Our Democracy in Action

This fall’s election may be the most important in many of our lifetimes, and will have long lasting implications for the future of our country and its citizens. Knowing that, our political leadership has nominated two ‘outstanding’ candidates who offer contrasting views on a wide variety of topics, but oddly also have many characteristics in common. The chart below is designed to give the American voter a clear vision of what each candidate stands for and who they are. Remember…..every vote counts, unless you're one of the millions who happen to live in a state that always goes Republican or Democrat, in which case your vote doesn’t matter. That’s the beauty of the electoral college. If you live in California or Massachusetts for instance, it makes no difference if your candidate wins by 1 vote or 5 million votes (which might happen if you're a Democrat)…..he or she gets exactly the same number of electoral college votes. Click "read more" to see the chart.

Sweden during the pandemic.....everything remained open

The United States' approach to the new coronavirus was in line with virtually the entire developed world—we attempted to limit the damage from the virus by “flattening the curve”, meaning preventing the virus from spreading as rapidly as it would have, were no action taken. This is a pretty simple concept to understand: A virus spreads at a certain rate, known as the RO factor (pronounced “R naught” factor, and that “O” is really a subscript “O”). It’s the basic reproduction ratio or basic reproductive rate, and it tells us how fast the virus spreads…at a high level it’s just how many people on average an infected person will infect. So if one sick person infects two other people (RO = 2), the disease will spread exponentially—two people infect four people, those four infect eight people, 16, 32, 64, 128, blastoff….it’s a pandemic. RO less than one, the disease dies out. 

A number of professional journalism organizations still promote truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness, and public accountability, but in the real world those goals are just a memory these days. What happened?

It ties back to money, as does so much of what happens in this world, but in a convoluted way…….There’s a huge shortage of revenue in news publishing, between the demise of newspaper advertising, the rise of social media, free news sites, and ad revenue based on clicks. It’s not that digital media is intrinsically bad. It’s just that it’s changed the economics of journalism dramatically for the worse, so that journalism is no longer something a person who is looking for a long term, well paying, steady and prestigious job would choose to pursue as a career.

The problem for nearly every other company in the world selling to consumers is that Amazon is a nearly perfectly tuned fulfillment company. Meanwhile, other companies that should know better keep doing things poorly and losing customers to Amazon. Two recent, personal examples:

World's worst campground

Thanks to the movie The Bucket List, creating a list of things you don’t want to miss doing in your lifetime is popular these days. Some people even go so far as to actually accomplish what’s on their list. However, I thought it would be much more interesting to create (and certainly easier to accomplish) a list of things I want to be absolutely sure not to do before I’m dead. I call this my anti-bucket list:

Managing social media is like surfing a giant wave

Big wave social media surfing isn’t a sport for the timid, but if you are in a business that sells to consumers, there’s no choice, because social media is a wave that will take you to new heights or swamp your business. Why? Because it amplifies everything exponentially. 

Social media hasn’t created new concepts in the business world, but it sure has made them more important. The staid old business precepts like “good customer service” and “focused advertising” are now hooked on social media steroids:

Reddit.com is a great place to waste time if you like humor, information, or just about anything else, including NSFW. For example, a few weeks back there was a question which asked “Redditors” what their ‘go to’ joke was, for instance at a bar or party. Most of the responses weren’t all that funny, and I’d already heard them, but one joke stood out. I thought it was one of the funniest jokes I’d ever heard, so called my 14 year old daughter in so I could read it to her. She laughed out loud at it and we still talk about it,  so I thought I was on to something. However, when I then tried it on my wife, Jen, she didn’t think it was one bit funny. I’ve since tried it on a number of people, and the responses are the same—it’s either really funny or not at all funny.

 

Don't get sucked down into the very expensive website design whirlpool

It’s indisputable: Every business should have a website and a Facebook page. The question is how much to spend on it.

Some companies spend millions of dollars creating their website, others almost nothing. If the scale is 1 to 100, with 100 being how much a major international corporation might spend to create a website, working hand in hand with a large creative firm (AKA millions of dollars), and 1 being a completely static site where nothing ever changes, the right number for most SMBs is surprisingly around a 5 or a 10. Realistically there is no need to spend a fortune on a website unless you are really processing a lot of orders, or your marketing department feels strongly about certain features that they believe are unique. 

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