Tagged: Business

I Can Read Too: Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

Cover of "Linchpin: Are You Indispensable...

Cover of Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

Seth Godin’s book Linchpin is about how to distinguish yourself in an indistinguishable world. It answers several questions, such as: if you are a product, how do you sell yourself; why are some people more valued than others; how can you make yourself happy at any point in your career; and where should I go next. Linchpin is insightful and compelling, if you are in the process of determining where you want to go next in your career. Although, beware if you are satisfied in your career, Linchpin might make you feel extremely lazy. Like Who Moved My Cheese, there is no rest for the weary, because if you are not moving forward, then you will be left behind.

10 Things I Learned from Linchpin: Are You Indispensable

1. Talent and creativity are more important than obedience, because scarcity creates value. In order to be an artist, one has to share their art and have a passion for it.

2. There is more competition in the race to the bottom, than in the race to the top.

3. If you do not bring your best to a job that you feel doesn’t deserve you, then it is unlikely that you will ever have a job that you feel you deserve based on your past performance. Transferring your passion to your job is a lot easier than finding a job that you are passionate about.

4. Motivators: challenge, responsibility, flexibility, stability, money, and professional development.

5. Fear prevents people from standing out. The more you want to hide the less safe you are, because you are less likely to be noticed and more likely to fail. Reduce fear by creating multiple paths.

6. When you start, you should finish. So, you have to ship your projects in spite of fear, hassels, and emergencies. Great artists are able to push through the dip. Stop making incremental changes dues to fear, when you know the apocalypse is near. (The internet is the crack cocaine to resistance.)

7. If you find a linchpin, pay him. If you don’t, someone else will.

8. Your tribe is 150 people and beyond that people are strangers. You give gifts to your tribe and do business with strangers.

9. Seeing clearly means the ability to look at all other views.

10. The indispensable job is the only one worth doing and the remarkable product is the only one worth paying for.

11. Linchpins can visualize the future, love that future, live in that future, and then abandon it when circumstances change. Winners are good at losing.

13. Loyalty to your mission and generosity for your work. Few people have your background, experience, or persistance.

14. If you give your gifts enough to the right people in the right way, then you will be rewarded and your gifts will be treasured.

15. Project enthusiasm and get people to root for you. Be aware where your skills are welcomed.

Yeah!

  • References to Lake Champlain Chocolates! They are my favorite.

Too Much Disposable Income: Jos. A. Bank’s Buy 1 Get 7 Free Promotion

To me it would seem like you would only need to shop at Jos. A. Bank at maximum 3 times a year to get a years worth of wardrobe. I am not sure how they get repeat customers, because if things are always on sale, why not just buy a whole bunch in one go. Macy’s doesn’t even have this many sales. Do you have to consistently replace clothes, because they don’t last that long?  Maybe they have crack in the clothing. (Note 1: there was a story about the flame retardant in furniture giving people cancer today, another reason not to sit-down. Note 2: Is the reason why we love money, because of the cocaine found in dollars?) Jos. A. Bank’s buy 1 get 3 free promotion seems to have been going on, since the recession in 2008.

I have always pondered, if I was male would I go to Jos. A Bank or Men’s Warehouse, because I identify with the cool bald guy in the chair that says “You’re gonna like the way you look.”  Jos A. Bank always has male prep school looking models. To be truthful, if I was a male and had that bald guy’s swag, it really wouldn’t matter if I wore Men’s Warehouse all the time. But, I guess that’s the point.

Anyways the debate is finally over, because the crack that JoS. A. Bank puts in their clothes, must have gotten to their marketing team with this new buy 1 get 7 free promotion.

Buy One Sport Coat, and get:

  • 2 pairs of pants;
  • 2 sweaters;
  • 2 sportshirts +
  • Android Smartphone (w/2 year contract).

I noticed that this is not online, so it is probably just in store. I am not sure if it is nationwide either. However, if you were  holding out for the buy 1 get 4 free promotion, hold out a little longer because the apocalypse of Jos. A. Bank sales may soon be coming to a store near you. Although, I am pretty sure, Jos. A Bank will try to outdo itself again.

Why can’t women have these deals!

I Can Read Too: Knowing Your Value by Mika Brzezinski

The World Affairs Council presents Mika Brzezi...

The World Affairs Council presents Mika Brzezinski, May 20, 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you have ever watched MSNBC‘s Morning Joe, then you are probably familiar with Mika Brzezinski. I choose to blog about Knowing Your Value, because it seems like everyone wants to go around saying that they are fine and present a facade that life is perfect, but in reality we are all troubled with similar problems. This is especially true regarding problems surrounding women in the workplace.  In order to for all of us to move forward, there needs to be more discussion about these realities. (At the very least, you can read the discussion that takes place in the book over a weekend.)

Part of the reason why this book is notable is because it is about Mika Brzezinski and other female leaders. Their background and status might allude to a certain amount privilege, but after reading this book one quickly realizes that everyone has to put up with their own fair share of b.s. Some of the b.s. is created by others, but there is a good amount that is self-created. In an effort to guide readers on how to stop making their lives harder, Knowing Your Value provides lessons drawn from experiences of current women leaders.

