Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A good source of passive income?

What do you think of this no-cash-required approach to earning passive income?

Every month or two, search google.com/trends, which lists the currently most searched terms.

Pick out a hot topic that intrigues you but is likely to fade in popularity in six months to a year.

Quickly crank out a 25-page ebook on that topic. That's not as difficult as it may seem. It's like a term paper using reader-friendly rather than academic-stuffy language, with no citations required. Use Google as a key research tool, which speeds the process.

Sell your ebooks on Amazon, eBay, and Scribd. Money should start rolling in.

You'd get your book to market long before a traditional book publisher could or would--By the time such publishers would get the book out, that trendy topic would have faded.

Sure, this is not a totally passive income source--After all, you have to write the ebooks. But the only truly passive income sources require a cash investment, on which you hopefully get a return. I'm assuming you don't have enough to invest that you can live off investment income. Writing ebooks on trendy topics requires an investment of $0 and, like all passive income, brings in money while you sleep.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm Looking to Hire Someone to Get More People to Read My Stuff

People who read my articles, blog, and books say they're very helpful. I'd like more people to read them.

I should spend time marketing them but my workweek is already too long and I choose to spend it on counseling, writing, and my radio shows rather than on marketing. So I'd like to hire someone to get my articles well-placed, and to increase traffic to my site and blog.

I envision that person doing that via LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, and perhaps more important, by intelligently pitching key magazine, newspaper, TV, radio, and website editors and producers. The ideal candidate would already have strong relationships with them but more important is intelligence, drive, and an easy-to-work with personality.

The person would also have to be enthusiastic or at least comfortable with promoting not only my writings on career issues but my "males are treated unfairly" articles, my libertarian-leaning politics, my approaches to reinventing education K-20, and my New York Jewish personality.

I'm expecting to lose money on this but that's okay. I'm viewing this as a charitable effort. However, I'd not feel good about hiring someone who's charging big bucks, both because of the money and because that person and I probably wouldn't be very compatible personally.

Would you like to recommend someone? If so, have that person email me a letter of interest including a phone number. My email address is mnemko@comcast.net.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Getting Motivated, Unstuck, Overcoming Procrastination

I've just written an article on getting motivated, overcoming procrastination. It's perhaps too cutesily called Light Your Fire: A Matchbox of Ways to Get Motivated.

It will appear in Mensa's national magazine in November but HERE's an advance look.

I'd appreciate your feedback. This is a draft and I hope to make revisions based on your input before I submit it for publication.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Government Is Wasting Ever More Of Your Money

We get so little for our tax dollars. And ever less.

Our government has long made us pay so much in taxes, fees, fines ($300 for walking my dog off-leash in an empty park?), etc for labyrinthine, wildly overlapping and redundant government bureaucracies, billion-dollar non-responses to disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, wildly bloated space programs, and boondoggles like bridges to nowhere, $85 hammers, billions in Medicare and other fraud, government "businesses" that despite massive spending, go bankrupt (e.g., Amtrak, the Post Office, Medicare, and Social Security). And don't get me started on the endless pork-barrel spending: for example, The Big Dig, which cost you and me $14.6 billion to move a 3.5-mile road underground. (Tip O' Neill got it funded while he was House Speaker.)

Incomprehensibly, the waste of our money is accelerating, which can only mean higher taxes and/or printing more money, which endangers our future. We're broke and if China calls in our debt, we're finished). Especially at risk will be our children and grandchildren. And lest this sound like catastrophizing, a bond rating agency in China has already lowered the U.S.'s credit rating!

