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There's no such thing as a born writer. It's a skill you've got to learn. You've got to write X number of words, before you can write anything that can be published, but nobody is able to tell you how many words that is. You will know when you get there, but you don't know how long it will take. -- Larry Brown
America is still an idea, and needs to be written about. The world hates America because it is still an idea. America is whatever we want it to be - unlike Europe, [America] breathes unrestricted by doubt and genuflection. Generally speaking, in the rest of the world anything is possible. In America, meanwhile, anything is probable.
If you take a moment to consider what he's saying, from across the pond America seems to him to be a bastion of rebellious irreverance, a place where individual achievement is likely.
He follows it up with this:
It is no coincidence that the two most hated nations on Earth - America and Israel - both belong to the realm of ideas, of idealism.
Israel certainly doesn't bow before any nation. Self-confident enough to pursue its own self-interest, Israel gives the world the finger when it needs to do so.
America used to be like that. Then Obama came along and instead gives successful Americans the finger rather than the world. Which pretty much sums up why so many of us are pissed at him. America ought to celebrate my success with me. If it doesn't, then to hell with any detractors, no matter how presidential they might be.
No brainstorming meeting this coming holiday weekend, few meetings on the calendar, and Tamara in California until late Thursday night. Full speed ahead on development...
We had a sales call earlier this week for 247. Recently, I'd made the decision to begin a re-write of the core of the technology, which would make it more flexible. All very cool, but we need something available for sale this month, frankly. It looks like we might have our fourth or fifth customer by the end of the month. I decided, after making the core architecture changes in the data schema, to give them what they need for now and after that's done, I'll get back into the re-write.
So I'll likely have the wrap-up of what we're calling v1.0 done by the end of the weekend, leaving testing and refinement to be done through next week. Then the work on v2.0 begins.
My personal goal: two or three sales per month through the rest of the year.
Still learning what the marketplace thinks. I love that part. Deep listening required... that's where the secret sauce can be made. Is my team up to it? We'll find out :)
Oh, and this was my rendition of last Sunday's brianstorming session:
After thinking it through further, the left side is where the grassroots lives. The right side is where the politicians live.
To the very left of the graphic, that's where the self is. Just to the right of that is where we meet and interact with others.
It's at this juncture that the various talents and abilities of people get involved. That's the hard part. That's where the secret sauce will be made - or lost.
Look for things that people don't want to do, or offer a way to do things more efficiently.
Let people know that you're willing to do it at a price that attracts them to what you offer.
It's not rocket science. Just takes a bit of initiative and persistence.
I brought my youngest sons out into the back yard and walked them through the exercise of thinking this through.
"Are we going to pick up poop?" Austin asked. "No. I'm going to teach you a bit about business."
He looked at me skeptically.
We discussed why people pay money for things and how businesses make money. We talked about services. I then asked...
"Are you excited to pick up poop?" "No. Are you kidding?" Austin said.
And then Jacob lit up. "But nobody else is either. They would pay to have someone pick it up."
And off he ran. "So how much would you charge for picking up poop?"
I explained that it depends on what seems right to the person doing the service and the person buying the service. If it feels right to both, then it's a deal. I then suggested that $5 for picking up poop would be a decent price. If they work methodically and with focus, it might take them, at most, 10 minutes to clean a yard.
My ten-year-old son, Jacob, is good with math in his head. He immediately blurted out, "That's $30 an hour!"
(I want to sidebar with you adults reading this: translated, that's potentially $60K a year, working full-time.)
My neighbor hired Jacob. And, as predicted, he made $5 in ten minutes. She walked her yard afterward and found no poop. He did it right, and she commented that he's not only cute, but efficient. She would gladly hire him again.
After he was done, I explained that if he found a dozen people who wanted that done on a regular basis, he could make $60 to $100 a month. For a kid in elementary school, that's serious money.
Watching squirrels from my back deck, I notice that they show up whenever we refill the birdfeeder. They skitter across the yard, climb the tree, and then gingerly descend onto a low branch until they make a small leap to the wire cage of the feeder.
If there's food, they eat.
If not, they scamper around until they find some food elsewhere.
