I’m Deeply Concerned About Our Addiction To Debt

Came across this article yesterday:

Americans Feast on Debt

Of particular concern:

  • Debt is reaching new highs: “total household debt achieved a new peak in the first quarter of 2017, rising by $149 billion to $12.73 trillion-$50 billion above the previous peak reached in the third quarter of 2008”

Now, I’ve also read some pieces about the effectiveness of various policies in convincing people to incur more debt. I am left to wonder, as I was back about a decade ago, at what point does all this collapse? There comes a point where servicing debt load consumes all available income. Or, in the case of a sudden economic shift, drops below and things fail.

America currently only is able to see as far as the next quarterly earnings report, if that far. Our lack of vision and inability to see citizens as people instead of just consumers to exploit, helps drive this phenomena further.

At some point, we need to step away from a consumer-driven economy. It is not sustainable, and is only going to cause long-term pain and, for many, calamity. We’ll need to learn, as people, as individuals, to value things other than purchases. Don’t use shopping to alleviate boredom, or loneliness, or…. We need to balance spending with saving, find value in something other than things, than accumulated stuff.

Let’s not wait for policies to incentivize savings. Nor for marketing campaigns. Here’s the time to innovate, for ourselves and for our families. Perhaps, by making long-term thinking cool, we can truly change the world.

Fan Engagement: Zoe Keating

I’ve been a fan of Zoe Keating for years. Besides enjoying her music greatly, I’ve also been very interested in the way she interacts with her fans. She’s used today’s social media landscape exceptionally well to build her brand, and a career as a musician within a very unique niche.

Her main tools for engagement are:

What’s a bit more surprising to me are the tools she doesn’t use. Her YouTube channel is pretty spare, and not recently updated. Considering how much I’ve heard about video being “the” thing, looks like she’s experimented with it and has moved along. Now, if you search for her music there, you’ll find tons of videos, but that’s mostly uploads from fans, interviews and such. Also, her music has been uploaded to Vimeo, but, again, not by her. So, she’s present in the world of video, but not deeply so.

I’m also surprised she doesn’t have any campaigns on Patreon nor on Kickstarter. Now, her music is available on iTunes, Spotify, and many other online services. So she might not feel the need to have these income streams. Other musicians and artists in similar styles and viewpoints use them quite heavily, like Amanda Palmer.

Considering all that, it’s important to look at which of these avenues is the most profitable to her. As the chart below shows (created by the folks at Business Insider), most of her income comes from iTunes, Bandcamp and Amazon.

Graph of Zoe Keating's income sources
A look at Zoe Keating’s income sources

* Some thoughts on Fanbridge: I imagine it’s a great tool, and it is competitively priced. But it’s important to point out that Mailchimp is quite a bit cheaper, at least at the start. I also wonder if it interacts with any specialized CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools. That would certainly bump up the value of Fanbridge. Mailchimp plays well with several CRM tools. Also, some of the serious competitors, like Constant Contact or Salesforce have those tools fully baked in. With that, I’m unaware of Zoe using any CRM tools. Doesn’t mean she doesn’t, just don’t see anything.

Lastly, Ms. Keating speaks some to these point in the video below. Worth your while.

If you’ve liked what you read, please take a moment to let me know in the comments. And give it a share!

This was originally posted here. 

Rolex and the Apple Watch, Heirlooms and Value

Recently I saw an ad for Patek Phillipe , which got me thinking about their brilliant ad campaign: “You never actually own a Patek Philippe, you merely look after it for the next generation.”

With that is all the energy around smartwatches, with the most iconic: the Apple Watch. Consider, though: that last thing my son will want to inherit from is an old smartwatch, even an Apple one, which is probably the most interesting one. My current Fitbit Blaze will be an amusing relic in another few months. Even the loveliest smartwatch will have no value within a few years.

An heirloom watch, though, still has value and will be cherished for generations. Even in this age of techophilia. Tech stuff (watches, phones and whatnot) are slaves to Moore’s law and the inevitability of obsolescence. Timelessness doesn’t exist in this space at all.

The emotional connection with a piece of quality craftsmanship, owned by a loved one has a richness not considered by the tech world. We focus so terribly much on “the Next Thing” and lose track of quality, of richer value, of intergenerational connection. Perhaps exempting stock portfolios.

I wonder if tech can ever capture that element of fine living. Will there ever be a smartwatch/phone, what-have-you that will mean more to the next generation than it does to this one?

Somehow I doubt that. I expect, for tech items at least, that obsolescence will remain as fatal as it’s always been.

“Son, here’s my Palm Treo. It was handed down from my grandfather to my father, to me and now to you.”

I truly believe that, eventually (soon?), we’ll recapture of love with our history. Then we’ll again value quality and craftsmanship; these things that embrace what’s truly timeless. And it will be a good thing.

The End Of Yahoo – What Begins Now?

Earlier this week I read “Yahoo’s Demise Is a Death Knell for Digital News Orgs” over at the Atlantic. I’ve been thinking about Yahoo! as it’s final ending has been playing out.

Yahoo was the first real search engine that excited me. I’d utilized web crawlers, which were fine. Quite amazing in their time. Yahoo! was the first site I’d experienced that considered relevance. Revolutionary at the time.

The unwinding of Yahoo!’s relevance has been slow and painful. I actually used their portals for news and ways to dig deeper into research. It was a great way to find out information on companies, for instance.

Slowly, surely, Google and Facebook kept taking more and more of Yahoo!’s lunch money. Now another survivor of the dot com bust collapses (the 18th was the last day of public trading for it. And Verizon will smoosh it and AOL into “Oath”.  I guess there’s something poetic about two venerable brands of Web 1.0 morphing into some new entity, Ghost in the Shell-esque. I wonder what will happen with this, but lean towards it drifting from irrelevancy into obscurity.

Within the Atlantic’s article, though, is a telling statistic: “Facebook and Google account for 85-percent of every new dollar spent on digital advertising”. As someone who cares about digital marketing, this alarms me a great deal. Yet I’ve spent most of my digital marketing dollars via these two platforms, so I need to own part of the problem. It’s weird, the proverbially vicious cycle. Monopolization of advertising in the digital sphere makes me concerned about costs rising. I guess the only way to respond is wait and see what GoogleFace does.

And one last thought: as AOL and Yahoo! teach us, the digital world evolves quickly…and viciously. Both were dominant brands in their day, and both dwindled in influence, fading to obscurity. Both Google and Facebook have the potential to do so, and, if history is any guide, are quite likely to suffer similar fates.

Now, what will come next? That’s the bold question, isn’t it?

Career shift: one quarter in

Currently, in working in the residential construction sector. It’s been fascinating to apply my project management skills in this setting. Now, it’s only been a few months, and I’m only just getting my feet under me. 

It’s been great to see several of my interests align. Some of my work at Starbucks encompassed green building, and here’s an opportunity to take that to a different level. Technology and the tools therein there have some powerful implications, opportunities that I don’t see leveraged well…yet. 

Finance within this sector has been one of my learning thst I didn’t expect. The was money moves is a bit different than with larger companies. And within other sectors. 

I really appreciate the opportunity to take in something so dramatically different. Yes, there’s a lot of layering my old learnings, lots of synergies. But this sorts of shifts really provide an opportunity to grow. 

I’m looking forward to getting to grow past learning and into making a difference, into effective leadership.