Monday, March 20, 2006

The Great Problem

I'd like to speak to you about something I have been struggling against for about the last ten years. Something that just kills me in the head. Something that we all struggle against, it is a human struggle. But I don't know how many have been fighting it as directly as I.

The problem is something like shortsightedness... The problem is a limited-scope. The problem is having only a single point of view. It's egoism, and limited cogniscience.

Perhaps it is just part of my personality, but my personality-type especially, seek to gain a much wider perspective on what I'm seeing. I am constantly looking at my ideas, my concepts, my innovations and inventions and striving to be realistic about them. To judge them by an objective basis for their worth. To weight them against reality so to speak. I think where others stop and where I've continued in my progress on this topic is that rather than simply keep looking at my ideas, I've also collected new ways to judge those ideas. Ultimately, this is what an education in business gives you; not the ideas that you will come up with later, but the basis to judge any idea you have had.

What do I want? Disruptive ideas, innovations, inventions, etc! I want to infuse my very personality with disuptivity. All my life I have sought knowledge that is rare, that others don't have, to give me that edge.

---

Recently I watched the first episode of the 'American Inventor', an 'American Idol' spinoff, and a great idea in and of itself. This was particularly interesting for me as an inventor myself going back to my childhood days. But really, I had to laugh, and laugh hard.

There were two funny things about it: 1. How emotionally invested many of the participants were in often bad ideas. And 2. How the ideas themselves were mostly trivial or mere modifications. In other words, these 'innovations' were often variations on a theme, or mere sustaining innovations, extensions of existing props and concepts. Funny thing was many of them were interesting ideas that would be saleable in a niche-sense. They just weren't 'great' inventions.

Here's my advice for the American Inventor contestants:

The show's producers and judges aren't looking for 'fun' ideas. They are looking for 'culture-shifting' ideas. I think the ultimate winner might be more along the lines of an invention with a social-cause, something with a compelling emotional push, rather than a pure saleable product. For instance, the person who invented the straw-with a special micro-filter on it and sold it as a survival straw or 3rd world water-purifier made something awesome. Things with an environmental angle to them are likely to be huge. Recycleables or something like that.

The funny thing is that consumers ultimately are finnicky. No matter what the judges say the final kit may or may not sell, though with their expertise applied it's far, far more likely :)

What I find a bit disturbing is that the competitors are also judged on their spirit. It's not just about having a great invention, its about being emotionally invested. Of course, that creates great television, so I understand it. But the market will make you or break you and your product regardless of emotion. A lot of these contestants turned my head saying they'd spent, some, over a hundred thousand dollars just pursuing this one idea. Essentially chasing the quick buck. Even the tagline says they are searching for the great American inventor, not the great American invention.

But Simon Cowell, the shows executive producer, is a genius.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Guy Kawasaki: Entrepreneurial Quiz

Guy Kawasaki, famed marketing guru of Apple and now a partner in a venture capital firm has created a quick test on how entrepreneurial you are. You can take it either in written or online form, good luck! From his blog.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Job Offers Come Pouring In

Well, in the last month and a half I've been offered nearly $10k in current jobs, which has complicated my moving process, since I don't think I can reasonably pass up that much money if I have my own best interests at heart. Especially because it would make for an easy way to pay for the trip I'm taking to Japan after my sister's upcimg wedding. So I'll be moving up gradually it seems.

Took a trip up to Vegas last weekend and brought up some of my more delicate stuff all in one trip, guitar, paintings, mirror, nothing broke luckily. Planned to do the same this weekend but the forecast is snow and rain all weekend, so I've decided not to. Don't even own tire-chains at this point.

Anyway, I found an interesting website and thought it would be interesting to post it here, might give you all some insight into my being and personality:

The site is www.personaldna.com. It's another of the personality-profile sites, but unlike most didn't want me to pay for the report or even give them a valid email addy for it to work. Very seamless, and the test method is one I've not seen before, check it out. Here's my results:

"Your Personal DNA Report

You are a Dynamic Inventor.

