WSJ: In this Economy, Quitters are Winning

[LinkedIn Post]

Commentary on this article:

Don’t read this if you’re happy in you’re current role! The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Be thankful you’re happy. BUT…

If you aren’t happy, do something about it! Life is short; don’t waste time that you can’t get back. This is as good an economy as it gets. I love working, but I know I’m not normal.

If working is miserable to you, in general, at least be miserable with 30% more dollars in your pocket! 🙂

I know loads of folks hiring in digital analytics and data science. Demand is larger than Supply.

I also know individuals that are looking (secretly) and I’m happy to match where I can. I’m here to help. Society is better when ppl are happy.


[Article Thoughts] Want to Really Understand Your Customer Data? Try Hiring a Scientist

[Posted on LinkedIn]

Here is the article:

I bet Nike accelerated ROI from their customer data by years by buying Zodiac.

Here’s the typical path…

Execs read that Data Science is hot, so they start to build out a small team. Some value is seen, but putting models into production, specifically ones with high data volume, velocity, and variety (e.g., Customer-related data) poses a significant engineering challenge. It’s hard.

It’s why Uber built Michelangelo, their ML platform. Putting this apps into production is hard. It seems to have taken Uber ~1.5 yrs to build Michaelangelo and I’m sure it’s constantly evolving, as it has a dedicated product team assigned to it.

By acquiring Zodiac, Nike inherits a Data Science platform or toolset centered around Customer data. Plus they get some (presumably good) data science talent, which is seemingly scarce. They’ve accelerated initiatives by a year+.

“Before analysts can crunch the data, apply machine learning and deliver new insights, brands need engineers who know how to store, manage and clean the data. And they need tech-savvy communicators who can take that analysis and translate it into business reality, Purcell says.”

SYNTASA can help you with this in less than one month!

#WorkSmarter #Clickstream

Does This End Mark Zuckerberg Chances to be President?


This Bloomberg article summarizes the scandal succinctly:

Here, in a nutshell, is the CA scandal. In 2014, Aleksandr Kogan, an academic of Russian origin at Cambridge University in the U.K., built a Facebook app that paid hundreds of thousands of users to take a psychological test. Apart from their test results, the users also shared the data of their Facebook friends with the app. Kogan sold the resulting database to CA, which Facebook considers a violation of its policies: The app was not allowed to use the data for commercial purposes. Carol Cadwalladr and Emma Graham-Harrison, writing for the U.K. publication Observer, quoted former CA employee Christopher Wylie as saying the firm “broke Facebook” on behalf of Stephen Bannon, the ideologue and manager behind the Trump campaign.

I have several internally conflicting thoughts on this. The one that bothers me the most is the political bias of Facebook executives towards Democrats. I’m NOT a Republican. I’m an Independent. I want to see fairness. But when you read things like: …it’s really disturbing.

I am a privacy advocate and I’m not. I mean, I’m sure this kind of profiling is being done anyway. Facebook just has a plethora of data on so many people that it just makes it easier. And these campaigns are using it to create targeted messages. It’s the same thing that marketers do. It’s still my vote to cast.

I suppose the big deal is that I give permission to FB by giving my info. And I give permissions to any app I install from FB. But I don’t give permission to apps that my friends install. And I know there are “friends” that install some garbage apps. But again, it’s my wallet and my vote and my decisions.

In light of all this, though, it was known that Mark Zuckerberg has been taking steps to explore a Presidential run in the future. Does this stop that in its tracks? Or does this all blow-over by the time that happens?

Is Radio Dead?

Cord-cutting and the imminent death of cable TV grabs all the headlines, but what about Radio? I honestly cannot remember the last time I tuned into a radio station in my car.

I currently subscribe to 31 different podcasts. I can’t keep up. There is so much great, on-demand content on subjects that interest me or with people that interest me. I’m learning all the time.

In fact, when I think about it, I spend more time listening to podcasts than I do watching video (including YouTube, Netflix, HBO, etc.). To be fair, Game of Thrones has my HIGHEST priority when it’s going.

I used to dread LA rush hour traffic. Now, I could argue that I look forward to it sometimes. “I get to catch up on my podcasts!”

Also think about when we’re all in self-driving cars. Will you prefer listening to radio or watching a movie?

Me? I’ll still be listening to my podcasts. Advertisers, you have a super-engaged audience and I don’t hear big brands sponsoring on podcasts (yet).

Why not dabble here while we’re in the early innings of the game and rates are relatively cheap. Good content persists and that sponsorship spot could provide great lifetime value (like content marketing).

Am I an outlier here or am I mainstream?

More Big Retails Closing Stores

Amazon is buying physical (Whole Foods Market), partnering with physical (Kohl’s), and building physical (AmazonGo) while traditional retailers shrink.

Right-sizing for the changing consumer behavior and adjusting the business to market conditions are part of business. 

There are some great brands on this list. Are they shrinking physical and ramping digital to fight back? Are they thinking about total Customer Experience?

I love American Apparel clothes and used to buy a lot from them. But I haven’t bought anything from them in many years. They’ve done a poor job of nurturing our relationship and I’ve moved on.

Maybe Toys ‘R’ Us should go all digital, create a toys-only marketplace online, and adopt “seasonal store” model, like Spirit Halloween.

Amazon is fantastic and has certainly changed my consumer behaviors. But they are not the end-all-be-all of retail. Companies that invest in the right areas and leverage their existing assets well, still have a great opportunity to thrive.

Starting to Re-Think About Climate Change

Make no mistake, I believe that air quality can have a significant impact on health and quality of life. The smog that hovers over major cities is disgusting. I hate that I cannot see the hills around me when I know they’re there. Seeing glimpses of the smog in Beijing during the olympics was terrible.

