Take that Vacation. Use your PTO

Take time off. Take that vacation.

Why do I always have to remind myself of this?

It’s in my nature to work. I’ve always enjoyed what I do.

I like to say: “I’m going to live to 120 and work ’til 118”

But living the everyday, one gets caught up in the hustle’n’bustle and there’s never a good time to “take off”.

Truth is, taking the time off needs to be part of the job. So many benefits like:

  1. Recharge batteries
  2. See your company/role from a different perspective (see the forest)
  3. Foster personal relationships (i.e. marriage)
  4. Meet new people
  5. Learn from other cultures/perspectives
  6. Try new experiences
  7. Discover new foods
  8. Make new memories (collect more stories)
  9. Time to think/reflect
  10. Appreciate what you miss from home

So, make sure to use that PTO.

You’re a better person for it.

It can enhance your overall performance.

FYI, I like to do things that accomplish multiple goals.

This post accomplishes 4 things (that’s a big win for a small post!):

  • Share a lesson/reminder that might be helpful to you.
  • Re-enforces this message within myself by writing these words.
  • Accomplishes James Altucher “10 ideas a day” exercise for today.
  • Gets me back into writing overall (I’ve been lagging lately). Tip: Writing is very good for you.

Happy Friday!

Lit Video Books: Great Summer Idea for Kids

Kids started summer break this week. If we said nothing, they’d spend every hour of every day gaming. During the pandemic, I introduced “Papa School” to keep them learning.

Papa school activities are always a delicate balance of wanting them to learn, but not making them miserable.

I found this cool service called LIT Videobooks. They create 1-hr videos of popular non-fiction books. Fantastic quality productions done in collaboration with the authors.

This summer “Papa School” is at least 1-hr outside and “watching” a book a week. There will be a quick comprehension survey and a book discussion.

If they don’t finish the last week’s book, they lose gaming privileges until they catch up.

Truth be told, I think I’ll benefit from this service as well. There are several book here that are on my reading list.

I used to subscribe to Blinkist, which would summarize books into a 15-mins read. That is a great service/product, but sometimes they were a little too much to the point, lacking context/color to hammer the points home.

Audiobooks are great too, but often way too long (some are 8-10 hrs).

1-hr with audio and visual is a great balance. Even shorter if listened to at 1.25x or 1.5x speed.

Seems like it’s at a good price point too.

Even better when it’s 50% off, which you can get here:


A poem about GRIT

by Kerry Hew (and ChatGPT).

Well, really it’s by ChatGPT, as directed by Kerry Hew. 😋

AI is blowing my mind right now. It’s getting scary good. We are about to take a radical turn.

Instructions: Write a poem about a positive outlook, and grit, after failure in the style of Dante.


In the depths of despair and failure’s woe,

We must hold fast to our faith and will,

And never give in to the world’s great blow.

For though our plans may falter, our dreams may fall,

We must rise up with grit and determination,

And face each challenge with a heart of gall.

For though the path ahead may seem uncertain,

Our positive outlook will guide us through,

And lead us to a brighter, better future.

So let us not despair in moments of defeat,

But embrace each challenge with steadfast resolve,

And rise up with the strength of our own two feet.

For in the end, it is not our failures that define us,

But the way we face them with courage and grace,

And strive towards success with a steadfast heart,

And an unbreakable spirit, filled with boundless hope.

Bitcoin: Supply & Demand

This is a thinking exercise in calculating Risk/Reward.
As of this moment, Bitcoin is valued at $44,600.

It’s down from it’s All-Time high of ~$68K, but $44K is still a significant amount for something you can’t touch, feel, or even comprehend. I mean, this started at $0, only 13 years ago.

We know that there can never be more than 21M Bitcoin ever mined.

In fact, one can argue it is well below 21M and shrinking!
1M is locked up in the mysterious creator, Satoshi Nakamoto’s, account.
There are umpteen stories of early adopters who had hundreds of thousands stored in hard drives and lost it. Individuals lose their keys everyday. Without the keys, it’s virtually destroyed.

So with the Supply side fixed (or shrinking), what about the Demand side?

