Emotion, Design, and Data addictions

Shark-Attacks-per-Tornado-Map

Random quick thought:

So they have different terms for barriers to mastery: The bottleneck, the plateau, speed bumps, etc… and that really got in my head (right now I’ve been constructing a data driven “model” of what sort of girl I would really like to date/ marry/ pop my kids out). On of the ideas that I sort of stumbled upon was that I might be relying on paradigms, models, frameworks, architectures, rubrics, data sets, etc. way too much.

First, there is nothing that can strip the enjoyment of an activity like over analysis or being over prepared. Personally, I have always found the depth and knowledge base of a subject to be a solace. An activity that is worth doing is an activity where you cannot become top 5% in the world in 6 months. So I relish activities where being “great” takes analysis, work, luck at the right times, interaction with others. However, there are moments where caring too much about the nuances and being too processed takes a lot of the fun out of it.

Second, I’ve become increasingly aware that more often than not, the best in their field make their decisions fast- Unfortunately, there is only one way to do this: emotionally. Decision making as a whole is an emotional process. Simon Sinek has a great video about it. It makes sense if you think about it: once you have a carefully executed mastery over a subject (which takes a while),  the only thing that holds you back is speed of execution. From a efficiency standpoint, if you know something really well taking a lot of time to make a decision about something is extremely inefficient.  Hypothetically, if you are going to be right 90% of the time when you make a decision in 5 min or less, versus being right 94% of the time if you take an extended time to make a decision… that 4 percent can cost you a lot of time, thereby rendering your ability to execute in that lost time as a net loss.

Additionally, my formal training (professional) has been in the field of sales. It’s a weird job to say the least. The interesting thing about sales is, that due to the nature of  the repeated tasks, a lot of times human beings that are functional retards are just as good at the job as human beings with brilliant minds. I will still argue that to be the best at it you need to be sharp as a tack, but to be top 5% doesn’t require any advanced empirical knowledge or processed thinking.

So enter in my realization:

Maybe the thing that is holding me back from mastering certain topics (like the process of finding a really good girlfriend- not that I’ve been looking recently) is the fact that I rely on empiricism too much.

Check out this image:

P1uL8SX

Perfect example of trying to make something empirical that doesn’t need to be (as well as an awesome graph).

In my new industry (light tech), I’ve noticed that everyone is outrageously data-driven. In general it is both necessary and cool. Then there are times where I’m wondering if it is the best solution to real world problems that exist.  Two key examples of creations that were heralded: Amy Webb and Chris McKinlay .  They both relied on data, systems, and process to find love for themselves. Personally, I was enamored with  the stories, super entertaining and in many ways useful. Also, I find myself compelled to use similar practices to figure out many of the problems that I have in my own life.

Is it the best way though?

At the end of my life would I be happy with the fact that my most complex/enjoyable problems were as simple as solving an equation?

I learned long ago when going on dates that if you start the date with an agenda the date can go both the way that you want and not the way that you want. If you just focus on enjoying, reacting, and seeing where it goes (That is, keeping your mind open) you can’t be let down. The worst that can happen is that you will have an experience.

One last thought: One of my friends is experimenting with a process in painting of where she starts something not knowing where the painting will go. The process has led to a higher level of enjoyment and some beautiful art. This process is specifically designed to where you can’t know where it will go until it is finished.

I’m wondering why we can’t apply this mentality to the things that we do in life. Linear thinking is a big problem for enjoyment and getting the most out of life… as well I’m starting to think that the bottle neck might be empiricism to truly being great at something. Maybe emotions have more of a place than I’ve been giving them credit for?

MC Hammer and the Art of Negotiation

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Clearly I have an avid fascination with weird celebrity business stories. One of my all time favorites is MC Hammer. This one is a quick read too…

MC Hammer is actually known best for his series of poor business decisions (example basically blowing all of his money keeping an large entourage 200+, and a touring staff of something like 50 dancers… the entertainment industry equivalent of magic beans), but at one point he had sold over 50 million records worldwide and was making up to $35 million a year. Credit where credit is due, Hammer was legitimately good at making money (alas, not saving it).

