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Saturday, December 18, 2010

The case for Collaborative Consumption

"Sharing is something you only do with people you trust. To bad you don't trust anyone."
Rachel Botsman (HOT!) challenges you to collaborate.

Are you ready to wake up?
  1. Reduce.
  2. Reuse.
  3. Repair.
  4. Re-purpose.
  5. Recycle.
  6. Redistribute.
"You need the hole, no the drill"

Athiests Vs. Christians

Is it surprising? Atheists give much more than Christians.

If we can get people to create REAL farms just as they create virtual farms on FaceBook, we can change the world.

Kiva's mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Pendo Luisi, 27 years old, borrowed $175 to open a cafe in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending.

Kiva was born of the following beliefs:

* People are by nature generous, and will help others if given the opportunity to do so in a transparent, accountable way.
* The poor are highly motivated and can be very successful when given an opportunity.
* By connecting people we can create relationships beyond financial transactions, and build a global community expressing support and encouragement of one another.

Kiva promotes:

* Dignity: Kiva encourages partnership relationships as opposed to benefactor relationships. Partnership relationships are characterized by mutual dignity and respect.
* Accountability: Loans encourage more accountability than donations where repayment is not expected.
* Transparency: The Kiva website is an open platform where communication can flow freely around the world.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Search for the 'Purple Squirrel'

For years I've been a proud generalist. Now it seems like the world has finally come around to the point of no return, and the specialists are being forced to change and adapt, taking on more and more tasks, until they become certified in multiple cross-discipline skill sets.

My degree is in Philosophy. The question people always raise is "What job do you get with that?" I often take the time to educate them about my unique perspective. I didn't go to college to get a job, I went to university to complete my education. But most people just don't grok. They think that if you invest $100,000 and four (or more) years in school, you should get a "Return on investment" and that requires a JOB.

Never hire anyone who isn't smarter than you are.

This is an old business quote, that many employers live and die to follow. They only hire people who are reported to be very well trained to provide a specific solution to their particular business problems. They have a need and the employee must solve the problem. But in today's economy, where every problem involves multiple levels of understanding in many fields, the traditional specialists are at a loss. So the employers are looking for 'Purple Squirrels'.

People with cross-discipline training are rare. Who goes to school to be a plumber, and learns how to produce videos? What mechanist was ever taught how to program artificial intelligence. How do you find an electrician with an MBA? But now imagine that you need a computer programmer, an MBA, a video producer, a plumber, and electrician, and a mechanist and you only have the salary for one person. Now you need a generalist.

I'm a generalist, my skills don't limit me to one speciality or another, I know how to think and learn extremely quickly. I like complex systems, I like information, I can see patterns that others don't because I'm naturally curious about very diverse areas of inquiry. Normally, this puts me at a disadvantage, I'm not the 'BEST' at any one skill set, because I've never specialized, but give me a little time and I'll become good at anything.

Because generalists understand the underlying principals of any system or process, they can see the links between otherwise disparate specialties. Give a generalist enough time and they become experts at everything, allowing them to bridge the gaps in communication, and act as hubs of information. This is what is needed in today's business world, because the problems are too complex and interrelated for any one virtuoso. The age of the specialist is over, the age of the Generalist is at hand.

Unfortunately, this is where our systems of education have failed us. Schools and Universities have become so focused upon producing specialists, that they no longer know how to produce generalists. Thus we must suffer a term, while the next generation re-tools. I hope we have that much time left.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Social Enterprise Workshop

Social Enterprise Workshop, November 5th, 2010, Downtown San Diego.

In the past, Entrepreneurs have been called 'opportunists', because they tend to take advantage of asymmetries in the economic environment. Businesses today are expected to take advantage of their customers ignorance, and Corporations are designed to manipulate our economy for their profits. These unjust business practices have become the norm, a cancer within our society, but now the very economy itself is failing due to these unfair and unsustainable practices.

It doesn't have to be this way, we can build prosperous businesses without preying upon our customers or the environment. We can choose to create an ethical, sustainable business model from the ground up. The biggest opportunities for entrepreneurism today is in social businesses, which seek to solve problems above making profits. We are in a time of great change, and only those enterprises that are able to adapt and evolve will survive, and only those that practice fair trade will ultimately succeed. 