If you had control of your tax dollars, would you spend on these current mammoth-ticket items that the people you've elected are now spending your money on:
  • A trillion dollars to invade and try to prop up a developing nation,Iraq.
  • Enormous sums to do the same in Afghanistan.
  • "Investing" in alternative energy schemes that have been rejected by every energy country in America. If such investments had a reasonable chance of paying off, even if it took a decade, at least one leading company would invest in it. Yet, with our tax dollars, the government chooses to invest in these "sloppy seconds," which the working and middle class, which pays the most painful share of taxes, wonders how they'll find the money to pay the rent. Examples: solar energy, without tax subsidies would die because they're simply never going to be cost effective. Another example: ethanol. The government gives huge taxpayer-paid subsidies to corporations like Archer Daniels Midland to grow more corn for ethanol, which lowers our gas mileage, gums up our engines, and, net, saves no energy. (Not to mention drives up food costs worldwide--which most affects the poor and starving.)
  • Extending unemployment checks to 99 weeks, almost two years. Nearly every one of my career counseling clients who are on unemployment admit that each extension demotivates them from looking for work.
  • The $814 billion "stimulus" package. President Obama promised that the unemployment rate would not exceed 8 percent. Well, 18 months later, it's 9.5%, and at least double that if you count the people who have become so discouraged that they're not even looking for work. And the percentage of people who are underemployed is additionally enormous. And liberals speak of the need of yet more tax dollars for Son of Stimulus?! That stimulus would, yes, rebuild some roads. But again, with so many people un- and underemployed, worrying about how they'll pay the rent, the government wants to take their money and repave a road, or as one Midwesterner said, "Replace an old traffic light with a new one?"
We desperately need legislators who would be as prudent with your money as they'd be with their own.

In Defense of Corporations

Corporate bashing is accelerating, a reflection of America's moving leftward and the media's maxi-covering corporate mistakes, from Enron to BP.

And America is not just bashing corporations; it's bleeding them. Is it truly fair that for its risk miscalculation (when there had never been such an event in history,) BP should be forced to pay tens of billions of dollars? Is it truly fair, as ObamaCare now mandates, to force all corporations to pay for health care not just for its employees but for non-employees? Is it fair to force corporations to give workers up to 12 weeks off each year (Marriage and Family Leave Act)? Is it fair to force corporations to retain employees with mental illness? If you ran a business, how would you feel if you were told that unless you do all of the above plus comply with a mountain of other government regulations and taxes, you will be forced out of business?

But you insist, corporations are evil--"a military-industrial complex that wrings as much production from its workers as possible and distributes the profits of their work to fat-cat executives and shareholders. If an American becomes cost-ineffective, he's replaced, perhaps with a 20-something in India willing to work for $5 an hour." You also rail, "Corporate advertising makes us buy crap we don't need, polluting our air and water in the process. What could be more evil?"

Fact is, while it's easy to point to corporations' weaknesses, I daresay that if corporations were eliminated in favor of small businesses, family farms, etc., you'd beg for corporations' reinstatement. Consider the following:

So much of what you buy and need would not be made or made affordably and with good quality in the absence of big corporations: The computer and screen you're reading this on, the car you drive or the mass transit you take, your refrigerator and what's in it: from milk to mayonnaise, Clementines to Quaker Oatmeal, bananas to the baking soda that keeps your refrigerator from stinking. Then there's the chair you're sitting in, the air conditioner that's keeping you comfortable, your coffee maker, your phone service, your iPhone, Google (which you probably used to get to this article,) not to mention the medication you take: from aspirin to heart medicine.

To make and distribute those products that you would not want to do without, corporations pay tens of millions of people a living wage, and many millions of those people, much more than a living wage--plus benefits. And of course, corporations are also forced to pay billions of dollars to comply with the aforementioned mountain of government regulations, the cost of which is passed on to all of us.

I don't have statistics but, anecdotally, I've seen again and again, that the pay, benefits, and working conditions of large corporate employees are usually better than those provided by the tiny businesses the anti-corporate crowd adores. People vote with their feet--job seekers wouldn't, for example, be lining up by the thousands (literally) whenever a new Wal-Mart opens if they felt that small companies were offering better jobs.

Workers' preference for jobs in a corporation rather than a small business is true not just in the U.S. but true of the supposedly taken-advantage-of workers in developing nations. When a U.S. corporation opens up shop in Asia, people usually flock to work for them because the pay, benefits, and working conditions are better than local businesses provide.

Of course, all enterprises--small business, corporations, nonprofits, and government--would benefit from living by loftier values but liberals' disproportionately heaping opprobrium on corporations is merely another example of their bashing society's "haves" without regard to their merit.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Men are More Valuable Than Women?!

