Coffee Break
Monday, January 12, 2004
 
It seems like many modern day business theories/issues are based on Ayn Rand’s belief that man’s survival is based on his ability to reason and think, and when a man exercises that ability, he should only do things in life that result in value for value. Take a look at the concept of middle management for example. The reason that people believe middle management is bad for an organization is because it allows “vice presidents” to get away with not thinking, of not accepting the responsibilities of senior management (bringing in clients) while not having to deal with processing the work, passing along that responsibility to junior staff. Take a look at why people are not happy at work, at movies such as office space. We work to exchange value for value. We work so that our firm pays us a salary…and money is only a commonly accepted “IOU” that simplifies the exchange of value (working for clothing, haircuts, food, education, etc.). We when work hard, we expect to be compensated fairly with equal value. People do not like their work when they are not compensated fairly, when they feel that they are not getting equal value for value. If we were in the ideal corporate world, where we are compensated fairly at all times, many more individuals would be happy and content with their jobs. Instead, we live in a world where people in power (CEOs, senior management, board of directors, etc.) pay themselves much more than the value they bring to the table, and to offset this pay raise, they lower the compensation of the junior staff. Eventually, the junior staff becomes fed up and unions begin forming to counteract this imbalance. Unfortunately, the union then becomes too powerful and demand too much pay relative the value of the individuals in that pool. Individuals are now incentivized to not fully exercise their ability to think, because, hey I’m in a union and I will receive my 7% increases every year until I retire. Why should I exert extra energy when I can get this regardless through the power of my union?

As a result, individuals that believe in their true value, leave to start their own business. What’s left behind are supposed “educated” men with MBA rubber stamps from HBS, Wharton, etc. who are only staying within the corporate world because they KNOW that they are being paid more than they are worth, more than the value they are bringing to the table. And maybe a few stay because they are able to find a position and a firm where they are being compensated entirely fairly for the value they bring. When I eventually have my own company, I think I will run it completely different from corporate America today. It will be like the 21st century motors company, but instead of having able individuals pull the weight of the unable, it will truly be an environment to attract the best and brightest, the most able will make the most, regardless of age, degrees, education, etc. If a person that grew up in Kansas with little formal education understands better about running a business from his experiences running a farm, then he will be my operations manager. Ability is ability…regardless of how you acquired it.

Monday, November 03, 2003
 
There are four pillars of life: career, friends, family, and partner in life. if you were to rank them in importance, it would prob go the other way around. yet, we spend most of our lives in our career, where most of us are doing jobs we dont enjoy. granted you can argue that people work so that they can provide for their family, which is most important, however, most of the time, when it comes to family and friends, money does not matter. some of my most enjoyable times in my life are simple things that i do with my loved ones...whether its painting yard work with my dad or playing basketball with friends. yet we keep running...towards something that really doesn't make us happy, thinking if we get there we'll be happy. rat race of life.
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
 
Random business ideas:

Own a resort – vacation is where everyone drops their guard, where playing fields are even, where the shields come down, where everyone is human, where everyone can relate and are being themselves.

www.instantfilms.tv, “Duets” on MTV, American Idol, The Apollo, Def Poetry, anything that gives every day people a chance to shine/perform and experience that high once in their life. Gives people a chance and viewers like viewing real human emotions or regular views/talents. Ideas that get promoted to main stream shouldn’t be because of luck or by who you know or if you’ve got the typical background, walked the typical course.

Tutoring Asian kids for higher education or standardized tests (what Mel made over summer, monetize on dual language skillset).

Who hates paying 5-7% for real estate commission when selling a home? Create real estate company that does transactions based on a set 2% fee or something like that.

