Wednesday, December 29, 2004

New Years Eve

Shrimp, Bagel Bites, 120 beers, 10 friends from out of town, friends from the Lou, 2 gallons of screwdrivers, all night poker, Halo 2 on a 9+ foot LCD projection TV.

I am getting antsy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Pay off a house or invest?

Which is better? Paying off a house or investing in the stock market?

On a 100k house after 30 years you would have repaid about 300k (roughly). That is 200k in interest, and 100k in principal. (roughly). Your house would be worth 446,775 if it increased in value 5% a year. So you would have had a capital gain of 446,775 - 300,000 = $146,775 Plus all along you write off the interest payments (200k worth).

If you invested $500 a month for 30 years in the stock market and averaged 8% returns a year you would end up with $745,000. You would pay taxes on the 745,000.

Thus 745,000*(1-.4) = 447000

But then you would have to spend 446,774 to get that house for a net gain of 225 bucks.

$146,775 is obviously considerably more than 225. Thus, if my math is right, you are considerably better off paying off real estate, than playing the stock market.

A few years ago I debated this with JR. Now I am not so sure. What do you guys think? Use math if you comment.

Side note: I love the stock market. You can easily get financial independance with it. There is nothing wrong with buying a house or more, AND systematically investing.

Pay your investments first, your bills 2nd, and your spending money third and you will not have to work in 20 to 30 years.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Cell Phone Do Not call and what are you worth.

There is a rumor that now telemarketers are allowed to call cell phones...(thanks to cell phone lobbyists!).

Call 888-382-1222 from your cell phone...listen to the prompts, and you will be added to the cell phone do not call list for 5 years.

I think the above is an urban myth, but its worth getting on that only take 2 minutes.

Also, according to the book "The Millionaire Next Door", which is a cook book about how millionaires become millionaires (hint, it is almost never high income), there is a simple formula you can use to see if you'r worth what you should be worth.

(your age)*(.1)*(your annual salary this year) = what you should be worth.

Once you are 25-27 this formula becomes applicable (before that and you haven't had time for compounding to take affect).

I read that book and was convinced that I had to walk away from high income (5 figure paychecks for several months) and get a low paying job. If people think you have money, then you spend it instead of save it. e.g. I was eating 15 dollar lunches everyday. now I just bring my own. no peer pressure anymore. now people don't stiff me on chipping in for bills, they don't expect me to throw in the extra 3 bucks all the time...(does anyone understand that when you split a bill you have to pay your share of tax?)

Financial independance. Sacrifice now, so you can enjoy your 30s, and retire (if you want to) in your 40s. Or bitch about bills and stress over bills for the next 80 years. Its an easy choice. At least for me it is.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

The end is in site.

Odds are that I am going to end regular updates to this blog on Jan 1st. I started this blog to post new ideas. I am considering pursuing some of those business ideas in a few years or decades, so I should not post them, especially since my readers chose not to help me develop the ideas.

I also started this blog to try out a new medium...just like in 6th grade (1990) when I got on the internet, or 8th grade (1992) when I went in my first chat room, or when I sent my first email (1991 or 92). Or when I made my first website (1997). Or downloaded my first mp3 and played it on my mp3 player (98). Or bought my first DVD player (97). In 2 to 5 years people who think they are ahead of the crowd will catch up and will use blogs frequently, just like 2 to 5 years after each of the above, people who thought that they were ahead of the curve caught on.

I also started this blog to develop ideas. In most cases people used it as an anonymous and cowardly forum to get jabs in on me, which is fine. Some people talk. Some people do. Without doers, the talkers would have nothing to 2nd guess. Without people helping me develop my ideas, it makes it pointless for me to post them publicly. This has been alot of fun though! Blogs certainly are a great and easy source of information dissemination.

Thank you readers, for 6 months of patronage.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Manning up the competition

5 years ago right now I became a legal resident of Indiana, and was planning on going to grad school at Indiana State. So I had to become loyal to a new football team. It was a no-brainer, Indy had just as potent of an offense as the Rams, except that 2 of their 2 stars were much much younger. So I started watching Indy games when I could, and playing as the colts on Madden.

Where am I going with all of this? Manning is the best Quarterback in the league. Ever since the first time I saw him play, I have felt that. A man with one leg could play quarterback in the NFL if they can read defenses. Its all about reading zones and throwing into the gaps of the zones. Or when the other team plays man coverage to run the ball, or get favorable matchups. Manning makes Edgerrin a good runner. Manning follows through with his play fakes, Manning keeps acting like he is hiding the ball and keeps his back to the defense even when he doesn't have the ball. Or he pump fakes when he doesn't even have the ball. This buys his running back and receivers an extra second, which equals an extra 3-5 yards. Manning makes the running game with his fakes. Manning sees and understands the defenses. He appears clumsy, but he is smart. He understand the game of football. Sure Vick is a highlight reel, but he doesn't make the other 10 men on the field better. Manning makes each man on his offense better. (Could Stokely or Wayne get 1000 yards anywhere else as a 2nd or 3 receiver).

