Category: Silicon Valley


“Do I consider myself part of the casino capitalist process by which so few have so much and so many have so little by which Wall Street’s greed and recklessness wrecked this economy? No I don’t.” – Senator Bernie Sanders

Ever wonder why there are so few in the street carrying pitch forks?

Ditto for nocturnal torch-light parades?

Maybe the answer lies in the fact that Wall Street added $3.3 trillion in market capitalization (share prices x number of shares) since November 8. Translated: Investors are more than $3 trillion to the better since the election.

Whatever metric is used, the stock indices are sharply upward to the right: The NASDAQ increased 28 percent since the election, the S&P 500 is up 27 percent, and the Dow advanced 20 percent.

According to Gallup, 55 percent of Americans owned individual stocks, stock mutual funds or managed 401(k) portfolios or IRAs in 2016. That figure is understandably down from 65 percent right before the economic crash in 2007, but it has been steadily advancing since then.

Almost DailyBrett will go out on the limb, and will contend the 55 percent number has grown since the historic 2016  election.

Predictably, the Gallup survey revealed that 88 percent of American families making over $75,000 are invested in individual securities, mutual funds and 401(k)s and IRAs. More than half of those (56 percent) making between $30,000 and $75,000 are invested in stocks.

The survey also revealed that 73 percent with bachelor’s degrees own stocks, mutual funds or invest retirement accounts, and 83 percent with master’s degrees or above also are investing in these same U.S. markets.

When one takes a second to ponder that 55 percent of middle-and-upper income Americans are participating in stocks, mutual funds, 401(k) portfolios and IRAs, the conclusion is obvious: America now has an investor class that is growing in numbers and wealth.

What’s the alternative for those investing for their retirement, their children’s education or that dream vacation? Bank interest rates that barely keep up with inflation? Speculative real estate? Stashing gobs of cash under the bedroom mattress?

And yet there was an ill-fated movement to tarnish America’s markets, Occupy Wall Street.

And now there are efforts in a handful of progressive states to impose a 20 percent “privilege tax” on the fees of financial advisors. Hmmm … wonder if this tax will be passed onto investors, the very same people who are trying to fund their retirement or college for their kids?

Attacking The Cash Cow?

“ … You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘Basket of Deplorables’. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.” – Hillary Clinton.

“ … There are 47 percent who are with him (Obama), who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it … And so my job is not to worry about those people.” – Mitt Romney.

What do Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton have in common besides being guilty of lambasting literally millions of people in one unwise campaign utterance?

They both lost the presidency.

Winston Churchill once said: “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

Wall Street will never be perfect. The playing field has never been flat. Having said that, far more win with stocks, mutual funds, 401(k) plans and IRAs than lose. It has been upward to the right on a jagged line since 1929.

Maybe that is the reason why America has a more-than-half of its working age population investing in global markets. And for those investing, the six-plus months since the election has produced a record modern-era, bull market for any new president.

Granted, there will be those in the streets who bode ill for American markets, favor “privilege taxes” to stimulate more compulsory redistribution, and are maybe just a tad nostalgic for the mismanaged Occupy Wall Street debacle.

Do they really want to attack Wall Street and by extension America’s 55 percent and growing, investor class heading into the mid-terms of 2018 and beyond? Are these overheated rhetorical thrusts, smart politics?

If they relish in glorious defeat, they can insult America’s investor class to the content of their bleeding hearts.

They also should consider and ponder that America now has a new quiet majority, who fund their dreams with a simple click of the mouse while watching the tickers on CNBC.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/182816/little-change-percentage-americans-invested-market.aspx

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/06/01/statement-president-trump-paris-climate-accord

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2017/04/26/millennials-and-investing/100559680/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/illinoiss-privilege-tax-proposal-forgets-citizens-right-to-leave-1495834522

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=5922&action=edit

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/winstonchu101776.html

 

 

 

 

 

I’d like to warn the best of them, the iconoclasts, the innovators, the rebels, that they will always have a bull’s-eye on their backs. The better they get, the bigger the bull’s-eye. It’s not one man’s opinion; it’s a law of nature.” – Nike founder Phil Knight

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena …” – President Teddy Roosevelt

There are no statues devoted to critics.

Our increasingly complex data-driven society is overloaded with analysts, reviewers, chroniclers, interpreters – creating nothing of meaningful value – but they are always quick to cast stones at those who try to make the world a better place.

As Phil Knight said in his New York Times best seller Shoe Dog, “Entrepreneurs have always been outgunned, outnumbered.”

A perfect example – not the first one and certainly not the last – is the use of a series of infographics to depict an engineering/entrepreneur who tried and tried and succeeded brilliantly, but is portrayed by his failures.

A May 26 MarketWatch piece by Sally French includes a five-part infographic, which catalogs a litany of failures by Tesla co-founder, SpaceX founder, SolarCity co-founder and PayPal co-founder Elon Musk.

When asked to describe himself by Steve Croft of CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Musk responded that he regarded himself simply as an engineer. Almost DailyBrett has worked with engineers for years, attempting to transform their anal exactitude, never-ending acronyms and nomenclature into plain English.

What characterizes engineers is their willingness, their compulsion to throw ideas at the wall. Some will stick, and others … oh well.

Elon Musk is not afraid to fail. He is more scared by the prospect of not even trying.

Alas, Musk is human. Five of his SpaceX rockets blew up. He was ousted from PayPal on his honeymoon. He made $180 million from his stake in PayPal. He invested this money and presumably much more in SpaceX and Tesla, both were hemorrhaging cash. He was not only broke, but in way-over-his-head debt in 2008.

Today, Musk is Forbes’ #80 wealthiest individual on the planet with an estimated worth of $13.9 billion. His Tesla is the pure-play leader in energy-efficient electric cars, ion-Lithium batteries and solar. Is Tesla an electric car company that helps combat climate change? An energy company that shuns fossil fuels? Or is it, Elon Musk’s company?

