Constructing a 3D Storyboard – Contours of Stories

A Contour Map

By: Heero Yuy

In my previous post I presented the idea that Vonnegut’s Shapes of Stories needed an update. Video below will get you up to speed on the concept of Shapes of Stories.

I watched Casey Neistat’s videos because I found [VR 360] to be fascinating and that that particular space is the future of ALL popular video as more VR headsets get distributed to the general public.

This particular video from Casey is his guide to Film Making which I thought was fascinating:

What drives everything as Casey says is this:

storytelling-casey-neistat
Story is the center of Film Making, period.

So stories should flow and engage the audience!

In the attempt to rent out my house, and having no real bidders for the past few months, I’ve resolved to DIY. Last night, I went and purchased a Samsung Gear 360 from Best Buy after they price matched the linked Amazon.com price of $273.00! (Was going to get taxed either way so I went to Best Buy to pick it up instead of waiting)

A buddy of mine, Clay, was fascinated about the new dimensions that VR brings to the table in the history of cinematography. This is shooting color when everyone else shot black and white. This is shooting with sound when everyone else produced silent films. This is it! My challenge to Clay and others is to do a daily VRLog (Virtual Reality Video Blog) of 2-5mins to enhance storytelling and give the audience something cool to think about while being visually inspired. Most of my friends find [VR 360] to be comical at best and don’t really get it. When this becomes the standard, others will look back at on this post will think it was obvious where they are currently oblivious.

Why am I bringing up the Shapes of Stories and [VR 360] at the same time? Well… to tell a multidimensional story, one needs to utilize a multidimensional storytelling equipment such as the Samsung Gear 360! It only feels appropriate the give the audience that added layer of infinite degrees of freedom and option to rewind and re-watch the story to get infinite different angles and perspectives as the narrator moves through each scene. Watching a 2D movie would give you only one universal angle and infinite interpretations where as a [VR 360] film provides infinite angles and interpretations.

Before I start to manually analyze this idea of 3D Shapes of Stories, or Contours of Stories (sounds better), I need to formalize the system by which we talk about Contours of Stories.

There are Three Dimensions to any Story (which makes up our Axis for x-y-z planes):

  1. Time
  2. Fortune
  3. Practicality

We can assign ranges to describe each so that we know the beginning and end as well as the degree of Fortune (Misfortune) and Practicality (Theoretical).

  1. Time (A-Z; 26 Letters with A the beginning and Z the end)
  2. Fortune (0-10; 0 being total devastation and 10 being absolutely blessed and 5 being neutral)
  3. Practicality (1-5; 1 being Theoretical [Impractical] and 5 being Very Pragmatic [Practical] and 3 being neutral)

Some storytelling can jump back and forth chronologically so letters can be repeated. The sequence of referring to all three dimensions is

(Practicality:Time:Fortune)

i.e. (3A5) which stands for neutral practical, start of story, and neutral fortune.

The first number will always refer to Practicality and the last will always refer to Fortune. The last number of Fortune can have up to two digits and the first letter will only be single digit. Memory cue is you can always be MORE Fortunate than being simply being Practical (Fortune can have extra digit).

I will put this idea to practice as I execute my storyboard and advertise my home for rent. Let’s see how this project turns out! 🙂 Hopefully I can get some buy-in from Casey on these ideas and more so that my first ever [VR 360] project can be a success. Wish me luck!

rent-my-house-lumberton-tx
How to Rent out a Home – [VR 360] Vonnegut Contour of Stories Style!

F*#!K Georgia Tech!!! – How to Hate the Best Four Years of Your Life [GOL-T]

By: Heero Yuy

Georgia Tech is like Trench Warfare. If the enemy doesn’t kill you the trench foot, mustard or chlorine gas will. It’s a lose-lose scenario for mere mortals (sane rational human beings) who get sacrificed as cannon fodder for the elite (conformists/tools) few that skew the bell-curve at each Mid-Term and Final. I thoroughly hated it there and resolved to detox elsewhere for my Graduate studies. The only thing that keeps you going in the classic case of Trench Warfare are good friends. Jims was one of those good friends that kept my spirits up during those rather hopeless and lost years. The saying goes: “Misery loves company.” 99% of Georgia Tech students are miserable and they all love to rag on how the school, facilities, and professors all suck.