Earlier this year, Tamara and I went to Lowe's and we bought some tomato cages for the backyard, and wire fencing with stakes. We did this in anticipation of growing tomatoes as we did last year. A vendor at the farmer's market, back in May, had some plants started and sold them for $3 each. And so we bought seven plants.
We came home, dug the holes, planted our seedlings, fenced them in, and watered them. Through the year, we cultivated them and helped them grow. Today, we eat homegrown tomatoes almost daily.
The squirrels eat by luck. Only if they find the food do they eat.
Us people, on the other hand, have a more planned and intentional approach to providing food for ourselves.
Which is brainier? Which shows the higher intelligence?
Commerce doesn't just happen. It's not like you walk by and stumble upon a business. The business started and grew with intention by someone with a dream who planned and pursued it. They cultivated it until it grew, and they expect to enjoy the harvest of their efforts.
Liberals, on the other hand - like squirrels - tend to want to eat from what they find. And what they find was grown and gathered from the efforts of capitalists.
So I ask you: which is brainier? Because it's laughable to me that Janeane Garofalo and people like her assert that right-wingers are dumber. If that were true, then why is it that the socialist society Leftists want can't happen and thrive without pilfering the proceeds of the businesses started and cultivated by capitalists?
Over the weekend, I've received a couple of forwards from people who know me tangentially through the tea party movement. In both instances, the content of the emails were preposterous at face value.
I wrote back to the people who included me on them and urged them to not be lazy. If they forward bullshit, they dilute their credibility. Their choice, but that's the consequence.
There's enough socialist crap going on in America that no one needs to manufacture crap easily disproved. The fodder is rich and deep - but it does take a little effort above hitting the Forward and Send buttons. Preserving liberty is certainly worth that investigative effort.
Eight years later, in spite of physical and cultural attacks from outside and inside, America remains America.
Eight years from now, it will remain America, because I believe mankind's innate craving for freedom will ultimately carry the day.
People, in America, have a right to conduct their business and their lives in a manner they choose for themselves, just as the people at the World Trade Center eight years ago had the right to go about their lives without interference from a bunch of people who wanted to insist that others live according to their beliefs. From their desire to force their beliefs on others, they murdered so many people. Those murderers didn't believe in individual freedom.
I believe it is our obligation to disassociate with those who don't believe in freedom, whether those people live outside the United States or inside the United States. Otherwise, we legitimize their pursuit to coerce others against their will, and in so doing, we make ourselves part of the problem.
For the last year, I've run Google Ads on my web site. I make under $10 a month by doing so. Seemed harmless enough to me, but given their obvious bias against anything "American," I'm abandoning Google.
I'm currently owed about $70. The problem is that in order to get paid, I have to achieve a balance of $100. So I've posted the question about what happens if I stop running the ads. Will they pay me the balance?
I've had to replace the original second photo. Shortly after I posted the picture, a few folks caught that the pic I had was not of the 9/12 event, as was said on a few other web sites where I had seen it. (Apologies for posting an incorrect pic, but the great thing about the net is that you can get comments from anywhere to keep it straight, and so I am.)
I give you some others instead, as you see below. These pictures are from the event, and they're the best I can find to display the crowd.
Notice that in the first pic of the 9/12 event the people go down the street on the right for quite a way.
In the pics below, this is looking to the right and then to the left, taken by this guy.
And this is just the very front of the crowd...
I'll keep looking for an aerial shot. Strange that there aren't any easily found. What I do know, from pictures and from those who were there, is that the event was filled from the Capitol to the Washington Monument, just as was shown in the Promise Keepers pic I had originally displayed (not the Million Man March, as someone suggested in the comments).
ETC: I'll give you one more, this from a FoxNews screencap, closer to the Washington monument, which shows how packed it was this far back in the mall.
Compare this crowd density to the inauguration photo, and it's easily comparable.
When Tamara was young, she did puzzles, and so now, maybe twice a year, we'll do a puzzle together. It's a refreshing break from all the other brain activity I do and it's time with her.
One of the things I noticed when working on this one with her was the different tactics the brain will use. Color-matching, shape, the image on the piece itself... all of that in the larger context of the puzzle. Some pieces surprise you - there were a number of times that I saw Tamara place a piece into its spot and told her, "I never would have made that connection."
