Paying for the Right to Work

President-elect Donald Trump made a deal with the CEO of United Technologies to keep some US jobs from moving to Mexico. At stake were 2000 jobs moving from a Carrier plant in Indianapolis, Indiana that manufactures air conditioners down to Mexico where labor is 80% cheaper. The nuts and bolts of the deal where that Indiana Governor and Vice President-elect Mike Pence promised $7 million dollars in tax benefits to Carrier. Carrier promised to keep approximately 800 jobs in the US. Moreover, Carrier also plans to invest $16 million in automation which would eventually eviscerate the remaining jobs at the plant. Additionally, this deal left hundreds of workers at a nearby Carrier plant in Huntington out in the cold.

United Technologies CEO admitted in an interview with Jim Cramer that 10% of his company’s revenue comes from government contracts. Hence, President-elect Trump actually had huge leverage. Yet, this was a sweetheart deal for Carrier including tax breaks , positive press, and increased profits for shareholders..

What about the workers?

The union leader at the plant, Chuck Jones, was not even consulted or invited to the bargaining table. Moreover, Chuck Jones called Donald Trump out for “lying his ass off” regarding the number of jobs saved. President-elect Trump has taken to Twitter to call Chuck Jones out by name and criticize him. Mr. Jones is receiving death threats  – for telling the truth about the deal and expressing concern for the workers who will still be laid off. I think that Mr. Trump has taken union-bashing to a presidential level. Trump’s next tweets went on to claim that unions are the reason why American jobs are being shipped overseas – a blatant lie.

This Deal Doesn’t Scale

Critics like (surprise, surprise) Sarah Palin have come out and said this deal is just “crony capitalism”. Will Trump starting picking up the phone and calling CEOs to offer more deals? Does this deal create a perverse incentive for CEOs to announce moves overseas in search of tax breaks and other government goodies? This deal simply doesn’t scale. Globalization encourages companies to seek out more favorable regulations and low-cost labor. Innovation, cost-cutting initiatives and automation exacerbate the job-crunch from globalization.

Moreover, Trump is promising more benefits to corporations including eliminating environmental regulations, allowing corporations to repatriate money overseas, and lowering the top marginal corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%. The funny thing is that the effective corporate tax rate was 19.4% between 2008 to 2012 and some corporations little or no tax at all.

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Source: White House Historical Tables

The reality is that the burden of paying taxes has shifted dramatically  from corporations to individuals. The Revenue Act of 1916 established annual income taxes in the United States. Between the inception of the annual tax to the 1960s, individuals and corporations contributed roughly the same amount in U.S. Federal taxes. The 1:1 ratio of individual and corporate tax burdens ran away in the 70s and 80s. The ratio as of 2014 is 6:1. Yes, individuals contribute 6 times the amount that corporations contribute in U.S. Federal taxes. This does not take into account Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, state taxes, property taxes, or sales and use taxes. Moreover, this data does not account for the fact that some S Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, and Sole Proprietors allow profits and losses to flow through their personal income taxes. The raw deal for the American people is that we must engage in a race to the bottom with weakened environmental regulations, lower pay, reduced benefits and greater tax benefits to “enable” corporations to compete with globalization and automation. Americans must literally pay for the right to work.

The Millennial Vote

Most UK millennials voted for to remain in the European Union and most US millennials voted for Hillary Clinton. Nationalism, economics, and passion against immigration and loss of traditional culture where a major part of the discussion in the UK referendum and the US election. Why do you think that more millennials voted against Brexit and Trump? What does this say about how millennials perceive the future?

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Take A Closer Look

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Keep Your Head

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you”

Excerpt from IF by Rudyard Kipling

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It would be an understatement to say that this has been an unpredictable, crazy and extremely negative election cycle. The good news is that we have only 5 days left! Additionally, America has been through tough election cycles in the past  including  hanging chads (Bush-Gore 2000), campaigns with divisive rhetoric (a la Game Change/2008), and even during a civil war (Lincoln 1860). Cooler heads shall prevail.

The media is pitching the story of a horse race and tightening polls. Yes, national polls are tightening. Yet, that’s not how the Electoral College works. A presidential candidate must win 270 of 538 electoral college votes that are granted based on popular vote by state. Organizations like FiveThirtyEight and the Princeton Election Consortium provide predictions derived from running simulations of state polls weighted by accuracy and sample size.

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I am personally a registered Independent and not backing either the Democratic or Republican candidate ( I am personally no fan of either). Nonetheless, numbers are numbers. Hillary Clinton’s probability of success has decreased since FBI Director Comey’s no-investigation, investigation news. Yet, she is still greatly favored to win on November 8th. We can all breathe a sigh of relief on November 9 and enjoy at least 2 years of campaign-free life.

The US election cycle is 596 days long or approx. 2 years from the primaries to national election day. A good idea may be to follow the lead of countries like the United Kingdom (139 days), Canada (78 days) or Japan (12 days by law) to limit the election cycle. Check out Sheryl Crow’s Make It Short petition. At the end of the day, we have the democracy that we accept (or demand). It’s time that we demanded a lot more from politicians (and each other).

