I Never Made Any Money on a Property I “Lived-Loved” In

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There is a difference between “living” in a property and “living-loving” in a property. A property you “live” in serves a purpose; it is a place where you reside, perhaps in a location determined by where you work. A property that you “live-love” in is a real estate purchase, usually near a job, family, or a certain community. “Live-love” properties create a feeling of pride of ownership but do not make money.

Real estate purchases made for personal reasons are not investments. Most often, people purchase a home with the idea that they will live in it for the rest of their lives. This sentiment serves as the justification for investing money in a wish list of improvements and updates for the property.

However, statistics show that homeowners in the United States relocate every seven and a half years. On average, it takes 15 years to pay only the interest portion of a 30-year mortgage. This means that homeowners have the same amount of debt when they purchase a property and when they leave it. Few people reside in a property long enough to pay off the entire mortgage.

When the time comes to sell a property, the appraisal will not reflect the investments that have been made from the homeowner’s wish list. The market value of the property is based on square footage and the comparative market analysis of the selling prices of other properties in the area with similar square footage. All of the updates to the property, inspired by pride of ownership, will not be reflected in the appraisal value.

Renting the property that is your residence avoids this pride of ownership. It is rare that a rental property inspires the renter to spend money on unnecessary updates. As a general rule of thumb, rent a home at 6% or less per year than the current market value of the property. If you are renting, you will be much more frugal with your investments, whether you rent a house or an apartment.

Instead, you should purchase an income-producing property that you can rent or fix up and resell. It is best to purchase a property at a price that is at least 40% below market value. Since you will not live in this property, you are able to expand the area in which you are looking to buy. You will also be more careful in spending money on improvements in the investment property.

In general, I recommend renting the property in which you live to minimize investment and financial waste. Not owning your primary residence also allows you mobility if you need to relocate. Rent out your investment property and use that income to pay the rent at your residence. You may still have pride of ownership, but the key is to switch it from your personal home to investment real estate.

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Why Uber Is Not Generating Employment – Contrary To What They Preach

It’s not a surprise that driverless cars will have a significant impact on employment rates, not only in the United States, but also throughout the world. Within the motor vehicle industry, there are hundreds of thousands of employees working within the sector – from manufacturing to driving services. In fact, almost 3% of working Americans are drivers of some sort, whether they are truck drivers or taxi drivers, bus drivers or in parcel delivery service.

Yes, it is true that driverless car technology is expected and predicted to reduce labor costs, fuel costs, and the overall rate of accidents, but it will also be a complete disaster for the entire driving and motor vehicle industry. Automation will have a significant impact on this business.

So, when Uber claims to be helping in generating employment through the addition of more drivers, we are looking at their offering from a very short-term and near sighted perspective. Yes, Uber has stated that they generated 1million jobs in 2015 alone, but what will happen when driverless cars and automation come into play?

This has already begun. Last year, Uber dispatched the first fleet of driverless vehicles in Pittsburgh; although they are currently being supervised by humans in the passenger seat. Just as is the case with Tesla and their driverless technology, driverless cars and trucks are already being released – and it’s happening sooner than most realize.

I have a significant issue with companies like Uber who claim and promote the idea of generating employment, when this is truly not their ultimate objective. In fact, the majority of Uber drivers are currently using their own vehicles to get passengers from point A to point B. This means that the company itself is making money – a great deal of it – off the backs of drivers. Uber drivers are using their own means of transportation with their own fuel at extremely competitive rates, to build Uber’s brand, a business that is very deceitfully trying to convince employees that they are focused on improving their lives and keeping them involved in the company long term.

It is time to open our eyes and be aware of the end goal of companies like Uber. Yes, the concept is simple and straightforward, and yes, the concept of automation in vehicles will be coming to us quicker than we might expect, but we need to be aware of the messages that Uber is spreading and make our own decisions and considerations before believing that the company is actually prioritizing the lives of its employees. Government needs to intervene in creating legislation to save these jobs; in certain sectors and for certain services we are simply better served by fellow humans.

The Future of News Media

Technology occasionally makes weird jumps back in time and reinvents different channels or mediums. This has happened recently with the trend of Conversational Commerce. What is it? Basically, conversational commerce tries not to build a business through a storefront, webshop or homepage. Instead, you build a business through a chat-interface – this means apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat or just the SMS application on your phone.

Another point to make is that the person on the other side of the message doesn’t have to be human. It could be anything from a program, robot, to a full-fledge AI. The most important aspect here is the chat. There are already a couple of news organizations that are using chat as a way of reaching their readers.

Quartz is an iPhone app in which users can receive news via a pre-programmed course of messages, which are sent to the reader. After every new message, the reader gets two possible answers to choose from – more details or trigger the next topic to be sent. The app also includes pictures, gifts and emojis!