To me though the most interesting part of MC Hammer’s story was way in the beginning, long before his $15 million dollar house with a swimming pool built in the shape of trousers. Hammer got his start by convincing dance clubs to let him and his dancers perform songs from his records live in the club. Meaning they would go to a club, throw a song on and dance to it. The spectacle was such a big deal that everyone in the clubs would clammer to buy his records that day. He was literally selling records out of the trunk of his car. MC Hammer was selling a lot of them too…

Hammer knew that if  he wanted to scale his business up though he would need to have access to a larger distribution channel. It’s important to note that the music industry at that point hadn’t yet been completely destroyed by technology (napster, itunes, bit torrents, etc) and they were pretty agile.  It wasn’t too long before the music companies had heard about MC Hammer and sent reps to go try and make a deal. Standard practice at this point was to find the talent before anyone else did and have them sign off on contracts that were not in their favor. Basically, take advantage of naive artists before they knew any better and cash in on their success. The record labels were the ones that were going to make you famous though- for many people trading all their cash to be famous was worth it.

MC Hammer knew all of this. So when the first major labels came in to try and make a deal, he was prepared. They of course made a low offer thinking that they would clean up. Hammer refused the offer. The record labels were stunned… they had offered good money to sign Hammer  and he said it wasn’t enough. [ Just for some scope... pretend someone came to you and offered you $750,000 (today's dollars) for a 3 record deal... Most everyone would jump on that deal]

What the record labels failed to realize was that MC Hammer was selling a ridiculous amount of records out of the trunk of his car (estimated around 60,000).  Basically he had already worked himself out of being a new artist to being a nice little cash cow, and the record labels were effectively insulting him with a really low offer. Capitol records later came back to the table with $1.5 million as an advance and a multi-record deal.

I basically use the MC Hammer negotiation method for almost all of my negotiations (I don’t call it that):

1) Be Prepared. Be so prepared that you know more about what the negotiation will look like than anyone else participating in it.

2) If possible make them come to you.

3) Use hard data. Hammer’s decision was entirely based off of his sales numbers. His negotiation reflected what he was really after was a larger market and to scale his business up… he didn’t need the money. Conversely the record companies were so used to using cash as their best negotiation tool they were caught off guard when Hammer’s negotiation didn’t reflect their normal procedures.

4) Be able to walk away from any deal.

5) Remember that terms are a huge part of any negotiation.

6) Don’t be afraid to ask for over the top things.

7) Negotiate to get what you want

8) If you find someone that can sell 60,000 records out of the back of their car. Hire that person

 

JP goes all “27bslash6″

Check out this site: 27bslash6.com (recommended Missing Missy). I find David Thorne to be an amazing satirist. Anyway, I had an unfortunate incident at a restaurant that will not be named, where they pulled a bait and switch on me. Here is the resulting email chain:

I’m sending you this to express how absolutely frustrated I was at my experience today at your restaurant.

First I want you to know I have written exactly one letter like this before in my life, and that was because my credit card was scanned by a server and used fraudulently.

Basically, I went to have “happy hour” at your restaurant today and purchased a few drinks at what I was expecting to be “happy hour prices” or around $4 as was listed on pretty much every single piece of paper in the place, as well as the flyer that I was given on the street by the Santa Monica information desk. If you are looking for the location of the flyers they are tucked very neatly with the drink menu so that everyone can see them.

When I got my bill the average cost per drink was $9.50. So a bill that was expected to be $16 plus tax, rounds out to $55 after tip. Its just messed up.

I need to stress that this whole thing has nothing to do with money. I have no problem paying $10 per drink. The drinks were good and the service fine. The issue is that I thought I was getting a good deal, instead I got the restaurant equivalent of Forrest Whitaker in Battlefield Earth. The wrong expectation was set, and that’s not cool. I’m glad you guys didn’t add on any hidden fees or something like that. I half expected an activation fee or something.
People are reasonable. If you just put on your menu which drinks cost what during happy hour it isn’t a big deal. Charge $9.50 a drink. If the drink is worth $9.50 I’ll pay it.

