Jobs / Coach gets a thank you note

One of my soccer players was recently rummaging through their old email.

He had kept an email that I had sent to him in 2009 just as he was graduating high school. Since then I have recently gotten both a personal and a written thank-you for my career advice … from back in what must seem the dark ages for a young person.

Our correspondence follows. I have substituted Soccer Player X for their real name and email address.

+++++++++++++++++++++++

———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: Wed, May 7, 2014 at 12:05 PM
Subject: Fw: Fwd: Work, Career Advice and All-Stars

look what I came across today…

 

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: William Golden <soccer@intelligencecareers.com>
Date: Fri, May 22, 2009 at 11:25 PM
Subject: Work, Career Advice and All-Stars
To: Soccer Player X
Soccer Player X

Yes. Mark confirmed you as an All-Star.

And you should know that in my mind that you always on the A list. Not
only are you a favorite player but you’ve got great attitude … and
attitude counts in life.

A bit of career advice – study hard and work hard. Focus on your job.

My role in life is as a very senior recruiter for almost 600
organizations. I make lots of money giving advice.

Here’s a bit of free advice: things will get worse in the employment
world. Much, much worse. Unemployment will especially hit two
demographic groups: young folks like yourself and men under the age of
35. Lose a job and you may not get another for a long while.

I don’t see a rebound in jobs until 2014 or 2015. Things could get
somewhat better in 2012 or 2013 … but my advice is to think about
where you are going to be in 5 years.

Hopefully you are going to college. The next 4-5 years will be a great
time to have an alternative other than having to seek full-time
employment.

Here is what I want you to study: pick almost any subject you want BUT
seek out a B.S. degree over a B.A. degree. DO NOT WASTE your
electives: devote your elective credits to understanding business
processes, “enterprise” communications and networks (you don’t have to
become a geek), and statistics. Your future will depend upon being
competitive and surviving on statistical margins — and operations
like Bloom survive on thin margins (usually < 5%).

America WILL rebound with jobs about the time you graduate from a 4
year degree. But the way people earn money and work will be very
different in 5 years.

If you follow my advice you will be very employable at the right time
in your life. Synchronicity matters.

… And of course I look forward to seeing you on the field as an All-Star.

Best regards,
Coach

 

Rural Crescent – Does it have a viable future?

Rural Crescent

Went to a meeting about the Rural Crescent last evening. Was an education. Got to hear differing views: farm families that are unhappy with current policy (it severely depresses their worth if they should sell), current policy is supposed to prop up farming but does just the opposite, and PWC Gov has no staff member responsible for agricultural issues. There are numerous environmental issues and there are many tools (fiscal strategies) that PWC should probably be using but isn’t — but other counties are and are reporting general success.

2013 PWC rural crescent study

Throughout the discussions, the future of Woodbridge kept popping up. It seems that economic and neighborhood development of Woodbridge needs to be an essential component of keeping the Rural Crescent rural as PWC adds 100,000 new residents over the next 10 years. If we do not develop, or over develop the Rural Crescent, then all of these new PWC citizens need somewhere to live and to work. Woodbridge seems to be the right location due to transportation connectivity, its appropriateness for redevelopment (no longer a commercial hub; lots of developed idle space that can be redeveloped), and its proximity to jobs (not in our county, so access to transportation is essential).

It is complicated. Lots to learn and to think about.

Am adding ‘Rural Crescent’ to my Top 10 list of things to learn more about when it comes to PWC.

— Bill Golden

Veterans, the 1% COLA cut, longterm impact – Yes, we have a problem

If you are a military veteran under the age of 62 you undoubtedly believe that the recent congressional budget accord reached by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), and approved overwhelmingly by the House is a really, incredibly bad deal.

Part of the deal is funded by realigning the pension plans of almost every federal recipient with a pension under the age of 62.

Mea Culpa: I criticized the reaction of some veterans groups which played up the cuts as if military veterans were getting gored and carrying the budget debt burden almost on their own — certainly there was no mention of the more significant impacts on other parts of the federal government. I also criticized the huge numbers being thrown out and challenged them to do the math. I want to admit that my own math had issues. The math of the veterans groups is essentially correct, albeit without some important context provided to their audience.

Math, Options and the Need for Balancing the Federal Books

I am one of those veterans that will take cuts to my retired paycheck.

Veteran Group Math: My challenge to veterans groups is that I wanted to see the math. A conversation broke out and an interactive spreadsheet (Excel required) was sent to me that shows how the math worked. If you are a veteran you can enter your current monthly retirement pay in the green spreadsheet cell, press your return key, and a calculation across 24 years will automatically be done. The spreadsheet assumes that COLA/CPI increases an average of 2.5% each year.

