Tag Archives: Steve Jobs

Reduce Your Stress in 2 Minutes a Day

Bill Rielly had it all: a degree from West Point, an executive position at Microsoft, strong faith, a great family life and plenty of money. He even got along well with his in-laws! So why did he have so much stress and anxiety that he could barely sleep at night? I have worked with Bill for several years now and we both believe his experience could be useful for other capable, driven individuals.

At one time no level of success seemed enough for Bill. He learned at West Point that the way to solve problems was to persevere through any pain. But this approach didn’t seem to work with reducing his stress. When he finished his second marathon a few minutes slower than his goal, he felt he had failed. So to make things “right” he ran another marathon just five weeks later. His body rejected this idea, and he finished anhour slower than before. Finally, his wife convinced him to figure out what was really driving his stress. He spent the next several years searching for ways to find more joy in the journey. In the process he found five tools. Each was ordinary enough but together they proved life-changing and enabled his later success as an Apple executive.

Breathing. He started small by taking three deep breaths each time he sat down at his desk. He found it helped him relax. After three breaths became a habit, he expanded to a few minutes a day. He found he was more patient, calmer, more in the moment. Now he does 30 minutes a day. It restores his perspective while enabling him to take a fresh look at a question or problem and come up with new solutions. Deep breathing exercises have been part of yoga practices for thousands of years, but recentresearch done at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital document the positive impact deep breathing has on your body’s ability to deal with stress.

Meditating. When Bill first heard about meditation, he figured it was for hippies. But he was surprised to find meditators he recognized: Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Marc Benioff and Russell Simmons among them. Encouraged, he started with a minute a day. His meditation consisted of “body scanning” which involved focusing his mind and energy on each section of the body from head to toe. Recent research at Harvard has shown meditating for as little as 8 weeks can actually increase the grey matter in the parts of the brain responsible for emotional regulation and learning. In other words, the meditators had increased their emotional control and brain power!

Listening. Bill found if he concentrated on listening to other people the way he focused when he meditated his interaction immediately became richer. The other person could feel he was listening, almost physically. And when they knew he was listening they formed a bond with him faster. Life almost immediately felt richer and more meaningful. As professor Graham Bodie has empirically noted, listening is the quintessential positive interpersonal communication behavior.

Questioning. This tool isn’t about asking other people questions, it’s about questioning the thoughts your mind creates. Just because your mind creates a thought doesn’t make it true. Bill got in the habit of asking himself “Is that thought true?” And if he wasn’t absolutely certain it was, he just let it go. He said: “Thank your mind for coming up with the thought and move on. I found this liberating because it gave me an outlet for negative thoughts, a relief valve I didn’t have before.” The technique of questioning your thoughts has been popularized by Byron Katie who advocates what she calls “the great undoing.” Her experience and research show there is power in acknowledging rather than repressing negative thoughts. Instead of trying to ignore something we believe to be true, questioning allows us to see our thoughts “face to face” so to speak and to discredit them because they are untrue.

Purpose. Bill committed to living with purpose. Not so much his life’s purpose. It was easier than that. He committed to purposefully doing whatever he was doing. To be doing it and only it. If he decided to watch TV he really watched it. If he was having a meal he took the time to enjoy the meal. There is research to support Bill’s experience. In “A Pace Not Dictated by Electrons: An Empirical Study of Work Without Email” Gloria Mark and Armand Cardello cite evidence to suggest knowledge workers check email as much as 36 times an hour. The result is increased stress. Giving each activity your undivided attention ensures you’re in the moment and fully living that experience.

An important key for Bill in all of this was starting small—very small. It’s important because you can’t take on stress in a stressful way. Often we try to bring about change through sheer effort and we put all of our energy into a new initiative. But you can’t beat stress using the same techniques that created the stress in the first place.

Instead, the key is to do less than you feel you want to. If you feel like breathing for two minutes, do it for just one minute. If you are up for a day of really listening to people deeply, do it for the next meeting only. Leave yourself eager to try it again. What you want is to develop a sustainable habit: a stress-free approach to reducing your stress.

More like this? Get a free excerpt from Greg’s upcoming book, “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by subscribing here.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Can Angela and Tim Create Apple 3.0 — Or Not?

by Steve Tappin –



Since the sad passing of the visionary Steve Jobs, Apple seems to be losing its magic. Today it made a bold and eye-catching appointment by poaching Angela Ahrendts, the CEO of Burberry.

For me this raises three fundamental questions:

  • Can she really make an impact?
  • What does this mean for CEO Tim Cook and can they work successfully together?
  • What does this mean for the future of Apple?

From my work as a CEO confidant and author of ‘The Secrets of CEOs’, I have met with thousands of different business leaders. I realized that there was not one way of being a CEO but seven different types in the Western world. Each typically has different motives, strengths and challenges.

Steve Jobs was a corporate entrepreneur. He was driven by the obsession and love that he had for his products, and his personal mission to put a dent in the universe. He achieved this through relentless determination, and the support of his trusted lieutenants.

