Mandatory Vaxx Law Hurting Employment, Some Are Striking Back – Pilots and ATC

Southwest Airlines cancelled 1400 flights yesterday. They blamed it on weather and other things. No other airlines cancelled flights because of weather. Air traffic controllers gave them the flying fickle finger of fate also and aren’t showing.

It just came out that 200 members of Congress used Ivermectin instead of the jab, hypocrites. Do as I say, not as I do.

From Social Media:

It’s Not Friday, Three horrible Facts, And a Silver Lining

Three Horrible Facts 1 Today Is Not Friday 2 Tomorrow Is ...

But, I’m retired so everyday is Saturday for me. I don’t have deadlines or conference calls or personnel issues today. Man I don’t miss work.

I don’t miss Facebook that went down yesterday. I didn’t even know it until I read about it. I’m glad to have that ball and chain out of my life also.

I have a brother-in-Law who is retired not by choice, but defined his life by his job. He doesn’t know what to do. I feel sorry for him. Life is much greater than your job.

For now, I’ll pet my dog and enjoy what comes next.

Finally Signs Of Star Trek Technology Here On Earth

I have been a huge Star Trek fan since TOS. I’ve met some of the actors at conferences for work.

I went to the Star Trek Experience at the Vegas Hilton. It had all the props from all the series in timeline order. There were 3 ships hung above. One was the NCC-1701, there was either the Voyager or Excelsior and I think a Klingon Bird of Prey. No matter, the props were good enough.

I lived each episode as I went down the display case. The actual phasers, tri-corders, costumes and ample descriptions. It took me hours to get through.

Later, they added a Borg exhibit and you get to experience 4D assimilation.

I still have a Tribble at home.

If they would only give me a replicator I’d be in heaven. They probably shouldn’t give me a phaser because I couldn’t promise to keep it on stun for some people.

Rules For How To Be Successful At What You Do

  1. Pursue what you love. Passion is an incredible motivator. It fuels focus, resilience, and perseverance.
  2. Do the hardest work first. We all move instinctively toward pleasure and away from pain. Most great performers, Ericsson and others have found, delay gratification and take on the difficult work of practice in the mornings, before they do anything else. That’s when most of us have the most energy and the fewest distractions.
  3. Practice intensely, without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break. Ninety minutes appears to be the maximum amount of time that we can bring the highest level of focus to any given activity. The evidence is equally strong that great performers practice no more than 4 ½ hours a day.
  4. Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses. The simpler and more precise the feedback, the more equipped you are to make adjustments. Too much feedback, too continuously can create cognitive overload, increase anxiety, and interfere with learning.
  5. Take regular renewal breaks. Relaxing after intense effort not only provides an opportunity to rejuvenate, but also to metabolize and embed learning. It’s also during rest that the right hemisphere becomes more dominant, which can lead to creative breakthroughs.
  6. Ritualize practice. Will and discipline are wildly overrated. As the researcher Roy Baumeister has found, none of us have very much of it. The best way to insure you’ll take on difficult tasks is to build rituals — specific, inviolable times at which you do them, so that over time you do them without having to squander energy thinking about them.

Work Phrases Explained

Activate:
To make carbons and add more names to the email.

Advanced Design:
Beyond the comprehension of the ad agency’s copywriters.

All New:
Parts not interchangeable with existing models.

Approved:
Needs revising

Automatic:
That which you cannot repair yourself.

Channels:
The trails left by interoffice emails.

Clarify:
To fill in the background with so many details that the foreground goes underground.

Conference:
A place where conversation is substituted for the loneliness of thought and the dreariness of labor.

Consultant:
Someone who borrows your watch to tell you what time it is and then walks away with the watch.

Forwarded For Your Consideration:
You hold the bag for a while.

FYI:
Found yesterday, interested?

In Conference:
Nobody can find him/her.

Let’s Get Together On This:
I’m assuming you’re as confused as I.

Note & Initial:
I’m not taking the fall for this myself.

Policy:
We can hide behind this.

Please See Me:
Come down to my office. I’m lonely.

Top Priority:
It may be stupid but the boss wants it.

We Are Taking A Survey:
We need more time to think of an answer or we can’t find anyone willing to be responsible for this.

Will Advise In Due Course:
If we figure it out, we’ll let you know.

Tuesday Saying – The Price You Pay For Your Profession

“The price one pays for pursuing any profession or calling is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.” – James Baldwin

 

Someone said find your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life.  This is not true.  Sooner or later we become victims of routine or more likely other people will make your job a pain.

This is the ugly side.  At some point even Michael Jordan had to retire, but he still can’t go to a restaurant without people bothering him.

Enjoy what you have and be glad you get to do it.

Great Sayings – Why Meetings Suck

“Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.”

– John Kenneth Galbraith

We’ve now found out during Covid that in person meetings are not necessary.  Actually, most of us knew that from sitting in them and wishing we were dead or anything to not be there.

I do know a few people that love meetings and live for them.  I think they don’t want to work, or it’s the place they think they can actually wield power.  I avoid those people so I don’t have to go to their meetings.

I’ve written before why Meetings are a waste of time, and how to avoid them.

As an introvert, I loathe meetings.  My rule was that if there were anymore than 5 people nothing was going to get done.

Avoid them at all cost.  They are a time suck and we’ve now proven that you can get work done without them

 

Great Sayings – Life is Tough Buttercup

When you do things because they are easy or the easy way, life will be hard in the future. When you do things that are hard, life will become easy.

I remember in my early working days when I was busting ass on a Saturday.  A friend of mine was giving me a hard time about working while he was on his way to Hawaii because he only worked 2 weeks a month (he was a stewardess – his words).  He was flying there for free because he worked for the airlines.

I knew that I was making a short term sacrifice for a long term gain.  I couldn’t afford the trip both in terms of money or time off.

A few years later, he decided not to serve cokes in the air for a living, but had wasted 15 years of working experience.  I had committed to getting ahead early in my career to enjoy my time later in life.  That required me to work hard when I was younger and sacrifice some things.

Now, I go where I want, when I want.  I’ve long since retired and my friend is still catching up and will be working for a long time.  I can afford a ticket to wherever, usually on frequent flyer points.  Life is a full circle.

I’m not a fortune teller, but life is short and there is a time for work and a time to reap the rewards of that work.  I knew that early and instead of living for the moment I had to work hard and sacrifice to enjoy the fruits of that labor.

We all learn lessons in life, but the are eerily similar.  Few are sports stars, win the lottery or inherit their wealth.  You need to work tenaciously, suffer from some hard knocks and learn from your experiences.  I knew way back then that goofing off early in life when you should be building the foundation for your life was the right decision.

I decided not to rub it in with my friend now that we are on the other side of the equation.  He is suffering enough and it’s just not worth it to me.  The results speak for themselves.

Success Sayings – On Work Relationships

Build relationships because people work with the people they know they can trust.

 

People generally want to do their best.  They want to succeed and will bring others along with them.

I have worked with people who trusted me and I know that even though I always gave it my all, I’d give more for those who I knew I could trust.  Conversely, while I didn’t work less for those I didn’t trust, I certainly didn’t prioritize them in my time or task management.

People who went out of their way to do me harm I stayed as far away from as I could unless it wasn’t possible.  Even then, I was wary of them to the point that I didn’t offer to help when I could at times because I was wary of retribution or motives.

I can’t be that different than anyone else.

Build trust and people will trust you back.  Be trustworthy and others will notice.

Covid-19 Benefits For Some of Us

No one would wish what happened to us with the China/Wuhan/Covid-19/Kung flu/Corona virus this year.  I wonder if there is any silver lining?

WE’VE LEARNED THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE IN PERSON AT WORK

First, the essential workers should be commended.  Those putting their life at risk for the rest of us or to keep us able to stay away but help keep the economy going do need to be there.  They don’t get thanked enough and deserve more accolades than they are getting.  I can’t list them all, but you know who you are as do we, especially when we go out or are in need and you are there.

There are a group of desk jockeys that can work from anywhere, including home, the coffee shop or anywhere that has WIFI.  Many companies are still getting along just fine without everyone in their cubicles or open office space being babysat by next level of ladder climbers and wannabees.

Yes, some of them are goofing off, but they goof off at the office also.  They self-sort themselves out of their jobs after a while anyway.  The other workers know who is carrying their load and who is carrying a load of bullshit without them being there.

We have been forced into a higher level of trust to get the job done.  I’ve worked for some who didn’t trust their employees if they weren’t at their desk.  If you treat people like grownups they will be.  If you treat them poorly or like monkeys, like managers I’ve had they will eat bananas.

Now, those who want to work at home or remotely had the chance to prove that they could get the job done and don’t have to go into an office to do the same thing.

For introverts, this is a blessing.  They don’t have to be sentenced to the jail of in person meetings or having to have their day ruined by HR regimented nonsense that can be done in non-critical hours.

PRODUCTIVITY

This is a unique time to get more work done, or to refine our work habits.  See above about goofing off in the office and you have now eliminated water cooler BS sessions, meaningless meetings that can be done on email or chat and time to actually concentrate.

I know those in sales have to talk, but if they concentrate more on selling, they too will be more productive.  A lot of them are too chatty anyway.

The USA works more than other countries and it appears that we like to work.  You can tell by how much we’ve achieved, but also the lack of vacation we take vs. other countries.  Hey, but how many countries have landed a man on the moon?

We have the opportunity to open up (re-open up) and unleash the greatest economy and workforce that has ever existed.  There are people dying to get back to work that may be furloughed.  I only hope the politicians haven’t put onerous rules in place that hurts the economy and the ability for small businesses to thrive.

TRAVEL

You can now go anywhere you need to if you want.  I imagine that travel will be light at first, although some with pent up demand or anxiety will leave as soon as it is allowed.  The downside will be the TSA security check lines if we have to stay 6 feet apart.  The line will be out of the building and into long term parking.

I read that the bookings for Cruise ships are in high demand, something I just don’t understand.  Cruise ships are petri dishes for viruses and have been for a long time.  Why you would want to be in basically a jail cell that travels with limited escape time to buy a T-shirt doesn’t seem desirable, but I have friends who love it.  They mostly like to eat though and say it’s a cheap way to travel.  At least they won’t be on planes for those of us who want to get where we are going and then actually see the country/place we are visiting.

You won’t have to worry about getting stuck in the middle seat for a while on an airplane.  That is the designated social distancing seat, like it’s going to matter when you are in a tube for hours and well within the reach of a cough or a sneeze.  I love this one as the airlines have made travel less enjoyable year over year.  The armrest fight for position will be solved for now.

I imagine there will be a lot of deals at first.  Travel costs should be down as well as tourist traps will have good prices to make up for the time we’ve spent in our quarantine jail.  Get ’em while you can.  There will be less tourists everywhere you go and businesses dying to offer deals to make up for the faux shut down.

BE POSITIVE

One can look at the downside and think that the world is going to end and that we might die from Covid-19.  The statistics say that it is mostly in a few concentrated places (NE corridor and elderly care facilities) and affects those with a co-morbidity.  The odds are in our favor that we won’t get it or that it won’t be as bad as the media is trying to shove down our throats.

When this passes (hint: watch how soon it passes after the November election is over regardless of who wins) the opportunities to better your life and enjoy some things in the work/life balance that have been either ruined or complicated for us.

 

 

 

Great Sayings – Peter Drucker on Management

Peter Drucker – “So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work.”

 

I’ve posted on meetings being a waste of time  and management ego’s.  Great managers lead and let the employees work and succeed.  Mostly, the best managers help their employees grow and advance in their careers.  I know I’ve had both types.  When I was a manager, I did everything I could to those working for me the opportunity to show what they can do and help them when they fell down.

Unfortunately, most can’t seem to get out of their own way and realize that the best managers surround themselves with a good team and give them the power to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

Great Sayings – Ferdinand Porsche

“If one does not fail at times, then one has not challenged himself.” -Ferdinand Porsche

 

People need to overcome challenges and problems in life.  They are handed to us everyday whether or not we want them.  That is just life and maintaining the balance that humans require.

To get ahead, you must step out, take a risk, use your talents and sometimes you won’t succeed.  When you do, you get a sense of satisfaction from overcoming or in the case of Dr. Porsche, you start an iconic car company.

 

Common Core Education, Failing our Kids

 

THE SETUP FOR THE DISCUSSION

I suppose every generation considers the learning of the next generation as inferior to theirs.  If we didn’t, why do millennials eat tide pods?  Why do parents talk about how better their education was and how soft they are on kids today?   There are many reasons for this including prejudice, standards, government intrusion into the learning system and deviation from what made our education system the one that led to more progress, inventions and breakthroughs than any in the history of man.

We’ve now potentially gone backwards and have therefore failed the following generations.

In working with public school kids, I observe that there are many reasons.  People are not equal and some are smarter and learn better than others.  Those with two parent families or with a single parent who is highly integrated in the student’s learning consistently outperform those who don’t.  The system has gone backwards due to interference from do-gooders, government (over)regulation and unions.  Note: that is my observation only.  I see kids rise above the system to achieve, but they have to swim upstream.  Most can coast their way through.

Conversely, children who learn under Classical Education have an advantage in learning as it is taught to a standard the kids must keep up with as opposed to teaching to the lowest common denominator so no one is left behind, penalizing those who could achieve more.

Further, Classical Christian education is an approach to learning which emphasizes biblical teachings and incorporates a teaching model known as the Trivium, which consists of the three stages of grammar, logic, and rhetoric.

Classical education complements a child’s natural development stages. Young children can memorize information easily. So, in the early years, learning is enhanced by songs, body movement, recitation, and exploration. This sets them up for success in their next stage of learning, critical thinking.

The critical thinkers are what companies want to hire.  They look at problems differently and come to the table with better skills for success.

They also have a distinct advantage over the public school system and the below discussion of how we are destroying learning.

WHERE EDUCATION HAS FAILED OUR KIDS

The biggest failure I’ve observed is the Common Core learning system.  It threw away the standards of learning that has proved to produce educated kids by introducing a system that borders on the ridiculous.

It was implemented by those we thought were helping us, yet it may have set us back for years.

Behind a lot of this is none other than Bill Gates, a man I’ve met and have mixed thoughts about.  Microsoft is far more successful than his support of Common Core.

From the American Thinker, I read this snippet:

But Bill Gates should have felt some uneasiness.  Common Core was untested, unproven, and micromanaged by David Coleman, a man with limited credentials but reliably far to the left.  Nobody in the business world launches a big new product without years of research and refinement.  Instead, Common Core was wrapped in $1 billion’s worth of propaganda and dumped on the country as a fait accompli.

The late, great Siegfried Engelmann, a real educator, was asked what he thought of this approach: “A perfect example of technical nonsense.  A sensible organization would rely heavily on data about procedures used to achieve outstanding results; and they would certainly field test the results to assure that the standards resulted in fair, achievable goals.  How many of these things did they do?  None.”

Did Gates realize that Common Core, supposedly a new and higher instruction, incorporates all the dubious ideas from decades prior?  New Math and Reform Math were the basis for Common Core Math.  Similarly, Whole Language and Balanced Literacy were rolled into Common Core’s English Language Arts (jargon for reading).  Constructivism, which prevented teacher from teaching, has been undermining American schools for decades.  Nothing new and higher about these clunkers.

An earlier generation of Gates’s business partners had created so much illiteracy that Rudolf Flesch had to write a book to answer every American’s favorite question: “why can’t Johnny read?”

I don’t hold Gates responsible except for his funding and use of his status to push this, but I hold those who pushed this system on the generation suffering from this learning standard.

The Thinker sums it up like this:

We have to wonder if Bill Gates performed due diligence, that being the care that a reasonable person exercises to avoid harm to other persons or property.  In other words, before putting your business funds to work on anything, you should make yourself an expert.  That’s what we need in this country: everybody becomes an expert.  For sure, nobody should trust the official experts.  If Bill Gates had observed that simple rule, he would still have a billion or two he doesn’t have now.  And the country would have tens of millions of better educated students it doesn’t have now. 

We need to stop this disservice to our kids and have them learn properly, and to learn to think critically.

Here is a video that shows just how far we’ve deviated from the learning system that invented computers, vaccines, technology that has helped mankind and sent men to the moon.  Go to 1:24 under Decompose to see how far we’ve digressed.

CONCLUSION

It would seem the dumping common core and putting real learning would be best for the kids.  The world is getting tougher and we need to give them every advantage possible.

 

 

Being Rude To Others At Work; Who is Worse, Men or Women?

I love controversial subjects, especially among the sexes.  Nothing gets the hackles up quicker than something that offends what you hold close to your heart.  I’ve worked with the media for decades and sensationalism is what sells.  It’s sex, death, murder, immorality, bankruptcy, divorce and other vices that can be cherry picked to place on the headline.  This is not real life, like…..

Ye old workplace.

It is a petri dish of human interaction that has been infected by #MeToo, harassment, incivility, sexism, partiality, affairs and occasionally competent work and results.  I’ve already discussed if Men and Women can work together here, and Women now swear more than men, so I found this article and it looked either like a headline maker or a trend.  I decided to find out.

Having sat through weeks of diversity training that is beyond boring and is a CYA for the legal department, I’ve been told that you can’t say certain things, act in a ways that could be demeaning or sexually suggestive or anything outside of plain vanilla.  I choose to keep to myself and observe.  That is why this study caught my eye.  The behavior is far outside of my diversity training, yet it goes on unabated.

WHO ARE THE BIGGEST OFFENDERS?

A recent study shows that women are reporting that it is other women who are the most rude and uncivil towards women.  It goes like this:

In terms of how it is acted out:

“Across the three studies, we found consistent evidence that women reported higher levels of incivility from other women than their male counterparts,” Gabriel says. “In other words, women are ruder to each other than they are to men, or than men are to women.

“This isn’t to say men were off the hook or they weren’t engaging in these behaviors,” she notes. “But when we compared the average levels of incivility reported, female-instigated incivility was reported more often than male-instigated incivility by women in our three studies.”

THE QUEEN BEE SYNDROME

The article at the link above states:

The phenomenon of women discriminating against other women in the workplace—particularly as they rise in seniority—has long been documented as the “queen bee syndrome.” As women have increased their ranks in the workplace, most will admit to experiencing rude behavior and incivility.

Who is at fault for dishing out these mildly deviant behaviors? Has the syndrome grown more pervasive?

“Studies show women report more incivility experiences overall than men, but we wanted to find out who was targeting women with rude remarks,” says Allison Gabriel, assistant professor of management and organizations in the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management.

 

I worked with a female named Sandy.  No one was harder to understand or trust as a senior manager than she.  My friends would dread working for her and it was a success not to get fired before your term was complete.  Everyone tried to get out as fast as they could, or would not seek a promotion just to not work for or with her.

I WANTED TO KNOW SO I ASKED THEM IF IT WAS TRUE, WHAT THEY SAID, PERHAPS NSFW

I like to look at things from the point of view of how would an intellectual view this.  Normally, this would entail a scientific study without bias, with control groups and so forth.  My observation is that people’s behavior is not scientific when it comes to emotions and I’ve been told by  those of the female persuasion that they are more likely to be emotional.  I couldn’t argue the point, nor did I care to.

Therefore, I figured that asking some females if this was correct and what they’ve seen at work would be my best estimate as to whether this is true.  Please note that some of the comments while stated verbatim are not always complimentary and some are off-color.  Commenters:  Note, if you get pissed off, these are answers by women to a question I asked about working with females and is the study accurate.  If you just want to hate, please go elsewhere as if it’s directed at me, it’s a fart in the wind and that’s how I’ll treat it.

Here are some responses:

Females can be bitchy, catty. other names.

She slept her way to her position.

She got there because of her looks (or tits), not her ability.

She dresses like a whore.

There is one bitch who leans over in front of guys to get her way.

