Saturday, January 29, 2011

INTERVIEW WITH JOEL LIBAVA

Listen to my interview with Joel Libava. You could subscribe to the RSS feed and download the audio file (MP3). You could now find EGO podcast on iTunes.

Listen to internet radio with Lyceum1776 on Blog Talk Radio

I will update the post with a timeline with show notes in the near future. I will also add a new CinchCast episode on why I have become a premium Blog Talk Radio host / customer and how you could support my future shows.
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UPDATE 02/15/11:

Timeline with show notes

(01) Bio. introduction.

(02) Franchise Direct.

(04) Franchise Blog Newsletter.

(06) ConstantContact, Aweber, TinyLetter, Letter.ly, etc.

(07) Attenion book by Jim Kukral.

(08) The Franchise King name.

(11) Small Business Trends press release.

(12) Joel Libava asked about the name of my blog, EGO.

(15) Social media services.

(21) Disclosure tip by CopyBlogger. Paid marketing program.

(24) Chris Brogan.

(25) Cindy King, Social Media Examiner.

(25) Jason Falls.

(25) Mari Smith.

(26) Anita Campbell.

(27) E-book giveaway. Franchise Online University.

(30) Half-time. The Trader Principle. The selfish franchisee and franchisor.

(39) The Top Franchise Trends for 2011. Fitness Together Lists The Healthy Food Trends For 2011.

(45) Super Bowl. New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns. "Cleveland Rocks" with the Drew Carey Show...

(47) (Coke) Pepsi to Skip Super Bowl Ads in Favor of $20M Social Media Campaign.

(48) Social Media Club, Gothenburg, Sweden.

(49) Old Spice campaign with Isaiah Mustafa.

(51) Franchise King and Franchise Social Media Blog.

(55) Sponsor Blog Talk Radio show.

(56) Barry Moltz and Tim Berry.

(57) Guests: Cindy King...

(58) John Warrillow.

(58) Books: The Entrepreneur Equation by Carol Roth.

[Editor's note: I will add more links and an audio clip later on today.]

[Editor's note 02/16/11: I have a cold and my voice is not fit for fight, so I will publish an audio clip at some other point in time. In the meantime, please listen to my CinchCast of May 4, 2010.]

Monday, January 17, 2011

OBAMANOMICS AS AN IMPOSSIBLE OBJECT

What do you think about John Cox's illustration? Do you think that "Obamanomics" is an impossible object like a blivet (Three-Pronged Poiuyt)?

Obamanomics
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Thursday, January 13, 2011

3 Reasons Why No One Will Steal Your Big Idea

This is a guest post by Kenji Crosland, a writer for TeachStreet. TeachStreet is a website dedicated to providing local and online classes, including fitness classes and entrepreneurship classes.

When I started out as an entrepreneur about a year ago my greatest fear was that my idea would be stolen and developed by someone else. My reasoning was that there were other people with more resources and greater technical skills who could develop my idea a lot faster than I could myself. Thus, the only people I told about my idea was my immediate family--no one else.

Later on, after releasing my web app and getting into the Seattle web startup scene, I came to the realization that all the secrecy was probably unnecessary, for the following reasons:

An idea is just a starting point
In May 2010 my web application goldhat.org was released, and had a much slower start than I had anticipated. Meanwhile, other similar websites like flattr.com and kachingle.com suddenly came out of the woodwork. All of these sites (mine included) were based on the concept of social donations for great web content. When first told of these sites, I had to admit that I was a little scared, but when I checked each of them out I realized that although the competing sites may have started out with the same idea, what they ended up with was very different.

People would rather work on their own ideas than steal yours
It doesn’t matter how good an idea is, the fact remains that making an idea happen takes a lot of work and dedication, not to mention dealing with a lot of failures and obstacles. Anyone who has the kind of motivation and drive to turn a business idea into a reality would rather work on their own ideas than steal your idea and try to make that happen. It’s really hard to motivate yourself by working on a brainchild that you’ve stolen from someone else.

