Sunday, June 28, 2009

What else can be done to get out of the current recession?

Quadruple the price of gasoline.

What would happen if all of a sudden we taxed gasoline to the point of having to pay $10 or more per gallon? Would we just sit in dispair lamenting the good old days? Or, would we raise to the challenge, as we always do, and figure things out?

Our capitalist system loves a good opportunity when it smells one? The speed at which we are able to reallocate resources, innovate, and lead as a country is unmatched in the world. Our entrepreneurial spirit and our incredible reserves of private investment capital are incredible assets that enable this nimbleness.

So, what would happen if suddenly gasoline quadrupled in price? Everything would become more efficient, fast. More carpooling, bicycling, walking. More investments in clean technology - wind, ocean wave, geothermal, solar. More efficienct use of resources - LED technology, local food production with less transportation needs, use less-recycle more.

Would it really be that bad?....we could also use the extra taxes collected to pay for the bailout : )

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What makes some people seem consistently luckier than others?


It is all about how you see things. When you boil it down to basics, you really only have two possible ways to process events in your life:
  • Wonder why even in the worst of circumstances, somehow things seem to work out all right at the end?
  • Wonder why all the bad things always happen to you?
So, if the airline loses your luggage, or you wreck your car, or you lose your wallet, or you flunk that test, or you do not get the promotion or raise -- the key is to approach all these as opportunities, not problems.

Lost luggage is an opportunity to buy new clothes; test flunked is an opportunity to really learn a subject you always wanted to learn well; no promotion or raise is an opportunity to find a better job or start your own business.

You can find the good on seemingly "unlucky" events or just dwell on the bad. What do you think will generate more "good luck" for you?

Ummm, this sounds a lot like the "power of positive thinking". Could it be? : )

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Do guys feel funny about their girlfriend's old boyfriends?


It seems like these days everybody is telling everybody to have as many boyfriends and girlfriends as possible and that nobody really cares. We tell ourselves that we are so mature about these things that all that matters is the now when it comes to a relationship. This is probably one of the great myths of today.

Have you ever noticed how many sitcom's make fun of how guys feel when their grilfriends start talking about their old boyfriends? It is usually not the other way around. Men are still very weird when it comes to these things - they still would love to be the only guy......especially when that one person starts to become special.

I still have not figure out where this comes from - biological or societal....but it is there.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How can you evaluate if your current love is good for the long run?

Look beyond the person.

Understand the environment they grew up in - their childhood, their family, their relationship with parents, friends, extended family - and try to figure out the "core principles" they could have developed because of these experiences.

Understand the good (e.g., a happy, stable childhood) and the bad (e.g., poverty, abuse). And remember that, our DNA defines who we really are and how we are inclined to process these experiences.

Looking at a person's extended world is an incredible predictor of who they are and/or who they will become. If you like what you see -- that is a good thing. Are there exceptions? Sometimes : )

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What is the easiest way to become a millionaire?

Start your own business.

Have you ever wondered who owns all those big houses when you drive around town? How can there be so many people making that much money? What could all they possibly do for a living? Interestingly, the two most common answers are that they either are senior executives for large corporations or that they somehow inherited the money. The reality is that these two sub-groups actually comprise a very small fraction of the total.

Actually, most of these people are entrepreneurs. These are people that start, operate, grow, and/or sell their own businesses. Their businesses range from having a few dry cleaning stores or franchised restaurants, all the way to having software and/or multi-national manufacturing companyies. A lot of them make good regular income, others make their money when they sell their businesses.

It will take you 20-30 years to become a millionaire as an employee of a large corporation - assuming you are lucky enough and know how to play the corporate politics game. Most successful entrepreneurs become millionaires in around 5-10 years - with higher chances of getting there. Especially in the US, where hard work strongly correlates to success.

Unfortunately, not everybody has the right personality to become an entrepreneur. It requires risk taking, perseverance, hard work and a little bit of luck. You probably have heard that 80% of all new usinesses fail in the first 5 years. However, of the 20% that make it, 80% are businesses in industries that the entrepreneur has a lot of experience in.

So, a good approach is to learn an industry as an employee and then start a company that does things better, cheaper, and/or faster in the same field.