Sometimes, I meet someone and after then meeting their spouse, I have no clue how that came together. It works, and it makes sense after seeing it, but it never would have occurred to me that the pairing of them would click so well.
Part of the reason for this is that I don't think some of us are wired to see how things interlock. All of us are wired to see patterns, and patterns are about similarities. It's one of the reasons we look "things in common" when looking for a mate.
But then, we're often befuddled by the couple who comes along and the pairing couldn't be more polar. He's quiet, she's loud. He's tall, she's short. She dresses nice, he doesn't care.
Puzzles work because they interlock. The yin of this piece fits into the yang of that piece.
Marriages work not because of similarities but because of differences that interlock well. He's good with numbers. She's good with colors. Together, they're stronger for it.
Matchmaker is a tough role to play, and yet I think that the secret sauce of politics is that of the talent coordinator. Money is a finite resource in the course of a campaign. Time is not. Donations shouldn't just be measured by the dollars acquired, but by the hours. Thankfully, our contribution of time is not subject to McCain-Feingold or under the jurisidction of the FEC.
How does a candidate find a talent scout/coordinator to best leverage the skills of those passionate to see him or her into office? What a great puzzle to solve...
About to go to bed, but wanted to take a minute... I'm tired and what I'm about to say will be meaningful to those who know me personally. Sorry to be confusing to those of you who don't...
The purpose of 247Toolset is to help the seeker reveal more about those searched. For example, we all sit next to someone at work who has done things in the company with which we're unfamiliar. "Oh - you worked on THAT project? Wow - I didn't know that." If you ever needed someone with that kind of experience, 247Toolset provides an answer and you can query for it easily.
We recently did a demo in front of a non-profit who asked us: "Can we, as admins, add confidential attributes, such as background check, that will only appear to us admins?"
This is one of the strengths of building a product and a company in this way. An off-the-cuff remark becomes a cool new feature in a matter of days. No committee necessary. No project requirements. Rapid. If I were a Fortune 100 company, this implementation of mine would have had to be checked off by all of the stakeholders, passed off to those with the proper roles, and then finally give to the developer. One month later... (or longer)
Instead, I just finished it at 1 AM. Woo hoo!
The non-profit also mentioned confidential comments for admins. I created that table today. Tomorrow, I build the interface. That leaves me with five to-do items to complete before our meeting on Tuesday. And with some testing, that's version 1.0 and we can start selling in earnest.
Version 1.1 will include engagement tracking. If v1.0 makes introductions, v1.1 will track the what, where, and when of the engagement and provide reporting for the engagement.
Version 1.2 will include the events calendar and subscription/saved search. Most of this is written already... just not fully integrated and tested.
We did get word that the non-profit is not interested in purchasing right now. They like it - a lot. But they're interested in the public version that they can use for free. We're not promoting that quite yet, but within a month, we will.
One foot in front of the other, says the King of Persistence.
M. "Ruby" Schaeffer, a lib, stopped by the site recently and commented on a post. In the course of the comments, I mentioned the velocity of money, a concept where economy is measured by the speed with which transactions take place. This is actually the core concept of what has been called "trickle-down economics" in the past. Dumb branding in the choice of name, but the concept is, well, right on the money.
Liberals/progressives believe that it doesn't matter how the money gets passed around. If the government re-routes the money, it'll still get spent, right? The government just makes sure that the money is given to the right people - to promote economic and social justice. It's not fair that the rich get richer. That's the argument.
Unless I'm forced to buy my every purchase and my every decision is removed from me, only one thing drives my decision to buy: value. I perceive value in obtaining the item I purchase. I either want or need something, I look around for the best item at the best price, in my estimation, and if it still holds value for me after weighing my want/need against the item/price, I buy.
The more options I have from which to choose, the more I'm likely to find value in the market. For example, a lot of people, including a few of my kids, love the iPod. Me, I would never purchase one because of its proprietary song format. Songs purchased on iTunes only play on Apple products. So I find my value in another product.
Some people want to create playlists to match moods/settings. Others don't care - they just want music.
