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Unfinished: Cracking the Code

Cracking the code is creating a product that is such a ‘no-brainer’ that it sells itself. Such a product usually has a couple of characteristics that I will enumerate/explore. (1) The initial cost to using the product is relatively low or non-existent. (2) It replaces another product/service by being demonstrably better/faster/cheaper. (3) Once people buy it they want more of it. (4) It’s easy to use. (5) Everyone needs it. (6) Network effects (?)

Now before I go off and start using all sorts of positive buzzwords, allow me to think ‘outloud’ and more deeply about what I am referring to when I speak of cracking the code. Business is usually pretty messy. Value, cost, price, whatever, can be determined by a number of factors: the highest price someone is willing to pay; the cost plus some marginal markup; the government/regulators; the open efficient market. I guess this depends on the liquidity of the market which is based on the number of buyers and sellers of a particular product/service.

Ah, here’s another aspect of cracking the code. The product is a novel expression of an eternal need. It is disrupts whatever ‘efficient’ market that was in place and exploits old inefficiencies.

Maybe I am making this too complicated. Cracking the code is creating an product/service offering that is too good to not to buy. The value is clear. It is demonstrably better/cheaper/faster than the alternative.

More on this later.

Friends with Benefits? Nah, Friends with Equity

Michael Milken and Warren Buffet

Michael Milken and Warren Buffet

I’m fortunate to have some superstar friends. They are the best and brightest at what they do. We’d love to go into business together, but at this time in our lives most of us don’t really have complimentary skill sets and need a couple more years of learning in our respective fields before we can come together and create something valuable and special. We’ve often joked about investing in one another. I might say something like, “I’m very bullish on Sisco right now.” (He’s currently negotiating the details of a job offer so I can’t go into any more detail.) Or something like “I’m long Neustein.”

What if I could actually invest in these friends? Not just time and friendship, but cold hard cash? Not even for a specific project, but just because I believed in them and their success and I’d like to share in the upside. The concept is friend equity or Fr-Equity: buying a stake in a person’s future annual earnings with an upfront cash investment. I’d pay a friend for the right to a certain percent of their annual income (based on their pre or post tax  earnings reported to the IRS).

Some might say this is a disgusting idea bound to create frenemies (friend-enemies). Maybe. I think in the long run investments like these further motivate us to make our friends successful. We’ve got skin in the game. The most potentially hurtful part of the enterprise is probably valuing the friend’s equity.  Not easy to tell one friend that he is ‘worth’ a fraction of another friend. But let’s say that the friend would never have to know, like a derivate of frequity? Where two parties contract on the value of a third friend’s future. You don’t have to mortgage your own future…  How disgusting is this idea? Are there any potential societial benefits to a market for this? Like financing someone’s education to buy a limited time horizon of their future earnings? (A pay it forward loan?) Can someone run the numbers on this? Neustein maybe? LWC?

Blogging… How do I do it?

In this post I will explore my method and purpose for blogging = I will write without having thought first. I’ll test out some hypothetical purposes for my blog and then attempt to refute them without revealing too many of my insecurities or grandiose thoughts and aspirations that make up my psychological inner-workings.

1) I will blog at my convenience, not yours. Please stop emailing me to blog more. Each precious word must be unearthed from my cave of my mind. It is a painstaking process. Rarely anything comes out that is salvageable, but when something does come out you will find it here.  This blog is the proverbial fresh toilet bowl of my thoughts… these writings are the fruit of my labor.

2) Don’t be too serious. Seriously, don’t be. I want to write as non-linearly and creatively as possible.  There are so many well thought out, logical writings in this world. Why should I be one of them? I have nothing to prove except that stream of consciousness slightly reigned in to digestible blog posts rule. So let’s stop beating around the bush and prove it. Yes we can!