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The New York Times has an election slack-bot that posts links to NYT articles about the election into a designated channel. You may think that this is just a cheap try of the NYT to get more clicks inside your slack team. However, the command “/asknytelection” allows you to send a question about the lection into the NYT newsroom. Thus, you can talk directly to a NYT journalist from inside your Slack team.

There has recently been some big news around WhatApp including they have 1 billion monthly active users and that it would stay free. This works out well because BBC covered the biggest democratic process in the world on WhatsApp and Wechat by distributing short text messages, pictures, audio and video clips. They even asked for feedback in the form of an emoticon.

Thus, I think that AI and platforms are going to be the two biggest trends for news media. Facebook announced a “business for messenger” and a secret API for developers and WhatsApp has similar plans.

The second trend—AI—is harder to really nail down. We won’t see an intelligent, news-serving AI explaining to the news in the near future, but we will see programs and bots supporting the work of journalists.

Maybe a robot, that automatically answers questions that a journalist has answered before? Or automatically serving us news, which an algorithm deemed relevant, based on our location data and likes?

Fashion Goes Tech

The tech industry has kept every industry on its toes with its rapid innovation and fashion is no exception. It has been able to convince even the most stubborn luxury companies to embrace e-commerce while simultaneously allowing newer brands to keep costs low by not requiring a storefront. This new movement is utilizing new technologies to create custom, made to order garments for the average consumer.

download (3)In the 1900s, individual dressmakers or tailors who would make clothing and décor for aristocrats and royals dominated the clothing industry. Generally these were “made-to-order” so dressmakers rarely came up with their own ideas. Instead, they would create whatever the client requested. This was also a time when most women knew how to sew and would make garments for themselves and their families.

In 1848, Charles Frederick Worth became the first fashion designer – as women came to him for his designs instead of commissioning their own ideas. He also had connections within the textile industry, which gave him access to the most elaborate fabrics. His success as a designer opened up a whole new career for many people and gave rise to the designer names we know today. Note that these were still couture, made-to-order garments that required many fitting appointments and possibly weeks to months to produce.

In 1937, the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted a study of women’s body measurements for the purpose of creating a standardized sizing system. This led to the opposite of couture: prêt-à-porter (ready to wear) standardized off-the-rack clothing.

Now there is a new movement of online-only made-to-order clothing that uses new technologies to bring us back to the careful craftsmanship and nonstandard sizing of pre-industrialization. A meeting with a tailor now utilizes quick shipping and computer vision to create custom made garments. Here are just a few of these companies:

  • FitzGerald Morrell (gloves): custom made gloves by sending the customer a quick fit sheet that includes a few instructions on measurements as well as tracing your hands on the included paper.
  • Margaux (women’s flats): similar to FitzGerald Morrell but for women’s flats. The fitting kit contains everything you need to take your measurements for your made-to-measure order. download (2)
  • Trumaker (men’s suits): measurements don’t occur online but they have a large network of “Outfitters” that will come to your home to make measurements then the suit styling is ordered online.
  • True & Co (women’s bras): Using large dataset for custom bra sizing for women by answering a questionnaire of how various brands fit you and where your pain points are.

Not only can this movement help alleviate some of the negative social and environmental impacts of the fashion industry, but it can also enable greater individualization as opposed to wearing whatever the industry decides is trendy. It may also help people develop a closer relationship with their clothing by purchasing it with greater intention via customization. The longer waiting period would hopefully encourage repairing and caring for clothing instead of throwing it in the garbage when a button falls off.

The Revolution of Philanthropy

I’ve realized that there has been a dramatic change in American philanthropy. The philanthropists aren’t waiting for politicians or businesses to solve the world’s pressing problems anymore. Federal debt, a miserable approval rating for Congress, Affordable Care Act that failed and many more failures by the government have rendered them useless in making philanthropic changes.

Now, Philanthropists are committing huge amounts of their own money to solve world challenges in health, education, job creation and the environment. In doing this, they are making the importance of philanthropy in society and across the world better known. How are they doing this? They are targeting their funds to achieve tangible results to properly demonstrate how they are making impactful changes in society.

I’m sure that you can think of a least one or two people that I’m talking about. It may have started with Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and Henry Ford, but now people like Bill Gats and Warren Buffet are igniting the philanthropic revolution. In 2000, Gates and his wife created a foundation that was worth $44 billion – half of his net worth. Then, Buffett announced in 2006 that he would contribute $30 billion of Berkshire Hathaway stock and have it managed by the Gates Foundation. Since 2000, the Gates Foundation has given away $39 billion to eradicate diseases in developing countries, help people emerge from poverty and improve education.

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Further, Bill and Melina Gates are far from “checkbook philanthropists.” They devote a lot of their time traveling the world for opportunities to make a difference with their funds. Their focus on overcoming disease, improving education and lobbying for initiatives in climate change is making an impact. They even have an organization of 1,200 people who manage their grants.