Some don't care about price. For others, affordability drives the decision. In fact, the more options available in the marketplace, the more affordable items become. Greater supply, lesser cost. That's Econ 101.
The more options available in the market, the more likely that I will find value and decide to purchase.
How do all of these options get into the marketplace? By someone investing themselves into a new venture to put a product in the market. But if the government takes money away from these people, it reduces the likelihood of investment by those who know how to bring a product to market.
Which means less supply. Which means less choice. Which means less likelihood of perceiving value in the market. Which means less purchasing. Which means less velocity of money.
When the velocity of money is reduced, so is income. Which ends up hurting the very people it supposes to help. Income goes down, and unemployment - as a direct result - goes up. "Social justice" is a farce, and the people who believe in it while claiming superior education don't have a real world answer to this. But that's how Ivory Tower theories roll.
It's one thing to say, "It's not fair that some people work hard and remain poor. Spreading wealth is compassionate because it helps the poor. And the rich wouldn't be rich if it weren't for the poor working for them, so who really deserves the money?" (The liberal view is not hard to fathom. It's a simplistic argument.)
The fact of life that no liberal wants to face is this: there are people in this world who know how to invest and work their money in a way that brings products and services to market. By doing so, they create jobs, which provides income for the poor, which helps them to afford to improve their skills and gives them the opportunity to invest their own money and time to perhaps learn how to bring their own product or service to market to become one of (horrors!) the rich.
If the rich don't perceive value in the effort of bringing a product to market, they won't do it. And then fewer people have jobs or income. Perception of Value: it's what prompts us to spend our money.
Those who lived in Soviet Russia said of their lot: "They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work." Nobody perceived value in that "social justice" system.
But if I perceive value and want something enough, I bust ass to earn my way to it. Which creates economy through velocity of money. Which means that the most compassionate act we can do is to support capitalism. Some libs are such dyed-in-the-wool haters of capitalism that no matter how much fact is presented to them, they'll refuse to see it.
I offered to take Ruby to lunch to explain this. But the talking point vitriol directed at me would have likely derailed any hope I had of success - though Ruby wold have enjoyed what Ruby expects for everyone: a free lunch.
247Toolset has a salesperson now, a role this person has never done. Will they make it? Beats me. We'll find out. It's 100% commission. Better find motivation fast, eh?
In browsing around to help with orientation, I ran across this:
Over the past few years, as I sought success as a Sales Professional and Sales Leader, I've been obsessed with reading every book I could find on sales, leadership, success, and spirituality. I believed that I was placed on earth to be successful and that I deserved to achieve my goals and dreams. After reading, listening to audio programs, and observing the action of the top salespeople and leaders in my company, I found that Super Successful people, from every walk of life, share 9 habits that have contributed most to their extraordinary achievements!
Take a look at the words in that paragraph:
reading, listening, and observing
It screams motivation. It's chock full of self-improvement. You can feel the hunger.
Business and success happen when people find the fire in the belly and they drive ahead full speed. That typically doesn't happen when you're not worried. They drive because they have to. To survive.
Now here's where it gets interesting. This person had to leave their last position, where they had health insurance. But they no longer work there. The only way to have health insurance is through COBRA, but it requires that they pay for their insurance fully, which in this case is $420 per month.
In bringing them on, I covered them for this month. Next month, I'll only cover $300. And so it will go, until four months from now.
Opportunity, in a difficult economy.
If this person decides to engage, like the person who wrote that article, the next few years will be amazing and fulfilling and profitable.
It all starts with a decision, which become habits, which becomes lifestyle.
I left my Dentures in your Silverado last night. I gave you my number but did not get yours. Please call me asap. I need my teeth. We met in the parking lot of Margarita Jones. Get back to me asap please. Thank you.
The ads might be free, but they are truly priceless.
A few weeks back, at one of the Sunday brainstorming meetings, we were discussing a solution and while we were articulating the way in which it would work, I registered two domains. (Pictures from that meeting are on the web site here at beatcanvas and the idea itself, though in a different form, is well-presented here on the site.)
