Category: Business and Free Enterprise

Cheers for Yuengling

yuenglingIf you’ve been keeping up with my posts, you may have read the ode to craft beer that I wrote several months ago. Although I’m always partial to a craft brew, sometimes I just need something cheap because drinking exclusively ‘craft’ can become quite expensive. I have nothing against a cheaper beer when I’m really just craving a cold one. Like any good Pennsylvanian, my go-to-budget-beer has been Yuengling traditional lager.

This beer is considered by many beer lovers to be one of the tastier budget beers. As a native of the state, I didn’t realize that Yuengling had the limited distribution that it does until I really started getting into beer. I was surprised to find that people in other states would trek across state lines to get a case. The amber lager is decidedly ubiquitous in Pennsylvania, however. If there’s anything you can count on to be on tap in any PA bar, it’s Yuengling lager. In fact, at many establishments, simply ordering ‘lager’ gets you a Yuengling.

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The “Laissez Faire” Tao of Hayek

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Recently, I’ve become fascinated with the work of the Austrian/British economist Friedrich Hayek. In particular, I’m intrigued with how his views are closely aligned with a passion of mine, Taoist philosophy.

Hayek is the most prominent 20th century champion of a concept known as Spontaneous Order – the theory that systems, such as economic markets, naturally self-correct and function most efficiently when not meddled with. This essence is captured in the French term laissez faire which means ‘allowing things to take their own course without interference.’

Hayek went on to suggest that complex systems are best created not through design, planning or force, but via synergies facilitated among micro-elements that operate in accordance with a set of basic principles or rules. According to Hayek, this market-based spontaneous order allows things like prices to ebb and flow unencumbered through the process of supply and demand. This natural rhythm is the true essence of how the world works, when left alone.

Just the other day, I was reflecting on how these views can be applied to the art of governing. Amid all the rancor in the U.S. surrounding this election year, there appears to be little in the way of acknowledgment among our political candidates of the virtue of self-restraint. I would argue that good government requires a healthy dose of laissez faire restraint to allowing issues to naturally resolve themselves, a technique that has stood the test of time.

Contrary to the belief of many, Hayek concurred that certain structures and rules were necessary to enforce agreements and resolve disputes. He believed that the foundational patterns and order of a civil society naturally emerge when we, the actors, play by the rules. Furthermore, he argued that these rules, which give rise to structural markets, are not due to government planning but rather they ensue from a somewhat mysterious socio-cultural evolution that naturally brings the pieces together into a whole. In the end, Hayek and his counterpart, Adam Smith, supported this concept of spontaneous order not as a means of opposition to the government, but to argue against intrusively meddling with the economy.

Apple Speaks—Will People Listen?

Tim_Cook_WWDC_2012There’s a good chance that in the last couple of days, you may have woken up to one of your friends posting about Apple’s customer letter which was published a few days ago. The letter outlines Apple’s stance against the government’s request for allowing a back door to iPhones and the company’s commitment to using encryption and protecting their users’ privacy. It’s been quickly making its way around social media. The cynical side of me wants to say that this has been going on for months, and people should already know about it. I mean, I even wrote an article about Apple’s statements in court, as well as one about encryption scares in the wake of terrorist attacks. But the average Joe doesn’t follow court cases or read articles on technical subjects. Most people just aren’t interested in that stuff. That’s why Apple’s letter is such a big deal.

Though Apple has spoken in court about this, and numerous articles have been written about Apple and about privacy and encryption in general in recent months, this customer letter is the first time, to my knowledge, that Apple has made its own public statement about the issue. Anyone who owns an Apple product is going to be much more likely to read a letter addressed to them from the company itself. So far, that seems to be what is happening. I’ve seen more people talking about this letter than the court trial Apple was involved in or any articles about that. But is this enough?

I’ve been trying to gauge the public’s reaction to the post. For the most part, it has seemed to be overwhelmingly positive. But I have seen a few instances of those who would take the government’s side over Apple’s.

#BeResponsible: Networking Challenge

Waiter Serving Food To Customers At Table In CafeThere are SO many ways to network in your city or town. Websites are all over the place helping individuals, companies, and groups find like-minded friends and colleagues to expand their network and overall spice for life!