Women are the biggest backstabbers.

Sure there is an occasional guy who bugs me or tries to hit on me, but girls are far worse as a group.

Sure she was nice when she was one of us, but as soon as they gave her a little power, she turned on us like we’d done something to her.

She’s great to work for if you are female.  She only promotes women and you can get your way over any guys.

Women here can only manage 2 inches in front of their face.  They don’t get the big picture or work towards the company’s goals.

Once you make it clear you aren’t going to sleep with them, the men are much easier to work with or for.  The mission and strategy are clear and they can focus on that.

Guys will either just not say anything or will tell you how it is.  The girls say something to your face and f__k you over behind your back if you aren’t in their group.

Guys handle success and failure better than the girls I work with.  One of them always takes it personally and spends weeks trying to get back at you instead of trying to get work done.

I can never trust what a woman says to me.  Guys don’t lie as much or as well as girls do unless they want in your pants.

Women talk too much and I can’t get my work done.

When aunt Flo comes calling honey you better hide from that bitch.

Just get more than one female together in a group and watch the fireworks.

Guys are used to joking, I think they learned it in a locker room or something.  They can cuss each other out in a meeting  and it’s like a punch in the arm and then go have a beer.  A woman will hold something you say to her against you for the rest of your life.

Enough!  Most of these I got multiple times, which is why they made the list.  I stopped asking because this attitude was overwhelming me.

CONCLUSION

I can only surmise that it is tough for women to work with women.  I didn’t give it much thought until I read this study, but it does appear that women are more difficult towards other women at the workplace

 

 

How Meetings Are a Waste Of Time and How To Avoid or Get Out of Them

facepalm  I read a WSJ article on ineffective meetings.  It is about the manifesto to end boring meetings.

This brought back thousands of hours of meetings I wished I could have back or would certainly decline to attend had I realized what I know now.  Most of this post is tongue in cheek unlike the WSJ, but I’ll bet everyone wishes they weren’t in so many meetings.

First, let me start out with some quotes I found from The Quote Garden, starting with the one that reminded me most of the meetings I’ve attended:

A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.  ~Barnett Cocks, attributed

worfgif

A committee is a group that keeps minutes and loses hours.  ~Milton Berle

To kill time, a committee meeting is the perfect weapon.  ~Author Unknown

If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be “meetings.”  ~Dave Barry, “Things That It Took Me 50 Years to Learn”

Our age will be known as the age of committees.  ~Ernest Benn

If Columbus had an advisory committee he would probably still be at the dock.  ~Arthur Goldberg

A committee is an animal with four back legs.  ~John le Carré, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

It is impossible to imagine the universe run by a wise, just and omnipotent God, but it is quite easy to imagine it run by a board of gods.  ~H.L. Mencken

A “Normal” person is the sort of person that might be designed by a committee.  You know, “Each person puts in a pretty color and it comes out gray.”  ~Alan Sherman

A committee is a thing which takes a week to do what one good man can do in an hour.  ~Elbert Hubbard

A camel looks like a horse that was planned by a committee.  ~Author Unknown

A committee is a group of the unwilling chosen form the unfit, to do the unnecessary.  ~Author Unknown

If you live in a country run by committee, be on the committee.  ~Author Unknown

Could Hamlet have been written by a committee, or the Mona Lisa painted by a club?… Creative ideas do not spring from groups.  They spring from individuals.  The divine spark leaps from the finger of God to the finger of Adam.  ~Alfred Whitney Griswold

We always carry out by committee anything in which any one of us alone would be too reasonable to persist.  ~Frank Moore Colby

I don’t believe a committee can write a book.  It can, oh, govern a country, perhaps, but I don’t believe it can write a book.  ~Arnold Toynbee

There is no monument dedicated to the memory of a committee.  ~Lester J. Pourciau

Any committee that is the slightest use is composed of people who are too busy to want to sit on it for a second longer than they have to.  ~Katharine Whitehorn

Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.  ~John Kenneth Galbraith

People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.  ~Thomas Sowell

AND OF COURSE, THERE IS BRADLEY’S BROMIDE: “If computers get too powerful, we can organize them into a committee — that will do them in.”

I WORKED FOR “THE” MEETING COMPANY
I worked a large part of my career either for or with IBM, which many have joked that it stands for I’ve Been in a Meeting. I could have been years more productive and retired earlier if it hadn’t been for all of the meetings I’ve spent time in.  Projects would have been completed weeks in advance were it not for meetings.

Usually, the meetings were a way to get other people to do your work for you, or to assign work to others they wouldn’t do or volunteer for were it not for the fact that they were at a meeting.  The only time this didn’t work was when I actually needed to get a speaker for a press briefing for an interview with Time Magazine when print media was important.  His manager, John Callies then VP of Netfinity or X series at IBM(x86 servers), wouldn’t let the speaker leave the staff meeting stating, “it’s only your job” as the reason.  See how manage executive ego’s for more on this. I’d have never imagined having to cancel an interview with what was then an important publication due to an executives’ ego. I’ve seen bad manager moves in my time, but this was top 10 worst of the worst for me.  He still ranks as the number one suit I’ve ever worked with.  The below meme was how it felt to be in a meeting with him.

Execs have also had meetings in places that they wanted to visit (click on the link to see who it is), and most people knew that.  That was a waste of travel time and money for a wasted meeting. There were other reasons they had meetings, but read the quotes at the beginning to find out why said were held.

Avoid training meetings, unless it was a way to be busy during a meeting you want to avoid.  This is especially true of diversity training.  It is a waste of time (same exact meeting every time every year for the required legal reason) but is more important than almost any other meeting, so it serves 2 purposes.  No one will go against diversity training for fear of being politically or legally incorrect.  It does allow you to miss another meeting and no one pays attention anyway.  It’s an opportunity to get work done while the training is going on in the background.  Your attendance is recorded so you are twice as effective as you complete your work, earn your mark for training and ignore the same speech you went through last year all at the same time.

MEETING RULES TO SURVIVE

The best way to deal with a meeting is to avoid it.  If you can already have a meeting at a time that the scheduler proposes it or be busy and/or somehow away or out of the office.  Teleconferencing kills that strategery  unless you can be found traveling, but sometimes it’s unavoidable (see how to get out of a meeting below if you have to go).  The people calling the meeting are really only people who want the meeting anyway.

For things to do to avoid meetings or how to goof around during a meeting, go to the link How to goof around at work.

HERE IS MY RULE WHEN TO DECIDE TO ATTEND IF I HAD A CHOICE: if there were more than 4 people, don’t go.  Nothing will get done other than resulting in another meeting to have to attend.  This is especially true if there are more than 1 executives, as each brings a team of competing players who guarantee the death of productivity.

The WSJ agrees with me, but goes on to say that if it has 17 people, there is no chance anything will get accomplished.
Don’t speak at a meeting if possible. It usually wastes time and extends the meeting length.  There are only a couple of people who really have something to contribute, the rest want to hear themselves talk, show off their PowerPoint skills to bore you, or think they are more important if they speak.  These show offs can be  insufferable, but they offer time to check your email at best while pretending to listen.

This is in the department of redundancy department, but it is so important to note is to be careful when attending because the meeting leader’s purpose is to assign their work to others or get people to do work they wouldn’t do because they can’t decline in public (this is a corporate tradition).  This further kills your ability to be productive at your real job.  There are some who want to look important by accepting work magnanimously to show off, thinking they were climbing the ladder.  Gladly accept their offer as most people have 10 hours of work for an 8 hour day anyway. Only accept it if it produces revenue or if you are the only one qualified to do it, but generally don’t, especially if you perceive it as a make work project.

Especially avoid planning meetings.  A meeting to plan another meeting is one to be skipped unless you are the project manager and called the meeting, then you have to do it.  Avoid these at all costs.  Once nobody shows up, the meeting gets cancelled for email updates, which is a far better use of your time.  As my grandfather said, they are as common as pig tracks and as useless as teats on a boar hog.

Avoid staff meetings.  These are like planning meetings, but they occur regularly and when you miss one, nobody really cares (especially if there are more than 4 people). Only attend them occasionally as you work with these people everyday anyway, it’s not like you don’t know what is going on.  Email your boss on a regular basis with your activity and you can plan something more productive during that time.

HOW TO GET OUT OF A MEETING

The tongue in cheek part really goes here.  I’ll bet there are folks out there far more creative about this than me.

My favorite methods are to have a customer who needs you.  They are your business and that overrides almost everything.  Even your boss can’t deny this.

Pre-plan an emergency.  I occasionally had another employee phone or knock on the door to call me out (email or text isn’t as good as that is not public enough) to get you out of a meeting.  The trick is to never return. You’ll get the notes anyway, I promise. Since I worked with the press and analysts, I sometimes had a co-worker say that a reporter needed me right now.  They were my customer and no one could say no.  Many times there was no real emergency even if the press did call, it was the best and most efficient use of my time to leave the meeting so as to be actually working instead of being at a meeting.  I usually dealt with the press immediately unless I had to do some digging to get back to them.

Attend meetings by phone if possible.  You can always put the phone on mute and get your real work done, or surf the web or watch TV, which is usually just as productive.  It’s easier to go to the bathroom, which brings me to…

Go to the bathroom.  Offer to get a water to others when you go, then take as much time reading the sports page in the stall as you can.  You are just as productive as listening to someone prattle on about their project.

Send your meeting information in by proxy.  See above where someone is willing to talk.  Give them your results or input so you don’t have to be there.

 THE KIND OF MEETING TO HAVE

I realize that some meetings are necessary, so I understand that it’s the only way to get some things done.  For the other majority of the time, see above.

The best meeting is a hall meeting.  You run into the person you need help from and in 5 minutes, you’ve explained your need, what they can do and your time frame for doing it.  Problem solved.

I also recommend having meetings with introverts and/or men.  They don’t like to talk much (most of them) and want to get it over as quickly as you do.  Attire requirements are less of a priority as is small talk.

Here is the net net, don’t go to a meeting if you don’t have to, get out early if at all possible and above all, don’t speak unless you have no option.  Consider it a victory if you don’t attend, or a minor victory if you have to attend but don’t come out with anyone else’s work. You are a complete failure if you open your mouth and double your workload on something that is not tangential to your job or career.  Enjoy your job more by having the time to actually be productive.

How The Income Inequality Jihad Will Likely Hurt the Poor

The brilliant John Hawkins presents the facts about this subject.  It is to be the 2014 top priority from our executive branch.  Readers should evaluate the facts and judge for yourself if this is good for the country or not.  Park your ideology at the door (regardless of its source) and think through the argument.  Your beliefs are yours, just make sure to check with history to see what information it supports

The truth is that income inequality is of minimal importance in a nation like America, where so many people already move between classes, where the poor are doing so much better than they used to, and where our poor already do so well compared to the rest of the world. “Among children from families in the bottom fifth of the income distribution, 84 percent of those who go on to get a college degree will escape the bottom fifth, and 19 percent will make it all the way to the top fifth.” During the Great Depression, more than 60% of Americans were living below the poverty line. Over the last 50 years, that number has generally ranged between 12%-15% — and even that dramatically overstates the number of poor Americans because it doesn’t take into account government assistance that’s being paid out. On top of all that, liberals get so angry when people point out that more than 80% of poor Americans have cell phones, televisions and refrigerators while “most Americans living below the official poverty line also own a motor vehicle and have more living space than the average European.” Yet, they don’t take into account the fact that almost half of the world’s population still lives on less than $2.50 a day. In other words, if you are poor, you can live better and have more opportunity to advance in America than you will anywhere else. That’s why immigrants all across the world still want to come to this country.

1) The higher the government mandated minimum wage/living wage, the more people it prices out of jobs: When you force businesses to pay people more than they can return in value with their work, companies tend to respond either by hiring better quality people, replacing the jobs with automation, moving the posts overseas or by looking for opportunities to get rid of the positions entirely. The higher the wages and benefits the government insists on, the more stagnant it makes the labor market for the people who need to build their skills the most. If your goal were to deliberately put as many young, unskilled single mothers out of work as possible, the best politically feasible way to do it would be to jack the minimum wage up into the stratosphere.

2) It emphasizes making people more comfortable, not helping them succeed: There is no shame in taking any honest job, but you’re not supposed to make a living pressing the button that drops the fries into the grease at McDonald’s. If you work long enough at an entry-level job to worry about raising the minimum wage, you’re failing your family, your society and yourself. Instead of encouraging minimum skill workers to demand that the government force businesses to give them more money than they’re currently worth, we should be encouraging people to build their skills and move up, move on or start their own business. Want poor people to be eligible for more education or training? Want to give them micro-loans? Want to make it easier for them to create small businesses? Those are policies that make poor Americans more valuable. That’s good for them and the country. On the other hand, trying to redistribute income ultimately brings everyone down, especially the poor Americans who lose their drive after becoming dependent on it.

3) The more government becomes involved, the more it stagnates the economy: As John F. Kennedy said, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” The stronger the economy is, the more jobs it creates and the more everyone — poor, middle-class, or rich — benefits. How do you make the economy stronger? You keep the government small, taxes low, and regulations light. That’s a proven formula that has worked time and time again. On the other hand, if you want to constipate the economy, you make the government bigger, increase taxes and pour on the regulations. How did that latter set of “solutions” work out for Detroit?

4) The more the government focuses on income inequality, the harder it is to get ahead: As Thomas Sowell likes to say, “There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs.” You can see this very clearly with Obamacare, where a few people are getting subsidized care, while tens of millions more are losing their health care and paying considerably more to make up for it. It works the same way with income inequality. Want to make Wal-Mart pay all its employees twice as much? Then that means all the poor Americans who shop at Wal-Mart will have to spend more of their limited incomes to pay for it. Want to give more tax dollars to the poor? Then the rich and middle class will have to pay more in taxes. So, the moment that poor American is making enough money to get into the middle class, he’s hit with a bigger tax bill that makes it harder for him to ever get ahead. In other words, the more resources we put into “helping” the poor, the harder we ultimately make it for those very same people to ever permanently escape poverty and live the American Dream.

5) It ignores the real causes of poverty: The real causes of lasting poverty in America are not greed, the rich, racism, America being “unfair,” or any of the other excuses that you hear so often. Instead, the harsh truth that so many people don’t want to hear is that if you stay poor in America, it’s usually because you made bad life choices. Via Walter Williams, here’s what you have to do in order to avoid poverty in America.

“Complete high school; get a job, any kind of a job; get married before having children; and be a law-abiding citizen. Among both black and white Americans so described, the poverty rate is in the single digits.”

Instead of lying to destitute Americans and telling them that the rich became wealthy by stealing the money that the poor never had in the first place, why not tell people the truth? Yes, it might make some poor Americans feel bad, but do you think welfare, food stamps, and living in a housing project do wonders for people’s moods?

MY FAVORITE PR STUNT OF ALL TIME – THE WORLD’S FIRST LOW TECHNOLOGY ARTIFICAL REEF

HOW IT STARTED

This story actually began with the unplanned running aground of the Mercedes I in Palm Beach.  It desecrated the private holy grounds of the hoity toity for over a hundred days in late 1984.   They eventually towed it away and made an artificial reef making almost everyone happy.

About the same time IBM introduced the PC-AT, billed as the most powerful personal computer ever built.  It had one problem though as internally sat a 20 MB disk drive made by CMI.  It was based on stepper motor technology and it both failed at alarming rates and was as slow as cold honey.  It was that flaw which helped give birth to the drive aftermarket in the PC industry and caused one of the biggest black eye’s to the PC’s reputation.

CORE INTERNATIONAL TO THE RESCUE

A small storage company in Boca Raton – the home of the IBM PC saw the obvious problem and created a marketing campaign which recalled the IBM drive.  It then sold you a 40 MB drive made by Control Data Corporation and rebadged as CORE product for $2,595, gave you a $1000 rebate and ran an ad claiming it was going to build an artificial reef out of the CMI drives (you can buy gigabytes now for less that $100).  CORE was making over 100% profit so the perception of value is greater than reality.  The users still paid one of the highest cost per byte of storage possible.

Here is  a portion of the ad which created a sensation in the print media, as both IBM and the PC had been infallible up to this point.

PC MAGAZINE CATCHES ON

At this point Paul Sommerson, Bill Machrone, Bill Howard and other writers contacted CORE and asked for pictures of the reef being built.  The company owner confided in me that he had a contract to send the drives back to CMI for a rebate  and to not lose too many, we staged the entire event.  We took his boat, the MEGABYTE out of Jupiter (not Boca) and made it look like we were really dumping the drives into the water.  I’m sure the Nanny state EPA would have been all over us had we really done it, but the rest of the story is that we only dumped the drives in the picture (note the false bottom).  We tried hard to drop a drive on a string while posing with the box in the picture, but that was produced lame results.  I finally convinced him that we needed to actually throw some drives overboard and that one shot is now etched into PC history.  It was the last picture on the roll of film (if you remember film).  We tried fishing for sharks after the shoot to put a drive in one of their mouths for the table of contents.  We had one on, but it bit through the line and we ran out of time.

The film was immediately Fed-ex’d to NY as they were on deadline for what is known as the Fire Ax issue.  The title was “Is Your PC Safe”, but there was a fire ax coming down on a PC-AT and the picture was in both the table of contents and the article.

It should be noted that neither CORE nor PC Magazine was trying to attack IBM products.  The owner at CORE was excellent at marketing and had big balls to do this stunt.  It paid off handsomely both in dollars and visibility.  PC Magazine was at the height of their prowess as journalistic leader of the PC industry.  Kudos should be given to Bill Machrone for approving a story that would never have a chance at seeing the light of day in this day and age.  He was a visionary at the publication.  IBM did themselves in by releasing a defective product and not being nimble enough to deal with the issues.

Both parties were able to take advantage of the arrogance (some say ignorance) on IBM’s part for not ensuring quality control of their product and suppliers.  Further, the moribund IBM PR machine, having used their death grip to the throat of PC journalism to direct results they wanted (because they were the 800 lb. elephant in the room) didn’t know that the journalists were ripe for this.  They never saw this coming and were ill-equipped to deal with it.  The result was that both the reputation of the PC and IBM PR was tarnished.

THE AFTERMATH

As I mentioned earlier, the boom of peripherals was starting and this poured gasoline on that fire.  CMI went out of business after losing their contract with IBM and CORE shipped hundreds of drives while becoming famous.

I personally conducted many interviews discussing drive technology and the stunt (if I recall, the story became far better than the actual event) and the owner had to move his boat.  He had rented a slip from an IBM’er in Boca, but due to the kerfuffle he was asked to find another docking space.

IBM had a PR nightmare on its hands now.  I’m told that Lou Gerstner’s personal speech writer was called in to clean up the mess.  CORE (meaning me as I handled all of PR by this point) got years of mileage from this event.  I developed relationships with the leaders in PC journalism as they were happy to have a person to talk to rather than an army of IBM suits that outdid the White House press corps in obfuscation. We even took a drive to trade shows and put it into a fish tank with fish.  Everyone in the industry knew about it and we even had hats made up saying things like:

My drive won’t stay up, I built the PC that IBM didn’t, My Drive is bigger than your drive and others.

We gave away thousands.  In fact I think we invented the show hat give away in the mid 80’s (one time while leaving the show, we saw a drunk bum outside a convention center at with a CORE hat on).

The owner made show participants suffer through a sales pitch they didn’t care about, but the rest of us just gave them away.

EPITAPH

It is funny to me that I was hired by IBM to do PR for them 14 years later, and even did a stint in the PC division.  I wonder if they had known it was me that helped cause one of the great PR nightmares for them, would I have gotten the job?

