. They get it. They know what the customer's desired end state is and they know that the best way to positively prepare for the future is to do the best you can to replicate it.
Are there any areas in your life where practice becomes something entirely different than what you were preparing for?
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I was forwarded a very interesting article today by friend and fellow blogger Al Chase entitled Military of Millennials. Al, who maintains the blog The White Rhino Report, sent the article to a group of Gen Y'ers for their thoughts on the thesis of the piece which is centered around the cultural impact of Generation Y on the US military. It is a long article but definitely an interesting read (full article here). There were a few things that really struck me in this article and although I don't necessarily agree wholeheartedly with everything that is presented, I am definitely seeing some of these trends within my sphere of influence.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) took an unprecedented step on May 15, 2007, blocking troop access to MySpace, YouTube, and other popular Web sites. The official reason was to conserve bandwidth and safeguard security. But the DOD’s ban also highlighted a gap in understanding between senior military leaders and what demographers call Generation Y (alternatively known as the millennial generation or the baby-boom echo). Few members of this generation, born after 1978, can recall a time when the Internet was not at their disposal.
Not long ago, one of the authors of this article was asked to lead a U.S. Air Force study on the implications for the military of this new online generation. The request came from senior officers who had been appalled to discover a number of junior officers using the still permissible Facebook Web site for the purpose of organizing their squadrons. These senior officers were having difficulty with the concept of using a civilian social-networking site for military purposes. What would that mean for military security? How would it affect the control and vulnerability of squadrons in the field? And from the perspective of DOD “middle management,” what was a major supposed to do? Forbid the behavior and risk losing the real benefits of an online community? Or protect it and risk the wrath of more senior officers who just didn’t understand?
This kind of conundrum is relevant not just for the U.S. military. A wide range of organizations, including most global corporations, will soon face a large, new cohort of young employees. Generation Y’s affinity for the interconnected world is just one of its intriguing characteristics.
Although the start of this article is a little weird and I think it is a bit of a stretch to connect senior leader's inability to manage Gen Y with blocking Facebook in a work environment, the article does does highlight one trait that is very important to understanding the demographic; enhanced interconnectedness. The youth of today definitely has a desire to be connected to more people than any generation prior. The internet has proved to be a catalyst to not only satisfy that desire, but to expand the ability of people to maintain more relationships than ever before. Not only can people now keep a handle on social connections, but they can create relationships and build communities that would never have existed otherwise.
Generation gaps are not new to the military, of course, or to the culture at large. The Vietnam era was defined by the distinctly different attitudes between the 20-year-old draftees and the older career officers and senior enlisted men who commanded them. More recently, a report issued on February 15, 2000, by the vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army noted that the rate of voluntary attritions among captains had risen sharply, and the report cited generational differences as a chief reason. “Senior officers think they understand the world of lieutenants and captains,” the report observed, “but many junior officers and others are convinced that they do not.” As an example of these differences, the report cited senior officers’ “careerism” and dogged loyalty to the military as opposed to junior officers’ preference for a better work–life balance. To the typical junior officer, it noted, “being an Army officer is a noble profession…not an all-consuming source of self-identity.”
The report presciently foresaw the U.S. military’s current dif ficulties with recruiting and retention, exacerbated by its expanded involvements in Iraq and Afghanistan. Because of Generation Y’s significantly larger numbers, and because its attitudes have been shaped by unique circumstances, these young men and women will provide distinctly different challenges and opportunities for the military, the business world, and every other kind of organization that they enter.
I really think these paragraphs are spot on in the challenges that have already begun to manifest within the ranks of the military. Gone are the days of corporate loyalty to the worker. Gone are the days where our elected leader's promises and programs can be counted on. And most importantly gone are the days where the youth of America believes that the key to a happy life is putting in endless hours at the same job for decades at a time. And can you really blame them? We have watched our parents and noticed the discrepancies between the world they grew up in and what we are living in. The generational quest for a better work life balance is real, and I would argue that it is powerful. The military is not only faced with this new reality, but it is handcuffed by stringent budgets, manning cuts, and two wars. Not easy to overcome and I would atrribute the aforementioned attrition more to those factors than leadership's inability to relate or manage Gen Y officers. That being said, the culture shift is something that I think has and will continue to shape the armed forces in the future.