As I've documented elsewhere on this blog, so many books and articles (not to mention jokes) argue that the world would be better without men.

This video makes the politically suicidal assertion that men are more valuable than women, much more valuable. And it makes it convincingly.

Yes, I wish it didn't start off with a woman's orgasm. Yes, I wish it acknowledged women's contributions, but I believe it's a must-watch, especially for beaten-down men and for boys in the process of being brainwashed by schools, media, and females that they are decidedly inferior.

What If You Don't Want to Work?

Most people feel an ethical obligation to be productive. Some less wise people don't. Still others would like to be productive but feel doomed to a low-pay/low-reward career.

In fact, some people do have dim career prospects: If you're not bright, not driven, have personality issues, and excel at little, your chances of earning a good living aren't great in our ever-more-demanding global economy and with a U.S. empire that's likely in its decline and fall while China and India ascend.

Rather than guilt-trip you on the importance and wisdom of being productive, here I'll simply accept your self-assessment. I find anathema an able-bodied/able-minded person living off the taxpayer. I can more readily accept such people making the effort to become a stay-at-home spouse of a good income-earner. Agree to be a great spouse, homemaker, and perhaps parent in exchange for she or he providing the bulk of the family's income.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Coping with Self-Hatred, Self-Loathing

Some of my clients admit to self-loathing.

Okay, so do I. Despite my impressive list of accomplishments and current work, I honestly hate myself. I hate that I'm ugly, kind of a curmudgeon, and virtually a hermit. I overeat, am intense, am not quite as capable as I was just a few years ago. I hold libertarianish political views that most people hate. I roll my eyes at unthinking liberals who believe all wisdom resides left of center. I too often forgo tact and hit people between the eyes with candid input, often unsolicited. Plus I decry my aging self.

I'm well aware that my glass is more than half full but that awareness doesn't make me feel better. So I can't tell you to focus on your positives.

Perhaps like most things, the answer is simply self-acceptance. Loathe yourself if that's how you feel. Maybe, like me, doing that for a while will desensitize you, take the edge off your self-hatred. You'll still hate yourself but it will bother you less.

There is an important silver lining to self-loathing, at least mine: It motivates me to work ever harder. And indeed, as Michael Lopp, author of Being Geek told me yesterday, nearly every successful person in Silicon Valley suffers from the same malady. Indeed, no less than Abraham Lincoln suffered from grave self-doubt. The opposite syndrome--high self-esteem--usually leads to complacency and no growth.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Speech Every High School Principal Should Give...and None Will

Note: While I applaud most of what the author writes here, I am opposed to the nationalism he encourages. I do believe we are world citizens: our thinking should be governed by what's best for the world, not just for the U.S.

A Speech Every American High School Principal Should Give

by Dennis Prager

If every school principal gave this speech at the beginning of the next school year, America would be a better place.

To the students and faculty of our high school:

I am your new principal, and honored to be so. There is no greater calling than to teach young people.

I would like to apprise you of some important changes coming to our school. I am making these changes because I am convinced that most of the ideas that have dominated public education in America have worked against you, against your teachers and against our country.

First, this school will no longer honor race or ethnicity. I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white. I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships.

The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity -- your character, your scholarship, your humanity. And the only national identity this school will care about is American. This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to make better Americans.

If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial or religious identity through school, you will have to go elsewhere. We will end all ethnicity-, race- and non-American nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America, one of its three central values -- e pluribus unum, "from many, one." And this school will be guided by America's values.This includes all after-school clubs. I will not authorize clubs that divide students based on any identities. This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation or whatever else may become in vogue in a society divided by political correctness.

Your clubs will be based on interests and passions, not blood, ethnic, racial or other physically defined ties. Those clubs just cultivate narcissism -- an unhealthy preoccupation with the self -- while the purpose of education is to get you to think beyond yourself. So we will have clubs that transport you to the wonders and glories of art, music, astronomy, languages you do not already speak, carpentry and more. If the only extracurricular activities you can imagine being interesting in are those based on ethnic, racial or sexual identity, that means that little outside of yourself really interests you.