Angela Ahrendts and Tim Cook are both very different characters from both Steve Jobs and each other, and have different CEO types. It is important to understand these types and that Angela and Tim will have different ways of working:

Tim Cook

Tim came from a logistics background and is a professional manager operator:


Angela Ahrendts

Angela is a combination of two types of CEO, which we typically don’t see in one individual leader:

Angela is unique in drawing on her strengths to put both customers and people at the heart of a business. At Burberry she was able to create value on a global basis, by focusing the Burberry brand in on the millennials and creating a connected culture that also joined employees together.

In addition to her CEO type, she has a reputation for being an outstanding personal leader with strong values and beliefs. She is global in outlook and able to blend well with different cultures. Her experience of harnessing beauty and style from the fashion industry could be invaluable.

In some ways Angela and Tim can complement each other. She is likely to bring a fresh customer, brand and leadership focus to Apple, assuming they can work well together. An obvious tension is that she is clearly a potential CEO succession candidate and is likely to have strong views that will challenge traditional Apple conventions. So it will be critical for them to build trust – which is a strength of hers – and for Tim to work with her to harness her contribution rather than exert his authority.

How Could They Best Work Together?




They have the potential to build a close partnership. However the technological breakthroughs and new product categories that Apple fans crave are not likely to be their particular strength. They’ll need to rely on harnessing the guardians of innovation, especially Jony Ive, to invent the pioneering products and technology thatTim can mass-produce and Angela can market.

The key will be to create a close-knit fellowship where each of them can harness their strengths. This will give them the best chance of adding value together as they find the key to positioning Apple within a global multi-channel customer world.

What Could Be The Future For Apple?

I can see three scenarios for Apple.

Dream Scenario: Apple 3.0

“Apple 2.0” saw the return of Steve Jobs and the amazing home run of the iPod, iPhone & iPad. It became the most valuable company in the world because it created breakthrough innovative products which were simply and beautifully designed, operating within connected ecosystems that positively impacted many of our lives. Apple also created flagship cool retail environments where we could get a physical taste of the Apple experience.

In Apple 3.0, TimAngela and Jony work in fellowship and rediscover the old Apple cool and excitement. They find breakthroughs in products and services, with new categories such as TVs and watches, and again dream up things we never even knew we needed… not just cheap plastic color iPhones. Together they innovate the next generation of cool customer experiences, with Angela helping to bridge the digital and technological world with the latest real-world developments in music and fashion. As the Apple brand evolves, it finds a way to be both aspirational and accessible in the emerging markets. Apple goes on to be the outstanding company of the next decade and create the most value by far again.

Second Scenario: Apple The Customer Experience Company

Steve Jobs’s “reality distortion field” fades and Apple stops being the product-breakthrough company that its diehard fans fell in love with. Instead, we see decent products and services, that are then beautifully packaged and styled and integrated into great customer experiences.

A bit like a Virgin, the company takes a solid product offering that is the same or slightly better than the competition, and then adds sizzle.

In this situation, Angela is best placed to be the CEO who makes this future real. Maybe most of the value of the company is sustained. However, in the long-term, the risk is that Apple fans see this aas too much style and not enough substance.

Third Scenario: Apple Becomes Just Another Company

Not my preference but we see slippage and erosion of the brand. Management isn’t able to work together and there are boardroom battles and churn at the top. The leadership team is never able to recapture or reinvent the Jobs gene and magic. Apple gradually gets incremental while SamsungGoogleTencent et al gradually overtake them.

People are so emotionally attached to Apple that nothing but the dream scenario will do for most investors and fans of the company. However, the arrival of Angela Ahrendts increases the chances of that dream scenario Apple 3.0 happening, as well as other valuable futures for Apple too.

Steve Jobs is a tough act to follow for any CEO, and Tim and Angela have their work cut out. However, I believe that this appointment is one of Tim Cook’s best decisions so far, and definitely increases the chances of success.

Good luck Angela.



Tags: , , , , , , ,

3 Wildly Successful Entrepreneurs Who Failed

images (6)


A wise little green man named Yoda once said, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

While that’s great advice it’s sometimes easier said than done. Every new entrepreneur needs an education on how to start a small business. With a business administration degree or small business training, you could soon be running your own successful venture. But starting up your own business is both thrilling and terrifying. Before these three business owners earned their millions, failure was a stepping stone to success.

Gambling Saved FedEx

As an undergrad at Yale, Fred Smith’s idea for FedEx earned him a ‘C’ on his paper because it wasn’t “practical”. But Smith didn’t give up and founded Federal Express in the early 1970s. The business struggled. In 1973, FedEx handled a whopping total of (wait for it) 186 packages. Close to bankruptcy, Smith took the remainder of FedEx’s money ($5,000), boarded a plane and flew to sin city Las Vegas. By playing blackjack, Smith made $27,000 which was just enough to pay a fuel bill and operate for another week. Smith was able to acquire more investor money and last year, FedEx made over $400 million.

Steve Jobs Got Fired from Apple and Then Rescued It

College dropout Steve Jobs co-founded Apple in 1976 and was fired from Apple in 1985. A power struggle between Jobs and then-CEO John Sculley resulted in a failed boardroom coup and Jobs’ forced resignation from the company. He moved on to work with NeXT and Pixar while Apple released a wave of new products. While the product line was initially popular, consumers were still buying PC computers. Apple’s response of launching too many computer models and its poor marketing strategy failed miserably. Sales dropped and the company blew through two more CEOs. Jobs returned in 1997 and refocused Apple, leading to the global launch of the first iPod.

