Putting America back to work…

Image Credit: Kal

Putting America back to work.

The current premise:

–          stressed unemployment benefits

–          Small business owners reluctant to employ

It’s the same story for all the unemployed.  Resumes are submitted every single day to no avail.  Small business owners are reluctant to employ as they themselves are tight on resources, although, they could use a few extra hands.  Meanwhile, the unemployed still collect unemployment checks from the government.

Here’s the premise:

Ursula had been laid off from her marketing position.  She sends resume’s everyday, but barely receives any callbacks.  In the meantime, she continues to collect unemployment benefit checks issued by the government.

Bob is a small business owner.  His business can has been slow for quite sometime, he could use some extra help marketing his business, he’s weary of the costs associated of employing a full time marketing person and the additional strain it would put on his business.

Here’s the proposal:

Bob should put out a “help required” post but under a program called – ‘Volunteer to Work‘.  The ‘To Work’ has pun intended.  Ursula acts upon the posting and leverages her expertise in the marketing field to maintain / grow Bob’s business.

Here are the benefits for Ursula.

–          She is doing something more than just sending out resumes, in fact, the side venture will actually help plug work gaps on the resume.  It shows a potential employer her determination to work vs. submitting resumes and waiting for a call.

  • She has a point to prove that her skills will indeed help Bob in his business and probably get gainful employment from him in the future.
  • She continues to collect unemployment paychecks from the government.

The benefits to Bob:

  • mitigate the risk of hiring a new employee during the weak business cycle
  • no payroll taxes, no medical benefits, in short – Free labor
  • A worker who is motivated to prove a point, yearning to become an employee.

The optimum Outcome:

  • Bob’s business starts to grow due to the marketing efforts of Ursula.  He recognizes her input and in 3 months times makes her a permanent offer.


  • Ursula discovers the entrepreneurial spirit within her and becomes a marketing freelancer.

Benefits to the economy:

  • The government gives out unemployment checks as “Productive money” vs. lame duck money.
  • Creating chances for people to get employed reducing the strain on the government.

My take: Granted, that this is not an overnight solution, but it’s a start.

The only constant…is change

You know a company is in trouble when they start talking about how good they were in the past. In a rapidly growing environment the cliché’ is – the only constant thing in life is change.

Up until the early 2000s, you couldn’t walk out a little convenience store without seeing the orange and black boxes. That’s where Kodak blew it; they missed converting their film rolls into media sticks. On another note, Polaroid never saw that the way to distribute pictures in the future would be over the internet and who would have thought that Playboy would struggle in bazillion dollar industry.  Red envelopes are solely responsible for the death of mighty Blockbuster.

Here’s the wakeup-call to Verizon, AT&T:  Consumers won’t pay a higher monthly subscription price for voice calling plans when the startups like Pinger and the well established Vonage make phone calls possible on a almost free or less expensive WiFi and 3G network.  With the FCC approving ‘white space’ frequency waves for mobile networks (WiFi on steroids), there will be a mega shift of speed in transmitting data packages.  Why would someone pay for a monthly voice plan when all they have to do is buy an Ipod?

Visa and MasterCard, here’s one company that has the potential to make your model defunct.  For too long people have wanting to get rid of carrying both their wallets and cell phones.  Everything has been put forward, Bluetooth, Near Field Communications, (NFC), and payment stickers on your phone but execution has taken a lifetime.  MobilepayUSA has found a way around the legal and technical hassles.

My Take (Adapted): The hallmark of a successful organization is its ability to abandon the very change that made it successful. It’s cut throat competition out there. If you don’t adapt, you risk survival.

One more FREE Pizza? No thank You!!!

Imagine your favorite food…it could be anything, pizzas, burritos, that snicker bar. Now imagine if were given an unlimited supply and that was the only thing you could eat.

After eating the first one…”Good.”

The second – “this is the bomb”.

The third…”this is what I live for”.

Fourth…”I’ve had enough and think I should stop, but this is sooo good”.

Fifth, “OK, I’m done” and when you have the last bite, – “I like it…but I don’t want to see another one any time soon.”

In economic terms that would be defined as the “Law of diminishing demand” or the “Law of Marginal Utility”.

Growing up in India, Pani Puri was the snack to have for me. The local street vendor would serve 12 Pani Puris’ for 5 Rupees, and that would be my daily budget as well. I used to become too captivated by the taste to bother counting how many I had. Too many times, I would have been left asking for more only for the vendor to tell me, “You ate the last one”. Then in an Einstein moment, I asked the vendor to let me know when I was on the 8th one. Knowing that I had only 4 more to go, each subsequent Pani Puri that was eaten, was enjoyed even more knowing that I still had more to go and I even anticipated the last one, so I was not disappointed when my indulgence ended

My take: What has food got to do with this blog? In econ we’ve studied the “Law of Diminishing demand”…ladies and gentlemen, unless someone has discovered this and stamped their name to it…I present… “The Law to achieving satisfaction“. Consumption in moderation is good, the key is knowing when the moderation is about to end. Do you always find yourself late for work? I recommend snoozing twice, 10 and 20 minutes before your actual wakeup time. Each time you hit the button think of the extra 10 and 20 minutes you’re going to sleep and then wake up refreshed. Awesome….