About you: You are an Inventor:

Your imagination, self-reliance, openness to new things, and appreciation for utility combine to make you an INVENTOR.
You have the confidence to make your visions into reality, and you are willing to consider many alternatives to get that done.
The full spectrum of possibilities in the world intrigues you—you're not limited by pre-conceived notions of how things should be.
Problem-solving is a specialty of yours, owing to your persistence, curiosity, and understanding of how things work.
Your vision allows you to identify what's missing from a given situation, and your creativity allows you to fill in the gaps.
Your awareness of how things function gives you the ability to come up with new uses for common objects.
It is more interesting for you to pursue excitement than it is to get caught up in a routine.
Although understanding details is not difficult for you, you specialize in seeing the bigger picture and don't get caught up in specifics.
You tend to more proactive than reactive—you don't just wait for things to come to you.
Your independent streak allows you to make decisions efficiently and to trust your instincts
Generally, you believe that you control your life, and that external forces only play a limited role in determining what happens to you.

How you relate to others: you are Dynamic:

As someone who is DYNAMIC, you do not have a hard time meeting new people, and you have a bunch of close friends.
You are not overly concerned with what others may think about you, which leaves you free to be thoroughly involved in the world around you.
There are those who find being around people exhausting—but not you! Interacting with others, whether at a party or in conversation, gives you energy.
You have a strong sense of what the world is like and how it should be.
You have enormous respect for those who have earned their success, and have little patience for those who try to bend the rules or ride on the coattails of others' hard work.
Believing in the importance of integrity and hard work doesn't stop you from believing that people will do the right thing—you know that people are good at heart.
You sometimes have trouble understanding why others feel the way they do, but it doesn't stop you from having faith and trust in those around you.
Part of what makes engaging with people so interesting for you is that you occasionally learn something new about yourself or about a problem you're having when discussing things with others.
Your strong worldview leads you to believe that people shouldn't rely on their emotions so much when making decisions."

Reviewing that summary I'd agree that's pretty much it ;D
There's another section that's a graphic that I cannot post as easily which goes into fourteen personality traits and how you stack up against a sample of 30,000 other respondents. I have to say this part was the most impressive and edifying for me. Apparently, in most of the categories I exceed over 90% of the people who've taken the same test. That's certainly quite an affirmation, especially since I was diligently honest with the exam portion.

- - -

In other news I recently saw "Into the Blue" starring the lovely Jessica Alba, who coincidentally has the same birthday as me. Yep, that means it was 'meant to be' between us, lol. Maybe after I'm rich ;) But the funny thing is that seeing this movie, which is about finding buried treasure, basically, sparked in me an old idea I'd had which I was sure I'd written down. Well, after a quick google-desktop search found nothing I decided to commit it to harddrive, again, I guess (maybe it was originally written on the laptop I no longer use). What's the idea? Very simply, it mixes three existing and quite mature technologies to create a gold-detector. Yes, that's right, a gold detector!

So, I shot off Phil an email about my idea because he's always talked about getting a boat and sailing the sea for a year or two, just out of the blue. He's extended an invitation to do just that a couple times during our friendship. And I think my usual comment was something like, 'Let's do that when we can afford to do it in style'. Anyway, I would love to do it, but this idea gives me a way to mix it with a 'commercial endeavor', so to speak, if treasure hunting can be so classified. You know, I figure we buy a double-decker yacht, a couple-body-guards/deck-hands, perfect the equipment based around my idea, and purchase a treasure-hunting and recovery style ship, basically a dredging-ship, add in a few other details, and we get to spend a year or two digging up Spanish galleons by the boatload, literally. What better life, eh?

The key of course is that the gold-detector would make it trivially easy to find sunken ships. I mean completely simple. Almost ridiculously so. Sure, we'd start with statistically significant starting points and troll them with the detector, but after that there is bound to be a good proportion of sunken ships that are just where no one would expect them to be, and we can go find that too. What's even funnier is that we could use the same technology to find gold deposits in mountains, even oil deposits. The technology is not mineral specific. It would then be simple to buy the mineral rights in areas where no one is likely to suspect deposits and profit handsomely. At least, that's how the scenario plays out in my head.

Water locating, wells and streams, we could do that too. Uranium. Gunpowder and explosives, we could find underground stashes in conflict States. Diamonds? Perhaps, but they're practically cheap nowadays with all the synthetic made stuff.

Again, that's all in theory, but don't be too surprised if you find me in the news someday as being the most successful treasure hunter the world has yet seen ;P While all the others pursue the needle-in-a-haystack approach, I bring a giant electromagnetic which extracts the needle in a mere second. Heh, like shooting fish in a barrel. Like taking candy from a baby. And whatever other cheesy metaphors I can think of.

