December 1, 2010

Cost-Benefit Analysis: Applying Economic Processes to Life

courtesy of iPhoto

Life is about choices.  How we conclude what the “right” choice, or the best option is, can be determine by employing one fundamental economic principle.  Cost-Benefit Analysis is defined as “weighing the total expected costs against the total expected benefits of one or more actions in order to choose the best or most profitable option.”

Simple – weigh the pros and cons of each possible decision to determine which will give you the greatest benefits and the fewest costs.  Well, maybe not THAT simple… we all know making choices is easier said than done.  But being able to recognize when the costs are outweighing the benefits (and when benefits are optimal) is an extremely important personality trait and is a good indicator that one will be successful in achieving his goals.

It is worthwhile to revisit my post about finding a balance between being personally responsible for your life and being open to and recognizing opportunities as they arise.  The Cost-Benefit Analysis could easily be applied to my Shit or Get Off the Pot lecture as well.  Being able to use your time wiselyeffectively AND efficiently – is the absolute root to success.  After all, time is the most scarce resource we humans have.

What do YOU think about my theory, and how have you applied the Cost-Benefit Analysis or other principles to your life?

postscript:  I just linked to a whole bunch of mind-fuel awesomeness, so take a few minutes to read the articles… the benefits will MUCH outweigh the costs.  ;)

August 3, 2010

Art: A Process, Medium, or Inherit Talent?

Mark McGuinness, one of the contributing writers for my FAVORITE blog, Lateral Action, wrote a very thought-provoking article a few months ago titled “Can Anyone Be an Artist?” I think it is spot-on in briefly explaining the history, culture, and perceived notions about art and its purpose throughout time.  As an avid Lateral Action reader, I must agree with Mr. McGuinness, Seth Godin, and Roger Coleman, who propose [in my words] that being an artist is not about being able to paint a pretty picture or the like, but rather it is about the thought process and resulting product that communicates something novel, intelligent, and personal.

Please read the article here, now before continuing… but make sure you come back!

Generation X and Millenials (Gen. Y) use technology all day, everyday.  The Industrial Revolution, while of course beneficial on so many levels, changed the way work was done and began to encourage workers to rely on new technology and to base their careers around it.  Now that technology exponentially exceeds necessity in the workplace and at home (see iPad), one must revert back to relying on creativity and artistry (simply put).  Richard Florida (of whom I am also a huge fan) explains these 21st Century “artists” as, what he calls, the Creative Class – NOT those people who rebel against corporate cultural inclusion in order to paint, draw, or make music, but rather those who seek to create, innovate, and grow businesses instead of managing and/or maintaining.  You should read about his ideas and work here, or better yet, buy one of his books here.

I wanted to pose these ideas without going into much detail about what I think – I’d like to hear from you all.  Do you think the term “artist” is reserved solely for one who has a distinguished talent in a medium like painting or drawing?  Can a corporate executive or other businessperson be considered an artist?  Are there any parameters around the the word or one who represents the term, and/or should there be?  Let’s get a little dialogue going…

June 25, 2010

Support Gulf Coast Tourism – Beach Trip!

Alabama's Gulf Coast

A lot of the beaches along the Florida panhandle, Alabama and Louisiana coasts are luckily still open for business, but that does not mean things have remained the same as in past summer tourist seasons.  Because of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that began as a result of a line rupture in April, people have canceled or re-located their summer beach vacations.  Please, if you have time to take a long weekend trip this summer, consider one of the magnificent sugar white beaches on the Gulf Coast.  Hotels are CHEAP right now, and you will be able to enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery without the usual summer crowds.

For more information about the conditions of each beach, please check out here and a map here.

June 17, 2010

Badass Bobby Cox and his Braves

badass Bobby Cox

Baseball is my sport.  I’m a fan of sports in general, but baseball – now that’s an American pasttime.  I started playing summer league t-ball at 7 or 8, softball through middle school, and now I am the spectator at a dozen or so Braves games a season.  I LOVE the Braves – afterall, they are America’s team.  The closest MLB team to our beloved Braves is the Tampa Bay Rays (an 8 hour drive from ATL).  So fans come from all over the South to watch our Braves hit the field and – hopefully – win.