At the end of the day is this whole thing a big deal? No, not really…. and it actually seems like you are running a nice restaurant. Its just super frustrating to go to a place and expect one thing and get another- the cost of changing the flyers is less than what my normal tab would be for dinner.
Don’t worry about replying to this email. I won’t be back, and I mean that sincerely. It matters quite a bit what establishments I put my money into. With the high rate of failure in the food service industry, keeping the people that actually care in business requires many people valuing your establishment for more than just the food you serve or the drinks you make. I am just going to tell my 12 friends that I’m pissed (industry standard) and be done with it. I just wanted to let you guys know because if I feel this way there will be someone else that does too.
JP (not a crotchety old man)

The Response:

Dear Mr. Uritis,

I would first off thank you for visiting [restaurant name] and for your letter.
Our goal at [restaurant name] is to please all of our guests each and every time. Unfortunately, we have come to realize that this is an impossible task.
I have attached for your review our Happy Hour Advertisement, Happy Hour Menu and a copy of your receipt. If you look at the advertisement it clearly states “starting at $4″, this means we have items at $4 and it progressively gets higher. The Happy Hour Menu lists the items at $4 and the other discounted items higher than $4. You received this menu when you were seated and actually ordered two items off of this menu.
As mentioned earlier our goal is please each and every guest, if you had spoken with a manager I am certain that they would have done something to please you. In this industry and in Santa Monica nothing on anybody’s Happy Hour Menu is priced exactly the same.
We thank you for visiting [restaurant name] and we hope to see you again.
Respectfully,
Guest Services
My Response:
Thank you for your cordial and prompt response (super quick, especially considering that I actually asked for you not to respond). As a closet stoic I sometimes miss having derisory conversation relating to everyday happenstance, fortunately corporate culture is always there to oblige me.

…To be fair though I used to be required to have similar conversations relating to contracts that people signed, and had to explain to them that their signature at the bottom meant that they had read the document. Which got me thinking It might not be a bad idea to require some sort of a waiver for your Happy Hour Menu. Have you guys considered that? It doesn’t really have to be a legally binding document just something to help with dialogues like these.

But to your response, I appreciate your interpretation of statements like “I was expecting to be “happy hour prices” or around $4″ as neglect of the fine print that says “starting at $4″ and expecting all of the drinks to be $4.
I also totally appreciate you noticing that my real problem was with the price of the drinks [not being $4], as opposed to (I don’t know) getting confused by marketing materials that are connected to a list of classic cocktails (no prices) with the happy hour menu somewhere else not connected to said marketing materials.

It’s probably statements like this that are confusing: “I need to stress that this whole thing has nothing to do with money, The issue is that I thought I was getting a good deal, instead I got the restaurant equivalent of Forrest Whitaker in Battlefield Earth. The wrong expectation was set, and that’s not cool.” … I apologize about that. The Forrest Whitaker metaphor is a little tough. I was trying to use Forrest Whitaker because of his great track record for amazing acting (notably Last King of Scotland, and Platoon), and his celebrity status to illustrate the point that his acting in “Battlefield Earth” was not what would be expected of an Academy Award Winner for Best Actor. Of course the reference is dated and there could be some argument over his celebrity status, but I thought it would hold up. I really should have gone with John Travolta. If in your response to this email you could include a short list of films and music (that you watch/ listen to) for future metaphors it would be helpful for the next email (of course I’ll most likely ask you not to respond to this email so I guess the choice is yours).

Thank you also for including print outs of the flyer and the happy hour menu (and the “hr” drinks my friend ordered, she actually didn’t look at the HH menu either, except for her food). I am including examples as well. I have attached the cocktail menu I was given that had the flyer right next to it. Since you already have the flyer there isn’t really a reason to upload that again… but it would be nice to have them side-by-side for some perspective of what I was looking at.
I am totally willing to say I might not have spend enough time researching the menus and their offerings, as well as asking the service staff what the specifics were pertaining to happy hour. Again a waiver would have been extremely helpful. Upon further review of the happy hour menu and flyer you will find that we both made made pretty egregious errors … The Flyer clearly states “Join us for happy hour. Featuring Classic Cocktails and draft beer”… By my count there are only 4 possible candidates for “Classic Cocktails” on your whole menu. The Caipirinha, which was delicious and chosen mostly for its status as a classic cocktail. The Mojito. On the menu that you sent me there is also the Metropolitan and the “Mannhatten.”

