November 30, 2010

Expectations for College

My next question along the lines of "expectations" is in regards to college. And I'd like your help.

Because children are expected to go to college if they want to get a good job one day. So, in their minds, college = good job. Obviously, that's changing as the new economy breaks that reality. But, that idea was never real to begin with.

College does not = good job. Comparative advantage = good job. If you had a higher learning degree in the past, you were in a minority of the labor force more likely to do good work. But if one day, everyone has a college degree, who do you choose?

That's why the political promise of giving every kid a college education means nothing to me. Oh good, we have 2 million new English majors? That's going to help a lot.

Let's change the next generation's expectations of how you can have a great job growing up. I'm leaning toward the idea of "specialization" within a broader market, and being one of the best within it.

Because it's either being specialized, or being cheapest. And the second one sucks.

November 24, 2010

Expectations for Divorce

We touched on the idea of "expectations" nearly three years ago after I read the book, "It Takes a Family" by former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Yeah, I know. You probably don't like the guy.

But, the book was incredibly thought provoking for me at the time - providing statistical evidence for the idea that children will become what they're expected to be. That idea continues to shape me. And I see evidence of it everywhere. For instance, yesterday, I sought out statistics to see if children of divorce parents have a greater likelihood of divorce.

They do. By 40%. Partially because of how their parent's experience has influenced their expectations of marriage.

More on expectations next time. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2010

Gate Raped by the TSA: News in Song

At the beginning of this year, I launched The idea for the site was to be a quick, aggregate news source for the ADD generation. Through one quick video/song each week, you'd be caught up with the big headlines from around the world - in a musically entertaining way.

It made more sense via description than it actually panned out. It was hard to create a single song while tying in 7 or more news stories each week - especially trying to do so in a humorous way. Not to mention it was incredibly laborious assembling the video clips. So the last few months, I've been trying something else. Take one news story. As it happens. And put together a quick song about it. Focusing on a single story lets me poke fun at it from a few different angles, while hopefully revealing some actual insights at the same time. Very similar to what I did for

This was yesterday's song. Let me know if you like this new approach. And if so, you can catch up and follow upcoming news story-songs at

November 22, 2010

I’m Not Going to Tell You About My Upcoming Vacation

You ever tell someone you're going on vacation, and they immediately respond with, "You deserve it."

It's not until they say that, that I start fearing I don't.

November 19, 2010

Cosmo’s 30 Tips for Pleasing Your Man

I've never read a Cosmo magazine before. My only interaction with them is when standing in the line at the grocery store. But, their headlines have always confused me.

The idea of women being so fanatical about sexually pleasing their unsatisfied husbands that they need to learn 30 new tips a month to keep the spark alive just seemed incredulous to me?

But, then I wondered if I was assuming an incorrect demographic for this magazine's readership. And after looking it up, I was. Cosmo's biggest readership age (double any other group) was 18-24.

These are single women. Trying to get a guy. Under the delusion that by utilizing these 30 tips, they'll convince their boyfriend or date that they're worth the commitment.

November 18, 2010

Michael Vick: Future Poster Boy of Second Chances

Last year, Michael Vick was sitting in jail. And I rationalized it by telling my friends he was never that great of a quarterback anyway. Sure, he had unreal mobility and a killer arm, but he made really bad decisions on the field (and off, obviously).

I gave up on him. Today, he is on the cusp of becoming one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL.

My friend Justin and I have been talking about this lately. The idea of choosing who to get behind. This year, Justin is privileged to work in one of the best school districts in the nation. The kids are exceptional. And it makes him wonder if he's really needed there.

So, our discussion became...what's better? Teaching a kid to read who might not read otherwise, so that he can go to high school, get a good job, and have a family. Or mentoring the kids with the absolute best potential in the world, and turning guys who host dogfights for fun into an apparently redeemed man with matchless potential.

That's why there's more than one kind of person, I guess. I think Justin still feels that the better service opportunity for him is working with the underprivileged. And they need him.

I want to work with people who have disproportional expectations compared to their abilities. Think of how many Michael Vicks are probably in prison right now.

November 17, 2010

Mr. W by Epuron: The Best Commercial I’ve Seen in Years

This ad, created by German ad-agency, Nordpol Hamburg, is promotional art at its finest. To be fair, I had no absolutely no idea what was going on the first time I watched it. The second time, it's magical.

Physical humor works. Animals are easy. But, this? This is the stuff that's worth trying to create.

November 16, 2010

This is How You Debate

When in the course of human debate:

Don't assume authority. Don't get riled up. Be Socratic, and help them get there themselves. Also... be Jon Stewart.

These videos of Jon Stewart's interview by Rachel Maddow are absolutely must-sees. He has mastered the art of debate through conversation. You don't even see what he's doing. And yet, he wins every argument.

It's fascinating. And it can be learned. Thank you Jon Stewart for the reminder. Because too often, when I run into irrational people who won't follow logic, I give up diplomacy far too quickly and jump straight to condescension, which fails even more quickly. But, watching you has renewed my desire to win without fighting. Sun Tzu-style.

And yes, I would vote for you if you ran for President.

Watch the video clips.

November 15, 2010

How to Use Metaphors Appropriately

I was recently in an HR meeting, where local vendors pitched us discounted services based on our employer affiliation. And everyone in the room got to witness both effective and terrible uses of metaphors.

A pre-order pick-up grocery service called MyGofer, pitched us this way. "You try and squeeze in your weekly grocery shopping after church on Sunday. But your kids are being crazy. Your husband is mad because he's missing the start of the Bears game. And the cashier doesn't seem like she values your time nearly as much as you do..."

One lady in the room started laughing and said, "Are you following me around!?!"
A perfect metaphor.

The next pitch was from an insurance provider. The idea was that you may be paying too much for home insurance. Because some providers make you pay for what it would cost to rebuild your house from scratch, post-catastrophe. But this provider will only charge you for the current market value of your house.

This is a real benefit. But, here's how he pitched it.  "Let's say you own a $1,000,000 million mansion on a 20-acre estate. But, the house only takes up an acre of land..."

What? Now, to be fair, this is a metaphor. But, if no one in the room can relate to it, it's not a good one.

It's like when my allergist recently tried comparing my lung capacity to a carburetor. It may have been effective...if I understood how a carburetor worked.

November 12, 2010

Why High Speed Rail Doesn’t Make Sense

I knew I didn't like high-speed rail. Because the idea of any new grandiose government-led initiative makes me uneasy. But now I know why. And this is one of the reasons why "Reason" is one of my most influential sources.