IBM had dropped to 6th place in PC’s by then and the PC PR department was led by two nincompoops when I got there (Mike Corrado and Ray Gorman).  I always chuckled when the story came up at IBM and enjoyed the looks on their faces as they found out my part in this event.  I was never involved with anything this creative while doing PR at IBM (see the moribund part), although I used some tactics from this event to be successful, so long as I didn’t tell IBM communications “leaders” about it until after the fact.

Can Men and Women Work Together, Happily Without Sexual Tension?

In a WSJ  article today entitled, “Men and Women at Work: Unhappy, But Productive“, I couldn’t help but recall some observations I’ve made over the years at multiple companies in many situations.  If you are the PC police, save your hostilities as most of this is common sense.

The article states this:

When women and men work together on teams, the results are good for business—but they don’t enjoy it much.

That, at least, is the experience of employees in one company, a large US professional services firm studied by economists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and George Washington University.

Researchers looked at eight years of the firm’s revenue data and employee surveys, measuring satisfaction, cooperation, morale and attitudes toward diversity.  That included data from offices or teams that were entirely male or entirely female, along with data from teams that were more evenly mixed.

On surveys, individual employees reported higher levels of job satisfaction when they were on teams that were mainly staffed with people of their own gender. Those on more diverse teams reported lower levels of happiness, trust and cooperation–consider this Journal essay on what men don’t know about women at work  – although revenue figures showed they were more productive and better performing—by a lot.

“People are more comfortable around people who are like them,” says study co-author Sara Fisher Ellison, of MIT.

It may be that members of homogenous groups “socialize more and work less,” Ellison notes. Mixed groups may lack social capital, but varied perspectives and skills may help a unit perform better. The researchers posit that shifting an all-female or all-male team to a coed one would increase revenues by 41%.

Also, researchers found that workers seemed to appreciate the idea of a diverse workplace more than they liked diversity in practice. According to employee surveys, workers gave gender and racial diversity high marks for boosting morale, trust and employee satisfaction, but those who actually worked on diverse teams tended to report lower levels of those traits.

My take so far…..

This prompted some thoughts that many have made  about the differences between men and women.  It’s likely that women have kept men from wiping each other off the planet in the adult version of kill the man with the ball, or who wants to be king.  Conversely, men have killed each other over a woman (OK, women have killed over men also to a lesser degree) but that isn’t the same as competition in the workplace.

The sexes still are created differently.  Little boys can make a gun out of sticks and play war.  A majority of younger girls have a greater preference to play with dolls.  Not long after, more boys begin in sports, even if on the street level.  This activity encourages them to play your position as a team to win the game.  While an increasing number of girls are playing sports, those that do appear to decline in numbers when social engagements take priority.  It’s been observed that women enjoy shopping far more than men, but there is no winning the game in dolls or shopping.  There certainly are a great number of outstanding female athletes, but the trends and volume of numbers still appear to favor men.  Men on the other hand generally fail at these more social activities which women exceed at.  It manifests itself in social behavior later in life where women can tend to be far more social than men.

This has to do with corporate behavior.  Men get a rush out of hitting the walk off home run, catching or throwing the winning touchdown, scoring the winning goal or getting the biggest hit in the game.  Delivering the crushing hit isn’t as big of a priority to most women.  The workplace is a place of competition, even in a teamwork situation.  You work together to kill the competition for market share.  There traditionally has been a disproportionate number of women in the marketing and communications disciplines which by nature are more social.  While there is an increasing number of female executives, one still notices that the skill of hitting the walk off is a learned practice, not ingrained and salivated for by testosterone driven executives.

Having observed these early differences, the article goes on to state the following:

There is a “mismatch between the kind of workplace people think they would like and the actual workplace that makes them happier,” says Ellison, and that may suggest employers could do more to help workers embrace differing backgrounds and viewpoints.

The researchers only studied one firm, Ellison cautions, so the results don’t necessarily translate to other companies. Other studies have found similar results — a positive relationship between gender diversity and firm performance, and higher satisfaction and trust among groups composed of similar people. What’s unusual about this study is that the researchers found both effects in the same firm.

The paper, Diversity, Social Goods Provision, and Performance in the Firm, recently published in the Journal of Economics and Management Strategy,  is by Ellison and Wallace P. Mullin, an economist at George Washington University.

THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN AROUND EACH OTHER

Men act differently with each other when women aren’t around as I’ve been assured that women also do.  We punch (physically or verbally), snap each other with towels and so forth.  Women tend to act more grown up around each other, except that they can be harder on each other, especially behind other women’s backs.  Men will hand your a$$ to you right to your face.

SEXUAL TENSION

There is another issue I’ve observed, sexual tension.  Both sexes are genetically encoded to reproduce.  This behavior requires some level of courtship ranging from drunken hookups to abstinence until marriage, but it exists.  When you put men and women together, generally something is going to go on.  I have yet to see an office where it hasn’t happened.  When you stick opposite sexes together, or worse on extended business trips, guess what goes down?  This almost always gets in the way in the form of nepotism while it’s going on, to retribution afterwords.  The army saying is don’t s–t in your own foxhole.

PUSHING IT TOO FAR

Why the PC police are forcing the military to make the sexes cooperate in tight spaces like a submarine where you are guaranteed deserted island behavior is beyond me.  The recent incident where men have filmed women in the shower on a sub is no surprise.  That is asking for something to happen.  You can only push the bubble so far before it breaks.  This is quarters that are just too close.  Someone is going to hop into the sack.

I also get diversity and have been through hours of training.  It’s the same boring training year after year on what you can and can’t do and how to act so that the company doesn’t get sued or blame you for the easy way out.  I’m for hiring the most talented and best candidate for a position rather than a quota based system.  It can result in distorted statistics that the racial and feminist overlords use against companies, but the idea is to create the optimal team be the most competitive and win.  Sometimes that creates teams of men and women, sometimes it’s dominated by more of one sex than the other.  When it’s time for battle though, you put your best team on the field, and that is determined by meritocracy.

So do men and women like working together?  For the most part to a person will say they do.  Behind the others backs or in the back of their mind, the differences are there and likely go unspoken or not thought of until the instinct to crush the opponent is instinctual or learned.  You can point the gun, but can you pull the trigger.

CRYING

I saw an article on LinkedIn about women crying more than men.  You can read the article here and draw your own conclusion, but it appears that there are clear differences between the two sexes emotionally.

And…..women tell me the difference between women and men is women have 2000 web pages open at once and work them all.  Men have one page open, but know every inch of it.

So in conclusion, no.

Salesman of the Year

The manager of a megastore came to check on his new salesman. “How many customers did you serve today?” the manager asked.

“One,” replied the new guy.

“Only one?” said the boss. “How much was the sale?”

The salesman answered, “$58,334.”

Flabbergasted, the manager asked him to explain.

“First I sold a man a fishhook,” the salesman said. “Then I sold him a rod and a reel. Then I asked where he was planning to fish, and he said down by the coast. So I suggested he’d need a boat – he bought that 20-foot runabout. When he said his Volkswagen might not be able to pull it, I took him to the automotive department and sold him a big SUV.”

The amazed boss asked, “You sold all that to a guy who came in for a fishhook?”

“No,” the new salesman replied. “He actually came in for a bottle of aspirin for his wife’s migraine. I told him, “Your weekend’s shot. You should probably go fishing.”

More Ways To Goof Around At Work – Office Weapons

I’ve written about people who goof off at work and how they do it.

Popular for a while was meeting (BS) bingo words and words to make people sound smart, even though they likely are not.

Then of course, there was the ever clicked on How to look busy at Work.

Random entries include figuring out if computers are male or female, Bradley’s Bromide (tech humor), more meeting bingo words, how not to succeed at a job fair and many others.  Just go to the humor or work tags and enjoy.

I ran across this from mist8k about making office weapons for either protection, annoyance or revenge.  I thought they were pretty clever and I’d love to hear if anyone has done this or tries it….

 

When Knowledge is Greater Than Power

A few years ago in a small town, robbers entered a bank and one of them shouted: “Don’t move! The money belongs to the bank. Your lives belong to you.  Immediately all the people in the bank laid on the floor quietly and without panic.
This is an example of how the correct wording of a sentence can make everyone change their world view.  

  • One woman lay on the floor in a provocative manner. The robber approached her saying, ” Ma’am, this is a robbery not a rape. Please behave accordingly.”

This is an example of how to behave professionally, and focus on the goal.

  • While running from the bank the young robber (who had a college degree) said to the older robber (who barely finished elementary school): “Hey, maybe we should count how much we stole.” The older man replied: “Don’t be stupid. It’s a lot of money so let’s wait for the news to be told how much money was taken from the bank.”

This is an example of how life experience is more important than a degree.  

  • After the robbery, the manager of the bank said to his accountant: “Let’s call the cops.” The accountant said: “Wait, before we do that let’s add the $800,000 to the robbery of that we took to ourselves a few months ago and just say that it was stolen.”

This is an example of taking advantage of an opportunity.

  • The following day it was reported in the news that the bank was robbed of $ 3 million. The robbers counted the money, but they found only $1 million so they started to grumble. “We risked our lives for $1 million, while the bank’s management robbed two million dollars without blinking? Maybe its better to learn how to work the system, instead of being a simple robber.”

This is an example of how knowledge can be more useful than power.  



Moral :Give a person a gun, and he can rob a bank . Give a person a bank, and he can rob everyone.


via R.W. Forsythe

Why the Apple Watch Is Not The Product That Will Save Apple

Apple has prided itself on cutting edge products.  Their mantra is to create great products that we didn’t know we needed.  It worked for the iPod, IPhone and iPad.  Now there are rumors about the iWatch.  Guess what, they are going to miss the boat on this as they have overlooked what we do and do not need.

Who are the biggest consumers of new technology?

First it is the early adopters, they’ll buy anything.  That is a small percentage of the population though, maybe 15% at the most and that is being generous. 

They will likely be the bulk of the iWatch consumers.  Here are the others:

Dilberts who need to have the most gadgets.

dilbert stuff

Some workout people who for while will think this is cool.  This groups purchasing power will wear off as you can tell by the proliferation of watch style monitoring devices being purchased, but then discarded.  It is not the killer app.

Who won’t by buying them?

Almost everyone else and the biggest problem is the group that has the largest digital footprint:

The generation of 18- to 34-year-olds, known as Millennials, are an increasingly influential group that impacts many aspects of the American lifestyle, including fashion, technology and entertainment, according to the upcoming 2013 Digital Marketer Report from Experian Marketing Services. The report looks at key segments of the consumer landscape, including millennials, who provide a major opportunity for marketers to reach consumers via mobile. Millennials spend 14 percent more time engaged with their mobile devices in an average week than their generational peers.

Guess what?  They don’t wear watches for the most part, they keep time on their phone.  They want a phone with a bigger screen, better input capabilities and easy access to social media.  An iWatch doesn’t fit this model.  This will continue for the rest of their lives (likely) and with the younger generation.

They also have to pick which device they are going to buy as student debt is at an all time high.  If you need an iPhone to work the watch, no money left for beer or video games.

Digital Currency

What is the biggest attraction for Facebook and most social media?  It is the sharing of pictures.  Why did Instagram get bought for 1 Billion dollars?  Why is snapchat gaining ground and Twitter adding video to their photo capabilities?  With the grandparents getting onto Facebook, the youngsters are using other apps like Instagram to share their lives with their friends.  While you can see a picture, it is small.

So why are they doing it?  Because they need the buzz or the next great thing.  Will they do it anyway?  Of course, Samsung already has one announced and Apple copies and tries to make it better

I’m not saying watches are dead, who doesn’t want a Rolex for example, it’s just that the impact of an Apple Watch isn’t going to be the $100 jump in the stock price that earlier products were.

I’m Just Not In That Big of a Hurry

7 cardinal rules lifeI’ve decided to that hurrying through life just doesn’t have the payback it seems.  The hustle and bustle of busy work, conference calls, email and social media keep some in a coffee enhanced mode glued to their screen and missing out on life just isn’t worth it.  I got to thinking about this and decided to take some stress off of things and so whenever possible, I now work on my schedule.  I’ll get around to what is needed to do, but I’m not going to let it keep me up at night.  I’m not as worried that my comments on social media or political diatribes that upset me really don’t matter all that much.  Once you get used to this, those pesky deadlines that are mostly self inflicted become less important.  After all, most of the above described issues are nuisances at best.

WHERE DO WE GET THIS CULTURE?

For many, they just can’t wait to grow up fast (not me).  Then can’t wait to get promoted (partly me),  can’t wait for kids to grow (not me) and finally can’t wait to retire (me even thought I’m working again, but for myself).  Work seems to exacerbate it the most with demands endless meetings (Meeting = a cul-de-sac where ideas get strangled and go to die), phone calls, emails, instant messages, texts and incessant demands from bosses (the less competent usually are the worst like 3 of my last 4 before I retired, on my terms).

head_up_assMy last couple of Boss’s in this picture

It turns out that this extra stress can lead to brain damage.

On the social side, I have a relative with MOP (miss out phobia) who is afraid something is going to happen without her.  Her sibling just doesn’t give a rats rump what others think and has far less pressure socially, but missed out on some things in life.  Striking a balance is good.

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on when not to accept a promotion.  There is a myriad of reasons given including family life, unrewarded extra burdens for the less than promised  climb up the ladder.  I personally turned down 2 promotions as they wanted me to move to New York where I would get a 30% higher cost of living, three times the responsibility that I wouldn’t be compensated for and a back stabbing culture of ladder climbers.  My real reason for not doing it is that I didn’t want to raise a family there and wanted to bring them up in a better part of the country.  After that, I was happy not to be there stressing out more.  Since I’d already been on every rung of the ladder, the need to be at the top was less than taking care of my kids.  I still managed to beat the system to be rewarded better than the curve and on my terms.

All of this adds up to the rat race.  I’m not sure why I didn’t think about it before, but it’s a terrible way to go through life.  Now that I think about it, I just knew that taking it easy and beating the system was the way to get ahead the right way, and not sell your soul in the process

MOUNTAIN TIME AND ISLAND TIME

Having spent time in both places, I noticed that the folks there just don’t seem to be in a rush.  It truly is a New Yorker’s nightmare not to have someone jump when they say how high or to have to be busy in crisis mode over everything.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m for punctuality, but these two groups set a different deadline (sometimes internally) and usually meet it.  They don’t die early from stress usually.

I noticed it in the Caribbean islands first.  They are not in a hurry for anything.

I then noticed it in the mountains that they get around to things..eventually.  It was enough of a coincidence that I quickly connected the dots between the two.

I’M GETTING THINGS ACCOMPLISHED

To be fair, I’m busy and am accomplishing more under my own direction than when under the gun of a manager overlooking by shoulder.  I’m the manager now.  It’s just that I’m making the deadlines and am meeting all of them.

So I’m happier in life and wish that for others and hope that this 24/7/365 mentality doesn’t overtake your priorities.  It’s corny, but true in this video below:

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill, When the funds are low and the debts are high, And you want to smile, but you have to sigh, When care is pressing you down a bit, Rest, if you must—but don’t you quit. Life is queer with […]

What Does the Internet Say Are Great Pieces of Advice for Life?

Not all of these are my idea, rather they were gathered from a collection of many, many others as I’ve run across them.  Nevertheless, they are interesting to ponder.  I’m sure there a thousands more, but they are here for you to share:

Don’t stop learning: If you start coasting through life, you’re gonna lose. Always stretch your intellect.
Don’t always try to be original: Just tell the story or paint the canvas or whatever.
Focusing on “fairness” will lead to stagnation.
If you’re not failing, you’re doing it wrong. (It’s OK to make mistakes.)
Don’t try to reason with mindless, irrational people.
Don’t stress yourself out with news and “staying informed” too much.
Do something that’s not for money.
The key to happiness is BUILDING stuff, not GETTING stuff.
Time passes by a lot faster than you’d think. This effect accelerates with age.
Wealth is relatively unimportant.
Some things can’t be learned; they can only be experienced.
Figure out who you are, then ACCEPT that person, and then BE that person.
Don’t wait for permission. Give yourself the okay.
Don’t lie to yourself.
Forgive as much as possible. Grudges achieve little.
Be humble (especially to the “little” people).
You and you alone control how happy you allow yourself to be.
Find a mentor and BE a mentor.
Find what you like and let it kill you.
You don’t have to eat everything that’s on your plate.
You don’t have to pick up a phone that’s ringing.
Always take action on things. People regret inaction more than action.
The past is something you learn from.  It is not something you live in.
Wealth is measured by your happiness and not by your financial statement.
Your mind decides what is hopeless.  Your circumstances do not.
More things will happen to you that you have absolutely no control over than things you do have control over. You ALWAYS Have the power to choose how you will react.
Remember that their is a God and don’t stop seeking him.
Do one thing at a time. All that huzzah about multi-tasking? BS
Don’t compare yourself with others. It’s an inaccurate measuring stick. It is more accurate to compare from within. Compare yourself with yourself. How much progress have you made? How have you changed? What negative behavior have you stopped engaging in? That’s what matters.

Don’t believe what you think. Never make up stories in your head about what other people are thinking or why they do certain things. Your made-up stories are making you miserable. You’re often wrong about other people are thinking anyway (I cannot count the number of times I’ve overhead “I think x hates me.”) Quit it. Remember, people are by nature benevolent). The criticism you hear about you is only ever one person’s opinion about you. If it becomes a pattern, then you can re-evaluate course and improve. More power to you.

Learn to handle criticism. Don’t take it personally. Criticism of an idea or project is not criticism of the creator as a person. Everything can always be improved; criticism is the vehicle to allow you to improve. Only apply remedial measures if the criticism has value. ”Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Aristotle

Quit idealizing authority. Don’t try to impress people. If you feel a need to you’re implicitly de-valuing yourself and asserting “I don’t think you’ll like me for who I am, so I will try to “impress” you instead.” You’re not allowing yourself to fully connect with someone when you put them on a pedestal.
Don’t take anything personally. It’s easy to get offended and internalize what others say. Recognize that when you ask someone for advice, responses can be all over the place. Understand that others opinions’ are a reflection of their own world and a product of their own reality. It has nothing to do with you.
Never get into a victim mentality. If you focus on what’s right and wrong, you’ll stagnate. Instead, accept things the way they are. Once you do this you can to start to change things and have the power to redirect the future the way you want to.
Value the people in your life. Everyone wants to feel like they’re important. Look at everyone as if they had a star on their forehead that said, “make me feel special.” People hunger for sympathy. Give it to them, and they will love you. Stop wasting time and energy thinking about how people should be different.
Be happy for other people who are happy. Train your mind to be sincerely happy for happiness and catch your resentments and jealousies before they run off too far. It’s easy to resent people for being happy.
Embrace vulnerability. Embrace discomfort. Doing this will increase your luck surface. Allow yourself to be hurt. When you trust yourself, you’ll be confident enough that you will rise up again when you fall.
Just because you don’t feel like doing something doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it.
You never have anything to lose. You could lose all your money, and become homeless for a while, but you can’t lose who you are, your essence. Be okay with getting your hands dirty and screwing things up – in believing that you have nothing to lose, you will have the power to move through your own life and create change.

How To Look Busy At Work – Office Humor

Disclaimer: I think you should work hard and earn what you are paid.  Nevertheless, I like to see the levity in things.  I collected the lot of this on the internet.

George Costanza’s 10 Commandments For ‘Working Hard’

1 – Never walk without a document in your hands.
People with documents in their hands look like hardworking employees heading for important meetings. People with nothing in their hands look like they’re heading for the cafeteria. People with a newspaper in their hand look like they’re heading for the toilet. Above all, make sure you carry loads of stuff home with you at night, thus generating the false impression that you work longer hours than you do.

2 – Use computers to look busy.
Any time you use a computer, it looks like “work” to the casual observer. You can send and receive personal e-mail, chat, and generally have a blast without doing anything remotely related to work. These aren’t exactly the societal benefits that the proponents of the computer revolution would like to talk about but they’re not bad either. When you get caught by your boss — and you will get caught — your best defense is to claim you’re teaching yourself to use new software, thus saving valuable training dollars.