Consider the following:
Microstrategy bought and keeps buying more. Other corporations have followed suit, like Square (now Block), Tesla, and more. KPMG just announced that they are adding Bitcoin to their balance sheet.
→ The odds of more companies adding Bitcoin to their balance sheet FAR outweighs the odds of the early companies selling. As more money enters the market, the price stabilizes. As the price stabilizes, more money can enter the market. DEMAND from corporate balance sheets will go UP.

Microstrategy bought and keeps buying more. Other corporations have followed suit, like Square (now Block), Tesla, and more. KPMG just announced that they are adding Bitcoin to their balance sheet.
→ The odds of more companies adding Bitcoin to their balance sheet FAR outweighs the odds of the early companies selling. As more money enters the market, the price stabilizes. As the price stabilizes, more money can enter the market. DEMAND from corporate balance sheets will go UP.

El Salvador has declared Bitcoin legal tender. There is rumor of another South American company following suit. India has stepped back from the position of banning Bitcoin outright, and is looking at how to regulate it. Russia recently announced they are looking to regulate, and even mine Bitcoin themselves with excess energy. Seemingly, every week we hear of a US politician expressing their support of Bitcoin. Even the IMF, who condemned El Salvador’s move, recently invited Strike’s CEO, Jack Maller, to speak with them to educate them on Bitcoin and the Lightening Network.
→ The odds of more countries removing their skepticism/banning of Bitcoin to support and regulation FAR outweighs the odds of banning it. As more regulation is accepted, the more participants feel comfort in participating. DEMAND from country citizenry will go UP.

USA surpassed $30 trillion in debt. The money printer continues to go brrrrr. Do you think that is ever stopping? When looking at the value of Bitcoin in USD, if that flood of USD supply keeps going while the supply of Bitcoin shrinks, where does that tilt the balance of the BTC:USD ratio?

Bitcoin’s market cap is ~$846B. Gold is at ~$10T.
As a store of value, ask anyone under 30, which store of value do they prefer?

I am NOT saying go put your life savings into Bitcoin.

One of the biggest mis-conceptions: “I can’t afford a Bitcoin”
Bitcoin is divisible into Satoshis (Sats). A Satoshi is one hundred millionth of a single bitcoin (0.00000001 BTC).

I’m constantly “Stacking Sats”. $50 here, $100 there.
Once every couple of weeks. Seems like a good risk/reward trade off for a small percentage of my savings.

I still think it’s pretty early.
What do y’all think?

Parenting Kids that Game (A LOT!)

3 Questions

My kids game a lot. Do yours? Probably not ideal, or so I thought.
I’ve discovered a “Parenting Win” from this…

We’re a household of two parents working from home, and we need to keep the kids occupied. Gaming is regular part of their day.

I recently discovered Jane McGonigal. She’s a PhD Game Designer who evangelizes the use of games to help people learn real-world skills, improve attitudes, and build self-esteem in children.

To turn gaming into a productive, positive experience for you kids, engage in conversation with your kids around what they’re playing. Here are 3 powerful questions to ask them about their favorite game:

  1. What does it take to be good at this game? (what skills, what personality, what strategies)
  2. What have you gotten better at since you’ve started playing this game?
  3. What’s the hardest thing you’ve accomplished in this game? (how’d you do it?)

Based on her research, people that can talk about these learned skills tend to transfer them better to the real world applications/scenarios.

So, don’t feel guilty if your child is gaming a bunch. There are some real life skills they can be learning/absorbing with the right nurturing.

BTW, she also believes the tipping point to too much is ~21 hrs/wk.

Happy Parenting. Now get back to work!

Do you have to experience extreme lows to experience extreme highs?

Do you have to experience extreme lows to experience extreme highs? If so, is it worth it?!

Mental health is in the headlines these days; so let’s discuss.

When my youngest, Dylan, was ~2.5, he broke his femur bone. Yes, the FEMUR; that’s a hard bone to break! I watched it just collapse on him. 😢

He had to wear a spica cast for ~8 weeks. Uncomfortable. 2-yr old level communication. Still in diapers. …Misery for all.