Jims and I often find ourselves hating on Georgia Tech pretty hard. This was one of our favorite pass times between pontificating life and how utterly useless that shit is as well. We knew we were on the assembly line groomed for what will be 20-30 years more of relentless old and new ways to sell our souls to Corporate America. Yes, indeed, we hated life but we hated Georgia Tech even more than life itself! F**K Georgia Tech!

1. Normal people greet each other with some variation of the following dialog:

Person#1: “Hey, how are you doing?”

Person#2: “I’m good, thanks. You?”

Person #1: “I’m doing well, thanks for asking!”

Music continues along with the facade that life is just peachy. You see, these two people obviously did NOT go to Georgia Tech.

2. This is how two Yellow Jackets (current) greet each other:

YJacket#1: “Hey dude, you did an all nighter again?” (Yeah I said dude, that ratio is probably still shit. There aren’t any girls there, keep moving, skip go, don’t collect $200, and try again for wife-material at GSU, UGA, or Emory)

YJacket#2: “Of course man, you were in that [First Person Shooter or RTS] game all night with me and cramming for [XYZ whatever bullshit class you are going to get a ‘C’ in anyways due to some God forsaken Four Horsemen pyramid scheme]!”

YJacket#1: “Oh yeah… I must have forgot. Let’s pound some [ABC Energy Drink] and go fail that test together!”

Memory lapses are a regular occurrence after all nighters. Don’t worry, all will be well after you barfed out the information/solutions necessary to ‘pass’ that mid-term/final. Bro fist or High Five concludes this conversation.

3. This is how two Yellow Jackets (ghost of Xmas past) greet each other:

*The usual horrendous fake social pleasantries like anyone actually gives a damn*

OldJacket#1: “… so, aren’t you glad you aren’t at Georgia Tech anymore?”

OldJacket#2: *Blood boils, face turns into a volcano* “Georgia… Georgia what??? F&#*K THAT PLACE, I am so glad I am not in that [Mental Institution, Prison, Shady Shack, Saw# Movie, etc]”

OldJacket#1: “Spoken like a true Yellow Jacket!

Yeah, f**k that place.

Jims and I play #3 quite often and we truly invent new deeper layers of Hell each time we get into the flow of hate. During our recent hate session on that forsaken place, we started to talk about how Georgia Tech is rigged just like the real Game of Life. Then it clicked… Georgia Tech IS the Game of Life!

Jims applauded me with my following assessment on how the Game is played at Georgia Tech:

“just like goddamn Gatech with fraternities that horde all the loot (old Exams, Quizzes, and HWs)

if you don’t start in those clans, you are severely behind.”

#truth

This is about the only real thing I learned at my over-priced, under-valued, under-appreciated piece of paper that collects dust somewhere in an obscure filing cabinet.

I wall-hacked back in the classic teenage days where everyone played Counter-Strike and happen to also cheat in Team Fortress Classic (Half-Life 2 Mod – see above video). After my remark to Jims above, I followed it up with:

“The only way to win in a rigged game is to cheat. That’s why I used wall hack back in the day.

Loved that Team Fortress sniper shit… LOL, spy vs spy? Nal man, hacker vs hacker! LOLOLOL

 

me: Hey man, you are wallhacking!
cheater#2: Dude, so are you!!!”

Jims got a good laugh out of that one and I continued by saying:

“Takes a cheater to spot another cheater! LMAO!

but much is the same in the game of life… The ones who actually got up to the top, the Generational wealth, are all part of families or clans that cheated, horded resources, and didn’t give any of it back to the system.

