Friday, January 28, 2011

Inequity?

I just finished Aftershock by Robert Reich. His theory is that the growing gap between th very rich and the middle to poor Americans is growing and making our economy unsustainable. He says that since the 70s middle class has been using "coping mechanisms" to keep up with the Joneses. First they sent the mothers to work, then they worked more hours, finally they used debt. All the mechanisms are used to their limit. There's only two parents, there's only so many hours in the week to be worked, and credit has dried up.

He says that the rich have created a separate society with it's own social clubs, universities, and positions which the middle class have no access to. He shows that the bubble where allnthe Wallstreet bankers won at every turn is proof that the whole system is rigged against middle class.

The January/February issue of the Atlantic also has an article which says there are two economies. The article titled "the rise of the new ruling class- how the global elite is leaving you behind" by Chrystia Freeland.

Both authors have taken a good look at our world and drawn the same conclusions, namely that you can't change your stars. If your born into wealth and privilege your set, if not you'll struggle for your daily bread.

Reich's solution is government enforced redistribution of wealth by taxing highly income over 250k and placing money into people's pay checks who make less than 50k a year.

So the only question left on the table is does any of this matter?

Farmers in the developing world are using texting to get market prices and weather tips to increase their profits. Small businesses owners can start their dream company with little start up costs using web 2.0/cloud computing services. People who have been repressed for decades are using social media to organize on a nation wide basis and creating a new government. The world is unrecognizable if we look at the level of inexpensive communication we now have access to.

Yes, the world isn't fair. But has it ever been? I am reminded of the middle ages. Talk about not being able to change your stars!

Yes, we can aim for more equality, but I strongly don't think government redistribution of wealth is the answer. Also telling people that because they were born poor that the system is against them and there is no hope isn't a helpful strategy.

Take me for example. My family has nine kids. My father is a minister at a small church. At one point we had to get food stamps. We wore clothes donated to our church in large garbage bags. Us kids would gather around the bags with the same excitement as Christmas morning. I got my GED when I was 17 after finishing the 10th grade in home school. I was a maid in a bed and breakfast. If you showed my case to Reich no doubt he'd tell me my prospects were doubtful for success.

But a few things helped me which I think can help anyone in my "doubtful" position.
1. I read alot which made me realize how many possibilities exist and that more doubtful cases than mine have made it I.e. Lincoln.
2. My mother said I could do anything. She always believed in me.
3. I got a pell grant to go to community college. I believe that gov assistence for college is very effective. I am happy to allow my tax dollars to help those who are serious about their future.
4. Mentors in every aspect of my life who gave me advice and showed me the way. These folks are too numerous to name and yet they live in my heart forever. I make it my mission to mentor those I can to pay the debt forward.

These are the ways to level the playing field. It's hard to keep a determined person down, especially when they have a large support base who believes in them. Spread the word. The world needs more hope, and each of us can make a difference.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

‘If’ Is An Assault on the Community

I wrote this a few years ago and just rediscovered it.