My thoughts sparked the actions of one of the attendees at the meeting. I didn't really know that at the time, but he came back to me a little over a week ago and told me of the work he had done to move the idea forward. I'm not going to mention the names of the famous people with whom he's connected or the work he has done, but people anywhere in the country would recognize these names. I'm also not sure yet how iron-clad these relationships are, but I'm sure that they are tentative and it all depends on the development work to be done and getting it ready within two months for an initial roll-out.
Fortunately for me, I'm not chiefly responsible for the development. I've engaged a friend of mine - a strong libertarian - who believes in the concept and is willing to invest himself in it. The three of us will meet weekly and see how it comes along. We have a hard deadline in November for the roll-out.
Brainstorming - it's not just an exercise in "what if" for the fun of it. Done right, it synergistically blends the passions of others to bring it all to the fore and - together -things move ahead.
Everybody ought to think forward and take action. Amazing things might just happen...
Remember: it's not the fancy words that are important - it's the execution.
In the latter part of July, I wrote a post entitled "Plummet." I said:
I'd say that he's about in the middle of that dive, mostly because people are figuring out that he really doesn't understand the economy. Wait till the foreclosure data begins anew. I'll write a post called "Tank" at that time.
High U.S. unemployment keeps pushing up the rate of mortgage delinquencies, which could in turn drive personal bankruptcies and home foreclosures, monthly data from the Equifax Inc credit bureau showed on Monday.
Among U.S. homeowners with mortgages, a record 7.58 percent were at least 30 days late on payments in August, up from 7.32 percent in July, according to the data obtained exclusively by Reuters.
August marked the fourth consecutive monthly increase in delinquencies, and the report showed an accelerating pace.
Government incentives often have unforeseen effects because they falsely stimulate the market in unsustainable ways. Take the Cash for Clunkers program, which has now exhausted the market. It happened like a sugar rush, with all of this trumped-up activity spurred by government giveaways (aka your tax dollars), and now that it's over, fatigue.
In my opinion, it's whatever you can teach them that will help them achieve their goals in life. Since our goals that we pursue are accomplished by us and not handed to us, teaching children the value of a solid work ethic is the most important lesson. It's what will sustain them throughout life. Work ethic applies to learning, earning and maintaining, caring for your family, achieving and advancing through life... it covers so many aspects.
The unemployment rate for young Americans has exploded to 52.2 percent - a post-World War II high, according to the Labor Dept. - meaning millions of Americans are staring at the likelihood that their lifetime earning potential will be diminished and, combined with the predicted slow economic recovery, their transition into productive members of society could be put on hold for an extended period of time.
And worse, without a clear economic recovery plan aimed at creating entry-level jobs, the odds of many of these young adults - aged 16 to 24, excluding students - getting a job and moving out of their parents' houses are long. Young workers have been among the hardest hit during the current recession - in which a total of 9.5 million jobs have been lost.
"Our school calendar is based upon the agrarian economy and not too many of our kids are working the fields today," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.
Jobs? Unimportant. More school? Why, we'll change society for that.
It's tempting to suggest that more school leads to better jobs. But it's a canard, for two reasons:
Work ethic leads to better study habits, and not the other way around.
How many people actually work in the field of their college major or feel that Anthropology 201 helps them achieve their goals in life?
For me personally, English and Speech classes were my most beneficial classes in college.
School only helps you achieve your goals if you take classes that will be applied later in life.
The best of all worlds is that you learn work ethic and educate yourself. But not in Barry's world. Jobs? Working? That's for chumps.
Today's kids are going to have one hell of a time working to support all the beneficiaries of Obama's proposed policies. It will fall on their shoulders, this debt he wants to add. He's either a complete idiot, or he doesn't care one whit about anybody else.
247 is now out in the world, working its way through demos and discussions. No less than 4 people now have stepped forward in request to sell it on a pure commission basis. That has to say something about its viability in the market. (Or maybe it says something about the current market...)
But either way, it's moving ahead. Tomorrow, an extremely well-known politician in Iowa is getting a demo. I'm not involved in the demo, but this morning, I gave some deeper training to the person giving the demo. We'll see what happens.