After a few days, I got him a floor scooter board. I remember playing with these in elementary school gym class. I figured it would give him some freedom of movement.

The happiness you hear/see is off the charts!
That video still brings tears to my eyes…

I’m not sure that I’ve ever felt as happy as Dylan seems to feel there. On the flip side, I’ve never felt misery, like I imagine he felt for several weeks, either.

Not saying one is better than the other. I’ve always been even keel (emotionally moderate, some might say stoic). I see Dylan there and I feel FOMO. But is this level of happiness worth the journey?

I’m a student of psychology and I enjoy studying happiness. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m in a perpetual search for knowledge.

I guess where I’m going with this is that when you feel an extreme low, think of the potential extreme high on the other side, and muster the #GRIT to power through.

It helps A LOT, if you find the right partner. I love you Heather Hew!

I Joined The Power MBA Program

I don’t have an MBA. It’s something I always contemplated pursuing, but never did because of time/cost.

I’ve always believed that most of the value of the MBA is not really the education, but the network you build.

A strong, influential network is invaluable.
There is value in exclusivity; that’s the current MBA model.

That said, a Harvard or Stanford or other “prestigious” MBA is probably worth every penny and more. But the hundreds of others? I don’t know if the ROI is there.

Then I found ThePowerMBA
Interesting model.

At under $1K, I signed up.

It presents an interesting risk:reward opportunity.

It provides a structured, organized, biteable micro-lessons.
I’m going to assume the educational material is good, based on reviews, so I’m okay to invest a few dollars in that.

The upside is the network. It doesn’t present the exclusivity value, but it does have the potential for scale. And early indications are that they are trying to engage the community/network a lot.

My cohort is just starting, so I’ll let y’all know how it goes.

If you’re a fellow student or alumni, I’d love to connect.
I’ve said before, there is a Strength in Weak Ties.

Manufacturing Consent at NYTimes

Do you read/trust the NY Times?

Spend a couple mins reading Bari Weiss’ resignation letter at: https://www.bariweiss.com/resignation-letter

A few excerpts:

“But Twitter has become its ultimate editor”

“Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions”

“…we can assure ourselves of job security (and clicks) by publishing our 4000th op-ed arguing that Donald Trump is a unique danger to the country and the world”

“Rule One: Speak your mind at your own peril. Rule Two: Never risk commissioning a story that goes against the narrative. Rule Three: Never believe an editor or publisher who urges you to go against the grain.”

Noam Chomsky called this “Manufacturing Consent” .

I don’t believe the NYTimes is the only news org contending with this.

How We Got Here

This is a great Twitter thread that I’ve pulled together. I don’t know the author. Here is the Threadroll as well.

I just thought it was important enough to layout in an even more cohesive manner. Everyone should read/understand…

And just in case, I don’t know what I’m doing in 2020 politically. My inkling is to sit it out. While some of Trump’s policies seem to counteract what’s discussed here; he’s clearly demonstrated that he cannot the lead a UNITED nation. At the same time, Biden has only promised to take us back in time, which is what destroyed us in the first place?

You be your own judge…

As unrest spreads throughout the US, sparked by the atrocious killing of George Floyd, a broad systemic crisis has been steadily burning for decades beneath the surface.

If there is one chart that best shows the years of anger & social unrest that has now made its way onto the streets of the United States, it would be this one:

The wealth of the bottom 300,000,000 Americans compared to the wealth of the top 33,000 Americans.

As you can see, around the late 1980s, the wealth of the bottom 90% of America began a strong down trend that has continued for the last thirty years.

Who were the President during these times?

  • Bush Sr. (1989-1993)
  • Clinton (1993-2001)
  • Bush Jr. (2001-2009)
  • Obama (2009-2017)

The second most important chart to understand what we see going on in America today.

“The Productivity-Pay Gap”

Post WWII, as the US economy expanded, American workers reaped the rewards of expansion, but in the 1970s, this started to change.

Pay and productivity diverged.

The third most important chart to understand what we see going on in America today.

“US Trade Balance”

In 1970s, for the first time in a century, the US had a negative trade balance.

A trade deficit which has continued to grow over the last fifty years.