My Math: Actual COLA/CPI can shift radically from year to year as economic conditions change. I tested the 2.5% average COLA, adjusted it down to 1.5% average per year (the new REDUX solution by Ryan/Murray), and contrasted it against historical COLA/CPI rates for the last 22 years — which is the time period that Ryan/Murray used to achieve their numbers.

I provide my math as a PDF spreadsheet that lets you see all the numbers together on one page. My example retiree is an E-7 with 20 years of service.

Short version of the results:

  • Using 2.5% as an average annual baseline COLA/CPI rate tracks relatively well with the results of using actual COLA/CPI rates across time.
  • Due to the magic of compounding interest, even at 1% of the annual COLA/CPI rate, there are significant longterm impacts on the veteran retiree paychecks.
  • An E-7 with 20 years of services would take home approximately $7,070 less per year by my calculation in their 22nd retirement year, and $10,750 per the 2.5% average COLA/CPI calculation.

Over 22 years the example E-7 will lose enough money to put several kids through a state university plus probably buy a new car. That is a significant impact.

Unhappy? Sure. However,  if we want this fixed then we need to offer up some options.

We need folks to step forward and to do more than just decry cuts to their pensions and to their programs. We need a bigger conversation about federal funding of budgets, programs and promises.

If we want our pay restored then we need to do more than to focus on ‘me’. We need options and solutions that address how the federal government itself is funded.

Yes, military retirees were asked to give up 1% of their annual COLA/CPI adjustment — which is what their annual pay increase is based upon, and not based upon the pay raise given to the active military.

However, MANY federal employees are being asked to now pay an additional 4.4% of their full pay into their pension fund — which is the equivalent of the military being asked to pay 8.8% instead of just 1% of COLA/CPI.

I do not want to be an apologist for what is a hurtful policy. Yet our nation is facing an unparalleled financial challenge and as long as a majority of Americans and/or their congressional representatives refuse to raise taxes to pay our nation’s debts and promises then the only other alternative is to make cuts.

Veterans have powerful lobbyists working in their behalf. The cuts do not go into effect until 2015. We have time yet to achieve some different outcome. Yet every other group that also got hit will also be scrambling to get their cuts fixed too. If veterans and veterans groups want an equitable outcome then we need to offer up options and to put those options on the table. One of the reasons that we are in our situation is that we want without also wanting to pay for the benefits.

Brainstorming Time

We need to be creative. Every problem needs a solution, a menu of options. We, and veterans groups and all special interest groups, need to do more than just decry hurtful decisions. We/they need to step forward and to also offer policy options.

I look forward to hearing your options proposals. I will cheerfully help get out the word and work for change.

Please keep in mind that they cuts were based upon each of the 12 federal budgets taking cuts in proportion to their size within the overall federal funding schema. So to restore military veteran pay the BIG QUESTION remains: are you asking that Americans pay higher taxes, OR what military programs would you cut, OR what military efficiencies would you demand to pay for restoring the cuts?

The cuts were balanced proportionately.  It will not work to in these challenging times to demand that the others that took cuts also give up more to pay for restoring our cuts without their concerns also being remedied.

Best regards,
Bill G.
WGolden@Bill4Dogcatcher.com

Chemo … my chemical romance with the future

My oncology doctor called and asked me to come in. She wants to discuss my future treatment.

Due to the characteristics of my cancer, my treatment plan has often see-sawed between: do this, cancel that, try this, let’s do next … just a week ago they told me that I could possibly skip the 12 weeks of chemo planned for January-March 2014. Today they say that is still the plan but they recommend continuing with my current chemo past December 13th and continue it into early January.

>>> The GOOD NEWS: Am doing well in all of my checkups. Just last week my internist raved how they ran every body fluid test imaginable and that I passed with flying colors. Some test results even improved from good to better. Not a single test result yielded concern.

Yet I must tell you that I feel like a shell of myself from just a few weeks ago. Yes, that is me just whining. I know that I am going to live and to have a good life to come … but … this has been a very tough week. Doing both daily radiation and chemo has taken its toll on me after six weeks. I am ‘alive’ and that is as good as I feel right now.

Docs says that I am doing ‘great’ … as expected … =^) … but they also want to extend my chemo past December 13th because of the theory: comeback could be a bitch. Since there is no intent of a ‘cure’, just the ability to overwhelm  the cancer now and to manage the cancer in the future, then let’s try to do this right the first time.

I can do the extra treatment … but I barely feel human at this point. Chemo makes the world taste, smell and feel like your body is full of ashes 24/7.