You can keep your McNabb, Vick, or whoever, but give me Manning anyday. I want a smart, hard worker, who understands how things work, and how to get things done. Brady fits that mold, and you could easily argue that he is just as good as Manning, but how many points a game does Manning put up compared to Brady. Brady has a defense, so of course he has the Super Bowl rings.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Customer Service

I am going to keep this post to a minimum. I could write a book about customer service, and lack there of (e.g. Sprint).

So many companies skimp on customer service now-a-days, and then turn around and wonder why customers and employees are not loyal now-a-days. Its simple. People are people. People have feelings. People are ego-centric. This is necessarily so for survival reasons, but I'll refrain from getting into a sociology discussion. People need to feel special. People need people to care about them. If you feel like someone cares about you then you will be loyal on some level or another depending on how much you value that person's ability to add value to your life.

But most companies (and americans) don't care about making customers and employees feel special anymore. (nor do shitty managers and coworkers...why are you friends with alot of the people you're friends with? because they care about you and your life to whatever extent you expect them to). But for the sake of keeping this short, I'll move on.....

Let me share 2 customer service experiences I've had lately.

1) Bloomberg. Bloomberg for those of you who don't know is a standalone internet device that existed before the internet. Anyone who has seen a stock market guy looking at a computer with several screens has seen a derivation of a bloomberg terminal. It provides up-to-the-second extremely accurate information on nearly EVERYTHING in the financial services world, as well as dictionarys, calculators, encyclopedias, and any other info source you need. So I was at work trying to create a report that eventually saved my department 8 hours a month. But I was stuck on how to do a function. So I emailed Bloomberg. Less than 30 minutes later I was called back. How many times do you contact a company and are happy to hear back a few days later, or at all. Well Bloomberg didn't email back, they called back within 30 minutes. They asked questions to understand what my goals were, as well as my skill level. They mentioned my name several times courteously. They later proceeded to walk me through how to create complex mathematical models. They didn't just make sure they answered my question, they made sure I understood the process. They didn't say they couldn't do what I wanted. They found a solution, and then taught me how to use it. They were extremely polite. They followed up with an email a few hours later and said if I needed anymore help to call this girl's personal extension. Another day I was creating another model. This is not day-to-day stuff for most users, these are complex functions. So they flew someone out from New York to train me. Bloomberg is not only an amazing tool, but their customer service is mesmerizingly quick and thorough and polite. They made me feel like they cared about me. They solved my problem. They got stuff done.

2) Autozone. My check engine light came on. I went to Autozone and they did a computer diagnostic for me for free. I am not mechanical at all. I told the guy who was about my age that. So he walked me through what he was saying. He took me inside and opened a manual and made a copy of it so I could fix my car. He made sure I learned it. He gave me tools also. He didn't sell me the most expensive product. He consistently made eye contact with me (I have friends who can't even do this). Eye contact makes the other person feel like you are actually listening, even if you aren't. Well he ended up having to do 4 more computer diagnostics because what I fixed wasn't the final solution....(we were doing the cheapest fix first each time). Each time he was more polite then the last. He coached me. So I shook his hand when I was all done and gave him a handful of cash and said thanks, and that I appreciated his help. He gave the cash right back and said witha smile and eye contact that he does this all day, and not to worry about it. I would hire that guy in a second of I could hire someone. He got stuff done. He made eye contact. He cared about me. He cared about fixing the problem. He had integrity.

If you want to make an impact in your friends lives or your customers lives or your co-workers life, then do this one thing. Care about them. If you want your friends to stay friends with you, or your wife or husband to always love you, then care about them. Look them in the eye. Listen when they talk. Ask how their day went and listen, or how something exclusive to their life is going and listen.

Care about people.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Anyone who works white collar knows that email has quickly revolutionized communications with firms. I believe that blogs will do the same. For instance, instead of getting 20 emails a day, I can go out to a central blog and see what I need to know. Instead of receiving a 2nd or 3rd email correcting previous ones, I can just go to a blog.

What can be put on corporate blogs?
-Meeting notes, brain storming sessions, marketing notes, status of projects (e.g. require associates to update daily where they stand on projects...I promise you they will get completed sooner if they are posted on a blog.)

Anyone can do a blog. They are simple and quick. On distribution lists that have 30k people, imagine how long it takes the sender just to delete the away messages that they receive.

Plus the owner of the blog can have the option to email certain people when there are updates, or on less confidential blogs users can opt to receive notifcation of updates.

Blogs are the future of information dissemination.

I discussed this with the head of operation's secreatary at work today, and she liked the idea alot. She gave me homework to do before we can do this. I need to find a (preferably) free blog that is private. Most of the emails and meetings are understandably internal, so if someone playing on google finds the info, it would certainly be bad. I'll let you know what happens in a few months.

What are your thoughts on using blogs at work? Do you think its a good idea? How can you keep it private? Do you know of any blogs that require a password? Would this work at your work? What hurdles would you have implementing blogs for a company with 30,000 employees....(e.g. legal, mandatory vs. volunteery content, privacy, passwords, who has permission....)

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