Mickey Mouse Was a Bad Idea (Or So People Thought)

Once upon a time, someone fired Walt Disney because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”. Disney started his own animation company and went bankrupt a few years later. He and his brother took their talents to Hollywood where Disney was told Mickey Mouse was a terrible idea as the image of a mouse onscreen would frighten women. To add to his troubles, he lost his popular character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit when Universal Studios snatched up the rights and secretly hired his animation staff. Ironically, Mickey Mouse surpassed Oswald in popularity and legacy. But the 1939 release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs pulled the Walt Disney Company out of bankruptcy and ushered in Disney’s golden age of animation.

Knowing how to start and run a business successfully requires education, such as small business training or a business degree. But the important thing to remember is never let the fear of failure keep you from reaching your dreams.

Kyla Ross is an aspiring entrepreneur and a career training and education blogger for Ashworth College. To learn more about business careers, visit



Tags: , , , , , , ,

How Female CEOs Can ‘Lead with Impact’

deboramcl3 Ways to Set Yourself Apart from the Competition

A record number of women are Fortune 500 CEOs.

Women are launching businesses at 1.5 times the national average.

There are now 8.2 million American women running their own companies.

“The numbers are notable,” says executive and business coach Debora McLaughlin, author of “The Renegade Leader: 9 Success Strategies Driven Leaders Use to Ignite People, Performance and Profits,” (

“From 1997 to 2011, the number of U.S. women-owned businesses increased by 50 percent,” McLaughlin says. “And in 2011, the median compensation for female CEOs was 13 percent more than for male CEOs,” according to NerdWallet Financial Markets.

According to Catalyst, a non-profit organization, as of Jan. 1, there were 21 women running Fortune 500 companies, including IBM and PepsiCo, That’s up from seven in 2002-2003. Among the Fortune 1000 companies, there are twice as many, including the CEOs of Neiman Marcus Group, Cracker Barrel and Dun & Bradstreet.

“Nonetheless, business women still face hurdles,” McLaughlin notes. “Keep in mind, while 21 are Fortune 500 CEOs — a record high – that’s only 4.25 percent of the total and the figures hold for Fortune 1000 companies, less than 5 percent have a female at the helm.”

A recipient of the 2012-13 Women of the Year award presented by the National Association of Professional Women, McLaughlin watches the financial trends. While women are launching more businesses, they have an upward climb; studies show that women-owned companies are less likely to hit the $1 million mark and are more likely to fail.

“To claim, own and keep the keys to the corner office, women executives need to be seen, heard and to lead with greater influence and impact,” McLaughlin says. She offers three key tips:

• Develop your personal brand: Let people get to know you, your core story of experiences and how they relate to your drive and vision. As Steve Jobs said, “connect the dots,” then use transparent communication to share your story. People make better connections with people who tell a great story, and they’re most interested in the story behind the person at the top. Transparency encourages greater communication, team building and leadership.

• Develop and use your personal network. Find a mentor and be a mentor; seek out other women at your level; and accept the strength, ideas and energy your connections have to offer. It is no longer necessary to blaze trails alone, and women have more power than they may realize. According to a Dow Jones report, startups with five or more female executives have a 61 percent success rate. It goes further and says that odds of success “increase with more female executives at the VP and Director levels.”

• Stand for something; position yourself as a strong thought leader. It’s not easy being at the top. Women tend to distrust powerful women, and men may view women as weak or too collaborative and sensitive. Take a firm stand on something you care about deeply and rally the organization around that objective. You will gain the respect of your peers, customers and stakeholders.

As the numbers clearly demonstrate, business is changing. Women account for 73 percent to 85 percent of consumer decisions in the United States, which gives female CEOs yet another advantage — insight into their customers’ values, McLaughlin says.

About Debora McLaughlin

Debora McLaughlin, best-selling author of “The Renegade Leader: 9 Success Strategies Driven Leaders Use to Ignite People, Performance and Profits;” the forthcoming book, “A League of Her Own,” and CEO of The Renegade Leader Coaching and Consulting Group combines her experience as certified executive coach and as a top sales performer in New York City and Boston to help CEOs, business leaders and organizations achieve accelerated results.



Tags: , , , , , , ,

Turn Passion Into Productivity

Turn Passion Into Productivity
Lessons from Five First Time Entrepreneurs Who Capitalized on Creativity

We’ve all heard the success stories of legendary people like Steve Jobs, Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey. Mark Zuckerberg, once a Harvard drop out, is now a household name. But what about the little people- mere mortals who turned an idea into an enterprise?

Thanks to websites such as Amazon, Etsy and Ebay, as well as infinite resources for small business owners, the chance to own your own company is more possible than ever. The growth of social media has only encouraged the growth of small businesses, offering affordable marketing that’s been proven to pay off. From online teddy bear boutiques to fast paced food trucks, the time to be an entrepreneur seems to be now.

So what are you passionate about? Tea? Landscaping? Watches? Instead of pushing paper for the rest of your life, turn your hobby, interest, or obsession into a profitable business- just like these entrepreneurs did. Learn five vital lessons from first time entrepreneurs that turned passion into productivity.