Job Offers Come Pouring In

Well, in the last month and a half I've been offered nearly $10k in current jobs, which has complicated my moving process, since I don't think I can reasonably pass up that much money if I have my own best interests at heart. Especially because it would make for an easy way to pay for the trip I'm taking to Japan after my sister's upcimg wedding. So I'll be moving up gradually it seems.

Took a trip up to Vegas last weekend and brought up some of my more delicate stuff all in one trip, guitar, paintings, mirror, nothing broke luckily. Planned to do the same this weekend but the forecast is snow and rain all weekend, so I've decided not to. Don't even own tire-chains at this point.

Anyway, I found an interesting website and thought it would be interesting to post it here, might give you all some insight into my being and personality:

The site is www.personaldna.com. It's another of the personality-profile sites, but unlike most didn't want me to pay for the report or even give them a valid email addy for it to work. Very seamless, and the test method is one I've not seen before, check it out. Here's my results:

"Your Personal DNA Report

You are a Dynamic Inventor.

About you: You are an Inventor:

Your imagination, self-reliance, openness to new things, and appreciation for utility combine to make you an INVENTOR.
You have the confidence to make your visions into reality, and you are willing to consider many alternatives to get that done.
The full spectrum of possibilities in the world intrigues you—you're not limited by pre-conceived notions of how things should be.
Problem-solving is a specialty of yours, owing to your persistence, curiosity, and understanding of how things work.
Your vision allows you to identify what's missing from a given situation, and your creativity allows you to fill in the gaps.
Your awareness of how things function gives you the ability to come up with new uses for common objects.
It is more interesting for you to pursue excitement than it is to get caught up in a routine.
Although understanding details is not difficult for you, you specialize in seeing the bigger picture and don't get caught up in specifics.
You tend to more proactive than reactive—you don't just wait for things to come to you.
Your independent streak allows you to make decisions efficiently and to trust your instincts
Generally, you believe that you control your life, and that external forces only play a limited role in determining what happens to you.

How you relate to others: you are Dynamic:

As someone who is DYNAMIC, you do not have a hard time meeting new people, and you have a bunch of close friends.
You are not overly concerned with what others may think about you, which leaves you free to be thoroughly involved in the world around you.
There are those who find being around people exhausting—but not you! Interacting with others, whether at a party or in conversation, gives you energy.
You have a strong sense of what the world is like and how it should be.
You have enormous respect for those who have earned their success, and have little patience for those who try to bend the rules or ride on the coattails of others' hard work.
Believing in the importance of integrity and hard work doesn't stop you from believing that people will do the right thing—you know that people are good at heart.
You sometimes have trouble understanding why others feel the way they do, but it doesn't stop you from having faith and trust in those around you.
Part of what makes engaging with people so interesting for you is that you occasionally learn something new about yourself or about a problem you're having when discussing things with others.
Your strong worldview leads you to believe that people shouldn't rely on their emotions so much when making decisions."

Reviewing that summary I'd agree that's pretty much it ;D
There's another section that's a graphic that I cannot post as easily which goes into fourteen personality traits and how you stack up against a sample of 30,000 other respondents. I have to say this part was the most impressive and edifying for me. Apparently, in most of the categories I exceed over 90% of the people who've taken the same test. That's certainly quite an affirmation, especially since I was diligently honest with the exam portion.

- - -

In other news I recently saw "Into the Blue" starring the lovely Jessica Alba, who coincidentally has the same birthday as me. Yep, that means it was 'meant to be' between us, lol. Maybe after I'm rich ;) But the funny thing is that seeing this movie, which is about finding buried treasure, basically, sparked in me an old idea I'd had which I was sure I'd written down. Well, after a quick google-desktop search found nothing I decided to commit it to harddrive, again, I guess (maybe it was originally written on the laptop I no longer use). What's the idea? Very simply, it mixes three existing and quite mature technologies to create a gold-detector. Yes, that's right, a gold detector!

