June 30, 2011

Don't Make Money. Make Awesome.

I have officially given up on get-rich quick schemes. Since I work in the world of Internet Marketing, I stay pretty close behind the thought leaders in the industry, and closely follow their grandiose and innovative visions for making money online.

So, last summer, I launched a Website. The idea was to use my marketing prowess to rank highly in search results for people looking for information on 3D televisions (remember, this was last summer) and direct them toward different online purchasing options, making a small commission on each very large purchase.

I still think it was a good idea. But, I gave up on the prospect really quickly. Why?

Because I had no passion for evangelizing 3D televisions.

Making a lot of money on this idea would have required a lot of work. And I wouldn't really be providing any real value to anyone. I would simply be a barely helpful middle man. I wasn't really interested in helping individuals make better purchasing decisions. I just wanted a cut off their purchase.

I will no longer do things just to make money. I will only do things worth doing, and figure out a way to monetize them.

June 29, 2011

I Am Sexually Screwed Up

I entered my pubescent years in the late 90s. Just before the real technological revolution occurred. Before Google. Before Napster. Before Ellen came out. My childhood took place in a bubble that no longer exists.

As an 8-year old, if I had a question, I asked my 8-year old peer and blindly accepted whatever garbage was spat out. Today, an 8-year old asks Google.

My father never had "the talk" with me. Well, that's not exactly true. One day when I was 12 years old, we were pulling into our subdivision when he finally sputtered out (after acting extremely awkward the first 20 minutes of our car ride), "Do you know what a scrotum is?" in the same tone of voice Mr. Rogers used to ask children if they know how crackers are made before the video transition to the cracker factory.

As a young Christian boy, I grew up thinking sex was bad. I probably wasn't specifically taught that. But, it was the impression I was left with hearing lots of warnings and nary a positive example of sex. Even in college, I remember a period of time when I argued that sex may have been divinely designed strictly for procreation purposes. Now, as a married man, I still struggle reconciling my confidence in the design of sexual enjoyment with my ingrained negative impressions as a child that "sex is bad".

Recently, I had to ask my wife anatomical questions about my new daughter. I wasn't quite certain exactly what was what.

I am a product of my environment. I am sexually screwed up. And even with my awareness of this, it's probably permanent.

June 28, 2011

Moses Was a Murderer

Exodus 2:11-15
11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?” 14 The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”
So to recap, Moses was a murderer! In fact, if you look at the black marks on most of the historical figures we deem "good" or at least "good leaders", doesn't it seem as if the majority of them were murdering adulterers?

So, why is it that when I watch the news, I see a mug shot of a 21-year old kid arrested for murder and think to myself, "He is pure evil." Yet, as a Christian, I absolutely believe in the rehabilitation and restoration of man.

Am I simply a product of our culture who doesn't even try to rehabilitate those in our prison system? Or do I simply not believe in the restoration of murderers despite thousands of years of evidence to the contrary?

June 27, 2011

Leaders Should Be Arrogant, Right?

It's time to hearken back to your Sunday School lessons folks. Because we're talking Moses today and tomorrow. Don't worry agnostics. We're staying broad. It's just that I just heard an interesting sermon this weekend that got me thinking.

When I look for a leader, both within the Church and in the corporate world, I look for inner strength. I look for confidence. I look for vision.

Yet, God picked Moses, the meekest man on Earth to be leader.

Perhaps God is better able to work through people who trust, not in their own abilities, but who have an overwhelming trust in God's?

Now, this is personally convicting for me, because I am just about as arrogant as one can get. Because I compare myself with the mediocrity that surrounds me. Rather, Moses compared himself, not to others, but to the perfection of God, and said, "I am nothing."

So, should we change what we're looking for in a leader?

June 24, 2011

The Kia Soul = Design Revolution

We recently purchased a Kia Soul to replace my wife's old sedan, because:

A) We wanted a bigger car for our new family addition.
B) In the past, my wife had to borrow vehicles for her dessert table design business simply for the larger storage capacity.

Two months into the new vehicle and I am absolutely blown away. The Kia Soul is a design revolution. It's incredibly spacious. A roomier front than my Hyundai Sonata. A MUCH roomier back than my Hyundai Sonata. And it takes up a good 6 in. less garage space front-to-back.

I'm not sure I'll ever buy another car again. It's perfect. And I love that great design is finally winning!

June 23, 2011

Community Response to Lumni Student Loans

A couple weeks ago, we discussed the brand new company Lumni, who provides educational loans for students in exchange for X percentage of the student's salary for X number of months after graduation, dependent on the size of the loan.

I marveled at the potential behind the idea, but would like to address the two criticisms to this new model given in the comments of that post.