10 Things I Learned from Knowing Your Value:

1. Always ask, even if people place limits on questions, ask anyway. Don’t stop asking, because you feel lucky to have the job, have children, or will have children in the future. You will not know the answer, unless you ask for the job, raise, promotion etc.

2. Be prepared, even if you are not currently valued, your value will be re-assessed if you are the only prepared person.

3. Don’t measure value by being liked or flattered, because being liked or flattered does not pay the bills.

4. Authenticity is easily observed. Don’t act like a guy, if that isn’t you.

5. Men feel uncomfortable when women get angry (e.g. “what is wrong with her”), but love flattery (not flirting).

6. Don’t do anything for free. If you do work for free become indispensable, then you will have a place to negotiate from.

7. Ignore labels, especially those that attribute characteristics that would be considered unseemly to a lady. (E.g. “forceful,” “loud,” and “aggressive”).

8. When negotiating, outline your achievements in a clear and concise manner, know what your peers are making, and do not play the victim card (e.g. mother’s ill, kids, etc.)

9. Always have somewhere else to go, so you are prepared when someone says no.

10. Just because there are more women in management, does not mean that women don’t need to stick together or that their issues are any less pressing.

I Can Read Too: Who Moved My Cheese?

Cover of "Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazin...

Cover via Amazon

I always like books that take less than two hours to read. Who Moved My Cheese by Dr. Spencer Johnson is a helpful reminder that when you are not getting what you want, do something different (change). Who knew that great lessons can be learned through a story about by 2 mice and 2 little people.

10 Things I Learned from Who Moved My Cheese:

1. Entitlement makes you resist change, while pride and arrogance makes you believe that you do not need to change.

2. The more time you spend in shock, awe, and disbelief, the longer it takes you to move on. The same goes for spending too much time searching for the root of the problem; at some point you need to move forward.

3. Fear and comfort make people complacent, but in reality you may be less safe if you do not confront and adhere to change.

4. There is a difference between productivity and activity.

5. Instead of waiting for something to happen, choose what you want to do and do it. Having control over your next step is always better than having nothing.

6. Visualize your end result, because it will help you overcome the first and hardest step when making a change.

7. Question if your fears are rational. Always ask what you would do if you were not afraid.

8.Think about your gains instead of your losses.

9. Keep your ear to the ground, so that you can predict change. Investigate new options while you are happy with you current station. If you accept the small changes, it will be easier to accept the big ones.

10. If you are so smart, then why are all the simple people where you want to be.

If you have an hour and half to spare and are in rut, there is really nothing better to do then read this book. Especially, if you are like me and enjoy spending time wallowing. It reminds me that there is always another opportunity waiting for you, even when you think all you know is over.

Podcast Review: NPR’s Planet Money

Grant commemorative dollar coin

Image via Wikipedia. It's Grant guys!

All Planet Money Podcast are available at NPR’s website.

Planet Money is a podcast that focuses on business and economics. Now, that may sound boring, but it is delivered in a format that is enlightening, captivating, and funny. In a nutshell, they explain or solve complex business and economic issues in simple terms and in less than 30 minutes. What more could you ask for?

Top 5 Reasons to Listen to Planet Money:

Financial Schemes: My latest favorite podcast is Dollar Coins in The Wild. Sidenote: the U.S. Mint has temporarily stopped producing dollar coins. In addition to discussing a marketplace that used an alternative forms of tender and modern day barter colonies, the hosts also discovered a dollar coin money making scheme. At the time of the story, people were using their reward point credit cards to buy dollar coins! For example, I would purchase 1,000 dollars of dollar coins with my credit card. By using my credit card, I would receive airline miles on top of my 1,000 dollars of dollar coins. Apparently, the broadcast of this story was so popular that the U.S. Mint quickly took measures to shut this down. 😦

Planet Money Indicator: It’s a short segment at the beginning of the podcast that discusses a number in the news, which is a financial indicator. Recently, the numbers have been focused on unemployment, industry sales, debt, and GDP.

You Will Like This, If You Enjoy Reading the Economist: Oftentimes, economists come on the show to discuss their latest research papers in the context of current events. Some economists that were recently featured on the show, include: Herman Daly, Robert Mendelsohn, and Severin Borenstein. Moreover, it also shows how past economic theory is applied today. See Keynes v. Hayek, a discussion regarding the extent that spending, taxing, and regulations can control or prevent a nation’s boom bust cycle.

Explains Things That You Think You Know, But Don’t: France and Germany, A Love Story discusses the origins of the Euro.  What If We Paid Off All The Debt, takes a look at the negative effects that would result if the U.S. did not have any debt. Finally, there is a podcast that discusses the fallout of another country’s financial crisis, which was caused by a housing bubble entitled Japan’s Lost Lesson.