So, I shot off Phil an email about my idea because he's always talked about getting a boat and sailing the sea for a year or two, just out of the blue. He's extended an invitation to do just that a couple times during our friendship. And I think my usual comment was something like, 'Let's do that when we can afford to do it in style'. Anyway, I would love to do it, but this idea gives me a way to mix it with a 'commercial endeavor', so to speak, if treasure hunting can be so classified. You know, I figure we buy a double-decker yacht, a couple-body-guards/deck-hands, perfect the equipment based around my idea, and purchase a treasure-hunting and recovery style ship, basically a dredging-ship, add in a few other details, and we get to spend a year or two digging up Spanish galleons by the boatload, literally. What better life, eh?

The key of course is that the gold-detector would make it trivially easy to find sunken ships. I mean completely simple. Almost ridiculously so. Sure, we'd start with statistically significant starting points and troll them with the detector, but after that there is bound to be a good proportion of sunken ships that are just where no one would expect them to be, and we can go find that too. What's even funnier is that we could use the same technology to find gold deposits in mountains, even oil deposits. The technology is not mineral specific. It would then be simple to buy the mineral rights in areas where no one is likely to suspect deposits and profit handsomely. At least, that's how the scenario plays out in my head.

Water locating, wells and streams, we could do that too. Uranium. Gunpowder and explosives, we could find underground stashes in conflict States. Diamonds? Perhaps, but they're practically cheap nowadays with all the synthetic made stuff.

Again, that's all in theory, but don't be too surprised if you find me in the news someday as being the most successful treasure hunter the world has yet seen ;P While all the others pursue the needle-in-a-haystack approach, I bring a giant electromagnetic which extracts the needle in a mere second. Heh, like shooting fish in a barrel. Like taking candy from a baby. And whatever other cheesy metaphors I can think of.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Time To Get'

The time has arrived. I am scheduled to leave this week. I've said my goodbyes, I've had parties and dinners thrown in my honor. I've had dozens of people say goodbye and give me hugs, tell me they'll miss me and listen to my prospective tales of what I'll do with myself in Vegas. It's all very touching and I love my friends and family and co-workers for being excited with me even though it means we'll all be separated.

Last minute I was offered some quick jobs, I accepted because I can use the money. I seriously hope it doesn't delay my move for more than a week. I am ready to go.

In preparation for my move I've done a lot of thinking, planning, dream-building, goal-setting, envisioning, and imagining. That alone has been a huge growth process for which I am thankful. Most of all I am excited by the challenge that this change of venue provides. New more interesting and more challenging work. A chance to develop and build new skills, to form new relationships while trying to retain the best of the old, and a way to mark a new point on my life's journey where significant change can be said to have been made instrumentally possible by this one act.

The reality of owning an actual business is tangible now. That reality is forcing me to think through the particulars of it, and that is causing a mental shift which I think is necessary. A shift from a worker to an owner. From a learner to a leader. It is a role that I've known for some time that I would eventually be called upon to take, and so I have invested myself greatly in learning about that role. But now I will be soon called to live that role. And that shift will be huge, and cause further difficulty, and by that difficulty and its working through, great growth. The challenge potential excites me, the growth potential spurs me on.

Recently Phil and I talked - it's interesting how our conversations have evolved since this process of me moving was begun and has gotten progressively closer. Now that it's down to where the rubber meets the road we are much more down-to-earth and matter of fact about the reality of what our business is initially going to look like. In about twenty seconds recently on the phone we quickly realized and agreed that since he's initially going to keep his job that I would have to start as CEO. I readily agreed, and said that I would like that since it would give me great experience in that department. It simply has to be that way despite what we may have wanted or planned on previously.

My job then is to grow the business to the point where it makes sense for Phil to quit his job and come on over. That of course is part of the problem of making such an income such as his, it is a huge obstacle to give it up, especially when you're living up to your means (not that he is).

I also have been delving into many books about business strategy and myriad other topics that will allow me to add-value as a business consultant and owner on top of everything I've studied continuously for the last 13 years! The stuff I am learning is like opening your eyes to a new world, seeing new colors and possibilities, gaining new wisdoms which allow you to judge correctly. Almost a closer perception of ultimate and base reality. In other words, it's exactly the kind of knowledge I always look for. It's against the former conventional wisdom, and makes perfect sense.

Most importantly, it has recently given me a framework to judge and gauge the potential of all the ideas and innovations I am prone to having. Not every idea is a great idea! Of course I've always known this, but on what basis do you judge such a thing? I know of about three ideas I've had that are earth-shakingly amazing ideas, but how can I judge the rest? Especially since I cannot start with such a huge idea but must build from a smaller one.