Everybody should try to be an entrepreneur at least once.....the experience is priceless.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What is the best way to avoid getting your feelings hurt?

Put things in perspective.

You probably have heard the saying that nobody can hurt you unless you let them. This is actually a very real and powerful idea. Hard to implement sometimes -- but when you do, you can really start taking control of these negative emotions.

So, how do you take control? Learn to "distance" yourself from the situation and always remember yourself - what is important to "you". Distancing refers to putting things in perspective (e.g., the health of a child vs. the situation in question). Remembering yourself refers to not letting others decide what is important to you. What other people think of you is really none of your business.

Distancing and remembering yourself have the effect of all of a sudden freeing you from the grip of negative emotions. You can then objectively observe what is happening and how you are being dragged into something against your will.

By the way, taking things less seriously also helps : )

Friday, June 5, 2009

What is the best way to figure out what to let children watch?

Start with enforcing MPAA ratings.

If we believe that our experiences have a strong influence in who we become and, if we believe that experience is required to properly process complex information (e.g., realistic and strong violence, sex, horror) then parents should make protecting their children's minds a top priority in today's media environment (TV, movies, CDs, DVDs, games, magazines).

Experienced minds are better equipped to clearly differentiate fantasy from reality and can more easily dismiss things that are not aligned with who they are or who they want to be. And, unfortunately, experience takes time to acquire - - our children more than anybody need time to develop it.

So, what is so wrong about not letting children/teenagers see PG-13 movies until they are 13? Or, not letting them see R-rated movies until they are 17? Is their development going to suffer or are they just going to be better prepared to process the information?

And, even as they cross these thresholds, we should instill in them the sense that they still need to constantly protect their minds by being very selective about what they choose to get exposed to.

Maturity/experience = better processing. Why rush it?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Is the eventual acceptance of same-sex relationships inevitable?

I think so.

It is interesting to see how, over the centuries, humankind has consistently moved towards accepting self-evident human principles. These principles often get clouded by the specific beliefs, politics, and economic interests of the people at the time -- however, in general, we are able to arrive at the right answer (sometimes taking hundreds of years) more often than not. We now often wonder how things that now seem unthinkable were perfectly normal at the time - slavery, gender inequality, inquisition, etc.

Sexual orientation is just one of these self-evident human principles. Sexual orientation is what it is, it is part of who we are, and nothing we do will make it go why not just accept it.

Interestingly, I actually have had the opportunity to see how these "transitory" states are even possible. While growing up in Mexico, and before I had the opportunity to expand my own perspective of the world, I could not understand why the issue of indigenous rights (poverty, discrimination, marginalization) was even an issue. In my narrow view of the world, it was clear to me that they were indians and I was not, and therefore it was normal for them to be treated differently. Only until I was able to get out of that environment was I able to see what was happening. Realizing that we are all equal and deserving of the same opportunities was extremely liberating. These days, it is hard to beat the feeling of a hug from an indigenous person from Guatemala or Mexico.

So, how long will it take for sexual orientation to be accepted as a normal part of the human condition? Well, sometimes it takes hundreds of years for enlightened people to solve these type of issues.....I think this one will be cleared a lot faster.

Monday, June 1, 2009

What prevents our government from making obvious key strategic decisions for the greater good?

The power of special interests.

Key strategic initiatives that are broadly accepted as good have been impossible to implement because of powerful interests with too much access and influence over our decision makers at all levels of government.  Some of these key strategic initiavives that come to mind are:
- Implemention of a flat income tax
- Access to universal health care
- Definition of an energy policy that reduces our oil dependency
- Implementation of the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine
- Elimination of budget deficits

At the detail level, one could define a long list of pros and cons for each of these, but at the end of the day, it is probably hard to argue against their strategic importance and overall benefits.

Is there hope?  

Well, I always thought that the nationalization of banks and car companies in financial trouble could never happen in the US....but it did.  And, I always thought that our separation of powers and its inherent "checks and balances" would prevent a single person from taking the country to war without proof (Iraq).....but it didn't.   So, I guess anything can happen when the stars align in Washington.  

So, yes, there is always hope.