Two of the most prominent theorists of generational change, historian and satirist Bill Strauss and histo rian and demographer Neil Howe, have suggested in their book Millennials Rising (Vintage, 2000) that Gen Y may be something of a throwback to its grandparents’ generation — the generation that grew up in the Depression, fought in World War II, and came home to build a powerful national economy along with strong, effective community institutions.
Like their grandparents, millennials appear deeply committed to family, community, and teamwork, which they have made priorities. Among middle-class high school and college students, volunteering for nonprofit work has become almost the norm. (In many states, it is now a school requirement.) After college, this generation is competing for places in organizations like the Peace Corps and Teach for America in extraordinary numbers, even as the military struggles to attract them. Indeed, the research summarized by Strauss and Howe (in their book and in the Harvard Business Review, July–August 2007) suggests that this new generation may in fact be more civic- and family-oriented than any since World War II, reversing long-term trends toward increased rates of criminal activity, drug use, and teen pregnancy.
It would appear, therefore, that if the current leadership in the public and private sectors learns to accept, deploy, and manage Generation Y effectively, the millennials could even provide an echo of the grit and selfless heroism that inspired journalist Tom Brokaw to label their grandparents “the greatest generation.” On the other hand, if the leadership fails to understand and adapt — if it insists on harnessing millennials with outdated mind-sets, rules, and processes — it could squander a historic opportunity to reinvigorate the military and rekindle an idealistic, can-do spirit in a wide variety of institutions.
I thought this passage was a great reminder that things do not always get worse. People are almost predispositioned to look at those that come after them with great concern as if the youth of tomorrow is destined to lead our nation down a path of destruction. Whether it is generational identity, politics, or the stock market people always think the sky is falling so it is great to see an author acknowledge that Gen Y are not just a band of miscreants and that they in fact have a unique skill set to provide besides just unique challenges. Perhaps the reinvigorated family value system that the author describes can be attributed at least in part to some of the generational traits expressed in Gen Y like the affinity for interconnectedness discussed earlier.
Gen Y’s familiarity with the interconnected world suggests that its members will respond enthusiastically to management styles that encourage creativity and initiative, and that they will be comfortable working in teams. Millennials exhibit characteristics likely to render them facile and effective decision makers, especially in combat situations, where decentralized operations are paramount. They are also adept at gathering information and sharing it with peers. The U.S. military has long struggled to smooth interservice rivalries and achieve better working relations between military and intelligence operations. Corporations face similar challenges in getting people to work together fluidly and productively across functional, regional, and operational boundaries. Might Gen Y, with its deeply ingrained habits of openness and teamwork, eventually succeed in breaking down some of these barriers?
In other ways, those deeply ingrained habits challengees tablished organizational values. To command-and-control organizations like the military (and many corporations), knowledge is power and, therefore, something to be protected — or even hoarded. To Gen Y, however, knowledge is something altogether different; it belongs to everyone and creates a basis for building new relationships and fostering dialogue. Baby boomers and Gen Xers have learned to use the Internet to share information with people whom they already know, but members of Gen Y use blogs, instant-messaging, e-mails, and wikis to share information with those whom they may never meet — and also with people across the hall or down the corridor. Their spirit of openness is accompanied by a casual attitude toward privacy and secrecy; they have grown up seeing the thoughts, reactions, and even indiscretions of their friends and peers posted on a permanent, universally accessible global record.
I know I find myself longing for more and more creative, collaborative team environments. That could also be attributed to my competitive sports background but regardless I think it is an important recognized generational trait for plenty of Gen Y'ers. This is something that definitely does not come naturally in the corporate or military rank and file chain of command. Empowering subordinates and creating collaborative environments will likely become more important as we progress into the next decade.
I think the point on openess and secrecy is also a very interesting dynamic, especially within the military culture. All thoughout my time at Air Force Academy I heard the definition of integrity described as "doing the right thing when no one is looking." I think that Gen Y'ers more confortable packaging themselves as one identity as opposed to a work person, an at home person, etc. They want to be respected for their ideas and contributions, not just for the appearance they present and for their ability to walk the line and live the status quo. Part of that process starts with the liberating practice of sharing information and experiences, and not necisarily just with those you know personally. Not everyone gets it, even in Gerneration Y. I know I still get comments and questions from friends about my blog all the time wondering why I put the time and effort in. But those who do get it are willing to bypass privacy for they feel that they don't have anything to hide and much to gain!