3 – Keep a messy desk.
Top management can get away with a clean desk. For the rest of us, it looks like we’re not working hard enough. Build huge piles of documents around your workspace. To the observer, last year’s work looks the same as today’s work; it’s volume that counts. Pile them high and wide. If you know somebody is coming to your cubicle, bury the document you’ll need halfway down in an existing stack and rummage for it when he/she arrives.

4 – Use voice mail.
Never answer your phone if you have voice mail. People don’t call you just because they want to give you something for nothing — they call because they want you to do work for them. That’s no way to live. Screen all your calls through voice mail. If somebody leaves a voice-mail message for you and it sounds like impending work, respond during lunch hour when you know they’re not there — it looks like you’re hardworking and conscientious even though you’re being a devious weasel.

5 – Look impatient & annoyed.
One should also always try to look impatient and annoyed to give your bosses the impression that you are always busy.

6 – Leave the office late.
Always leave the office late, especially when the boss is still around. You could read magazines and story books that you always wanted to read but have no time until late before leaving. Make sure you walk past the boss’ room on your way out. Send important e-mail at unearthly hours (e.g. 9:35 p.m., 7:05 a.m., etc.) and during public holidays.

7 – Use sighing for effect.
Sigh loudly when there are many people around, giving the impression that you are under extreme pressure.

8 – Opt for the stacking strategy.
It is not enough to pile lots of documents on the table. Put lots of books on the floor etc. (thick computer manuals are the best).

9 – Build your vocabulary.
Read up on some computer magazines and pick out all the jargon and new products. Use the phrases freely when in conversation with bosses. Remember; they don’t have to understand what you say, but you sure sound impressive.

10 – Don’t get caught.
MOST IMPORTANT: Don’t forward this page’s URL to your boss by mistake!

OTHER HELPFUL HINTS:

Never smile when I’m on phone talking with someone at work and it isn’t about business. If you smile, then people won’t think that it is work-related.

Hold a pen in your hand at all times in between keyboarding tasks… keep it in your hand even while on the phone… have your writing pad there as well and occasionally jot something down… you’ll look as if at all times contemplating something really intelligent and ready to write it down.

Keep a really complex spreadsheet or lengthy document file (or both) open on your desktop.

Use an extended monitor with your laptop.Run a regression suite or that long  build on your monitor and continue to do whatever you are doing on your laptop.

Keep your office communicator/jabber connected even when you are home.Gives a notion to your colleagues that you are really working Do it even the weekends.

Send one email a day to the team.if you don’t have anything just make up.

File bugs in your own name and keep solving them.

Go into a technical discussion and just listen even if you are not  remotely interested in it.

Keep your white board messed up. Change the text everyday.

Add your manager on Facebook and show no activity when you are working.
Updating any open ticket that is being monitored by a manager on an irregular but time bound basis. Ie they love updates so give them updates. The more the better.

Narrate facts at meetings that the manager can use with his own manager. Depending on the stupidity of your manager, you’ll have to coat these nuggets with  verbal accordance – ie., you’ll have to spell out exactly what you mean and then obtusely mention that your manager’s manager might find that interesting.

Sick days – well everyone knows that.

Really understanding how your boss thinks.
If you can really figure out how your boss thinks, you can focus on those activities except at deadline time. Even if you don’t hit the deadline your boss is usually confused enough between what he sees and your results to give you 1 more chance till the next review. so this method gives you 2 review cycles worth of time to phone it in.

Use the Outlook email scheduler to send out emails at 4 am. Note: for important emails only, don’t send out “FYI”-type emails about interesting work articles you’ve come across, no one believes you’re browsing Bloomberg for work at 4 am.

And the most popular time strangler, go to a meeting.  It’s a place where idea’s get stranded in a cul-de-sac.

UPDATE: Now there is an app for your computer from Corporate Avoidance to look busy!

I’ve just come upon some great sites that give unbelievable advice on how to maximize your appearance while minimizing your work.  The first is Mastering the art of looking busy;

Looking busy has a bad rap. Sometimes you have to look busy so you can actually work on the things that matter. Here’s how to trick others into believing you’ve got a full plate so you’ll get the breathing room to actually get things done.

The point of looking busy is to remind your boss and your coworker that your time is valuable, that there are only so many things you can work on at once, and to give you some breathing room so you can actually think. In short, looking busy reminds everyone that you are busy, and gives you some freedom at the same time. Whether you use that freedom for valuable brainstorming or wasting time on your favorite tech blog is a choice we leave to you.

In this post, we’ll walk through some way to make sure everyone you talk to—whether it’s your boss or a distracting coworker—knows that you’re busy without you beating them over the head with the fact. Some of this is just good sense when it comes to productivity, but a few of these tips may seem counterproductive, but stick with us, we’ll explain why it all works. Let’s get started….

And this gem: How to do as little work as possible without getting fired;

Look Busy Without Really Trying

Shaving five minutes from the start and end of your day can only do so much. If you really want to slack like a pro, you’re going to need to figure out how to appear occupied even if you’re not. First off, read this most illustrious guide from Lifehacker on how to look busy. It’s packed with helpful hints and tips on how to keep your boss satisfied with your workflow even when it’s more of a “work trickle”. That’s not to say you should be doing zero work—unless your endgame is unemployment—but this guide explains how to keep your boss from piling a bunch of busy work on your desk.

Once you’ve memorized the Lifehacker guide, you’re ready to take your slacking game to the next level. We’re not talking about standing around with a clipboard or staring intently at your computer screen whilst wearing headphones; those techniques are as played out as licking your palms to fake clammy hands and get out of school. No, what you need are a legion of unknowing allies, namely, your co-workers.

In short, be a Chatty Cathy. Roam the halls of your office building, stopping by any open door, break room, or cubicle stall to “synergize” and “collaborate” with any co-worker that is even halfway willing to listen. Be sure to ask about their kids, people love talking about their kids and will do so at length—allowing you to not only “build rapport” with your co-worker but also shave valuable hunks of time off your work day. Just keep them talking.

You can try a similar technique with your supervisor. At my old office, we’d routinely receive memos from management so laden with industry buzzwords and random acronyms that could only be deciphered with a Cracker Jack decoder ring. While some see this as just one more office-place hassle, you can easily spin it to your advantage. Take the memo to your supervisor and ask for a detailed explanation of what on earth it’s talking about. You’ll be shocked how often Hey, I don’t really understand how we’re supposed to collate the GRE reports with the ACTA file turns into a 30 minute discussion of proper sorting and stapling methodology.

The best part of this technique is that it doesn’t even need to be done face-to-face. With a little practice, you can turn any email chain into an eye-glazing morass of replies, corrections, and clarifications. Just be sure not to overdo it; you want to be just persistent enough to keep stringing people along, not so obtuse that they get fed up with your endless line of questioning.

And while we’re on the subject of emails, you should strive to craft the perfect email. Every. Single. Time. Don’t say in five words what can be said in five paragraphs. Don’t assume that your reader has a single clue about the topic at hand (even if they’re the ones that started the thread); explain every single detail in as much detail as possible. If it takes less than 45 minutes to craft a response to “where are you going for lunch today?” then you’re doing it wrong.

But sitting at your desk, staring at an email client can get lonely, so be sure to break up the monotony by taking as many meetings as possible. Even if you aren’t directly involved in the project, sit in on the meeting. Slink in just right and nobody will notice you’re there until the house lights come up. Just remember to have a feasible excuse for sitting in ready before-hand in case someone calls you on it.

It can be hard work not doing any, but with a little practice, you can get away with just about anything—or doing just about nothing—on any given weekday.

Disclaimer: I would like to say that I worked my hardest when left alone and be managed like an adult.  My last good boss, Mike Bizovi did just that, and our team responded by delivering staggering results and awards.  We were self motivated to work hard and the though of goofing off never entered my mind. The next boss was Amy Loomis, who quickly ruined both the morale of our team and lowered our results by meddling in our work by micro-managing the minutia to the point that we couldn’t be productive anymore.   Even LinkedIn talks about how this can demoralize you and your productivity.. All of us were more professional than she was, and we responded to being treated like children rather than adults as you would expect.  This post is a result of my thoughts about the dichotomy of the 2 managers and how the team reacted to their management styles.  We never thought about this while working for Mike.  You there have the example of a leader and a failure.

Doing a Joint Announcement With The Competition, How to Cooperate

Recently, I’ve done joint announcements with Oracle, SAP, HP, Tibco, Software AG and HP. As you can imagine, I’ve had varying relationships with each and I’m happy to report that the state of the A/R industry is good and that we can work together.

When I was in PR, here is the link to the cat fight supreme with territorialism and turf wars. Most of the announcements I did with these companies when in Analyst Relations didn’t have that element. For the most part, the announcements were about standards, not products. So that went a long way towards working together. Still, if you include IBM, the companies I’ve named here aren’t known for being best buddies.

As an aside, I can say that the executives (who can be the source of most problems) all worked towards the cause of the best briefing possible.  They were helpful in this instance.  Many times, they are the fly in the ointment.

Some things are given, like in a certain area (we just did SOA) the analysts know the exec’s by company and the exec’s know each other so I’m happy to report they acted like grown ups.

TURF WARS

With the typical name calling (from the CEO’s) and because of the belief in your own products, the first issue to overcome is that the announcement is usually about a jointly created product or standard, not us vs. them.  That rule has to be set down first and if you don’t overcome that, you have no chance at building trust, the basis for working together.

DIVIDE THE DUTIES

One company can’t dominate the duties or it is not a joint announcement.   This also forces the companies to work together to approve what the others have created as their part of the announcement.   There are analyst lists, invitations, charts, follow-up issues and any number of duties that need to be attended to and dived up.  Once that is done, you must rely on each other and the level of trust inherently rises.

THE ANNOUNCEMENT

It’s important that the analyst see this as equal among the companies.  One company presenting more than another is a dead give away.  You can’t help Q and A as the analysts will direct the question directly to a company.

LESSONS LEARNED

You either put your differences aside and work together, or you’ll never get anything done.  It’s tough to do when your day job is to hammer the company that you are working with other than on the joint effort.  These are the days of co-opetition though.  You learn to get along or you’ll never make it to announcement day.

How Much Income Tax Warren Buffet Pays

Despite his request to pay more taxes and that the rich do not do their fair share, it appears that Mr. Buffet has reduced his tax burden.  While you read the story below, consider if there is a double standard.

From Thomas Stanley, Ph.D.

Warren Buffett is the best of the best at transforming income into wealth.    How did he do it?  Wise investing, you say.  Combine this with his reputation for having enormous integrity and his well publicized frugal lifestyle.  When it comes to consumption he seems to possess traditional midwestern values.  In spite of his substantial wealth he lives in a relatively modest home and drives American makes of cars.  Ah , but there is something else.  As I stated in The Millionaire Next Door,

Millionaires know that the more they spend, the more income they must realize.  The more they realize, the more they must allocate for income taxes.  So . . . adhere to an important rule:  To build wealth, minimize your realized (taxable) income and maximize your unrealized income (wealth/capital appreciation without a cash flow).

You may recall from an earlier blog that the typical millionaire next door has a realized income that is equivalent to only 8.2% of his wealth [median].  But Mr. Buffett is much better at miniziming his income as a function of net worth.  According to the 2012 Forbes 400 list, Mr. Buffett has a net worth of $46 billion.  CNN Money reported that “his taxable income was $39,814,784” in 2010.  That is the equivalent of only 0.087% of his net worth! Translated, the typical millionaire next door’s percentage of realized income to his net worth (8.2%) is nearly 95 times higher than Mr. Buffett’s (8.2%/0.087%).

Also consider something else in this equation:  income tax as a function of net worth.  The typical millionaire next door pays the equivalent of approximately 2% (median) of his net worth in income tax annually.  But here again Mr. Buffett is far, far better in minimizing his income tax.  According to Reuter’s, “[Warren Buffett] paid only $6.9 million in federal income taxes in 2010.”

In a nominal sense, $6.9 million in income tax might appear to be a significant amount of money.  But look at Mr. Buffett’s tax bill as a function of his net worth, that is $6.9 million as a percentage of his $46 billion in wealth.  At this rate he is paying the equivalent of only 0.015% of his net worth.  Compare this with the 2% paid by the millionaire next door.  This rate is more than 133 times greater than Mr. Buffett’s.  In fact, if Mr. Buffett was taxed at the same rate (2%) he would owe the Treasury Department $920,000,000 or nearly $1 billion.  You might say that it is unAmerican not to pay your fair share.  But Mr. Buffett gets special dispensation regarding this topic.  Why?  He has pledged to leave the vast majority of his estate to noble causes.  And according to Forbes, he has already demonstrated considerable generosity.  “He gave $1.5 billion to the Gates Foundation in July, bringing his total giving to $17.5 billion. . . in August he pledged $3 billion of stock to his children’s foundations.

Who is more likely to do an efficient job distributing money from your estate, the government or enlightened eleemosynary organizations?  You know the answer and apparently so does Mr. Buffett.

Economy Signs in the USA and EU that WE ARE IN DECLINE, PROTECT YOURSELVES

Two disturbing articles came my way.  I watch the economy and look for trends.  I found two that are similar because of political policies, yet would be so easy to fix if the respective governments would stop spending, handing out money to those who don’t deserve it, stop handing to themselves and stop the regulations.

We are headed into a depression and it appears that is what the governments want.  History shows they can control a distressed population more easily than a productive, self-reliant successful one…so the preponderance of evidence shows it is intentional.

You’ve been warned, get out of debt, get a strong cash position, stock up on supplies (they are much cheaper now before inflation) and do everything you can to be self reliant rather than convenient.  This is against all the pundits who want you to buy into this is just a phase, just like right about 1926.

Here they are.

THE USA

Link to the full article here:

#1 According to the World Bank, U.S. GDP accounted for 31.8 percent of all global economic activity in 2001.  That number dropped to 21.6 percent in 2011.  That is not just a decline – that is a freefall.  Just check out the chart in this article.

#2 According to The Economist, the United States was the best place in the world to be born into back in 1988.  Today, the United States is only tied for 16th place.

#3 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.

#4 According to the Wall Street Journal, of the 40 biggest publicly traded corporate spenders, half of them plan to reduce capital expenditures in coming months.

#5 More than three times as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as will be sold in 2012.

#6 America once had the greatest manufacturing cities on the face of the earth.  Now many of our formerly great manufacturing cities have degenerated into festering hellholes.  For example, the city of Detroit is on the verge of financial collapse, and one state lawmaker is now saying that “dissolving Detroit” should be looked at as an option.

#7 In 2007, the unemployment rate for the 20 to 29 age bracket was about 6.5 percent.  Today, the unemployment rate for that same age group is about 13 percent.

#8 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs.  Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.

#9 If you can believe it, approximately one out of every four American workers makes 10 dollars an hour or less.

#10 Sadly, 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

#11 Median household income in America has fallen for four consecutive years.  Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.

#12 The U.S. trade deficit with China during 2011 was 28 times larger than it was back in 1990.

#13 Incredibly, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been shut down since 2001.  During 2010, manufacturing facilities were shutting down at the rate of 23 per day.  How can anyone say that “things are getting better” when our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted?

#14 Back in early 2005, the average price of a gallon of gasoline was less than 2 dollars a gallon.  During 2012, the average price of a gallon of gasoline has been $3.63.

#15 In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.

#16 As I have written about previously, 61 percent of all Americans were “middle income” back in 1971 according to the Pew Research Center.  Today, only 51 percent of all Americans are “middle income”.

#17 There are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.

#18 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate for children living in the United States is about 22 percent.

#19 Back in 1983, the bottom 95 percent of all income earners in the United States had 62 cents of debt for every dollar that they earned.  By 2007, that figure had soared to $1.48.

#20 Total home mortgage debt in the United States is now about 5 times larger than it was just 20 years ago.

#21 Total credit card debt in the United States is now more than 8 times larger than it was just 30 years ago.

#22 The value of the U.S. dollar has declined by more than 96 percent since the Federal Reserve was first created.

#23 According to one survey, 29 percent of all Americans in the 25 to 34 year old age bracket are still living with their parents.

#24 Back in 1950, 78 percent of all households in the United States contained a married couple.  Today, that number has declined to 48 percent.

#25 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans live in a home that receives direct monetary benefits from the federal government.  Back in 1983, less than a third of all Americans lived in a home that received direct monetary benefits from the federal government.

#26 In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7 percent of all income.  Today, government transfer payments account for more than 18 percent of all income.

#27 In November 2008, 30.8 million Americans were on food stamps.  Today, 47.1 million Americans are on food stamps.

#28 Right now, one out of every four American children is on food stamps.

#29 As I wrote about the other day, according to one calculation the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”

#30 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid, and things are about to get a whole lot worse.  It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

#31 In 2001, the U.S. national debt was less than 6 trillion dollars.  Today, it is over 16 trillion dollars and it is increasing by more than 100 million dollars every single hour.

#32 The U.S. national debt is now more than 23 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.

#33 According to a PBS report from earlier this year, U.S. households that make $13,000 or less per year spend 9 percent of their incomes on lottery tickets.  Could that possibly be accurate?  Are people really that foolish?

#34 As the U.S. economy has declined, the American people have been downing more antidepressants and other prescription drugs than ever before.  In fact, the American people spent 60 billion dollars more on prescription drugs in 2010 than they did in 2005.

THE EUROPEAN UNION

Link to the full article here:

The following are 11 facts that show that Europe is heading into an economic depression…

1. The economies of 17 out of the 27 countries in the EU have contracted for at least two consecutive quarters.

2. Unemployment in the eurozone has hit a brand new all-time record high of 11.7 percent.

3. The unemployment rate in Portugal is now up to 16.3 percent.  A year ago it was just 13.7 percent.

4. The unemployment rate in Greece is now up to 25.4 percent.  A year ago it was just 18.4 percent.

5. The unemployment rate in Spain has hit a brand new all-time record high of 26.2 percent.  How much higher can it possibly go?  This is already higher than the unemployment rate in the United States ever reached during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

6. Youth unemployment levels in both Greece and Spain are rapidly approaching the 60 percent level.

7. Earlier this month, Moody’s stripped France of its AAA credit rating, and wealthy individuals are leaving France in droves as the socialists implement plans to raise taxes to very high levels on the rich.

8. Industrial production is collapsing all over Europe.  Just check out these numbers…

You don’t have to be an economic genius to understand that the perpetual uncertainty over the Eurozone’s future has led to a widespread freeze on industrial investment and development. Industrial production is collapsing at an accelerating rate, falling 7% year-on-year in Spain and Greece, 4.8% in Italy, and 2.1% in France.

9. There are even trouble signs in the “stable” economies in Europe.  In Germany, factory orders in September were down 3.3 percent from the month before, and retail sales in October declined 2.8 percent from the previous month.

10. The debt of the Greek government is now projected to hit 189 percent of GDP by the end of this year.

11. The Greek economy has shrunk by more than 7 percent this year, and it is being projected that the Greek economy will contract by another 4.5 percent in 2013.

But sometimes you can’t really get a feel for how bad things really are over there just from the raw economic numbers.

Many people that are living through these depression-like conditions are totally giving in to despair.  Just check out the following example from an RT article from earlier this year…

A 61-year-old Greek pensioner has hung himself from a tree in a public park after succumbing to the pressure of crushing debt. A note in his pocket indicates he is merely the latest in a rash of economic crisis-induced suicides.

The pensioner’s lifeless body was found dangling by an attendant in a public park not far from his home in the suburb of Nikaia, Athens. The attendant also found a suicide note in the man’s pocket, The Athens news reports.