This book, entitled, "The Innovator's Solution" gives me that framework. It also gives me a great way to present a winning and workable strategy to small companies taking on large competitiors, exactly in line with my role as a small business growth consultant.

Since this is one of our businesses, I should also point out that Phil is a near-master of sales and marketing. Between him with his expertise, and me with my skills in metrics, systems, and innovation, we should be able to readily consult and improve a host of companies. Now my only worry is how to get the first few companies to give me a shot. But I've got it well worked out so far...

In fact, in my opinion, the business consulting idea has far greater monetary potential in the current short-run than does the eBay selling business. The reason being that businesses are willing to pay a great deal for practical solutions that make a huge difference to their bottom-line. I expect to be able to hire people almost immediately, within a quarter for sure. And since the income potential is quite high, that should make it easy for Phil to quit his job quickly. That's the plan at least :D

Actually, speaking of the eBay business, Phil has backed off the idea a bit, signalling that he may put it up for calling into question yet again. I however am taking the lead on my consulting business so that's entirely my call, and I'll definitely do that. In fact, Phil is going to be my first client as soon as I get to Vegas :D He's signalled that he's open to tossing around ideas once again for our other business. In fact we recently had an excllent idea for a business providing executive assisstants, but I can't go into details.

That's fine, I have absolutely no problem with taking our time evaluating other businesses. The difference is now that I've read nearly all of "The Innovator's Solution" I have a practical methodology for deconstructing ideas and evaluating whether or not they are likely to make us high margins or not. And recently there has been a bit of a mental disconnect when there's a difference in knowledge like that. So I've urged Phil to read the relevant chapters that deal with disruptive innovations and the like so that we can be on the same page, especially since it so enlightened myself, he would greatly benefit by it also.

Back to business growth consulting. Recently I've been reading a number of advertising blogs and the like. I know for certain that one of the primary things I will likely be doing as a consultant is figuring out how to help these companies grow their sales numbers. They would like nothing better! Of course, that's where disruptive products come in, but also, using that knowledge of overserved and underserved markets, of knowing where the product lies on the scale of consumers needs, can have a dramatic effect on sales! Well beyond what sales and marketing alone can do.

For instance, one company began a study and noticed what it was that consumers were doing with Excel. They noticed that a great deal of Excel users were using it to keep track of their small-business cash reserves and day-to-day expenses. Excel is actually far too powerful for most needs and greatly overserves the general market. It's like a blank slate where anything can be drawn, there's simply too much possibility, and that can faze people. So, the company, Intuit, came out with Quickbooks, a custom cash-tracking solution, far easier to use for this purpose than Excel, and quickly captured 85% of the market. These are the kinds of surveys, questions, and approaches I want to use to add significant value to my business clients. I know I have the creative and inquisitive mind to do so. And I can't wait to apply myself to that end.

Until next time :D

Friday, February 17, 2006

ONE WEEK+

In barely over one week I will be moving to Vegas and the dream will start. Amazing amount of change, and with change comes growth. And in this case, great growth. That's what I see ahead, and it's attractively exciting - if that phrase makes any sense.

I've been reading a great deal, and thinking (constantly) a great deal about how I can bring value to businesses as a consultant. How I am going to approach them and pitch my service to them. What initial questions I will have ready to ask them. I've been building questionnaires and imagining what those meetings will be like. I've been boning-up on my Excel skills. I've been reading about other consultants experiences. But I know two thing that drives me: this is what I have always wanted to do with my life - to build companies, and this will lead me into and prepare me for future CEO positions and running companies.

Honestly, we have it all planned out, they are nebulous plans, as all future plans must be to a degree, but they are great plans. Just today I read about the takeover of the steel industry in the US by electric steelmills from traditional large-scale steelmills. I learned how a new company can undercut the market from a huge company. I learned, in short, how to make a small company competitive against a much, much larger one :D And I learned how a large company can defend against that very same tactic. And I learned how to present these concepts to a management team. So, even if I end up working with a large company, though at first likely small companies, I'm covered with knowledge on either side. I will continue to gather wisdom, practical experience, and gutsy and wily strategy until nothing can stop me even in my own busines :D

The nearness of my movie and impending life-change has caused me to redouble my efforts on studying as the reality of it cements. What Phil and I are doing is forming a partnership designed to mutually support each other towards a massive goal. Two people can do what few individuals can alone. We're relying on the idea that 1+1=3 if we work together, as that is the rule in many real-world situations.