Come join a dialog about how to build an ethical business. Learn how to change existing corporations into the kind of socially responsible businesses that are not only sustainable, but produce value for their entire community. 

Greening San Diego Non-Profit Business, what you need to know.

Greening San Diego Non-Profit Business, what you need to know.
Friday, October 15, 2010. 10:00 AM - 12 Noon, at The Red Lotus Society

Federal, State, and Local government funding for Energy related issues
Renewable Energy pitfalls and opportunities. 
For Property Owners in San Diego this is a very interesting time.

Be ready for the advent of the new Property Assessed Clean Energy programs and know how to maximize the GREEN Benefits. 
Come learn what you need to be doing to take advantage of government stimulus, incentives, rebates and credits.
Find out how to qualify and apply for programs that save money over the long term by all but eliminating your utility bills.

San Diego's Green Potential:
See what an ideal sustainable business looks like.

Find Answers:
The future of San Diego.
American Recover and Reinvestment Act. 
Green Jobs.
Politics, how you can participate and make positive change.
Private funds for Energy or environmental programs. How to apply, where to get help, what qualifies, etc.
What is 'Net-Metering', and what the new "smart" meters from SDG&E mean?
How can you afford the new renewable energy technology?
How this all applies to local small businesses?
Ask the expert, and join San Diego's Sustainable Future, community progress through cooperative solutions. 

Michael Russell
(619) 573-9560

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Google and Verizon Create Evil Internet

Dear Google,
I just found out what you're doing with those who own our public internet infrastructure. 

Wow, pretty arrogant. But, I guess you at Google are getting pretty rich. It's cool how you want to share the wealth with people like me, who want to start our own ISP. 

Now that you are evil, all I have to do is offer a "Just Internet" service, that delivers all information at the same rate to the people, for the people, and by the people, they will flock, probably even pay me more, to be part of the just society. 

Google users demand that you not get into bed with Verizon, but I think you should do evil. They think you should not sign on to this deal and sell out freedom on the Internet.  

Google's founding motto is 'Don't Be Evil.' This deal is evil. It undermines the open Internet upon which hundreds of millions of people rely. This is good for me. 

Can I sell fast advertising to your customers? So, they will choose my "Just Internet" over your "Evil Internet". It doesn't make a difference how we get online; The People expect that connection to be free of corporate gatekeepers. That's why we use the inter-web not the broadcast media, but if you think its just me, then make me rich.

Join the "Just Internet" and be rich like me.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Open Letter to John Chiang, CA State Controller:

As ever more public sector salaries in California have been revealed (thanks to VOSD) in the $500,000-$1,000,000 range, public outcry has called for Government Transparency.

John Chiang, has wisely offered to publish all Municipal Salaries on the State Controller's web site (thanks to KPBS), so that the public might finally be informed of the huge benefits of public service. But he stops short of publishing ALL PUBLIC SALARIES, PENSIONS, and BENEFITS.

I think it is way past time to publish all Municipal salaries, I've been calling for that sine 1996, but why not publish the STATE Salaries, too? Once people know how lucrative it is to be part of the Public Sector, all those talented business types will come work for the government and fix all the problems.

As a tax paying citizen of the State of CA, I demand that you publish the salaries of the UC Regents, Presidents, Chancellors, and Professors, ALL COMMUNITY COLLEGE ADMINISTRATORS, and ALL LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD Superintendents, too.

In San Diego we have a small pension problem, so you should also publish ALL PUBLIC PENSIONS and BENEFITS PACKAGES TOO!


Click Here to send your own letter.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Pursuit of Happiness

Here is a new way to count. The premise proposed by Thomas Jefferson, in 1776, that all men have a right to 'The Pursuit of Happiness' is a goal difficult to measure. But it can be done.

Once you know the GDH (Gross Domestic Happiness) of a people, what do you do with that knowledge?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Feeding on the Poor is counter productive

Over the years I've seen many unjust business models. The concept of USURY is one of the classics, right up there with Ponzi and PYRAMID SCHEMES.
[Deuteronomy 23:19] Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury:
I always wondered why a person would willingly pay 300% interest, or more, on a loan? Even morgages make me sick, paying three-times what a home is worth over thirty years just seems self defeating.

