Finished reading: Social Engineering: The Science of Human Hacking by Christopher Hadnagy 📚

I bought this book several years ago after discovering Mr. Robot. I lost interest then, but I recently decided to commit to finishing. It is (a book) about hacking communication and the tools in the social engineer’s toolbox. It was worth finishing.

Abundance, Dogs, and the Devine! 🐾🐶👇

“The dog is the most faithful of animals and would be much more esteemed if not so common. Our Lord God has made His greatest gifts the commonest.” - Martin Luther

I will never forget my wife’s words the day after I gave her two Yorkshire Terriers. She looked at me, with budding tears in her eyes, and said: “I love them so much.” She did (does) too! She loved (loves) them so much it breaks her heart, but it’s nothing like how they’ve loved her.

A couple of years later, we adopted a larger dog and was just as packed with goodness as the Yorkies. Then, later, we adopted an older dog with terrible habits, but he too was imbued with all the love, goodness, and loyalty of the others. All four of them forgive completely, love absolutely, and give without expectation.

Perhaps Martin Luther was on to something, that the Divine’s greatest gifts to humanity are buried in abundance. Dogs are one example, but also consider the air we breathe, the earth we walk upon, or the laughter of a child. The value of these (and all the others) is without measure, yet we deem them less in their abundance.

Maybe the Divine is hidden in things of abundance. In the air we breathe, in the laughter of a child, or the loyalty & love of a dog.

There is no other place I would rather be! 🚤☀️📷

The Stuff I Am Reading & Watching This Week 💸🛥👇

The following are articles, posts, and publications that I am reading and watching this week. I also blog about the books I have read and the books I am reading.

A Future of Secular Stagnation - Wall Street Journal

”… the White House is essentially conceding that all of its unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus really is living for today with little regard for the future. It implicitly concedes that the growth it spurs now will have to be paid back later in the form of higher taxes or tighter monetary policy, which might reduce growth. This is the definition of a “sugar high.”

This is an interesting opinion piece about an economic term we’ve not regularly discussed since the 1970s: Stagflation.

Beige Book - June 2, 2021 | Federal Reserve System

“It remained difficult for many firms to hire new workers, especially low-wage hourly workers, truck drivers, and skilled tradespeople. The lack of job candidates prevented some firms from increasing output and, less commonly, led some businesses to reduce their hours of operation.”

The Beige Book is the Fed’s consolidation of opinions from community bankers and business owners. It is plain-spoken qualitative data about housing, labor markets, manufacturing, prices, tourism, etc. The Beige Book is the one (Fed) publication (published eight times per year) for everyone, and this one is worth a read!

Just for Fun:

The Anxiety of Influencers - Harper’s Magazine

”… as the pandemic has transformed our homes into offices and our bedrooms into backdrops, as public institutions increasingly fall prey to the mandates of the market—we’ve become cheerfully indentured to the idea that our worth as individuals isn’t our personal integrity or sense of virtue, but our ability to advertise our relevance on the platforms of multinational tech corporations.”

This was a fantastic read! It discussed everything from influencer culture, to higher education’s marketing failure, to difficult cultural questions on attention and presence.

The Mayflower Autonomous Ship

“With no human captain or onboard crew, MAS uses the power of AI and automation to traverse the ocean in its quest for data and discovery.”

This project has captured my imagination! With the Mayflower’s launch just days away, I am so excited to follow along as it traverses the Atlantic Ocean!

Finished reading: Influx by Daniel Suarez 📚 This was a fun read! It had been 10+ years since I last read anything by Daniel Suarez, and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed his imagination.

“The dog is the most faithful of animals and would be much more esteemed were it not so common. Our God has made his greatest gifts the commonest.” - Martin Luther🐾

Thinking Is a Business Activity📁📤👇

“Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action comes, stop thinking and go in.” ― Napoleon Bonaparte

I reserve one week a month to thinking. I call it my “Think Week.” I do client work the rest of the time, and my days are packed with client meetings, follow-up, and phone calls. I love this part of my business, and it has always felt like the work.

The reality, of course, is something different. Running a business requires people/task/project management, finance, product improvements, continuing education, and so much more. My “Think Week” is scheduled time for all these things, plus staff and other business meetings. I could easily call it my “run the business week,” but that is not as catchy. Additionally, calling it “think week” reminds me to pull out my task manager, review my projects, and dial in what will get done next!