 

when you [are] Rocky Balboa and make it to the top eventually, you can either:
1) Join them and start your own old money
2) Put all chips back on table (Gates + Buffett)

 

either way, as you are making it, pure grind or cheat codes used, you will start to see that these mfuckers were born with all the loot, cheat codes, and epic gear that no one else can feasibly get [even after] grinding a thousand life times!”

Sometimes being miserable, hateful, and cynic f from m*****r f*#king Georgia Tech has its perks. You get that sick clarity on life that others, who choose to stay in that masquerade, lack.

Now I need some time away from the keyboard to Detox from even recalling those dark times at Georgia Tech. Go forage for some berries or something but for God’s sake do NOT go to Georgia Tech!!!

All Hail Peter Gregory’s TED Talk (from HBO’s Silicon Valley)!

3D Shapes of Stories – Spicing up a Classic Idea from Vonnegut

By: Heero Yuy

Kurt Vonnegut’s Shapes of Stories (Harvard Business Review) deals with the Axis of Time and Fortune. This is the audience or the reader’s perceived feeling as the story unfolds. In the story itself the actual character deals with internal and external conflicts where he or she has to apply theoretical or applied solutions in resolving each conflict to move onto the next milestone.

Imagine the following as the 3-Dimensional Shapes of Stories.

No automatic alt text available.

The Labels of the X, Y, and Z Axis:

  • X-Axis: Time
  • Y-Axis: Theoretical for Y>0, Applied for Y<0
  • Z-Axis: Fortune Z>0, Misfortune Z<0 (Perceived)

Most telling of stories deals with the mental aspect on how characters overcome obstacles using a combination of the Y-Axis to yield the items on the Z-Axis while the X-Axis constantly moves from 0 (beginning) to 100 (end). Datamining various stories (MIT Technology Review), lines plotted in 3D, based on the above axis would yield contours of stories not simply plots to give story telling of humans true shapes.

I am sure there are infinite Axis that can be added onto the general X-Axis of time such as:

  • Character’s emotional response to Z-Axis
  • Accumulation, or not, of knowledge or wisdom
  • Change, or not, of each character
  • Etc

Generally speaking, the audience is most in tune with the How and Why the character managed to shift or remain stagnant on the Z-Axis. Why makes the story interesting to read and the How is explained by the Y-Axis.

This is the 3-Dimensional update to Kurt Vonnegut’s 2-Dimensional Shapes of Stories.

Two Roads Diverged – Choose with Caution and Necessity [Game of Life]

By: Heero Yuy

My good buddy, Jims, was the person who first got me to really think about the Game of Life. Beyond a simple board game, the real Game of Life is rather complex and any attempts to simplify it will be met with utter failure. It is what it is. Certain things can be clarified at best so I shall attempt to clarify the two dichotomous aspects of the Game of Life.

My friend Jims’ angle on this game is the following:

“My idea was more of a thought experiment about if life was a game, no one would want to play it, because there’s a lot of broken game mechanics in it. That it would ultimately fail. That the reason it hasn’t [become] free to play is because there’s a lack of competition from other games.”

Jims explains the structure, rules, and dynamics of this game very well when we discussed this topic at large in previous conversations. His above quote implies that the architects of the game has a very fat margin and wants to keep it that way. There is a lack of general competition to keep the game fair and interesting for all people certain people’s starting line is in absolute poverty while others are born with a silverspoon into an affluent family. The only way for the former to advance beyond their starting line is a ton of hard work and an amazing amount of luck and still never touch the starting line of the latter. Such games are obviously very biased, such is life.

The angle I took in my previous post on this topic was more of sarcasm, cynicism, facetious, and blunt. However, I did in very crude terms explain the rough idea of the theory behind the game itself which aligned with what Jims’ discussions. Jims told me that I leave the reader with a motivational and inspiring path that possess the fragrance inspired from heavy basenotes of Capitalism and a topnote of Meritocracy; this is the applied approach in playing the game itself vs the treatise of pure theory.