In 2011, they decided to recruit other philanthropists by launching, “The Giving Pledge.” Four years later and they have persuaded 141 wealthy couples and individuals to give away at least 50% of their fortunes. This is a strong indication of the growing power of philanthropy.

Millennials have even caught on – Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan gave $100 million to schools in Newark, New Jersey, $120 to schools in the Bay Area and 18 million Facebook shares to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. At the end of last year they also announced that they would give away 99% of their Facebook stock – valued at $45 billion. They even decided to make these contributions through a limited liability company to have more flexibility to make grants, lobby for causes and invest in ideas.

The magnitude of giving by these philanthropists is a turning point in society. In 2016, philanthropy is going to stand alongside government and business as one of the most powerful forces influencing social change.

A Recap of President Obama’s Digital Dominance

“Link in profile” and “Follow me on Snapchat” are new words out of a President’s mouth. However, those are words that President Obama uttered. His presence on social media has been a documented success. The President’s social media resume is even mimicked a digital marketing agency. The Obama administration used Flickr, Instagram and Vine for his personal profiles. In 2015, Obama became the first sitting president to get his own Twitter feed and Facebook page. And yes, the White House even joined Snapchat.

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However, I think that Obama’s recent interview on YouTube was the final example of his influence in society and how he has transitioned politics into a digital branding game. From his popular Reddit AMA to #POTUSplaylists, here is how Obama’s approach to social media changed the White House for good.

President Obama has the most liked picture on Facebook and is the most-liked world leader on Facebook, as well as on Twitter. In 2015, Obama even used a selfie stick to film an Obamacare ad with Buzzfeed. Just a few days later, the video had been viewed more than 50 million times.

Let’s back up to Obama’s YouTube interview on Friday. This is the second time that he has answered crowd-sourced questions in this format. Questions ranged from topics like police brutality, the state administered luxury tax on female goods and even his thoughts on Donald Trump. The second year of Obama’s YouTube live stream reinforced much more than his adaptability to trying new things, it identified the audience he felt was important and how to go about approaching them.

Politically, Obama’s online presence had a direct effect on fundraising and campaign support. In just four years, between the Election of 2008 and the Election of 2012, Barack Obama’s Facebook jumped from 2.3 million likes to 32.3 million likes. That is a jump of 30 million! Ultimately, Obama raised $500 million in 2008 with $403 of which was raised online. In the Election of 2012, his campaign would raise $504 million online out of a total $690 million.

We haveve seen there is an absolute need for social media when campaigning for presidency. Barack Obama’s administration has solidified a digital presence as not just a tactic to gain popularity, but a duty for the next POTUS. Which candidate do you think can carry Obama’s social media torch?

 

6 Words to Learn from Silicon Valley

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I think that everybody can agree that there is a completely different culture in the tech capital of the world. They make every business in any field smarter and more competitive. Because of this, I think that the rest of us can learn from them.

  1. MVP

This stands for “minimum viable product.” The idea is that instead of starting with a complicated new product or idea, figure out what the minimum is that you can create that will generate sales. This is the strategy to get something to market quickly, start gaining revenue and get feedback from real users.

2. Failing Fast

If you’re going to fail, you want to fail fast so you can move onto the next thing. With the MVP model, tech startups can see which products and features work, which don’t and change quickly and inexpensively. They don’t waste time and money perfecting something that people don’t even want.

3. Iterating

Adding new features, removing ones that don’t work make Product 2.0 and more. This goes from everything from apps to smart phones in the tech world, but it can really be applied to any business sector as well. Don’t stop at the first version just because it works, keep improving on any idea to make the absolute best product possible.

4. Standing Meetings

Tech companies shake up the traditional trappings of the corporate world like long, sit-down meetings. Try instituting stand-up meetings to keep things brief, relevant, creative and flowing. Think about the time and money that you will save if your meetings are more efficient and effective.

5. Agile

This project management methodology focuses on empowering team members to make decisions and break projects down into manageable chunks. The major emphasis is on communication and coordination rather than planning and control. Usually, a team will meet every two weeks to discuss progress on the project, changes and what the nest steps are to move forward. Every team member knows what their task is, but has the power to make decisions. I think that this top-down approach will help empower employees to have more control over their own work.

6. Culture

Google is famous for the perks it offers its employees. They choose to do it because they know that they demand a lot from their employees and value their productivity. I think that more businesses should treat employees as valuable assets like this.

What do you think, has your business implemented any of these practices?

What is the Future of the Work Life?

This week, I found myself wondering about what work will be like in 20 years. The tech industry is a leading example of what millennials want out of their jobs and the government will ultimately have to play in this new labor paradigm.

