Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Entrepreneurship

I have been brainstorming on starting a small venture for a while now. Something with low startup costs and a flexible schedule works best for me:
  • PC Repair / Cleanup. Send out some flyers locally to advertise PC repair or cleanup for cheap. Maybe do free estimates to start a client base and hopefully referrals spawn from that. Spyware cleanup is extremely easy and many people are clueless on what is causing their PC to slowdown.
  • Build a Website to Sell Products. Build a website to sell high profit margin products. Possibly arrange for the products to be drop-shipped to your customer’s door to avoid extra shipping costs and time. I don't have many ideas on specific products yet.
  • Turn Deals into Profit / Ebay Business. Find a deal on a product and then turn around and sell it for a profit, Ebay is great for this (just watch out for the fees). Great sources are from friends, local papers, online deals (slickdeals, techbargains, fatwallet) or craigslist. Find under-priced products that you know the real value of to make a little cash.
  • Website Design. This has done well for me in the past. I should continue to find clients that need a new website or an old website improved. The pay is generally good, the work isn't too bad and you can work from home and in between tasks.

Google

Google (GOOG) has officially ruined my day. It has been seeing great performance since it's IPO and I decided to ride the wave. I bought in and put a stop market at $382 (meaning it will sell at $382 or close to that value if it reaches that price). I check my account today and Google dropped from $390 to $350, so I figure that my sell order had executed at $382. Wrong. The sell did not execute and I am still riding down the stock and the price is now $350. I am pretty angry after loosing a lot of money, just because the order didn't execute. Just venting...

Monday, February 27, 2006

Material Things

  • The Lord of War. After watching "Lord of War" featuring Nicolas Cage last night, I discussed the movie with a few friends. The movie is about a arms dealer who becomes extremely wealthy by selling guns to other countries. He eventually marries his dream girl but they never talk about what he does for work. Everything in his life eventually comes crashing down (family, the law, etc) because of the nature of work that he is in.
  • Everything is not always what it seems. After the movie ended, a friend stated "I couldn't imagine having everything and then all of a sudden it is gone." In my opinion, the character never had anything. He had material things like a house, cars, airplanes and a model wife but lacked in every other area. He basically sold arms to countries to promote war and violence. Everything he owned was basically bought with "blood money", it wasn't an honest way of living. He never had any honest relationships, they were all filled with lies and deceit.
  • I don't want to be someone who owns everything and realistically has nothing. I see people all the time with a nice house, nice cars and all the toys. You generally think of these people as successful. Many of these people do not have a dollar to their name and live "paycheck to paycheck". They have huge amounts of debt and if something was to happen, they would lose everything. It could be something as simple as getting your hours cut back at work, an injury or a family emergency that requires you to take time off. Even a Adjustable Rate Mortgage could cause you to lose everything with the interest rates continually rising, causing your mortgage payments to go up.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Money, Knowledge & Relationships

Money Isn't Everything
  • Knowledge & Relationships. Sometimes the sacrifices you take (less money, your valuable time) can be rewarding in other areas. For example if you take on a job where you actually make less money but plan on establishing key relationships with people, gain invaluable experience or have better opportunities to succeed, you may find yourself better off in the future. Even doing a non-paid internship can give you the experience you need and get you a foot in the door. If you take sacrifices, you may come out on top... BIG.
  • There is more to life then money. I don't believe I would be happier with the more money I have but I also think it can not hurt. The real backbreaker comes from the ways that you obtain money. If you work long hours there is always a trade off; if you work a lot, you spend less time with a significant other, friends, family, etc. It's all about how you spend your time in the end.
    • Maybe you choose to work extremely hard in the first few years of your career, get a few breaks, maybe get a little lucky and then cut back on work and enjoy life more. You now have less worries about your, now strong, financial situation and can do things you enjoy like traveling and spending time with people.
    • Maybe you work just enough to get by and do many of the things you enjoy along the way. You may have more worries than the previous guy but hey, at least you are enjoying life!
  • Broken relationships. Whether you are a saver or a spender, you should NEVER sacrifice relationships with people for more money in your pocket. These people are the ones that help you in times of trouble and vice versa, why would you want to damage them over a few dollars? It's just not worth it.
    • I find that my happiness comes from other people. I am happy when I spend time with friends/family by talking with them, gaining insight, by helping them out and in general just having a good time. No amount of money in my opinion is worth damaging this, after all it is my happiness.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Me? An Investment Banker?