It’s still unclear how military and business leaders can adapt their traditional command-and-control operating models to make millennials feel comfortable. The U.S. military, and many corporations, rely on effective chains of command — on leaders who give orders and people in the field who execute them. It will be neither easy nor entirely desirable to make a transition away from that.
To be sure, the reasons for making such a transition continue to increase. Modern military adversaries — and, in the business world, commercial competitors — increasingly use nontraditional structures. Al Qaeda, for example, is not a top-down hierarchy. It is a flexible, decentralized network. As numerous experts have pointed out (for example, University of Pennsylvania professor Marc Sageman in his 2004 book, Understanding Terror Networks, and former U.S. Treasury Department analyst Jonathan Schanzer in his 2004 book, Al-Qaeda’s Armies), this network relies on shared ideologies, common hatreds, and distributed technical know-how, rather than on centralized command, regimented training, and tightly organized supply lines. Will it take a Gen Y military to learn how to effectively counter such virulent franchises?
I will have to defer this topic to fellow blogger Cam Schaefer who writes on fourth generation warfare. He has written extensively on Afghanistan explored the many questions surrounding our strategy and new ways of acheiving our nation's interests. In short I would just say that we are fighting a war that is longer than any war prior with acknowledged minimal gains, and a unique and new strategy whether fueled by Gen Y or another generation is surely welcomed by me.
In the end I think the author does a great job summing up what the real challenge is surrounding the unique dynamic of Generation Y and the military, and that challenge is balance.
Besides restoring the right value proposition, the military leadership can ensure that those in positions of command at all levels are trained and stress-tested to maintain a delicate balance — the balance between empowering Gen Y troops and providing them with direction, discipline, and cohesion. Indeed, balanced leadership is the only way to empower a millennial-dominated military to think and act creatively, responsibly, and with the right sense of mission.
Confronted with the reality of Gen Y’s unique characteristics, what’s a military leader to do? More research into the attitudes, aptitudes, and habits of young military officers and noncommissioned officers should help to clarify key issues; we already know that the answers are unlikely to lie in stifling this generation’s natural talents and predilections. Most generations have a way of challenging their elders’ fundamental assumptions and ways of doing things. Gen Y is poised to do the same — and in potentially constructive and original ways. The job of today’s captains, majors, and colonels is to encourage and guide millennials and protect them from the senior officers who may not appreciate their unique qualities. Let’s hope the military, and the corporations that hire the people who leave the military, can learn to make the most of this new generation’s distinctive talents and instincts
Monday, January 18, 2010
I recently DVR'd the CNBC show Bill Gates and Warren Buffett: Keeping America Great. The show has the two titans of capitalism sitting down with a crowd of Columbia students for a back and forth discussion on 'keeping America great.' It was a great glimpse into a casual discussion between these two business geniuses and a group of driven young business students parched for knowledge. The show exposed me a bit more to Bill Gates, especially in a relaxed setting. And it reaffirmed my admiration for the simplistic character based wisdom of Warren Buffett. I love the reality driven optimism of both of these guys and seeing as they are at the world's forefront in both business and philanthropy there is definitely much to be learned as a business leader and more importantly as a human being living a life of excellence. There were plenty of great questions and great responses from these two icons. I have provided some paraphrased enlightenment from the show but I highly suggest you tune in and watch the entire thing. It is well worth your time.
Was there ever a doubt about this country?
Buffett: I put my money in when we were looking into the abyss.
Gates: This country still has the best schools the best opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Do you think bad ethical business practices are the cause of the financial crisis?
Buffett: It was one of the causes but we have always had greed and we will never get rid of it. We still have a system in place that allows for a quality of opportunity that is unparalleled. Our economy is sputtering but we still have the best engine in the world.
Gates: I was a huge beneficiary of this country's willingness to place a large amount of risk and responsibility on a young person. Other countries are trying to replicate that and it is good for the world.
Mr. Gates can you tell me what you thought when Lehman went under?
Gates: I don't really follow investment banks very closely. I called Warren and asked if I should be worried? He said a little bit.
Buffett:The dominoes were fully lined up and it wasn't realized how close the Lehman domino was to the next one. However I give credit to how the government officials handled the crisis overall.
Many of the villains of this industry were in fact business school graduates. What responsibility do you think the universities like Columbia should hold?
