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Dilbert of Ze Day November 24, 2008

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One of the best… November 7, 2008

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I forgot how much I love this commercial.


Hemp, Pot & Hedge Funds October 23, 2008

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Yes, there is a difference.

Farewell Letter from Hedge Fund Manager Andrew Lahde

He pretty much sums it up- don’t really know what to add on this.  Amen?

“Capitalism is broken”.  Some might argue that our system was never working in the first place, but as of now it truly is broken.  Click here for an awesome book/eye-opening perspective- Economic Interp of the Constitution by Charles Beard (1913).  Funny that I’ve been kind of dancing around this conclusion for the last couple years.  It took someone else stating it for it to really come home.  The socio-economic system in this country is broken.  I hope that the $700B bailout package will be THE last straw.  It is the crown jewel of a system that is built upon the illusion of democracy and meritocracy.  We live in a country that is of, for and by the elite.

HealthCare 2020 October 5, 2008

Posted by Who? in Business, Health, Lifestyle Design, Politics, Random, technology.
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What will healthcare look like in 2020?  2020? That’s way out in the future; we’ll probably have Jetson brand pill dispensers in our homes by then. But think about that for a second-that’s barely more than a decade away.  We might not have the pill dispensers, but one thing is for sure- things will be different. Step back 10 years- could you imagine a company not only caring about but paying for you to invest in your health?  Last fall, The Boeing Company encouraged employees to take a Health Risk Assessment and they offered a $50 gift certificate to all that participated.  Over 100,000 people partcipated.  This year, less than a month into the event, over 35,000 people have taken the Assessment and received almost $2 million in gift certificates. 

So let’s start there, healthcare is changing.  From the ways that we seek and consume info and services to the way that we view our role in partcipating in our health and paying for those services.  No matter the outcome on November 4th, 2008, things will be different.

Changing Consumption: Information and Services

The internet is changing the way consumers seek information and this includes health related info.  Three months ago I injured my wrist playing basketball.  You can guess what I did next, right?  I taped it up and finished playing- (It was a close game!!).  But—when I got home that night and my wrist completely locked up after I took the tape off, I got online and Googled something along the lines of “how to tell if your wrist is broken”.  Ended up on WebMD and later found myself at the ER.  That process is very interesting when you think about it and it represents one of the ways that healthcare has and will continue to change.  Without even realizing it, I did a prelimary examination.  I wanted to know if my wrist was broken.  Where do I go when I want information?  Google.  Medical information is no longer solely possessed and distributed by doctors and nurses AND the methods of distribution are changing.  Last week, Charlotte wrote about “telemedicine” in her post “Everything But Touch and Smell“. 

Changing Perspectives

People and even companies are changing the way that they participate in healthcare.  Boeing is just one example.  Not only have they talked the talk, but they have backed it up.  Big company or not, two-million dollars is a lot of money.  Think about that.  Attitudes are shifting from treating symptons and injuries towards wellness, lifestyle and prevention.  Not everyone is going to jump on the Wellness Bandwagon, but it will be a part of the paradigm shift.  The industry, operations and practices have to change; I spent 6 hours in the ER only to have a Physician’s Assistant refer me to my primary-care physician.  You can be sure that next time, that hospital won’t be getting my business.  And that is the key- healthcare is a business.  The table is set for innovators to come in and “wow” consumers with quality, value and efficiency.

How will we get wellness and medical information in 2020?  What will the doctor’s office, wellness center and hospital of the future look like?  Where will it be located?  How will it flow and operate?  Who will the cost-structure look like?  What the system will look like in the future is almost beside the point; the important part is that it will be different and, with the right ideas, better.

The Law School Series: Law School is Big Business September 17, 2008

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The “I hate law school” traffic has been picking up lately…right on cue.  I don’t think I really started questioning things until second semester but I’m sure I had a couple random google searches along the way.  2nd semester searches mostly consisted of: I hate law school, should I drop out of law school, law school f*&%*$# sucks, why did I go to law school, why did you go to law school.  Trips to CareerBuilder and Craigslistto search for jobs were never far behind.