The man, identifying himself as Alexandros, said he was a man of few vices who “worked all day.”  However, he blamed himself from committing one “horrendous crime”: becoming a professional at the age of 40 and plunging himself into debt. He referred to himself as a 61-year-old idiot who had to pay, hoping his grandchildren would not be born in Greece, as the country’s prospects were so bleak.

Kiss Your Password Security Goodbye

You may think that you have good password security.  More likely, you are like most people who re-use the same password for many accounts, don’t change it often enough and use your pet’s name or some other easy to find information that makes break in easy.

Face it, we are lazy, lax and don’t understand security and privacy. Nor do we understand the nature of identity theft until you are a victim.

So, unless your are fastidious about changing with complete randomness and creativeness, fugetaboutit, you’re toast…..here’s why.

THE BACKGROUND

From Wired:

It’s not a well-kept secret, either. Just a simple string of characters—maybe six of them if you’re careless, 16 if you’re cautious—that can reveal everything about you.

2012 bug

Your email. Your bank account. Your address and credit card number. Photos of your kids or, worse, of yourself, naked. The precise location where you’re sitting right now as you read these words. Since the dawn of the information age, we’ve bought into the idea that a password, so long as it’s elaborate enough, is an adequate means of protecting all this precious data. But in 2012 that’s a fallacy, a fantasy, an outdated sales pitch. And anyone who still mouths it is a sucker—or someone who takes you for one.

No matter how complex, no matter how unique, your passwords can no longer protect you.

Look around. Leaks and dumps—hackers breaking into computer systems and releasing lists of usernames and passwords on the open web—are now regular occurrences. The way we daisy-chain accounts, with our email address doubling as a universal username, creates a single point of failure that can be exploited with devastating results. Thanks to an explosion of personal information being stored in the cloud, tricking customer service agents into resetting passwords has never been easier. All a hacker has to do is use personal information that’s publicly available on one service to gain entry into another.

This summer, hackers destroyed my entire digital life in the span of an hour. My Apple, Twitter, and Gmail passwords were all robust—seven, 10, and 19 characters, respectively, all alphanumeric, some with symbols thrown in as well—but the three accounts were linked, so once the hackers had conned their way into one, they had them all. They really just wanted my Twitter handle: @mat. As a three-letter username, it’s considered prestigious. And to delay me from getting it back, they used my Apple account to wipe every one of my devices, my iPhone and iPad and MacBook, deleting all my messages and documents and every picture I’d ever taken of my 18-month-old daughter.

The age of the password is over. We just haven’t realized it yet.

Since that awful day, I’ve devoted myself to researching the world of online security. And what I have found is utterly terrifying. Our digital lives are simply too easy to crack. Imagine that I want to get into your email. Let’s say you’re on AOL. All I need to do is go to the website and supply your name plus maybe the city you were born in, info that’s easy to find in the age of Google. With that, AOL gives me a password reset, and I can log in as you.

First thing I do? Search for the word “bank” to figure out where you do your online banking. I go there and click on the Forgot Password? link. I get the password reset and log in to your account, which I control. Now I own your checking account as well as your email.

This summer I learned how to get into, well, everything. With two minutes and $4 to spend at a sketchy foreign website, I could report back with your credit card, phone, and Social Security numbers and your home address. Allow me five minutes more and I could be inside your accounts for, say, Amazon, Best Buy, Hulu, Microsoft, and Netflix. With yet 10 more, I could take over your AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon. Give me 20—total—and I own your PayPal. Some of those security holes are plugged now. But not all, and new ones are discovered every day.

The common weakness in these hacks is the password. It’s an artifact from a time when our computers were not hyper-connected. Today, nothing you do, no precaution you take, no long or random string of characters can stop a truly dedicated and devious individual from cracking your account. The age of the password has come to an end; we just haven’t realized it yet.

Passwords are as old as civilization. And for as long as they’ve existed, people have been breaking them.

In 413 BC, at the height of the Peloponnesian War, the Athenian general Demosthenes landed in Sicily with 5,000 soldiers to assist in the attack on Syracusae. Things were looking good for the Greeks. Syracusae, a key ally of Sparta, seemed sure to fall.

But during a chaotic nighttime battle at Epipole, Demosthenes’ forces were scattered, and while attempting to regroup they began calling out their watchword, a prearranged term that would identify soldiers as friendly. The Syracusans picked up on the code and passed it quietly through their ranks. At times when the Greeks looked too formidable, the watchword allowed their opponents to pose as allies. Employing this ruse, the undermatched Syracusans decimated the invaders, and when the sun rose, their cavalry mopped up the rest. It was a turning point in the war.

The first computers to use passwords were likely those in MIT’s Compatible Time-Sharing System, developed in 1961. To limit the time any one user could spend on the system, CTSS used a login to ration access. It only took until 1962 when a PhD student named Allan Scherr, wanting more than his four-hour allotment, defeated the login with a simple hack: He located the file containing the passwords and printed out all of them. After that, he got as much time as he wanted.

During the formative years of the web, as we all went online, passwords worked pretty well. This was due largely to how little data they actually needed to protect. Our passwords were limited to a handful of applications: an ISP for email and maybe an ecommerce site or two. Because almost no personal information was in the cloud—the cloud was barely a wisp at that point—there was little payoff for breaking into an individual’s accounts; the serious hackers were still going after big corporate systems.

So we were lulled into complacency. Email addresses morphed into a sort of universal login, serving as our username just about everywhere. This practice persisted even as the number of accounts—the number of failure points—grew exponentially. Web-based email was the gateway to a new slate of cloud apps. We began banking in the cloud, tracking our finances in the cloud, and doing our taxes in the cloud. We stashed our photos, our documents, our data in the cloud.

Eventually, as the number of epic hacks increased, we started to lean on a curious psychological crutch: the notion of the “strong” password. It’s the compromise that growing web companies came up with to keep people signing up and entrusting data to their sites. It’s the Band-Aid that’s now being washed away in a river of blood.

WHERE AND WHEN IT BEGAN (SORT OF)

No one can be sure except that since passwords were first used, there were bad guys trying to hack into them.  Here is an exposition of how it became an epidemic:

In 2009, a minor gaming website called Rockyou.com was hacked; although you’ve probably never heard of the site, the hack has probably affected you or someone you know. Almost every genuine hack over the last three years can be traced back to the Rockyou leak.

The reason it was so significant is it totally changed the way hackers do business. Before Rockyou, hackers had to build word lists of potential passwords using traditional dictionaries; the 14 million or so Rockyou passwords provided an instant database showing how people actually construct their passwords.

We’re all familiar with the hoops passwords make us jump through – requiring both letters and numbers, the use of upper-case and lower-case letters, a minimum number of characters, and the use of punctuation. Of course,we’re all human, so we want passwords to be easy to remember while fulfilling these arcane rules.

The list leaked from RockYou confirmed our grammatical bias: upper case letters tend to start words, while special characters or numbers come at the end. One of the most common ways to combine letters and numbers memorably was to add names & dates together – so Patton1945 or Napoleon1815 were common, for example.

Publicly available data makes this even easier; for example, databases are available containing the name of every Facebook user. These, when combined with every 4-digit number combination and a dictionary list of common words will break as many as 40 per cent of internet users’ accounts within minutes. This creates an even greater problem, as many people reuse passwords, meaning one crack can compromise multiple accounts.

Most people have multiple different internet accounts; collecting data and monitoring user activity through these accounts is at the core of many websites’ business models. The temptation to reuse important passwords for trivial sites that require a sign-in, like price comparison sites, restaurant bookers, dating sites or online shops, is almost irresistible. Of course, many of these sites are far from secure.

The Rockyou leak started a chain reaction; a huge number of sites have been hacked since, releasing even more password data. Equally, technology has advanced enormously. The sort of PC you can buy in Currys can attempt 8.2 million password combinations per second. Cryptographic feats that were the stuff of legend in the Second World War could be done on your iPhone; the sort of 16-digit passcodes thought uncrackable during the Cold War are now within the reach of cracking by skilled hackers with low budgets. Goodness only knows what state-sponsored outfits in the US or China can do.

If you look in the lists of passwords and usernames leaked online, it’s fairly easy to find yourself; with the huge amount of websites we sign up to these days, it’s almost inevitable that at least one of the sites where you have an accounts has been hacked in the last two years. I was able to find my own cracked username and password (taken from a hacked wargaming forum) with a little diligent searching. The biggest damage that could be done to me from that leak is losing control of my forum account; if I’d reused that password elsewhere, it could have been catastrophic.

Of course, each character you add to your password ramps up the time it takes to crack; adding even one letter can take crack time from hours to days, putting you into the category of not “unbreakable” – I doubt such a thing exists – but simply not worth the hassle.

The current best advice is to have passwords composed of 20 characters, with no real words, and your gobbledegook has to include upper and lower case letters, symbols, numbers and punctuation, all randomly scattered through the word. On top of that, you need to have a different password for every site you use and change your password for all of them every three months.

France’s Rich Jumping Ship To Switzerland. The Effect of Raising Taxes

THE CAUSE – VIA USA TODAY

Recently elected President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government introduced France’s 2013 budget with steep tax increases on the rich that include a 75% tax rate on those earning more than $1.28 million for two years and a new 45% rate for revenues of more than $193,000. Higher taxes on businesses are proposed as well.

THE RESULT

“In the north, we are hearing that more and more people are preparing to leave the country,” said Sebastien Huyghe, a conservative UMP lawmaker. “This autumn, a number of people may make their arrangements.

“The 75% tax will not fill the country’s coffers; instead, it sends a strong signal that will both scare away those who have the means to create jobs, and prevent others from coming and investing in France,” he said.

Economists and analysts say the super-tax is more symbolic than effective, saying it would affect only 2,000 to 3,000 French households while adding little to state revenue.

“From a strictly budgetary and economic point of view, the impact will be marginal, but the Socialists expect a political effect, and they are right,” said Thierry Pech, editor-in-chief of Alternative Économiques monthly magazine. “There is a deep resentment (by the public) against the ultra-rich, one that could feed populism.”

Many French say these super-rich must contribute more, and those seeking tax exile betray the very country that gave them the savoir-faire that led to their international success, a sort of French version of the “You didn’t build that” claim that President Obama leveled against successful businesspeople in America.

“Has (Arnault) thought about all the help he has received from French investors and from the French state itself to make it where he is now?” asks French taxpayer Olivier Weber in Paris.

Last year, 16 business tycoons and other holders of French fortunes wrote an open letter in the French weekly magazine Le Nouvel Observateur with the title “Tax us!”, saying that after benefiting from the “French model,” they were willing to pay more in times of crisis. But that was before a super-tax.

Many of them have changed their minds, such as Jean-Paul Agon, the chief executive of L’Oréal, the biggest cosmetics company in the world.

“If there is such a new tax rule, it’s going to be very, very difficult to attract talent to work in France, almost impossible at a certain level,” he told The Financial Times.

Even Stéphane Richard, CEO of telecom company Orange , who is close to the Socialist party, is worried about the “accumulation” of taxes and the impact on the French economy.

“I’m worried that we start by taxing the rich, and that’s it,” he told French daily Le Monde. “It’s one thing to call on economic patriotism, it’s another to organize a looting (of the rich) that will turn on the tax exile machine.”

Some French shrug their shoulders with typical Gallic distaste

“It’s normal to pay your taxes — it’s important — it means you belong to a community,” said Christine Templier, 38.

IS THE USA GOING DOWN THIS PATH?

Share the wealth has been the mantra of the current government.   Current policies emulate France, Greece and the PIIGS.  Based on our tax system, we certainly seem to be headed in the direction of not having enough taxpayers to pay for the entitlements.

It is said that the 1% need to pay more.  In fact, if you confiscated 100% of their wealth, it wouldn’t make a dent in the deficit.  It causes division and class warfare.  It clearly defies the history of success where “a rising tide raises all boats”. 

SO WHAT IS THE ANSWER?

Besides the obvious of spending less, which congress does not have the ability on either side to do, grow the base of taxpayers and more revenue will come in.  JFK and Reagan (and other Presidents) proved this so we have history to support this.  In fact, the largest year of tax revenue ever by the government was 2007.   There are far more complex economic theories, but increase a tax base who are not afraid to spend more, and tax revenue will rise.

CONCLUSION

I don’t think Zuckerberg, Gates and Buffet will leave America if they raise taxes, but many are leaving California (at 2000 per week).  If you look at history, we can do more by having an economy that is growing for everyone.  By not singling out a specific group, we get the rising tide and an economy shift with more jobs and more tax revenue.

As for the rich French, many are now in Switzerland. 

Maybe there will be a lesson in here for them and they can get their tax base back.

How Warren Buffet Ends The Deficit in 5 Minutes

Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling …

“I could end the deficit in 5 minutes,” he told CNBC.  “You just pass a law that says that any time there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.”

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months and 8 days to be ratified!  Why?

Simple!  The people demanded it.

That was in 1971 – before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took one (1) year or less to become the law of the land – all because of public pressure.  Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.  In three days, most people in The United States of America

will have this message.

 1. No Tenure/No Pension

A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they’re out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.

All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all other Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.

Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 12/1/12.

The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen/women.

Congress made all these contracts for themselves.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.

The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days

for most people (in the U.S.) to receive the message.

Don’t you think it’s time?

The Best News For PowerPoint Users Since Its Creation

From this link, Jeff Bezos says it is the end of PowerPoint.

To be honest, I don’t really give a flying fig or a rats rump about either Bezos or his product, but PowerPoint has always been a crutch that rarely connects emotionally with the audience.  Of all the tools we’ve used, it must rank lowest on the rung of real importance when compared with the time wasted compared to other tools.

The author explains it:

In no way am I advocating that you ditch PowerPoint. I am recommending that you ditch PowerPoint as we know it—dull, wordy, and overloaded with bullet points. Image-rich presentations work effectively because pictures appeal to the right hemisphere of the brain—the emotional side. You can have great ideas backed up by data and logic, but if you don’t connect with people emotionally, it doesn’t matter.

START FROM THE BEGINNING

Back in the dark ages, companies used overhead projectors and presented “foils”.  This was the forerunner to PowerPoint only you had to manually change them.  Given the projector fails I’ve seen, it at least was more reliable, albeit archaic.

It was a hoot to watch people try to figure out how to configure a projector or a multi-media room to get their PC to connect.  Entire sessions have had to be conducted without PowerPoint due to operator or machine error.  For the most part, they were likely more productive meetings.

THE DEARTH OF OUR EXISTENCE BEGINS AND CREATES MANY JOBS

The jobs being created were PowerPoint slide creators.  A pretty easy job if you were ahead of the curve.  The only caveat was unrealistic executives who thought they were presenting to the UN. One VP of Social Business Evangelism at my last company used to put us through 20 changes minimum, often commenting that it was not what she wanted.  When asked what it was, the comment was usually, “I don’t know what I want, just go fix it and bring me back what I want”.  On a humorous note, one time we brought back version one as a ruse and she commented now that is what I really wanted to begin with, why didn’t you bring me this to start with?  Go figure.

THE HUMAN PROBLEM

A big problem with PowerPoint is that it rarely could tell the story on its own, and that it depends on the human presenting it.  My favorite observation during analyst briefings was the game that they played to try to get the executives off their slides and onto a tangent.  It was my job to get them to stay on topic, but for fun I let it stray…even nodding to the analyst to let them know I knew what the game was.

Also, everyone goes to the page count to see the torture they will be put through.  That in itself is an indicator of its usefulness.  At one meeting, there were 137 charts by the GM of our group.  There was a collective groan by all, and a cheer when it got interrupted by a fire drill.  Hardly anyone returned for the finish.

So basically as a tool it is deficient and a serious time suck.  It also is held up as the idol of meeting communications similar to how executives fret over a press release as if it was what anybody actually read or re-quoted.  I’ve got news for you guys, we could actually do without both.

A GENERATION OF SLACKERS

What also chaffed my behind was that those held up as PowerPoint experts created a job niche that in reality was a re-cycle exercise.  Once you knew the executive, you could re-use their charts with minor changes and act like it was some big production….then kick back and act like it was a Renoir.

IF YOU HADN’T NOTICED…..

I loathe PowerPoint.  I have been working with office suites since the introduction of Visicalc.  I’ve always been able to master them down to a coding level, but I rank PowerPoint at the bottom of my list of usefulness.  Worse than this were knock-offs like Symphony that even the company that created it wouldn’t use it except for the division responsible for it.

I’ve always been far more engaged by a speaker who could tell a story in words and be effective.  Ahead of that is a genuine discussion without the high school drama of charts. You always have to send documentation after a meeting anyway, so dispensing with this for an engagement tool always mirrored the way people have interacted over the years.  In reality, it wasn’t the next best thing.

Does Telecommunting or Working At Home Hurt Your Career?

According to a new study by Professors, Kimberly Elsbach of the University of California, Davis, and Daniel Cable of London Business School, it does.

A new study suggests workers are judged harshly for not showing up at the office. Despite advances in teleworking, smartphones, and Skype, face time, it seems, really does matter.

Getty Images
Working from home might not work for you.

Professors, Kimberly Elsbach of the University of California, Davis, and Daniel Cable of London Business School, looked at perceptions of employees’ performance based on whether they were in the office or not. The research measured “passive face time,” which is simply time spent in the office, regardless of whether the staffer is working hard or not.

The results aren’t pretty for employees who would rather work remotely, according to an article Elsbach and Cable wrote in MIT Sloan Management Review.

Workers who are seen at their desks during regular work hours are considered “responsible” and “dependable,” they wrote: “Just being seen at work, without any information about what you’re actually doing, leads people to think more highly of you.”

Work longer hours — early, late, or on weekends — and “rather than just being considered dependable, you can get upgraded to ‘committed’ and ‘dedicated,’” according to the article, which referenced a paper Elsbach and Cable published in the academic journal Human Relations.

Bosses, and peers, often don’t realize they’re forming views of workers’ competence based on whether they’re at their desk, Cable said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

“Without us knowing it, we are creating these assumptions about people based on physical presence,” he said. This isn’t just a perception. Bosses’ vague feelings that a worker does a better job can be seen on employee evaluations, especially when they’re encouraged to make subjective calls in performance reviews.

That leads to pay, promotion, and career-trajectory decisions. Cable estimates that more than 60% of companies are still using “1950s-style” evaluations that prioritize such subjective write-ups over hard data on sales wins, customer satisfaction, or other measures of the employee’s business performance.

So what can employees do to counter this pigeonholing, especially those who want to work from home?

If working long hours from the office isn’t an option, employees might consider sending emails early in the morning or late at night, to prove they are on the job at all times. They might also try using their time in the office to build strong connections to co-workers and superiors, like going to lunch with people or organizing in-person meetings?

Meanwhile, managers should be aware that they may be discounting remote workers’ contributions, albeit subconsciously. (Or, they may be monitoring their home-based workers, as The Journal’s Sue Shellenbarger writes.)

“The bottom line is that employees should be wary of work arrangements that reduce their office face time, and supervisors should be wary of using trait-based performance measures, especially when evaluating remote workers,” the article said. “Finally, employees working remotely need to make sure they are evaluated on objective outputs. Barring that, you might consider sending an e-mail to your boss tonight . . . say, around midnight.”

YOU ARE LESS LIKELY TO BE PROMOTED ALSO

According to an MIT study by the Sloan Management Review, you are less likely to get ahead:

The millions of Americans who are skipping out on the daily commute may also be losing out on a promotion.

These so-called ‘telecommuters’ are less likely to receive positive performance reviews from superiors than their colleagues who show up in the office, a new study by MIT Sloan Management Review shows.

The report chalks up much of the discrepancy to managerial subjectivity. Managers are less likely to be comfortable with a worker they don’t actually see on a regular basis. In fact, they may become more irritated with someone who they perceive isn’t available at all times. Telecommuting employees are also less likely to reap the benefits of showing up early and leaving work late than their commuting coworkers.