What do they do?
  • Investment bankers advise their clients on high level financial issues. They can be responsible for issuing types of debt, recommending strategies for take overs and mergers with other companies or helping with an initial public offering (getting a company on the stock market). Work involves a lot of financial analysis and personal and strategic skills are a must. Clients range from small companies to multi-billion dollar organizations. People in the field say the job is very satisfying and rewarding, both intellectually and financially.
Education Requirements
  • Minimum requirements are a bachelor's degree. Degrees of graduates widely differ but many come from finance, accounting and economics.
  • An M.B.A. is usually required to move up in the field.
My Take
  • This is definitely the job for me, especially out of college. Investment banking jobs are the most prestegious jobs you can get with a finance degree. I luckly got a few interviews with banks and it sort of just happened, everything fell into place. I believe I have the right mindset to succeed in this industry and the benefits (from what I hear) will be rewarding. If I don't like it I can always move around but I feel I will enjoy it and do very well. I can't wait to start near the end of August!

Personal Mission Statement

I have decided to make my own personal mission statement. Corporations and many companies have them to set goals and values. Why not make one for your own life on the values you would like to have or accomplish? This idea spawned from the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, which I highly recommend.

Here is my personal mission statement:
  • Family & Friends

    • Value and protect my family and friends.
    • Thank those who have helped me and return the favor.
    • Refrain from competing and add to other's success.
    • Be empathetic and forgiving… people make mistakes.
    • Surround myself with people of the same values.
    • Be interdependent in my relationships with others.
    • Give more and expect less.

    • The ultimate goal is happiness, but not at the expense of others.
  • Accomplishment & Growth

    • Give everything I do my best effort.
    • Continue to learn, grow and adapt to change.
    • Be successful, both emotional and financially, not only for myself, but for the benefit of those around me.
    • Allow my values to guide me, not jealously or other peoples' values, competition or wealth.
    • Constantly improve on my weaknesses and learn from my mistakes.
    • Be resourceful and have a sense of worth.
    • Think positively about any situation.
    • Protect and be conscious of my health.
    • Travel and see the world.
    • Be thankful for what I have.

    • The ultimate goal is happiness, in which we feel wanted and needed by others and the world.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Life Changing Book

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
One of the best and most influential books that I have read. Dale Carnegie really understands how relationships with people develop and are maintained. It lays out how to talk to people and to be genuinely interested in them and what they have to say. I found I am a much better person after applying aspects of this book in my life. I have made new friends much faster and have strengthened existing relationships. Overall it has been a life changing book for me and I would recommend it to anyone!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Investors/Businessmen I would like to meet

Warren Buffet
  • A very successful investor and businessman. He started with $10,000 and is now worth over $40 Billion, the second richest under Bill Gates. He did it all mostly through investing and owns the firm Berkshire Hathaway.
    • I may be meeting him in April through a student organization at my college, I am crossing my fingers because only 25 people are going to be able to go!! This is the chance of a lifetime!!

Jim Cramer (of Mad Money)
  • A unique guy that is the star of the show Mad Money on CNBC. He is a little crazy but very intelligent. I wouldn't take everything he says seriously but he has some great ideas for trends and picks.
Eddie Lampert
  • Often called "The Next Warren Buffet", this graduate from Yale was a member of the skull and bones society. He runs a hedge fund called ESL Investments that averages around 29% a year, which is incredible. He is a value investor like Buffet but hasn't been around as long so it's tough to say he is the next Buffet. His returns have been remarkable so we'll have to see what he does in the future, regardless he is a very successful investor and businessman.
Donald Trump
  • Quite an interesting guy and entrepreneur. He has great business ideas and is a hard worker. He is a little too straight forward and egocentric in my opinion but it seemed to work for him very well. Needless to say, he would be an interesting guy to talk to.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