I felt it appropriate to draw the line in the sand and divide up the two discussions as separate topics and when appropriate intermingling when the music is right for the two to dance as one.

game-of-life-road-map
Many Paths of a Story – Choose Wisely!

With Freedom and Self-Awareness, the paths to life are infinite. No one’s life is a straight line as it is impossible and boring without the ups and downs that takes us from evaluating the strategies and planning (theory) before going back to playing the game and the actual execution (applied).

While my previous post did have an overtone of Jordan Belfort/Zig Ziglar-ism (Sales/Inspiring/Pragmatic), it appropriately outlined majority of future topics.

Conclusion:

  • Is the Game really stacked against us or can you actually do something about it?
  • Theory or applied?

You decide and à la carte use consume which ever body of knowledge and wisdom when appropriate.

Footnote: Future posts will be tagged with #Game of Life and Titled [GOL-T] or [GOL-A] for Game of Life Theory and Applied respectively.

Friend or Foe? – When to End Relationships like Cutting Losing Positions

By: Heero Yuy

Life is an investment of an ever scarce resource called time. To live life to the fullest, one must understand what activities and people to invest in and which ones to avoid. In investments, people often make the mistake of spending good money to chase bad money by dumping more liquidity into losers hoping for a rebound. In life, people make the identical mistake of dumping good time into bad activities and people.

To simplify, good activities and people are ones that positively and critically support you to attain your goals in life and provide a genuine source of happiness. Bad activities and people are the polar opposite of those aforementioned items. Your life has a net positive and bullish when you start to acquire more activities and people that are good and net negative and bearish when you acquire more bad activities and people. This is simply effective management of your portfolio of activities and people that you’ve acquired by investing your asset called time.

Thought Experiment:

Think of all the activities and friends in your life. First, let’s examine activities.

What activities do you do now that you can do without in your daily routine and won’t miss it at all a week, month, or year from now? Bundle all this up and we’ll call these useless activities because they are so lukewarm or cold that it doesn’t stir up your burning desire and passion for life.

Useless Activities can include:

  • Social Media
  • Mainstream News (fake and manufactured anyways, right?)
  • Messaging
  • Video Games
  • Watching the Paint Dry (you know what this means)
  • Vices (Various internet related or real life addictions. Substance abuse, etc. Use your imagination)

Drop all of the above if possible, the more the merrier. It’s all useless! Next, let’s examine your “friends.”

Scenario #1:

Your car breaks down in the middle of the night (2AM) on the interstate. You have every single known contact that you’ve ran across in your life at your disposal for phone calls.

  1. Who will actually answer?
  2. Who will actually come to your rescue?
  3. Who will actually consistently rescue you from this and future incidents without fuss?
  4. Who will you repicprocate this favor for from #3 above?

Scenario #2:

You and all your friends go on a hike and run into a Grizzly Bear or a Pack of Wolves. Someone or a group of people have to stay behind and fend off the animal(s) while the others escape or else everyone dies.

  1. Will you stay?
  2. If so, who else will join you?
  3. If not, who will be brave enough to sacrifice their lives for you and the group?
  4. If they step up, will you join them to tough it out with them to the very end?

The “friends” that made it through both Scenarios #1 AND #2 are your true friends. Rest of them are garbage, put them where they belong as they are not important in your life nor are you in theirs.

Analysis of Experiment:

At this point you can say, “Well, that was extremely harsh and brutal! You can’t be saying things like that about my ‘friends’!!!” To which I will respond with, “I just did.”

You know from doing the exercises above who are your friends vs. “friends.” The latter category is known as acquaintances.

Definition:

Acquaintances is defined as “a person one knows slightly, but who is not a close friend.” or  “An acquaintance is someone recognized by sight or someone known, though not intimately: a casual acquaintance.”