Read this to understand: If by Rudyard Kipling
‘If’ Is An Assault on the Community
 by bettworld.com
Rudyard Kipling's 'If' is a humanistic open-form poem about being responsible for your own actions and destiny. It is clearly meant to incite individualism and self-reliance. When a person reads this poem and realizes their potential, no goal will be too high and the world will be theirs. This sort of attitude is dangerous for the community. Our community needs people who think alike and do what they are told without questioning.
The tone of the poem is of a father giving his son advice on becoming a man. Kipling gives his son thirteen conditional statements using simple phrases.  He uses some metaphors for the body and aspects of human character.
The words “keep your head” mean that you can retain control of your mind and more importantly your actions “when all about you are losing theirs.” This is a disturbing sentence for a couple of reasons. First, the idea that you own your mind gives the reader a feeling of individualism. This confuses the knowledge that the mind is part of the community and should be used to help the community and not used in self-centered activities.  Second, it implies that the community could lose control, which is not realistic because the community is always perfect; thinking otherwise is blasphemy.
The phrase, “trust your-self” promotes a very self-righteous attitude. Why would anyone want to trust him or herself? How often do you make mistakes? You should trust your leaders and your role models in movies, on TV, and in magazines to lead you. Do not trust yourself because when you trust yourself you gain a sense of independence, which leads you away from the community.
The concept of a lie in the line “Or being lied about, don't deal in lies” is illogical; it is based on there being a truth. The concept of truth is far too limiting and ostracizes people causing resentment, anger, and eventually violence.  The issue of hating in the line  “Or being hated, don't give way to hating” would not be an issue if people did not go around saying there was a truth. Believing there is a truth is hurtful to the community.
“Dreaming” is acceptable as long as it is about a movie star that you want to sleep with or about buying things you want to buy. These dreams are safe for the community. Thinking should not be your aim; it leads to thoughts that are not acceptable to the community. 
Again the narrow ugly word “truth” is seen. This line is saying that a crafty person takes the words you have spoken and makes them into a trap for not so crafty people. It is teaching you not to say anything controversial.
The passage “If you can make one heap of all your winnings, ” uses metaphor of a heap or pile of wealth implying hording of money, which is self-centered. It will be much safer to spend it on things that make you happy than to  “risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,” which is alluding to gambling. You can share the wealth and show off the gadgets you buy.
The medical phrase “If you can force your heart, nerve, and sinew,” is also figurative for aspects of the human character.  The heart, the muscle that pumps blood throughout the body, is also the seat of the emotions. The nervous system is a connection of fibers, which carries messages throughout the body to the brain; nerves also refer to courage.  Sinew is muscle and tendon, which enables the body to move, and refers to strength. If you can control your physical body, emotions, courage, and strength “to serve you long after they are gone,” then you will have conquered your body and you can do anything.  However, if you do what you are told by your leaders and community, you will not have to fight with your body.  Apathy is so much safer for the community.
“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue” implies that talking with crowds would cause you to lose your virtue. Crowds are made up of members of the community who are good and respectable citizens. To think of your fellow community member as a non-virtuous person is a self-righteous perspective and should not remain in your mind.
The next lines talk about kings, foes, and “loving friends.” These terms are narrow and make some members of the community more important or less important and even imply that some are enemies. No one should prefer one person’s company to another. These words should not remain in the vernacular.
“Then you will be a man, my son.” This type of distinction is extremely sexist, and no one should ever distinguish one gender from another. Each is as valuable as the other. The author is saying that, if the reader does all the things mentioned in the poem (the author seems to think that his points are healthy and desirable) then the reader will become a “man.” The idea that one particular gender is better shows how biased the author is.
Rudyard Kipling’s “If” is an assault on the values of the community. Though the ideas of individualism and freedom seem romantic, they are very dangerous in this day and age of terrorism, mental illness and depression. We must encourage children to focus on TV and movies for their ideas instead of breaking off from the crowd and thinking on their own. If they want to pierce their eyelids and dye their hair orange and green, then they should. This sort of “safe” individuality is encouraged, if not directly, then by the media they watch. All their “uniqueness” is based on healthy consumerism and can be monitored and controlled. Teach them that they can be unique, as long as everyone else is unique also. Watching TV limits their thinking already, but we must ensure that they do not read poems such as “If” lest they wander off and begin questioning.
 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How's Your Culture?

Most people complain they work in a company with terrible Culture.
Most people complain they live in a town that lacks culture.
Most people complain the US culture has gone down the drain.

Most people complain.
But not you. You've realized complaining about things doesnt make a difference.

Instead you make your own culture which then you can export and share with those you love.

Companies are made of people. You can create a culture of sharing information just by doing it and encouraging others to do likewise.
You can support the arts in your town by visiting local theater and donating to local arts.

You can turn off your tv and stop "watching US culture" if it's so disturbing to you. My family got rid of our antenna in 2004 and we've enjoyed a higher quality of life ever since.
You control your experience of culture. It's called your family rituals.
For instance you can institue family meals made of wholesome food eaten at a table.
You create game nights with your friends where you learn about eachother and grow your friendships.

You can pick and choose which cultural elements you enjoy from around you and use them in your families experience.

You curate your own culture. Instead of complaining, try it. Most people won't

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Leveraging the Cloud

I love reminding myself how much power we have today with all the technology at our finger tips. The Cloud is bantered about quite a bit. Clouds can be used by small businesses and large businesses to reduce their expenses. For a very small business it’s the difference between survival and death. Many of the cloud services are free like Google Docs.

Today I was talking to a friend who designed a really great T-Shirt she wants to sell. She had even bought a press. She was trying to figure out how to create a shopping cart. I told her about www.cafepress.com which allows you to upload your logo and apply it to all kinds of products. They take care of creating a shop for you, processing credit cards, printing the logo on the merchandise, and shipping the order directly to your customer. But this is just one example of the cloud.

The fun thing about the cloud is its like the perfect spouse, everyone has a different view of what it is.  Let’s talk about what it means:

Data center
When a company uses a cloud for their data center it means that instead of buying a building, filling it with networked machines, cooling it, they buy space, speed from a company like Amazon.com.

Off the Shelf Applications
When a company uses a cloud for off the shelf applications such as emails, web conferencing, spreadsheets, word processing, contact management, blogs, wikis, sales lead software. These are hosted by the application service provider company. Instead of buying Word from Microsoft in a shrink wrapped package, they buy a login to the application service provider's web site which allows their employees to edit word documents.