After having battled with the decision for almost 2 years, I think that the most important thing to pay attention to is this: if you keep coming back to the same thoughts/issues, you might want to consider taking some time off.  I think this stands as a general rule for any tough decision.  If you keep coming back to the same issue and reaching the same conclusion, there is probably something there.

For me, I kept coming back to the fact that I wasn’t happy.  I really enjoyed learning about the law but law school is not about learning.  Learning and intellectual rigor is a part of it, but first and foremost law school is a business.  The third year of law school is damn near useless; you learn the basics the first year, practice and refine your skills the second and they steal your money the third.  Well it can’t be useless otherwise law school would only be 2 years, right?  Put yourself in the position of the law school; a 3-year program means that they can grab an extra year of tuition from you.  If you’re thinking about law school, you need to understand this.  They are a business.  Their job is to maximize revenue.  Let that marinate. 

Take for example ohhh I don’t know…let’s say…Seattle University School of Law?  In my time there, I think the tuition was around $28,500, but that was 2 years ago.  For the 2008 academic year, tuition is $33,720.  So between 2006-2008, SU has raised their price by over 17%.  Law schools may be “non-profit” entities, but they are making big bucks.

The difference between a 2-year program and a 3-year program is $33,720 PER STUDENT.  The Prospective Students page shows this years entering at class is 325 students and total enrollment is 1,067.  So that means that a 3rd year at SU Law generates an additional…drum roll please…10.8 million dollars in revenue.  Ignoring school-sponsored scholarships and the difference b/w full and part-time students, SU Law generates 36 million dollars a year in tuition revenue.  Law school is about money.  I would be more than willing to bet that law schools are the most profitable units at any given school.

If you find yourself going back and forth about whether or not you want to be there- take some time off.  I know it doesn’t feel like you can, but you can take a break- you won’t be behind, you won’t be wasting time, you can and should do it if you are going back and forth.  Don’t be afraid of “wasting time” by taking some time to remove yourself from the environment and clear your head.  Be afraid of wasting an extra $30-$60,000.  Do you know what the reality of student loan repayment looks like if you don’t get that top job? 

No one at my school’s financial aid office ever sat me down and said “If you take out loans for the full cost of attendance (~48k/year), you will be paying $2,500+ each month for a very long time.”  And thats probably a low figure.  Think about that.  That is $30,000 a year AFTER TAXES.  MAYBE, if you are really good AND lucky, you’ll get a job that pays $90,000 a year.  But right off the bat you can subtract $43,000-ish off the top for student loan payments- before income tax, rent, food-anything. 

Bottom line is this: If you’re unsure, take time off.  Stay tuned for the next post where I’ll breakdown the debt/salary/workweek numbers and show you how insane it is to take on debt to pay for law school.

The Ultimate Question September 16, 2008

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Randomly came across this post and it reminded me that I haven’t talked much about my “ultimate question”.  Although phrased differently, it gets at the same idea.  He asks, “If money didn’t matter, what would you do?”.  While that may help to shake-up hardwired responses, I prefer a slightly more practical question because, in this world, money does matter.  But the idea is the same

If you no longer had to “work” for your income, what would your life look like?  Where and how would you spend your time?

My theory is a blend of my own thoughts and ideas combined with various people, stories and books that have influenced me over the years.  Rich Dad, Poor Dad is a bunch of fluffy bs, but I like some of the general ideas the books promote.  For example, it helps to think about the different types of income; if you aren’t aware of the differences between Passive Income and Working Income, you might have a hard time taking action to move towards the former.  Tim Ferriss has the right idea with the philosophy he lays out in The Four-Hour Workweek– figure out what you want, determine what that is going to cost and figure out how to generate that money.  Pretty straightforward.