Turn Everyday Frustration Into Opportunity
Joi Sumpton, Founder of the Step-n-Wash

Joi Sumpton’s life changed in a Barnes and Nobles bathroom. Tired of having to hold her kids up to public restroom sinks, Sumpton was struck with a brilliant idea. What if she didn’t have to? A few sketches, brilliant product development, personal investment and a year later, Joi has launched a successful business out of mere frustration.

Her innovative product, a retracting step stool for public bathrooms, has made life a little easier for parents and guardians everywhere. The Step-n-Wash website states that “thousands of businesses” have installed the Step-n-Wash to increase the safety and hygiene in their public restrooms. Joi’s experience shows that with some imagination, simple, everyday hassles can be transformed into opportunity.

Make It A Family Affair
Ashley Schoenith, Creator of Ice Milk Aprons

Tallahassee native Ashley Schoenith started Ice Milk Aprons with one intention- to spend more time with her grandmother. Inspired by her seamstress grandmother’s love for cooking and entertaining, Ashley decided that aprons were the way to go. After long weekends of brainstorming, fabric selection and sewing, Ashley successfully launched Ice Milk Aprons in 2008.

Unfortunately, Ashley’s grandmother passed away before the launch, but Ashley is still inspired by her. According to the Ice Milk Aprons website, Ashley hopes that families will “pass down traditions” with the use of her sleek, sophisticated aprons. Ice Milk Aprons are available online, and in various stores in Atlanta, where Ashley and her husband reside.

Find New Functions for Existing Products
Fred Meyers,

For New York native Fred Meyers, the start of The Queensboro Shirt Company wasn’t about fashion- it was about function. A huge fan of Lacoste polo shirts, Fred wondered if there was a way that the same comfort could be achieved minus the alligator patch. After graduating from business school, Fred decided to go into the custom shirt business full-time.

As the first company to offer custom embroidered shirts in small quantities, Queensboro has continued to be a key player in the corporate apparel business. For over twenty years, Fred has focused on top-notch customer service and high-quality products to gain customers in a competitive market. Living up to it’s reputation of outstanding customer service, promises that customers won’t find “a company that will work harder to make you happy,”.

Fulfill Needs in a Highly Specific Market
Julia Erickson, Aaron Ingley, Barre Nutrition Bars

For ballet dancers Julia Erickson and Aaron Ingley, the start of Barre Nutrition Bars came from their own need. Julia was tired of scrambling for heavy snacks that weren’t nutritious. She decided to make her own energy bar, and from some mere kitchen ingredients, Barre was born.

After signing on her partner and fellow dancer Aaron, the two have taken the ballet world by storm. The pair are dedicated to providing a light, yet filling and highly nutritious snack for their fellow dancers. On their website,, they explain that “Dancers do eat,” and discuss the benefits to their vegan friendly, no sugar power bars.

Think Way, Way, Way Outside The Box
Bryan Silverman, Star Toilet Paper

Bryan Silverman, Duke University student and Entrepreneur Magazine’s College Entrepreneur of 2012, found a market in an unexpected place: the bathroom. In an interview with Business Insider, Bryan revealed that when his brother first pitched him the idea, he “pooh-poohed it”. Luckily, he came to his senses and realized the potential for toilet paper marketing.

Hoping to revitalize traditional marketing, Bryan and his brother, Jordan, started Star Toilet Paper in 2010. The Eco-friendly, easy to read toilet paper is safe to use, and offers a creative alternative for businesses to offer coupons, promotions, and ads. The trend is already catching on for Star Toilet Paper, acquiring them clients such as Allstate, Pita Pit, and Smoothie King.


Melissa Weidenborner is a content creation specialist and freelance writer currently working in SEO and Social Media. In her spare time, she blogs about vintage goods, food, lifestyle and online marketing. Follow her adventures on Twitter @vintageandnerdy.



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Four Industries That Benefit From Video Content Sharing

Video is a great way to get word out about your company and draw in customers. With video, potential customers/clients can actually interact with your content and have it explained to them in a way that’s engaging, fun and informative. Because video is an eye-catching feature on web pages or mobile applications, it’s very successful in advertising.

Digital video management software helps companies create, edit, upload and monetize video content. Companies such as VMIX offer a video management system that works well for businesses in various industries. Here are three examples of the many fields that a quality video management platform can revolutionize.

1) Non-Profits

The main purpose of video when it comes to the non-profit sector is to grow awareness and a sense of community by driving people to participate. Once people realize the value of the service that a non-profit provides, it is much easier to raise the funds necessary to keep the venture alive.

A full service video platform allows non-profits to reach supporters and add new ones to the mix. Video can help organizations recognize sponsors and define the mission of the group; they can also urge volunteers to join together for the purpose of the organization. Editing, publishing and video creation are simple with one platform. Non-profits can also publish their audio and image files to further enhance websites and mobile applications.

2) Educators

The role of video management for educators is similar to that of non-profits in that they aim to educate clients. With video, it is easy to appeal to 21st century learners and keep them engaged. What’s more, video can convey complex ideas and concepts in a way that words alone can’t do as well.

Educators have the same ease of video manipulation and publishing, with the added benefits of student-faculty interaction, one-on-one video tutorials, pre-recorded lecture sessions and much more. Students can even collaborate using web cams, and any videos that are shared online can be used as helpful, informative, archival material for future students and courses.

