Showing posts with label Investment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Investment. Show all posts

July 25, 2019

Lasting Decisions

So it's a funny thing about decisions...

Decisions are supposed to represent the conclusion of a process involving the following steps:

- Research of the problem
- Decide on the scope
- Discover the requirements
- Determine viable alternatives
- Evaluate costs, benefits, and risks 
- Do some soul-searching
- And then resolve and commit on a way-ahead

While these steps are typically formalized in a work-setting, they may be done informally in our personal lives. 

But even after all this, we need to remain adaptive to changes in the environment that would cause us to reevaluate the decision and alter course. 
So a decision is a decision until we revisit the decision. 

The problem is that in some highly complex, unstable/turbulent environments, or ones where there are a lot of disagreements among stakeholders (such that there was perhaps not a consensus on the original decision to begin with) then "decisions" may be short-lived.

In this case, decisions may be half-baked, not even last until the ink is dried, and certainly not have a chance in hell to be executed on or seen through to determine whether they actually would've worked. 

In a way a decision that is so temporal is not even really a decision, but sticking your toe out to feel the temperature of the water, and any commitment of resources can and probably will be a complete throw-away.  

We've got to do the investment in the upfront work, really make a good data-driven (and inspired) decision, and give it an opportunity to blossom. 

Yes, we need to remain agile and change as we sincerely need to, but too much change and for the wrong reasons leads to going nowhere fast.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 27, 2018

Reaping What You Sow: Adam and Adamah

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, Sukkot: A Time of Man and Earth
"In celebrating Sukkot, we compare Adam and Adamah. Just like a man is dependent on seeding his teachings and good deeds which then leads to reaping his personal life harvest, so too the earth is dependent on seeding and watering which leads to harvesting its produce."
Hope you enjoy and Chag Sameach.  ;-)

(Inspired by a movie of a farmer in Bishvil-Haivrit)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 6, 2018

All Aboard!

So when the train is pulling out it's a loud call by the conductor of:
"All Aboard that's going abroard."

With project management, it can be the same too. 

Once an organization has decided to move out on a project and make the investment of time, resources, and reputation:

- Either you get on the train and help feed the engine of progress

OR

- You get left behind.

- You get thrown off the train.

- You get run over by the train.

There really are no other alternatives. 

My advice is get with the program. 

The train is moving out.

The organization is going to deliver on its promise. 

Get the h*ll on!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

June 12, 2018

Getting To Know You

So we recently took on a new function at work.

With that came a new group of employees.

Today, we had a wonderful breakfast as a meet and greet for everyone to get to know each other.

There was a tremendous spread of food laid out everything from bagels and smear, granola and yogurt, free fruit and vegetable salad, donut and muffins, and more.

There was enough food to feed a small army.

Aside from the group joining us, we had people come from other departments that support the process they are involved in--so folks from finance, legal, and even the front office.

The new lead assigned for the group that came over even gave out envelopes to thank their new team and 2 big boxes of gourmet coffee for them to share.

How nice this all was done and the investment that was made to bring the new team on board was really amazing to me.

I saw all the goodwill that was being built up from this event and the niceties put into it to recognize the people and make everyone comfortable together as a team.

I learned that an investment upfront like this in people and function can have tremendous benefits downstream in building a team and performing services that everyone can be proud of who is apart of this.

Invest not only in things, but also most importantly in people and relationships! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

May 26, 2018

Amazon's Dangerous Genius

I am marveling at the Genius of Amazon and Jeff Bezos but also concerned about their future direction. 

Traditionally, they have invested for the long-haul!

For years, Amazon never made a dime, actually operating at a loss.

But all the time making long-term investments in infrastructure (warehouses, supply chain, logistics, etc.) and in customer acquisition. 

Their great selection, reasonable pricing, free shipping, and easy return policy lured hundreds of millions of people to drop the brick-and-mortar stores and even other online retailers to go Amazon all the way. 

Most people I know get virtually everything and anything on Amazon these days. 

Of course, the fear always was that Amazon would become such a dominant player and monopoly that no one else could compete. 

For a long time, they didn't even charge sales tax!

It seems people can't even imagine not having Amazon--where in the world would they shop and get all their stuff in 2-days or less (Prime Customers) and still be able to return all the crap they don't even want. 

So here is the rub.

Now that Amazon is so dominant, guess what?  They are raising the Prime Rates and cutting back on returns--with customers actually being banned for returning too much. 

Ah, the lure, bait and switch. 

Amazon got us all as their slave customers--and we let them and love them for it. 

And after they snared us with all the convenience and security of being able to return stuff, they pull the rug and what can you do, but cry foul?

I love Amazon for their genius and what they have done for eCommerce, but I don't like that they've built in a sense a dark empire to prey on their loyal customer base. 

Mr. Bezos, here is my message to you...

Please stay true to your ideals of customer-centricity and long-term investment in the company that has been the foundation for what you have built into such a retail juggernaut.  

Keep valuing your customers and serving them well and not trading them in for short-term profit gain.

In the end, that is a winning strategy that won't land you in either regulatory hell and/or antitrust action to then force you to bend your knee or your ultimate breakup. 

Remember, you have one chance to make the right decision for Amazon or I fear that it's not product returns that you'll be for long worrying about. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

December 2, 2017

Our Forefathers Were Planners And So Are We

Thank you to Rabbi Haim Ovadia for his speech today at Magen David Synagogue on the topic of how our forefathers in the Bible were planners and so are we today. (Note: some of the thoughts below are directly from Rabbi Ovadia and others are added by me.)

In the Biblical story of Jacob, there are numerous examples teaching us the importance of planning.

1) Shepherds vs Hunters:  Jacob was a shepherd versus his brother Esau who was a hunter.  Shepherds have a long-term outlook with their animals, tending to them and caring for them over the long-term, while hunters go out for the kills to eat for that day. 

2) Working for Rachel and Leah vs. Selling the Pottage:  Jacob worked for 7 years for Rachel and another 7 for Leah--this was the long-term view and commitment to work for Lavan in order to marry his daughters. In comparison, Esau came in hungry from the field and sold his birthright for the immediate gratification of a bowl of pottage.

3) The Plan to Take Esau's Blessing: Rebekah worked with Jacob to prepare meat for Isaac and put hair and clothes on Jacob that made him look and seem like Esau, so Jacob could get the blessing from Isaac, while Esau was still out hunting in the field. 

4) Dividing his Camp in Two: Jacob sent messengers (i.e. reconnaissance) to see and plan for what Esau was doing in coming to meet him. When the messengers returned with word that Esau was coming with 400 men, Jacob planned for the worst, dividing his camp in two, so should one peril the other could survive. Additionally, Jacob prayed and sent rounds of gifts to Esau and also presented himself to Esau before his beloved wife Rachel and son Joseph in the safety of the rear. 

Long-term planning has been fundamental to the Jewish people throughout history and to modern times:

1) "People of the Book" - The Jewish people are known as "the people off the book" for the devotion to Torah study, learning, and continually investing in education, which is a view for long-term investment and success.   

2) Good Deeds to Inherit The World To Come - Fundamental to Jewish belief is that this earthly world is just a "corridor" to the World to Come.  We do charity and good deeds, not only because it's the right thing to do (certainly!), but also because we believe that these merits will help us long-term when we pass, and go to the spiritual next world, Heaven. 

3) Believing and Praying for the Return to The Promised Land - For 2,000, the Jewish people never gave up hoping and praying on the deliverance of G-d's promise to return them from exile to the Promised Land.  This was a long-term view that helped sustain the Jewish people throughout their far-flung exile and through millennium of persecution and genocide.
Ezekiel 11:17: "Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples, and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel."
4) Waiting 6,000 years for the Messiah: For 6,000 years, the Jews have maintain faith and plan for the coming of the Messiah, the rebuilding of the Temple and the ultimate redemption of the world.  
"(Ani Ma'amin) I believe in complete faith in the coming of the Messiah...Even tough he may tarry, none-the-less, I will wait for him."
Like our forefathers, it is critical to maintain faith in the Almighty and practice long-term planning as keys to success in life. 

If we take the long-view, we can overcome so many short-term challenges, obstacles and even suffering--believing, praying planning, and doing for a better, brighter future. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

February 17, 2017

The Success Iceberg

Thought this was really so true.

Under the tip of the iceberg of success lay all the factors that most people don't see.

The vast mass of persistence, failures, sacrifices, disappointments, good habits, hard work, and dedication. 

Success really is an iceberg!

Don't be jealous of the success at the tip of the iceberg of others unless you put in all the ingredients beneath--plus a prayer to the Almighty Above for his blessings.

Have a Shabbat Shalom!

(Source Photo: Michelle Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

November 24, 2016

Appreciating Employees @ Holiday Time

So before the holidays, like Thanksgiving, many nice organizations try to do a little something for their employees and let them go home a little early.

It’s a small something that let’s people know they are appreciated, and on top of it, they get to “beat the traffic.”

I heard from someone that one organization was stopping this long time practice, saying that only the very head(s) of the chain of command, could do this for the people…but they didn’t.

Sort of “penny wise and dollar foolish” to take away that little spot-on giving to one’s staff. 

It’s goodwill, appreciation, and kindness that is especially appropriate before the holidays for hardworking and good people. 

One manager told me how their people especially looked forward to this little gesture, and often came to asking about it with such joy.

So the manager told me that they just said before holiday times, “I’m not looking what time you leave today.”

To me that sounded like genuine leadership, where people are not just treated as “human resources,” but instead “human capital”—something to invest in and not just something to use `willy nilly. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

November 14, 2016

Beautiful Rise and Fall

Just wanted to share this beautiful Fall scene in Maryland.

While we are about to embark on a major infrastructure spending spree to make this country great again--and we need it to fix all the rot in our roads, bridges, trains, airports, marine ports, schools, utilities, and more--at the same time, we need to keep in mind the safeguarding of the beauty of our natural outdoor spaces and resources.

I heard President-elect Trump on 60 Minutes last night speak about the $6 trillion that we have spent in the Middle East fighting terrorism since 9/11, and that with that money, we could've rebuilt our infrastructure twice over.

While the amount is seen on the high end, the point is that while other nations are investing in their infrastructure, people, and future, we are wasting large sums of blood and treasure in a fight that in over 15 years, we haven't won, and many question whether we are significantly even any safer.

We need to fight smarter, spend more strategically, and take care of America first.

BTW, what did we get from the prior investment from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus spending of $831 billion in 2009...where did all that money go (uh, down the special interest drain)?

While the beautiful outdoors needs to stay pristine, our country needs to seriously rebuild with clear project expectations and results and at the same time wipe out the terror threats against us--no more dabbling, PC, Mr. Nice Guy (of course, we need to be nice to those that are nice to us, but also we need to fight for this country like we mean it)!

That's a big agenda, but for under $6 trillion, we ought to be able to get some decent return on our investment please, ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

February 17, 2016

Spending It All Down

So Parkinson's Law states that "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."

The more time you have on your hands, the longer it takes you to do something. 

I find this to be so true...like on a day off, I don't find myself typically getting any more done than on a regular work day. 

But what is true for time, also seems to apply to money. 

The more money you make, the more you need

And while you may get more or better quality for your extra bucks, you still don't have a lot in net savings. 

Thus in line with Conspicuous Consumption, we spend more on luxury goods when we have more money and we spend more of our leisure time on doing the same basic set of activities when we have more time to spend.

Either way, more time and money often means more wasting of each, with people finding it extraordinarily difficult to save when they have (too) much of either. 

Perhaps, that why the big time hip hop artist, Kanye West recently tweeted about being $53 million in debt.

Or why Benjamin Franklin said, "If you want something done, ask a busy person."

Your personal decision is what you end up spending your extra time and money on. 

The only real difference with time and money is that money you can put in the bank, but time passes whether you are busy or not.

Perhaps the best investment for both is to spend on education, experiences, on loved ones, and on helping others. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Parg)
Share/Save/Bookmark

February 5, 2016

Even Our Water

So I was in a meeting yesterday. 

And someone had a bottle of what looked like very dirty water. 

I said to the guy sad-jokingly, "Where's that from--Flint, Michigan?"

He sadly smiles back and says, "No, I just filled the bottle with iced tea!"

But everyone around the table sighed at the tragic state of affairs with the filthy, contaminated water in Flint. 

The high levels of lead in the water has allegedly resulted in "skin lessons, hair loss, high levels of lead in the blood, vision loss, memory loss, depression and anxiety."

It's unbelievable that in an American city with a population around 100,000 that they cannot safely shower or drink their water. 

To make things even worse, now banks are hunkering down and don't want to give mortgages to people in Flint until they can prove that their water is safe

What's amazing is that this miserable situation in our cities is not the exception, but the rule. 

As of 2003 already, The American Society for Civil Engineering gives us a hideous grade of D on our infrastructure that is aged and in disrepair.

This includes our:
- Energy
- Transportation
- Ports
- Aviation
- Levees
- Dams
- Schools
- Roads
- Inland Waterways
- Wastewater
- Hazardous Waste
- Parks and Recreation
- Rail
- Bridges
- Solid Waste
- Drinking Water

They estimate we need at least $3.6 trillion of investment for infrastructure renewal just by 2020. 

Interestingly enough, the useless decade-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan costs us over $4 trillion and the lives of almost 14,000 American military and contractor personnel.

What would you rather have a destabilized Middle East now swarming with ISIS, the Taliban, and a resurgent $100 billion richer and nuclear- and terror-determined Iran or a proper country here for us to live in with an actual strategy-driven national security and good schools and clean drinking water? 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to B1ue5sky)
Share/Save/Bookmark

January 11, 2016

Powerball Powers Past

I suppose the makers of the Powerball lottery never envisioned a $1.3 billion jackpot. 

As you can see the sign only goes up to $999 million. 

Yeah, stupid planning from the people that run the odds (where winning is 1 in 292 million), but they can't figure the odds of the lottery going this high, ever.

Anyway, win it or lose it, someone stands to walk way with a lump-sum payment of $806 million, and after federal, state, and local taxes you're looking at maybe half or less of that. 

Either way, not a bad take-away from a $2 lottery ticket. 

Lots of needy people to help and good deeds to do. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

November 18, 2015

I Couldn't Do It

No this isn't my car, but it's definitely old. 

So we were going to go sell one of our older cars tonight. 

One of the warning lights recently went on and when we took it to the dealer he told us it would be thousands to service it. 

After agonizing about it, we resigned ourselves to just getting rid of it and not investing anymore $$$ in an old car.

We went to the car to empty it and get it ready.

As I watched Dossy cleaning it out, all these memories started racing through my head--seeing Dossy behind the wheel as well the kids. 

Remembering all the good times we had driving here and there together. 

But this was Dossy's car and it was special to her and I knew it. 

I looked again at her and said, "I can't do it--let's just keep it."

She looked at me--and gave me the biggest smile. 

When we went back inside, she said to me, "You love me!"

And I said, "Of course, I do."

Now, we get the car fixed--some things you can't put a price on. 

P.S. Last week, she threatened to move out if I didn't agree to fix it. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

December 23, 2014

Freedom Pays

Another great article by Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal today.

The usual saying is that freedom is not free (i.e. that we must fight for it). 

But Stephens shows us that Freedom actually pays. 

It is our freedom that helps us to be creative and innovative like no others on this Earth.

Stephens comments on his growing up as an American abroad:

"I find it amazing that, in the U.S., I can drink water straight from a tap, that a policeman has never asked me for a 'contribution,' that my luggage has never been stolen, that notbody gets kidnapped for ransom, that Mao-esque political purges are conducted only inthe editorial of the New York Times."

Instead of having to focus on fear in everyday life--we can use our energies to plow creatively into the next great thing for mankind. 

In sync with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, when we are not scavaging for food and huttling in some abandoned building or cave to protect ourselves from marauding bandits or corrupt dictators, we can self-actualize ourselves by leaps and bound contributions through science, technology, engineering, mathematics, humanities and arts. 

Our society looks for opportunities, rather than having to look over our shoulder at daily threats.

We run to invest in great ideas, rather than have to use our money to escape the corruption and tyranny that surround us.

With the holidays are upon us, it's a perfect time to reflect on our good fortune at being part of a democracy where freedom and human rights power our success.

Thank G-d for where we live and what we are able to achieve. ;-)

(Source photo: here with attribution to Eric Magnuson)
Share/Save/Bookmark

December 7, 2014

U.S. and Israel: BFF

Yes, since the founding of Israel, the United States has been "Best Friends Forever" (BFF) with Israel. 

The U.S. helped found Israel in 1948 and it has graciously invested in Israel financially and military for almost 70 years.

And Israel has been a tried and true friend to America from intelligence, security, and innovation to shared values on human rights, freedom, democracy, and our Judeo-Christian shared roots and beliefs. 

The U.S. and Israel stand together, always.

Yes, administration after administration...the support, friendship, and alliance between the two nations have flourished and been unshakeable.

And while Congress passes unanimously this past week to make Israel a "Major Strategic Partner," something unthinkable and what others have called "unprecedented hostility" is going on elsewhere in our government:

While the U.S. is pulling back sanctions on one of our greatest enemies, Iran (part of the famous Axis Of Evil), it is said to be mulling the imposition of sanctions on one of it's best friends, Israel (Washington Beacon).

How is it that in extremist, terrorist world post 9/11--up to the recent grotesque torture and beheadings of multiple U.S. citizens--that we forget who our friends are and embrace our enemies? 

A world gone mad...and we are trapped in the audience watching the insanity unfold. 

Say it isn't so--not even in Disney World is such a fantastical breach possible. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

November 18, 2014

Say Little And Do Much

New Article by Andy Blumenthal here in Public CIO Magazine. 

"It's not what we say, it's what we do that really matters."

Hope you enjoy!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

November 13, 2014

We Didn't Make History

A sincere congratulations to the European Union for the epic landing of a probe from the Rosetta spacecraft--the first such landing on a comet.

They did this with a landing area of just 550 yards in diameter and away from deep crevices, large boulders, and sharp peaks--it is amazing!


Their European space scientists are exclaiming and rightfully so, "We made history today."

The problem for us is that we--the U.S.of A.--didn't!

Yes, we landed the first man on the moon in 1969 and we haven't done it again since 1972.

I remember in grade school, with great pride and wonder, watching the first space shuttle taking flight--that was in 1981.

Since then, we had the horrific Space Shuttle Columbia disaster (2003), followed by the retirement of the shuttles altogether (2011).

Now, we rely on Russian rockets to bring supplies to the International Space Station and for our military and national security satellites.

Then, just a few weeks ago, we had the explosion of Virgin Galactic's SpaceshipTwo (2014) that is said to have been plagued with problems from inadequate rocket thrust, flight control system issues, and deficiencies in basic structural integrity. 

In the meantime, the Indians have made it to Mars on a dime. 

Where are we as a nation looking to advance into space--where resources and our very survival may someday soon depend?

Just think what those multi trillions of dollars spent (some would say squandered) in Iraq and Afghanistan (now being overrun by ISIS or threatened by the Taliban) as well as for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (uh, what did we really accomplish for all that money spent?).

Where we once led, and as children we stood in awe, now we stand in bewilderment and leave our children marveling at the victories and accomplishments of others. 

We can not/must not become complacent or stop investing strategically in our future--we need to act with urgency and commitment again for our nation to succeed. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 20, 2013

Survivable Water Pipes

When an earthquake strikes, it is not just the immediate loss of life that is a concern, but the longer-term damage to critical infrastructure and the effect on human survival. 

As we know, water is critical to every living creature, and in an earthquake, when there is damage to the water infrastructure, such as the underground piping, people can be left without this basic life-sustaining commodity. 

When traditional solid cast-iron piping is used, an earthquake can cause these to deform and buckle. However, with a new ductile pipe design by Japanese company, Kubota--the pipes are built in a chain-like fashion and expand and contract, flex and bend, but do not easily break.  

According to the Wall Street Journal (14 April 2011), Kubota earthquake-resistant pipes even withstood the 9.0 quake in Japan in 2011, and it can withstand "shaking, landslides, and extreme temperatures. 

Now Los Angeles is piloting this pipe along 2 miles of its 7,000 miles of piping--they are focusing on "the most vulnerable, fault-line-adjacent areas," since the piping is 2 1/2 times the price of regular piping. 

In the absence of having a device like the Star Trek Replicator to synthesize food and water on the fly, it makes a lot of sense to upgrade our water systems and other critical infrastructure to protect us from the disasters that come. 

"Tea, Earl Grey, Hot" needs to be available not just in good times, but also in bad. ;-) 

(Source Photo: Kubota)
Share/Save/Bookmark