Hurdle No. 1 is trying to answer the question.  Hurdle No. 2 is figuring out how to fund the answer; generally, this is going to be much more difficult.  But as the author of that post points out, you could be unaware of your dream right beneath your feet.  In that case, all you have to do is ask yourself that question and make it happen.  You could have the opportunity of a lifetime sitting right in front of you and all you have to do is become aware of it.  That’s what The Ultimate Question helps to do.

So what does my dream life look like? 

Summer/Fall- My base for this time of year would be somewhere in Washington with a place on the water- Chelan and Tapps being at the top of the list.  My activities would include the following: water-sports, pickleball, weights, cycling, reading, eating, NAPPING, writing, learning and working on/maintaining whatever ventures are active or require my attention.

Winter/Spring- My base for this time of year would be somewhere near a great ski mountain- doesn’t really matter where as long as its got consistent snowfall- CO, CA, ID, Int’l…who knows.  Activities would pretty much be the same except the summer activities would be subbed for winter- skiing/snowboarding, racquetball… 

-My “home base” could be either of the previous locations or a different one- depends on what the money-train can handle at any given time. 

-I’d have the ability to travel for both quick getaways and what Tim calls “mini-retirements”.  Not a blank check to do whatever-whenever, but the resources that allow flexibility to get away every so often-planned or random; whether its a quick trip to soak up some sun in the winter or a 6-month trip to Spain.

-I’d have the financial resources to pursue ventures, hobbies and opportunities as they come up.  The goal is not laziness, but rather the resources to pursue whatever opportunities are present without being constrained by time, location, schedule or money.  Whether its launching a new start-up or getting into MMA, I want to have the resources that allow that.

-I want those closest to me to be able to enjoy my life with me as much and whenever possible.

It looks a little outrageous when I write that out, but if I had a magic wand, thats what I’d pick.  Now I just gotta keep my mind open, create and seek the right financial opportunties and seize them.  Easier said than done, but asking The Question and being aware of the answer is the first step.  Between now and then, my cubicle and I will continue our blossoming romance.

The Virginity Auction: a new trend? September 13, 2008

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The Oldest Profession in the World meets 21st century Marketing

My good lord, I love this.  I love to see someone challenge backward social norms/programming.  Good for her.  Either she has a brain that I truly admire or she is just doing a publicity stunt to gain notoriety.  Either way, it’s fascinating.

I wonder what the feminist response will be.  A true feminist should applaud this, right?  This woman is making a personal choice to fund graduate-level education by capitalizing on the out-dated, double-standard for sex/virginity.

From a business perspective, I also find the idea of a girl marketing her virginity through mainstream media channels extremely interesting.  Could this be the start of a new trend?  No-nonsense girls selling their first-time to the highest bidder and closing the deal, excuse the pun, in a legal brothel; some just for the cash, but others doing it for something valuable (like graduate school).  Walk into any bar or club, and you’ll see girls selling sex for a lot less than the cost of graduate school.  I got into a heated debate with a couple buddies of mine over this a while back- what do you think:

If you buy a drink for a random girl at a bar with the intention and hope of getting laid, isn’t that basically prostitution?  I won’t even get into what their responses were, but I think it is nothing short of prostitution.  How is it not prostitution?  Exchanging money for drinks for sex.  Its actually more like prostitution and gambling combined into one big ball of excitement because you are paying for the chance.  Maybe that drunk girl that accepts the drink is a genius in disguise when she says, “If you play your cards right, you might just get lucky tonight.”  I’m not saying that you can’t buy a drink for a girl without it being prostitution; but rather speaking about particular/typical situation described above.

The real reason I love the Virginity Auction is because it rebels against and challenges rigid social norms that exist not because they make sense (they don’t) and more because they’ve been the status quo/people don’t know how to think.  Isn’t time we moved passed out-dated, rigid views on virginity, double-standards and sex in general.  I’m not advocating that we drop all standards and turn into indiscriminate dumb-shits, sleeping with whomever, whenever- just hoping to provoke thoughtful reflection in hopes of making progress beyond pre-programmed responses.  People don’t know how to think for themselves and get past thoughtless responses brought on my social programming/norms, the status quo and the puritanical roots of this country.