Personally, I believe that the Caipirinha and the Mojito have completely earned their place as what one would call “classic cocktails.” There is quite a bit of history for each one and the IBA even has both listed on their list of standardized cocktails (http://www.iba-world.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=88&Itemid=532). Now the Metropolitan that’s a little tougher. I’m willing to give you guys the benefit of the doubt for the Metropolitan. I find its reputation and history enough to be in the category but I still wouldn’t consider it on the level of say an Old Fashioned- this is of course a important argument that I’d be willing to have on another day (perhaps we could get drinks…)

The last one that I wasn’t 100% on was the “Manhatten.” It seems to me that you guys might have just made a mistake in reading the the menu when you were proofing it (maybe Manhattan???), but as we already touched on in your previous email mistakes of that sort are really the fault of the customer for reading incorrectly. Don’t you worry I’ve come up with strategy and I will try and form a mild case of dyslexia so that I can read certain words the right way ( I’ve already succeeded in reading “subtext” as the word “buttsex” and am hoping to master “Manhatten” by the end of the week).
As far as pleasing every customer… that’s plain crazy. Many People are nuts… to be honest if this email wasn’t so much fun to write I would probably be doing productive things that help me make the money I need to have to survive. I would recommend you guys doing the same thing but you’ve clearly read this far so I should make my last couple of points. (note: I actually did bring up the pricing with the server, who talked to a manager. I don’t make a big fuss unless its written, and like I said before this whole thing really isn’t actually that big of a deal)
Sooooo…  In the effort of pleasing each and every customer as you stated is your wish… how do you do that? Well… um… ask them. Since it’s rough to ask that question (it would take 2-3 seconds of typing) … I’ll answer it for you. This is what would have pleased me:
1) (Originally) just to have your happy hour stuff be a little more clear.

2) I wanted to vent. I may have made a mistake reading everything properly, but your menu layout, typography, and marketing led me into that decision. In marketing its called a “bait and switch.” This is a perfectly reasonable tactic and people generally respond well to it, but there are pricing thresholds for where it is a bit much. So I wanted to let you know that. I wanted to vent, plain and simple.
3) In the future be more careful about your collateral (anything physical that you let anyone look at/ use, so that you can sell them stuff)… or at least tell me that you you will be. Again, I’m fine with a good ole bait and switch but please set expectations accordingly.
4) When responding to an email like this, don’t be a corporate stooge. Your email reads like a tombstone. Every problem is an opportunity in disguise. For all you know I might be the majority owner of Diageo or the the second coming of Jesus (from The Big Lebowski).
Thats all.

Again, there is no need to respond to this email. If you really press you’d damn better include movie and music references.

Lindsay Lohan and the Value of Insurance

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4 arrests. 5 rehab facilities (250 total days). 6 times jailed. 13 days in jail. 20+ court appearances. 37 days of house arrest. $234,000 owed to the IRS. $1million for photos for playboy.

So starting Salary for an actuary is around $120K right now in certain parts of the country. Totally blew my mind. And later when I was recruited to sell insurance, it was explained to me that the average sales rep for xyz insurance company makes $250,000 I about lost it…

In the world of professional sales eventually everyone starts sniffing around in the finance world. How could you not- its where they keep all of the money. Investment bankers at age 29 can be making $2million to $5million in annual salary. Stock brokers have routinely told me that “if you can’t make $250,000 annually, then you won’t make it as a broker.”  The industry is just plain sexy. It drags you in. It makes business cool.

On the other side of finance exists insurance- which in my mind, there couldn’t be anything less exciting. An entire sub-industry dedicated to when bad things happen.

As an example, life insurance is known in sales as one of the most difficult sales- a person has to pay a lot of money for something they will never see a direct benefit from. They get to that point only by imagining all of the terrible things that could happen to the people they love and imagining something terrible happening to them. Additionally, in insurance there are no big market upswings; you make money the same way that most people die or bad things happen- Slowly. As one District Manager told me: “there is nothing glamorous about playing defense, but that’s how the game is won.” – then insert my yawn right next to yours.

But of all people it was Lindsay Lohan that made me realize the real value of insurance in business.

I lived in Cold Spring Harbor for a little while and actually got to meet some of Lindsay’s family on several occasions (who are some of the nicest, most amazing people ever). Knowing them causes my ears to perk up pretty much every time she is brought up in conversation- It gets my curiosity going.