Please excuse my whining. I am an Optimist and  am doing my best to live up to that moniker … but …

MOVIE / BOOK REVIEW – ‘Ender’s Game’

MOVIE / BOOK REVIEW – ‘Ender’s Game’

The book is great and the movie was good. If somehow you have not read the book then the movie will be very good. Both are worth the time to read and to see.

MOVIE (2013): This movie is Scifi at its best. This is a fast moving film — it must be fast since it compresses four years of a character’s very busy lifetime into 90 minutes. The main character, Ender Wiggin, complains of needing more sleep (often in the book, and he is just tired in the film).

Backdrop: The world was invaded 50 years prior. This was the ‘First Invasion’. Bizarrely, for some unexplained reason we won. A single hit on a mother ship caused the invasion to unexpectedly stop. Literally the invasion stopped and it is a ‘state secret’ as to why. Joe Average doesn’t seem to have thought about asking why.

Post-war, We realize that the technology of future war takes more imagination and flexibility than an adult mind can muster — so we started recruiting children to become military officers and battle staff cadets at age 10 (age 6 in the book). These are the brightest kids on the planet, kids that can play games. Ender comes from a family of three such brilliant kids; his two older sibling wash out of military training, and the world now depends on him. His sister had too much empathy to be a warrior and his older brother was too quick to anger and had a sadistic streak — both are undesirable qualities in a commander that is expected to prosecute the war to end the war for all time and to save our specie.

Ender is both cynical and skeptical about everything. Ender’s adult trainers work to focus his abilities by isolating him from developing relationships with the other young trainees; his purpose is to be a ‘savior warrior’, not a child with military training. Constantly Ender is put into situations that bring out his survival instincts and tests his will to live. Ender is pared with five other brilliant child warriors; Ender becomes commander in the war games and they become his squadron commanders. There is only one problem: the adults may be misleading them.

>>> SHOULD YOU SEE THIS MOVIE: Yes! It is loud, colorful, and full of realistic technology that the movie’s producers make seem completely real. No cheesiness in this movie. The movie also provides a strong essence of truth: those damned kids on their XBoxes and Sony Playstations may well solve many of the world’s problems if we can connect them to real problemsolving. If you read the book then you will notice many missing subplots and storyline. Get over it. You will like this movie.

BOOK (1985): The book is a fast read despite the number of pages in it. It was written for a teen audience but adults love it. It remains on the ‘recommended reading list’ in many high schools AND within the U.S. military. Do not let the simpleness of the book’s prose fool you. There are many important concepts within its pages — which explains its popularity on military recommended reading lists.

You can commonly find this book on Amazon or on Google as an eBook for $4.

>>> The book differs from the movie in a number of ways. Written in 1985, the book still sees the world in terms of American and Soviet spheres of influence. Russia’s Warsaw Pact has overrun much of Europe and is referred to as the Second Warsaw Pact. World powers cooperate because they must — the external threat is greater … but should the external threat disappear then war between the great powers will resume, and it does by the book’s end. Archaic views now but reality then. All of this is absent in the movie and there is no allusion to any of it.

What is truly amazing is that the author was able to see and to portray a world with embedded technology everywhere and in everything. His view on war in the future is on the brilliant level of Arthur C. Clarke or Isaac Asimov. Just one example, tablet computing, interactive computer surfaces and artificial intelligence role-playing games figure prominently throughout the story. So does the existence of a worldwide internet that serves up multimedia. There are also bloggers which exert strong influence over public opinion. The ‘nets’ have supplanted the role of media in its influence.

Ender is a third child. The world has restricted families to only two children. While unwritten, it is implied that genetic selection is being practiced to produce unique children for the future of fighting war. Ender understands that his birth owes its existence for the purpose of becoming a battle staff officer.

At the tender age of 6, Ender is selected to go to military school where he trains to become a military battle staff officer. His older brother and sister were washouts — but they play prominent roles within the subplot by using the worldwide internet to become foreign and domestic policy bloggers. Their goal is create a logical reality which prepares the world for change, and which prepares the world to turn to  them for answers. This will be a challenge as Peter the cruel older brother is just 12, and Valentine the older sister is just 10. Yet they pull it off. Peter and Valentine’s subplot role are not covered at all in the movie … although both make cameo appearances. Within the book Peter has an important role within world affairs by the book’s end and the movie ignores his existence other than showing him as a cruel big brother early on.

Much of the book focuses on the many trials and tribulations of Ender within the military battle school. The movie glosses over this time period and covers it all in perhaps just 10-15 minutes — yet his experiences in the school are some of the best parts of the book. The movie picks up with Peter going to Battle Command school. Within the movie there is a close parallel to the book, although the book lavishly spends time on character development and the movie focuses on developing Ender’s character and just barely.