I’ve made a list of a few options when looking for a meet-up of like-minded folks in your area.

Try out:

  • Meetup.com: This is the number one place to find all the topics/interests you can dream of! Have a passion for small, white, fluffy dogs? There’s a meet-up for that! Love underground techno music, yep other people do too, and want to meet you! Want to talk to other entrepreneurs to learn about the struggles of starting a small business? They are probably your neighbors! Sign up. You won’t regret it.
  • Reddit.com: Either you Reddit or you don’t, but I promise, once you start you can’t stop. Most towns have their own ‘sub-Reddit’. A place where you can bitch about parking violations, how people drive, and the dogs who poop in your yard. It’s also a place to find like-minded people and start a conversation!
  • Eventbrite.com: This gives you a chance to browse the latest posted events in your area and get tickets! You can also use this site if you want to start your own networking event! (pro tip: offer free food to get your first round of new comers!)
  • Facebook.com: This goes without saying. Type whatever interest, hobby, or profession that interests you in the top search bar along with your city/town and surely you’ll come up with some active groups in your area. If you don’t, maybe it’s time to build an online community to find more like-minded people!

Perhaps you use another tool? Please share your expertise in the comments section and we’ll add it to the list!

Now onto the challenge:

From now until the last day of February (29 days this year! #leapyear), try and attend ONE meetup. Check one out, expand your network. While you’re there, take a picture and post it to your Instagram. Seriously…so much reward for rewarding yourself. #BeResponsible means to grow in success in 2016. Use this challenge to take a step in the right direction.

Questions about how to find the right meet up? Ideas or tips for other networkers? Let us know: support@anthemvault.com. Best of luck and don’t forget to submit your photo to the challenge!

A Brave Step for Browsers

Internet1The viability of free content is becoming a hot topic, but in discussions on internet advertising, privacy issues often tend to surface as well. I have written a few articles discussing paywalls and adblockers and the tolls they have taken on the internet in recent years. In answer to privacy concerns, Brendan Eich, known for his work on JavaScript and Mozilla, is working on a new browser called Brave, which replaces targeted ads with anonymous ones.

Brave will be connected to its own private cloud which will host anonymous ads. The browser works by first blocking targeted ads and tracking, then replacing all of the ad spots with anonymous untargeted ads. Revenue for ads will be divided between publishers and users, after Brave takes a cut. The browser’s choice of ads will be based on information pooled from all users instead of targeting each individual.

The problem Eich is trying to address with Brave has to do with choice. In the current system of targeted ads, decisions are made for the users by browsers and websites, and those decisions are guided by the interests of content publishers in pushing as many ads and getting as many click-throughs as possible. Brave’s is an interesting route to take, and one that hasn’t been explored by other browsers yet, at least to my knowledge.

China’s Alibaba: Should Amazon, eBay and Overstock Worry?

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 I’ve long been fascinated by what’s happening in the world of international commerce. My intrigue has grown considerably over the past week after a lunch with two new friends from China. Over dumplings, a spicy chicken dish and cabbage, we explored a cornucopia of topics from the future of Big Data to the emergence of the messaging platform WeChat. But the biggest discussion topic was the explosive success of a global e-commerce enterprise in China that few westerners have even heard of……

Alibaba.

Founded in 1999 during a time when less than 1% of China’s population was online, Alibaba has minted itself as the world’s largest e-commerce company with a customer base that exceeds that of Amazon. Back in 2014, the company made history by raising $25 billion – reputedly the largest IPO ever – exceeding that of Google, Facebook and Twitter combined!

Now comes word out of China that Alibaba endeavors to significantly expand its footprint worldwide after a stunning set of accomplishments in their home country. According to the book ‘Alibaba’s World: How A Remarkable Chinese Company Is Changing The Face Of Global Business’, the company currently has approximately 300 million customers, while facilitating over 80% of China’s e-commerce transactions. And this is in a country where per-capita income averages $6,800 per year, and only a quarter of their population has ever ventured into the world of online shopping.