People steal products, not ideas
You may have watched the movie “Flash of Genius,” where Ford Motor Company stole the “idea” of the intermittent windshield wiper from inventor Robert Kearns. The fact of the matter is, however, that Ford Motor Company didn’t steal Kearn’s idea, they stole a prototype of an invention that had proven to work. That’s a BIG difference.

If you go to a startup networking event you’ll hear five different ideas that sound like they could make a lot of money. The sad reality is, however, that you don’t hear about 80% of those ideas ever again. The ideas themselves could be very good, but it takes a lot of smarts, persistence and plain luck to turn them into workable products. In most cases, the real money makers are not the ideas themselves, but the “nuts and bolts” details that turn ideas into products.

Not telling anyone about your big idea might sound smart, but in reality there’s no reason why you shouldn’t share your idea with friends and mentors who could help you out. If you’re more open to others about what you’re working on, you can find a lot of support out there. Of course, don’t tell people every detail about how your business works, but you should feel free to share your big ideas with others.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

LYCEUM BULLETIN BY PAPER.LI

This week's wrap-up is powered by Power.li and content by some of the people I follow on Twitter. Read TJ McCue's post, Custom Twitter Daily Newspaper from Paper.li by SmallRivers.

Lyceum Bulletin is out! http://bit.ly/eGpo4e ▸ Top stories today by @clutterdiet @scottpolk @glennbeck @europeupclose @kenjicrosland (@Lyceum on Twitter, January 12, 2011.)

I have added a Lyceum Bulletin widget on EGO Sole Trader.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Comparing the Current Recession/Depression with the Great Depression via Benjamin Roth's Diary

How does our current recession (or more likely, soft depression) compare with the Great Depression?  For an excellent account of the United States' last go-round with economic collapse, I'd highly recommend The Great Depression: A Diary by Benjamin Roth.

Roth is a Youngstown, Ohio based attorney who details a compelling play-by-play of the Depression, spanning from 1931 to 1941.  A highly intelligent and intellectually curious individual, Roth not only provides us with a look at what life was actually like during that time, but he also attempts to fill in the pieces and anticipate when things will actually get better, based on an extensive amount of economic reading he does concurrently with his experience.

I'd like to highlight a few of the key themes that I found interesting and relevant for us.

Cash is King - Before, During, and After the Crash

The drum that beats throughout Roth's diary is that during the Great Depression, cash was truly king - namely because nobody had any.  There were asset bargains to be had, for sure, and often Roth was able to pick out what he knew were outstanding values in stock prices.  But he was usually unable to pull the trigger due to lack of cash - his law practice was limping along, and he had no dry powder in reserve.

We saw an analogous situation in 2007-2009, when the credit crisis sent stocks and just about everything else down 50% or more.  In retrospect, didn't gold look cheap below $700 and oil look like a bargain below $35?  Sure hindsight is 20/20, but in order to pull the trigger on value plays, you'd have needed to step in with CASH - the exact thing that most people didn't have at the time.

So how do you make sure you do have cash?  Roth believes the only way to do it is to "cash out near the top and put holdings in government bonds" (which were actually still safe cash equivalents in the 1930's).  Of course, easier said than done, and it'd have taken real guts to cash out of stocks in 2006 when everything looked quite sanguine.  But the moral of the story appears to be that in order to be able to step in and buy when the blood is gushing in the streets, you need to assure you have dry powder available, and the time to raise cash is during the boom.

Roth pounds this theme throughout the book, later restating his belief that "guarding against loss of capital is the most important" investing strategy you can employ.  Experienced investors and traders will agree wholeheartedly with Roth.

Stock Prices and Business "Fundamentals" are Two Different Things Altogether

Every upturn in stock prices seemed to occur without any concurrent improvement in general business conditions.  So while the initial 1929 crash led (and/or caused) the initial downturn in the economy, there were little or no clues to be had about the direction of the stock market if you only looked at Main Street (sound familiar?)