I feel guilt every month when my “Think Week” comes around, but it has become so important to my firm. It is easy to forget that thinking is also a legitimate business activity in the hustle of caring for clients.

Finished re-reading: Liar’s Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street by Michael Lewis 📚

I hadn’t read this book since university for a money and banking class. I remember loving it then, but it was even better the second time around. Looking back onto the trading floors of 1980’s Wall Street 30+ years later is disorienting and clarifying at the same time. Much of the financial innovation back then is/are regular practices today.

There You Are 🐾👇

08/29/2017 (Archive)

My dog, Austin, loves me! He is excited to see me every time I walk in the door, even when I am gone for only a few minutes. I am the only thing he’s interested in as if the whole world fades away, and I am the only thing left. It’s magic he performs.

Austin lives in each new present moment, having little access to the past and not looking to the future. He’s fully alive. It’s the joyful gift of his full attention, always.

Recently on Dear Sugars Radio, Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond talked with Julie Barton about her dog, Bunker. Julie described her first meeting with him as:

…I met this dog. Who walked up to me, sat down at my feet, and looked at me like: “There you are! I have been waiting for you!”

“There you are!” Yes, that’s exactly how Austin greets me. I have taken to saying “There you are” to him when I return home, trying to return his gift of attention. I breathe in, breathe out, and imagine the world fading away and leaving only him. I attempt to be really there with him, and it’s lovely. Strangely, though, it’s just another gift he’s given me, to share presence and attention with him and others more deliberately.

To listen to other touching moments from Julie Barton on Dear Sugars Radio click here.

Finished re-reading: Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco by Bryan Burrough 📚

This book is full of history about leveraged buy-outs, junk bonds, and 1980’s business culture. Such a good read!

My son pulling my childhood wagon just a few years ago. One of my favorites! ✨💛

The Last First Time 🏄‍♂️😳👇

Trying to break the ice, the executive director asked the board members (and me) to introduce themselves at a non-profit meeting I was attending. She asked us to share our names, what we do, and when was the last time we did something for the first time. It was a tricky question, and it left an impression on me!

About five years ago, I asked the same question of my Dad. He was stumped, so I booked a surfing lesson when we were both in San Diego for business.

It was so fun to be nervous, excited, embarrassed, and happy all at the same time. Two hours later we were still smiling, with an answer to when was the last time we’d done something for the first time!

Sometimes winning is finding the joy in the journey! 🥰✨

Solutions For Short-Term Savings💰👇

The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it in your back pocket. - Will Rogers

Short-term savings are generally best kept in bank savings accounts. I define short-term savings as emergency funds (6-12 months of monthly expenses) and planned spending within the next 12 months. These accounts pay almost no interest, and there’s the rub!

When our investments perform well, holding cash in savings accounts feels like a lost opportunity, with inflation slowly eroding the spending power away. Nevertheless, savings accounts are often still the right tool for the job of keeping short-term money available.

Online personal savings accounts are popular solutions. These are great because they earn a better return (than a local bank) with complete liquidity. The following are popular options:

Ally is a particularly innovative solution! Their current interest rate is competitive, and they have some cool features that the other two don’t. For instance, Ally online savings accounts can be divided into named buckets for different goals without opening separate accounts.

A couple of years ago, the going rate was 2% on these (online savings) accounts, but returns are much lower these days. Still, opening these accounts takes minutes, and transferring money to and from is easy. It’s just a real simple solution that work well for many.

The information contained herein is for general informational use only, and is compiled from sources believed to be reliable, but no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made as to its accuracy. This website contains links to other third-party websites.  Such links are only for the convenience of the reader, user or browser; I do not recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites.

My Son and His Bike🚲👇

08/29/2017 (Archive)

A few months ago, I finally got my son off his training wheels. He only fell once while learning, and he loved the freedom of riding without training wheels, but then something happened. He started to struggle with pedaling. His left foot would come off the pedal when he pressed down with his right, and it was all he could think about. He was sure he’d fall, and it made him want his training wheels back.

We put the training wheels back on, and he loved his bike again. After a while, he stopped thinking about the left foot and the pedaling problem away. Up until that point, no amount of coaching, Googling, or comforting did any good. He just had to keep riding until he stopped thinking about it.

I have been trying to learn the lesson of my son and his bike. That movement is often the best prescription for anxiety, stress, fear, etc. To stop thinking about the left foot and just go.

One of my favorite days with my people at Disney Springs! 🏰

I Think🤔👇

08/23/2017 (Archive)

An infinite loop (or endless loop) is a sequence of instructions in a computer program that loops endlessly, either due to the loop having no terminating condition, having one that can never be met, or one that causes the loop to start over.

Recently I tuned into Cheddar’s Opening Bell and suffered through a segment on Gamespot’s upcoming earnings report. For eight painful minutes US News and World Report reporter, John Divine, told us what he thought about Gamespot’s business prospects. He often answered questions with “I think,” which often lead to other “I think” statements. He was stuck in a loop, and there never came the point when he had facts to trigger anything other than another “I think” statement.

I have been stuck in loops like this and make predictions based only on my intuition. One prediction leads to another, and before long, I’ve had a 30-minute conversation based on “I think.”

For me, “I think” is a trigger to stop and reframe around “I know.” It changes the conversation and often makes me admit the limits of my preparation and what is knowable. It’s my foolproof way to “kill” (end) an infinite “I think” loop.

412 days ago, we left Disneyland as they closed the gates. I am so happy for Disney and all who are there today! 🏰

What's Your Story? 😳👇

08/22/2017 (Archive)

Sixteen years ago, I followed a beautiful girl into a casual dining restaurant. From the moment she opened the door of her 1973 bumblebee Karmann Ghia (with blue California plates), and walked in front of me I was spellbound. I followed her in, caught her attention, and asked: “So, uh,… what’s your story?” She looked at me and incredulously replied: “What’s your story? Is that your line?” She then made fun of me for a while, and we both laughed. I don’t remember her giving me her phone number, but we’d connect again in a few weeks. Sixteen years later, she’s still my California girl.

Yesterday I was sharing a squat rack with a guy about my age. After we each finished our reps, he asked me: “So Jeff, what’s your story?” I smiled and then replied: “What do you mean?” He was only trying to make polite conversation by asking what I did for a living, if I had kids, or did I come here often. But, I felt as my wife did 16 years ago, unable to answer a question I didn’t understand.

Conversation between strangers is rarely easy, and it’s usually clumsy. I admire my new friend for caring enough to be interested, but I will use a different line next time I do the same.

Building with my Dad (for the last ten years) continues to be a blessing of a lifetime!💪🔥✨

04/19/2021 Clubhouse Follow-up (Bernie Madoff)👇

On Monday, we opened a room on Clubhouse and talked about why Bernie Madoff mattered. We discussed everything from his contributions to automated trading to the state of trust in financial advice.

I mentioned a NPR-Fresh Air episode from 2011 that’s worth a listen: Examining Bernie Madoff, ‘The Wizard Of Lies’. Also, an FT Times post on Automated trading: ‘Madoff, Father of the Automated Trade.’

It was a fun conversation! Thanks to all who participated!

I Have Nothing To Prove 😳

08/21/2017 (Archive)

We celebrated my son’s 6th birthday at Splashdown, a local waterpark, last week. At the end of the day, and right before leaving, my oldest niece asked me to go with her to an attraction called “Fastball.” Splashdown describes the slide as a “fretful fall down six stories,“ and I was happy to skip it. Searching for an excuse, I told her that if she could convince her 68-year-old grandpa to do it - I would too. He then challenged my niece’s mom (my sister, his daughter) that if she’d go, he would. And just like that, we were all stuck.

We walked to the top of the slide, and without hesitation, my niece jumped in. I went next, and after a few minutes to steady himself – down came grandpa! We then waited, waited, and waited for my sister - until she finally came down. She had just completed an Iron Man and told us about the excuse she was working out in her head (to not go down the slide). She planned to say to us (tongue in cheek): “I am an Iron Man. I’ve got nothing to prove.” To which I said: “You would have if you hadn’t gone down that slide!”

My sister was kidding, but I caught a mirror in the statement. How many times have I cooked up an excuse to avoid risk? Her faux rationalization reminded me that fear grows stronger when we feed it excuses.