3) Antisemitism is not cool. I know that in my previous method I demanded that I wouldn’t get too serious on this blog, but everybody makes exceptions and I must given the severity of the subject in this day and age. Plus, I must make amends… back in the day while walking to Fairway, my brother and I would loudly whisper “How cool is antisemitism?” Of course we did this as a joke and to try and cause a stir being surrounded by a sea of yarmulkes on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. What the hell did we know? We lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan going to Jewish schools and camps and being thoroughly insulated in the Jewish community. The world has changed in the last 10 years and I am definitely antiantisemitism and all haters of different stripes.

4) Moreso, I’m a lover of light and good and righteous and I’m gonna explore that with you. I promise to make tons of foolish and amateurish mistakes in capturing these thoughts as I’ve never written any of these thoughts down like this. I encourage you to laugh along with me as I contradict myself and expose my human condition.

5) Write ‘pithy shizzle’ as much as I can.

6) Leverage, leverage, leverage. I will ‘leverage’ all of my experience and over use business-speak as much as I can. I will say things like ‘add-value’. If I need more time to think about something I will ‘circle the wagons’ and ‘get back to you’. I will ‘follow up’. There will be ‘takeaways’. All of this speak is already ‘baked-in’ to the way that I think about the world and I intend to leverage the knowledge that I’ve amassed until you are sick to your stomach.

7) Use twitter and send you pictures of my food. I will eventually figure out how to get my twitter stream on to this blog. You will have the privilege of seeing what I eat for lunch via twit pics. I will say pithy shizzle (sweet). There will be wonderment. We will capture the flow of the world and its emanation: light and energy.  We’ll freeze it and catch it and let it go to realize it ‘don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.’ This world is flow. Don’t bother holding on. It will only disappoint you. Work with it.

That’s enough for now.

Herbie Hancock and the case of Hear, O Israel

Bless’d Herbie Hancock. I stumbled upon your (likely) one night stand with Kabbalat Shabbat (Friday night services) while doing an exercise for work. I was astonished to find that you participated in Hear, O Israel: A Prayer Ceremony in Jazz. I couldn’t find samples of your work anywhere… but I found your story on Amazon.com. The prospect of 40 magical minutes on Friday night glory written by an unknown musical prodigy seduced me and I bought your forgotten flirtation with Jew for $13.98 including shipping. It’s no Head Hunters, but not bad either. I’ll give it multiple listens and return to review. For now, I listen to Monk and Mingus.

Empathy

Empathy is the capacity to share another person’s state of mind.

That is powerful.

How does it work? How do I, someone who is by definition ‘not-you’, share your state of mind? And if possible to what degree can I approach what you are really feeling?

I’m hearing, seeing, reading all the messages your sending with your voice and body language. Yet I still don’t know how close I am to your state of mind.

But let’s say that I’m there.
I am still far from compassion.

How often do we empathize with others?
Do we even pay attention enough to get there?
And what is the gap between empathy and compassion?
What can I do to bridge it?

That is some pithy shizzle.
More concrete thoughts to be poured on that foundation.

Mic’d Up: How I’ve Come to Blog

I’ve looked on enviously at friends expressing themselves for all the world to see. How can they post so consistently? How do they write so eloquently? And how can they be so brazen to think that other will read what they write? Sometimes the digital personalities they’d created for themselves seemed just a shade of their less-managed real-life personalities. It seemed like a lot of work. Maintaining blogs. Participating in online communities. Sharing your ‘voice’. What could everybody add? Certainly there is already enough content out there in the ether.

I’ve internally debated the merits of starting a blog for a while now, particularly as I’ve started working with digerati at Daylife. In the short period of time that I’ve worked at Daylife, 6 months, I’ve been inspired by many of my colleagues, and some other close friends who’ve recently started blogging, and come to see the light.

Each of us is a still small voice, even if we shout. The web is the absolute most powerful platform for sharing ideas and organizing people, ever. Period. (No new idea there.) The point is each of us has a stake in this world, and whether consciously or unconsciously, participate in it’s re-creation at each moment through
our mere existence.

I finally take the (proverbial) mic to scream: here I am! Plugged into the platform of the web there is at least the chance that there will be great reverberations of this still small voice.