BUT (of course there’s a but – have you ever met me?), Atlantans are FAIR WEATHER FANS.  I know, I know, you’re thinking “I love the Braves!”.  Yeah.  You love them because they’re first in the division (which, by the way, National League East has THE best teams in Major League Baseball – that’s not debatable).  Atlanta is one of the most diverse cities in the country, with people from all over the world and all over the country;  and our residents come packin’ with excess other-team baggage.  That’s OK, enjoy your childhood team.  I do (Bravos, thank you very much).  But the Atlanta Braves are one of the most genuine, respectful, and hard-working teams in all of sports, and while you are here in their city, show them some love.

May 10, 2010

The Age of Information – Did You Know?

This video is so fascinating… it’s actually kind of scary.  Please add a comment – I would love to hear what you all think!

April 30, 2010

The Gulf Coast Oil Spill – When is Enough, Enough?

A friend of mine lives and works in southern Mississippi.  She wrote me this morning to say she’s taking the day off from work today.  She is driving to Dauphin Island, AL, just south of Mobile where she grew up, to walk the beaches one last time before they are destroyed by the hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil that are sure to destroy the beach she’s grown up making sandcastles on and searching for sea life.  210,000 gallons of oil per day, to be more accurate; and that is after The Coast Guard raised the estimate on Wednesday.  It’s sure to continue to rise.  The spill, which was caused by an April 20 explosion of BP’s drill rig Deepwater Horizon off the coast of Louisiana, is threatening to surpass the devastation of the Exxon Valdez disaster back in 1989.

Exxon Valdez made something right.

Luckily, the 1990 Oil Pollution Act, which was a reaction to the Valdez spill, requires BP to foot the bill for the cleanup… luckily our tax dollars are not paying for that.  But when is enough, enough?  When are we going to stop tearing apart the earth that we claim to love so much?  WHEN will we take the necessary steps to ensure that 200 years from now our great grandkids will actually have a place to live; that they will be able to go to places like Dauphin Island on their family vacations?  When will each and every individual take responsibility for his actions and recognize that those actions do, in fact, have consequences?

Be a person of action.

You know, I’ve written about personal responsibility, I have written about generational differences and how younger generations possess a disconnect between their actions and the consequences associated with those actions.  I have even written about this persistent need for immediate results, and we have discussed the affects of this economic recession on individual’s attitudes and consumer’s spending and saving habits.  We’ve done enough talking and writing.  I am sure I am guilty of this, but it seems the ones talking are the same ones NOT acting.

On Thursday, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency and warned that the oil spill has already covered as much as 600 square miles of water.  He is asking the Defense Department for funding for the deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops to the state.

You may not live in an affected area.  But some do.

The possible loss of 11 oil rig workers is merely the beginning of the havoc that will inevitably ensue on our animal and plant life.  The Coast Guard is arming the coastlines with cannons, planning to shoot them off to scare the birds that try and make their way back to their nests.  It’s the middle of reproduction season for most coastal birds, and many are already caring for their eggs.  If they do not return to their nests, the eggs will unlikely hatch.  If the birds do hatch, they will be too young and fragile to endure the hardships brought by the oil.

The brown pelican, the state bird of Louisiana, was just taken off the endangered species list less than six months ago.  Their low reproductive rate means any threat to their habitat could have serious effects on the bird’s survival.  And this is all before the oil hits.

My friend closes her letter, “… truly one of the saddest days of my life…and I feel powerless to do anything that will protect the area I have loved for so long.”  How long are we going to be powerless in THE nation in the world built solely FOR the people, BY the people?

If the shear devastation of our ecosystems doesn’t shake you up, please check out the possible repercussions on drilling plans and the affects on oil prices, or even the affects of offshore drilling on Americans.

To help, please visit these sites – I’m doing research on exactly how donated money will be used so that you can direct your donations toward the most effective cause.  If you have found a good place to donate your money or time to, please add it in the comments section below.

Mobile Bay National Estuary Program

Dauphin Island Sea Lab

Mobile Baykeeper

International Bird Rescue Research Center

April 23, 2010

Pay-What-You-Want Model of Business

Radiohead made headlines and history with the “pay-what-you-want” business model for downloading their latest album, In Rainbows, directly from their website.  Instead of paying $9.99 for the album on iTunes or going to your local CD store and purchasing the hard copy for $14.99, anyone could visit and get their copy for – now get this – whatever you think it is worth.  If you’re a cheapskate and hate supporting artists who work SO hard to bring us the best of what they can come up with, you could have the album FREE, no strings attached.  If you’re obsessed with Radiohead, like some of my friends are, and think their creative genius and musical ingenuity is priceless, you may have thrown them a couple bucks.  The point is, they made millions of dollars off telling people they could have their music for free.  So, how?