How about all of the above? To most investors, the answer would be third … Tesla is Elon Musk’s company … and there may lie the reason for the MarketWatch infographics, illustrating Musk’s failures. Schadenfreude has never felt so good or gut.

A similar set of questions can be asked about Musk’s SpaceX, which is transporting materials to the International Space Station and may someday put humans on Mars. Think of it this way, four entities have successfully fired rockets into space: The United States of America, Russia, China and Elon Musk’s privately held, SpaceX.

The Importance of Failure

“I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. Because of it, I’ve never had any fear in my whole life when we’ve been near collapse.” — Walt Disney

Would you rather be Steve Jobs, who was terminated by the company he created, Apple?

Or would you rather be John Sculley, who will go down in history as the man who fired Steve Jobs?

 

 

Sculley recently tried to blame the termination of Jobs on the Apple Board of Directors at the time, but the die has already been cast. Sculley will follow Jobs to the grave as the man who sent packing the modern-day equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci.

Nike founder Phil Knight recounted in his memoir how he started his company with a $50 loan from his dad. Today, Nike is the planet’s No. 1 athletic apparel and shoe provider with $33.92 billion in revenues, $86.8 billion in market capitalization and 70,000 employees.

Uncle Phil is the 28th wealthiest homo sapien in the world at $26.2 billion. Keep in mind, this company was literally days, if not hours, away from bankruptcy too many times to count between 1962 and going public in 1980.

For Musk, his tale is a South Africa-to-America story. Today, Tesla is a $8.55 billion company, employing 17,782 with investors pouring $53.4 billion into its market cap.

Almost DailyBrett has been consistent in hailing the risk takers, the entrepreneurs, those who stare failure right in the face and sneer. The results are great companies that employ 10s of thousands and produce the products we want and need.

There will always be those who rage at the “billionaire class” to score political points.

And some with too-much-time-on-their-hands develop infographics to illustrate how the great have fallen here and there.

Wonder if any of these critics, analysts, reviewers etc. would have fired Steve Jobs?

Almost DailyBrett radical transparency: Your author happily owns shares in both Nike (NYSE: NKE) and Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA). The above epistle does not constitute investment advice for either company other than to generically say, Buy Low, Sell High.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-many-failures-of-elon-musk-captured-in-one-giant-infographic-2017-05-24

http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trsorbonnespeech.html

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-fascinating-life-of-elon-musk-captured-in-one-giant-infographic-2016-04-13

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bojY5N2Ns3k

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/a-man-in-the-arena/

https://www.forbes.com/billionaires/list/#version:static

https://www.forbes.com/sites/randalllane/2013/09/09/john-sculley-just-gave-his-most-detailed-account-ever-of-how-steve-jobs-got-fired-from-apple/#38def8d4c655

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You can’t foment. You can’t create an impression a stock is down. You do it anyway because the SEC doesn’t understand it.” – Former Goldman Sachs hedge fund manager Jim Cramer

“Apple is very important to spread the rumor that both Verizon and AT&T have decided they don’t like the phone (iPhone). It’s very easy to do. It’s also easy to spread the rumor the phone is not ready for Macworld.”  — Cramer explaining how shorting hedge-fund managers drive down a company’s stock price through rumor mongering

“I want the Jim Cramer of CNBC (Mad Money host) to protect me from that Jim Cramer (Goldman Sachs hedge-fund manager) – Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart

Many of us watched Jon Stewart take apart Jim Cramer on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. The legendary 2009 interview went viral, including Cramer’s bragging about short selling, even among those who do not subscribe to the notion of buying low and selling high.

Here’s a predictable sports metaphor that brings into question the morality of short selling.

Every sports fan knows there are teams that far-too-many of us love to hate (i.e. New England Patriots, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Todgers …). We will happily pop open a cold one and sit in front of the Hi-Def and root against these teams and many others. We want them to lose, and lose big.

Having acknowledged this indisputable fact of life, will we spend our hard-earned money to travel to their respective stadia or watch them on our home team fields, courts, ice rinks solely to indulge in an exercise of Schadenfreude, delighting in their misery when they lose? You are rooting against them and not necessarily for your team.

Don’t we have better things to do with our money and time than negative rooting?

Moving from metaphor to reality, should the cunning few take their discretionary investment dollars and place a trade – a short sell – with the intent of cashing-out based not upon a publicly traded company’s stock rising, but instead losing value for the vast majority of investors and their employees?

Before going any further, Almost DailyBrett must acknowledge that short selling is perfectly legal (it shouldn’t be), but the question remains: Is it moral? Yes, some may be wondering how morality and Wall Street work in tandem. Believe it or not, there is synergy when it comes to investing and morality.

For example, each of America’s 5,900 publicly traded companies on the NYSE or NASDAQ is legally required to practice fiduciary responsibility (don’t glaze over). Translated: Every company is obligated to do the best job possible to drive the top line (revenues) and raise the bottom line (net income or loss).

The beneficiaries of fiduciary responsibility are America’s Investor Class, the 55 percent of our nation that invests in mutual funds, bonds or stocks. When “Wall Street” is attacked, the hopes and dreams of literally millions for a comfortable retirement, their children’s college education, their donations to worthy charities, their once-in-a-lifetime vacations, are under siege as well.

The Big Short

“Stormy weather in Shortville … “— Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweet mocking short sellers

The literally millions of short trades fly directly in the face of the aspirations of middle-class and lower-upper class investors, who realize you can’t finance dreams through negligible bank interest rates and ping-ponging real estate. That’s why they turn En-masse to equities, bonds and mutual funds (e.g., IRAs and 401Ks).