White Collar Criminals: Sam Antar, cousin of Crazy Eddie, talks about the Securities and Exchange Commission‘s investigation into his family’s business. The shenanigans of Crazy Eddie’s retail stores included inflated profits and overstated income. See Inside the Mind of a Financial Criminal.  In How Office Politics Could Take Down EuropeJack Abramoff discusses lobbying, need I say more…

MoviePass: All the Trips to the Movies You Want for $50 Per Month

Interior of Cinema 9, Hoyts movie theater, Wes...

Image via Wikipedia

I know $50 dollars a month sounds steep, but this is a great option for 2 types of people.  First, people living in highly populated markets that charge $15 dollars or more per ticket. Second, people who are still avid moviegoers, that’s right all the movies you can watch. I was an avid moviegoer in the 90’s and early 2000’s, when there was a reason to go to the movies.

Moving on, right now MoviePass is “invitation-only Limited Private Beta for charter subscribers, who can extend invitations to friends and family.” (I am not quite sure what that means). Since, I consider readers of my blog friends, here is my invitation link for my friends. No, we are not quite family.

How it works:

  • MoviePass subscribers can print out vouchers that give you access to 36,000 screens
  • Mobile version MoviePass , i.e. for those who want tickets on the go, will be available 2012
  • Additionally, MoviePass plans to offer subscribers exclusive access to advance industry screenings, events, set visits, and prizes

Disclaimer:

I have not started using MoviePass yet and receive no monetary benefit by referring people to MoviePass. However, it is an interesting venture that could change the movie industry. Moreover, I am tired of paying exorbitant prices for tickets on top of  my $15 dollars worth of concessions. Therefore, I hope this works out.

For more information on MoviePass and other articles about MoviePass, hereis the link to their blog.

Close to Free Checking Accounts

Check Writing

Image by CarbonNYC via Flickr

Since the scandal over debit card fees, my attention has been set on finding a checking account with the fewest and lowest fees.  Here, is a rundown of some of the best offers I have found.

BEST IN CLASS

Ally Interest Checking Account: $0 monthly fees

  • No minimum balance
  • $9 overdraft fee
  • No ATM fees at any ATMs nationwide (they will reimburse you for ATM fees that other banks charge you at the end of each statement cycle)
  • Variable rate account where balances $15,000 (quoted at .8% as of today) or more get an even higher rate
  • Unlimited check writing and free Ally standard checks
  • Note: that this is an online bank and has no branches
GOOD

Bank of America e-banking: 0 monthly fee (for when you do banking online instead of using a teller)

  1. Must do all withdrawals and deposits through the ATM
  2. Must sign up for paperless statements (statements will be emailed)
  3. Otherwise $8.95 monthly fee ($35 overdraft charge)

Citibank Basic Checking: $ 0 monthly fees

  1. $8 monthly fee UNLESS you do one of the following each month:
  • Direct Deposits
  • Any Debit Card Purchase
  • Bill Payments2
  • Auto Deductions
  • ACH Payments
  • Checks Paid
  • Cash Withdrawals at any ATM
STANDARD

Wells Fargo Value Checking: $5 monthly fee ($100 to open)

  1. Monthly service fee is waived when:

Chase Total Checking: $12 monthly fee ($25 to open)

  1. Monthly service fee is waved when:
  • Have direct deposits totaling $500 or more
  • Minimum balance of $1500
  • $5000 average daily balance with linked deposits or investments
  • Chase is promoting $100 to $200 cash back, when you open with $100 and keep the account open for 6 months, however you have to calculate the monthly fee into that if you have not met the requirements above

Honorable Mention: ING Direct (online bank)

If you know of any other banks that I should add to the list or have suggestions for other banks I should look into, please fee free to contact me or make a comment below.

Bank of America to Charge Debit Card Use Fee | Reuters

Visa Debit card from Bank of America

Bank of America to charge debit card use fee | Reuters.

Beginning next year, Bank of America will be charging customers $5.00 for the convenience of purchasing items with their debit card. This is in addition to their $35.00 overdraft fee and their monthly maintenance fees that range from $8.95 to $25.00. Here, is a list of Bank of America’s checking options and how to avoid monthly maintenance fees. If you have a high balance, then you are covered. However, I can’t fathom how many people will be leaving B of A and other large banks that follow suit for small banks and credit unions. This could is an opportunity for the banks that do not follow suit.

Follow Up: Close to Free Checking Accounts

What Are You Wearing if You Are an Investment Banker and You Want to Make It into Private Equity?

Brioni (fashion)

Image via Wikipedia

I am not as attuned to fashion as I could be. However, while reading some books, I came across a few brands to live by if you are an male “investment banker aspiring to go into private equity.” A few of the standbys for this upwardly mobile group are Brioni (tailored menswear), Zenga (tailored menswear), and Allen Edmonds (custom shoes). For the first time, I have felt the symptoms that many shopaholics face. After looking at their respective websites, I had a tingling sensation to buy clothes and shoes, even if they were to just hang in my closet. Several times a day, I would: (1) go in my closet, (2) ensure that the clothes were in their proper place, (3)  feel relief, and (4) feel pride that I was their lucky owner. So, if you need something to fascinate you for about 10 minutes or are in IB looking to go into PE visit their sites and step into the world of menswear (what men should wear). Please feel free to add to the list.