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Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Selling Out

In Business, Society on September 21, 2009 at 12:29 AM

“Oh, to be employed,” I thought to myself as sat in my bed for nearly three months of this past summer doing absolutely nothing.

Well, absolutely nothing in between the many festivals and shows and Phish concerts I attended with the help of my graduation money.

Cursing my dwindling bank account, but reveling in the freedom of my schedule, I wonder if maybe I am destined to a life of hippie-dom, floating from show to show, bumming off of my parents, and scraping by in life just enough to enjoy myself, but not enough to feel like I am actually contributing to society.

Then I got a job.

For the first week I hold onto my pre-working lifestyle tightly. The night before my first day I stay up late out of protest. I watch Larry King’s senile ass like I had been for the entire summer, even though he is on at 3 a.m. and I need to be up for 8 o’ clock the next morning. The next day I nearly fall asleep during my training, and instead of going to bed earlier that night, I drink double the coffee at work the following day.

I come home for my hour lunch break. And despite my every instinct I blaze with my sister during that hour. I go back to work paranoid, out of it, and just generally dumb, but it’s worth it because I prove to the world that I’m not going to give up my life for a stupid job. I tell myself that, OK, maybe toking isn’t the best course of action when you’re trying to learn two intensive computer programs, but I still smoke two more lunch breaks after that before I finally give it up. Actually, I run out of weed.

A couple more days go by. I find myself making promises to myself that I know I wont keep. I refuse to let my newfound schedule hinder me from working out, and despite my early evening tiredness I still drag ass to the gym and do 50 minutes of cardio (plus weight training) five times a week. I look forward to my post-workout glass of wine (make that two) and a few episodes of me and my mother’s favorite show, In Treatment. Or, depending on the Netflix delivery schedule, I pour that glass of wine and curl up in bed.

I sit down at my computer, “Ah, tonight’s the night I will write that piece about working for This Is A Weblog. Right after I smoke this customary peace pipe for inspiration.”

I get to feelin’ pretty inspired, and at this point I have already drank 2/3rds of the glass of wine, so I decide to play a little Tetris before I write. I wake up with my laptop hot on my thighs. It is 3 a.m. I finish the wine and blink and it’s 8 a.m. I’m awoken not by my alarm clock, but by the sound of me yelling “noooo” at my alarm clock. I tell myself I will go to bed earlier that night, that sometimes we have to compromise our ideal lifestyle for work. That’s why it’s called work.

After a few more weeks of this, my 8 a.m. alarm turns into my 8:17 alarm. My Larry King Live appointment turns into YouTube clips of Charlie Rose; I can watch those at anytime, and besides Larry sucks now. My midday blaze session turns into my nightcap. My bedtime glass of wine turns into the “Can I finish this glass of wine before I pass out?” game. My weekends are no longer for partying, but for catching up on sleep. I start to see the barefoot and free version of myself from the summer slipping away. I wonder what I am becoming.

A month goes by and I get my first paycheck. I grimace when I see the hunk of taxes taken out, but grin when I take another hunk of cash out and put it toward my car savings. I buy a Man Man ticket as soon as it goes onsale without hesitation. I charge $114 on my American Eagle credit card. I even overdraft my checking account just because I want to buy a good bottle of wine. I look at myself in the mirror, adnored with a new blouse, pair of pants and red-stained teeth, and I know that I have become a corporate whore.

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Whole Foods And Healthcare

In Business on August 26, 2009 at 2:44 AM

This is slightly old news at the moment but the C.E.O of Whole Foods, John Mackey, posted an article that caused some controversy. “The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare” was shown on the Wall Street Journal’s website and caused a great deal of disturbance among more liberal Americans, who in most cases are the ones that go to Whole Foods. The entire thing was a P.R. Nightmare. People are boycotting the natural foods markets all over the country to show their opposition to Mackey’s opinions.

I think, after reading the article, that Mackey really doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about, which is unfortunate given that he is the C.E.O. of a major corporation (though given how major corporations have been faring lately, it’s hardly atypical). And while I disagree with his overall message, he does make some interesting points, and provides what in my mind appears to be the conservative ideal for privatized health care. He does a very good job of playing a responsible and caring C.E.O. while ultimately not doing much for health care or his company.

What follows are his list of suggestions with commentary/rebuttal where appropriate:

Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).

Mackey goes on to suggest that this would solve a lot of problems with our health care system and provide an example for how his company utilizes high-deductible plans. What he doesn’t bother to explain is what high-deductible means. It means that you’ve got to pay out quite a bit of money before you start getting fully insured. Would this ease some of the financial burdens on people on a paycheck to paycheck basis? Absolutely. Would it allow insurance companies to spend a lot less? Sure it would, but as soon as someone has a health problem they’d better have $2,500 in the bank. Which doesn’t sound like much to your average middle class American, but your average middle class American also isn’t bagging groceries at Whole Foods. Mackey also suggests that this creates an incentive to spend the first $2,500 more carefully. No it doesn’t, it creates an incentive to avoid spending that $2,500 at all. I’ve had a toothache for the past few months but have I gone to the dentist? Nope! Thanks high deductible insurance plan! Realistically speaking this only really helps solve health care problems for people that can afford to have some health care problems to begin with. It’s a great way of working within the system we have, but nothing near what a proper universal heath care system could offer.

Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Read the rest of this entry »

Jimmy Hoffa: Leader With Strength

In Business, Politics on May 29, 2009 at 2:42 PM

Leadership is a characteristic trait that not everyone has. As we all know, this trait has become difficult to find in true form. I am currently writing an article for my own website which centers around the topic of leadership. I had to place that article aside and write this post because it brought me back to a class I enrolled in during my undergraduate studies.

That class was conveniently called Leadership. During that semester, we had to select an individual we felt was a good representation of a leader and present him or her to the class. The professor mentioned various leaders that other students have went forward with like Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Mohandas Gandhi, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Nelson Mandela. Many of the students went with leaders the professor mentioned. However, I submitted my own list of the following individuals to my professor: Bill Clinton, Jimmy Hoffa, and Henry Ford. My professor returned my list and said “Jimmy Hoffa? This is an interesting choice. Please go forward with this.”

Why did I place Jimmy Hoffa on my initial list? That is a good question. I do not even know why he crossed my mind at that time. I have to admit though… the man was a leader of a different breed. He may not have been the most straightedge individual, but he knew how to guide a group of people in the same direction to accomplish a common goal. If you are not sure who Jimmy Hoffa is; he was the President of International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The Teamsters is a labor union in the United States that helps employees achieve proper wages, work rules, complaint procedures, benefits, working conditions, and other various key areas of employment.

Jimmy Hoffa really knew how to rally people together and display a level of motivation that would sincerely empower people. He did not place himself on a higher level than the people he led. He always placed the people he was fighting for first. There is not much footage of Jimmy Hoffa online, but check out this CBC video: Retrobites: Jimmy Hoffa. When given the choice between power or money, he chose power in order to help the workers within the union. In my opinion, Jimmy Hoffa could be placed among some of the best leaders in the United States.

I do not want this post to become a biography of Jimmy Hoffa, so I must conclude with this paragraph. A leader does not always have to be a United States President or the CEO of a company. Some leaders end up turning up on the “dark side” after accomplishing positive objectives but Jimmy Hoffa wanted to help the workers in the United States and did what he could to make that happen. He led with a desire to help the every day man. If you ever get the chance, check out the movie Hoffa, starring Jack Nicholson and Danny DeVito.

Jimmy Hoffa

Impressions: Where Did They Go?

In Business on May 16, 2009 at 9:42 AM

“I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong.” – Lemony Snicket

“I want to make an impact here.” Have you ever heard an individual mention that before? How serious was that individual? Were you that individual? We have all said something along those lines or know someone who has said something like that. I have heard it before but never saw any results. I have see the complete opposite as well. Everyone would like to stand out and make a positive impression. I know I do. However, it seems like many people just think that that so-called “positive impression” is going to come out of thin air. They think that there is no such thing as effort.

I really find it amusing that some people think that effort is no longer a necessity when making a positive impression. They are completely wrong. Effort is such a key factor. I believe that you will always at least get back what you put in. We all know that. That is just the way it goes. If you want to get an ‘A’ in one of your classes, then you better put in ‘A’ effort. If you want your marriage to see its 50 year anniversary, you better put in 50 years of effort. If you want to get that $4 per hour raise at work, you better put in that $4 per hour additional effort. There is a trend here.

When it comes to attempting to make a positive impression, do not… absolutely do not wait for opportunities to come to you. If you want to sit there and wait, then plan on waiting there for a long time. You need to create the opportunity to make that good impression. However, if someone wants to acknowledge your potential and hand you the opportunity… there you go. Take it. Take that opportunity and apply your best effort.

When an individual accomplishes a positive impression (i.e. completes a difficult task with ease), the whole idea sometimes becomes forgotten. The drive to continue displaying positive impressions disappears. That becomes a bad trait. You need to continue setting the bar for yourself. Each time you attempt something, you need to think of it as setting the bar at least one notch higher. That becomes important. It shows the ability to continue growing and the ability to continue applying the required effort to become successful at whatever it may be. Always think that “with one positive impression, another needs to follow.” Do not end at the “first” impression.

Please Disable My OLAA Credit Card Account

In Business, Politics on May 10, 2009 at 9:00 PM

Dear American Express, CitiBank, Wells Fargo etc,

This is your Official Notification to AUTOMATICALLY DECLINE any charge I authorize that would cause my account to go OVER-LIMIT.