For example, there are those (including the author of Almost DailyBrett) who invest in Elon Musk and Tesla. They are supporting the development of electric cars, ion lithium batteries and solar power, all intended to transport millions and provide energy – all without contributing to climate change.

And yet 31 million of Tesla’s (NASDAQ: TSLA) 163.1 million shares are sold short or about $8.46 billion in market capitalization or value that these traders are hoping will simply plunge big time to their greedy benefit.

Alas for them and hooray for the rest of us the Tesla short sellers are taking it in the shorts.

As we saw in the Oscar-nominated for Best Picture, The Big Short, there were cunning and callous short sellers who bet big time – and won – against the U.S. real estate market and thousands of underwater and underperforming mortgages.

They won, while literally hundreds of thousands lost their homes or were trapped in properties they could not afford, thus triggering the Great Recession of 2007-2008.

Almost DailyBrett believes the government regulates enough thank you very much. But should the feds (e.g., SEC, DOJ, FTC) take a long-and-hard look at short selling?

If the goal of the shorts is pure unmitigated greed, while literally hundreds of thousands suffer and see their hopes and dreams dashed, then short selling is not only wrong morally, but it should be frickin’ illegal as well.

http://www.goldmansachs.com/

http://www.biography.com/people/jon-stewart-16242282

http://www.cnbc.com/jim-cramer/

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/iinzrx/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-jim-cramer-pt–2

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/gliow5/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-jim-cramer-pt–3

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/11/movies/review-in-the-big-short-economic-collapse-for-fun-and-profit.html?_r=0

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-tesla-stocks-idUSKBN17522H

https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/TSLA/key-statistics?p=TSLA

We have come a long way from squeaky chalk or worse – finger nails screeching – on messy blackboards.

Mercifully, we have come nearly just as far from scribbling on overhead projectors (RIP).

Alas, we have not come far enough from wasting literally hours-upon-hours by means of “brain storming” with markers on white boards. Please put me out of my misery.

Now it’s time – way past time — to say goodbye to PowerPoints consisting of nothing more than black words on white backgrounds.

Bore me to the max! Gag me with the clicker!

And yet these mind-numbing presentations still exist. Simply adding more black words on the very same white background doesn’t make the message better, just more dazed and confused.

The author of Almost DailyBrett has sat through more PowerPoint briefings than he would care to even think about, and still he admires Microsoft for creating the ultimate for linear presentations. Bill Gates et al. deserve everlasting credit for developing an enduring tool for presenting ideas, explaining research and making recommendations.

Having said that, one has to ask why are PowerPoints so boring way too many times? They don’t have to be, and yet candidates for major positions, pitch men and women are still using this incredible tool in the most tired, lethargic and desultory ways possible.

Does the candidate really want the job? Do you really want to make the sale? Do you really want to convey an exciting new idea?

If the answer is affirmative, then why are you scratching the surface in what PowerPoint can do for you … and more importantly for the audience?

The Steve Jobs Cult

During Steve Jobs’ way-too-short presence on the planet, he and his company Apple developed a cult following. MacWorld presentations were akin to a spiritual revival. The audience literally gasped when the high priest of global technology held up the iPhone, iPad, iPod for all to see and admire for the first-time.

It was the Kodak Moment on digital steroids.

Steve’s PowerPoints were anything, but complicated … and that works beautifully in a complex world that yearns for simplicity.

There is the iPhone and the Mac. Can there be a new gadget in between? Well yes, there can be. It’s called the iPad. Simple message, well delivered.

The PowerPoint was not bright white with black words, but a black background with images and well-timed words, and most importantly … not too many words.

Venture Capitalist Guy Kawasaki has heard more business-pitch presentations than any human should have to endure. Sure, he gets paid extremely well. Regardless, he is mortal and every minute spent listening to a boring presentation is a minute lost.

He will always have a soft-spot in the heart of the author of Almost DailyBrett for conceiving the 10-20-30 rule: 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30-point font (or above).

The impressive thinking behind the 10-20-30 rule is straight-forward: If you can’t put forward a robust and well-crafter business plan in 10 slides, you don’t have a workable business plan.

The 20-minute rule takes into account the attention span of the average listener, which may be shrinking as you read this missive. People get restless quickly. They want to check their messages on their smart phone. They want to ask questions. They are wondering when is it ‘my turn’?

The 30-point-font or above recommendation is meant to ensure the poor soul in the back of the room can see the presentation. More important is the “tyranny” of the 30-point font because it forces the presentation developer to reduce the number of words. There is just so much PowerPoint real estate.

A Good Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Studies have shown conclusively that we are drawn to pictures, illustrations, pie and bar charts. Who can’t love a bar chart that goes upwards to the right with a CAGR line (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) guiding the way ?

In particular, we can quickly access JPEGs or compressed image files through Google Images to add to our PowerPoints. Every presenter should seriously consider incorporating one image (“Art”) into every slide to maintain audience attention.

An added bonus of a JPEG per page is it forces an economy of words. As Martha would say, “It’s a good thing.”

Our PowerPoint backdrops can be different colors. Almost DailyBrett is a big fan of royal blue and black because the words and images literally explode off these backgrounds.

Maybe we want to incorporate video into our presentations? We can drop the video URL into our presentation, and literally play it from there. Keep in mind for a major presento, you want to ensure your video works the first time, every time.

Let’s see: Incorporating the 10-20-30 Rule. Less words. JPEGs, Dynamic backdrops. Video and absolutely no black words on plain white backdrops. Sounds like a winner to little ole me.

Not everyone can be a Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, but everyone has the potential to hold an audience’s attention for upwards of 20 minutes even in our always-on, digital texting world. We can do all of this if we think of ourselves more like Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and less Albert Einstein at the chalk board.

https://office.live.com/start/PowerPoint.aspx

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ndnmtz8-S5I

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/the-wisdom-of-the-10-20-30-rule/

https://guykawasaki.com/guy-kawasaki/

http://whatis.techtarget.com/fileformat/JPG-JPEG-bitmap

 

 

 

Oregon will never be confused with Tuscany.