1) The Lumni model should only be available to Med students and Lawyers.
Federal and state governments are currently leaning that way as well, and are shifting grants and student loans based on the new awareness that merely "earning a degree" does not guarantee future economic privilege. Until now, they have subsidized higher education based on the premise that the individual's future output will make up for the initial investment. But this only works if the student enters a marketable field. The beauty of Lumni is that individual investors can choose to be as charitable or savvy as they want. If you have a passion for art and want to see more promising students go to art school, you can provide them with that opportunity.

2) Higher Education should be free for everyone.
Well, currently, it's not. And Lumni will help more students pursue their higher education goals. But, let's discuss what "free" means anyway. Does "free" simply mean that you want the Federal/State governments to subsidize the costs of higher education? Because, that's not free of course. Although, actual "free" education is getting closer. More and more people are using free online resources to teach themselves marketable skills. How to design websites. How to program in C++. How to use Photoshop. But more than that, prestigious universities are beginning to release archived lectures, presentations, notes and study guides for entire courses.  This critical thought education is free. Although, you won't get "credit" for it, and you can't put it on your resume. So, once employers start waiving the "you must have a college degree" mandate, and find new ways to judge applicants based on intellectual capability alone, "free" higher education is right around the corner. Until then, Lumni is a solution that both sides of the equation should be extremely excited about.

June 22, 2011

Socrates. Plato. Aristotle.

Socrates. Plato. Aristotle.

Arguably 3 of the top 10 minds in the history of the world. And guess what? They just happened to have a mentor-pupil relationship with each other?!!? What an amazing coincidence!?!?!

Or else learning from those smarter than yourself is the solution to expediting your own educational journey? Let us once and for all reject the notion that "everyone has to learn the hard lessons for themselves" and embrace the idea of starting off from a bigger foundation of wisdom with each successive generation so that we, as a people, can more quickly evolve.

Have you surrounded yourself with people smarter than you? If not, how might you do so?

June 21, 2011

Poor People Give Out Bigger Candy Bars

When we were 10, my friend and I had an incredible idea.

What if we went to the rich neighborhood on Halloween?

"That neighborhood with all the McMansions. They're so loaded, I bet every house gives out full-size or even king-size candy bars. This is the greatest idea we've ever had."

That night, we were devastated to learn that poor people actually give out better candy. In both quantity and size, we would have done better staying on our home turf that night. So, what can we take away from this experience? That rich people are greedy cheapskates? Or that rich people have a better understanding of the value of a dollar (the middle class is a debt-laden class), and it's why they're rich?

June 17, 2011

MyGofer: A Review and Astonishment

MyGofer is a online grocery service that lets you order online (growing selection through Sears/KMart parent company), and pick them all up through a brick-and-mortar drive-through location. (Think Peapod at WalMart prices without the delivery charge - since there's no delivery).

And since I work at a local university, we are a part of MyGofer's beta program, which allows us to order groceries from ANY retailer. So, every week, MyGofer drives to Whole Foods for me (30 minutes away), picks up my order, and drives directly to my car in the parking lot at work to drop it off. No surcharge. No extra tax. No delivery fee.

How is this possible? It's a test program. Their long-term monetization model would be from becoming a "wholesaler", either from the distributor or even bulk pricing from the retailers themselves. It might not be profitable. But, until then, I'm taking advantage of it. Here's my problem.

No one else is. There are currently only 2 other people at my place of work using this free service (out of roughly 600). I tell people about my experience. I gush about it. How it saves my wife 2 hours a week, every week. How it costs nothing. And they won't try it.

This is why the world doesn't evolve quickly enough. Because people are irrational.

June 16, 2011

I Wish Nurses Were Dumber

Firstly, thank you all for your patience during the longest (non-restful) sabbatical I've taken on this project in its five-year existence. So, now that I'm a daddy, does that mean I'm going to force-feed you post after post about baby-related interests?

I hope not. Because, for many of you stranger-friends, you have no vested interest in my child. That being said, I'm certain this new chapter of my life will present new "daddy-baby" doors of critical thought, but my desire is that I am able to stay broad enough to keep your growing interest. Here's an example.

I wish nurses were dumber. The other week, we discussed different types of intelligence. The educational requirements necessary to earn a nursing degree align very closely to a hyper-analytical mind. Anatomy. Physiology. A litany of treatment methods.

Here's what I want in a nurse. A giant smile. I want incredibly positive bedside manner. That's it. Yes, I suppose I'm glad nurses have enough education to avoid giving me awful and harmful advice. But, in reality, they're not prescribing medication. They're not conducting surgery. This isn't to downplay the difficulty or the immense responsibilities of the working nurse. It's to re-think the role completely.

Because I'd rather have a "nurse's assistant" deal with me in-hospital, with a little less knowledge and a lot more positivity.

June 12, 2011

June 07, 2011

Human Stock Market: Lumni Beat Us To It

Last Fall, this critical-thought community spent an entire week discussing practical next-steps for creating a human stock market. One in which you could invest in potential at the individual level. At the end of the week, despite great participation, I was still stumped.