Regardless, they say the first million is the most-difficult. I suppose in our case it's the first two million. But lest someone propose that business is harder than ever, I propose that business is easier than ever! Let's do the numbers here! You won't believe this.

2004's GDP in nominal dollars was $10.7 trillion dollars, the value of everything bought and sold in the economy. That's how much money, and value, exchanged hands in 2004. So, 2005 was probably about $13 trill. This year will be about $14 trillion, so we see that with that much being spent per year, this means (cue calculator) that people spend $38 BILLION DOLLARS PER DAY, in the US. Now, you gonna tell me that you can't make a product that can't make a million dollars in revenue for even one year? Are you kidding? That's chump change, that's barely 0.0002% of what our country spends in a single day!

In fact, every hour the country spends $1.6 billion dollars. That's $1,600 millions of dollars. In fact, every minute the country spends $27 million dollars! And you're worried about making $1 million for an entire year??? A better thing to worry about is if people try to buy $100 million worth of stuff from you, that's an altogether better problem! I was just reading about an online SHOE company that did $30 million in sales their first year, and much more their second. It's not that hard, when you have a national audience of 300 million souls, and an even larger international audience, when you're on the web. Sure, the local shoe store might only see 30,000 a month driving past it, and it does okay. But, the web is an international storefront.

Every second, the country spends $444,000! This is why those superbowl ads fetch so much money. If you could have the entire nation's attention for only thirty seconds, you've then bought roughly $13,000,000 in potential buying power ;D Companies like Monster.com and GoDaddy.com built their entire business out of exposure on SuperBowl sunday, from a single commercial.

The truth is, Phil and I do indeed have a great idea for a web-service. We just need to make enough money to exploit it. So, lookin' forward to those days.

But seriously, start a side-business or something! Leverage your time and experience. I just read about a dad who started a company with their kid selling Disney pins of all things. They made $40k their first year in business, sold 'em on eBay. End of story. Let's do this!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Went On Up

The week before last weekend I went up to Vegas, took a bunch of stuff up to my new apartment, and hung with Phil. It was great checking out the area, the people and character of the city. I'll be honest, I liked what I saw. Phil talked the place up as a city experiencing tremendous growth and a great place to begin a startup. I'll have to agree!

I looked up the geographic growth projections and what I saw amazing, there is a great deal of land there still, and the city will double in size in the next twenty years. It's growing so fast that nearby Pahrump is the second fastest growing municipality in the nation. Planners believe that the development of the strip may eventually extend all the way to and even beyond the California border. And once the long-planned LA to Vegas monorail is built, tourism from LA should explode.

With relatively cheap real-estate, large swaths of empty and developable land, and tons of people moving to the city monthly, means that a startup is likely to find high demand in sectors that typically lag in a growing city.

For instance, today I went to my doctor to obtain even more powerful drugs designed to knock-out my nasal-infection. And he mentioned this fact about Vegas, that a doctor could make a killing up there because of the high-growth rate and lagging of incoming doctors. How is this an opportunity? True, doctors make a lot of money. But doctors also hate having to deal with billing, time-sheets, managing nurses and receptionists, etc. It's a pain. They went to school to learn about the body, not business management. So, that's an opportunity for anyone who would be willing to takeover as a business-manager for a group of doctors and let them and you both specialize in what you do best. Similarly, the demand for builders has sky-rocketed, resulting in a 30% jump in building costs, and thereby 30% greater construction-firm profits. That fact will draw more and more builders until it too equalizes. In fact, even now the building frenzy of the last two years is cooling dramatically with many planned high-rises and condo-buildings being cancelled or toned down.

Anyway, I also saw an IMax 3D presentation of "Sharks 3D" by the son of Jacques Cousteau. It was glorious, true 3d, perfectly integrated visuals, it was like you were really there, just perfect perception of distance. It didn't strain your eyes (save when things got super-close) and it didn't distort the image with red/blue. Just great really. I couldn't understand (except for cost of course) why this technology isn't extended to everyday movies. Even dramas would be drastically enhanced by the 3D effect. And action movies would just kill.