3) Agencies/Marketers

Agencies and marketers are offered an unparalleled opportunity for branding and networking with video. Professionals can syndicate their messages, thus cementing brand consciousness, with video channels on social networking sites.

It’s easy to run your own ad content with VMIX video platforms, too. You can increase awareness of—and interest in—products and services with vivid videos and promotional specials. If you are marketing for a business that has a storefront, video makes it easy to also create the luxury, comfort and/or informative environment that the store has become known for. SEO (or search engine optimization) can even be used with video platforms in order to keep abreast of search engine results and increase awareness of your company in the public eye.

Jessica writes about a wide variety of topics.  She especially enjoys writing about media. You can learn more about Digital Video Management Software at


Tags: , , , , , , ,

If You Really Love Them, Kick Them to the Curb!

I just had drinks with my ex last night.  We ended up talking about life, our kids, their friends…

One of our best (kid) friends with very liberal and “understanding” parents, was an all-league athlete and scholar in high school, and could have been a male model like his dad, but he gained about 75 extra pounds.  He now is 24 years old, and after being fired from a retail store (which is really hard to do) started a business promoting raves.  That doesn’t apparently make much of an income, and is about as healthy a lifestyle as being a rock musician, and he is now unemployed and living with his parents.

Steve Jobs was put up for adoption at birth, dropped out of college, and was fired from the very company he founded.  I think that there is no one on earth that is not impacted by his accomplishments.

My eldest daughter was the valedictorian at a very prestigious high school, has a black belt in karate, speaks a few languages, could pose for the cover of Vogue, and can’t get out of a lease that is killing her at her private Jesuit University of San Diego so her mother or I have to bail her out again at the age of 22?

Jerry West was terribly abused as a child, beaten with a belt buckle and ended up having to purchase and carry a pistol under his bed to keep his father from beating his sister with an axe handle.  He was a hall of fame player, and a hall of fame coach in basketball.

Charlie Sheen.   Say no more.

My wife survived cancer when she was 14.  She is now the Vice President and Director of a corporate travel management entity that is part of a global operation in 37 countries and employs well over 6000 people.

They say that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  I truly believe that.  When talking about my daughters and the possibility that their mom might lose her health insurance, I was struck simultaneously by a “dad’s” protectionism (I need to help out somehow) and my own dad’s reality; you’re 22 years old; get a freeking job and you’ll have your own health insurance.

My ex (being the ever extraordinarily codependent enabling mother) countered with “well things are tougher now.”

Really?  Things are tougher than when I grew up with the shadow of the great depression? My father had to drop out of Cal Berkeley when he was 23 to get a job to help support his parents.   Things are tougher than when I had to live with people like Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter as presidents?  They are tougher than fighting my way to and home from school every day?  Tougher than going to sleep fearing that the air raid siren was going to go off any second because Khrushchev stopped pounding his shoes on the podium of the United Nations and  grabbed the red button?

I grew up in the days when one had a paper route at the age of 10.  I canvassed the neighborhood dropping flyers to get weekend jobs gardening.  I had my first real job at a chemical factory after school when I was old enough to drive there.  In college I took wedding photographs on weekend days, and worked in the processing plant at night.  Things are tougher now?

There are certain things that we can do to, and for our children.  Gary Radnich said it well today; perhaps the kindest thing we could ever do for a child is kick them to the curb (lovingly) and make them fend for themselves.  I have a dear friend that had to literally do that to his eldest son.  He was addicted to several things, couldn’t maintain any semblance of a work life, and came begging to his dad to give him “one last chance.”  He said no.  He meant it.  He literally gave him a sleeping bag and showed him the door.

Several months later, after he had hit his “bottom” or catharsis or whatever you call it, the kid came back cleaned up on his own, and is now the number one salesperson at his dad’s construction company, and the heir apparent to the family business.

Spare the rod, spoil the child?  Killing with kindness?  You figure it out.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

What the Wall Street Protesters are All About, If You Have the Stomach For It

I had some money, once, and it wasn’t just my two divorces that cleaned me out. Being in a service industry can be just as volatile in a downturn as being in a manufacturing space.  For several years I was in business development for a corporate travel management concern, and as the recession bloomed people found less expensive and less frequent means of getting to point b, including webinars and teleconferencing.  Not to say that a little belt tightening and ending extravagant spending isn’t a good thing, but it didn’t seem to reach across the board.

While the average silicon valley executive had his boarding passes start to read “coach” instead of first class even on international flights, the board members of the auto industries had to be reminded that it would be slightly poor form for them to take their private jets to Washington while begging for bail-out money.

The list of golden parachutes and excesses is truly amazing, and I have attached a story by Henry Blodget of The Business Insider that documents the disparity of our distribution of wealth far better than I could have ever had the time to research.

The bail-outs and lack of accountability were actually the tip of the iceberg. Who in their right mind would give a child a blank check because they had spent their money on drugs and couldn’t afford their rent?  Well that is essentially what we did to the banks.  We took those functioning least responsibly and rewarded them for their incompetence without any direction as to where they had to spend this windfall.

Then came the Obama appointments.  If my memory serves me wasn’t it Geithner and Bernanke who were at the helm when the ship ran on the rocks in the first place? Another reward for failure.  They were appointed because of their “experience.”  Hell, Jeffrey Dahmer was experienced at what he did.