Second, I am uninterested in whether English is your native language. My only interest in terms of language is that you leave this school speaking and writing English as fluently as possible. The English language has united America's citizens for over 200 years, and it will unite us at this school. It is one of the indispensable reasons this country of immigrants has always come to be one country. And if you leave this school without excellent English language skills, I would be remiss in my duty to ensure that you will be prepared to successfully compete in the American job market. We will learn other languages here -- it is deplorable that most Americans only speak English -- but if you want classes taught in your native language rather than in English, this is not your school.

Third, because I regard learning as a sacred endeavor, everything in this school will reflect learning's elevated status. This means, among other things, that you and your teachers will dress accordingly. Many people in our society dress more formally for Hollywood events than for church or school. These people have their priorities backward. Therefore, there will be a formal dress code at this school.

Fourth, no obscene language will be tolerated anywhere on this school's property -- whether in class, in the hallways or at athletic events. If you can't speak without using the f-word, you can't speak. By obscene language I mean the words banned by the Federal Communications Commission, plus epithets such as "Nigger," even when used by one black student to address another black, or "bitch," even when addressed by a girl to a girlfriend. It is my intent that by the time you leave this school, you will be among the few your age to instinctively distinguish between the elevated and the degraded, the holy and the obscene.

Fifth, we will end all self-esteem programs. In this school, self-esteem will be attained in only one way -- the way people attained it until decided otherwise a generation ago -- by earning it. One immediate consequence is that there will be one valedictorian, not eight.

Sixth, and last, I am reorienting the school toward academics and away from politics and propaganda. No more time will devoted to scaring you about smoking and caffeine, or terrifying you about sexual harassment or global warming. No more semesters will be devoted to condom wearing and teaching you to regard sexual relations as only or primarily a health issue. There will be no more attempts to convince you that you are a victim because you are not white, or not male, or not heterosexual or not Christian. We will have failed if any one of you graduates this school and does not consider him or herself inordinately lucky -- to be alive and to be an American.

Now, please stand and join me in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country. As many of you do not know the words, your teachers will hand them out to you.

Dennis Prager hosts a nationally syndicated radio talk show and is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is the author of four books, most recently "Happiness Is a Serious Problem" (HarperCollins). His website is www.dennisprager.com. COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Myth of the Gender Pay Gap

Endlessly, the media parrots feminist organizations' grossly misleading assertion that women earn 77 to 80 cents on the dollar compared with men. Indeed, President Obama cites it all the time.

In many of my writings , for example, "Men Don't Have it Easy, Either" I've provided solid evidence of why that's so misleading: that for the truly same nature, quality, and quantity of work, women earn the same as men. When there is a pay gap, it's because women have chosen less rigorous, odious, or otherwise less demanding careers or jobs.

I've expressed frustration at the media's double standard of vetting: If you make a pro-male assertion, the media will nix it apriori or based on on a standard of rigor unrealistic in social science. But make a woman-as-victim assertion and it's published with little or no vetting. Rare exceptions are this op-ed in the New York Times and the book, Why Men Earn More.

The media's unwillingness to publish the lack of a pay gap is particularly frustrating in that the unemployment rate among men is now more than 25% higher than for women. And the gender ratio of 2010 degree recipients is 41% men, 59% women, the precise reverse of 40 years ago.

I've had five books and 600 articles well published but dare I write a pro-male piece it's almost never published. For example, in response to the irresponsibly written "The End of Men" that was the cover story in last month's The Atlantic, I wrote the far more solid "The Beginning of Men," and none of 20 publishers would publish it.

It finally took a woman to get published what I've been saying so long about the myth of a gender pay gap: One of the leading career bloggers, Penelope Trunk, just wrote this piece entitled, "A Salary Gap Between Men and Women? Oh please!"

I truly am tired of men getting treated unfairly. Perhaps it's time to take a cue from the immigration advocates who staged A Day Without Immigrants. Is it time for a national Day Without Men?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

U.S. Middle Class Shrinks

In an attempt to create positive perceptions, President Obama is proclaiming that "we're turning it around."