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I previously wrote about how everything is being uberized and jobs don’t fall short either. I see jobs becoming easy, fast and reliable just like grocery shopping, home cleaning, legal advice – all offering on demand service.

Uber is at a $62.5 billion valuation, just more proof that this new economy model isn’t going anywhere any time soon. However, there is concern about the rights of the people delivering these services and how the government should be protecting them. This has all reminded me of Metallica vs. Napster.

Once the music industry adapted to the delivery model users organically migrated to, the battle winded down. The industry needed an easier and faster option to survive and that is exactly what is going on now. We are turning to a model of decentralized, independent, self-managing labor and it won’t be long until the government adapts just like the music industry did.

Companies are spending millions of dollars to figure out ways to hold onto their millennial employees who just want to be challenged and in movement. The big focus point is that millennials value experiences over owning things, which translates into every aspect of their lives. I believe that you need to offer self-management and independence to millennials because that is the ultimate benefit in their eyes.

Freelancers have been around for a long time, but by their 30s they are sucked into full time employment by the security and stability. They are forced to live a life that they don’t want because of healthcare and retirement. I think that it is possible to make changes that will allow freelancers to work how they want to and have a peace of mind.

These dependencies are only working now for companies trying to hold on to the old paradigm. However, with the on-demand work model picking up, the government is going to have to come up with better ways to include these workers. I think that companies will need to adapt too – full time employment will become flexible, location agnostic, benefit oriented and more. Where do you see the job market going? What about your own job?

Learning Culture v. Language

Learning languages is difficult and unless you have a special talent for them, chances are that you will never sound like a native speaker. A few months ago, I published what languages I thought were most important to learn. However, now I think that there is more than language that we have to learn. I believe that what is really important is learning how to interact with other cultures.

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The acceleration of technology has a big part in why I am saying this. I think that technology will erase language barriers in the next five to 10 years. Google Translate has done a great job at removing most of the barriers of the written word, but sometimes with hilarious results. New generations of smart phone apps will do the same for our verbal communication in short order.

This breakdown of language barriers will increase the importance of cross-cultural understanding – they will be the fault lines of the future. Make sure that you spend your time reading books by foreign authors, following the news of different countries, reading the op-eds sections of major foreign newspapers. Overall, you are going to need to understand world events from someone else’s view. Go out and explore the world if you can, backpacking by yourself and meeting people in hostels can really open your eyes to the world and the people in it.

If children can, they should learn foreign languages as they are growing up. Learning foreign languages at a young age builds up synapses in the brain and helps the mind grow. If you have the ability to raise kids in a household with multiple languages, pursue it. If you are in your 20s or later and looking to learn another language to get you further in your career, your efforts are probably better spent elsewhere.

Study cultures from other points of view. The more that you know about different regions of the world, the better off you will be. I guarantee that going forward, everyone’s job is going to get much more globalized than we expect.

What has your experience been so far? Did you start in a role based in your country and have to communicate with those somewhere else? Are you an expat now, yourself? Please, comment below and tell me if you agree or disagree.

Will Tablet Magazines Survive?

On January 6, magazine editors from across the country met at Columbia University to determine the winners of the 2016 National Magazine Awards and something pretty remarkable happened. They didn’t have to pretend that tablet magazines are worth of celebration.

The American Society of Magazine Editors is the professional organization that administers the National Magazine Awards. You may have heard of them, known as the ASMEs or Ellies. First, they gave National Geographic the Calder elephant in the Tablet Edition category in 2012. The next year, they won the renamed category, Tablet Magazine, as well as the next year and the next, and the next. However, ASME chose to retire the category this year.

download (1)ASME does review and change its award categories regularly, but the end of the tablet category feels much more significant. It is a quiet acknowledgment of the industry’s failure to innovate. While tablets do not sell like smart phones, there are a lot of them out there. Actually, 45 percent of U.S. adults owned a tablet compared to 68 percent who own a smart phone – from a study by the Pew Research Center.

In 2015, ASME’s call for entries said that “tablet magazines need not duplicate the frequency of content of sibling print editions.” In reality, tablet magazines did have to duplicate print editions. This is because the Alliance for Audited Media sets the rules for how magazines report circulation and rate base, the average circulation level that determines ad rates. AAM determined that tablet magazines could be included in the rate base, which means that they are counted for advertising purposes only if they included “all the same editorial content as in the print.”

So basically, magazines could include enhanced content suitable for tablets like videos or interactive elements, but only on top of the magazine’s original editorial, art and ads “presented in a manner consistent with the print issue.” Sadly, innovation is just costly and just bad for business. In order for the user to even access the content, the user had to remember to open the newsstand once a month and download a huge file…who would really bother?

How do you prefer to read magazine articles? Do you click on them from emails in your browser, open apps on your phone or download PDFs on your tablet? I hope that the Alliance for Audited Media reviews their rules to allow for proper innovation in this industry.