What’s the Truth?

What’s the Truth?

That is the question we have to ask ourselves today with any piece of information or advice we get.

Whether the information or advice comes from a known source such as a family or friend, or from the mainstream media, the internet, or even our own physician whom we have so come to trust, we have to question is that information really true.

This short TED Talks video of Sharyl Attkisson, formerly an investigative correspondent in the Washington bureau for CBS News might be an eye opener for many.

After watching this video it made me start to wonder “What’s the Truth?”

If our own doctor can be misinformed/educated, maybe we are being misinformed or improperly educated. If Wikipedia a trusted source for so many, contradicts Actual Peer Review Medical Research according to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, or Philip Roth a noted author in a an Open Letter to Wikipedia posted in The New Yorker Magazine contested that according to Wikipedia, he was not a credible source on himself, you have to wonder how can we tell “What’s the Truth?”

Maybe one of the telltale signs as Ms. Attkisson suggests is when you hear someone attack an issue, and the people around that issue by saying, they are nutty, telling lies, saying it’s a myth or conspiracy, maybe you need to question those who are making the attacks. As she states “instead of questioning authority they question those who question authority”

I like the concept of going to the source. If you want to know something about someone meet the person and ask them yourself. See the behavior of those closest to them, their children, friends and associates. People tend to associate with people like themselves.

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The Power of a Mentor, Good Books, Perseverance, and Toughening Up

Over the last 30+ years I have learned the power of several key principles that have molded my life. Most of what I have learned have come from the advice of good mentors. It’s interesting, that those mentors who had more than average success, had about the same advice. One was to be careful where you got your advice. The second was to read books, books from a variety of authors on a variety of subjects. The third, I learned not only from my mentors and the examples given in the books I read, but from first-hand experience around me; those who persevered… succeeded. And to persevere, I had to toughen up.

I heard a TED Talk by Tai Lopez that mirrored what I have learned. It’s interesting that the principles I learned are practiced by others in various fields of life who aspire to excellence.

Here are some excerpts from Mr. Lopez’s talk that you will find are consistent with the principles I have come to respect and apply.

Mentors
Did you know Albert Einstein had a mentor?
Every Thursday, he would have lunch with a mentor growing up.
Jay-Z, the rapper, he had a mentor.
Oprah Winfrey said she had two mentors.
Alexander, the Great, had Aristotle.
Bill Gates had Paul Allen.
Warren Buffet had Benjamin Graham.

Reading
The modern education system has turned people off from books.
You have to rewire your brain.
See a book like a friend. You read it over and over.
You come back. And just like friends, you pick a handful of them.
I recommend you find 150 books. There’s 130 million. You can’t read that many.
But 150 you can read over and over for the rest of your life.
There’s no rule, either, at how fast you have to read them.
The average American buys 17 books a year, Maybe reads one a month.
You should read at least one book a week, because remember, everybody wants the good life ,but not everybody’s willing to read to get it.
You must read more.

Perseverance
The media has tricked us.
They only show us the success at the end, but Bill Gates started at 12.
It wasn’t until 31 years old that he was a billionaire.
He said from age 20 to 30, he never took a day off. Not even one.
You must persevere,

Toughen Up
Guess what the media wants to do.
We see on average 2,000 ads a day.
They’re trying to sell you something.
Luxury comes at the cost of killing your hopes, your dreams, your ambitions.
Be humble. Persevere. Read more. Toughen up

Listen to the full TED Talk Published on Jan 15, 2015
Why I read a book a day (and why you should too): The Law of 33% – by Tai Lopez
This TED Talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences.

2014 – Let’s Consider Our Legacy…..Again

2014

In a post I did on January 2nd 2013 entitled Your Legacy I challenged us all to;

  1. Be thankful
  2. Change our input
  3. Determine our Legacy

If you haven’t been able to determine what you want that legacy to be for you, perhaps I can give you a perspective you may not have thought of, or some insight into a legacy beyond yourself. That is you know what legacy’s are really all about….what we did for others or what we did for mankind.