One such conversation got brought up when I was on a plane recently. “Something, Something, Mean Girls, something, something, Tina Fey, yada, Lindsay Lohan…”

To which I commented: “Yeah, Lindsay Lohan hasn’t done much recently- I wonder why?” I said this statement totally as a rhetorical question. However the answer I got back was this:

“Well no one will hire her”

I came back with: “It’s such a same that someone’s reputation can damage them so badly that no one will work them. Everyone should be allowed a second chance…”

“Thats not why… from what I’ve heard she’s quite pleasant to work with.  Its actually because no one will insure her.” (my jaw drops) What the F*ck???? Lindsay Lohan isn’t working because of insurance? I then got a brief history of film industry insurance.

Basically, you are a movie company and you are going to spend Xmillions of dollars to make your amazing film. Part of that money gets spent on insuring the production (cast, scenery, etc) because if Lindsay were to die or say end up in Jail and the company can’t finish their film, they are out Xmillions of dollars. Think Chris Farley or John Candy.

For some movies insurance can cost as much as 4% of a total movies budget. For a movie like Avatar that would mean almost $12 million. If you have a star that is a particularly high risk for catastrophe (e.g. Charlie Sheen, Rhiana, ) they can mess up your entire budget by being too expensive to insure… and I found out there is a weird niche insurance called incarceration insurance.

Lightbulb business moment. Lindsay may not be the best example because she is too far to the extreme, but the movie business has the same cost controls to work with as any business. When someone hires Lindsay Lohan they are making a really aggressive bet. And furthermore, my favorite business buddy “externalizing costs” (see walmart) has a close cousin called “externalizing risk.” So the conclusion I realized about highly insured businesses: These guys aren’t pussy’s for using insurance (well maybe some of them), they are geniuses-If you externalize some risk then you can take bigger risks!

So thank you Lindsay Lohan for two big revelations: 1) Insurance isn’t for pansies without confidence in themselves- it’s for the really insane people that are super high risk, and 2) Robert Rodriguez is even more badass than I thought he was before.

MacheteNun

There are Millions of Fish in the Sea…

Jo8hfCM

I’m not trying to be a Debbie-downer, but I have frequently heard from the choir of monogamous married people in my world: when the time is right it will happen/ you always meet the right person when you aren’t looking to meet someone/ there are millions of fish in the sea/ etc. At this juncture in history, I personally think that 1) waiting around is the worst thing that you can possibly do, and 2) there aren’t as many possible matches as you’d think. (I temporarily moved to the suburbs and in the ‘burbs getting every kid married off is priority #1, I.E. I’ve been hearing a lot of these conversations recently)

So I want to break down some numbers using myself as an example:

First, I’m a straight, 29 year old male living in Orange County  Suburb County, California. Right now, in the United States there are 82 million people from 25- 44 years of age, and since roughly 51 percent of them are female, there are 42 million women.

“See JP, you have 42 million women to choose from” -guy smoking crack

but now we need to start getting more specific. There are a couple of deal breakers that are out there for me: stupidity, obesity, impoverished, diseased, distance.

Let’s start with distance. To actually be able to see someone that you are dating once a week they need to be relatively close. Sure you can do long distance, and you can make insane commutes… realistically though the person will need to be within 30 miles of where I’m living if nothing else than for the shear possibility of meeting them. So (even though I won’t be living here soon) we will use Orange County as an example- Population 3million.

After we apply the percentage of women 25-44 nationwide to Orange County (assuming the percentage is similar) there are ~390,000 women in Orange County. I’m going to cut into it even more by calling a spade a spade: there is no 44 year old that is going to date me, zero. In fact I personally think the high point for my cut off would be 34 (5 years older than myself) which basically cuts 390,000 in half. So that leaves us at ~195,000 possibly women. 195K? That doesn’t sound bad… that is until you make some adjustments based off of other criteria.

Intelligence. Now take this next filter after hearing me out. The types of girls that I find attractive are in a similar area of the spectrum for intelligence. The easiest way (probably not the most accurate) to gauge intelligence is education. For sake of ease I’m just going to say that I need to be with a girl that is smart enough to get a college degree. Am I saying that people that get degrees are all smarter? no. Am I saying I’m too shallow to date someone without a University education? no. Historically, most of the girls I have dated have college degrees so it is easier to use as a metric. Again I’m going to have to adapt the data, but in the US 36 percent of women ages 25-29 have a bachelors degree (reference). I’m just going to extend that out to the full group 195K that were left after we focused in on Orange County. 36% of 195K leaves us with 70,000 available women.

Which by the way, they should advertise what having a degree does for your chances to stay together.