In Tuscany, thousands wait in line for hours to check out Michelangelo’s “David.”

In contrast, somebody in Oregon is named, “David.”

In Tuscany, one can queue-up for hours to admire Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” standing in her perfect sea shell.

In Oregon, one can find sea shells at the coast, not sure about Venus.

Frances Mayes’ book, “Under the Tuscan Sun,” and the movie with the same title tells the story of an American (e.g., actress Diane Lane) in search of a life change, and a little love too.

She made a totally impractical, impulsive decision. Seemingly on a whim, she bought a classic “fixer-upper” in Cortona, Tuscany and lived to talk about it. The book’s story and the heroine, who took the ultimate plunge, set off a series of similar decisions as literally hundreds of upper class Americans rushed to Central Italy to buy their own Italian villa in the sun.

Reportedly, some even asked the locals for the Italian word for “cappuccino.”

The author of Almost DailyBrett eventually made the trek to Tuscany with his new bride, Jeanne, to celebrate our honeymoon. We stayed in a 12th Century Italian villa on a bluff overlooking Il Duomo de Firenze, but we resisted the temptation to buy the Torre di Bellosguardo.

That does not mean your author is innocent when it comes to rash, impulsive decisions. In 2010, I came to Oregon at 55-years-young in search of a master’s degree, Oregon football games in the fall, and maybe a little love too.

The impulsive part comes into play when one asks: Why would a middle-age widower (being kind here) decide to buy a three-bedroom, two-bath 2,000-square-foot “tree” house for himself and his American shorthair feline, Percy?

Wouldn’t renting make more sense, particularly when one contemplates widespread academic prejudice: my chances of landing a teaching job at University of Oregon after graduation would be next to none? Renting easily made more sense, except for the George Carlin “stuff” factor.

Carlin’s comedic monologue about the never-ending acquisition of “stuff” (i.e., beds, dressers, chairs, tables, washer/dryer, fridge …) results in a predictable crisis. Can the author of Almost DailyBrett downsize from a 2,200-square-foot Monopoly (ranch-style) house in Northern California to a 1,000-square-foot apartment, and still find sufficient space for his stuff?

Let me interject right now: your author does not do orange metal doors surrounded by Berlin Bunker concrete (e.g., storage units = unintelligent loss of legal tender).

So what did all of the above make me? A displaced Californian with equity to transfer, looking for a tree house to display his stuff, and live and study as well … Under the Oregon Clouds.

Spider and The Fly

On more than one occasion, it has been questioned why would a single-at-the-time, follicly challenged mature dude acquire a 2,000-square foot house with a deck, hot tub and occasionally serving prosciutto and melon with Sangiovese? Was my Eugene house the human equivalent of a spider’s web, looking for “some little girl to fly on by” as suggested by Mick Jagger in The Spider and The Fly?

Almost DailyBrett will piously declare the primary purpose for the turn-key Eugene house with next to zero backyard maintenance was to serve as a place to study, research and finish a master’s degree in Communication and Society. The next steps were finding a full-time teaching gig. The wonderful new wife came later, even though my eyes were always surveying the horizon for both.

The aforementioned Jeanne became Mrs. Brett on her own recognizance, and yours truly was offered a doctoral fellowship to Arizona State University and a tenure track professorship at Central Washington University, taking the latter position.

What that on-the-one-hand and on-the-other-hand decision meant was transporting my new bride, two alley cats and our  “stuff” to a townhouse in Ellensburg, Washington and renting out the house Under the Oregon Clouds. That plan worked for two years until the renters (e.g., Stefanie and George) decided to move.

Considering that our move back to Eugene was not coming anytime soon, we made the decision to sell the house Under the Oregon Clouds. Think of it this way, a house is bricks and mortar or some variation of that theme. We can always buy another house, another day maybe with sun above. Right?

And yet, the house did not sell as the rain fell during the winter. The house Under the Oregon Clouds is quirky (e.g., it has character). It has three flights of stairs, a car-port instead of a garage (for your stuff). Das Haus ist nicht für Alles.

It did not sell. We couldn’t be happier.

Someday, we will once again visit the 12th Century Firenze villa Under the Tuscan Sun.

More importantly, we will surely move back to that special tree house Under the Oregon Clouds.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Under_the_Tuscan_Sun_(film)

http://www.francesmayesbooks.com/under-the-tuscan-sun/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0CSs4Nf-64

“There’s a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation. I’m not sure what else one would do. That’s what I think would happen.” – Tesla and SpaceX Founder Elon Musk

“It is the working man who is the happy man. It is the idle man who is the miserable man.” – Benjamin Franklin

“To be idle is a short road to death and to be diligent is a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent.” — Buddharobots2

As a small-time shareholder in Tesla, the author of Almost DailyBrett is reconsidering his investment.

Have I’ve been foolish?

Should I be more diligent to be wise?

Don’t get this blog wrong. These posts have always supported and admired entrepreneurs (e.g., Musk) as job creators, dreamers of great new products, and economic forces for good (e.g., reducing dependence on fossil fuels).

Nonetheless it’s shocking to note that Musk’s (i.e. PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX) answer to the prospect of increased robotics/automated services (i.e., check-out machines, ATMs, robotic assembly lines) is too simply put all of these future displaced employees – maybe even millions of workers – on a politically acceptable dole (at least to some): Universal Basic Income or UBI.