My wife and I went up to the City (and yes, there is only one) for the fleet week celebration last weekend.  There is another great example of the taxpayers money being oh so wisely spent.  It was a grand time though, hanging around the south beach marina with our boating buddies, having drinks at the Yacht club, and retiring to the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero Center.  It might sound opulent, but the Hyatt has seen its hay-day and we had deeply discounted rooms, the drinks at the Yacht club were $3, and we had dinner at Delancy Street (highly recommended) where the entries were around $12 and delicious.

My point?  We, like most Americans have had to learn to make do with less.  After I was laid off from the travel industry I started an internet marketing company specializing in social media and website optimization.  I’m getting by just fine, but like the rest of humanity (except for the 1%) my stocks have taken a beating, my property maxed out 5 years ago and I’m not holding my breath for Social Security.

Outside our window at the Hyatt, lies the Federal Reserve building.  It was swarmed with young and old people like with fire in their eyes, and blowhorns in their mouths till all hours of the night. The pace was fever pitched at 2:00 in the morning, and when we walked by on Sunday the tired but determined group was still there.  This morning they stormed downtown and demonstrated in front of the Wells Fargo building. My wife and I were discussing this on Sunday:  God bless these young wild eyed freaks that have the energy and principles to stand up and say “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

We lost lots when Steve Jobs passed away.  We stand to lose lots more than that if we ever lose the spirit this country was founded on. Remember what we said to the British Monarchy?  Taxation without representation is tyranny.”  Well, isn’t that really what is happening again now?  Do we really have any say where our hard earned dollars go?  Let’s start another war over weapons of mass destruction.

Below are some facts that should make you ill.  Good luck protestors, I’m with you!


CHARTS: Here’s What The Wall Street Protesters Are So Angry About…

BY Henry Blodget |  The Business Insider


The “Occupy Wall Street” protests are gaining momentum, having spread from a small park in New York to marches to other cities across the country.

So far, the protests seem fueled by a collective sense that things in our economy are not fair or right.  But the protesters have not done a good job of focusing their complaints—and thus have been skewered as malcontents who don’t know what they stand for or want.

(An early list of “grievances” included some legitimate beefs, but was otherwise just a vague attack on “corporations.” Given that these are the same corporations that employ more than 100 million Americans and make the products we all use every day, this broadside did not resonate with most Americans).

So, what are the protesters so upset about, really?

Do they have legitimate gripes?

To answer the latter question first, yes, they have very legitimate gripes.

And if America cannot figure out a way to address these gripes, the country will likely become increasingly “de-stabilized,” as sociologists might say. And in that scenario, the current protests will likely be only the beginning.

The problem in a nutshell is this: Inequality in this country has hit a level that has been seen only once in the nation’s history, and unemployment has reached a level that has been seen only once since the Great Depression. And, at the same time, corporate profits are at a record high.

In other words, in the never-ending tug-of-war between “labor” and “capital,” there has rarely—if ever—been a time when “capital” was so clearly winning.


Let’s start with the obvious: Unemployment. Three years after the financial crisis, the unemployment rate is still at the highest level since the Great Depression (except for a brief blip in the early 1980s)


Jobs are scarce, so many adults have given up looking for them. Thus, a sharp decline in the “participation ratio.”


Image: St. Louis Fed

And it’s not like unemployment these days is a quick, painful jolt: A record percentage of unemployed people have been unemployed for longer than 6 months.


Image: St. Louis Fed

And it’s not just construction workers who can’t find jobs. The median duration of all unemployment is also near an all-time high.


Image: St. Louis Fed

That 9% rate, by the way, equates to 14 million Americans—people who want to work but can’t find a job.


Image: St. Louis Fed

And that’s just people who meet the strict criteria for “unemployed.” Include people working part-time who want to work full-time, plus some people who haven’t looked for a job in a while, and unemployment’s at 17%


Put differently, this is the lowest percentage of Americans with jobs since the early 1980s (And the boom prior to that, by the way, was from women entering the workforce).


Image: St. Louis Fed

So that’s the jobs picture. Not pretty.


And now we turn to the other side of this issue… the Americans for whom life has never been better. The OWNERS.


Corporate profits just hit another all-time high.


Image: St. Louis Fed

Corporate profits as a percent of the economy are near a record all-time high. With the exception of a brief happy period in 2007 (just before the crash), profits are higher than they’ve been since the 1950s. And they are VASTLY higher than they’ve been for most of the intervening half-century.


Image: St. Louis Fed

CEO pay is now 350X the average worker’s, up from 50X from 1960-1985.


Image: G. William Domhoff, UC Santa Cruz

CEO pay has skyrocketed 300% since 1990. Corporate profits have doubled. Average “production worker” pay has increased 4%. The minimum wage has dropped. (All numbers adjusted for inflation).


Image: G. William Domhoff, UC Santa Cruz

After adjusting for inflation, average hourly earnings haven’t increased in 50 years.


In short… while CEOs and shareholders have been cashing in, wages as a percent of the economy have dropped to an all-time low.