Gates: Remember that capitalism has been enormously successful. Standard of life, medicine, etc. Business schools pay a role in developing the skills necessary to move forward.
Buffett: The best place to learn ethics is in the home. Most of us learn what we know about ethics well before we step in a classroom. It is important to emphasize them but if I had to choose between learning them in the home or the classroom I would take the home. The thing is you can succeed marvelously with ethics. It is not a hindrance at all. Look everyone here has a bright future. Look at the last two centuries. Our country doesn't avoid problems it just solves them.
What industry do you think is going to produce the next Bill Gates because that is the industry I want to get into?
Gates: Information has been the most exciting as far as what has happened. Energy and medicine also has the opportunity to rival information.
Buffett: Find what turns you on and what you have a passion for. If I would have known that Bill's industry was the next big thing I don't think I would have done too well at it. I had a teacher Benjamin Graham that I offered to work for free for and he said I was overpriced but I went that direction and had a passion for it and here I am. You will do well in whatever turns you on.
CNBC took a poll of the attendees and asked if in their lifetime they would ever see a company as transformative as Microsoft and 92% said yes. Bill do you share that belief?
Gates: Yes. Capitalism is great. You have thousands of things going on in parallel and most fail, some are mediocre, but the ones that are truly special can grow and stun everybody.
There have been a of rumors regarding your investment in Burlington Northern. Can you share the real reasons for your exposure to the railroad sector at this time?
Buffett: When I was six I wanted a railroad set and my dad didn't get it for me. Railroads are a necessity within this country. You will have more people and they will be moving more and more within this country in the next 30 years. It is the most environmentally and most cost effective way of doing that. One train will supplant 200 trucks on the road. They will play a big role in the future.
We just went through hopefully the worst financial crises of our lifetime. It has kept a lot of people up at night worrying about their future. What if anything keeps you up at night?
Buffett: I try to live my life so that nothing keeps me up at night. Last fall was really quite exciting for me. There were opportunities available that weren't the year prior. This country was going to do fine no matter what.
Gates: The financial system fortunately has a lot of self correction in it. I think there are a few things that could shake us in the future. One being a large scale terrorist attack and the other a widespread pandemic. You have to keep your eye out for a few outliers like that. I worry about our education not improving as much as it should.
The recent run up in the market has been historic with many people questioning the sustainability. Do you think the rally is for real?
Buffett: What's going to happen tomorrow huh? I bought my first stock in 1942.. Do you know when the best calendar year was since then? It was 1954 of the heels of a recession. But the point is it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what the market does next week. What matters is whether you are buying a good stock for the money or not. Have the right long term outlook and the right evaluation of the company you are buying and a bad market is your friend. I don't care whether next week, next month or even next year does well.
What are your thoughts on Apple and the job Steve Jobs has done as the CEO of Apple? (Awkward laugh from audience and an almost pissed off smirk from Gates)
Gates: He has done a fantastic job. They are in a bit of different business but he has done well. He brought in a team and inspired them to revive a company. It is great to have competitors and of all the leaders in the industry he has proven most inspirational and he saved a company to bring them back at an incredible rate.
What is the one thing your MBA didn't prepare you for when you got into the real world?
Buffett: It prepared me very well. I was lucky that I knew what I wanted to do. I had two professors that really inspired me so that really propelled me into a field that I already loved. Right now I would pay $100,000 for 10% of the future earnings of any of you so if anyone wants to see me after. If that is true you are a million dollar asset right now. You can improve upon that by working on your communication skills. If you can improve it by 50% its another $500,000 in terms of capital value and see me after class here and i will pay you $150,000.
Mr. Gates you obviously worked very hard to get where you are. Can you share what role pure luck played in your success?
Gates: I was lucky in many ways. Lucky to be born with certain skills lucky to have parents that created an environment that was good for me and I was lucky in terms of timing. The microprocessor invention impacted me incredibly at a young age. Lucky to meet the people I have met.
You have an interesting relationship. What do you both admire most about each other?
Buffett: He admires my athletic ability. What I most admire about Bill is the view he has of what to do with the money he has amassed. As he said he was born in the right country, at the right time, with the right wiring and he was very lucky to be where he is. But in the end he knows he is the beneficiary of a tremendous society and not everyone has that opportunity. He values every human life as much as the next and he is backing it up not only with money but with his time and his wife is backing it up as well. They are going to spend the second half of their lives improving the lives of the 6 and a half billion people of the world and that is what I admire most about him.