Size.  Another determining factor is physical health. I’m sure that there are plenty of people that can love a person no matter what size they are, it just isn’t me. Is it super harsh to not consider a person datable because they don’t take care of themselves? I don’t think so. I think it is just being realistic and fair. I will run anywhere between 20- 80 miles, weight train 8-16 days , and play sports 8-16 any given month. Do you really think I’d be compatible with someone that spends the same amount of time in front of the TV drinking Diet Coke?

Using the current CDC data on obesity: I can knock off another 20,000 give or take of our 70,000 based on the fact that in the general population education only has a slight effect on obesity rates. Putting me at ~52,000 women that I could date. My number is starting to look kinda small.

Availability. Here’s another thing- even if I want to date them they might not be available to date. Pulling again from the Census- of the age group that I could date: most women will get married/are married/ or have been married in that age group. In fact the number of “single” is an average of 36% ages 25-34. Mind you they don’t have advanced reporting so its difficult to be able to factor in my other data points… for the sake of good drama I’m just going to pretend that it would play out anyway. 36% of 52K leaves me with 18,720.

So my possible dating pool is roughly 18,720 women. That is before we start talking about physical attraction, political affiliation, socio-economic status, cats vs dogs, religion, humor, height, interests, alma mater, ethnic background, or anything else that usually comes to mind when you are thinking about who you want to be with.

18,720. Thats in the 3rd most populous county in California too, not exactly rural Kansas. Is the math 100% correct, probably not. Is the number less than 10,000? After you bring in all the factors that you are looking for in a person, definitely under 10,000.

Back to my original point… If you  actually want to meet someone that you are compatible with, the mantra “you’ll find someone when you stop looking” is the worst idea ever… in my mind thats the same thing as saying “you’ll do a lot better job of settling when you don’t give a shit.” What you should really be doing is the same process that you would follow for other areas of your life: 1) Make yourself as awesome as possible, and then 2) work as hard as you can until you can’t work that hard anymore. When you’ve reached that point: work harder…

How to Really Do a “30 Second Commercial”

Why is a 30 second commercial important?

3 reasons: 1) So you don’t stumble over yourself when you are explaining “what you do” to someone that you want to have that information 2) Everyone that sells a product or owns a company, needs to know exactly what they do. Having a 30 second commercial memorized shows that you are a professional, and that you are functioning on a higher level. Other professionals also have this information memorized. When you concisely exchange this information it explains to other professionals that you are also a professional. 3) So you aren’t forgotten.

 

The makeup of a 30 second commercial:

Who you are:

What you do:

How you do it:

Why that person should care:

E.G. My name is XXX. I am a sales rep for YYY. What we do is work with [type] companies to help them do [something specialized]. The way that I do that is… [explain process in one sentence]. As an example I was working with ACME co. (preferably a tangible example that means something to the person that you are speaking to) and through the use of my product/ service I was able to (make them money/ save them money/ keep their people safe/ improve their company’s image). While I cannot guarantee I can do that for you, I think that it is worth 45min of your time to see if we can [replicate the results for your company].

That is a solid 30 Second Commercial. If you use it you will do well. Here’s the only thing that I noticed while using this paradigm for the last few years is that if you have to use a lot of words to explain what you do, you might lose people, and it misses a little umpfh that comes from great emphasis during speech to really drive something home. So here is my amended “30 Second Commercial”:

Who you are:

What you do:

WHAT YOU REALLY DO:

How you do it:

Why that person should care:

Hi! My name is Jon Paul Uritis. I am a developer for The Storm Cloud Group. What I do is work with small to medium sized businesses to deploy digital marketing strategy that generates new sources of revenue and decreases operating expenses. Basically, we help you blow out your competition through electronic marketing. As an example, I recently worked with Triboro Beverage out of Astoria New York to help them deploy a strategy that will hopefully generate $30,000 (we haven’t actually done the projections yet- whoops) in new revenue this year, now I’m not saying that I can do the same for you but don’t you think it is worth 45 minutes of your time to see if we can?

The devil is in the details.

My Resolution

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Cursive

cursive

So I would like to offer up something of a novel idea: Our (American) education system is fucked.

Yep completely and totally done. There are some statistics that go along with this notion (see example below), actually when I say “some” I really mean all…

pisa

 

But I don’t really want to focus on statistics for this one (though I found it particularly interesting that the US spends about $115,000 per student). Instead, I would like to poke around with an parable here: Cursive writing.

