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Sunday, May 15, 2011


All but the most cynical among us believe that if we work hard and do well, we’ll get ahead.  The reality is once removed from that ideal.  See, the problem is: we rely on other people to get ahead.  Their goal is to…get ahead.  Until we live in a society where people care more about others than they do themselves (see altruism), we need to look at our prosperity in the context of those around us.

Sometimes, the smartest and hardest working people appear only as threats to their less capable superiors.  Threats are to be eliminated or at best subdued, not enhanced.  This is the fundamental flaw in thinking that the best people should rise to the top of any organization.  Naturally, some organizations are headed by true leaders.  Anyone who has spent some time reading about Warren Buffett knows that he exhibits the integrity and trust in his management team that causes good people to want to be around him.

Sadly, the reasons why most people strive to gain a leadership position are not psychologically healthy.  Some are driven to control an environment that they cannot control.  Some just want wealth and still others want pure power.  Any of these reasons ensure that the employees they manage will be unfulfilled.  As we all know, excrement rolls downhill.  Bad leadership begets bad leadership and the people performing line functions suffer.

How we pick our leaders is as much our fault as followers as it is theirs for leading poorly.  We have a choice to collectively reject bad leaders, but we are drawn to them like a moth to flame.  They are often tall and attractive people with soothing voices.  Their physical presence appeals to us on a visceral level that we don’t understand.  The alpha male is now the “alpha person.”  Unfortunately, the qualities that make a good leader are not perceived as attributes of the strong individual by traditional (caveman) standards: humble, empathic, thoughtful, caring…who would promote such a character?  …Certainly not a traditional leader.

So what’s the answer?  Reject bad leadership.  Workers of the world unite!  Let’s teach leadership skills in our schools.  Let’s demand real leaders even though our gut may be drawn to the bad ones.  If entire departments simultaneously threatened to quit unless bad leaders are replaced, good leaders could be forced on companies.  I have reserved the domain  I think it’s time to call these people out.  It’s not their fault.  We put them there; so now we need to fix the problem.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I have not written a post in a while.  My social media website is progressing, but I don’t have enough to report just yet.  Meanwhile, the world rages on.  History is being made under our noses and most of us look at it as “news.”  Those of us fortunate enough to live in a capitalistic democracy tend to think that people who don’t enjoy such a lifestyle are not part of our system.

That would be a mistake.  Even if people are governed by an autocratic system, their leaders are forced to play economically in a capitalistic system, because that system is now global.  As money flows to a ruling regime, those people who are on the “inside” benefit.  The only real difference between their system and ours is that we all believe we have a fair chance of getting on the “inside” of our economic system.

In the Middle East, the people who are not on the inside and don’t have any chance of being there are fed up.  The wealth of their countries has tipped so heavily in favor of the insiders that they are no longer willing to suffer in silence.  This wave of revolution taking place in the Middle East may not stay there.  Libya is in North Africa and there are plenty of countries in the remainder of Africa that could easily react in the same manner.

The United States may be a long way from revolution, but the divide between rich and poor continues to widen and with each economic downturn, more people join the ranks of the poor.  Our global economic system does not have enough money.  Capital is being horded by the few while public institutions continue to borrow to prop up the rest of the people.

We find ourselves in an unsustainable downward spiral driven by greed.  The system will fail.  “When and how” are the two great questions.  But, the bigger mystery is what will replace it.  Maybe some of the transformations taking place in the Middle East will provide some insight.  Or, maybe the transformation from an autocracy to a democracy is a step along the path.  What does a failed democracy transform into?  Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Economic Fiction

What is money?  Seems like a straightforward question, doesn’t it?  It’s not.  The only money the U.S. government actually creates is coins.  The Federal Reserve prints bills.  They are not the government, but rather a corporation consisting of heads of large multi-national banks.  If ever there were a case of the fox guarding the hen house – this is it.  So, the source of creation notwithstanding, what does all this add up to?  Answer: 3% of all of the “money” that is credited as wealth by all the holders of wealth in the United States (individuals and corporations).

Where is the other 97%, you ask?  It’s data.  That’s right; it doesn’t really exist except in computers.  If all the computers were to shut down, 97% of our “money” would spontaneously disappear.  Where did all this “money” come from?  How do you create so much wealth out of thin air?  The answer is simple: loans.  When banks make a loan, they don’t put a freeze on the funds in your savings account.  They just create new money out of thin air.  Of course, most of it is just in the computer. 

You spend your new money using your checking account or credit card and this causes computer records to reflect the transfer of the “money” from one bank to another.  But, unless you withdraw money in the form of cash, it’s all part of the 97% fiction.