Image: St. Louis Fed

In other words, in the struggle between “labor” and “capital,” capital has basically won. (This man lives in a tent city in Lakewood, New Jersey, about a hundred miles from Wall Street. He would presumably be “labor,” except that he lost his job and can’t find another one.)


Image: Robert Johnson

Of course, life is great if you’re in the top 1% of American wage earners. You’re hauling in a bigger percentage of the country’s total pre-tax income than you have at any time since the late 1920s. Your share of the national income, in fact, is almost 2X the long-term average!


Image: David Ruccio

And the top 0.1% in America are doing way better than the top 0.1% in other first-world countries.


Image: David Ruccio

In fact, income inequality has gotten so extreme here that the US now ranks 93rd in the world in “income equality.” China’s ahead of us. So is India. So is Iran.


Image: G. William Domhoff, UC Santa Cruz

And, by the way, few people would have a problem with inequality if the American Dream were still fully intact—if it were easy to work your way into that top 1%. But, unfortunately, social mobility in this country is also near an all-time low.


So what does all this mean in terms of net worth? Well, for starters, it means that the top 1% of Americans own 42% of the financial wealth in this country. The top 5%, meanwhile, own nearly 70%.


Image: G. William Domhoff, UC Santa Cruz

That’s about 60% of the net worth of the country held by the top 5% (left chart).


Image: G. William Domhoff, UC Santa Cruz

And remember that huge debt problem we have—with hundreds of millions of Americans indebted up to their eyeballs? Well, the top 1% doesn’t have that problem. They only own 5% of the country’s debt.


Image: G. William Domhoff, UC Santa Cruz

And then there are taxes… It’s a great time to make a boatload of money in America, because taxes on the nation’s highest-earners are close to the lowest they’ve ever been.


Image: National Taxpayers Union

The aggregate tax rate for the top 1% is lower than for the next 9%—and not much higher than it is for pretty much everyone else.


Image: G. William Domhoff, UC Santa Cruz

As the nation’s richest people often point out, they do pay the lion’s share of taxes in the country: The richest 20% pay 64% of the total taxes. (Lower bar). Of course, that’s because they also make most of the money. (Top bar).


Image: G. William Domhoff, UC Santa Cruz

And now we come to the type of American corporation that gets—and deserves—a big share of the blame: The banks. Willie Sutton once explained that the reason he robbed banks was because “that’s where the money is.” The man knew what he was talking about.


Image: AP

Remember when we bailed out the banks? Yes, and remember the REASON we were told we had to bail out the banks? We had to bail out the banks, we were told, so that the banks could keep lending to American businesses. Without that lending, we were told, society would collapse…


So, did the banks keep lending? Um, no. Bank lending dropped sharply, and it has yet to recover.


Image: St. Louis Fed

So, what have banks been doing since 2007 if not lending money to American companies? Lending money to America’s government! By buying risk-free Treasury bonds and other government-guaranteed securities.


Image: St. Louis Fed

And, remarkably, they’ve also been collecting interest on money they are NOT lending—the “excess reserves” they have at the Fed. Back in the financial crisis, the Fed decided to help bail out the banks by paying them interest on this money that they’re not lending. And they’re happily still collecting it. (It’s AWESOME to be a bank.)


Image: St. Louis Fed

Meanwhile, of course, the banks are able to borrow money FOR FREE. Because the Fed has slashed rates to basically zero. And the banks have slashed the rates they pay on deposits to basically zero. So they can have all the money they want—for nearly free!


Image: St. Louis Fed

When you can borrow money for nothing, and lend it back to the government risk-free for a few percentage points, you can COIN MONEY. And the banks are doing that. According to IRA, the “net interest margin” made by US banks in the first six months of this year is $211 Billion. Nice!


Image: Institutional Risk Analytics

And that has helped produce $58 billion of profit in the first six months of the year.


Image: Institutional Risk Analytics

And it has helped generate near-record financial sector profits—while the rest of the country struggles with its 9% unemployment rate.


Image: Reuters (Felix Salmon)

And these profits are getting back toward a record as a percentage of all corporate profits.


Image: The Big Picture

And those profits, of course, are AFTER the banks have paid their bankers. And it’s still great to be a banker. The average banker in New York City made $361,330 in 2010. Not bad!


Image: New York Times, New York State Comptroller

This average Wall Street salary was 6X the average private-sector salary (which, in turn, is actually lower than the average government salary, but that’s a different issue).


Image: New York Times, New York State Comptroller

So it REALLY doesn’t suck to be a banker.


And so, in conclusion, we’ll end with another look at the “money shot”—the one overarching reason the Wall Street protesters are so upset: Wages as a percent of the economy. Again, it’s basically the lowest it has ever been.


Image: St. Louis Fed

So now you know!


Image: Julia La Roche for Business Insider

Now check out…

15 Mind-Blowing Facts About Inequality In America

Tags: EconomyOccupy Wall StreetInequalityTaxesPoliticsFeatures | Get Alerts for these topics »

Read more:


Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Advice of Steve

With the death of Steve Jobs came the end of an era. He was the CEO and visionary of Apple. He inspired many people to do great things. He will not be forgotten, but will always be remembered as an extremely intelligent, and passionate, man. He left behind words of advice that we should all ponder as we find our place in this world.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it…”

Jobs said this when he spoke for the Stanford graduation ceremony on June 12, 2005. Jobs was right when he said our time was limited. We may think we have time for everything. We don’t, and we need to make time for the most important things. Follow your heart in everything that you do. That is the best way to ensure long-term happiness.

“Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.”

This is so true. If you are a college student right now, don’t just go through school doing the minimum requirements. Make sure you do quality work in order to get all that you can out of your education. Don’t slack off.

“…saying we’ve done something wonderful – that’s what matters to me.”

Spoken to the Wall Street Journal in 1993, Jobs inspired people not to only think about money. Doing what is great for the world is what really matters. Success does not only come in the form of money although many think it does.

“I think if you do something and it turns out…then you should go do something else…”

Many people will do something great and then stop there. This makes them failures, I think. Jobs says it best with this quote. After you do something great, go out and do something else that’s great. Don’t quit while you’re ahead.

“There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Don’t be scared of anything. Steve Jobs was innovative and if people didn’t like his ideas, he did it himself. Being scared will only limit what you can do. College is hard sometimes but it is doable. There is nothing to lose in this world. Like Jobs says, just follow your heart. If you do that, you will have no regrets. Jobs once said, “I want to put a ding in the universe.” He did. You can too.

About the Author

Meagan Hollman writes pieces My Colleges and Careers puts people on the right path for career, and higher education, exploration. The site helps people find online mba programs that are tailored to their exact needs.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

I Turned 58 Years Old Today, and I Miss my Land Line

Most of the times I want to strangle Zuckerberg for inventing the damn FaceBook, but around birthday time it can be kind of humbling.  You get to see how many of your old friends have way too much time on their hands during working hours to surf the web and post sincere birthday wishes.  Don’t get me wrong, FaceBook and LinkedIn have brought me back in touch with dozens of great old friends and memories.  Many of those friends are spending quality “real world” time with us now as a result of the social reunion.  Being married a couple of times before, I have nieces and nephews from about 5 different families, and dearly love being able to ping back and forth and keep in touch.

You also get to see how many marketers have you on their FB lists and think you are going to somehow be gratified to get birthday salutations from people you have never heard of.  Some are probably sincere, and others are just good natured folks looking to extend their good Social Media karma, but I suspect that yet others have their bots sending out cut and paste boilerplate much in the same manner of the LinkedIn technical support chat line.

Thankfully I am old enough to have a few friends who think that the FaceBook birthday one-liner is still not a substitute for an actual greeting.  I must admit that the number of cards (thank God) goes down in direct proportion to your age.  In the spirit of going Green and due to my absolute disdain of Hallmark and its manufactured holidays, I prefer to either print my own cards (for other people,  I’m not Howard Hughes printing cards for myself) or send e-cards.  All this media is overwhelming, and if not impersonal, a bit abstract.  It’s kind of like learning to drive via a video game.  There is no danger on-line, no direct contact, you can shoot at the bad guys and they all fall.  Even if they kill you, you don’t bleed.  That’s all good and well, I guess, but after all I did just turn 58.

I have been blessed with a loving wife (well 3 actually, but who’s counting), two gorgeous young ladies that happen to be my daughters, 28 nephews and nieces (half of whom I keep in touch with) and more great friends and neighbors than an old curmudgeon like me would ever deserve.  My life has been a very outgoing one; we love to entertain, play music, do the public “festivals” all over town during the summer and fall, talk to strangers, buy them beers, all the fun things that end up leaving you with lots of friends and memories.  Consequently, on ones birthday at this age there are several congratulatory phone calls.

My hearing isn’t perfect any longer, my daughters both live in Southern California where the cell reception sucks, half of my friends talk so fast and so much that I have trouble understanding them, and the cell phone I have been using exclusively for years has one infuriating feature.  The greatest invention of man (mostly furthered by the late great Steve Jobs) was the digital revolution.  The worst thing ever to happen to audio was the digital revolution.  I can fit 3000 songs on my iPhone, but none of them will ever sound like they did when played on my turntable.  I can talk all over the world for almost free on Skype, but on my only phone, my only form of verbal communication with a distant world, only one person can talk at a time.

On the old “ma Bell’ phones, you could have conversations.  One person could be talking and you could interrupt them.  Now you have to wait till one side of the cell line is finished.  This isn’t a problem unless the party on the other end NEVER TAKES A BREATH.  It seems like the older the friend, or the less time they spend around other people, the greater the phenomenon.  There are times I have to shout for 30 seconds to get the person on the other end to shut up for a second to tell them I have to go.

The other fine point of a cell phone only society (aside from radiation and brain tumors) is that “ma Bell” rarely, if ever, dropped a call.  It happens now so often we all have a protocol for who calls back.  It’s the person who initiated the call in the first place, in case you didn’t know.  Poor reception, poor audio, poor signal, and poor speakers (on an IPhone) is starting to equal poor me.  Sorry for the whining.  It has been a wonderful day, but one of my daughters asked me if I was going to write a post on my birthday.  I didn’t mean to sound like Andy Rooney, for those of you old enough to know who he is.  Remember 60 Minutes?  I think that was around even before cell phones.  Never mind!

With all of the love and friendship I feel on my 58th birthday, I long for the good old days of the land line.  Progress is not always progress.  Stay hungry, Stay foolish!


Tags: , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: