Archive for the ‘Personal Thoughts’ Category

Remove Volatility

Today I was confronted with volatility. In a two week period gas prices had gone from 2.395 to 26795, quite a climb of less than 14 days.

Volatility, this is what we must remove from peoples lives. Stability and comfort are what is important. Having gameful activity to allows us to contribute to the whole. Being idle is unproductive and only benefits the traders who prey on short term activity to enjoy profits from volatility.

Our President must accept that the Wall Street lobby must be squelched for a while as volatility is banded from the marketplace. This will take an acceptance on the part of the wealthy that they cannot take it beyond the grave and before that excessive income is not acceptable to the healthy grow of civilization.

Set a maximum salary of say 2 million.

Foreign exchange markets are another area of concern. Volatility based on war and famine must the mitigated out of the civilization.

Our civilization is global and provisional limitations such as food subsidies need to be removed.

Remember they are simply subsidies paid by the tax payer. Government should be limited to a percent of the population; remembering its role is to only assure the the primitive functions of justice, liberty, freedom and security.

Regulation is something that must be removed and a new form of peer review established with responsibility to maintain quality, service, stewardship for the planet, and a judicious use of nature resources. Free enterprise is encouraged by remembering that it is the relationship between the customer and proffer that ultimately decides success.

http://newsroom.blogs.cnn.com/2009/10/05/unemployment-what%e2%80%99s-to-blame/

Unemployment: What’s to Blame?

Posted: 08:44 AM ET

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan predicts U.S. unemployment could hit 10%.  Currently the nation’s unemployment rate is at 9.8%.

So, what do you think is most responsible from the worsening employment picture: a failed stimulus package, an economy much worse than we knew, employers cutting deeper and hiring more slowly than expected, or something else all together.

Leave us a comment. We’ll share some of them on air in the CNN Newsroom, 11am ET — 1pm ET

 

So there we are.  A picture and a set of points on why we are where we are with unemployment.  Now what about this idea.

First, there is an issue of Greed.  A small percentage of the global population has accumulated a massive amount of wealth.  I am not here to judge the right or wrong of how they or their ancestors acquired the wealth.  I am here to suggest looking forward. 

  1. 100 million dollars a year as a salary to hedge the price of gasoline and contribute to raising the profits and consumer costs associated with oil.
  2. $17.2 million to successful sell Visa inc, to the market, earning bankers a significant return.
  3. Numerous excesses that programs like Nip/Tuck mimic for Wall Street millionaires.
  4. A stock market that has a curve that simply should not have been allowed.  Long term prudent economic management is essential.

 Ponder this.  If equities is suppose to represent the inherent stability of the corporations that employ our neighbors; what happened starting in 2000 and culminating in the bear Stearns collapse in 2007.  Is Wall Street unravelling the growth that began in 1982 and went into a hyperactive phase in 1995, and simply correcting itself. 

What next should represent a step change in how we think about governance, compensation, risk, responsibility and morality.

 What I think a lot of us forget is that our society evolved over millennium and here we are thinking we are so important.  What is important, is being faithful to a common morality, and making sure that we leave something better for our children. 

I agree with the Dali Lama, all we want is peace and happiness.

So what next?

  1. Cap salaries for the rich at 2 million per year.
  2. Institute a managed health system that still uses the concept of insurance and hedging risk to fund our healthcare system.  
  3. Introduce a health management system, with a basement for those that cannot afford even the most basic plan.
  4. Re-introduce exercise in the school system and subsidize community gyms and recreational facilities.
  5. Re-introduce the luxury tax for non essentials over $30,000 and on things that are not good for you or are excessive.  Say anything not associated with your food,  transportation and housing.
  6. Focus on better educating the family practitioners, gynecologists, internist and pediatricians so that they do a much better triage and assessment of appropriate care given available resources with fear of reprisal for taking risks.  If necessary, require an additional year of service at a teaching hospital earning a reasonable income say $120,000.
  7. Do a lot of what Congress is already talking about
    1. Strengthen the VA hospital and medical care system
    2. Do not mess with Medicare or Medicaid, until the new system is in place.  Let the people move to the free market approach.
    3. Do not create a Government run insurance system.  Yes to creating a open market, knock down state borders and promote re-introduction of the original Blue Cross Blue Shield concept of a co-operative not for profit solution
  8. Focus on regulating the quality of care with a no one left behind principle.
  9. Keep the insurance companies out of setting fees.  Manage thje cost of the healthcare system by focusing on competition.  The patient is the client and is to be saught after without offensive advertising.
  10. Mandate a National Id card keying off the social insurance number.  Combine it on the Drivers license, as a day one requirement.
  11. Focus as a corporate priority on employment being the key indicator of success.  Begin discussions on Right to Work legislation and stimulating more humane approach to managing down costs in a period of economic recession.  Reduce executive wages well before the first person can be let go, without cause.
  12. Merge all the work in the fields of governance, risk and regulation into a replacement bill.
  13. I could go on.

From Nothing Something

In an apologetics I was asked to question the idea that something came from nothing.

This is what I have to believe if I am going to listen to the Atheists and ACLU.

Then I thought about Creation and Intelligent Design.  Oh how much simplerit to believe than these Macro Environmental facts that cannot be backed up with data explains it all.  There is much to accept if you are going to believe out of the Big Bang and Chaos; time would produce a single cell.  Then from that single cell produce the abundance of life forms that have and do exist.

255 proteins must magically appear in one place at the exact right time,

Before we can start thinking about things like DNA

Shortage of Doctors Proves Obstacle to Obama Goals

By ROBERT PEAR 27 April 2007 the New York Times

One proposal — to increase Medicare payments to general practitioners, at the expense of high-paid specialists — has touched off a lobbying fight.

I wonder if Congress should instead focus on improving the income of doctors, reduce the fear of Mal-practive and insisting on deepening their education.  So that people will once again see it as a worthy profession and thus there will be enough doctors to serve our growing population, not simply here, but all over the world.

 As the Grandson, son and brother of doctors, I am driven to suggest to our Congress and the people that we must consider the investment someone must make to becoming a care practitioner and realize that we must encourage people to want to dedicate the time it takes to become proficient.  These dedicated individuals, unlike CEO’s and Wall Street millionaire, must excel in their studies and invest  four years at university, four years at  medical school and then finally before having the skills to serve us, invest an additional three to six years as a journey man (i.e. their their internship and residency).  Hundreds of thousand of dollars later and so much time and study does desire a fair reward. 

I also believe that we should begin to think about training our internist better, so they can be more effective and not simply pass the patient on to a specialist.  they as the gatekeep should have the education and practical training so unlike today thare are able to properly diagnosis the problem we the sick are facing. 

Simply look at the TV series House.  his dedication and effectiveness of his team is what we need.  People who truly think and only turn to specialists when they fibnally accept that the specialists skills are required.  Just to put a value to House.  my father a retired Park Avenue and renowned diagnostician finds this one medical program stimulates his thinking.

The other key issue that Obama and Congress must address is that medicine should be a cottage industry.  Instead corporations and insurance companies now run our health care system, Hillary Clinton’s efforts, although altruistic, probably drove corporations to seek profits at the expense of the real care-takers and unltimately you and I.  These new “medical?” tycoons are more worried about shareholder returns and annual bonuses than the health of the people who should be their focus and are in their care.

Is it a national health system that we need simply to “FIX” the problem.  Or is it a return to a system run by doctors who are properly trained and rewarded. We should think first of investing our taxes on helping the gatekeepers (family practitioners, gynecologist and internists) to be the front line, capable of dealing with most medical issues.  We should encourage their selfless commitment and  drive for education and practical training so they can effectively serve, thus drive down costs by being better at what they do.

Finally thought.  Risk is endemic in any system.  Lawyers drive risk out of the system by pursuing law suits because someone took at risk or was just like the rest of us a made an error.  The net result,t doctors have become overly cautious, dependent on too many tests and unwilling to say this is what I think is wrong and if we don’t do something (however risky) now MY patient will die.

Alternative Payment Methods

Ed Kountz of jupiter in his recent blog on Alternative online Payments offers an opinion that credit and debit cards where not designed for the Internet.  It is interesting to reflect back in history and remember when it was not the magnetic strip that was important to the execution of the transaction but the numbers printed on the front of the card a merchant could simply would say into a phone or type onto their telephone keypad to get an authorization. 

Move to the Internet and instead of asking the merchant to type in the account number and expiry date we ask the consumer to fill in an Internet form.  How can one argue that ISO7810-3 cards where not built for the Internet.

Back in the day, circa 1993, when we began to think about how we would secure payments over the Internet and address words like dis-intermediation.  It was clear that by any definition the ubiquitous credit card was already a vehicle for enabling eCommerce.  All the internet did was to take mail order and catalogue business and give it the power to become a global operation; no longer limited by the cost of a telephone call or postage.

Yes Mr Kountz is correct, there is a real issue with security and the Internet.  Yet the issue is no greater than what was faced when Card Not Present transactions started happening as telephone ordering became common place.  Did the payment associations attempt to keep up? MAYBE! 

First we saw the introduction of CVC2/CVV2 and address verification as tools to address the risks of someone who had captured the data on the face of the card from employing that card maliciously.  Not a bad solution, if the merchant was willing to make the changes to their web sites and call center procedures. 

Next came SET, now here was the perfect solution, yet at a cost that simply did not offer anyone a reason return on investment; even if Card Not Present Fraud was an issue.  Since then the payment associations tried to develop a simpler yet equally secure solution called 3D-Secure, Verified by Visa or SecureCode.  The idea is sound.   The issue of adoption came down to the simple issue of figuring out how to get the consumer to go through the additional step of activating their 3D-Secure password and better yet remember it.  Versus what became the reality, they simply said this is too difficult, I don’t need to buy that today, so they abandon the shopping cart.  Merchants saw 3D-Secure as a way to lose potential business and at a rate alarmingly larger than the cost of fraudulent transactions.

So what is the answer?  Create new means of payment that are designed for the specific trading environment (mobile, Internet, Mail Order, telephone Order, face to face …) or figure out how to get everyone to work together to come up with a workable solution that exploits the power of the Visa, Discover, MasterCard and American Express Brands.

In my opinion it is about communications and working together as a team.  Not once has the merchant been asked to participate in developing more secure solutions to payments.  They are simply told through compliance and rule changes this is what they shall do. 

Maybe the new Visa and MasterCard will find that merchants are now shareholders and bringing them to the table is in the interest of everyone especially the consumer.  Or is it time for a new payment Brand that is built to serve the merchant and operated by the Banks?

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Power of Positive Thought

This week I took  a course offered by the Ontario Government called “Thought Patterns”,  presented by the York region franchise of the “Academy of Learning”.  The facilitator was a woman names Judith Seki.  Her background was amazing and her ability to engage and stimulate our group’s discussion was outstanding.

Some of the interesting things I learned and would like to share are:

We have 3 seconds to make a first impression and 3 minutes to fix the other party’s impression of us.  Once set, it could take us years to overcome and turn that person, from someone who has a low opinion of us, into someone interested in spending time with us. 

If we think about how much we can say or do in 3 seconds, let alone 180 seconds; we are limited and therefore must focus on some very simple, yet, ultimately essential attributes.

People will of course, unless it is a telephone call, immediately react to how we look. They will then think about things like: are we on time, do we know their name, are we smiling, are we standing up straight, do we look them in the eyes, is our attire appropriate, do we demostrate the appropriate level of respect, what is the tonality of our voice, how do we greet them and how do we respond to their greeting? 

Obviously if the conversation is over the telephone, via email, IM or in a chat room we are limited by tools we can use.  Therefore our focus must be on the tone we employ in our written or verbal communications and the content we convey.

So 3 seconds is up, they have formed a first impression.  Now we have another 177 seconds of time to set that impression in stone.   Is our posture appropriate to the setting and conversation, do we have a good opening story (the 30 second helicopter or elevator pitch), do we listen attentively to what they have to say, do we let them talk two thirds of the time, are we pacing ourselves accordingly, is our tone and volume appropriate and do we show the right level of emotion?

Assuming we achieve a positive result in this first 3 minutes, the balance of the discussion is to determine if you are the right person for the job, is the product you are selling matched to their needs or will they hire you to help them achieve some specific task.

We then spoke about the three attitudes we can take in such initial meetings or frankly whenever we encounter others.  These attitudes are:

  • Aggressive which can be either positive or negative
  • Passive which can also be positive or negative
  • Assertive which is always positive and allows us the opportunity to take on an aggressive or passive attitude, based on the circumstances and what we are discussing or why we are having the discussion

Next we spoke about perception and how our brain processes input and develops output.  Interesting statistic –  more than 75% of daily conversation is negative.  During this part of the discussion I came away with a different understanding of perception and reality.  Bottom line, ”My Reality” is unique and is based on how my neurons have been imprinted. 

Can we change the way we perceive things and adjust the pathways of our brain?  Absolutely, we must understand our existing habits, attitudes and beliefs and determine which ones are not working for us and adjust our thinking and change, in a positive way, our attitudes, habits and beliefs. 

Once we know what our negative habits, attitudes or beliefs are we can work on changing our thinking by thinking about what, why or how we would prefer to think and then:

  • Say It!  Earn one point for every-time you say it.
  • Do It! by exhibiting the new behavior. Earn ten points every-time you do it
  • Get It!  by having others provide positive reinforcement.  Earn 100 points every-time someone provides you with that affirmation.

The more points you earn the faster that new pathways will be established and the sooner the old negative pathways will cease to exist.

On the second day, after talking about what beliefs are and understanding that we have the ability to choose how to believe,we were ready to move on to the next step. 

We focused on how one goes about establishing goals and developing an action plan to achieve our goals.  We all knew that if we set our goals too big or made them unachievable then the results will be as one would expect.  So we must focus on defining bite sized goals.

As a consultant and executive I thought I knew how to set goals for companies, divisions, units or teams.  Yet even though I was on the right track, I learned some interesting lessons.

  • A goal can not be longer than one sentence.  It must start beginning with the words “I will be, do or have …”
  • They must be “SMART” Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Recorded and Time specific.

As a result of this session, I set my first three goals:

  • I will start talking to a minimum of 10 people every weekday by March 31st, 2008.
  • I will be recruited as an executive with responsibility for strategy, innovation, projects, products and/or sales support by the end of 2008.
  • I will take two trips for pleasure by December 31st 2008.

They are now recorded, they are measureable they are specific they are achievable and they are time specific.

At one stage during the course we were asked to develop four statements that began with the words “I have …”.  Each of us developed our four sentences and told them to another person.  Then Judith asked us to change the word “have” to “choose” and restate our four objectives.  Interesting how different it felt when we used the words “I choose …” verses “I have …”.  Suddenly from being a command, they become objectives that we each decided would positively improve our lives.  It was an eye opener to see how one word can change our whole emotional and physical feeling about what we set out to do.

Not wanting to simply record what I learned over the four days I will focus the balance of this blog on insights that I acquired.

Visualization, an interesting word with the powerful ability to allow us to focus on changing our attitudes, beliefs and habits from being negative to being positive.  Affirmation and self talk are tools we can employ to help focus our minds and help us to move forward towards a more positive attitude about ourselves and our situation.  Talking to ourselves in a mirror will remind us to have a happy face and look ourselves in the eyes.

As we progressed, each of us exhibited negative feelings, fears or distress.  As we discussed the obstacles that could delay or stop us from achieving our goals, many of us exhibited frustration.  As we explored the list of obstacles, we came to realize that obstacles are not external, but instead they are self imposed

We came to understand that setting our goals requires that we: 

  • Understand what you really want
  • Understand what it costs both in monetary and non-monetary terms
  • Understand that we might have to make sacrifices to achieve our goals

Obviously, as previously mentioned, our goals have to be achievable or they are not SMART.

Clearly in developing our action plan we may find that others are involved or affected.  If we think about military tactics it is clear that if you surround your enemy and give them no means of escape; they will fight to the death.  So always leave those that could prevent you from achieving your goal a back door, so that they can get out of your way gracefully.

While understanding that we must make sure we leave others a way of exitting gracefully; we must also make sure that we close all doors that we could use to escape.