Elon Musk, CEO of US automotive and energy storage company Tesla, presents his outlook on climate change at the Paris-Sorbonne University in Paris on December 2, 2015. / AFP / ERIC PIERMONT (Photo credit should read ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)

Elon Musk, CEO of US automotive and energy storage company Tesla, presents his outlook on climate change at the Paris-Sorbonne University in Paris on December 2, 2015. / AFP / ERIC PIERMONT (Photo credit should read ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)

Let’s face it: The shrinking middle class during the past 30 years is a major cause of serious political disruptions with populist causes taking hold on both sides of the Pond.

Pew Research revealed that 62 percent of Americans were categorized as middle class in 1970, falling to 43 percent in 2014.

Conversely, 29 percent of Americans were upper class in 1970, rising to 49 percent in 2014.

Lower class was essentially flat from 10 percent to 9 percent during these 44 years.

Almost DailyBrett is concerned that aggressive moves toward ever higher minimum wages may entice even more potential employers to seriously explore using even more machines, which don’t require the payment of benefits (e.g., medical, vision and dental), and don’t demand days off.robots1

And who would be most impacted by displacement by machines and robots? The middle class? The lower class? Both?

Under the failed Universal Basic Income (UBI) plebiscite in Switzerland earlier this year, displaced workers would have received an annual salary of $30,660 for a single, $61,320 for a couple and $76,728 for a family of four … placing them in the higher echelons of middle-income America … but without exerting any effort.

How does UBI square with the Protestant Work Ethic?

Funding A New Leisure Class

“People will have time to do other things and more complex things, more interesting things. [They will] certainly have more leisure time.” – Elon Musk

“Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” – President John F. Kennedy

“Given the crisis that we are in and the hardships that so many people are going through, we can’t allow any idle hands. Everybody has to get involved, everybody has to pitch in and I think the American people are ready to do that” – President Barack Obama

Earlier, Almost DailyBrett wrote about the record number of working-age men (e.g., 20-54), who are voluntarily not seeking a job … any job. Instead, they are averaging 5.5 hours per day playing video games, accessing streaming video and watching HDTV. That’s a shocking loss of brainpower and manpower, the type that President Kennedy said could be in service to the country.

Would UBI exacerbate this unacceptable trend, essentially making it politically acceptable to displace able workers with even smarter machines? The net result would be even more wards of the state with little or nothing to do. Idle hands will indeed rule.

The question still persists: Should millions of able-bodied people be paid to do nothing? Will they earn their paychecks? How will UBI be funded, if America becomes a donut with a huge whole in the middle — little or zero middle class?

Will the majority of these recipients ultimately become miserable on the certain road to death?

If all one is doing is running out the clock (e.g., playing video games and checking out social media) until that inevitable day arrives, then what is the purpose of life?

Maybe UBI is not so smart after all? Whattyathink Mr. Musk?

http://mashable.com/2016/11/05/elon-musk-universal-basic-income/#dmtbn21mkmq8

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/universal-right-to-a-paycheck/

http://www.voanews.com/a/a-13-2009-01-20-voa6-68822097/413577.html

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/idle.html

http://fortune.com/video/2016/11/07/elon-musk-wants-universal-basic-income/

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/09/the-american-middle-class-is-losing-ground/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/millions-of-active-women-supporting-millions-of-idle-men/

 

 

 

 

 

“I love Yahoo, and I believe in all of you. It’s important to me to see Yahoo into its next chapter.” Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer in her July 25 employee letter announcing Verizon’s $4.8 billion cash acquisition of Yahoo!

What next chapter?mayerbook

Want to take an Internet pioneer, first-mover $125 billion company and transform it into an also-ran, acquisition target for four pennies on the dollar?

And to top it off, reward Yahoo! chief executive officer Marissa Mayer with more than $50 million in severance pay?

Wonder why so many are so upset with Wall Street?

What is it with high-accolade, lofty-expectations, lavaliere-strutting narcissistic chief executives, who are ostensibly hired to reverse the fortunes of struggling companies?

Much later, we all discover their real personal agenda was to simply put the corporation on the auction block, and to get paid handsomely for the privilege.

Where can I sign up for this lucrative gig?

The author of Almost DailyBrett will gladly say all the right things for a few years, bloviate at a few “developer” conferences, CES, SXSW and TED Talks and then when no one is looking, sell the company to the highest of low bidders and get rewarded for creating … nothing, absolutely nothing.

Hold That Horizontal Pose!

Alas, one thing your author will never be asked to do is pose for Vogue. Sorry, I don’t own a Michael Kors dress … and never will.mayer

Almost DailyBrett three years ago questioned why relatively new Yahoo! CEO Mayer would accept Vogue’s invitation for a horizontal spread in a fashion magazine? Was she trying to impress buy-side and sell-side institutional investors?

Women have long and justifiably complained about being objectified. What was telegenic Mayer doing with her Vogue reclining pose?

What did her PR team think about her proving once again that sex sells? Did her photo draw even more eyeballs to rival Google’s market-leading search engine?

Before you start thinking that Almost DailyBrett is solely focusing on the lucrative PR disaster record of one Marissa Mayer, please consider that many are still smarting over how Abhi Talwalkar drove LSI Logic into the ditch and received at least a $5.74 million severance payment for burying the company.abhi1

Your author served as the director of Corporate Public Relations for LSI Logic. Even though I left after 10 years to join Edelman Public Relations in December 2005, one could already see what Abhi had in mind … shed as many assets as quickly as possible to make the company more attractive to buyers.

As Almost DailyBrett previously reported, LSI Logic was the innovator of the application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) specialty semiconductor market for nearly 25 years under the leadership of founder Wilfred J. Corrigan.