Advances in Internet technology have allowed for telecommuting to become more widespread. About 20 percent of workers worldwide report that they telecommute, while 10 percent report that they work from home on a regular basis, according to a recent Ipsos/Reuters poll. That same poll found that 34 percent of workers, when asked, stated that they would telecommute on a regular basis if they could.

But according to some critics, telecommuting creates cause for concern. For instance, telecommuting could prevent workers from being able to fully understand what their managers ask of them, according to PCWorld. That’s because non-verbal facial expressions are an important component of the workplace that telecommuting, which often takes place over instant messaging or phone, doesn’t allow.

But this doesn’t excuse managers from giving otherwise stellar employees poor reviews just because they telecommute, Daniel Cable of London Business School and co-author of the MIT Sloan report told The Wall Street Journal. Approximately 60 percent of firms still use highly subjective employee review standards that prioritize manager write-ups over hard data, Cable told WSJ. This often results in managers promoting sub par employees over superior candidates that telecommute.

STACKED REVIEWS

Most corporations are using stacked reviews.  This obviously pits employees against each other rather than trying to beat the competition.  Stay at home employees are working at a disadvantage here as the in office workers can brown nose their way to places that home workers can’t.  Here’s how it works.

Eichenwald’s conversations reveal that a management system known as “stack ranking”—a program that forces every unit to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, good performers, average, and poor—effectively crippled Microsoft’s ability to innovate. “Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees,” Eichenwald writes. “If you were on a team of 10 people, you walked in the first day knowing that, no matter how good everyone was, 2 people were going to get a great review, 7 were going to get mediocre reviews, and 1 was going to get a terrible review,” says a former software developer. “It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.”

FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE, BAD OFFICE MEMO OF THE YEAR

At IBM, if you don’t go to New York, you don’t get ahead.  That is where the club is. The current Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications said that Raleigh was “Smallville with no chance of going anyone going anywhere if you stay here” at a town-hall meeting with all the communications folks in attendance.  Jaws were dropping all over the floor and it was the topic of conversation for days. This was after he gave a speech that was supposed to be about communications careers, but was just an obviously recycled presentation that had been given to a different audience about EPS.  Everyone saw through it and no one got why he came to un”motivate” the troops.  IBM’s current vice president of external relations publicly made fun of the south as if NY was the mecca of IQ on a global call of all Comms folks.  Everyone mentioned how short sighted this was and what a limited view of what different populations worldwide had to offer (there were multiple IM sessions going on around the world on this clear example of prejudice and ego centrism).  Despite their high salaries, we are the smart ones spending more time with our kids and paying over 30% less in cost of living.  Plus we don’t have to live in New York and work with them especially since this guy yells and cusses you out way more than HR should allow.

I personally turned down 2 offers to move to NY to get ahead.  I’d been there many times and knew the unofficial rules that you had to be there to get anywhere.  I didn’t want to raise my kids there and my family was more important to me  than a job.  Because of that, I was labeled someone who didn’t want to climb the ladder which was fine by me, so I worked in the pack and was passed over for promotions after that.  My family is much better off having grown up where we wanted to live and I don’t regret it a minute.  My kids are killing the NY public school kids at college.  Plus, I would never send them to a den of socialism like Columbia or any other schools up there.  I need them to get a real education.

But the fact remains, you run a severe risk of not getting ahead if you don’t show up at the office.  Many will be able come up with some successful work at home employee story, but only to a certain level…. then you have to be in their face at the office.  Either way, it is expected that you’ll check into work at all hours of the night and weekends anyway.

There was one manager in a group I worked for that sent out a “rules of the road” memo (bad office memo of the year) that said if you weren’t working in the office, you weren’t considered really working.  Talk about generating trust on your team! He was viewed by his peers as the worst manager of the entire group, I was just lucky to have had the experience of working with him.

OFFICE COOLER TALK

You do miss out on hall meetings that allow you to find out things home workers miss.  It allows you to get ahead of the telecommuters on the first news or get into the executives office at a moments notice.  That is a drawback, but not enough to call me in.  When they sold the building I was working in and asked who wanted to be a home worker, my hand was up faster than Arnold Horshack to get out of there.

The flip side is you have to hear all the office gossip which I was glad to miss.  It is too distracting and usually it is never good about anyone, only what they are doing wrong, who is sleeping with whom or what some are getting away with.

Some people need the social interaction and have to be in the office for people contact.  I’m perfectly happy to miss that as most of it is idle banter that takes away from productivity.  I also don’t miss the hour commute.

Overall, I wouldn’t trade the home office for a cubicle anywhere, anytime. Being at home has more perks.

Happy Birthday to My Dog

It is now a year later and my dog  is 12  today.  The average lifespan of Boxer according to my vet is “around” 8-10 years, so I’m living on borrowed time.

I named her after the dog in Jonny Quest because she had a black face like the dog in the cartoon.

Since I’ve worked at home the whole time we’ve had her, she has been my day pal.  Now that my son has gone off to college, she is definitely my dog and I’m very attached to her.

Recently, I watched Marley and Me and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing her.  Fortunately, she is still full of energy and looks like she’ll be around for a while.

I’ve posted about her over the years, some of them being the most read entries I’ve written.

After the story of Shoep and John here is the link I am especially sensitive to her longevity and day to day life.  She has had cancer surgery and still has the energy to love my family, although she is especially attached to me.  It is mutual.

Here are some of the best of links:

Her surgery

Dogs are good for your heart

It’s a Dog’s Life

Boxer Rebellion

9 Things Successful People Do Differently

Some people are better than others for certain reasons.   Some are more political, better trained, work harder and so forth.  I read this and it is a good summary of how to be more successful.

Via the Havard Business Review:

1. Get specific. When you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible. “Lose 5 pounds” is a better goal than “lose some weight,” because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal. Just promising you’ll “eat less” or “sleep more” is too vague — be clear and precise. “I’ll be in bed by 10pm on weeknights” leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you’ve actually done it.

2. Seize the moment to act on your goals.
Given how busy most of us are, and how many goals we are juggling at once, it’s not surprising that we routinely miss opportunities to act on a goal because we simply fail to notice them. Did you really have no time to work out today? No chance at any point to return that phone call? Achieving your goal means grabbing hold of these opportunities before they slip through your fingers.

To seize the moment, decide when and where you will take each action you want to take, in advance. Again, be as specific as possible (e.g., “If it’s Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I’ll work out for 30 minutes before work.”) Studies show that this kind of planning will help your brain to detect and seize the opportunity when it arises, increasing your chances of success by roughly 300%.

3. Know exactly how far you have left to go. Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress — if not by others, then by you yourself. If you don’t know how well you are doing, you can’t adjust your behavior or your strategies accordingly. Check your progress frequently — weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal.

4. Be a realistic optimist.
When you are setting a goal, by all means engage in lots of positive thinking about how likely you are to achieve it. Believing in your ability to succeed is enormously helpful for creating and sustaining your motivation. But whatever you do, don’t underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal. Most goals worth achieving require time, planning, effort, and persistence. Studies show that thinking things will come to you easily and effortlessly leaves you ill-prepared for the journey ahead, and significantly increases the odds of failure.

5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good.
Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed — that no matter what we do, we won’t improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.

Fortunately, decades of research suggest that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong — abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable. Embracing the fact that you can change will allow you to make better choices, and reach your fullest potential. People whose goals are about getting better, rather than being good, take difficulty in stride, and appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

6. Have grit.
Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty. Studies show that gritty people obtain more education in their lifetime, and earn higher college GPAs. Grit predicts which cadets will stick out their first grueling year at West Point. In fact, grit even predicts which round contestants will make it to at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The good news is, if you aren’t particularly gritty now, there is something you can do about it. People who lack grit more often than not believe that they just don’t have the innate abilities successful people have. If that describes your own thinking …. well, there’s no way to put this nicely: you are wrong. As I mentioned earlier, effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed. Embracing this knowledge will not only help you see yourself and your goals more accurately, but also do wonders for your grit.

7. Build your willpower muscle. Your self-control “muscle” is just like the other muscles in your body — when it doesn’t get much exercise, it becomes weaker over time. But when you give it regular workouts by putting it to good use, it will grow stronger and stronger, and better able to help you successfully reach your goals.

To build willpower, take on a challenge that requires you to do something you’d honestly rather not do. Give up high-fat snacks, do 100 sit-ups a day, stand up straight when you catch yourself slouching, try to learn a new skill. When you find yourself wanting to give in, give up, or just not bother — don’t. Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they occur (“If I have a craving for a snack, I will eat one piece of fresh or three pieces of dried fruit.”) It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier, and that’s the whole point. As your strength grows, you can take on more challenges and step-up your self-control workout.

8. Don’t tempt fate. No matter how strong your willpower muscle becomes, it’s important to always respect the fact that it is limited, and if you overtax it you will temporarily run out of steam. Don’t try to take on two challenging tasks at once, if you can help it (like quitting smoking and dieting at the same time). And don’t put yourself in harm’s way — many people are overly confident in their ability to resist temptation, and as a result they put themselves in situations where temptations abound. Successful people know not to make reaching a goal harder than it already is.

9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t do. Do you want to successfully lose weight, quit smoking, or put a lid on your bad temper? Then plan how you will replace bad habits with good ones, rather than focusing only on the bad habits themselves. Research on thought suppression (e.g., “Don’t think about white bears!”) has shown that trying to avoid a thought makes it even more active in your mind. The same holds true when it comes to behavior — by trying not to engage in a bad habit, our habits get strengthened rather than broken.

If you want to change your ways, ask yourself, What will I do instead? For example, if you are trying to gain control of your temper and stop flying off the handle, you might make a plan like “If I am starting to feel angry, then I will take three deep breaths to calm down.” By using deep breathing as a replacement for giving in to your anger, your bad habit will get worn away over time until it disappears completely.

It is my hope that, after reading about the nine things successful people do differently, you have gained some insight into all the things you have been doing right all along. Even more important, I hope are able to identify the mistakes that have derailed you, and use that knowledge to your advantage from now on. Remember, you don’t need to become a different person to become a more successful one. It’s never what you are, but what you do.

Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. is a motivational psychologist, and author of the new book Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals (Hudson Street Press, 2011). She is also an expert blogger on motivation and leadership for Fast Company and Psychology Today. Her personal blog, The Science of Success, can be found at www.heidigranthalvorson.com. Follow her on Twitter @hghalvorson

Heidi Grant Halvorson

Heidi Grant Halvorson

Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. is a motivational psychologist and author of the HBR Single Nine Things Successful People Do Differently and the book Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals (Hudson Street Press, 2011). Her personal blog, The Science of Success, can be found at www.heidigranthalvorson.com. Dr. Halvorson is available for speaking and training. Follow her on Twitter @hghalvorson.

WORKING WITH THE COMPETITION ON A JOINT ANNOUNCEMENT – What went on behind the scenes with Microsoft, IBM and Intel

I wrote a while back about doing a joint announcement with a competitor.  Communications wise, it was from the standpoint of Analyst Relations.  Since I also did Public Relations for many years, I had the opportunity to lead an announcement with Microsoft and Intel.

CODE NAME FIRESTORM

Recently I came across a press release that I had coordinated on behalf of the Netfinity Server (System X now, update: It has been sold to Lenovo) with Microsoft and Intel in the early 2000’s.  In reality, all the work was done between Waggener Edstrom for Microsoft and me for IBM.  All other parties weren’t interested enough to contribute as long as their name and content was in the release. It was done to best Oracle in the TPC-C benchmark category (there are multiple TPC benchmarks but this one worked for effect).  While the machines pale in comparison to recent server announcements, it was quite an achievement in 2001 terms.  The code name internally at IBM was Firestorm and had the high priority and secrecy of a CIA mission with me having to sign a non disclosure agreement that expired on announcement day just to know about it.

HOW IT WAS RUN

We had weekly internal meetings to cover the progress as what was at stake was having DB2 exceed Oracle in database transactions, basically one-upmanship in a bake-off.  I coordinated it for IBM even though there was a Software Division product at stake.  Since it was run on an IBM server, that established what the importance to the company was and to this day servers are still a critical product to the company (you can’t run software or have services without one).  I told the then PR manager for DB2 that I would run it for them as they didn’t have much involvement in the benchmark testing (their PR group didn’t even know about it during the testing) so it was cleaner this way.  She was bossy and turned out to be a back stabber so my instincts were right. It was already going to be hard enough to work with multiple companies which turned out to be true, so this kept the cooks out of the kitchen. Moving her out of the announcement was vital to being able to get anything done at IBM.

If you recall, there was bad blood between Microsoft and the IBM PC group since the beginning of the PC era (which Netfinity was a part of, until PC’s were sold to Lenovo).  It was apparent from the start to the end of this process.  I had to also keep the GM of Netfinity, John Callies out of the process as he was a useless suit whose ego commanded his actions which weren’t always good for the division.  The GM of the overall PC Group was also hopeless (see the letter below) so I ran the process and kept the ego maniac suit and the helpless suit from ruining things.  They were part of the old IBM who got their jobs through working the system rather than competence.  It is part of executive ego managing, a tool that everyone needs to know when dealing with executives.

The other PR teams jointly listed in the release didn’t have the spirit of the announcement as their focus, rather it felt like we were in the cold war.  This happened even though IBM did all the work (it was built and conducted by IBM technicians, then independently verified by the TPC committee) and handed to the other companies as a freebie.  Back then, Microsoft then had the clout of IBM PR during the System 360 and initial PC days when they were king of the hill and could (and did) throw their weight around.

THE PRESS RELEASE BATTLE

As I recall, there were over 30 revisions of the press release before we got to the final (below).  It seemed as though every word was contested.  This is how it went; I’d send a press release draft around which had the details giving all parties credit and explaining the products and process.   A few days later I’d get back a draft which talked about Microsoft with relatively little mention of the process or an understanding of why the benchmark mattered to database users.  It was a combination of elbowing IBM out-of-the-way to get headlines and a general lack of understanding of what we were announcing.  Intel went along with us as they were confident in our ability to make a successful announcement.

The negotiations went on for about 3-4 weeks prior to the announcement until 2 days before the big day.  We couldn’t agree to the verbiage and finally Wagg-Ed suggested that we just each write our own press release.  While I disagreed with this strategy, we actually agreed to it just to make the deadline and got it approved by the IBM executives. I didn’t want to do it as this inherently would present problems like why are there 2 separate releases if the companies are working together?  However, since I knew the reporters I knew I was going to tell them the background off the record.  I fully understood that a press release is merely a place holder and a conversation starter.  No self respecting reporter would use someone else’s words if they were worth their salt.  Only the companies really care what it says.

THE RESOLUTION

The announcement was to be made on a Monday which we could agree on for effect (good PR tactics in those days, especially with IBM/Microsoft/Intel vs. Oracle in the headlines).  Our final joint call occurred the Friday before the announcement and was attended by PR teams, spokesmen and company executives (note this was the first time I recall an actual Microsoft executive on these calls).  It was on this call that a Senior VP from Microsoft (who reported to Ballmer and Gates) stated through his heavy French accent that having two press releases was a stew-peed idea and which idiot suggested it (I agreed with him).   I pointed out that it was Microsoft’s idea which we accommodated.  I’ve rarely heard such a gasp of silence as all parties realized what was going on.  They quickly agreed to do a joint release and we cobbled together what to me was a very neutral (and useless) document.  I silently was grateful that he asked this question that I’d pondered the whole time I dealt with this crew.

I had known the whole time that this was a press release wording struggle and the real work was going to be done in the one on one’s with reporters after the press release hit the wires.  I also was informed that Microsoft was only going to speak with a couple of magazines they viewed as their buddies.   I agreed and kept quiet as I knew that this left the door open for us to lead the announcement.  One has to have one’s priorities in focus and getting proper coverage was mine.  I knew the reporters they wanted to talk to and they wrote my story and told me they didn’t like how pushy the W-E PR team was.  See the part about relationships.

It is important to note that a press release is merely a document to get an interview except when a wire service will run it early hours to beat a deadline.  It is the relationship that the PR person has with the reporters that is the key to getting results.  It didn’t hurt that so many big names were seemingly working together on this and that it had the element of controversy (IBM teams with Microsoft and Intel to beat Oracle) which is a headline grabber.  It was then that I knew that things would work out despite our differences.

For strategic purposes, I saved the IBM draft version of the release and used it for my press work as it described more accurately what we were doing, including a better presentation of how Microsoft and Intel contributed.  Since Microsoft was only interested in the press release and thought they would get minimal coverage, I didn’t bother telling them and they didn’t care past the document.

THE RESULTS

It turned out that the IBM team did the bulk of the publicity work (we had the most invested so no surprise).  There was only a few joint calls with Microsoft and Intel where the executives touted the significance of this benchmark and during which everyone worked together like professionals.

After hammering the phones and working with reporters for days, we received thousands of articles which was a shock to the other PR teams, especially Wag-Ed.  While they tried to claim coverage, it was heavily nuanced to the IBM side of the story as we did the actual work both in the test and in the PR effort so no one believed Microsoft’s Wagg-Ed team.

I worked with most of the reporters who covered it to give them the real story of the benchmark, and just left the press release controversy alone.  I even fed them the line that we “Blew the doors of the TPC benchmark” which got printed and made it to the halls of Armonk.

THE AFTERMATH

While I was glad it was over, I learned a great deal about working with others such as keeping the big picture in focus.  It was one of the years largest announcements for our group and garnered massive coverage.  I received my one and only personal email from Lou Gerstner praising the results.  He stated that he had no interest in bake-off’s, but that this one was significant given what we had accomplished.  This meant a lot as I thought Lou was one of the two best executives I had worked with at IBM, and I had a great deal of respect for his saving and running IBM as a company.

I also received a personal note from the head of our division.  The reality was that the IBM PC group had managed to fall to about sixth in the industry by then behind the likes of Dell, Compaq, HP, Acer and E-Machines, and this was one of the more competent things the group did while I was there.

EPILOGUE

If you go to the link at the top of the page, you find that the Analyst joint announcement I did with Oracle was a far better experience, go figure.  I received a personal note from the GM however.  Note that he got my name wrong which caused me to chuckle and save it for the memories.  Execs like Callies and Thomas cost IBM market share and progress.  It was surprising that the doors opened some days in the PC division with people like that running the place.  It is an indication of why they were 6th behind companies that didn’t exist only a couple of years later.  The division fell off the map at IBM and was sold to Lenovo who took it back to the top of the industry.

Overall, it was tenacity over talent, execution over ego but it is how the game is won.

 

Next Article Table of Contents Previous Article

IBM, INTEL, MS CLAIM WORLD’S FASTEST SERVER CLUSTER

IBM, Intel and Microsoft announced the world’s fastest server cluster for commercial use, recording performance levels that triple the performance of Oracle running on a Sun Microsystems cluster, at one-third the price.

Using the performance measurement technique agreed to by all computer makers (TPC-C), this alliance of leaders in industry standard computing achieved record-breaking results in server and price performance.

“This benchmark constitutes a solution that will entirely bypass the normal glitches and costs of second implementations that accompany exponential transaction growth rates,” said Marshall Freiman, CTO, Web Emporium LLC, an IBM customer. “It also offers scalability for e-businesses affected heavily by the transaction spikes associated with the holiday seasons. This is the type of cooperation between industry leaders that we should expect. With IBM, Intel and Microsoft making a move like this, others are bound to follow.”

“Scalability concerns for e-businesses are a worry of the past,” said Perry Cain, vice president, Neoteric Solutions, also an IBM customer. “With this benchmark, we receive the cooperative efforts of IBM, Intel and Microsoft yielding a standardized and tested solution with double the transaction capabilities of anything else before. These technologies are no longer dreams of engineers.”

