A Slight Edge Makes a Huge Impact

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A few years ago on a flight home from Portland to Denver, I interrupted a woman seated next to me who was deeply engaged in a book. “What are you reading?” I inquired. “Oh, it’s an amazing book called The Slight Edge. You ought to check it out.” And with that, she returned to the book without uttering another word for the remainder of the trip.

I jotted the title down, only to be reminded of it a month or so ago when I randomly found it in my Evernote cache.

So what’s the principle message of The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines Into Massive Success and Happiness? Quite simply, it is that success and failure are largely predicated on the small choices that we either make or don’t make each day. The truth is that these choices will do little to change the trajectory of our lives in the short-term. However, compounded over time, they have a massive positive or negative impact on our lives. Keep reading…

Oculus Rift: Experiencing Reality

heroVideo games have come a long way since the release of the Magnavox Odyssey and the Atari 2600. In the last 40 years, we’ve seen gaming go from Duck Hunter to Skyrim, from Sega Genesis to Xbox One. Like all visual media arts, video gaming aims to create an experience which is both immersive and life-like. Whether you’re throwing touchdowns in the latest edition of Madden or fighting with the Minutemen in the wasteland of Fallout 4, the game becomes a means by which you’re transported into a life unlike your own. On January 6, 2016, Oculus made the announcement that their virtual reality gaming headset Rift was available for pre-order and would begin shipping March 28.

Rift originally began as a Kickstarter project in 2011, shortly after Read More…

Chipotle Cools after E. Coli

chipotleIt grieves me to say that Mexican fast-food chain, Chipotle, has recently been linked to outbreaks of E. Coli across the country and a norovirus outbreak in California that happened last August. Since the very first time my taste buds encountered Chipotle, it has been one of my favorite restaurants. Previous to the incidents, the Mexican restaurant chain maintained a pristine public perception, but it is now undergoing investigation by a grand jury for the norovirus outbreak and was served a subpoena in December. Not at all surprisingly, this has severely damaged Chipotle’s sales and the downward trend is expected to continue.

Sadly, these things do happen from time to time. Taco Bell spawned a similar outbreak of E. Coli back in 2006. If history serves as a guide, Chipotle might expect their plunge to continue for at least a year or more, like Taco Bell’s which lasted for five quarters. Fortunately for the chain formerly beloved by so many, Taco Bell and other restaurants that suffered similar dives in the past have all typically made full recoveries, though it often took a couple of years.

For Chipotle, these outbreaks could potentially prove to be damning in ways that Taco Bell’s E. Coli outbreak was not. The company has poured all of its marketing efforts into building a reputation as a fast-food restaurant committed to using better ingredients and making its food fresh. Read More…

Stay Tech Safe

Information concept: Opened Padlock on digital background

Text from a friend on July 14, 2015…..

Disastrous hacker situation. The virus got through over the weekend. Killed every single file and photo on my hard drive. All tax files, PowerPoint presentations, everything. Unfortunately, I was not backed up in the cloud.”

 With the continued acceleration of technology, scenarios like this are occurring at an alarming rate. Keeping our computers and mobile devices secure against unwanted intrusions can be a daunting task. It requires vigilance and a bit of savvy to steer clear of attacks that threaten your digital landscape.

If you find yourself ignorant of the threats we face on a daily basis, then the book Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable And What We Can Do About It will get you up to speed in a hurry. Written by global security expert Marc Goodman, the accounts he shares on the proliferation of nefarious digital acts will frighten you into wanting to take proactive security measures to protect your wares. It offers a sobering look at the world of cybercrime and how it is affecting our lives.

By way of example, credit card fraud is one of the most widely feared risks that consumers face. Yet it’s been comical watching the FinTech community  respond to these concerns. I talk about this at length in a blog post that I wrote a few months ago. Sadly, despite advancements in new chip technologies for credit cards, we are all still vulnerable to hacks. And contrary to popular belief, most of these intrusions occur through in-person point-of-sale transactions for one blindingly obvious reason; the damn credit card number is still on the front of a card. Why not embed it into the strip so that when you hand it to a restaurant server, they can’t pull out a pen and write your number down? Kind of defeats the purpose of that new security chip, huh?Keep reading…

Lego Toys – a Better Investment than Gold?

Lego BricksPeople all over the internet have been re-posting and talking about a recent analysis done by The Telegraph that found Lego® sets have been a better investment over the past 10 years than savings accounts, stock and even gold! So should savers start hoarding the Danish construction toys to preserve their wealth, instead of gold coins? We will explore this question as well as a more interesting point the article indirectly makes about fiat money and wealth preservation.

Plastic Bricks vs. Gold Bricks

To be clear, the article notes that when talking about Lego sets over the past 15 years increasing an average of 12% per year, they are talking about sets in pristine condition, almost exclusively those bought as collector’s items and kept unopened in the original box.

The numbers come from their analysis of data from Lego price-tracking website brickpicker.com, which in turn gets its data from ebay sales of Lego sets. I have not crunched any numbers myself on this, but I have no reason to disbelieve their analysis. Further, 12% per year is a very impressive number, so are Legos going to become the new retirement savings vehicle?

Read More…

The Wu Wei of Responsible Budgeting

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 The New Year has arrived, and it promises untold opportunities for wealth-building! However, tapping into the storehouse of financial gain involves a responsible approach to budgeting. It requires a thorough assessment of how your inflow and outflow of money should ideally align. Most importantly, it demands a commitment to establish sound money practices; something  that is usually not high on our priority list.

Whenever I hear the word budget, it conjures up thoughts of an arduous and time-consuming process. Much of this is due to the fact that ‘money’ is imbued with all sorts of emotions and, at times, uncomfortable feelings.

In the Taoist tradition which I closely follow, there is a Chinese concept called ‘Wu Wei’ (pronounced ooooh way) that offers a poignant perspective in our quest for sound money management. It essentially means ‘non-doing’ or ‘effortless action’, a life course that is devoid of struggle or excessive effort. With practice, it enables an unconscious mental state which allows our actions to flow with the natural rhythms of life.

Below are three foundational pillars which embody the Wu Wei of budgeting responsibly. When pursued with awareness and small doses of focus, they can lead to higher levels of equilibrium between what we earn and what we spend.

Daily Practice

Ensuing from the simple practice of examining your budget are unconscious habits that make managing your money just like breathing. The key here is practice, engaging in this ritual on a regular basis to foster improvement. By way of example, an element of all championship sports teams is their commitment to practice, the absence of which would lead to mediocrity. Similarly, maintaining an effective budget involves preparation and looking at one’s history while also anticipating what’s ahead.Keep reading…