The great thing about the 97% fiction is: as long as everyone believes it is based on a true story – it is a true story!  Our problem is that it is getting increasingly difficult to believe the story.  Once enough suspicion arises, the story starts to fall apart.  This can only result in tragedy.  So, our leaders need to keep selling us the validity of the story.

This is one more example of how are lives are marching inexorably towards complete virtualization.  Our economic lives increasingly live in the net.  Our social lives are increasingly lived in the net.  For a growing number of us, our work lives live in the computer if not the net.  Video conferencing is a way to project yourself digitally to another place.  Most new laptops have a built-in camera for this purpose.  Do you see the pattern?  Our digital lives are slowly taking over as what matters in the world becomes increasingly online.

We will continue to find better ways to plug ourselves in.  The digital world will continue to become a richer, better place to be, while we continue to degrade the physical world around us.  Eventually, the 97% fiction becomes the stronger reality – the better reality.  Now, THAT is stranger than fiction!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

On The Road

They say that most people only have one really great, unique and original idea in their whole lives.  Usually, that Idea comes early in life.  Colonel Sanders was in his sixties when he decided to sell his famous chicken recipe.  My story is not as compelling as the colonel’s, but it has taken me a while to get here.

My life has been wrapped around the computer industry.  In recent years, I have tried to shed my direct reliance on it for my livelihood, but it is still and always will be an intrinsic part of my commercial value.  To appreciate this, a brief history is in order.

I began my adult life as a musician and a desire to be a radio personality.  To that end, I went to Specs Howard School of Broadcasting Arts.  With my 3rd Class License in hand, I set about finding a job in radio, eventually finding said job at WPON in Pontiac.  Meanwhile, I decided to go back to school and get a degree in Communication Arts.

After switching to being the program director of the Oakland University radio station, I found myself a little short of money.  My dad told me about a computer store called Computerland that was opening near campus.  I applied.  To my surprise, I was hired as a retail salesperson.  I didn’t know a thing about computers, but then who did back then?  I learned on the job.  This was in 1978.

The personal computer was just starting to get some notice by the general public.  I was on the cutting edge.  This theme would repeat itself throughout my career.  I don’t know if I’ve been lucky or if I actually have some sense about the next big thing, but I’ve always found my way onto the cutting edge.  After PCs were established, I moved to a company that was experimenting with selling local area networks, they were brand new.  Then, it was groupware like Lotus Notes and email.  Next came wide area communications – the ability to interconnect networks across large geographic distances.  And finally, the Internet.  By the time the Internet rolled around, I had my own company, but there I was, pioneering again.  Being on the cutting edge is messy, but exciting.

My last cutting edge experience was working in a company developing cloud based computing solutions.  We didn’t even know we were in the cloud then.  The term hadn’t been popularized yet.  It has been several years since I’ve been on the cutting edge and I’m starting to get antsy.  Something has to be done about it.

Enter JT. JT is a friend who I have known for eight years.  He is a very focused young man who seems to have a good bead on his direction in life.  He is a software guy; in particular, a Microsoft software development guy.  He loves it.  But, he doesn’t tolerate mediocrity very well.  I can relate.  I suffer from a similar affliction.  He decided that he wants to develop the next big thing on the Internet and retire young and rich.  Seems like a good plan.

As with any plan, the devil is in the details.  First, he had to come up with a good idea.  Every few months, JT would come to me with an idea for the next big thing.  Unfortunately, I quickly shot holes in each of them and JT skulked away dejectedly. 

Recently, we redecorated our bathroom upstairs.  One of the results of this effort was the realization of a lifelong dream to have a tub with jets in my very own home.  I especially enjoy using it in the winter.  A few months back, I was soaking and reading (as I am inclined to do).  I was reminiscing about my life back in high school.  I was a hippie.  I did what hippies did – searched for the next party.  I was pretty good at finding it, too.  Then, in a flash, an idea came to me.  That thought had caused me to hatch an idea of a great new use for the Internet.

Quickly, I began to search for a site that would do what I had conceived.  Nothing.  I told JT about it.  He searched.  Nothing.  I could not believe that if someone had implemented this idea, it would remain obscure enough not to be found.  It just wasn’t there.  JT and I realized that we are about to change the world.  That’s my goal anyway.  JT just wants to get rich.  The work begins…

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Journey

Anyone checking my blog lately has wondered what happened.  Well, I've been on hiatus for want of a compelling story to tell.  Call it the Michigan winter blues.  The important thing is:  I'M BACK!

Life goes through many stages.  Sometimes, it's hard to see the beginnings and ends of these stages while we are in the thick of it.  However, every once in a while there comes along a rare opportunity to chronicle such a stage from the beginning.

I happen to believe that I am embarking on a rather exciting journey.  I will either turn out to be correct or the following posts will prove once again to be the ramblings of delusional mind.