Real estate empire. the power of leverage and the access to debt financing in this country. renovate old factories, turn them into lofts (ie: Tindeco Wharf). lots to learn about zoning rights, political connections to get approval for converting a factory though. how about owning university real estate, especially 4 bedroom houses converted into 12 bedrooms (ie: similar to our fraternity house at mich)...except rent them to sororities...men are too dirty and will ruin the house. women are clean, even when you have 12 living under one roof...sorority will do all the recruiting for you every year...very low vacancy rates....its perfect! property on campuses are expensive though.
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
 
Here are some thoughts from a word file that I have kept on my laptop at work. A little boring and dry because its all about work stuff, but it is one side of things that go on in my head:

2/13/03
Besides monetary compensation, management acknowledgement and appreciation, personal satisfaction, there is a fourth factor, soft factor of “goodwill” that needs to be accounted for. And the goodwill has to be balanced, because if it shifts too much one way, creates animosity. Goodwill especially important in a small organization, where things are more “transparent”. When in a small organization, can’t try and operate as a large organization (ie partner meetings). Good to focus on long term goals and not set “precedents”, but sometimes its all about short term solutions to get us to long term goal…to get us through the short term. Over-promising and under delivering pays off more it seems like in an environment where there are too many things to keep track of, and MDs sometimes only see the 50,000 foot level. When everyone is not at the same level yet trying to gang tackle, creates inefficiencies. The power of perception and lack of transparency. Power of having slightly more knowledge than someone else…The cycle of i-banking: 1-2 yr (liab), 3-5 years (asset), VP-Director (liab), MD (asset). Adding VPs will help create the distance, the smoke, the environment that the MDs need…”creature of habit” maybe. “Relativity: not so bad compared to what’s around you. “Power of the Carrot” (ie early promotion, 1-2pts, compensation at year end, % of transaction fee). This is all stuff i've realized in working in investment spanking. that's why i'm leaving it...

3/2/03
passing from “traditional authority” to “rational authority” (ie traditional customs, culture of underdeveloped countries to modernized countries parallel to investment banking culture needs to adapt to become more efficient). Due to overlaps of ovals between senior analysts to associates, middle management or associates need to be turned vertically, be staffed on multiple assignments, so less overlap.

4/22/03
In an industry where there is speculative pitching and deals where attention to detail is needed, either over hire and have 100% products for pitches and deals, or need effective communication and smart allocation of limited resources so to apply 75% for pitches, and 100% for deals. If the MD is consistently traveling in and out (ie Pete), then need effective communication of what needs to be sent out the door and what does not, otherwise MD comes in one day, gets curious and wants to send something out, but only 75%. People finger point to either: Cover up something (ie not working, no real deals, etc.). Lack confidence (“it’s because of this typo, we didn’t get the deal done). Ultra competitive and it benefits them to put others down. Truth – so they don’t get blamed for someone else’s mistake. To point to others that hey, they’re human too and make mistakes.

6/16/03­
Interesting article I read about how this whole concept of teamwork is not as important as filling individual desires. If a person does what he likes doing, then he’s likely to add the most value in that area. Unfortunately, businesses need to function like a manufacturing plant to be most efficient, in terms of having the right equipment to perform certain specific tasks. ­ Everyone works hard in their own way and at different times. Due to the natural ebb and flow, people need to not get all worked up when everything fires up for them and need to realize that the other guy had a rough week last week. Everyone is at the end, out for number one. Unless being considerate for others somehow benefits them (ie their reputation, how they want to be remembered, or strengthening their friendship, etc.) Only very few people that I’ve known that are truly selfless (ie: Em)…but then again, maybe selflessness is created when you feel that passion for someone (could see myself being selfless for g-ann).

7/20/03
Maybe by defining what you don’t want to be, it will help a person figure out what they do want to be! For me, don’t want to rush through my life too quick like Pete (grabbing drinks by himself at old age), don’t want to be in the industry so long that I’m stuck like L.C. (locked into just this industry and cant even get out of it if he wanted to), don’t want to be just normal though (ie Dave, had fun in college in Hawaii, but now no option but to work back at home), Do want to be independent and somewhat carefree. When am I carefree, when I’m dee-jaying, right now, when music is involved! When I’m snowboarding, outdoors and exercising! When I’m learning, I’m free! When I can control my schedule, I’m free! When I’m having real conversations, I’m free! When I’ve accomplished something, I’m free! When I’m surrounded by good company and good friends, I’m free! Lets look at the good side now for a change: good experience relative to others, good pay at the age of 24, hopefully good connection into b-school, comfortable living standards, time to hopefully pursue some passions here (ie playing guitar, dee-jaying, boxing maybe?). Have gotten to live in multiple cities almost (philly, NY, DC, balti). Gotta make the most out of each day man!

9/2/03:
Did you know what judgement is spelled without the “e”? it’s judgment. I did not know that. Am I a fob or something?

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