Right now as we speak, there are roughly 4.5 million 8-9 year olds that are going to spend a significant amount of time this year learning to read and write cursive. They will learn cursive at the same time that they will be learning basic physical sciences and chemistry, multiplication and division, basic cultural studies of the United States, and reading and writing skills that help them differentiate more complex genres. The main difference between learning cursive and these other subjects: They will never have practical use of cursive in their entire lives after that. EVER.

I consider this demonstrative of our education system as a whole. There is dead weight that kids are required to do all over the place and it is taking away from absolutely critical time periods for teaching children valuable information.

Just for fun here is a quick list of the things that you can do with cursive (2010 and after):

1) If your doctor is older, you can attempt to read his/her charts (note: if your doctor hasn’t switched to electronic record keeping please be very careful as they likely are not keeping up with current medical technology either).

2) Create handmade Valentine’s day cards

3) Create models to build new computer fonts

4) Write letters to your grandparents, or possibly parents depending on your age

5) Sign your name (though to be fair you probably don’t need to learn the entire alphabet in cursive for this)

Now I’m doing some math here that is probably incorrect but hopefully you will be able to make it more tangible and less hypothetical for your own world…

If a child spends 1 hour a day in 3rd grade on Cursive writing/ reading, that child will have racked up 180 hours spent on cursive (you can actually get a pilots license in less time by the way). Based on the number of days in a normal school year and a typical k-12 education, that student will have wasted 1% of their entire primary education.

Meanwhile, only 10% of American high schools offer computer programmingentrepreneurship is (in my opinion) completely discouraged in primary education (despite its high correlation with the top percentage of American Wealth), and STEM education, as has been well publicized, is lagging in context of the world. Subjectively, I also think that technical creativity (as opposed to artistic creativity) isn’t even known about in primary education, much less taught or discussed.

So why do we teach cursive?

Probably the same reason why math and science are considered boring in our education system. But on the plus side teachers don’t have to learn anything new…

(Quick Elon Musk quote: On his childhood experiments: “It is remarkable how many things you can explode. I’m lucky I have all my fingers.”)

 

 

Moving

So I’m packing my stuff up for yet another move in my life and I decided to do the math on it: I have had 17 permanent residences in 9 states over the 29 years I have been on this planet. This also caused me to have 22 jobs ranging from Engineering Intern in China to Admissions Counselor to Programmer to Barista. Fun Facts!
Oh and just incase FAQs:

Favorite place to live: I like each and everyone for different reasons. I found Kansas/ the midwest to be very focused on personal relationships (I quite enjoy it as I’m super social), New York City has the hustle that I pride myself on and enjoy being in the thick of, as well it was probably the area with the most talent that I’ve seen; the weather and scenery in California wins unconditionally it is the place that make you feel the best. Philadelphia has a gritty-ness that I love- each one of the neighborhoods are like different worlds, plus it has this weird ability to be extremely metropolitan without the cost. Connecticut really appreciates the finer things in life with that whole east coast aristocracy thing- which is a lot of fun to converse and learn about… and I am still trying to figure out how Texas is actually considered part of the United States?

Was your dad in the military? nope, he was just good at his job and kept on getting promoted.

Wasn’t that tough moving to all those places? Sort of. The first one was hard because I didn’t realize all of the good parts of moving around, but after you do one or two you start to get a flow and learn how to get good at moving. At this point in my life I am extremely thankful for the fact that I moved as much I did because it taught me to make friends very quickly (which is essentially how I make my living) and I got tougher from it.

Are you ever going to stay in one place? I am still sorting that one out, but I can tell you that women (despite how they all say that they enjoy travel) hate moving around a lot, and I think it would be nice to have a place to keep my stuff. Plus, my family has decided that they are colonizing Southern California, so it might be nice to take part in that.

 

Fiction to Real life

Dad recently read a book that was deep in the fantasy/ fiction realm. I have no clue about the title but he has taken from it a little nuggets that has been infused into many of our business discussions:

  1. People will believe what they want to believe
  2. There are unintended consequences to every action
  3. Passion trumps logic

Super fascinating. When I was thinking about these I started to question what things the rest of us take from fiction that we infuse into our daily lives. Just a quick thought.