How to be Happy

Be Optimistic
  • Look at everything in a positive light and you will be happier. It is tough to do sometimes but once you get in the right mindset, it just comes natural. Plus, everyone likes being around a positive person.
Gain Perspective
  • See where your life is going and change the direction if need be. Don't let the little things stop you from getting to your goals and dreams.
Be Thankful
  • Show some appreciation to those in your life and you will feel good about yourself. A simple "thank you" can go a long way.
Enjoy Life
  • Do things you enjoy doing or take up a new hobby. A change in pace is never a bad thing.
Take Care of Yourself
  • Eat well and exercise. You will feel 10x better if you eat healthy and exercise, I notice a huge difference. It also can boost your self-confidence.
Change Your Schedule
  • Get out of your same routine, try something new and exciting. Take a day off work, try a new type of food or hobby.
Keep in Touch With People
  • Contact an friend that you haven't talked to in a while. Keep in touch with the people you in your life, you have to make the effort as much as they do for it to work.
Find a Significant Other
  • Talking with someone you love can give you a real boost. If you establish a good relationship, keep making it better and the unconditional love will give you security and confidence.
Forgive
  • Forgive someone for something that was said or done, you can't change the past or what happened now. Maybe you were hurt by an ex but they meant something to you at one point in your life so maybe it's time you forgive them.

Buying a "New" Car

I like to purchase cars that are a few years old and try to get the most recent body style. You can really save a lot of money here because most of the depreciation value has dropped off considerably already. You also get the feel of a new car and a possible existing warranty if you buy one new enough. I usually like to keep the miles under 40,000 if possible which dramatically reduces future repairs and helps resale value.

Here are my basic requirements for a new car:
  • Price range: $17000-25000
  • Driveable in winter
  • Sporty, fast and classy
  • Reliable
  • Good resale value
  • Good gas mileage
I have been researching for months now and I have come upon a few cars that fit the requirements:
My first two choices are the Infinity and Nissan, both of which are RWD and I need to be able to drive them in winter. Each can be bought with traction control which makes them much more possible to get around when it's snowy. The Audi's are very nice cars and I would be very happy with either of them, the benefit of AWD is a major perk. The Cobra is really out of my price range and not too practical in the winter so it is basically out of the running, although it is a monster as far as performance.

I find a lot of my information on Kelly Blue Book, MSN Autos and Edmunds. I use Autotrader typically to find the cars and will look around car-specific forums for opinions and comments on the specific models.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Work and Life Balance

Allocate your time
  • Work and money aren't everything - find balance and enjoy life. If you enjoy working, then by all means, work as much as you want. Many people get so wrapped up in work that they forget about their family, friends and social activities which can come back to haunt them later in life if they have neglected and damaged these relationships severely.
Focus on yourself
  • Make time for yourself. Find activities and hobbies that you enjoy and DO THEM. Everyone in this world can think of things they would "like" to do or "would" enjoy doing but they never go out and actually do them. Stop thinking about it and do it, you will not regret it.
Connect with others
  • Take the time to contact the people in your life. They are the ones that hold you up if you come on rough times and these are the people that you can help when they need it.

"Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them - work, family, health, friends, and spirit - and you're keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls - family, health, friends, and spirit are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life." - Brian Dyson

Hobbies

Find some new hobbies that you might enjoy and go after them. Some of the ones I would like to persue are Scuba Diving, Skydiving and Backpacking.

Scuba Diving - Info
  • Underwater has always intrigued me so I feel that I would love scuba diving. I always go snorkeling, if it's available, when I'm on vacation and scuba would be even better in my opinion.

Backpacking - Info
  • I am also researching Europe right now to backpack for a month before I start my new job in August. There are a lot of great websites out there with tons of information to sift through. Talking to friends and people are a great source of what to do and what not to do while I am over there. I don't want to pre-plan everything before I go but I would like to know some of the destinations and places to see while I am there. I think the best part will be meeting people that come from different backgrounds.