In case it isn’t apparent, I’m very open to the idea of legalized, well-regulated prostitution- same goes for marijuana.

For those of you that struggle to see what I’m getting at- here’s some food for thought:

Sex for money is illegal.  Making and selling porn isn’t. So…sex for money is horrible/immoral and thus illegal, but if you want to film and try to sell it- its not?  How do you rationalize that?  People don’t/can’t because they can’t/don’t think.

Lifestyle Design & Random Networking September 11, 2008

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One a more positive note—Last night I went to the Puyallup Fair with some friends.  Having grown up around here, the fair is…the fair.  Overpriced, dirty etc etc etc.  But we had some free tickets to the Kid Rock concert so we reluctantly indulged in the tradition.

I decided that I wanted to wander around instead of going to the concert.  So I set off to do what I normally do, people watch and bullshit with whoever looks interesting.  Asking different vendors working the booths about how business is going and what not.  I end up sitting down to watch one of the cookware demonstrations.  As it turns out, the guy doing the presentation had never done it before and the “owner” of the booth was letting him give it a test run before he bought into the company (American Craft– cookware and kitchen stuff).

So I go back to tell the owner, he was watching from behind the audience, that this new guy is good and to tell him to stick with it cuz he’s got that x-factor that will translate into a lot of sales.  I start bs’ing as usual and the guy isn’t really that into talking to me.  After he realized I wasn’t going away, he started talking to me and asking questions.  Talk about strange connections and totally unexpected networking. 

Turns out that this guy selling pots and pans at the Puyallup Fair is an accomplished entrepreneur, former consultant with Arthur Andersen, holds two Master’s degrees and recently published his first book.  This guy….selling pots and f’n pans at THE FAIR.  Weird.  We hit it off an exchanged cards.

He’s got the life I want.  He has sweet, sweet income coming in on almost auto-pilot and it allows him the freedom to design his life and pursue projects.  Does it get any better than that?

So I’m pretty stoked after meeting this guy and get back to wandering around looking at all the stupid shit that people buy.  On a side note, its kind of funny that the people selling all this stupid stuff are making a killing- random fact: one guy I talked to pays $17,000 for his space at the fair for 20 (TWENTY) days!!!!  Meanwhile the rabid fair-goers trade their paychecks for ninja swords, fleece blankets emblazoned with white tigers and beautiful stuffed animals.  Anyways- back to walking around… I stumble upon a booth filled, wall-to-wall with unbelievable photography.  Amazing stuff- I’m actually trying to squeeze the ol’ budget to allow a Bald Eagle print for the old man’s bday coming up.

Naturally, I start talking to the guy working the booth.  Turns out he is the photographer.  Also turns out that he is what you might call…successful.  Decide for yourself- his website.  We’re talking nationally renown.  Super nice guy goes on to tell me about his path and his life.  Randomly, for the second time in an hour, I happen to strike up a conversation with someone living their dreams and living life to the fullest. 

He finished his Ph.D in Forest Resources from the University of Washington in the early 70’s (I finished my undergrad at UW in 2006).  So he’s all set to start his career as a professor but decides to pull the plug after he experienced the politics involved with teaching at that level.  So he decides to see if he can turn his hobby- trekking out into the wilderness to capture wildlife and scenic photos- into a career.  32 years and 500,000 photographs later he is living his dream and is/has been rewarded for it.  Spends most of his time in nature and traveling the world from the great NW to Africa and everywhere in between.  Cards get exchanged and a completely random, genuine contact is made…again.

Never know who you’re gonna meet or where you’re going to meet them.  It is unbelieveably refreshing and motivating to meet nice people that have achieved financial success that has allowed them to design the life they want and live their dreams.  Don’t be afraid to talk to random people; that guy selling hot dogs on the corner could be more than meets the eye.  Then again, he could just be a guy selling hot dogs.