Rebel Saffold III
True to his first name, Denver-based entrepreneur Rebel Saffold III lives each day with purposeful abandon. As President of Lebertech Technology Services – a firm that provides consulting support to non-profit organizations in the areas of technology, leadership, operations, database management and donor relations – Rebel brings a ‘full tilt’ approach to his game while modeling the essence of free enterprise and abundance. In my exclusive interview with him over wine and pizza at Second Home in Denver’s toney Cherry Creek North District, Rebel uncorked a steady flow of uncommon wisdom about entrepreneurship, technology, money and the vicissitudes of life. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom he shared from our conversation:
I was an undergraduate major in political science and humanities at the University of Northern Iowa before working at the State Senate for about a year. During that time, I reconnected with some friends that I grew up with in high school and from whom I received my first computer: an old Compaq Presario. Because it only had a 166 MHz processor along with 64 MB of RAM, the high-speed internet connection I used proved too much for the computer to handle. In any event, a friend of mine started a business installing network cards for people in our neighborhood. After the two of us hung out for a few months, we started to get into file-sharing and other tech functions. This early orientation to technology still informs my work today.
On The Unexpected
I’ve had plenty of these but there is one life experience that stands out in my mind. My wife (at the time) and I had moved to St. Louis so that she could attend school in the field of social work. I was temping at a call center, collecting on consumer phone bills, and would often spend time after a busy day with some of my work buddies. One evening, we went to East St. Louis and hung out in the basement of someone’s home. Two of the guys I knew fairly well, but I didn’t know the rest. While sitting there engaged in conversation, a bunch of guys I’d never seen before walked in with these brown bags which they proceeded to open up, pouring the contents out onto the table. Eight handguns. And then another guy opens up his bag and pulls out three bricks of cocaine.
So here I am – this guy from Iowa – screaming on the inside from panic because I had never been around guns or drugs before. But I recognized that I mustn’t show fear around these guys because if I do, they’re going to think something is wrong and that I’m a snitch, which could end up getting me hurt. So I sat there and gave off the impression that everything was normal. As I look back at this incident years later, I recognize that this was one of many experiences that gave me the strength and backbone that I now have. I was pretty naive back then for sure.
On My Dad
My Dad went to prison for five years when I was a kid. He was caught selling drugs on the street and he got shot four times. The next day at school, every kid was talking about it. I was in the 9th grade. Read More…
Forgive the suggestion, but it seems we may have reached an era in history where finding the village idiot may not be so difficult. Bloomberg reported that this year’s SAT scores were lower than they’ve been in some years. The SAT is a globally recognized collegiate admissions exam that tests a student’s critical reading, mathematics and writing abilities. This year’s students earned an average score of 1,490 out of the possible 2,400 points that the exam has to offer (800 per section).
The two traditional sections, critical reading and mathematics, averaged 495 and 511 respectively. The writing section was an addition to the test in 2005 in an effort to assess a student’s ability to read and respond to a prompt in an analytical fashion. This section received the lowest average score since its conception: 484. The ACT, which is another (more popular) collegiate admissions exam, had average scores that remained relatively stable when compared to previous years. While the ACT exam tests what a student has learned in high school, or their ability to recall information, the SAT is more of a test of reasoning, logic and verbal skills.
These statistics reveal much about the current nature of education in the United States. Regardless of beliefs regarding traditional education versus common core, American students are not learning. They are not learning to think critically, logically or rationally, and it doesn’t take any explanation to understand how this is becoming a dangerous phenomenon. A student, in order to learn, must be open to the learning process. It may not be a matter of which educational tactic is best, but rather teaching a student who is attentive and willing to put in the necessary hours to truly learn. As a biology student with aspirations of attending medical school, I know that for every hour spent in class, I require two hours studying outside of class. It’s not always enjoyable and it is certainly detrimental to an exciting social life, but it is what’s necessary for greatness. There seems to be a problem with high school students where academic mediocrity is not only acceptable but even encouraged among one’s peers. Read More…
For well over 2,500 years, silver has been recognized as a holding of substantial value. The Lydians (present day Turkey) were one of the earliest makers of silver currency, a bas relief coinage which differed markedly from the bronze and copper coins that the Chinese had been using years earlier. Fast-forward two-millennia, and we find ourselves still loving that lustrous precious metal.
In July 2015, the U.S. Mint sold out of silver bullion coins.The high demand for silver is simply a derivation of low spot price and the (potential) upside of buying bullion in bulk. It’s also important to note the value of silver futures. Now trading at $14.65 an ounce, spot value is higher than what futures are predicting. CME data suggests that October futures will be trading about $0.10 lower than current market value. For large investors, this fractional difference screams ‘opportunity’ from the rooftops. There’s a big upside to selling now and buying again in a few months. Taking advantage of the current-spot-versus-futures situation would ultimately lead to an increase in the futures value.