At one point during the session we had the opportunity to watch and discuss the film “Patch Adams”.  Our discussion focused on first impressions, perception, beliefs, goals, naysayers, memory joggers, visualization, self-talk, choice and obstacles.  Using Patch Adams, as an example of someone who emerged from being suicidal into the visionary and inspirational medical professional he is today; provided us with the clarity to understand that if we set our minds to something we can achieve amazing results.  It also reminds us that the most succesful solution in many situations is laughter and making sure everyone has fun.

On the last day we moved on to addressing the subject of stress.  Judith reminded us that obstacles are self imposed whereas stress has chemical and physical ramifications.  Therefore we needed to pay attention to what caused us stress, what would or have been the results and how can we minimize or better handle stress.

The first time we identified what causes stress, we all focused on the negative.  Clearly how we identify the cause of stress comes from our perception.  We learned that how we cope with stress is a balance between the stress we are under and our coping skills. 

The interesting thing about stress is that stress can be either a positive or a negative force in our lives; so starting out with the assumption that stress is all bad and therefore must be eliminated is not going to get us where we want to go.  Clearly each of us must develop methods and mechanisms to cope with the negative effects of stress such as meditation, music, hobbies, vacations, sex, laughter, having an attitude of gratitude and seeking help and support.  Obviously, this is one person’s abbreviated list.  Others might include painting, aroma therapy or lying in the sun as part of their inventory of coping skills. 

Bottom line, to address the negative causes of stress, we must develop an arsenal of tools and techniques to help us cope with these causes of stress.  Simultaneously, we must make sure that we employ the positive stress to accomplish our goals and get on with our daily lives.

To close the session we were introduced, through a video called “The Joy of Stress” to an extrodinary woman, Loretta LaRoche.  For fourty minutes she had her live audience and those of us watching the video constantly laughing. 

Through her use of humour she reminded us of what we had already learned; stress can be either positive or negative.  She told us that we had to “work to prevent a hardening of the attitude”.  She told us that one of our greatest fears is what will others think and “is anybody watching”.

She asked us to commit ourselves to “Stop Global Whining”. 

She demonstrated the power of humour.  She showed us that “laughter makes you happy”.  She reminded us that “laughter is contagious” and that working to make others laugh will brighten your day and better yet brighten their day.

She told us that if we walk around looking grumpy we will feel grumpy.  But, if we start out with a smile on our face we will feel happy inside.  “You feel how you think”, “your mind mimics your expression”, “how you look is how you feel” and ”how you look makes you feel a certain way”.  All demonstrated by how we felt when she forced us to put a smile on our face and forced us to laugh.

She repeated a phrase we had heard earlier in our session when we listed the obstacles to moving towards a positive self; “fake it till you make it”.

She told us that it had been proven that if people introduce some form of play in their work the bottom line is that productivity increases.  Imagine the shareholders reward if they demand that management makes coming to work fun.

She reminded us that we all think that we worry because it helps us to prepare.  Then she rattled off a series of statistics.

40%   of what we worry about will never happen
30%   of what we worry about are historic events
22%   of what we worry about are trivialities
  4%    of what we worry about we is outside our control and cannot change
  4%    of what we worry about are real events that we can act on

96% of what we worry about we can’t do anything about anyway. 

So why waste all that energy.

One frightening thing she said and quite a sobbering lesson. 

“Optimists live longer” 

and

“Pessimists are accurate, but, don’t live as long”

In closing she reminded us that

Yesterday is history

Tomorrow is a mystery

Today is a gift

That’s why it’s called the present

As I come to a close I am reminded that when I was a child I had very few things to worry about, I laughted at all sorts of things, I didn’t worry about what you thought of my antics and I had fun. 

So in conclusion “Find Your Inner Child” have fun, laugh, smile and be happy.  That’s what I am going to try to do to help myself.

 ______________________________________________________________________________________

If you are interested in this program you can contact the York region of the Academy of Learning either on +1 (905) 836 8973 or +1 (905) 508 5791.  At this stage their program is  only available in the York region on Ontario, Canada. 

Maybe you can convince them to license it to a franchisee near you.