The only reasons to charge compound interest on a loan are to balance risk or make profits. Why would you ever lend money to someone at such high risk that you needed that kind of gross interest rate to equal the exposure and justify the act? What kind of person would lend at such a huge and unfair rate just for an abusive profit? This is not good business.

It seems to me that any such business would have to have a profound disrespect for their customers to participate in the transactions. Perhaps, if we cut the poor a break, and only allowed interest upon loans to reach, say, 30%/year by law, then people would not become trapped in cycles of poverty, and they could eventually become middle class or even wealthy customers? Then our general profits as business people would increase across the scope of the economy, increasing the general welfare of our society.

Listen to Terry Gross interview Gary Rivlin and try to understand why parasitical business practices, busnesses that harm their customers, are unsustainable and harm the general good.

Broke, USA:
From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc. How the Working Poor Became Big Business
- by Gary Rivlin

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Elizabeth Warren, Part 2: Why Government Regulation

It seems like all is lost, and one woman keeps fighting.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

This is like playing Monopoly, only one guy is given all the cash at the beginning of the game, and everyone else gets just $200.

Today, I heard a story about the "Magnificent 8" a group of wealthy real-estate speculators here in San Diego, mostly former realtors and brokers, who made a killing during the boom times of the last 20 years in San Diego Real-Estate. Now they work together to take advantage of the foreclosure market, they hang out at the county court house, and when foreclosure properties come up for sale, they buy them up with $80-million in rotating investment capital. Last year, 2009, they made $250-MIlLION!

This group has operatives that pre-inspect each property, they never touch anything that doesn't have at least 25%-35% margins (i.e. being sold under market value). They stake their claim, out bid everyone else, and then flip the homes, selling them for a quick profit. They work together, and don't step on each-other's toes, so the auctions seem legitimate, but there is no real competition.

Now these properties, foreclosed on by banks, are what we paid for in the bank bail outs, and will be paying the debt on for the rest of our lives through the national debt. The banks are writing them off against massive profits as they consolidate into a virtual Monopoly. And what is truly crazy, if you get 'upside down' and loose your job in this economy, can't make payments, get foreclosed upon, the Bank will not let you refinance down to the market price, even if you could make payments at the lower price. So, you can't buy your own home at the price it will go for at auction.

But even if you do have someone in your family with the credit or cash to bid on a property, the "Magnificent 8" will bid up the property till it's within 5% of market value, so that you can't make any profit by selling it, or flipping it as they do. This keeps the little guys, their only competition, out of the game.

Nothing wrong with wolves becoming scavengers, right? At least someone is making money in this economy. Seems economic injustice just leads to more economic injustice. I'm not a Pollyanna, I know the game. Capitalism is not a FAIR system. Those with the biggest bank accounts always win. But that is why we have the government, to regulate, and create a fair opportunity for the poor, right? So, why are we allowing this kind of unfair competition?

Friday, March 05, 2010

How To Save The Economy: Elect Elizabeth Warren

There are two fundamental ways to look at America: Top Down or "Middle" Up. We seem to have a problem communicating, we NEED transparency and accountability.

Elect Elizabeth Warren
Watch her on Charlie Rose

Watch Her On YOUTUBE

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

How to get rich, fast!

Here is a great new American way to get rich fast. It is legal, and can even be ethical if done correctly.

First, find a business that is doing something wrong and not telling their share holders. Then gather explicit evidence of the scandal and a list of large media outlets. Now go to your broker, leverage your credit and short-sell as much stock in that company as you can. Then publish the press release of your report, including any sources, to any and all the media you can.

If all goes well the company stock price will tank, and you will make big $$$! Just make sure that the information you release is true and testable. You're just doing a public service.

This is exactly how the complex derivative market works, and exactly why AIG insurance needed to be bailed out. Everyone was betting against the market, and had leveraged the deal. Of course, if everyone is betting against a company, the stock price will drop. When everyone bets against the economy, the economy will fall. But you can still get rich!

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