 In this excerpt of a recent article on the Legacy of 2013  by Oliver DeMille are some facts and thoughts on where America is headed. For you maybe this article can give you some ideas as to what you want your legacy to be.

During 2013 state governments in the United States passed over 40,000 new laws.

That’s not a typo. It’s 40,000 new laws — which means five times that many regulations when all the agencies of government write these laws into agency policies. It’s even more if you add the new federal laws.

Taken together, these signal a serious period of decline for America. We are a nation being overtaken by our biggest competitor (some would say future enemy) China, and simultaneously mired in skyrocketing levels of regulation.

Governments, federal and state, now seem determined to regulate and overregulate every facet of our lives — private and business. Many entrepreneurs, who were already reeling from reams of Obamacare regulations, are now facing more government red tape from every flank.

The free enterprise economy is literally under siege. Those who think this is exaggerated should try to open a significant new business in the United States. Most of the biggest entrepreneurs and corporations who have attempted this recently have decided to build in China or some other economy instead. The U.S. government has become generally hostile to business.

This is a strange reality for the land of the free and the home of the brave. Long considered the bastion of world freedom and economic opportunity, America is consistently less appealing to many businesses and investors.

The December 31, 2013 issue of USA Today summarized this overarching trend by saying that “aristocracy” is now “in” in America.

Aristocracy, really? That’s a bold statement. Yet it is increasingly true. The lower classes are more dependent on government, and the middle classes only survive by using debt. Only the upper class, the elites, are financially flourishing — and many of them rely on international investment that is growing in foreign economies.

Anyone relying on the U.S. economy right now is concerned. What will the escalating rollout of Obamacare bring? How many more government regulations will come in 2014, and how will this further weaken the economy?

The experts are finally taking notice of sharply rising levels of regulation, even if Washington isn’t.

For example, Francis Fukuyama called our time “The Great Unravelling” (The American Interest, Jan/Feb 2014) and Steven M. Teles called it “Kludgeocracy in America” (National Affairs, Fall 2013). We have become a Kludgeocracy indeed, with more business-killing regulation every week.

In The Discovery of Freedom, Rose Wilder Lane said that,

“Men in Government who imagine that they are controlling a planned economy must prevent economic progress—as, in the past, they have always done.”

What is her definition of a planned economy? Answer: modern France, Britain, and the United States. She quoted Henry Thomas Buckle, who wrote:

“In every quarter, and at every moment, the hand of government was felt. Duties on importation, and on exportation; bounties to raise up a losing trade, and taxes to pull down a remunerative one; this branch of industry forbidden, and that branch of industry encouraged; one article of commerce must not be grown because it was grown in the colonies, another article might be grown and bought, but not sold again, while a third article might be bought and sold, but not leave the country.

“Then, too, we find laws to regulate wages; laws to regulate prices; laws to regulate the interest of money…The ports swarmed with [government officials], whose sole business was to inspect nearly every process of domestic industry, to peer into every package, and tax every article…”

This was written about France, just before it lost its place as the world’s most powerful nation, and it was published as a warning to Britain, just before it lost it’s superpower status. This quote applies perfectly to America today.

Great nations in decline need innovation and entrepreneurialism, but instead they choose anti-innovation and anti-entrepreneurial regulation. It’s amazing how every nation repeats this well-known but addictive path of self-destruction.

As Lane Kenworthy argues in Foreign Affairs, opponents of bigger government “are fighting a losing battle.” In the near future, he says,

“More Americans will work in jobs with low pay, will lose a job more than once during their careers, and will reach retirement age with little savings.”

But this will be offset, he suggests, by more vacation days, less working hours each week, and more government programs that pay for many of these people’s needs.

Many of the experts agree — he U.S. economy isn’t going to boom anytime soon, but this will be balanced for investors by significant economic successes in Mexico, South Korea, Poland, Turkey, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand, among other places.

All of this adds up to an America on the verge of what Paul Kennedy called the “fall of great powers”: overreach in international affairs that spends much of the nation’s prosperity, and simultaneously too much government regulation at home — shutting down a nation’s innovative/entrepreneurial class at the same time that the government taxes and spends more and more.