What do you think is the future of pay-what-you-want in regards to music?

April 15, 2010

Ok ok, so I’ve screwed up.

You may notice I haven’t been as active on my blog lately.  I told you all that I would post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and that’s just been a downright lie the past couple weeks.  I’m sorry for that.  The upside is that I’m VERY busy with some other really fantastic new ventures, and I’m SO excited and fortunate to be a part of them all.  I will update you on the progress of each project as they evolve, but for now – well, if I told you, I’d have to kill you ;)

So please feel free to continue to comment on posts or send me ideas.  I do plan on still posting when I can, but just not with any regularity for a few weeks.  I’d love to have some contributing writers as well, so if you feel so inclined, please let me know.  Or if you don’t write but have an idea… sling it my way.

Hasta una otra dia!

April 7, 2010

Emotions and Business – Which Comes First in Music?

I have written about about the emotions music evokes and technology’s place in the music industry and its affects on artists’ creativity, and several ideas were brought up about the relationship between business and the emotional aspects of music.

The music industry is a difficult one to succeed in because we are selling an experience, an emotional connection.  The great thing about music is being able to take from it what you want and apply it to your life as you’d like.  I love music because of this.  But finding a common ground between an emotional connection and business is tricky.  And knowing what images will resonate with different groups of people and how to manipulate those images and words to cater to one target audience takes a lot of subtle tact and sociological research / knowledge.

I’d  like to know what makes you choose what music to try or what albums to buy.  I am constantly observing consumers’ patterns, what kinds of people like what kinds of music, and the images of the artists.  So lay it on me – what do you look for in new music?  And be honest with me!

April 2, 2010

“…there is strong research evidence that the popular working practice of multitasking can reduce your performance level to that of a drunk”

I’ve been thinking about this idea for awhile now, and it seems to be popping all over my world these days, so I must share and, of course, add my two cents.

In the information age, when we are attempting to do 24 things all at once, the term “multitasking” has come to be a positive way to say “can pay attention to and do several tasks at once”.  In actuality, multitasking has been found by research to not only impair the quality of the work one is producing, but it is also bad for your health.

In true actuality, though, multitasking does not existGasp!

Ok, so I can type with both hands at once, and I can read a book while my heart pumps my blood; so in some way, you could say multitasking does exist.  But when we are talking about attempting to pay attention to more than one task simultaneously, it just isn’t in the cards.  As John Medina explains in his book Brain Rules, our brains cannot process “attention-rich inputs” simultaneously.

On the next resume I send out, I’m going to put that I’m a “singletasker”.

Mark McGuinness and Sami Paju of Lateral Action and their reference, John Medina, do a much more in-depth job at describing the myth of multitasking, so check them out.

I’m a big fan of working to make yourself better versus solving your problems with drugs or other unnatural remedies without first working on fixing the problem (you know, “work” – that thing they used to do in the old days before iPhones and Google).  With the rise in popularity of ADD in the 1990s, every soccer mom and her six rowdy munchkins were just convinced that they have a serious disease, treatable only by high-potency drugs like Ridolin and Aderol.  I have never been diagnosed with ADD, so I recognize my bias, but I have taken Aderol in college for good ole finals, and it scares me that seven year olds take that every day.

Enter… the multitask!

Now that we celebrate trying to do ten things at once, the need to focus becomes obsolete; except, of course, in academia, where there seems to be a problem with the kids sitting still for a 45 minute test.  Light bulb!  Instead of diagnosing our kids with ADD and accommodating the issue (shorter snippets in TV commercials and shows, etc.), why don’t we pry the video game controllers out from under their tiny, impressionable fingers and teach them to read – novels, I mean.  ADHD?  Have no fear!  Send them to play outside… yes, in the grass and trees.  I know it’s dirty, but we come from the same earth.  Get over it.

I’ve ranted enough.  My message is this: Instead of celebrating an idea that does not actually exist, and if it did would be detrimental to our health, why don’t we teach our kids and ourselves to focus and become engaged whole-mindedly in the task at hand?

Disclaimer: This is all in fun and games and to stimulate conversation.  I recognize that the issue is not that cut and dry, and I look forward to reading your opinions on the subject – whether we agree or not.  Please be tasteful in your comments, is all I ask.

Another great article about the relationship between being efficient and effective is here at AliventuresAli Hale’s blog is actually a great one to read in general.  Enjoy!

The quotation from the title of this article comes from “Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work” by Mark McGuinness on  Thanks, Mark!


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