What fundamentally changed about the US dollar in the 1970s?

In 1971, the United States ended convertibility of the US dollar to gold rendering the US dollar a fiat currency.

The Bretton Woods era came to an end. A period notably marked by zero banking crisis.

Around this same time, the US average tariff rate made it’s final descent towards zero, ending two hundred years of high tariff rates and protectionist policy.

The era of “free trade” or “globalism” began. In other words, the era of no tariffs.

President Abraham Lincoln said, “Give us a protective tariff and we will have the greatest nation on earth.” Lincoln warned that “the abandonment of the protective policy by the American Government… must produce want and ruin among our people.”

Looking back at US history, tariffs were more of a rule than an exception. Taxing foreign goods and encouraging home industry.

President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Our past experience shows that great prosperity in this country has always come under a protective tariff.”

This brings me back to those first three charts. It’s a fact that 300,000,000 Americans got poor while 33,000 Americans got rich. How much of the social unrest today is due to the fact that Americans are broke and in debt? Which policy decisions caused this?

Executive pay skyrocketed after the 1970s.

While the homeless population skyrocketed.

As Americans got poor; anxiety, stress, and depression increased. Deaths of despair from overdose & suicide climbed.

According to the fed, between 1989-2018, the top 1% increased its total net worth by $21 trillion. While the bottom 50% actually saw its net worth decrease by $900 billion over that same time period.

So what major economic policy changed while these four were in charge?

Global trade changed. Specifically, the “North American Free Trade Agreement” (NAFTA) and the “World Trade Organization” (WTO). These deals would architect how money, goods, and services would flow between borders for the next three decades.

NAFTA was first signed by George Bush Sr. in 1992, approved by congress shortly after, and signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993. Bush and Clinton promised that it would lower the US trade deficit, usher in new era of prosperity, and good-paying jobs for the middle class.

Instead, the opposite happened.

The trade balance with Mexico went from a $1.7 billion surplus in 1993 to a $15.8 billion deficit in 1995. The deficit kept growing and hit $75 billion by 2007.

Chrysler, Ford, and GM moved their vehicle production from the US to Mexico.

In 1993, the year before NAFTA, the US imported 225,000 cars and trucks from Mexico.

By 2012, the US was importing 1,400,000 vehicles a year from Mexico.

Corporate profits soared to new highs.

CEO compensation followed, but worker’s wages in Mexico and America remained the same.

US CEOs took those newfound profits overseas. Why would they invest in the US when they could set up in cheaper countries? There they could pay workers cents an hour, avoid the cost of environmental regulations, and not have to worry about workers rights or unions.

NAFTA paved the way for China to enter the WTO. The political establishment, hand in hand with the banks and corporations, signed Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) in 2001 allowing China to enter the WTO. Clinton, Bush, and Obama supported China’s entry into the WTO.

Once again, the promise was lower trade deficits and better paying jobs for US workers.

But once again, the opposite happened.

Shortly after China joined the WTO in 2001, the US trade deficit soared to $700 billion by 2005.

Between 2001-2014, the US went from 348,513 to 274,756 manufacturing establishments.

Manufacturing Establishments in the US since China joined WTO

The fed estimates, the US exported nearly 30M jobs between 1992 and 2010.

The US worker participation percentage fell 4% between 2001 and 2013 as millions of Americans gave up on looking for a job.

China didn’t play by the WTO rules. They used child labor, ignored worker’s right & pollution regulations, and actively promoted the theft of American IP.

A 2018 study concluded that, “Chinese theft of American IP currently costs the US between $225B and $600B annually.”

As regulations climbed in the US, large corporations closed tens of thousands of factories, and outsourced American jobs to low-wage countries overseas, where there was little to no regulations.

Smaller competitors who couldn’t afford global operations vanished.

After 1971, with the US dollar no longer tied down by the gold standard, money supply (M2) quickly increased.

Followed by foreign aid, another way of taking from the poor in the US and giving to the rich in foreign countries.

For example, after the US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, the politically connected received lucrative construction contracts via foreign aid.

Although NAFTA and the WTO were heavily favored by the majority of the Washington political establishment. A handful of politicians opposed these “free trade” deals.