Customized Applications
When a company uses a cloud for their customized applications such as custom inventory management system, they would hire an application service provider. The application service provider would document the company’s requirements and create an application and host it on the application service provider's data center.

Widgets
When a company uses a cloud for a small part of their own systems such as credit check, address validation, they would buy a widget instead of creating that small piece. For example, if the company wants to have a credit card processing module, they can get one from a credit card service provider. These widgets then can be mixed and matched to meet their needs.


When you leverage the cloud, you can get more done with less startup costs. That will allow you to spend your money on your core competencies.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mind Mixer

We the people. Its our country. We each have the ability to get involved and influcence whats happening in our communities. This website might make it easier for us to get involved from the comfort of our homes:
http://www.mindmixer.com/

MindMixer acts as a virtual town-hall allowing community planning to happen online.

I think it would be good to look into it and see if it would work for your community.

Subprime loans equal redistribution of wealth from rich to poor

I am half way thru The Big Short by Michael Lewis. It brings us into the world of repackaging subprime mortgages to investors. The basic idea is mortgage brokers gave poor immigrants with no documented income quarter of a million dollars. The mortgage brokers then sold the loan to firms which bundled them together into a collateralized debt obligation (CDO). This basically transferred the money from a rich wall street firm to a poor person. Those CDOs where then bundled in bigger groups of CDO. Insurance was also created on these CDOs called credit default swaps or CDS.

Thus we have a case study for what happens when the redistribution of wealth from rich to poor occurs. So let's look at what happened. Did everyone thrive? Did our economy become very heathy as Aftershock's author Robert Reich believes?
Unfortunately, no. We created a housing bubble which is still reeking havoc throughout the entire world. I then we can call this the final proof that redistribution of wealth from rich to poor doesn't "work"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Unable to sellout?

Can you sellout?

The ability to walk the fine line between selling out and staying true to your high standards is the ability which can make you wildly successful or leave you unknown.


For example, my brother is a fantasic dj. He has highly developed taste in euro techno music. He refuses to play top 40, due to his tastes. But he lives in Key West where the market requires djs to play top 40 for weddings, thus he plays at a few clubs a few times a month.

He has an inability to sell out. He has a few options: he could move to a new market where the demand is higher, or he could create a market by educating the locals. Both don't seem to be on his radar.

Selling out is just the negtative name for the compromise of your orignial idea and what is publically acceptable that is required for all public offerings. All published authors are heavily edited.

Are you willing to sellout to gain a wider audience? You should determine your core values and determine how you could stretch your boundaries to reach more people.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Stickk to Your New Years Resolutions

Today in my Toastmasters meeting I learned about a website that will allow you to have more chance of sticking to your new year’s resolution.
I think that if you can't discipline yourself, you should use self discipline outsourcing.

The address is http://www.stickk.com/ and I think it’s pretty amazing.
I have several friends who ask me to bug them about staying with on top of their goals, but now this site will do it for them.

I recommend everyone try it and post here how it goes.

Good luck!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Figure Infinity System - Become a Master

I created the Figure Infinity System as a framework to show you the clear path to becoming a master in whatever your life goal is. This system is easily understood, but will take the rest of your life to complete, which is why it is called Infinity. It also takes commitment and focus to keep on the path.

The great thing about the FIS is you can use it for anything you want to master.



Once you finish one round of the Figure Infinity System, you should continue around.
Let’s walk thru an example:

Grow your network: When you’re walking down the halls at work next to someone you don't know, ask them how their day is going. If they seem friendly, engage them in some more chit chat. Then in a friendly way, ask them what they do. Keep in touch with them after this first encounter. This will allow you to get to know more about your company and expand your network.

Find mentors: When you find someone who has the qualities you seek, and then ask them to be your mentor. It will be the most important thing you can do. If they say yes, you can either have a formal or informal arrangement. Informal means you ask them for advice when you need help. Formal means you meet regularly and review how you are progressing. It’s good to have some of both. You can never have enough mentors.

Read up: Read the documents you can find and ask your mentors and network for more. Documents come in all flavors from books to diagrams to articles. Get to know what’s out there so you can have more informed conversations.

Ask questions: Now that you have the baseline knowledge from reading, you can ask your network and mentors more specific questions to expand your knowledge.

Practice and teach others: If you don't put what you learn into practice, you'll forget it quickly. Use it to write a new document or create a new diagram. Also you must teach others once you have these new docs or diagrams. Those who are learning from you will challenge you and ask you questions which will force you to re-examine some of your pre-existing ideas. This will really concrete the knowledge and make you a master.

Repeat!



Monday, January 3, 2011

Inspirational Leadership wallpaper

Lots of folks have asked me for my wallpaper. I find it very challenging and motivational. I hope you will also.

The rest of your life

"All your experiences, challenges, successes, failures are the paints and paint brushes that you will now use to paint the white canvas that is the rest of your life"