This same pattern brought down the top leader status of Spain, France, Britain and the Soviet Union. Before these, it brought down Athens, Rome, and the Ottoman Empire. Unless the United States changes course, it is following this same blueprint for decline.

When historians look back on 2013, they may well see it as the tipping point to a rapid American downturn. Partisan conflicts, government spying on its own people, drastic government spending, constantly increasing regulation, the rapid rise of China — any of these could fuel real decline. Together they may be insurmountable.

But one thing stands out: In a nation desperately in need of innovation and entrepreneurial initiative, the government is handing out innovation-blocking regulations at a breakneck pace.

The good news in all this is that entrepreneurs don’t give up easily. Tenacity is part of their DNA. The future will be determined by this race between politicians (increasing regulations) and entrepreneurs (innovation and prosperity).

Whoever wins will lead the 21st Century.

Our future as a nation, as well as our children and grandchildren’s future depend on who wins. Perhaps the role you could play in helping to develop a stronger and freer America might be your legacy. So look at the last year and determine what you will do differently this year, then look beyond this year and determine when you get to the end of your life what you want your Legacy to be. Perhaps it will be one that changes the course of history for the benefit of all freedom loving people.

Be aware of the magnitude of YOUR significance and remember;

  1. Be Thankful – YOU are alive today to play a role
  2. Change YOUR Input – educate and develop yourself
  3. Determine YOUR Legacy – only YOU can

How Much Intelligence Does it Take?

I, like many people love automobiles. They are amazing! They provide the ability to get so many different places so quickly and in comfort. And many look so good. There are so many awesome designs, engines with great horsepower, climate controlled, with sound systems that marvel, technology to the max. They are designed with style that is not only attractive but engineered with efficiency in mind.

I love the new Tesla S! It is an amazing car. No engine, no transmission, no need for gasoline, a full 17 inch computer screen to handle the functions of your automobile. And even with no engine or transmission it is still a car with great acceleration, 0-60mph in just over 4 seconds. It had to require a different thought process, a paradigm shift to believe you could create an automobile that is fast as most any sports car on the market and not have an engine. It had to have challenged the intelligent automotive minds of today to think and design such an automobile.

2012-tesla-model-s_100365754_m

WHERE’S THE ENGINE?

TESLA S Trunk

Then look at the smart phones of today. Small, with so much technology and apps it staggers the imagination. These people who design these things are intelligent, I mean really really smart.

To have the vision to think these concepts in the mind and the smarts to create these technologies from mind to reality took some major intelligence. Likewise I cannot imagine that to create our world it took any less intelligence or any less design. None of us will deny the fact that the products we live our lives with today, from something as simple as a fork and spoon, to complexity of the automobile or smart phone didn’t happen by accident. Someone had to think and design the fork and spoon just as they had to have the intelligence to think and create the automobile and smart phone.  How can we possibly think that complexity of the earth, with its water, oxygen, plants, animals, insects, humans, etc. all of which play an integral role in each other’s existence, happened without that same intelligence or with any sense of design that our circle of life and ecosystem would all work together.

As a person who studied the sciences we were taught to propose a hypotheses or theory and then prove or disprove it. Many theories that could not be proved were by default considered disproved….until new knowledge became available. Just because we cannot explain something and it is beyond our current level of understanding doesn’t mean it is not possible or didn’t happen. I am not the smartest person in the world, but even the most intelligent minds could not possibly design and create our planet and the life on. I also find it intellectually very hard to believe that like the fork, spoon, automobile and smart phone that they were created by the big bang theory and then evolved into the ordered life systems we know. Many things we are still learning and trying to understand, but how much intelligence would it take to design and create the universe, the planet, all living things and the human race? Could we propose that perhaps a mind much greater than a single human mind, or perhaps even greater than the mind of all of our experts combined?

So……… as an intelligent person reading this blog I want to challenge you to watch this 38 minute video. Listen intently to the questions being asked and the responses to those questions. Ask yourself some of those same questions.