I know I should track the running balance on my credit card accounts and every charge I make…“to the penny,” but my day to day life is sometimes hectic and complicated and I have moments where it is either inconvenient or downright impossible to manage all my work and personal responsibilities and relationships…and the drama of my daily life.

Since you regard the crossing of my credit-limit line, “even by 1 cent”, to be such an egregious offense that you would punish me with an immediate fine and then double or triple the interest rate on my past balance, I want you to know that you have my attention and I also take this seriously.

On a Side Note: As an industry, I commend you for convincing our politicians and lawmakers that they should extend such legal “jurisdiction and punishment powers” to your industry. Most of our courts, judges and arbitrators do not posses this degree of power (which can easily financially ruin an American Family) without some sort of an administrative process. A process where the accused has an opportunity to present some facts and circumstances and have his future intentions and past behavior in the community mitigate the punishment. The “Judge, Jury and Sentencing Authority” you have over all Americans holding your credit cards is an impressive testimony to your influence and control over our politicians and government.

But I digress…I’m not sure if you have checked-in with your IT Department recently, but I wanted to let you know that you now have the technological ability to deny any charge to my account that would cause me to inadvertently commit the egregious offense of exceeding my credit-limit. Actually, I find it surprising you have not been providing this customer service option and service already since you consider this such a capital consumer offense. Hmmm…I wonder why?

Anyway, please excuse my lack of knowledge as to which Federal Law I should cite as the reference for your requirement to honor my request and I hope you will agree that it makes a lot of sense that I would choose to have you decline any charge that would cause my account to go over-limit rather than pay an additional over-limit fee and have my interest rate increased on my previous balance that we both agreed would be paid…but at a lower rate.

I do appreciate your concern that I not be embarrassed or inconvenienced at check-out with a disapproved charge but I would rather deal with that embarrassment and situation than pay you an extra $ 3,000 in interest over the next year for the $ 24 pair of pants I was trying to purchase.

Honestly, I believe Federal Law should dictate that banks require Card Holders to specifically opt-in to activate an Over-Limit Authorized Account (OLAA) and agree to the fines and the doubling and tripling of the interest rate. Quite logically and fairly…the same Federal Law would also dictate that banks cannot disqualify activation of a credit card account or terminate a credit card account solely because a Card Holder does not opt-in to an OLAA Account.

But then…who am I to be promoting such logic, common sense and fairness? As we all know, our Senators and Congressmen (and women) are always looking after our best interests and if what I just suggested made any sense whatsoever…it surely would have been done a long, long time ago.

So again, please disable my Over-Limit Authorized Account (OLAA).

Sincerely,

Rick MacDonald

Hello CEO… Go Ahead & Fly Privately

In Business, News on April 20, 2009 at 8:25 PM

It has been a while since I have read anything regarding aviation.  However, this past weekend I decided to get back in tune with my roots.  I was reading some past articles regarding companies and their private jets.  Most of them were about how the government discourages the use of this form of “luxury” transportation and the negatives of a CEO flying privately rather than commercial.  Just take a moment and think about it with me.  It is not always about the luxury.  These articles seem to center on words like: luxury, expensive, abused, impractical and so on.

Let me tell you.  If I ever become a CEO of a significant company, I would expect to fly privately.  I would 100% expect it.  Do not put me on a commercial aircraft that flies numerous times a day with 150+ people on board.  Okay, relax… I have my reasons… and they are legit.  I am not stuck up.  I am not materialistic.  I do not feel like I need to be showered with only the best.  I am being reasonable here.  Let me explain why flying privately is beneficial for a company.

Being the CEO of a company is such an important role.  With a great CEO, you have a great company.  We all know examples.  He or she is a public figure, the face of the company.  In my own opinion, there are three major reasons why a CEO or other key individuals of a company need to fly privately.  First… security.  There are limited threats and access to a CEO compared to being on a commercial aircraft with complete strangers.  There are some whacky people out there.  We all know that.  Second… maintenance.  The maintenance done on private jets is incredible.  The owners and companies flying these aircraft expect them to be in perfect working condition and nothing less.  This high level of maintenance allows the CEO to know he or she is safe on their trip.  Third… scheduling.  There is nothing like having multiple meetings in one day around the country and being able to attend all of them with ease.  I have seen it done.  When a CEO from the east coast has a meeting on the west coast, then in the midwest, and finally back up north… it can be done.  The CEO could arrive at the airport, board the jet, and depart the airport getting him or her off the ground before any of the commercial companies can get half their passengers in line to board.  These are not the only reasons why flying privately is beneficial, but they are three great reason why it is beneficial.

Obviously there have been companies that abuse their private jets but realistically, this form of transportation is justified.  They just should not be using a 16-passenger aircraft when flying only three or four people.  Purchase or charter the aircraft that is most practical.  That’s all.  Now, with all that said… go ahead and fly privately.  I support the idea.