IBM, Intel and Microsoft joined forces on this groundbreaking effort to prove that a combination of Netfinity Servers with Pentium III Xeon processors running at 700 MHz (megahertz) with 2 MB (megabyte) L2 cache, IBM DB2 Universal Database and Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server operating system provides a highly scalable environment. This technology combination is ideally suited for data-intensive applications like business-to-business (B2B), e-commerce and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).

“With this record-breaking event, IBM has once again demonstrated the power of DB2, and has raised the bar for industry-standard servers with Netfinity,” said Ralph Martino, vice president, strategy and marketing, IBM Personal Systems Group. “IBM’s strong, productive relationship with Microsoft and Intel, and our collective ability to achieve extraordinary results as we did with this benchmark, is changing the way the world views industry-standard computing.”

“Achieving strong industry-standard benchmark results is one of the leading ways to show the industry and our customers that Windows 2000 is a highly scalable operating system for mission critical enterprise deployments,” said Jim Ewel, marketing vice president for IT infrastructure and hosting at Microsoft. “Beyond the numbers, this benchmark effort illustrates our commitment to working with IBM and Intel to deliver to customers the largest and most reliable enterprise-class solutions.”

“This breakthrough performance on Intel-based servers and achieved by IBM’s Netfinity 8500R server showcases the incredible scalability of our large cache Pentium III Xeon processors,” said Raghu Murthi, director of marketing for Intel’s Enterprise Platform Group. “Intel-based servers are designed for large enterprise class implementations and we worked closely with IBM and Microsoft to deliver outstanding performance and solutions tailored to meet the rapidly growing e-Business economy.”

Benchmark Configuration Details

The configuration included an unprecedented 116 terabytes of physical disk space configured for high availability using RAID 1 and RAID 5 arrays.

The Netfinity 8500R servers, containing Netfinity X-Architecture features adopted from IBM S/390 and RS/6000 servers, contributed to this benchmark’s success. Specific features that convinced the benchmark team the servers were up to the test include the 8500R’s expansive memory, the number of processors supported, the number of PCI slots available for add-on components and the amount of LAN I/O for the transfer of data in and out of the system. In addition, the setup utilizes Giganet cLAN interconnects for fast server-to-server communications.

Key components of the cluster included:

  • 32 IBM Netfinity 8500R servers running Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server and IBM DB2 Universal Database Enterprise-Extended Edition V7.1
  • Four 700MHz/2MB L2 cache Intel Pentium III Xeon processors per server
  • 4GB ECC SDRAM memory per server
  • Eight IBM Netfinity ServeRAID-3HB Ultra2 SCSI Adapters per server
  • 96 IBM Netfinity 5000 servers were used as TPC-C clients for the Webserving, Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server on each client.
  • Two 9.1 GB (gigabyte) 10K Ultra 160 SCSI drives and 218 18.2GB 10K Wide Ultra SCSI drives per server
  • One EtherJet 10/100 PCI Management Adapter per server
  • 2 Giganet cLAN 5300 switches

DB2 Universal Database

This announcement highlights IBM’s leadership in the database market. DB2 demonstrated record-breaking results in transactions and in the ability to manage the world’s largest database of more than 116 TB of online storage – this is equivalent to a stack of paper 3,480 miles high.

A proven foundation for B2B applications, DB2 Universal Database Version 7 integrates breakthrough technologies that enable customers to slash development in many cases nearly in half and perform high-speed text searches as much as ten times faster than traditional relational database search engines.

DB2’s ability to scale to 1000 nodes, using a single database spread across the cluster offered significant advantages in scaling and management over other data management solutions that follow a federated architecture (i.e., one database instance per machine, each requiring individual management.)

Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server

Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server was configured using a scale out approach to run on each member of the cluster of the Netfinity servers. Scale out architecture ensures that customers creating enterprise solutions will be able to achieve the highest possible levels of scalability and reliability with unmatched price and performance; this benchmark is further evidence of the performance, scalability and economic advantages of the results that can be achieved using Windows 2000 Advanced Server.

COM+ is a complete, mature set of component services for quickly building scalable, reliable applications that is delivered in the Windows 2000 Server family of operating systems. COM+, the most popular component model in the world, includes critical scalability and reliability features necessary for building large-scale applications by integrating the features of the Microsoft Transaction Service (MTS) deep into the COM component model. This integration makes it easier for developers to create and use scalable software components in any language, using any tool.

Windows 2000 Advanced Server is a solution that includes additional functionality to enhance the availability and scalability of e-commerce and line-of-business applications. The Windows 2000 operating system is the ideal platform for the next generation of business computing; helping organizations Internet-enable their businesses with a reliable, manageable infrastructure that is optimized for existing and emerging hardware.

Intel Pentium III Xeonprocessor at 700 MHz with 1MB/2MB of L2 Cache

The new large cache 700MHz version of the Pentium III Xeon processor has a record 140 million transistors. The processor is based on Intel’s advanced 0.18-micron process technology, and offers 1MB and 2MB of Advanced Transfer Cache memory with Advanced System Buffering, which boosts performance by placing a full-speed, level-two cache memory directly on the processor die and increasing the width of the data pathway to the processor.

The processor also offers a 100 MHz system bus and on-cartridge voltage management for increased system reliability. The new processors also are built on the same form factor, enabling server manufacturers to use them with existing server platform components, accelerating time to market.

For more information about: — IBM Netfinity servers and DB2 Universal Database, visit www.ibm.com — Intel, visit www.intel.com — Microsoft, visit www.microsoft.com.

The Transaction Processing Performance Council is a non-profit corporation founded to define transaction processing and database benchmarks and to disseminate objective, verifiable TPC performance data to the industry.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft is a worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

Sun’s Enterprise 6500 cluster achieved 135,461 transactions at a price performance of $97.10 tpmC. IBM, Intel, Microsoft cluster achieved an audited record attested to by TPC-C (Transaction Processing Performance Council, type C benchmark) of 440,879.95 transactions per minute at a price performance of $32.28 per tpmC.

Data is current as of July 3, 2000 and is subject to change without notice. For the latest benchmark information, visit www.tpc.org.

Solution specification, pricing and availability information is subject to change without notice.

Contact John Simonds, IBM, 919-254-9732, jsimonds@us.ibm.com or Deborah Young, Waggener Edstrom for Microsoft, 425-637-9097 deborahy@wagged.com.

How An Average Joe Can Be A Millionaire By Doing Simple Principles

Notice that I didn’t use the words becoming rich.  Having a full life, belief in God, friends, family or a passion for doing something is rich.  Becoming a millionaire is about money.

Next, this subject has been addressed by the more knowledgeable than I, but I’m going to talk to the average Joe like me, which is the likely reader here.

Finally, I don’t claim to know it all, nor do I claim to be in any financial category.  I do observe trends and try to learn from them.  Hopefully I’m eating my own dogfood.

HOW IT IS DONE

It is simple math.  You either make money or spend less, or a combination of the two.  I realize that we have a burdensome government, a tough economy and a next to impossible IRS tax code.  In fact the real unemployment number is not what you read in the main stream media, but the U6 rate which as of this writing is 14.5%.

For the purposes of becoming a millionaire, we will assume employment.  That means get a job instead of living on entitlements, because that will disqualify you from this discussion.

Sure it is easy to have received Facebook stock or have invented Facebook, but the average millionaire doesn’t have that at their discretion.

USE YOUR MONEY TO MAKE MONEY

This means compounding what you have in ways other than just putting it in the bank.  I had a roommate who was a stockbroker and he told me many stories of secretaries making minimum wage who came to him at retirement with 7 figure 401K accounts.  They saved in a way that maximized the return on their investment.  This usually involves a company match and some diversification.  It also assumes that you take risk when you are younger and seek advice or study investing voraciously as it is a mystery to most….despite the fact that everyone thinks they know about it.

Part of your diversification also means not putting everything in the stock market.  As an example, real estate has just undergone a busted bubble (thanks to the Community Reinvestment Act which never should have been enacted), but it means there are properties to be had for a song right now and are ripe for the picking.  They will grow and become more valuable.  My advice is no different from what you’d expect.  Start out small and work your way up.  That process allows you to learn about what value really is, and compound your earnings into larger investments that have bigger payoffs.

There are many other ways, but the concept is the same, save and invest wisely by starting small and growing your profits and portfolio.  You must also study and read or you could throw your money down the drain if you think you know everything.  It also involves patience.  If you recall the story from my roommate, it was saving and investing over a lifetime

HOW TO LEARN

There are articles ad-infinitum to read about the aforementioned.  The other way is to talk to people who have done this.  I suggest that you start with Dave Ramsey or Crown Financial Ministries if you are starting out (or are in trouble, or anywhere in between).  It is a tried and true method of handling you money.

Who you talk to also matters.  There are people who talk in $10’s of thousands, $100’s of thousands, millions or Zuckerberg’s and Gates’.  I suggest you seek out those who are in the highest category possible as you need to think big in making and investing.  I don’t have coffee with Warren Buffet, but his advice is readily available.

Find those who are successful and ask them how they did it.  I’m betting that you’ll find there is no secret code or magic key, they just worked at it and kept their long-term goals of financial independence in mind, and kept check over their human nature.

SAVE YOUR MONEY

The other side of the equation is savings.  In other words you need to spend less and when you do, spend wisely.  Of the people I worked with at my last job, many were high salaried executives who were in debt because they had a keeping up with (or passing) the Jones mentality.  This was especially true of those in the New York area for some reason (but demographics shouldn’t really matter).  They had big houses with unfurnished rooms because they were house poor.  Living within your means is important which is my next segue.

NEED VS. WANT

Including the basics of food, clothing and shelter, one has to look at the way one buys things.  Most buy what they want rather than what they need.  If you adopt the buy it tomorrow instead of now mentality, you likely will realize that you don’t really want it as badly as you think.

There is the adequacy (not delusions of adequacy ;-)) vs. luxury mentality also.  A Casio, Timex or Seiko watch tell as good of time as does a Rolex, so unless you have money to burn, why are you buying the Rolex?  This applies to cars, clothes or virtually any tangible item.  Ask yourself, self do I need this/do I need to have the very best/am I showing off or would what I can really afford what I have?  I have relatives who have to have the very best, but have wasted as much money as I’ve earned on things to show off.

My son said that some people need to wear their paycheck.  You can see them coming down the road in cars that are raised with shiny rims and a 24 thousand watt stereo.  Others have to order the best wine, food and show off at restaurants (my brother-in-law).

Back to the person who knows this better than most, here is a story about expensive car drivers:

But what if Ranger Rich is like many people who define rich in terms of income instead of net worth? Certainly many drivers feel the need to display their socioeconomic achievements by acquiring prestige makes of motor vehicles.  They may think that those who are successful in generating high incomes drive luxury brands.  And correspondingly drivers of more common makes have dull normal income credentials.  But the hard data suggest that the level of prestige of a car and the income of its driver are not anywhere near being perfect correlates. In fact, many drivers of luxury makes have neither the levels of income nor net worth which would qualify them as high economic achievers.

Along these lines, Joann Muller, writing for Forbes.com, poses “what the rich people really drive.” She defines rich people in terms of income, not net worth.

. . . the richest people were the most likely to buy luxury brands [39% for people with household income above $250,000 vs. 8% for those people who earn less than $100,000 a year].

. . .61% of people who earn $250,000 or more aren’t buying luxury brands at all.

Her analysis indicates that those households with high incomes are more likely to drive luxury cars.  But just because someone is driving a luxury brand it does not necessarily mean that the driver has a high income or a high net worth, for that matter.

Further, here is a story about how the average millionaire deals with car buying.

You have to spend on things that will appreciate, not sparkle.  Again, my relatives are the worst offenders who have overspent on toys, baubles, cars and anything else they can waste their money on.  It baffles me.  When they bought real estate, they over paid, over leveraged and bought for show instead of ROI.

DEBT AND LEVERAGE

This gets most people in trouble.  If you can’t pay off your credit card each month, you effectively are paying more for what you bought (because of the interest).  Compounding works for debt in the same way as it does for savings.  It is the accumulation that is the issue.  I’m not just picking on credit cards, anything can be substituted here.  If you saved first, you could buy it for less and your want will likely decrease.

For housing, it used to be that you had to put at least 10% down, but due to the above mentioned CRA (can you tell I loathe that legislation?) one could buy a house they couldn’t afford because they were told they qualified for it…. with no money down.  You were PLAYED for a fool on this.  Living below your means is the best policy.

If you care to splurge on something, it’s OK….just don’t borrow.

The same can be said for leverage.  I’ll stay on housing here.  Banks will always want you to buy more as the more you borrow, the richer they get.  Typically one is paying at least 3 times the amount for a big-ticket item buy leveraging which brings me to my next segue.

PAY OFF YOUR HOUSE

The wisest know that man can not serve two masters.  When you have a huge mortgage hanging over your head, it is your boss/master/slave driver/keep you up at night worry/cause of divorce or many other calamities.  The bank won’t be calling on you to take your home away nor will you have to file bankruptcy (again, my relatives).

Besides owning a house within or below your means, paying it off early is the best way to get out of debt and improve your cash flow.  Take out a mortgage less than 30 years, pay more than the minimum and do everything you can to pay it off early.

Forget the argument that it is a tax deduction.  Congress is aiming at trying to take that away as I type.  Also, any money you get back on taxes is just an interest free loan to the government at your expense.

By doing this, for most people it will likely be one of the best long-term financial decisions they can make.

CONTROL YOUR DESTINY

Note: I am quoting Dr. Thomas Stanley here.  It is better told than I could say it, but it clearly is the moral to the story and what I would have said:

In The Millionaire Next Door I quoted the words of a corporate sales professional, a millionaire whom I interviewed.  He like other self made millionaires said that he had a “go to hell fund. . . just in case my employer suggests (insists) that I leave Austin for corporate headquarters in Rottenchester.”  He never had to leave Austin and he added, “PTL.”  In other words, [the millionaires next door] have accumulated enough wealth to live without working for ten or more years.

I was reminded of these words of wisdom after reviewing an email from Ms. F who currently resides in a lovely community in the Southern United States:

I went to my local library this morning, hoping to borrow The Millionaire Next Door. However, the only available book was in Spanish, so I borrowed “Millionaire Women Next Door” instead. By the time I completed the second paragraph on page 8, I had collapsed in a fit of “craughter” – simultaneously crying and laughing at my sad truth. My newest work assignment is no less than 8,200 miles, 18 hours of flying time and 12 time zones away from everyone who means the most to me in this world. Simply put, the situation stinks, but I had convinced myself that it was necessary to pay the bills. Suffice it to say that I have renewed by concerted efforts to become a cultivator of wealth, and I plan to share my transformation with you soon. Thank you for creating this compilation of evidence-based encouragement!

What precipitated Ms. F “crying and laughing?”  Consider the words from Millionaire Women Next Door:

Aren’t you growing tired of being among the ranks of hunter-gatherers?  Do you enjoy your hyper consumption lifestyle so much that you must fly out of town every week to earn a paycheck to pay your bills?  . . . begin making the transformation to a cultivator of wealth.   Think about that the next time you are ten thousand miles from home, surrounded by strangers, and flying in dreadful weather.   It is up to you.  Do you want to spend your life as a hunter and gatherer of income, earning a million mileage points?  . . . those financially indpendent folks. . . .  They make their own decisions about their next destination.  Right now, you and your career are essentially corporate property.  Neither one of you has the luxury of self-determination.

I also stated that:

The [millionaire business] women profiled herein will not tolerate such an existence.  They are free.  They are cultivators of wealth and satisfied with life.  They are in control of their own destiny.

INCOME AS A PERCENTAGE OF WEALTH

More from Frank Stanley, their income is only 8.2% of their wealth:

People who believe that they will never become wealthy generally fulfill this hypothesis.  I explained to Brit, who was once a member of the ultimate income statement affluent club, that he has an excellent chance of becoming a millionaire next door type and that the typical millionaire next door is 57 years old.  The Bible states that those with faith and hope can achieve a great deal.  Even those with faith the size of a grain of mustard seed will likely reach their intended goals.

The will and discipline that this couple demonstrated in paying off its considerable debt is telling.  The same determination can be used in setting aside at least 15% of their income for savings and investing.

What should you anticipate as a typical member of the millionaire next door fraternity?  One, given the calculation via the Wealth Equation, actual net worth exceeds its expected value by a factor of 2 or more.  Two, the market value of the home is less than 20% of net worth.  Three, debt totals the equivalent of less than 5% of net worth.  Four, annual income tax is the equivalent of about 2% of net worth.  Five, total annual realized income is approximately 8.2% of net worth [median], or the equivalent of $8.20 of income for about every $100 of wealth.

This $8.20 figure from my own research is fairly congruent with the findings of other researchers.  For example, three scholars employed by the Treasury Department, Johnson, Raub and Newcomb, compared the wealth characteristics of millionaires via 36,352 federal estate returns who passed away in 2007 with the incomes of these decedents when they were living.  Those millionaires who were married and under the age of 70 [like the large majority of the millionaire next door types that I have surveyed] realized the equivalent of $8.45 for every $100 of their net worth.  This figure is within approximately 3% of the dollar figure ($8.20) that was determined from my surveys.

IN CONCLUSION

There is no conclusion, just work and keep your long term goal in mind.  I may talk later about other basic ideas that contribute to this like paying cash instead of credit (briefly mentioned here), couponing, buying the store brand instead of the premium name brand and other tricks.  Nevertheless, adhering to the above puts you well on your way to being the average Joe millionaire.

My relatives laughed at me all my life for watching what I spent, how I lived and called me a skinflint.  I knew that I had a long term plan for financial security.  Today, at retirement age, they work just to keep up.  Who’s laughing now?

Life Isn’t Fair, So What is New? Why Are We Trying To Kill The American Dream?

After reading an article by one of the top economists we should listen to, it occurred to me that life isn’t fair, but that alone is fair.

An excerpt from the article starts us off:

Some years ago, for example, there was a big outcry that various mental tests used for college admissions or for employment were biased and “unfair” to many individuals or groups. Fortunately there was one voice of sanity– David Riesman, I believe– who said: “The tests are not unfair. LIFE is unfair and the tests measure the results.”

If by “fair” you mean everyone having the same odds for achieving success, then life has never been anywhere close to being fair, anywhere or at any time. If you stop and think about it (however old-fashioned that may seem), it is hard even to conceive of how life could possibly be fair in that sense.

Even within the same family, among children born to the same parents and raised under the same roof, the first-borns on average have higher IQs than their brothers and sisters, and usually achieve more in life.

Unfairness is often blamed on somebody, even if only on “society.” But whose fault is it if you were not the first born? Since some groups have more children than others, a higher percentage of the next generation will be first-borns in groups that have smaller families, so such groups have an advantage over other groups.

TRYING TO EQUALIZE THE RESULTS HAS LESS CHANCE OF SUCCESS THAN CREATING AN ENVIRONMENT TO SUCCEED

I propose that Life isn’t fair, now get over it and try harder.   The American dream is to work hard, be successful and get ahead.  We shouldn’t kill that dream which is what is being proposed for those making over $250,000.  Further, it was said that “cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.  it will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the swat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Some are richer, some are born into more prosperity than others, some are smarter, some have more ambition….the list goes on forever.

Here are two good examples of those that exemplify that some have it easier than others, just for being born into the right family.

To try and make it otherwise is usually a result of envy or jealousy of others success.  There is no way to legislate tenacity to succeed, one’s ability vs. others, familial or environmental factors and many other causes.  Some have more and do better than others, GET OVER IT.