Deep Economic Discussion…

Fishy Business? Whatever Rocks Your Boat…

A rich businessman takes a vacation for a week and goes to a little known fishing village to unwind.  He asks this fisherman to take him to a good fishing spot.  The fisherman knows his way around, takes the rich guy to a spot by the cove.  Within 5 minutes, the fisherman catches 2 big fishes, pulls over the tarp on his dingy fishing boat, lies back and snoozes.  The rich businessman starts fishing and is amazed by the amount of fish he could bait within a short time.  He’s gets ecstatic, wakes up the fisherman and say’s, “I’ll give you an idea, why don’t you fish for 8-10 hours a day, and sell your fish?  You will make a lot of money…”

Fisherman: then?

Businessman: then you could buy a bigger boat and get more fish, make more money….

Fisherman: then?

Businessman: Then you could buy more boats and hire more people and get more fish and make even more money…

Fisherman: then?

Businessman: (Glad that his intellect is enlightening the fisherman about the riches in the world and the path to success) …Then my friend, you will be rich, you will be successful, you can take a week off, like I am taking one now, and lay around in a boat… fish and relax all day long…

Fisherman: and what am I doing right now???

My take: People are wired differently, whether you relate yourself to the  fisherman or the businessman, the key to success is satisfaction.   If you can sit back and honestly say “I’m doing what I love to do” look no further, if not, the first question you ask yourself is – “what Do I want?”.  Success is a self-perceived notion.

My Big Fat Greek Analysis…

Congratulations!!! You’ve been hired as an Analyst for our company, Standard and Poor’s (S&P’s), the rating agency.  For your first mission, you and a colleague will fly to Greece.  The Greeks haven’t technically invited you, but rest assured, we at S&P have made all the arrangements for your hotel, food, and scheduled meetings with their ministers of finance, central bank officials and business people.  Your job is to find out if Greece (The country as a whole) can willingly pay all it’s debts on time.  This information will be helpful to investors in other countries.  You will come back in 10 day’s, prepare your report on glossy papers, show your finding on a power point to another 3 “Experts” in our fancy board room.  You will all then raise hands to take a vote if Greece will be able to pay its debts or not.

So, as required you entered Greece in June 2008.  You had a good time, rubbed shoulders with some powerful people and they gave you their “truest” opinion.  (Of course, they never show you any accounting books or records)  The Greeks were indeed hospitable and took good care of you.  You then come back home after your 10 day vacation business trip.  Back home, you all vote Greece is fine – rated ‘Investable’, no problem.

Then you’re asked to do the same in April 2010.  Completely different picture, lots of defaults on debt payments.  The officials try to avoid you and they’re not as friendly as in 2008.  Back in the board room…its time to vote…No pressure, it’s only the world economy that’s depending on your analysis…but like the classic cliché’ ‘It is…what it is’ and this time, the board rates Greece as ‘Junk’.

As a result of your latest ‘finding’, panic sets in, political unrest pursues, riots form and all the markets in the world take a plunge.  And…did I mention this was all because ‘You‘ were one of the 5 people in the room who took the vote?

My take: The Government of Greece may or may not have fudged statistics and numbers in the previous years.  I’m not an expert on the matter, and with that said, I don’t think that any one person can even claim to be one, but here’s what I do know…It takes more than 2 people and 10 days to review the economy of a country.  S&P needs to rethink their process of “Reviewing and Rating” countries.

Beware…Bars and Babes!!!

and...I know better...

So you’re at the bar, drinking away…just another Saturday night.  Or is it?  This really cute girl in the corner catches your eye, or should I say…her eyes catch you? Smiles are exchanged and the alcohol in your stomach starts to fizz.  She walks up to you and strikes a conversation…now your guts have started to twist and wrap around your stomach.  A minute in, you’re talking about the bar…another 2 minutes in…you’re talking about the city and the weather and just 5 minutes after she’s met you, she pulls out her cell phone, hands it over to you and asks you to put your digits in.  Holy crap!!! Is this your lucky day or what…?

You take her phone, it’s a BlackBerry…and unless you’ve used one before, you’re struggling to get the damn screen to unlock.  No worries, she helps you out, guides you through the interface by pointing at the screen and navigating you to the ‘Contacts’ folder.  Not wanting to create an awkward silence, you blurb…”neat phone, haven’t seen this one before”.  Now she gets all excited, the conversation turns to how ‘cool’ the phone is, and she goes on and on about how its better than the iPhone or the Droid.  She asks you to try out the different ‘apps’ loaded on the phone and another 10 minutes in; you’re still talking about and playing with the phone.  Then she gets a call.  It’s an emergency…she’s got to go.  She leaves with the promise, “Ill call you…”

….ok…Wake up time…you’ve just been sucker punched. Hey…hey don’t blame me for getting you out of fantasy land…blame it on “Research in Motion (RIM)” the makers of the “NEW blackberry pearl”.  This was their ‘Stealth Marketing Campaign’.  They hired young and pretty looking actresses to stake out the bars in New York to get us ‘Hip and cool’ people to try out their new phones.  We were their unsuspecting guinea pigs.  RIM used us to get our input and comments on their prototype and didn’t even pay us…

My take: If it happened to me, I’d feel more used by RIM than the girl.  Somewhere at the back of the mind, when the pretty girl approached, I’d already have figured out that it was too good to be true.  RIM…your idea…sheer GENIUS…marketing at its best.  I’ve got to give you this one.

Beware…Bars, Babes and Blackberries…Now you know!!!