It took Abhi less than nine years to end its existence, eventually accepting Avago Technologies (H-P’s former semiconductor business) for $6.6 billion offer in late 2013. LSI Logic is no more, but Abhi’s contract provided for the following:

  1. In the case of our Chief Executive Officer, a lump sum payment equal to 2.75 times his or her base salary and average bonus received over the preceding three years. In the case of a participant other than our Chief Executive Officer, a lump sum payment equal to two times the individual’s base salary and average bonus received over the preceding three years. 2. Full acceleration of all unvested equity awards. 3. Reimbursement of COBRA premiums for health insurance for 18 months. 4. In the event that a participant’s “parachute payments” are subject to the excise tax imposed by Section 4999 of the Internal Revenue Code, then LSI will make a supplemental payment to the participant in an amount that equals the excise tax on the parachute payments, plus any additional excise tax and federal, state and local and employment income taxes, on the supplemental payment. However, the total supplemental payment shall not exceed the sum of the participant’s (i) base salary immediately prior to the change in control, and (ii) target bonus for the year in which the change in control occurs.

Glad to see the “supplemental payment” would not exceed Abhi’s $2.09 million annual salary. Enough is enough … Right?

It’s even better that Vogue didn’t ask Abhi to pose horizontally in a Michael Kors dress.

His severance was obscene enough.

http://fortune.com/2016/04/19/verizon-yahoo/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2016/07/25/yahoo-sells-to-verizon-for-5-billion-marissa-mayer/#7b9c799b71b4

http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2016/07/25/here-is-marissa-mayers-final-letter-to-yahoo-employees/#54a12ae875ba

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/mayer-vogue-nasdaq-yhoo/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/farewell-lsi-logic/

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/avago-to-buy-lsi-for-6-6-billion/?_r=0

 

 

Invested in Oregon football season tickets 27 years ago, and also seats for the Oregon Symphony Orchestra.

Whatever happened to those yawn-a-minute classical music tickets?

Reflecting on the purchase of Oregon season seats and directly related contributions to the Duck Athletic Fund, the author of Almost DailyBrett can categorically state: My life has been totally transformed partly as a result: super spouse, college professorship, advanced degree and even a little Valley Fever to build a little character.kevinatoregon

Never conceived even for a nanosecond or two that my two humble tickets in Section 33, Row 15, Seats 7-8 near the 30-yard line at Autzen Stadium could mean so much.

When I ordered the season tix, there were only 12,000 brave Oregon season ticket holders. There was an alumni tent in the gravel parking lot. The average crowd was about 25,000, and the mean, hateful, despicable Don James-era Washington Huskies ruled the Pacific Northwest, if not the Pac-10 Conference.

Today, there are more than 42,000 season ticket holders for the always packed friendly confines of Autzen Stadium, where it never rains. The Ducks have beaten the Huskies a series-record (and counting) 12 straight times.

Back in 1990 the Ducks were … the Ducks. They were always a tad above mediocre. Bill Musgrave was the quarterback, surrounded by decent talent. Oregon went 8-4, including a landmark upset of Ty Detmer’s No. 4 BYU Cougars, but lost in the frickin’ Freedom Bowl.

The author of Almost DailyBrett was determined back then, he did not want to go to the Pearly Gates without once watching the Ducks in the Rose Bowl. Oregon was predicted for 10th in the Pac-10 in 1994. And then there was the magical October 22 game against Washington in Autzen Stadium.wheaton

For a few seconds, it seemed that time stood still: “Kenny Wheaton is going to score. Kenny Wheaton is going to score …

The band was playing “Mighty Oregon” on the floor of the Rose Bowl on January 2, 1995. There was not a dry eye on the Oregon side of The Granddaddy of Them All. We lost that day, wearing Champion jerseys and pants in uniforms that would make the Green Bay Packers proud.

Uncle Phil was not on the sidelines. That would soon change.

Akili, Joey, Kellen and Dennis …

Some of the greatest to ever play quarterback for Oregon starred during the Mike Bellotti era (116-57) including Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, Kellen Clemens and Dennis Dixon. They handed the ball off to Reuben Droughns, Maurice Morris and Jonathan Stewart. The likes of Haloti Ngata plugged up the middle on defense.

The big moment during the Bellotti tenure was blowing out Colorado 38-16 in the 2002 Fiesta Bowl (we should have been in the Rose Bowl) to finish No. 2 in the country at 11-1.joeyharrington

The author of Almost Daily Brett worked for LSI Logic and Edelman Public Relations during this era and would make frequent trips to Eugene and to road games (e.g., Michigan Big House in 2007) from Silicon Valley – all for the love of Oregon football.

Unfortunately, breathing in the Valley Fever fungus before Oregon’s tight win over Fresno State in Fresno almost led to curtains. Never thought that going to a Duck game could be so deadly to my health. Fought the little Valley Fever bugger to a standstill and dodged prostate cancer as well. The net result: The Chip Kelly era of Oregon football, matrimony, an advanced degree and a second career.

LaMichael, Kenyon, DeAnthony, Darron, Jeanne …

Headed up to Eugene during Chip Kelly’s first year for a game against Cal. Went to more than a football game that fall day in 2009. Stopped off at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.

Could I be a college teacher? Sure, take the GRE, apply for a fellowship, serve as a TA and devote 15 months of my life to earning a Master of Arts degree.

All the rest is history.

Oh BTW, Oregon went 46-7 in Chip’s four years including a trip to the “Natty,” a thrilling win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl with a high-speed, spread offense that revolutionized football.

Uncle Phil was stepping up big time with the Moshofsky Indoor Practice facility (no more alumni tent in the gravel parking lot), an academic support center for athletes and an incredible football complex.DSC01377

Landed an emergency adjunct instructor position at Oregon, which led to a July 4, 2012 Match.com date with a fantabulous Fraulein by the name of Jeanne. She is now Jeanne Brett.