Now think about this. How much time and energy did most of us spend researching our last automobile to make sure it was safe or fuel efficient? An automobile that we might keep for 3-5 years? Would it be worth spending 38 minutes watching this video and then do some research to make a decision where you and your children may spend eternity? It might require a Paradigm Shift, but be smart and do your homework. One thing for sure, the cost is greater and you will be there longer than you will keep your car.

Write Your Eulogy, Then Live the Life You Want

Here is great article shared with me from a friend and fellow fly fisherman Pete Dodds. Pete found this article by Geoff Yang a Partner of Red Point Ventures on LinkedIn. Given the fact it is graduation for so many young people starting their careers and the fact there are so many still looking to make changes in their lives do to lay offs, dead end jobs or people unsatisfied with their current career path I felt this was so appropriate to share. Mr Yang explains so well what I tell others when speaking about the LIFE community and the opportunity to pursue significance and a meaningful life.

Take the time to read and think on where you are in your current journey. Breathe and give yourself a chance tolive the life you’ve always wanted”.   

There’s always so much encouragement for graduating classes. “You are the generation.” “You will change the world.” I’m sure you are and you will, but how? How will you make a difference? I’m not going to tell you how to change the world; that’s up to you.

What I am going to give you is my advice on what will help guide you to make that difference. In my 30-year post-grad career, these are the words of wisdom that helped guide me—both personally and professionally:

Life is short. As you embark on the rest of your life, consider what you want it to be like and what you want to accomplish. Pretend for a moment that rather than graduating, starting your career, and moving on toward the rest of your life, you are at the end of it. How would people remember you, as both a person and a professional? Write your eulogy now. Think about how you want to be remembered by your family, friends, and colleagues. Let this shape you.

Do something you’d do even if you didn’t get paid to do it. If you don’t, then life will end up a chore. My dad was a chemical engineer who designed large-scale process plants. I remember seeing him get up every morning and go to work, and I don’t think he passionately loved what he did. He did it because he felt it was his responsibility. Life will be more fulfilling if you do what you love.

When I was finishing my MBA, the highest paid jobs were in investment banking and consulting. They were also the jobs with the highest prestige because they tended to attract the best and the brightest. Because of this, they were alluring for many graduates—when you have been out of the job market for a couple of years racking up student loans, working for a top-tier company with a solid paycheck made sense. I knew that neither of these routes was right for me. My choice to go a different direction ended up serving me well in the long run. I’m lucky enough to have found something I love doing. Not to say that it’s not work and it’s not tiring. It is. However, I constantly think about how lucky I am to do what I do—and get paid to do it.

It’s OK to be impatient, but don’t rush things. There’s a fine line between chasing your dreams and not being willing to lay a long-term foundation for success. When I finished graduate school, I saw a few people in my class who wanted a shortcut to success. They suffered from the “get rich quick” syndrome. Early on, they took risky bets with second-rate companies in hopes of accelerating success. With very few exceptions, that strategy did not work. Unfortunately, when they wanted to return to the mainstream, they didn’t have the foundation of success upon which to build.

Take risks with smart people. It’s fine to take calculated risks with your career, but when you do, make sure you understand the risks along with the reward. Make sure you take risks with the best people you can find. It will make all the difference in the end. If you want to start a company, recognize the risks you’re taking and do a gut check about how much you believe in what you’re doing. If you passionately believe in it, then do it with your eyes wide open and surround yourself with the smartest people you can find.

There is always next year, but at some point you start running out of next years. As you move forward in your career and in life, you’ll find yourself putting things off until next year. But there are only so many next years in your life. I’ve generally never passed off an opportunity to have a great life experience—be it travel, learning how to fly or play piano, or taking courses that weren’t directly relevant to the path I was on. The more you can do to round out your life outside of work, the more fulfilled you will feel in the end.

Don’t be one-dimensional. Life is more than your career. Life is about being a responsible, interesting person, and in my opinion, one of the greatest gifts in life is having close friends. As you move forward on your journey, you’ll find good friends are few and far between. I am fond of saying that I don’t need more friends, I just need more time to spend with the friends I already have.