But not all of us are large investors with cash flow ad infinitum. For the small investor, the answer is simple: buy more silver, and soon. I say this as an investor and also a student of the market. With prices of silver reaching affordable lows and demand for the precious metal reaching unfathomable highs, it seems that an increase in price is right around the corner. We have to remember that the large corporate investors play a pivotal role in market prices. When the supply is struggling to match the increasing demand, there has to be a squeeze coming. This means that in order to combat the excessive buying, the price of silver will soar in an attempt to manage the supply needed on a day to day basis. Read More…
Now that the dust has settled somewhat after Monday’s incredible market rout, it is helpful for investors to take stock of where we are in terms of equities, bonds, gold and other asset classes and to look at what to expect for the future and how to best position our portfolios.
Stocks undoubtedly had a wild ride over the past couple weeks. The S&P 500 is now down over 6% for the past month, even after clawing back about half of its severe losses from Monday. Year-to-date, the S&P is still down 4%, faring better than the Dow Jones Industrial Average which is down over 7% YTD, but worse than the Nasdaq composite which is still slightly positive for the year.
Gold has been the big out-performer over the last month, up over 3%. Compared to stocks, which are down over 6% in the same period, gold has outperformed by nearly 10% over the past month! As Anthem Blanchard, CEO of Anthem Vault, states:
“Given that gold has been the best performing major asset class in August, it is pretty amusing to see all of the negative reports.”
It certainly has been interesting to see the media continue to be so negative on gold, even as investors are obviously ignoring the pundits. Historically, negative media reports are actually a good contrary indicator for gold which may be forming a solid bottom. The out-performance of gold during this past month also confirms gold’s ability to act as a hedge or dampener to a portfolio which is why it is helpful to always have a small portion of gold as insurance.
Everywhere you turn these days, it seems like business environments are becoming increasingly choked with regulatory morass. Tragically, these barriers to free enterprise and economic freedom are having a chilling effect on the ability of business owners and individuals to achieve financial success.
In my opinion, government’s proper role when it comes to business and commerce should be restricted to the following:
(1) Protect property rights.
(2) Adjudicate disputes between two or more parties.
(3) Provide a legal framework whereby voluntary trade is protected.
Efforts by statists to redistribute wealth or control or manage the voluntary exchange of goods or services are inappropriate in a free society.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Anthony Sanders, Senior Attorney with the Institute for Justice, about how IJ is responding to the full-on assault taking place against economic liberty, private property, freedom of speech and other individual liberties at federal, state and local levels across the country. Here is an excerpt from our discussion:
Anthony, what sorts of barriers are being erected that are hindering free market competition in America?
Clearly, there are lots of emerging and long-standing barriers in all facets of economic life. The ones that are especially pernicious and that we focus on here at IJ are occupational licensing restrictions. Back in the 1950s, 1 in 20 people needed a license to work; today it’s 1 in 3 people. This trend is being driven in large part by people whose motive it is to use licensure to fence out the competition. We regularly see instances where government places undue restrictions on businesses and people who are just trying to earn an honest living. This is an ever-growing threat to entrepreneurial freedom.
Are there particular types of businesses that are being most affected by these barriers?
Those most affected by these laws are often small practitioners who don’t have the credentialing required by cartels. Unfortunately, the majority of these folks have neither the savvy nor the money to battle against these barriers. This is where we at IJ step in from a First Amendment context to protect the rights of those seeking to earn an honest living in their businesses and professions. Keep reading…
I have long believed in the importance of a formal education. My father was a university administrator, and my mother a K-12 school teacher. Both placed high value on the pivotal role that education plays in determining one’s fate in life. So there is no doubt that the value of education is deeply ingrained in my genetic code.
As I was crafting this article, a buddy of mine who runs a computer repair service in Denver was intrigued when I revealed the topic. He mentioned his own experience of having dropped out of college three times, unsure of what he wanted to focus on. “While I appreciate to this day what I did learn in terms of accounting, critical thinking, economics and liberal arts,” he said, “my life became directed toward more practical interests in the work world. So I never went back to complete a degree.”
I often find myself reflecting on those who may feel pressured by family, friends and society to go to college even if they may not, like my computer friend, be deriving practical value from it. Regrettably from a very early age, we are all pushed down this narrow trajectory which suggests that higher education is the ‘be all and end all’ route to achievement.
My life and that of my brother certainly swung into this jet stream, compliments of parental influence and other mitigating factors. In 1986, I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology–an achievement that elicited that oft heard refrain from others of “So what are you going to do with that?” Comments from the peanut gallery aside, I did go on to a successful career as a health care human resources executive before graduating from a west coast university twenty years later with a Masters of Public Administration in Health Services Administration.
My brother, with a couple of Masters Degrees under his belt, has been pursuing credits towards an interdisciplinary PhD…. even though he is in the enviable position of already having a secure future as a result of his ongoing stint in the military.
Bucking The Traditional Education Paradigm
Despite having received a job offer three days after getting my Bachelor’s Degree, my father made a startling comment and quasi ultimatum. “Son, you should always have a backup plan. So even though you have an offer on the table, I strongly suggest that you go and apply at Sears Roebuck.” Keep reading…