We live in a country where people have come to because of the American Dream defined as:

The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, an upward social mobility achieved through hard work. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.[1] The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the United States Declaration of Independence which proclaims that “all men are created equal” and that they are “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights” including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”[2]

Any effort to equalize things by wealth redistribution is socialistic and doomed to failure.  I beg for someone to show me an example of where communism or socialism has succeeded.  Ask Greece, the USSR, most European countries….

Why?

Margaret Thatcher once said that ‘The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money’?
Frank Zappa said “Communism doesn’t work because people like to own stuff.”

TO TRY AND MAKE IT EQUAL ALWAYS FAILS

There has been some talk during regarding those who make over a certain amount should give more, also called redistribution.  This is directly from the mouth of a famous person in history:

From each according to his ability, to each according to his need (or needs) is a slogan popularized by Karl Marx in his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program.

Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.
Thomas Sowell

Politicians love to say things like, “We’re just asking everyone to pay their fair share.” But government is not about asking. It is about telling. The difference is fundamental. It is the difference between making love and being raped, between working for a living and being a slave. The Internal Revenue service is not asking anybody to do anything. It confiscates your assets and puts you behind bars if you don’t pay.
Instituting wealth re-distribution, taxing folks who make over $250,000 and then waxing poetically that it is “fair” is no more than an attempt to kill the American Dream.  I have a belief however that folks will find a way around it, the disadvantaged will still want to come here for success and
Governments aren’t invested with moral qualities; only people are. This basic understanding of the world is one of the distinctions between the progressives/socialists and conservatives.

A free market will create big differences in wealth. That wealth disparity is simply a byproduct of freedom — vastly diverse individuals competing to serve consumers will arrive at vastly diverse outcomes.

That disparity is not unfair — if it results from free exchange.

The free market (which, sadly, America doesn’t have) is fair. It also produces better outcomes. Even “losers” do pretty well.

A more astute observer than Moore might show how unfair government intervention is. Licenses, taxes, regulations and corporate subsidies make it harder for the average worker to start his own business, to go from being a “little guy” to being an independent owner of means of production. Most new businesses fail, but running your own business is the best route to prosperity and — surveys suggest — happiness, too.

So the conclusion is that Life isn’t fair and there will be some Warren Buffetts, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerbergs that get richer and they should.   If the Government would stay out of the free market, more would prosper.  A rising tide floats all boats
Nikki Newman and Mark Ehrnstein have plenty in common. They both work at Whole Foods’ headquarters, and they share a passion for the Earth-friendly, healthy and egalitarian values the company espouses.Ask them why they work at Whole Foods, and you get a lot of the same answers.Ask them about their paychecks, though, and you get two different stories.

Newman, the receptionist at the company’s corporate offices, has worked for Whole Foods for six years and now makes about $17 an hour. She lives comfortably in a rented duplex, but she admitted money can get tight on occasion – like the time her dog needed a surprise $750 worth of dental care.

Ehrnstein, on the other hand, is Whole Foods’ global vice president for team member services, a position that pays him a six-figure annual salary. He and his wife, Renee, have worked more than 30 years combined at Whole Foods. They own a 3,151-square-foot home, according to Travis County Central Appraisal District records.

“I feel very grateful to be in the role I’m in, but most of all I feel grateful to work for a company that aligns with my values,” Ehrnstein said. “I feel connections with our team members in that sense. But certainly, the compensation affords different opportunities.”

This is not the stereotypical story of the gap between rich and poor. Few would criticize the wage disparity between Newman and Ehrnstein given their tenures and responsibilities at the company. Plus, the gap from top to bottom is much narrower at Whole Foods than other large grocers because it pays higher entry-level wages and caps executive pay at 19 times the salary of its lowest-paid employee.

To which I say so what.  The higher up in the company they are or the more responsibility one has, the more they should earn.  Their actions will bear the legal responsibility and shape the course and success of the company. 

I don’t give a rats rump that someone has the chance to make more than me.  We should have the opportunity to make the most money we can possibly make without the government restricting that chance.  That is why we compete, innovate, work and strive for success.  I say screw the idea of socialism because that is what makes America great.  We compete to be the best and try to out do the other guy.  It’s how we (the US) beat the Soviet’s to the Moon, *(humans) invented cars, trains, planes, computers, telephones, cellphones and is also the reason there is Apple, Facebook, Ford, steel, iPads and every other success that has been invented.  We have the cure for polio, vaccines and advancements in medicine that socialized societies would never have had the incentive to create.

The planet Neptune has never been seen by anyone looking at the night sky through just their own eyes. So distant is it from the sun that the light it reflects toward the Earth is so faint that the planet is effectively invisible in the darkness of night. And yet, the outermost large planet of our solar system was discovered by astronomers who knew exactly where to look….

Following William Herschel‘s discovery of Uranus in 1781, the world’s astronomers went to work to observe and describe the seventh planet of the solar system, taking detailed measurements of its trajectory in space.Illustration of the Pull of a More Distant Planet Forty years later, French astronomer Alexis Bouvard published detailed tables describing Uranus’ orbit about the sun. More than that however, his tables incorporated the lessons learned about planetary orbits from Johannes Kepler and Sir Isaac Newton to chart the path Uranus would follow into the future.

But then, something strange happened. Significant discrepancies between Bouvard’s projected path for Uranus and its actual orbit began to be observed – irregularities that were not observed in the tables he had created to describe the orbital paths of the planets Jupiter and Saturn using the same methods. Soon, observations and detailed measurements confirmed that Uranus was moving along a path that was not described by Bouvard’s careful calculations.

These irregularities led Bouvard to hypothesize that an as yet unseen eighth planet in the solar system might be responsible for what he and other astronomers were observing.

Voyager 2 Image of Neptune, emphasizing the 'Great Dark Spot' Over twenty years later, astronomer Urbain Le Verrier was working on the problem, taking a unique approach to resolving it.

What made Le Verrier’s work unique is that he applied the math developed by Sir Isaac Newton to describe the gravitational attraction between two bodies to solve the problem. Here, he used Newton’s theory to anticipate where an as yet unknown, but more distant planet also orbiting the sun would have to be to create the effects observed upon the position of the planet Uranus in its orbit.

Le Verrier completed his calculations regarding the position of the hypothetical eighth planet on 1 June 1846. A little over three months later, on 23 September 1846, the planet Neptune was observed for the first time at almost exactly the position in space where Le Verrier predicted it would be, confirming Newton’s gravitational theory in the process.

We’re going to do something similar today to explain why household income inequality in the United States has increased over time, even though there has been no change in individual income inequality.

From Darkness to Discovery

Our first chart below is based on data taken from the U.S. Census’ data [Excel spreadsheet] on the inflation-adjusted median and mean income for all Americans from 1947 through 2010, which we’ve presented in terms of constant 2010 U.S. dollars. For reference, we’ve also indicated the NBER’s official periods of recession in the U.S. during this period with the shaded red vertical bands on the chart:

U.S. Individuals Real Median Income with Recessions from 1947 through 2010

Next, we took the U.S. Census’ breakdown of inflation-adjusted median income for both men and women for each of these years [Excel spreadsheet] and used the math that applies to log-normal distributions to construct the combined median income that applies to individuals. Our results are shown in the chart below, along with the actual median incomes reported by the U.S. Census so we can compare our calculated results with them:

U.S. Individuals Real Median Income by Sex with Recessions from 1947 through 2010

As you can see, our calculated results in creating a weighted median from the subsets of median income data for men and women are very close to the actual real median income numbers for all individuals. Here, because per capita income has been demonstrated to follow a log-normal distribution, we are able to use this math to either combine or extract subsets of data that have never been officially presented.

As an aside, we achieved the results above by treating the reported median income data the way we might calculate a weighted average. The beauty of the log-normal distribution math is that we can do this with medians, which we ordinarily could not do otherwise.

In the chart above, you can see the effect of the changing composition of the U.S. workforce, as the relative share of women earning incomes in the United States has increased since 1947. In 1947, the median income for individuals is much closer to the median income for men than it is for women. By 2010 however, we see that the median income for individuals is about halfway in between the median incomes for men and for women, reflecting that nearly equal share that both sexes now have among all individual income earners in the U.S.

Extracting The Unseen

The U.S. Census Bureau provides the median income data for individuals (or persons), men and women. It also reports median income data for both male and female wage or salary earners [Excel spreadsheet], whom we’ll simply describe as Working Men and Working Women.

Using the math we demonstrated above with this data, we can extract the median incomes for two categories of people for whom the U.S. Census has never reported median incomes: men and women with incomes who do not earn wages or salaries, or as we’ll describe them from now on, Non-Working Men and Non-Working Women! Today, we’re putting what we found for all U.S. individual income earners together for the first time:

U.S. Individuals Real Median Income by Sex and Working Status with Recessions from 1947 through 2010

Constructing Households

Now, let’s combine our median income earners into two-person households, pairing working men and women, working men and non-working women, non-working men and working women and finally non-working men and non-working women. We’ve shown our results below, along with the U.S. Census’ official median income for U.S. households:

U.S. Couples Median Real Income with Recessions, 1947-2010

Well, look at that! The households formed by our single-wage and salary income earning couples from 1947 through 2010 closely parallels the actual real median income for U.S. households with a working man and non-working woman over that time (except for the years 1974 through 1977, where there seems to be an anomaly in the Census’ data for working men – and here, the actual median splits the difference!) Also keeping in mind that the actual median household income might include the income contributions of additional people (say individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 who might be working part time at minimum wage jobs while also attending school and living at home with their parents), which likely accounts for the difference between the two, we’ve pretty much just demonstrated that we can successfully model basic U.S. households using just the data that applies for U.S. individuals.

But wait! What about single person households? Our next chart throws them into the mix as well!

U.S. Households Median Real Income with Recessions, 1947-2010

Using the figures for 2010, we approximated the income percentiles for each of our single and two-person median income earning households. The table below reveals our results (our model should put each approximated percentile within 0.2 of the actual percentile!):

Household Type 2010 Median Income Approximate Income Percentile
Working Men and Working Women $64,075 61.4
Working Men and Non-Working Women $50,026 50.7
Working Women and Non-Working Men $49,344 50.1
Non-Working Men and Women $35,295 36.7
Working Men Only $37,102 38.6
Working Women Only $26,973 27.7
Non-Working Men Only $22,371 22.4
Non-Working Women Only $12,924 11.5

It occurs to us that all we would need to increase the income inequality among households in the United States is to increase the nation’s percentage of single person households among all households. That would work by increasing the number of households at the lower end of the income spectrum, even though it would have absolutely no effect upon the measured income inequality for individuals. The U.S. Census Bureau shows the change in the number of single person households since 1960:

U.S. Census Bureau: Percent of Single Person Households, 1960-2011

Here’s the U.S. Census Bureau’s Gini index measure of the amount of income equality among U.S. households for the years from 1947 through 2010:

Phil Wendt's Studio: Figure 1. Gini Index of Income Dispersion, 1947-2010

And here is the Gini index measure of the amount of income equality among U.S. individuals for the years from 1947 through 2005 (the data since 2005 is presented here – it’s similar to all that recorded since 1960 in the chart below):

The relevant data in the chart above is the Gini measure indicated with the hollow circles, which is based on the “fine”, or more detailed, income bins reported by the U.S. Census in its annual Current Population Survey. The other data in the chart, indicated by solid diamonds, represents income distribution data reported by the U.S. Census in larger, or more “coarse” income bins, which are less detailed and are therefore a much less accurate measure of the nation’s level of income inequality in any given year.

Intersections and Connections

Looking at where all the data in these three charts intersect and overlap, What we find is that since 1960, the level of income inequality for U.S. individuals as measured by the “fine” Gini index is nearly constant, but has increased significantly for U.S. households. What has changed over that time is the composition of U.S. households, with a steady increase in the percentage of single person households.

Without a corresponding increase in the measured income inequality for U.S. individuals, the increase in the measured income inequality for U.S. households has been almost entirely driven by the increase in the number of single person households over time.

So income inequality among U.S. households isn’t increasing because the rich are getting richer. That means that policies intended to right this situation by going after the rich in the name of “fairness” are guaranteed to fail, because the real cause of the increase in income inequality among U.S. households over time is something that cannot be fixed by such actions.

If only the people pushing such policies could see that….

RIM – RIP

Update: Morgan Stanley on 6/25/12 confirms my premise that RIM is Essentially Broken: 

Update: Yahoo shuns Blackberry from Fun Smartphones for all employees:

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In a bold move reportedly instigated by new CEO Marissa Mayer, aging web giant Yahoo plans to outfit every one of its US employees with a new iOS, Android, or Windows Phone 8 device. According to an internal memo published by Business Insider on Saturday, the company is offering workers a choice between Apple’s iPhone 5, the Samsung Galaxy S III, the HTC One X, the HTC Evo 4G LTE, and Nokia’s Lumia 920, with all bills taken care of. Yahoo is also discontinuing IT support for BlackBerry devices, seeking to move away from RIM’s enterprise-focused platform.

“We believe the only way RIM remains a viable entity is at a fraction of its current size, a transformation that erases much of its earnings power,” the analysts wrote. “The next 9 months likely see rapidly deteriorating fundamentals on the one hand offset by stories of potential strategic options on the other.”

Indeed, there was more unconfirmed deal speculation just this weekend, as The Sunday Times reported the BlackBerry maker was considering selling its handset-making unit or a stake in the company.

What I don’t get is why the Government just made it the standard handset.  Are they that out of touch?

Update: RIM at a new low, sort of proving the following is on track. Executives are now bailing. 

Now they are laying off people.  I’ll be quoting them along with Palm, OS/2, Token Ring and other technologies that used to be.

Original story starts here.

Rarely do I write about the technology that I replaced because I’m usually so excited about the replacement.  In this case I’ll make an exception.  I already wrote about my new phone, but as much as I wanted the new phone, getting rid of my blackberry was more important.  Rob Enderle reminded me of this in his tech trends blog.

At a Lotusphere show not too long ago, we did an announcement with RIM and Notes (it was an announcement of a product we were going to release at a later date).  Not only was I underwhelmed by the product, the hardware and software technology from RIM was as cool as mud huts compared to new construction.  On top of this, when I offered to help the RIM executives for gratis on very obvious marketing oversights, they had an attitude that belied the fact that they already had iPhone daggers fatally in their hearts and didn’t even know it. It now looks like it’s going to cost them their jobs.   I was treated as if I was dust (I’m being nice to them) by their executives.  Notes was almost impossible to use on a blackberry at first.  It was a D- at best.

Update: Now I know he should have listened to me instead of being so arrogant.  I could have helped them….and I’m not trying to be conceited, but I knew what was going on much more than the leader of RIM.

I knew then that not only was RIM in trouble as a company, I disliked the blackberry as a piece of technology almost more than any I’ve had in 30 years (I’ve had more than most in the last 30 years).  I saw the crackberry addiction it caused in some folks which I didn’t like.  I also saw that if you had a blackberry (before iPhone days), you just signed up for a 24/7 availability.

The first one I got for free, and promptly got rid of in a month as it was more trouble than it was worth.  The last one I’ll ever have is because my then company had me get one when I wanted a real phone/data device instead.

My problem is solved.  Too bad about RIM…their once leadership position is now only a memory with recent market share decline.

It looks like I’m not the only one who believes they are in trouble.  Their Board is not helping out either.

Sales figures show the same decline.  It was not even nice knowing you.

So throw the Blackberry on the technology rubbish pile along with the Palm, OS/2, Token Ring, Newton and a host of others.  There, now they are on the way to being a good product back when Britney Spears was hot.

Green Jobs – Teaching my Offspring about Capitalism

Times are tough for teenagers to get a job.  I’ve heard that unemployment is more that 20 +% for teenagers.  My son has struck out getting a job, although he has put more effort into video games than looking for a job, so we started an eBay business.

It’s name is NeonDeal, Click on the name and see what he is selling, vintage fishing lures.   The one in the picture is worth a few hundred dollars.  Of course, I know something about it, but he built the blog and the Twitter account which you should follow and see what he is selling. He sold and shipped his first lures last week and made more money in one night than he would in a month at McDonald’s.  He’s learned a valuable lesson, work for yourself and it’s good to be the boss.  Michael Dell started a company called PC’s Limited out of his dorm room….It’s now call Dell Computers.  Hope my son gets that kind of  taste for the real green.  So he’s self employed for the summer and is understanding inventory, shipping, logistics, marketing, sales, blogging and if you don’t work…you don’t get paid.

Now, when I said green jobs in the title, I mean in terms of Money. If you thought I meant Green jobs in terms of saving the planet, they are tough to come by in real life.   One thing I learned is that if they really were a better solution, they would have succeeded on their own already.  That is the way business works.

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Dealing with Email

The 300 Baud Modem Days

I remember back in the 80’s when I had exclusive access to some very important reporters as only about 50 of us were on MCI Mail and it was sort of a club that we had.  We didn’t say it, but we didn’t share our secret as they got pounds of press releases by snail mail daily.  If they got an email over a 300 baud modem, they knew it meant something.  We only contacted each other when it was important, so no one abused it.

Remember, this was the days of the office memo that got typed on a typewriter and sent around. CC’s were made with carbon paper so it was to tough to abuse it due to the trouble

The Evolution, Email is the new Snail Mail, and Spam King


Later, Outlook, Lotus Notes, Pegasus and a ton of other email clients have come and gone.  Email could now even be regarded as the new snail mail, and certainly it’s the king of Spam.  Being CC’d or BCC’d on thousands of notes fills up inboxes globally.  Many have gone to multiple email addresses to divert off the spam for personal use, but if you work for a company, you’re stuck with that address that is all to easy to find.

So what are the up’s and down’s to email?  It can be the only way to reach someone (in a company, a text message or tweet DM is likely faster) if they are in a different timezone or are miles up the corporate ladder for you.  So that is good.

Slogging through endless emails that have little impact are a time suck now and you must fight the urge to respond, stopping the chain.  There are other downsides which I’ll discuss below.

Email Road Rage

Ranting behind the false curtain of email rather than face to face or calling the person directly.  I dubbed this tactic Email Road Rage.  All have been the recipient of it or have seen someone go off the deep end, many times later to regret it.  Bosses seem to think they have immunity on this, but it inhibits employee behavior and openness via email exchange.

The best executive I’ve worked directly for, Buell Duncan once told me to answer these kind of emails once, and then let it roll off your back like water off a duck. Don’t spend nights letting it keep you up.  Deal with it and be done.

While it may be tempting to get into the fray, especially when one is feisty is to defend your position, attack back or go behind the offender’s back describing in unflattering terms what kind of a person would send these emails, the best answer is…..

Don’t Respond Unless Required.

Most email stops when you stop the chain.  I get you have to answer the boss, but not joining the fray is the best medicine.  I have found this hard to do, but being a Ph.D. in the School of hard knocks, I’ve learned to not answer when at all possible.  Don’t explain or defend yourself, just use the del key, the appropriate response.  This is true for tweets.  I’ve gotten into endless tweetbacks that I wish had never happened.  Now I just ignore and I’ve forgotten the next day or someone else is naive enough to get caught into the trap.

Along with don’t answer is don’t send.  You can avoid a lot of useless email if you don’t feel the obligation to fire off emails at every whim.  I’m learning that lesson also.  My inbox thanks me.

The most important time to start going dark is….

Before Vacation

I purposely don’t start anything that could bite me while I’m trying to not work.  IBM is the poster child for people working on vacation, something I try hard not to do.  I got emails from bosses on anniversary vacations, which I’m sure made their spouses happy.  The way I see it, the doors to the company will stay open while I’m away.  Americans are notorious for not being good vacationers.  Not me.  I put on that I won’t be checking email until I return.

The key to this is to start slowing down a few days before you leave.  This slows the wheels of motion and gets the anonymity going.

Conclusion

While email can be helpful and it certainly is still our main method of communicating, it follows Sturgeon’s law.  Life has enough of that anyway, so why add to it?