The 1932 stock market upturn, off of what ultimately proved to be THE bottom, was "fast and furious" as described by Roth, completely taking him by surprise.  His law practice stayed in the tank for a decade or longer, with no measurable, sustainable signs of improvement.  So any armchair economic observer who tried to search for undercover business improvements as potential tip offs to a stock market rise would have been left frustrated, and probably flat wrong too.

If there was a stock buying approach that would have worked then, and now, it'd have been to buy stocks when they look cheap - WITHOUT margin - and hold them for a long time until they appreciate to fair value.  Sounds pretty boring, I know, but the few folks who did it made an absolute killing according to Roth.  Most weren't able to do this, though - most, like him, had no spare cash.  Those that did often levered up with margin, and were wiped out during a subsequent crash.  The margined traders of the 1930's suffered the same common fate of the margined traders of today - eventually, they busted.

And stocks WERE cheap during the Great Depression - selling for 5 to 8 times earnings, and yielding 5% or more.  A far cry from the comical "values" we have in today's market, where 15x earnings is regarded as a reasonable fair value, and a 2% yield is considered a healthy dividend!

Constant Inflation Worries and Competitive Currency Devaluations - Then and Now

Roth was constantly concerned that inflation was just around the corner, particularly when FDR started implementing his aggressive devaluation measures.  The situation was actually remarkably similar to today, as there was no visible uptick in prices, because there was no purchasing power.  But when priced in gold, the US dollar (and most other currencies, too) were devalued significantly.

Don't forget that FDR actually made it illegal for individual Americans to own gold.  Then after he confiscated bullion from those who disobeyed, he subsequently devalued the dollar by 40%!  Many Americans have no idea this ever happened.

While gold could be confiscated again, thus far Bernanke has been content to run the printing presses and devalue the dollar via QE (and actually, Greenspan was the one who started tossing the dollar out the window as early as 2002).  Thus an overnight devaluation is not as big a threat, since the dollar is marked to market with each trade - the dollar has ALREADY been devalued (which is why we are actually near term dollar bulls).

Inflation never came as Roth feared, but when priced in gold, the US dollar was certainly shredded, as were most other currencies at the time as well.  Eerily similar to today's rounds of competitive devaluations.  After reading this account, I now expect the gold bull market to continue to roll against most major currencies, until central banks get serious about protecting their currencies - and that doesn't look like it's anywhere close to happening!

Roth's General Conclusions from the Great Depression

In 1937, our guide penned some general conclusions he was able to draw from the depression that "just ended" - while the double dip after 1937 later showed that the depression actually had not ended, I found Roth's points to be excellent:
  1. While many law practices suffered throughout the depression, Roth believes the lawyer who "specialized in bankruptcies, receiverships, and reorganizations reaped a harvest throughout the depression."  Moral of the story: Depressions are times to pivot your business.  Don't be wed to the status quo.
  2. "If you once determine that you are at the beginning of a major depression, then liquidate your investments at once even at a loss because later on you will be able to buy back at a fraction of the price.  An investor who sold out at a loss in 1930 or 1931 could have bought back at 1/4 the price in 1932."
  3. "Cash is king in every depression.  A small investment in real estate or stocks or bonds in 1932 would be worth a fortune today.  Few men had both the cash and the courage to buy when things looked the bleakest."
  4. "During the past depression, prominent bankers, business men, etc. were all wrong in most of their predictions.  Use your own judgment and do your own thinking." (Emphasis mine)
My Conclusions and Comparisons with Today's Depression
  1. If you compare Roth's account with today's conditions, it'd be tough to conclude that we are heading for another Great Depression.  From a general feel standpoint, the current climate sure seems to rhyme more with Japan's recent/current soft depression and lost decades.  While it's worth preparing for the worse case scenario (and check out Porter Stansberry's End of America video if you need a nudge there), I am operating under the assumption that social and economic conditions in the US are not going to completely collapse over the next decade, but rather we're more likely to stay in a soft depression type of slump.
  2. While cash is certainly king, I think cash FLOW is emperor and master of the universe.  A lump pile of cash is awesome, no doubt, especially when bargains are to be had.  But an investment that can spin regular cash flow back your way, like a business that continues to run and churn during soft economic times, is the best thing you can have.  Cash flow is a "great to have" during all conditions, inflationary or deflationary.
  3. Don't get too spun up trying to predict the future.  It's fun, but it's also often a fruitless venture.  Stay lean and stay mean.  Don't saddle yourselves with long term obligations (avoid things like long term leases and mortgages if possible - see my Renter's Manifesto for motivation).  Stay away from margin and levered bets.  In the startup world, we have a term called "lean startup", which refers to the philosophy of doing just enough to make it to your next milestone - so that wasted effort is minimized.  Depressions are perfect times to adopt "lean living" principles, where you only plan for the next 6 months or year at most, while staying lean and agile in your occupation, living conditions, and finances.  Conserve your effort and resources as best you can, and be prepared to pivot if the situation changes!
For more investing related thoughts, news, and musings, please visit my blog at ContraryInvesting.com.