But using data from such sources as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Business Insider reports 22 statistics that indicate that the decline and fall of the American Empire is accelerating, with the middle class being the canary in the coal mine:
  • 61 percent of Americans now "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck. That's up from 43 percent in 2007 and 49% in 2008.
  • More than 40 percent of employed Americans now work in service jobs, which are often very low paying.
  • The average time to find a job has risen to 35.2 weeks.
  • For the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Dept of Agriculture projects it to rise to 43 million in 2011.
  • 21 percent of all U.S. children now live below the poverty line, the highest rate in 20 years.
  • 43 percent of Americans now have less than $10,000 saved for retirement.
  • 24 percent of American workers now say they have postponed their planned retirement age.
  • The average federal worker now earns 20 to 60 percent more (different studies report different findings) than the average private sector worker. That is the most recent evidence of my assertion that now, because the federal government doesn't balance its budget and can--for the short-term at least--keep printing money, the federal government and federal contractors are, for all but star employees, the best source of employment.
As shocking and dispiriting as those statistics are, I was shaken even more when I read that when the Tacoma, Washington Utilities District posted a job opening for a single $17.76/hour meter reader job, 1,600 people applied.

These statistics provide yet more evidence that America is in a long-term jobless non-recovery.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Leadership and Management Lessons in Directing a Play

Directing plays offers a particular challenge to my leadership and management skills. That's because the same emotionality and artistic personality that enables actors to do so well on stage can make actors (and theatrical designers) a challenge offstage.

Here are some things I've done to make the play I'm currently directing, Neil Simon's, Broadway Bound (which has two weeks left in its run) to be a success--standing ovations, fine reviews, for example, this one in the Berkeley Daily Planet.

My cast and crew get little or no pay, so I must otherwise inspire them to work hard. To that end, I pointed out that community theatre is among the only recreations aimed at older people and that our audiences are really excited to come see you perform. I explained that our theatre is an ideal one for older people: Because it seats only 100 and has perfect acoustics and sight lines, even the elderly can easily see and hear everything. I also explained that the theatre gave me the opportunity to direct whatever play I wanted and that Broadway Bound was my choice because it has the rare combination of great humor, deep poignancy, food for thought, and yet is fully understandable by mainstream audiences. In another attempt to motivate my cast and crew, throughout the rehearsal process, I looked for all legitimate opportunities to praise them and I bent over backwards to meet their every need. I wanted them to know that if I'm to ask them to work hard, I need to work at least as hard.

Especially when dealing with a mainly volunteer cast and crew, I keep in mind that each person has only so much energy to give to the production before s/he runs out of gas. Each cast and crew member has a different-sized fuel tank. And there's no gas station, so when a person runs out of gas, s/he stops. So, unlike the standard management advice to treat everyone equally, before asking something of a cast or crew member, I assess whether it's worth the gas that person is likely to expend. And in general, I consider whether a task I might assign will yield sufficient miles per gallon: sufficient benefit to the production to justify the energy that would be expended.

So, for example, I believe insufficient benefit derives from the standard practice of having all-day tech rehearsals on the Saturday and Sunday before the play opens. So I held rehearsal only on the Saturday. Another example: I have a crew member who loves to clean--if he had his way, he'd spend endless hours cleaning the theatre, but that doesn't yield maximum audience benefit for the time that would be expended. So to explain that to him without offending him, I said, "I look forward to your doing those tasks. They'll be of real benefit to the theatre but for now, I need you to focus on getting the right props and furniture for the set. After that's done, if there's still time, it will be great for you to focus on sprucing up the theatre."

Staying with that car metaphor, if I'm to get maximum gas mileage from my cast and crew, I must keep them tuned up. I do that, for example, by, as I said, looking for legitimate opportunities to praise them, and offering suggestions with maximum tact. (Candidly, I blew it one time, really laid into someone, and feel bad about that.) If necessary, I offer a low-key pep talk. For example, I might say, "Yes, I'm being pretty perfectionistic in offering you these suggestions but I believe we have the potential to create a truly memorable production here. I do want to reassure you that I fully realize that none of us, least of all me, can be perfect, so when mistakes happen, I'll probably never get mad. I'll just see if we can fix them and if not, I'll simply shrug my shoulders and move on."

Might any of the lessons above be applied to your work in managing people?