But loyal reader and friend, Chris Stapel, came across a New York Times article by David Bornstein that highlights a company called Lumni, who is putting a similar idea into action.
In exchange for $8,530 in financing, [Columbian nursing student Jairo Sneider] agreed to repay 14 percent of his salary for 118 months after he graduated. At that point, regardless of how much he has paid, his obligation terminates. ... If he ends up earning the average salary for nurses in Colombia, he will end up paying the equivalent of an interest rate of 17 percent, which is the average rate in the country for a student loan. And if he ends up doing better, he will pay more, and Lumni will share in his success.
Lumni has made similar deals with 1,900 students to date. Fifty five percent of them are women and 90 percent are the first in their families to attend college. Most of these students would have otherwise been unable to pay for college. So far, the default rate is under 3 percent.

Genius. Lumni got around my hold-up with ensuring the student would pick a profitable career during the repayment period. (The individual retains the majority of the profits.) While this isn't as apples-to-apples as a true Human Stock Market, it's extraordinarily more practical, and I can't wait to figure out how to put my money behind something like this.
Why didn't we think of this, gang?

June 06, 2011

Too Selfish for Communal Living

Francis Chan's "Crazy Love" recently provoked my friends and I to discuss the potential beauty of communal living. Mind you, this required a whole lot of conversation to get me there, so I will not presume you see this "beauty" initially, but rather the disastrous horror that would surely come from it.

In fact, I'm sure many of you can empathize with my hold-ups. One discussed benefit was the idea that we could share our talents to lessen our individual expenses. For instance, one of the girls in this discussion is a professional hair stylist. So, in this communal living scenario, we would never have to pay for haircuts again. My wife is a great cook. So, we wouldn't have to pay to go out to eat. And I could....create personal branding campaigns for these individuals and play devil's advocate during our lively political debates??

The idea of getting free haircuts for life is appealing. But even if my personal talents could offer a utilitarian consumer service in return, I still think I'd be doing the math in my head - keeping track of who's getting the best out of this deal.

The only way I could get past this is if I actually loved these people like they were my own family. Then, I wouldn't keep score. And perhaps we shouldn't buy neighboring houses until I do?

June 03, 2011

Why NPR's Single Sensory Production is a Blessing

While listening to the radio this morning, I had an epiphany regarding just how good NPR is. I mean, it's really good. And I started thinking about what I was comparing its "good" against. National televised news, I suppose. (segue)

Technology has gotten to the point where it has become easy enough and affordable enough for non-creative types to put together the "appearance" of quality-looking multimedia. Anyone, for several hundred dollars, can buy a Canon HD camera, and use iMovie to put together something that looks extremely polished, and yet can be constructed with very little creativity at all. And what percentage of the populace can tell the difference between great and decent communications when both look "polished". (segue return)

Let's go back to NPR, which deals only in the single sense of sound. There's nothing else to distract us. No pretty people. No pretty graphics. No pretty transitions. Just the story. It better be good. It has to be good. Because there's no other way to trick us into thinking it is. "Polish" can make up for garbage without many of us noticing.

So, as "polish" becomes universally prevalent, what happens to art?

June 02, 2011

Here's Why Everything is Bon Jovi's Fault

People always ask me why I hate Bon Jovi so much.

1) The man exudes undeserved arrogance. I can't watch him perform without getting physically nauseous.
2) He once claimed in an interview that he singlehandedly brought the acoustic guitar back to rock 'n roll. I There is ever so much wrong with this ridiculous claim.
3) Only "woo" girls like Bon Jovi.
4) Jeff Tweedy thinks Bon Jovi sucks, too. (Watch clip above)

Bon Jovi's music is insultingly awful to those of us who see music as communication. Now, as a businessman, I think he knows exactly what he's doing.

June 01, 2011

Shaq's Retiring. (Shared Punchline)

As soon as I found out Shaq had announced his retirement from the NBA, I immediately tweeted, "Shaq just announced his retirement. Hope that means he'll have time to take his martial arts movies more seriously."

Sure, I was tempted to go with a Kazaam reference, but I decided to stick with the lesser known, Shaq Fu (which I later remembered was actually a video game, and not a movie).

Still, I was pretty pleased with myself, and after a few minutes, decided to jump on Twitter to see how my message had been received.

Nothing. A little surprised, I typed "Shaq" into a Twitter search to see if perhaps the news of his retirement hadn't spread quite yet. And what did I see? Hundreds and hundreds of tweets with my identical joke.

1) Does my generation (raised on Seinfeld and Simpsons) all have the EXACT same humor?
2) Does this teach us how incredibly formulaic and unoriginal most humor is?

A Christian Approach To The End Of Life

 Note: This post has been contributed. Unsplash - CC0 License Talking about the end of life isn’t a popular topic. But it is something that ...