Category Archives: Blog

TED: Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you’ve heard of TED.  On their About page, TED present themselves as a “nonprofit devoted to ideas worth spreading.”

I’ve watched a few TED presentations and gotten value out of them.  Mind you, one may not always agree with the presenter.  But the speakers are always eloquent and present their ideas clearly.  Along with @WFMU, who tweeted the following link, I’m wondering why TED initially declined to make public Nick Hanauer’s iconoclastic presentation on income inequality.

You might expect Nick Hanauer, venture capitalist and one of the first non-family investors in Amazon, to toe the line about the rich being job creators, but he goes in an entirely different direction.  Here’s the video, finally released due to public criticism of TED:

The phrase “job creator” is already over.  It’s simply a shrill sound bite that invites one to put the subject on a pedestal and bow down in awe.  No need to think too hard.  We need to look behind the curtain to see what’s really going on.


Adirondack Club and Resort: Savior or White Elephant?

David Gibson and Dan Plumley wrote a piercing essay on the Adirondack Park Agency and how it resisted real estate developers 24 years ago.  As he notes, it’s particularly relevant in the debate of the recently approved Adirondack Club and Resort in Tupper Lake.

My biggest issue with the development is its financing.  If this is such a great project, why aren’t banks falling over themselves to offer financing?  The developer hopes to finance the project through bonds sold by the Franklin County Industrial Development Agency.  And instead of property taxes, the developer hopes that the “Town of Tupper Lake will approve a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) for the first ten years to alleviate the property tax burdens on the developer and buyers.”  Yet the municipality will be expected to provide services to the new homeowners.

While I reside in New Jersey, I have roots in northern New York.  My grandfather’s family maintained a great camp on Racquette Lake and my grandfather raised his own family in Warrensburg.  It’s bucolic up there, but it’s not necessarily an idyllic life.  Plenty of families are challenged making ends meet.  Yet after the houses are built, I’m wondering what jobs will be left for Tupper Lake residents.

Clear Communication Enhances The Customer Experience

This afternoon, I went shopping for Christmas gifts for my niece.  In a well-known children’s clothing store, I puzzled over the sizing nomenclature on clothing labels.

“What is size 6X?” I asked the salesperson.

“It’s a size seven,” she replied.

OK… why not simply label it size seven?

A month ago, I called a local place to make reservations for my daughter’s birthday party.  I started inquiring about availability and rates.  On the other end of the phone, the young lady said, “You can find all that information on our web site.”

Sorry, but that’s not acceptable customer service.  Had my child not desperately wanted to have her birthday party there, I would have hung up.

Web sites are wonderful, they’re accessible 24/7 at your convenience.  But when I call your business, I want to sound you out.  I’m considering a business relationship of some sort.  What’s the tone of voice like on the other end?  Is that person knowledgeable about the product or service they’re offering?  Telling me the information is available online is almost saying that you’d rather not be bothered.

Clear communication is key for any business.  Whether you’re a mom and pop retailer, a startup owner seeking venture capital, or a Fortune 500 company, you need to put clear ideas across verbally as well as in writing.  What’s your business communication style?

The No-Growth Trap: An Endless Loop

I came across this story in The National Interest after the New York Times’s David Leonhardt tweeted it.  Densely written, the incisive view on our stagnant economy and politics is well worth your time.  My only quabble is this sentence.

“The borrowing that the government needs to do to fund its shortfall absorbs the savings that in a fully employed economy would otherwise go into investments in new factories, new equipment, new office buildings, new research and new houses.”

While we’re good at designing products in this country, the actual assembly of them is farmed out to foreign countries.  I see little incentive for American companies to build new factories and engage in production at home.  Corporate disinterest in domestic manufacturing will continue the stagnating of the U.S. economy.