Population health. Should that be the primary driver to force environmental change?

Cars drive on an eight lane expressway in Beijing on January 29,2013. Residents across northern China battled through choking pollution on January 29, as air quality levels rose above index limits in Beijing amid warnings that the smog may not clear until January 31. AFP PHOTO / WANG ZHAO

The reason climate change, and mainly, the effects that humans have on climate change has come to mind is because of this recent Bloomberg article:

In a nutshell, when 97% of scientists agree that global warming is bad and needs to be avoided at all costs, the models they are (often) agreeing to are the worst-case scenarios. And what this article exposes is that the media touts the worst-case scenarios of these scientific papers to hype an alarming message, but the models used to forecast the worst-case scenarios are very, very, very unlikely! (Dare I say, impossible)

For example, in the worst-case scenario of the paper highlighted in the article, the amount of coal burning assumed is that there’s probably not enough extractable coal to make the scenario possible.

Again, let me state for the record: I want clean air!

Other factors that give me pause in the whole global warming debate is that there are a few folks that I follow whose opinions do weigh heavily with me. Most notably, these are Martin Armstrong and Scott Adams.

I encourage you to peruse through these links:


Martin Armstrong actually points to evidence (research by NASA) that suggests we’re actually entering into a Global COOLING cycle.

Scott Adams provides an interesting perspective on when to trust “the experts”.

Last, but not least, there are multiple points in my life where I’ve met university professors and they were adamant about global warming being a hoax.

Everyone has an agenda. I just want clean air.

Wim Hof Method – I’m a Believer!!

#WimHof … MIND BLOWN … I’m a believer!

I just did 30 chin-ups almost effortlessly (I usually struggle to 20).

Almost every day, I try to do 20 chin-ups. I usually struggle to get to that 20. But today, I tried Wim Hof’s breathing method first, then went to do my chin-ups while holding my breathe. 30 … easily!!!

I only stopped because I ran out of breathe. HOLY COW!

(Wim usually has people do pushups, but I had no recent personal benchmark)

Over the break, I heard about Wim Hof. I was fascinated. I’m really interested in anything that uses the human mind to accomplish great feats.

I’m always weary of these method’s pushed by “gurus”. Then I heard about Scott Carney’s book about Wim Hof. Scott is an investigative journalist and he was a skeptic turned believer. That convinced me that I had to look into this myself.

Between Wim Hof and Scott Carney, there is a lot of videos and podcasts with them and I consumed many. Fascinating stuff!

So this morning’s experience was amazing! I was so excited, I then went to take a cold shower. 2 minutes. It was easy as well. In fact, towards the end and getting out — usually when the cold winter air hits your skin — my body actually felt WARM!

The mind is a beautiful thing. YouTube it. Try it!!!

Parable of The Mexican Fisherman and the Investment Banker

By Unknown Author

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while.”

The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”

The American scoffed. “I have an MBA from Harvard, and can help you,” he said. “You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middle-man, you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening up your own cannery. You could control the product, processing, and distribution,” he said. “Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually to New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “Oh, 15 to 20 years or so.”

“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time was right, you would announce an IPO, and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you could retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play guitar with your amigos.”

Better Team Management: Would running teams like Professional Sports franchises work?

In professional sports, the primary role of the team manager (or coach) is to get the highest level of production out of their team. They provide leadership and they set the tactical team strategy. They do not set or negotiate the salaries of their players; that is left to the role of a GM.

Would this structure lead to higher performing teams within companies?

What if team managers didn’t manage salaries for their direct reports? This HBR article on “How to Discuss Pay with your Employees” states it correctly: “The salary conversation is just awkward for everyone”. As a manager, you have to lead and inspire an individual to achieve peak performance and I believe this can be done much more effectively if you didn’t have direct control of the purse strings.

In the sports world, the manager would talk the player up as much as possible to motivate the individual and can be a total advocate for that player. If the manager is the GM him/herself as well, then there is a conflict of interest.

In most companies, the only way to significantly increase your earnings is to move up the corporate ladder: Individual Contributor >> Team Leader >> Manager >> Director > VP >> CxO. Companies will add prefixes like Sr, Principal, Executive, or other to add more pay levels to the ladder.

Because of this, I believe that “Star” players are rushed up to ladder without sufficient training and experience. Individual contributors can make a significant impact to the company, especially in smaller organizations. Some individual contributors are just exceptionally good at their jobs and it is to the benefit of the company to keep them there. Some people actually prefer this role and would be happy to stay there if the compensation was according with their contribution to the company.

This is a key point: The Manager isn’t automatically the highest paid person on the team roster. This is the GM’s decision.

Also, not all players equate to good managers. It’s a different skill set. In sports, you see it, so often the case, that the star players don’t equate to the best coaches. Often the best coaches are those that were mediocre players, if players at all (they could’ve been analysts). Point is that they understand the game and strategy and they have the management skills to motivate and work with people.

I think structure would also ease the idea of bringing in management from the outside. If folks understand that salaries aren’t necessarily dictated by title, then I think you get people to remain in their best positions for longer periods leading to higher productivity.

In a software development team, a SW Manager could manage X number of developers, engineers, and project managers. The GM is a Director who manages Y number of Managers. The Director’s GM is a VP who manages Z number of Directors.

Further up the chain, the CEO is the manager of the C-level staff, but the Board acts as the GM. Essentially, I think the GM should be the skip level manager or perhaps someone from HR or Finance in a smaller organization.

When it comes to salary negotiation, the GM is setting the team budget and handling all the negotiation with the player. Obviously, the manager’s input is important; however, the manager is removed from the discussion. It’s out of their hands. All the manager focuses on is doing the best with the team they’re provided.

Better managers. Better players. Optimal performance.

But don’t forget about team chemistry. 🙂