Gates: Well with Warren there is a lot you can pick. His integrity is an example to the world, his humor. But I think I would have to pick his ability to teach. He has the ability to take things that are very complex and make them so simple so that everyone has the benefit of the experiences and work that he has put in. He loves to teach and its a real gift that I admire incredibly.
R. Glenn Hubbard the Dean of Columbia business school had the opportunity to present the question that he was most excited to ask. Warren you have said that you never know who is swimming naked until the tide goes out. That says something for knowing when the tide is going to go out but it also says something about knowing context. How do we develop and encourage business leaders who understand context and can connect the dots?
Buffett: I think they have learned alot of that in the last year and some just never learn. I think that what I learned from Ben Graham is that having sounds principles takes you through everything. They take you through the good and the bad and in the end I don't worry about it.
Has your investment philosophy on buy and hold or any of the actual processes of how you invest been impacted by the recent crisis?
Buffett: No it hasn't. We like products like this (holds up coke bottle) how is that for shameless promotion? This started in 1886 and gone through all these events and in the end there are billions of servings of coke next year and more the year after that. I own fruit of the loom too but I am not going to do a product promotion of that!
How would you recommend that an individual investor who follows the Graham and Dodd philosophy allocate their capital today?
Buffett: Well it depends on whether they are active or a passive investor. If you are going to spend a lot of time on investing then look at as many things as possible and you will find some bargains. You have to look for yourself. The world isn't going to tell you about great deals you need to find them yourself and that takes a fair amount of time. If you are not going to do that then I just advise an index fund invested consistently over time. Cash is the worst investment. Cash is not king. Find a good business and stick with it. We always keep enough cash around so I feel comfortable and can sleep at night but it is not because I like cash as an investment. Cash is a bad investment over time but you always want to have enough so that nobody can determine your future.
I actually work at Goldman Sachs so thank you for your investment.
Buffett: Well why aren't you at work?
I would like both your opinions on the development of alternative energy for getting our economy back on track?
Gates: There will be many that are dead ends. But as a nation we want to make sure that we have an environment that encourages all of them because one will eventually lead to much cheaper and better energy. There is quite a bit of R&D but not as much as I would like to see. But it is one of these areas that is emphatic by nature. There is a lot of money going in and the return on investment as a whole is actually quite low much like cars and computers etc. You get these kind of bubbles so you will have to be a bit careful to make sure that it is one that has its cost structure in line and not just pushed along by subsidies. So its a good area but not necessarily one that is great for investment.
If America was a stock would you buy it?
Gates: You bet
Buffett: On Margin!
Sunday, January 17, 2010
My name is Jared, I'm Active Duty AF and currently in contracting career field. I'm currently an E4 and will sew on staff next month. I like what you had to say about finances and the military.
I have been very fortunate and blessed in the last year and a half.. First off I'm in a very hot career as I believe your in the same one too. Next I have no bills (except for cell phone) and rent. I do agree buying a house is good but when I'm only using half my BAH for rent then I think renting may be the best option. I just re-enlisted with the 7 SRB they were offering. I'm investing most of that money now. On top of that I got a sweet assignment to Moron Spain where the COLA is very generous. I'm going to invest all that too. I've deployed 2 times in 4yrs and have paid off all credit cards and my truck. No sense in getting a new vehicle mine runs fine. I'm single w/ no dependents so I can save half my paycheck every month. I have sworn to never get in credit card debt again. I had over 10 thousand in credit card debt alone at one point.
So to boil this all down I joined the military 4 1/2 yrs ago with a total of 30 grand in debt to now having 2 Roth IRA's with 10 plus grand in each and over 50 grand in my bank. And you know what....it was all in the military and I only reenlisted for 4 years and I'm only an E4. I'm finishing up my business degree and the military has literally paid for all of it as I try to get my books free from a library.
I'm completely blown away with the power of money and your completely right it's all about looking at an investment in time, ownership of your time, your life.
I'm not here to brag at all, in fact I'm just amazed and tickled. If people would take your advice and stop whining about being in the military and look for the upper hand of it all you would see a lot more military millionaires at the end.