For example, Bernie Sanders (see https://youtu.be/uNkD_BZGdFs)

Ron Paul also vehemently opposed NAFTA and the WTO since they formed in the 1990s (see https://youtu.be/OFLRuMHAK_w).

In 1992, the billionaire presidential candidate, Ross Perot, explained exactly how NAFTA would suck jobs out of the US in front of fellow running mates George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton. (see https://youtu.be/xQ7kn2-GEmM)

Perot said, “If you’re paying $12 – $14 an hour for factory workers, you can move your factory south of the border and pay a dollar an hour for labor, have no health care, have no pollution controls, and no retirement, and you don’t care about anything, but making money.”

Since the 1980s, Donald Trump has also been a vocal critic of NAFTA, WTO, “Free Trade” deals, and the trade deficits that the United States has accrued around the world. (see https://youtu.be/tqwxVIWtdEs)

Donald Trump has also been a vocal critic of the US policy of defending other countries and the world’s commercial shipping routes at the expense of the US taxpayer. (see https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/05/30/map-the-u-s-is-bound-by-treaties-to-defend-a-quarter-of-humanity/)

The US is bound by a number of treaties, signed since WWII, which forces it to defend 75% of the world’s economic output and a quarter of the world’s population at the expense of the American taxpayer.

Also see https://twitter.com/cryptonephilim/status/1268026683207987200/photo/1

This has been perhaps the most costly policy decision for US taxpayers, with military spending going from $100 billion in 1947 to $700 billion in 2010.

While the world has been able to depend on the defense of the US military at relatively no cost, Americans went broke.

In the 1980s, interest rates peaked around 18% and began descending, while M2 entered an expansionary period, leading to a generational market boom.

Christopher Cole, CIO at Artemis Capital, said: “91% of the price appreciation for the classic portfolio came from just 22 years between 1984 and 2007.”

This stock market boom also disproportionately helped the wealthy as they were the largest holders of stocks.

While the bottom half of the country did not invest their money, saw their wages stagnate, and the continued decline of the purchasing power of the dollar.

The era of “Free Trade” & “Globalism” has benefited a small minority of the world at the expense of the large majority.

The rise of wealth & income inequality has been a global phenomenon. The world’s 26 richest people now have more than the world’s poorest 3,900,000,000.

As people lost their wealth and opportunity, they lost faith in their establishments & institutions. Trust in government and media plummeted as people lost sight of the “American Dream”.

The common man has increasingly no longer felt represented by their governments and institutions, massive protest took to the streets in 2019; Hong Kong, France, China, Ecuador, Haiti, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Chile, Spain, Netherlands, Indonesia, Turkey, Venezuela, Brazil, etc.

Populism rose around the world. In other words, a rebellion of the “common man” against the “elite establishment”. Disenfranchised by the system, voters voted for anti-establishment leaders. Perhaps best exemplified by the 2016 vote for Brexit and the election of Trump.

*The latest point includes cases like Trump, UKIP in the UK, AfD in Germany, National Front in France, Podemos in Spain, and Five Star Movement in Italy. It doesn’t include major emergin country populists, like Erdogan in Trukey ro Duterte in the Philippines. In the rest of the study, we look at populists of the past rather than those now in office in order to study the phenomenon because the stories of ones in power or possibly coming to pwer are still being written. For example, while we consider Donald Trump to be a populist, we have more questions than answers about him and are using these other cases to assess him against by seeing if he follows a more archetypical path or if he deviates from it significantly.

Call it the end of @RayDalio‘s long term debt cycle. (see https://twitter.com/cryptonephilim/status/1260690112234438656 or https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1260690110686748672.html)

Call it @HoweGeneration‘s fourth turning. (see https://youtu.be/8Yfb2zQjKWE)

Or call it @RaoulGMI‘s downward pressure from baby boomer retirement. (see https://youtu.be/5OFaZcC0lRU)

ut would there be this much global anger and social unrest if workers wages had gone up alongside corporate profits? I personally think it’s because after decades of failed policy people are broke, in debt, and pissed off about the destruction of the “American Dream”.