Should you Participate in the Sharing Economy?

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As a young teen, my first experience with the sharing economy was through a popular file sharing network that suddenly bursted into existence called Napster. Through the network we could all share our songs and albums and have access to a massive worldwide music collection. It offered benefits that were absolutely game changing: downloading individual songs instead of buying complete albums, access to music from the comfort of your home and obtaining music at a fraction of the cost (the cost of learning how to use the program). Little did I know at the time but Napster changed the way music is bought, sold and consumed, forcing the industry as a whole to adapt.

What is the Sharing Economy?

In the article What Is The Sharing Economy at the people who share blog, a concrete definition of the sharing economy is attributed to the following: “The Sharing Economy is a socio-economic ecosystem built around the sharing of human, physical and intellectual resources. It includes the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organisations.”

In the article The Sharing Economy by Fast Company, the sharing economy is broken into three categories: “first, product-service systems that facilitate the sharing or renting of a product (i.e., car sharing); second, redistribution markets, which enable the re-ownership of a product (i.e., Craigslist); and third, collaborative lifestyles in which assets and skills can be shared (i.e., coworking spaces).”

When we think of the term “sharing” a monetary exchange does not usually come to mind. However, the majority of services that use this model, monetize their offerings. In the sharing economy, consumers are paying for “access” instead of “ownership”. The sharing economy is perfect for those that desire limited usage of a good or service or that don’t mind sharing their own goods or services with others.

Should you become a consumer in the sharing economy?

The major advantage to becoming a consumer in the sharing economy is the cost effectiveness. Shared goods and services are offered at a lower cost than traditional options. For example, the ride sharing services Uber and Lyft offer significantly lower fares than taxis.

In the hotel and accomodation sector, services like airbnb and couchsurfing allow travelers to obtain accomodation in the homes of strangers who participate as hosts. This is a beneficial arrangement for travelers as they reduce their costs of accomodation. Also, this arrangement is beneficial for the added experience factor. When travelers share a home with a host, they have the opportunity to form a new friendship and learn more about the city or country they are in from the hosts perspective.

The drawbacks to the sharing economy for the consumer are simple. The issue of trustworthiness is a real concern. The only way to see if the person providing the good or service is trustworthy is consumer reviews and verification systems that are based solely online. Just because some users experiences were good at a particular time and place does not  necessarily mean that your experience will be the same. Also, many of these services like Uber and Lyft are unlicensed which means there is a lack of consumer-protection regulations imposed apon such businesses.

Should you become a worker in the sharing economy?

Becoming a worker in the sharing economy is ideal for those looking for the perks that come with these jobs such as a flexible work schedule, social interaction, networking opportunities and supplemental income. The drawbacks of the sharing economy for workers include: lack of benefits like health insurance or pension plans, unfair wages and personal tax accountability.

While there are drawbacks. Many have seen that the willingness to be strategic is a key to success. For example, car-sharing services can present certain drawbacks to providers like the cost of gas, the wear and tear on their vehicle and the taxes that drivers must take out of their pay. To counteract these disadvantages, it is important to devise certain strategies. One of which is to drive as much as possible during peak hours in order to increase the pay per hour. Also, if you keep track of your gas and other car expenses, you can write those expenses off on your taxes. It is also important to take advantage of carsharing as a unique networking opportunity. While giving someone a ride, you also have the opportunity to talk to them about your business or area of expertise.

The sharing and ownership economies are here for the long run. With a clear understanding of their advantages and disadvantages we can mitigate the negative costs associated with both systems and choose the option that is best for any given scenario.

 

 

 

4 Ways You Can Frame Pain Points in Your Messages to Customers

Illustrating the problem you solve in an effective manner is a way to show potential customers you confidently understand your industry, their pains and how you can help them. When brainstorming copy for a new website or marketing visual, use the pain points you solve for your customers as the starting point. As with any design project, art follows copy. After you’ve determined your pain points, frame each point appropriately in a unique context to help your message stand out.

Pain points are psychological triggers, that allure and build interest, but do not over exaggerate a problem or use false information to trick an individual.

The purpose of a pain point is to introduce the reader to a real problem and dramatize the issue into a context the reader can understand immediately. A pain point is a tool and opportunity to explain the direct problem and validate the severity of the issue with credible facts and verified data.

Depending on your audience, the way to frame a pain point differs. There’s framing methods such as envy, controversy and building false desires, but those are used for link-baiting not telling the true value and story of your business. Below is 4 ways you can frame a pain point to tell the story of your business, including notes when each framing method is wise to use.

Shock

Link the pain point to an absurd piece of information your audience can relate to. You can fuse large numbers of people affected by large problems with other prominent health or social issues such as heart disease, cancer, poverty, homelessness, or communicate the figures into relations to the size of cities, states and countries.