I now give advice to young Airman and telling them...it can be done!! I started late too as I joined when I was 27 yrs old and now I'm 31.
Thanks again and hope to hear back your thoughts.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Time Magazine has called it the "decade from hell". CNBC recently ran a one hour special entitled The Bubble Decade detailing ten years of boom and bust cyles. Politicians have foreshadowed apocolyptic financial doom around every corner. Has it really been that bad of a decade for investors? I would argue no if you are a long term buy and hold investor that invests primarily in low cost index funds, and apparantly I am not alone. Forbes recently published an article by Richard A. Ferri detailing the relatively solid decade most disciplined long term investors had.
We all agree that US stocks were not a fun ride, but that is not the most important question. Rather the questions to ask are these: How did you perform over the past decade, and how did a diversified portfolio of index funds perform over the same period?Index fund investors who remained disciplined and stuck to a simple strategy of diversification and rebalancing fared pretty well.
All the portfolios outperformed the CPI, and that means all portfolios made money in real terms. Since this is true, was the first decade of this millennium really an investor's hell? Not as I see it. Yes the volatility was unnerving at times. Yes, the performance of US stocks was well below its historic average. However, a diversified and disciplined index investor weathered the past decade just fine.
Monday, January 4, 2010
First Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman - Going against the status quo is a fairly prevalent cliche that is easy to latch onto and the study of management is no exception. However First Break All The Rules parades the anti-establishment management flag based at least in part on the largest Gallup poll results on management ever undertaken. Although the field is generally viewed as more of an art than a science the useful guidelines and anecdotes are based on hard data taken from thousands of managers at numerous companies across the globe. Although I am considered rather green or wet behind the ears in my career journey, I still took quite a bit from this book. I don't manage a division or have 300 plus direct reports, but I feel that management is more a study of interpersonal skills and organizational habits that we all can learn from. There were definitely some parts that I could not relate to at all, but that is not to say I will never encounter similar situations or apply those lessons to other situations. One surprisingly useful discovery within this book was the introspective nature of the material. The way the book was written had me looking at my life to see if I was surrounded by effective managers, by a high performing organization, and with people who were happy. Furthermore it offered the right line of questioning to evaluate whether or not a position is good for my unique set of talents and behaviors. Definitely some interesting stuff that is value added not only for those seeking to be better managers, but for those seeking to make sure that they are positioned most effectively to exploit their unique makeup. Here are my notes from the book:
In all the classic cartoons a great idea is illustrated by a light bulb becoming illuminated over the character's head. That clichéd visualization of an ingenious idea may in fact become a reality in 2010! In Fortune's article the Next Little Thing 2010 there are a laundry list of mind-blowing innovations set to hit the market in 2010, one involves wireless electricity making the overhead illuminated light bulb all but a reality. What fitting symbolism to usher in the new year and the truly remarkable products set to enter our lives. Here is a blurb regarding the wireless electricity technology:
A physics professor, Soljačić dug into the problem and learned that if you could get two magnetic fields to resonate -- to sing the same note, in effect -- they could transfer an electric current. With two large magnetic coils, he found a way to throw 60 watts across a room, powering a light bulb. MIT, his employer, quickly patented the technology and encouraged Soljačićto start a company.
WiTricity's 15 employees are hard at work proving that Soljačić's magnetic coils can power almost any electrical device. Most of the company's potential customers have one major question: safety.
"There's a real perceptual problem," says CEO Eric Giler. "People think we're putting electricity in the air, and that's called lightning, and they know to stay away from that."
In fact, the coils turn electricity into magnetic fields, then back into electricity. Magnetic fields interact weakly with humans; as far as the fields are concerned, we are no different from air. Giler makes a point of standing between the coils whenever he demonstrates the technology.
At the Nikkei electronics conference in Tokyo in October, he was able to power a 1,000-watt klieg light from across the room -- a far cry from that 60-watt light bulb in Soljačić's first experiment. "We're going up the power curve," he says. -Chris Taylor
A few of my other favorites include invisible speakers, new bulletproof vests and remote communication devices for police and military dogs, and recycled brewery waste fish food. Check out the slideshow here and welcome in these exciting new innovations into our lives.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
The military marching on and other pregame festivities:
The "Green Monstah":
The view to the left of my seat:
First video is the street outside Fenway about an hour prior to game time. Needless to say it was crazy out there.