Heisman Marcus; Rose Bowl Blowout

Nearing the end of my sixth decade on the planet, my UO advanced degree, teaching experience and my extensive background made me competitive for a tenure-track assistant professorship in public relations and advertising.marcusrosebowl

The drive from Ellensburg’s Central Washington University to Oregon’s Autzen Stadium is about six hours. It has been worth every minute as the Ducks continued to overachieve under Mark Helfrich (33-8). Marcus Mariota won the Heisman, and easily outdueled Jameis Winston in the Jan. 1, 2015 Rose Bowl, 59-20.

The Ducks have come a long way from the days when yours truly wondered if they would ever play in Pasadena on New Year’s Day, let alone twice competing for the national championship.

If you are scoring at home, Oregon is 226-100 ever since your author bought his season seats in 1990. The Ducks have won seven conference championships, went to two national championship games, played in four Rose Bowls, winning the last two, and two Fiesta Bowls, winning both. All-in-all, the Ducks have been to 23 bowls during this time.

More importantly, the tickets have been so much more than precious pieces of cardboard with bar codes. They have represented new love (e.g., Jeanne), a challenge (e.g., Valley Fever), an intellectual achievement (e.g. M.A. degree); valuable teaching experience (e.g., adjunct instructor): and a new career as a professor and mentor (e.g., assistant professor).

All-in-all, I am One Ducky Dude. Can hardly wait for fall.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqlcRAZfRHc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYt2GDh9PgU

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/washington-cancels-oct-17-game-against-oregon/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/rooting-for-oregon-before-it-was-cool/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/the-world-through-corvallis-eyes/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/the-right-woman/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/prostate-cancer-a-piece-of-cake-compared-to-valley-fever/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/05/08/from-press-secretary-to-professor/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/launching-a-second-career-2/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/01/04/give-some-credit-to-rich-brooks/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/02/26/ducks-vs-dawgs-to-end-the-season/

 

 

 

“You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime you find: You get what you need.” – Jagger, Richards

Sometimes life turns in directions you never anticipated.

Three years ago, the author of Almost DailyBrett couldn’t find Ellensburg, Washington on the map. This geographical gap in knowledge was not particularly troubling. Why would it be?DSC01202

Having said that, yours truly is writing this blog in a Central Washington University office with the customary diplomas, commissions and photos on the wall as if this result was always somehow in the cards … even though I did not know it for years.

Six years ago, my world consisted of the vaunted six-figures, incredible expenses and working myself to the bone. There was also plenty of time in never-ending traffic jams, three-hour marathon meetings and weekend sales conferences to day-dream about doing more in life including bestowing knowledge to the next generation and serving as a mentor.

There was money, but no time to enjoy the legal tender.

And then a spark came a break that led to a change and with it a second career.

One of my Edelman clients (e.g., TSMC director of brand management) was an adjunct instructor at Santa Clara University. He had a recurring problem. He was required to report to Taiwan, and he couldn’t teach his MBA-students. Would I run his classroom for nearly three hours on a Saturday morning?

Wait a minute; you want me to lecture for 165 minutes about financial communications to 15 Poindexters?

Believe it or not, that’s how it started.

There was also an additional kick in the proverbial derriere: the global economy took a multi-year siesta circa 2008-and-forward. Life was changing. There also seemed to be a concerted effort by society to “pasteurize” literally thousands of Baby Boomers at advanced levels of “maturity” (e.g., more than 50-years+ young).

It was time for something revolutionary for your blog author, including taking the GRE (what a blast) not once, but twice.

Drinking Beer With Fellow College Students … Once Again

Almost DailyBrett earlier discussed taking the plunge into a second career, including serving as a (non-striking) Graduate Teaching Fellow (GTF), attaining a master’s degree as a non-traditional student (read: older), becoming an adjunct instructor and finally landing a hard-to-acquire tenure-track assistant professor position in public relations and advertising.beerUO

How’s that for telling those who thought I was ready for pasture to (insert unpleasant phrase here)?

Is it simply a matter of having the will to change, a long resume and everything else will fall in place for those wishing a mid-life academic career?

Not in the slightest. Ponder the Top 10 “intervening variables” to use an academic term:

  • Academic Prejudice. Do universities hire the best-and-the-brightest? Nope, particularly those who received advanced degrees from your university. The reasoning: The profs who taught you as a little academic whipper-snapper will never envision you as a colleague. To have a chance of coming back and teaching at your university, it is best to receive an even higher degree (e.g., Ph.D) from a university far, far away in another universe.
  • Advanced degree or No-Advanced Degree? Almost DailyBrett recommends pursuing a fellowship, resulting in not only a no-cost master’s degree or higher, but also valuable daily teaching and mentoring experience and a stipend. Advanced degrees are “preferred” by virtually every college and university. There are ways around this rule (e.g., professors of practice), but once again these are low-percentage “exceptions” and no way close to standard.
  • Bureaucracy is eternal and laborious. The universal academic mascot for colleges and universities (not the athletic teams; some of which move at warp speed) would be the snail. If college administrators were left to invent the personal computer, the IBM compatible would be debuting this year as opposed to 1981. There are three speeds in academia: Slow, slower and not-at-all.
  • Comprehend the academic and professional worlds are diametrically opposed. Ivory towers say they want oodles of real-world experience, but at the same time they really don’t totally trust non-academic experience. At this point in your life, you will not have the commensurate record of academic publishing and conference presentations, and you never will. Face it and get over it: you will never be treated the same.
  • Digital Immigrants teaching Digital Natives. Engaging on a daily basis on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and blogging is not enough. These social media “first movers” are now 10-years old and older. You need to upgrade your digital skill sets to include Pinterest (2010), Instagram (2010) and Snapchat (2011) and their inevitable successors.
  • Grading is the worst. Pontificating and bloviating your hard-earned knowledge with your PowerPoint and clicker in a classroom or lecture hall setting is just one part of the job. Syllabi are becoming ever-longer legal contracts, trying to cover every possible uncertainty. Colleges are now even demanding “grading rubrics.” Trust me, there are no corporate bosses that have rubrics. You either do the job or someone else will soon be holding your position.
  • Grade grubbing is even worse.  Young Party Dude will most likely not complain about his C+ on his latest paper. There are oodles of others who will tell you how hard they worked (they need to actually study). What is the worst grade you can give anyone? An “F”? Try a “B+.”
  • Publish or Perish. Similar to the absolutes of death and taxes, there is also the issue of research and service requirements. Life is much more than teaching and grading. It is also hours of research to write a massive tome, submitted to an obscure and molasses-moving academic journal and/or presented at some Holiday-Inn conference. Just as marathoners hit the “wall” at 18 miles, many would-be academic Wunderkindern never make it past the publishing barrier.
  • Research über Alles. Teaching the undergrads is far down on the level-of-esteem list at most universities, particularly R-1 or Research Ones. Tenured professors must work on their Reeesuuuuurrrrcccchhhh. The lecturing and grading of the proletariat is best left to those at the bottom of the academic world totem pole.
  • Vow of Poverty. What are raises? Those taking the plunge into an academic second career need to ensure their nest-eggs are filled. Academia pays a fraction of what can be gained in the private sector, particularly when compared to Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Gotham or the Beltway.