TEA PARTY WEBSITE BANNER

Check out John Cox's post, Website Banner Commission.



Related: My posts, CONNECTING TEA ENTHUSIASTS and TEA PARTY STUDY CIRCLE.

Reading material: Tucson and the Tea Party by Scott Holleran.

Monday, January 10, 2011

BOOK OF THE MOMENT

What are you reading at the moment? How many books do you read per year? Do you listen to audio books or read books on an e-reader? Do you participate in any social network for readers, e.g. Goodreads? We (TeaParty.nu) will start a study circle on tea in the near future. January is National Hot Tea month. Have you watched the situation comedy, The Book Group?

Book Apps
Book Apps
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Sunday, January 9, 2011

WHEELING AND DEALING WITH WORKFLOW

Have you done your first weekly review for this year? I will present my F.I.X IT! approach, eventually... In the meantime, please listen to Mike Vardy's (Eventualism) interview with David Allen and read Mark Anderson's post, Wheeling and Dealing in the Office.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

GAME MAKER

Tomorrow I will start to follow "The One Hour Rule" described by Zack Shapiro. I will continue to learn about the video game industry and start the process of creating a computer came. Marcus Lindmark introduced me to the world of Game Maker during the spring of 2010. I will read The Game Maker's Apprentice: Game Development for Beginners (Book & CD) by Jacob Habgood & Mark Overmars. Here is an excerpt from the article, The Game Developer 50:

Mark Overmars
YoYo Games

Mark Overmars' Game Maker engine is a key learning tool for budding gave developers. By abstracting game creation with simple drag-and-drop functionality, Game Maker allows beginning users to easily build working games without programming. Those wanting to go deeper can utilize the Game Maker Language to script complex game logic, as well.

This, combined with the tool's nominal cost, has lowered the barrier to game development to almost nil. But don't assume that amateur hour is the rule of the day. Standout indie titles like Spelunky and Seiklus are creative examples of what is possible with the tool. (Gamasutra, November 17, 2010.)

Read more about Mark Overmars and Game Maker on Answers.com and on YoYo Games Glog.

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Friday, January 7, 2011

T.G.I.F WITH CAT BLOGGING

This year I will publish cat blogging posts on a regular basis. It is a fun thing to do! Say hi to the host of Friday Ark, @slathe, who is traveling in Europe at the moment. We have to wait and see if Morris will be able to get on (card)board of the carnival "boat"...

"Before picture" from my post, READING IN DIFFERENT WAYS:

Reading Material
Reading Material.

"After pictures":

Morris in a Box
Morris in a box from the online book store, Adlibris.com.

Morris in a Carton
Morris is relaxing in a carton from the online book store, Adlibris.com.