Read the book. See the movie. You will be pleased.

 

Armchair futurist on prudent men, lowering incomes, managing expenses and following the breadcrumbs

A Facebook pal posted this thought:

The prudent man does not lower his debt by lowering his income. Rather, he lowers his debt, first, and is then free to lower his income.

Being the armchair futurist that I am, my response:

I advise people to lower income expectations and expenses for several reasons.

The trend since the late 80s has generally been one of income stagflation. Most folks did not notice it because inflation was low, products became more plentiful and ever cheaper, plus more families moved to a two income model. We also supplemented our lifestyles with putting more expensive purchases on longer term buys and we maximized our equity. That does not change the fact that real income has been sliding for decades.

Since 1998 the labor market in the USA has consistently declined in the total percentage of folks with jobs and/or benefits. More people have become commoditized. Many workers bring little actual value to their employers that cannot be replaced within a very short time period.

Throughout the 1990s we talked about doing more with less. We could and sometimes did. But there was little incentive to accelerate the process because profits were good and disruption to organizations usually caused a short-term drop in profits within 2-4 years after these morale busting changes.

The great crash of 2008 changed that. We were no longer worried about chaos from change. Change visited us quarter after quarter.

Organizational change now represented survival and hope for making up for the lost $$$ of 2008-early 2010. The Top 1% did lose big. But that change investment paid off, which is why income and investments of the Top 1% (and Top 10%) increased their take by almost 19% over the last 24 months.

In the end we have learned that we can do more with less … FAR LESS … the recent return of one of the largest textile plants in North Carolina did so by cutting their workforce from 2000 to just 140, without any cut in production quality or quantity. Quality actually increased.

We live in a commoditized society where few can justify some inherent $$ value if and when we find a way to do more for less … or even the same.

For the future, we need to be talking about much more than just doing yesterday better.

Sometimes we need rethink the meaning of what it all means. The answers are not going to come from the left or the right, or even from the squeemish middle hoping to eek out some kind of good deal. Times have changed. We need to jettison some of our pride and doctrines and admit that we need new answers — answers which may violate our own dear cherished principles which are often broken and fail to deliver on answers for the future.

Jobs / Future / Connected Workforce – Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga, Tennessee, home of VW in North America, has now joined the rarefied ranks of ‘intelligent cities’ — Chattanooga is the only U.S. city with a population of over 100,000 that has achieved this designation.

An intelligent city is one where the intersection of information technology and urban design are planned together with intent to unite information availability and information flow with business, homes and the workforce.

Despite Chattanooga’s access to broadband speeds of 50 Mbps connections (average connectivity speed in the U.S. is 6.7 mps), the telecom giants and lobbyists are busy at work convincing states to block power grid broadband delivery from happening. Nineteen states have passed laws that block local governments from setting up publicly-owned broadband services — which has proven to be the most common method of building such networks.

We should look to private industry to efficiently deliver solutions and capabilities that meet public needs. Certainly high speed internet that can be delivered anywhere over a power grid would be such a service, especially lightning fast broadband that puts most broadband to shame. Unfortunately this technology is being hindered and heldback because much of the private sector has not yet figured out how to create a delivery grid that can compete with the power grid which already exists in our homes and businesses.

From Governing.com

Chattanooga, Tennessee (pop 167,000), has leapt to the forefront of American cities with ultra high-speed broadband service and has accomplished the feat in a surprisingly old-fashioned way: the city’s municipally-owned electric utility provides the service. Tennessee’s fourth-largest city is now a member of a small, but elite group of world-class cities that can offer residents and businesses Internet service of up to one gigabit per second, 200 times faster than the average broadband speed in America, according to The New York Times.

Harnessing Intellectual Capital

From Ross Honeywill, Australian futurist and business consultant: “The urban fabric of the world is changing as key cities turn their backs on the traditional economy and move towards an intelligent future. An Intelligent City is characterized by its place in the new- or neo-economy with a commitment to cultural capital, innovative environments, diversity, high social intelligence and digital leadership.

It typically has diversity in social relationships, a high capacity for imagination and innovation central to the creativity of its population and its institutions of knowledge creation; and a rapidly evolving digital infrastructure for communication and knowledge management.

Zen and Now – looking for better in life

Peace and best wishes for those with pain and challenges. The world isn’t fair. If I can help then I will.

For most Americans the world was a better place today than yesterday. And it will be a better place tomorrow. We’ve just got to keep working on chasing away the gremlins and working to make it a better place than it was today.

Perfection ain’t happening but we can do better.