As a framing method, shock works well when you are introducing a topic that is unknown, and unfamiliar to the general public. For example, let’s say your business solves a pain point that currently afflicts 500 million people across the globe. Framing a number as high as 500 million is unfathomable to think about, but if you framed that combining the populations of the United States, Canada, and Mexico is still below 500 million, paints the situation in a shocking and understandable manner that can be easily visualized.

Humor

Link the pain point to a humorous idea, using observational, absurd or satirical humor that illustrates the problem in a serious way, but in a scope that one can find funny.

As a framing method, humor works well for money figures. When talking about millions, billions, or trillions of dollars, it’s very difficult to communicate these elevated figures to an audience who doesn’t handle these amounts in their daily life. Very few people do. Using humor, you can frame concepts such as the financial debt of a nation into a narrative that is absurdly funny. For example…currently the USA has $19 trillion in debt. If every worker in America wanted to help pay off this debt equally, each worker would be $152,000 in the red.

Motivating

Linking the pain point into a motivating action, reveals a positive outcome is not far away. You want to explain to the reader that there’s a problem, but it doesn’t deplete their resources, money, or time to solve it, or require some unattainable superhuman level of work.

As a framing method, motivation is an engaging tool to communicate to your reader, that the solution to their pain is only a short distance away. Motivation works well when handling pain points that are emotional. Mental states such as grief, depression and anxiety are pain points that can be relieved from a motivational framing of your solution.

Daunting

Painting the problem to feel like brain torture, ultra time-consuming and mind numbing is a way to communicate a problem as daunting. Think about reading a mortgage word for word or memorizing the terms and conditions for your credit cards. If this was the current solution to your current problem, wouldn’t you want to be aware of a solution that didn’t require mentally exhausting work?

As a framing method, daunting works well for situations that have a reputation for being difficult. The common perception of working with legal, financial and property services are commonly thought of to be daunting and requiring extensive work from their customers along with the perception that these professions are going to find a way to take more from you then they need. If you work in law, the financial sector or real estate you could frame a pain point on how transparent your service and cost is, reducing the daunting aspects that are common in your industry.
If you’re looking to learn more about pain points, here’s a great article containing 15 other ways to frame psychological triggers: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/15-psychological-triggers/

Managing Distractions for Technology Dependent Professionals

Technology is exciting, it brings speed and efficiency to our interactions with the world. With the wide range of applications available to us, we have tools to complete important tasks that once were much more challenging. However, this technology is so engaging with its applications, notifications and messaging capabilities, that it can easily serve as a distraction when focus is critical. The same technologies that help us, can at times hurt our productivity at work.

Technology and productivity

When employers were polled in a recent Career Builder survey, three-quarters expressed that two or more hours a day are lost in productivity due to distractions such as texting, the internet, social media and email. Many employers have policies that prohibit the use of cell phones during work hours and block access to particularly distracting websites that may cause productivity loss. The problem of distraction is particularly challenging for IT professionals that use the internet for troubleshooting and reference tasks and use smartphones to test their applications and websites.

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A contributor to this growing problem is the pervasive belief that multi-tasking itself does not contribute to productivity loss. This multitasking myth was addressed by Dave Crenshaw in a course offered by Lynda.com. In one of the video modules, a timed written exercise is conducted. During the first half of the exercise, two distinct statements are written one at a time. In the second half of the exercise, two statements are then written at the same time by multitasking. At the end of the exercise, it is revealed that the tasks are done slower when done via multitasking. In another video module the instructor then demonstrates that multitasking itself causes each task to take longer.

Managing distractions

To address this problem there are several solutions:

  1. Schedule “play breaks”: This is time specifically set aside for checking social media, email and text messages apart from working hours. Having a specific time to handle these concerns takes away the immediate need for them to be addressed in the moment.
  2. Take note of message ideas: Many message oriented distractions can be handled by quickly jotting down any ideas that come to mind for emails, tweets, text messages etc. These ideas can later be acted upon during the scheduled “play breaks”.
  3. Mindful awareness: In order to avoid these distractions entirely it may be helpful to remain mindful of their root causes. For example, one may feel as though they need a distraction to counteract a particularly frustrating or mundane task faced in the workplace. It is important to remain mindful of this and engage in positive reinforcement concerning the execution of work related tasks. If these sort of tasks have been handled in the past then surely they can be addressed in the present without the use of a distraction.

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If all else fails then there are several applications that work well to control productivity and limit distractions. One such example comes from the leading online platform Upwork which has a software system in place to track freelancers as they complete projects. This app records information such as mouse movements, keyboard activity and random screenshots every 10 minutes. This information is then available for the client to review. There are also applications such as Cold Turkey and Self Control App that block websites for the period of time that the user specifies. This can be great to block access to particularly distracting websites that are frequently visited by the user.

When it comes to technology, it is true that with great power, comes great responsibility. With the right techniques and a little self-discipline, anyone can use technology to its full advantage at work without falling prey to the distractions that hinder productivity.