How do you celebrate that it is Friday? How about training for the World Bartender Championship? Do you have a favorite drink?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

DID YOU GET SPAM IN YOUR SHOPPING BAG?

About three years ago I got tricked by a site called Quechup. From my post, QUECHUP AFFECT:

[Editor's note to my contacts in my Gmail address book: Quechup has automatically sent out invitations from my address book. I am sorry if I have caused you any form of inconvenience. I will contact everyone who replied to "my" email invitation and registrated at Quechup. It will take some time...] 

And now it has happened again... This time the site is called ShoppyBag. I hope that I haven't "forwarded" any spam to your inbox...

From Julianne Pepitone's post, What the hell is ShoppyBag:

A GMail help thread from 2009 is full of people complaining that ShoppyBag is a social networking type of site that spammed their contact lists: “Do not sign up at shoppybag. I did a few days ago after an invitation form [sic] a family member, and I woke up this morning with automated invitations to EVERYONE on my contacts list. Do not provide your account and password to shoppybag.” (CNNMoney Tech Tumblr, November 23, 2010.)

How do you protect yourself against this kind of spam?

UPDATE: I learned from the thread ("Will the Shoppybag email scam be able to get my personal information from my stored emails?") on the Google help forum that you could revoke a third-party access to your email contacts by going to your personal settings and then click on the link to "Change authorized websites" and you will see a list of websites with an "Authorized Access to your Google Account."

UPDATE 01/09/11: Read Gus Van Horn's post, 1-8-11 Hodgepodge.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

100 VOICES BY SCOTT MCCONNELL

I have read the first interview (Eleanora Drobysheva) in Scott McConnell's book, 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand. The interviews are organized in chronological order, from 1910s - 1980s. I look forward to read the rest of the interviews. It will be interesting to hear what Patricia Neal (1940s), Mike Wallace (1950s), Mickey Spillane (1960s), John Malcolm Fraser (1970s) and Louis Rukeyser (1980s) had to say about Ayn Rand.

With the book, it was enclosed a PR document from New American Library with an excerpt from Kirkus Reviews. [Editor's note: I want to thank Heidi Richter, publicist, Penguin Group (USA), Inc., for the book.]

Here is an excerpt from Scott Holleran's post, 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand:

100 Voices is an ambitious work about a literary and philosophical genius but it is a collection of interviews about Rand and the content should not be taken as fact or biography. Here, we read that Rand sided with Gen. Douglas MacArthur over President Harry Truman, thought Walt Disney’s animated features were too cute, met Senator Joseph McCarthy, found something to like about former Treasury Secretary William E. Simon, visited the Playboy Club, and entertained Barbara Stanwyck and Clark Gable at her home. There is more, both from those who did not like her and (mostly) those who admire her. The 600-page-plus edition covers her early Hollywood years through her last days in New York City, when she apparently considered going back to Hollywood to finish a script for Atlas Shrugged. (ScottHolleran.com, November 10, 2010.)

I have asked for an interview with Scott McConnell sometime in the near future. What do you want to know about his book and the interviews?

UPDATE 01/09/11: Check out Objectivist Round Up.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

TECH TRENDS

What kind of technology trends do you think will be leading this year? I think that we will see more and more applications for people on the go, and the digital consumption will be catered and personalized to the user of the mobile device. The iPad and other computer tablets have changed the reading behavior and you could see how businesses are jumping on the board. Here is an excerpt from William Fenton's article, Bytes and Bites: Restaurants Put iPads to Work:

At Chicago Cut, an upscale steakhouse, customers use iPads to pair wines. A custom app allows patrons to peruse the restaurant's 750 wines, search by price, variety, and regions, and review detailed descriptions of wine taste. Especially inquisitive connoisseurs can even pin the winery on a Google Map. David Flom, the restaurant's managing partner, sees material gain from the virtual integration. (PCMag.com, January 4, 2011.)