We also went by a friends house whom is trying to sell us nine brand new vending machines, as he is leaving the state. No matter how we ran the numbers, however, we couldn't see how it was worth our time. It would make about $20-30k a year, require one day a week to restock it, and... is it worth it? It's marginal.

Well, 'til next time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Back From the Dead

I've begun feeling better.

Though, it was only a day ago that I realized I was supposed to take two pills per day at the same time. I had been spreading them out by 12 hours, but no. Doctor didn't quite make that clear in the 15 seconds he spent analyzing and prescribing me. Well, let's say he spent three minutes with me, which is about right. So in hourly wage that means he's making a full, oh, $1500 an hour :S But at least I feel better.

Today Phil and I discussed seriously purchasing a set of nine brand new full-scale vending machines from a guy in Vegas who's trying to off-load them after just buying them. Apparently he got a great job and doesn't have time for them anymore. So, we'd get them with a healthy discount, costing about $40k. We'd have to find and negotiate distribution sites, profit share with them, and figure out a way to keep them stocked, with... something.

Myself, I'd love to experiment with unorthodox items inside. Years ago there came the premium-water vending machine, for instance. Which at first was scorned, but then did quite well and continues to do so. Some people have tried healthy snacks, or gatorade, or - whatever. I dunno, I haven't thought much on it, I'd need to do a poll or something and run some ideas past ppl.

But I think having this small network of machines would be an easy way to earn a nice chunk of change on the side, it would be good debt we'd be going into (debt that makes you richer), and would require minimal maintenance on our part. We'd quickly automate it and let it fly without us. The goal then would be to be disciplined enough to continually re-invest a good portion of the proceeds back into new machines or other investments.

I've been reading a couple books on business consulting and how to market yourself into the business. It's basically one of those unregulated fields with no licensing or anything, very free-form and open the way all jobs used to be. And because of that consultants have often fallen short of their promises, yet still charged the agreed upon fee. This has left a bad taste in the mouth of many, and it's difficult to get into the field. But, once you have success you'll also be propelled within the field to its very heights, so success in it does wonders.

The truth is, I'd do it for free, just for the experience. And one of the marketing books strongly reccomends offering a money back guarantee. And as far as producing results goes, I plan to actually perform service before fee. I'll work the first month free, this of course would be the most critical time of interaction between the consultant and the business, since it is the point where you must learn about their business, ask the key questions, and produce that first pitch for reccommended changes. I can hardly wait. And then, if you want me to stick around and help you implement these changes, okay, pay me for that months work and I'll work another month, and so forth until the business walks the proper path.

One paradox noted in the profession is that selling services to the same client becomes more and more difficult, so you are always finding new clients. This actually shouldn't be particularly difficult to understand if you have a basic understanding of economics. You would clearly see that the greatest benefit would come from the first reccommendations, and thereafter the marginal change would be continually diminishing. The great change is early on, but once that change is made, there's not much change left to make. It's like if you're starving you'll eat practically anything in a hurry, and each bite is enormously satisfying. But, by the time you're stuffed, someone could offer you a fresh lobster-tail covered in caviar, and it may be far more expensive and exquisite than anything you'd ever eaten before, but you're already stuffed. And eating anymore would actually take away from your level of satisfaction rather than add to it. Even if it was lobster.

So, anyway, gotta hit the sack before long. I've been listening to an audiobook by Jack Welch, former CEO of G.E. It's an amazing experience listening to a man who is in the top 0.1% of all CEO's, just a fabulous CEO, who turned around GE, saved the company, and was just greatly successful at this position. And what he's teaching are the basics and practical reasons of what made him so effective as a leader. Everything from how to manage change and communicating it effectively within a company large or small. A whole chapter on how to fire people. How to hire people. How to create a culture of performance and recognition in a company. What makes a good manager. He's constantly relating categories of managers and employees and how each should be dealt with, it's awesome stuff. He even has several categories for the kind of firing's that happen, categories for how the business organization and people then respond to each firing, and how to achieve the best possible circumstance. Want a hint? He says the getting fired shouldn't be a surprise to the employee, as long as your company is using a candid evaluation process such as he implemented. And when done right the candidate will often excuse himself for lack of performance. When done wrong, however, fired employees can pull political stunts, spook continuing employees, shatter confidence in management, etc, etc. And he offers a lifetime of examples of both good and bad.

More later, now sleep...