The purpose of this exercise is to provide a real-world peek into the world of academia. It may be for you; it may not. Before you take the GRE, apply for admission and fellowships, make plans to uproot your life, you need to first have your eyes wide open.

The bottom line: Academia is a satisfying world, but it is far from perfect. Most grind their teeth about inflexibility and glacier-like change of the university world. Keep in mind, there are major issues in the corporate, non-profit and public sectors too.

Sometimes you have to get what you need.

Editor’s Note: To be more accurate, The Almost DailyBrett headline should read “From Assistant Press Secretary to Assistant Professor.” Alas, the alliteration is not the same.

http://www.prsa.org/Intelligence/TheStrategist/Articles/view/11473/1125/From_PR_Professional_to_PR_Professor_The_Long_and?spMailingID=12893176&spUserID=ODkxMDgzMDgwMTkS1&spJobID=743018301&spRep

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/taking-the-gre-again/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/are-striking-uo-graduate-teaching-fellows-certifiable/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/launching-a-second-career-2/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/research-uber-alles/

 

 

 

“Apple is not above the laws of the United States, nor should anyone or any company be above the laws. To have a court warrant granted, and Apple say they are still not going to cooperate is really wrong.” – California Senator Dianne Feinstein

It (Apple iPhone) is a deeply personal device. It is an extension of ourselves.” — Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple desperately needs an attitude adjustment.

It’s past time to cooperate, Tim Cook.

How about right NOW?timcook

And yet the Fortune 500 CEO walked off stage yesterday to the lyrics of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.”

The terrorists who struck Brussels this morning, killing at least 30 and injuring 100 more, won’t back down either.

As an Apple shareholder (the stock is up this morning) and most importantly a strong proponent for safety, the author of Almost DailyBrett is joining the bi-partisan chorus calling for the company to fully comply with federal magistrate court order and unlock the secrets contained in a terrorist’s stolen cell phone.

What is particularly galling is the arrogant notion that a device is an extension of ourselves, and defines who we are.

Really?

Your author lived for almost six decades and managed to get by just fine without an Apple iPhone.

Public Relations Disaster

Did we have to get to this point?

Why did the relationship between Apple with the strongest brand in the world and the legendary Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have to degenerate into a public battle of wills with privacy being claimed on one side and safety being championed on the other?

The issue comes down to a County of San Bernardino owned iPhone 5 being used by a terrorist couple to kill 14 people and injure 22 more last December. What are the secrets contained in the encrypted smart phone used by Syed Rizwan Farook?terrorists

How can the FBI and by extension the people of this nation unlock this cell phone without permanently erasing the data contained in this device (10 unsuccessful tries triggers the elimination of all content)?

Why couldn’t über-secret Apple quietly and confidentially, particularly in the face of a legitimate court warrant,  write the code allowing the FBI to unlock this particular phone?

Couldn’t Apple have complied on a sub-rosa basis and keep those who think Edward Snowden is a swell guy happy at the same time? Why the public spectacle on CBS’ 60 Minutes and elsewhere that grows more intense and intransigent on a daily basis?

Just this week, the Department of Justice announced it may have a fix that allows the FBI to hack into the phone without inadvertently erasing the data. Is the FBI bluffing, trying to force Apple’s hand?

And will the spectre being played out on TV and mobile device screens from Brussels this morning, prompt a little soul-searching at Apple?

According to former Fortune technology columnist (and Apple apologist), David Kirkpatrick, the ISIS-coordinated attacks on the EU’s capital airport and central rail station, will have zero impact on the board room stance at Apple.

Alas, he is probably correct. A quick glance at the company’s news releases this morning offers plenty of details about the Apple iPhone SE and a new and improved iPad.

If you are expecting reflection, contemplation and refreshing change from Apple’s defiant attitude as a result of today’s deadly terrorist attacks, you are sadly mistaken.

The needless Apple public relations disaster continues.

http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/Feinstein-says-Apple-is-wrong-to-refuse-to-6843414.php

http://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2016/02/17/senator-dianne-feinstein-intelligence-cmte-lead-intv.cnn

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/brussels-attacks-weigh-on-wall-street–apple–fbi-court-face-off-canceled–amazon-s-cable-play-120427384.html#

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2016-03-22/how-will-terror-attacks-impact-apple-vs-fbi

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUTXb-ga1fo

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/fbi-may-have-found-way-to-unlock-san-bernardino-shooters-iphone/

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-san-bernardino-shooting-live-updates-htmlstory.html

http://www.apple.com/pr/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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