Have you tested the social magazine application called Flipboard? From Robert Scoble's post, The New Version Of Flipboard Has Arrived, But It's Not The One I'm Waiting For:

But it’s not the version I’m waiting for.

What version is that? The one that will filter through all of these social networks and use the technology they purchased when they acquired the Ellerdale Project to really find the good stuff out of the thousands of items that are aimed at me every day. (Business Insider, December 17, 2010.)

ReadWrite Enterprise channel has looked at how "technology could disrupt the enterprise in 2011" by citing Constellation's Research Outlook for 2011. I want to take a quote from the mobile category:


  • IT will support at least two or three mobile devices per person: smart phones, laptops and maybe tablets or other specific use devices.

  • Organizations will get serious about mobilizing apps and embrace the platforms to support mobility.

  • Android will become more enterprise friendly by fixing major manageability issues.(ReadWriteWeb.com, January 4, 2011.)

What do you think of Larry Genkin's prediction for "the biggest digital marketing trend of 2011"?

This changing of the technology distribution guard will also result in the largest media change of fortune since the advent of the cable industry in the 1970′s. Now individuals can launch their own TV/Radio Station or Magazine/Newspaper for literally a few thousand dollars. (ThoughtLeadershipMarketing.com, January 4, 2011.)

In an upcoming post, I will write about my EGO podcast show on Blog Talk Radio and tell you why I have decided to "go premium"...


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Monday, January 3, 2011

READING IN DIFFERENT WAYS

I have received a new batch of reading material from Adlibris.

Reading Material











I am thinking of signing up for an account on Audible.com. I still like to read real books, but it could be enjoyable to start to "read" some books in audio format in the future. Do you listen to books?

I recently listened to iPad Today podcast #26 (E-Readers Galore, Skype Video, Risk, ToonCamera, A Microfiber Miracle!) with Sarah Lane and Tom Merritt. Which kind of e-reader to you use on your iPad?



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Sunday, January 2, 2011

WEEKLY REVIEW

Here is the weekly review in pictures:

PAPRIKA HARVEST

I wrote a post on December 28 with the title, PAPRIKA HARVEST, on my other blog. [Editor's note: When I started to write this post, Zemanta suggested a recipe book and a productivity application called "paprika" as related articles.]

I received the following books on December 29:



TEA BOOKS

And on December 31, I got a MacBook from my brother. [Editor's comment: I got this surprise gift in a brown paper bag. Maybe we could call it Fukubukuro ("lucky" / "mystery" bag)?

MacBook

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

1/1/11

Read the 2010 year in review posts by Diana Hsieh, Adam Thompson and Jenn Casey. I haven't done a special review for 2010, but I will do my annual blog post review (blogiversary) on May 7, 2011.

I will stick to my three keywords (thingies, opportunities, plucking) I used in 2010, for this year too. My take on David Allen's "Getting Things Done" system will be personalized into my own productivity method called F.I.X IT! The main opportunity is the new site on tea that is called TeaParty.nu. I will "pluck the day" by posting good things on Twitter (#GoodThing) and by "getting better now with the one hour rule." I have ordered book on how to create computer games and my goal is to create a game with the GameMaker software during 2011.

Going back to my post, WRITING DOWN NEW RESOLVING THOUGHTS, from 2007, I could mention a few things regarding my core values in life. The main career opportunities are related to social media activities in some way. I want to turn the radio show from a hobby activity to a regular ingredient in my daily worklife. I will continue to take long walks, listening to inspirational podcasts and music with a positive beat. I will order Timothy Ferriss' new book, The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman. I will add a splash of spice into my life with hot & spicy stuff...

I have decided to really try to publish a piece of material every day, following the schedule as follows:

  • Tuesday - Tech stuff, gadgets, social media trends, etc.
  • Thursday - Thor's day of thunder. Time for venting and raving about something that happened during the week.
  • Saturday - I think that I will start having my EGO podcast show on Saturdays in the future.

Quiptoons 119 - New Year.
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