Skydiving - Info
  • Skydiving is also something I would love to do. I just have to save up the money for it and find some people interested in going.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Steps to Success

Steps to Success

Start at the top
  • Great family, great morals, great high school, great college = great person? I feel like I have been given chances and opportunities from the top. I am lucky and thankful, that's it. Some people start at the bottom and I have more respect for these people but everyone is unique and you do with what you've been given, even if that means starting from nothing, look at Opera Winfrey.
Education
  • One of my passions. I love school because I am good at it. I find you typically like anything you are good at. I consider myself very successful in college and I want to go to a top B-school for a MBA in the future.
Well-rounded upbringing
  • Not everyone is good at everything. Being a well-rounded, likeable person is who I am striving to be. I have identified my interests, learned more about these subjects and through it all I want to be a nice, considerate and likeable person.
Make contacts
  • Make yourself known. Have an interest in people other than yourself. Go out, meet new people and have fun whenever possible. I have found that if you are genuinely interested in other people and ask them about themselves you have a much better chance of becoming friends with them - so get over your ego and be empathetic for once. Something simple as saying "hello" to someone you have never seen before could change your life. After all, everyone is looking for friends and if they aren't - then they are either inhuman or not important to you anyways.
Make an impression
  • You make an impression on people that notice you everywhere. You don't have to be a great story teller, you don't have to be surrounded by beautiful women - just be whoever you are or want to be and people will love you for it. If you do not like who you are then practice being the person you want to be (without being fake) and someday it will happen, just don't give up. If you want to be more social - put yourself in positions where you have a chance to be. If you want to be more knowledgeable in the area of finance, hang out with people who talk about money.
Find balance with a partner
  • I'll admit it, I am struggling here. I was in a long-term relationship with the same person through high school and most of college. We broke up and I am still having a hard time getting over her. I am not really looking for a serious relationship right now but if someone amazing crosses my path, I definately wouldn't mind.
Recognize a time for change
  • Recognizing change - very IMPORTANT. This falls under every category of your life. Work, school, relationships, family.... If you cannot adapt to change - then start to. Some of the best companies in the world have failed because they didn't realize change. If your relationship takes a turn then be receptive and fix it. Without adapting to change you will lose in the long run everytime. "The times are a changin', something Mr. Burgandy did not understand" - Anchorman.

The Pitfalls of Money and Power

Careful What You Wish For
"Those who say, "I want to make enough money never to have to think about it again," obviously have no cash flow. The more money you have, the more you worry about it because, after you've stuffed every pillow in your house, you still need to find places to stash your cash. It becomes unmanageable; you can't keep track of all your money, and you worry about which slimeball in your inner circle has his eyes on your children's meal ticket."

This is exactly it and I find myself in the same position. Money takes over people's lives and they get greedy about it. I shoot for the stars but want to be respectable about it. There is no need for me to have a personal airplane or own my own island. I do not wish to own a house over 3000 sq. feet. I would enjoy a house on a lake, a few nice cars and toys (boat, jet skis, etc) and I will feel I have accomplished my financial goals in life. I would enjoy working 20 hours and week and making $100,000 but I am not going to push myself too hard, although I know it's attainable. I realize there is more to life than money and power, for example family, friends and love. I have always valued my friends and family but lacked in the area of love. I had a really great girl and didn't put much effort into the relationship and it folded. Maybe it was both of our faults, I guess it doesn't really matter anymore but I still miss her every single day, but heartbreak is just a part of life. If anyone is looking for any good books or information on meeting people, making friends or having successful relationships - check out Dale Carnegie, David DeAngelo and read Askmen.com daily.

Intro

Here is the story of my life, not sure who really cares... but I never asked you to read about me anyways. If you enjoy it or want to learn something, you should hang around.

I'm just an easy going guy who wants to be successful in all aspects of life. I am finishing up college and preparing for the "real world" and frankly, it scares me. I'm not much of a complainer and I generally like everyone. I am tough on myself and believe in excellence. I try to be the best and often fail, so I try again. I feel I have done very well for myself, but who doesn't? When I lack in certain areas, I attempt to get better but realize noone is the best at everything. Maybe I'm not the best speaker, maybe I'm not the best at relationships, but hey, I tried and thats all I could do at the time. I keep a positive outlook on life and believe that people in general are good. I don't think there is anything else to life other than being happy. "Life is short, live while you have the chance."