Best of luck in your journey—and don’t forget: The journey is its own reward.

Educating the Populace

In my ongoing discussion about education and the value of college degrees I came across a video posting of Dr Ben Carson on an expanded discussion after his National Prayer Breakfast speech. In this interview he mentions that one of the most important things we can do to re-direct the course of America is that “we have to get our populace educated” Given the fact we have more college educated adults today than in the history of our country one would have to question the value of those college educations. Given Dr. Carson’s comment certainly one would assume that having a nation with so many college graduates we would not have the problems we have as a nation. It questions the validity of the many college degrees that have been granted. Listen to Dr. Ben Carson as he is interviewed by a number of guests and discusses possible solutions to America’s challenges. As Dr. Carson speaks about solutions by educating ourselves ask yourself  are we educating our populace or are we just selling degrees? The LIFE community has an objective to lead people to truth i.e. to educate the masses.

Fiat Degrees

Over the last 30 years there has been an emphasis on the need for a college degree in order to be successful. There has been so much of an emphasis on obtaining a degree that degree programs are everywhere, and the cost to obtain one has far exceeded inflation. While Food and the (CPI) Consumer Price Index had just over 200% increase, and Shelter just over 300% increase, Tuition rose over 1100% during the same period (see graph).

tuition graph

Is the cost worth the return? Have we begun printing degrees like the Federal Reserve prints money? Fiat money as defined by Investopedia is “Currency that a government has declared to be legal tender, despite the fact that it has no intrinsic value and is not backed by reserves.” Could this surge on the apparent need for degrees by the same definition – A Degree(s) that a government has declared to be legal tender, despite the fact it has no intrinsic value and is not backed by reserves (reserves being solid market demand). If the demand is low (college graduates can’t seem to find jobs in their field of study) then why the high cost? Is the cost artificially high versus the value of the degree?

When I was in high school the opportunities to advance in a company in many cases were because there were few people with a college degree, so those who had one were the ones with the best opportunity to “climb the corporate ladder”. Now it seems everyone has a college degree; the janitor, the girl who makes your latte in the coffee shop and the security guard by the elevators. The value of the degree has decreased because there are only so many available spaces at the top of the company. I recently had a young man with a Bachelors degree in Physics tell me that his degree is now the equivalent of a high school diploma. He can only get a job in a lab for just over minimum wage.

In analyzing the value of a college education today I came across this article from Globalization 101 a Project of the SUNY Levin Institute:

American Perception of the Value of a College Education
Hundreds of articles in major newspapers on the decreasing value of a college education have been written over the past year.

Basic findings:
• School quality is declining. A federal study showed only 25 percent of college graduates had information literacy. Thirty-three percent of college students had less than 40 pages of required reading per semester (The Economist, 2012), a measurement that demonstrates a lack of rigor in U.S. colleges. The book Academically Adrift, confirms the decline stating that students did not gain critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing skills after three semesters in college (Ripley, 2012)

The tech sector inspires and rewards college drop-outs. The Thiel Fellowship pays students to drop- out of college and pursue their own ventures. While, many tech companies are hiring college drop-outs, who are viewed as free-thinkers and risk-takers. (Williams, 2012)

The bachelor’s degree is worth less than it used to be. Many bachelor degree holders are employed in jobs that do not require a college degree and furthermore these degrees are not necessarily aligned with job openings that require different skill sets. So, alternatives, such as training programs and online programs are proliferating and Master degree programs are increasing as well (Lawrence, 2012).

Has your college degree provided you the salary you expected?

An Article from the Wall Street Journal entitled The Declining Value Of Your College Degree  stated ; “ A four-year college degree, seen for generations as a ticket to a better life, is no longer enough to guarantee a steadily rising paycheck.”

Have you received your college degree and found it difficult to find a job in your field of study?

Did you feel you received your money’s worth for the education you received?

In retrospect would you have reconsidered getting a college degree?