The guy who's running against Leonard Boswell is now using it within his campaign. Think about this: politicians come up with fundraising targets, but not organizational targets. 247 can help them do just that. After all, it's about the people brought to the voting booth, not about the ads you buy. The ads can help persuade or dissuade people to go to the voting booth, but ultimately, it's about your network. In my mind, the size of your network matters. That's 247's arena - it's about how you engage your network.
Two business accelerators here in Iowa are using it. More might come on board. We'll see. I'll know more in a week or so.
And then an important presentation tomorrow to a major corporation here in Iowa. It could really help their efforts, so I'm hoping that the product and the price are right for them.
As these presentations and discussions take place, I learn more about the need in the market. Listening... it's the great differentiator in business, I think. It's great if you can move mountains and persist in execution, but it doesn't matter at all if you're headed in the wrong direction. Gotta hear clearly what people want or it's all time wasted.
Regarding the case of Roman Polanski, it's pretty clear: he was in his 40's and she was 13. He drugged her and liquored her up. I don't know of anyone who would defend such a cretin for this crime.
But of course, the Hollywood folks are coming to his aid, arguing that it was consensual. Because his art, you see, is just that important.
In Somerset Maugham's novel, a dying character near the end of the book says this:
I have always moved in the best society in Europe, and I have no doubt that I shall move in the best society in heaven.
This was said while being alone, dying. No one came to see him. These words are spoken to help assuage the loneliness of an ignored and neglected man, one no longer convenient. His "friends" were paper maché.
That totally describes Hollywood. And Polanski. They all fancy themselves important and deserving. Maugham's character, Elliott Templeton, had himself buried in religious robes, and likewise, Polanski's defenders wrap themselves in self-righteousness, unable to actually say that he is innocent.
Karma can be a bitch. I'll trust that those who defend this will find their proper reward.
These videos of school kids singing/chanting songs in praise of Barack Obama... my god. We don't teach kids songs about other presidents or politicians. That's loony as hell. The teachers who endorsed this ought to be fired for extreme lack of judgment.
These videos are the best possible ads for homeschooling I've ever seen.
I mentioned the 247 demos that were done yesterday. Here's what took place:
Larry and I went to a corporate office, and gave the demo to three folks, one of which was the decision-maker. One of the people had seen the demo before, a couple of months ago.
30 minutes into the demo, the three of them were extremely excited about the prospect of using it to manage their employees' volunteer engagement in the community. We agreed to tailor it to their process, which isn't a big stretch from the current iteration of the platform. They also need one chunk of development that isn't in the platform today. My guess: they'll agree to buy it, if we throw in the development they need. I'm willing to do that, if that's the direction the negotiation takes.
A friend of mine, who helped arrange the contact with the company back in July, called me afterward.
"How'd it go?" "Great. Our solution is a perfect fit, and they can see that." "Brett, that's awesome. Then you can sell to the other twenty." "No, no, Malcolm. This is an enterprise solution." "I know that. And there are over twenty enterprises."
That's when I realized he was right. If this one goes, we have a very warm lead into over 20 other sales.
Then, later in the evening, I get the call from Joe, who did the demo yesterday for the communications director of an Iowa politician. Long story short, there is a point in the demo - and it happens with everyone - where the light bulb goes on. Once they get it, the roles of the demo switch and the presenter becomes the audience and the audience becomes the presenter, as they gush on about the ways in which this could be used. At that point, you just sit there and smile and agree as all of those dots start connecting. It's pretty cool.
Joe remarked about that:
"And exactly as you said, when I got to the comparison, it clicked - I watched her get it and she just took off with it. Brett, this woman knows everyone in politics. She's done national campaigns. She knows corporations. Tomorrow, she's going to LA and the day after that she'll be in China, and then she's coming back to Iowa. Brett, this is HUGE!"
So I get home and hear all of this. I had my own good meeting. It's tough not to get excited, but until the contract is signed or the money changes hands, cool demos mean nothing.
This is the map inside Nelsons, an ice cream store in Stillwater, Minnesota, with pins depicting "home" for its patrons. World travelers, they are. And the next picture is a 180° turn toward the sales counter.
If you don't like the direction our country is going, then sign up to make a recurring donation, at $10 or $20 or even $50 a month. All of us pay monthly for things like Netflix and cell phones... what would you pay monthly to protect your freedom?