Ahhhhh! So now you realize that you have a ton of acquaintances and very scare number of friends.

Methods:

Don’t bother fading those who are negative and bearish, they will fail in due time and from their own devices, fall to zero, and get delisted from the exchanges (drop off the social circles). Only a couple of these folks who hit rock bottom will have a slither of hope of rebounding and the only ones that do exhibit positive qualities of attentiveness and adhering to sound advice.

Only invest your time smartly in people who exhibit the above positive qualities and also add value to your life by giving you objective support, guidance, and encouragement. Those people who can do this are usually from the small circle of friends that you’ve identified from above. Look for these great qualities in making new friends in the future! Now you are shifting to the right direction to be net positive and bullish. People who see and know you will want to invest their time in you to help you out. Now you are exuding success and successful people can identify and spot others like themselves. Very good!

Do your best to avoid spending too much time with everyone else who do not qualify as a friend. There are enough people in the world to be a friend to someone and if that person isn’t you for some reason someone else can fill that spot. Find net positive and bullish individuals and stick to them like superglue! Friends can be your peers, teachers, coaches, or mentors. This strong group of individuals will help you grow in life and make you ever more bullish for your outlook on life. These individuals can be both living and dead. Read a book or watch a video, learn from those who’ve passed long ago! Our collective human knowledge is what makes us humans immensely more powerful than other animals in the Animal Kingdom; use it!

Your one and only goal here is to (acronym: GDDC):

  • Grow the pool of Friends
  • Demote people to acquaintance when necessary
  • Drop negative or toxic people from friends and acquaintances immediately
  • Cut excessive acquaintances to focus on acquisition of new friends

Trying to lump everyone into a large pool by calling everyone your friend will only waste their time and more importantly yours! Cut’em! No need to shed tears, they left you stranded on the interstate anyways so why should you care?

Conclusion:

Life is too short to mess around with individuals that add no value to your life or actively work to bring you down because they are toxic cesspools. Identify who your friends are immediately, stick to them and make new ones like them, and drop everyone else. The cardinal sin of investing is doubling down on negative and losing positions in hopes of a rebound. Learn to cut your losses early and invest in positions that will yield net positive results and ones with a bullish outlook!

Levels in the Game of Life – Getting to Higher Levels

By: Heero Yuy

A buddy of mine challenged me to think more about:

  • the Game of Life
  • Rules of the Game
  • Ranking and Points System
  • How to get to the next Level in this Game or the next one

1) The Game:

Life is a river, flowing one way, and a careful selection of routes can lead to greater bodies of water or dead-ends/standing water pooling into swamps or lakes. Moving water is better than standing water because moving water has a chance of getting to greater bodies of water or higher levels in life.

The Stages of the Game are as follows:

A. In the beginning of the game:

Life until end of highschool or college/gradschool is rather structured. Goals are very clear and many have been through this assembly line. The administrators of this game, teachers, parents, and coaches all know this game pretty well because it is predictable and the results directly and readily measurable. Watching candidates shuffle through the assembly line of school has become a scientific discipline where the measure of one’s aptitude can be easily summarized by a few metrics being the almighty Prestige of Institution and the individual’s Numbers such as GPA (Grade-Point Average) and Test Scores (SAT, ACT, GMAT, GRE, MCAT, LSAT, etc).

B. Mid game:

Get the paper(s), good metrics, be branded by prestigious institutions and you can be on your way to middle-class paradise (white picket fence, 4-5BR House in the Suburbs, a couple of cars, boats, jetskis, etc). You ran the race well in the lower tier divisions, finished College at some top 10 whatever ranking order (US News, Financial Times, etc) for your respective discipline, got a few years of work experience at big name Fortune 500 (FANG [NASDAQ], ExxonMobil, J&J, Coca-Cola, HomeDepot, SAP, etc) company, went back for a Harvard Business School (HBS) or equivalent M7 MBA, and reshuffled back into the system as a higher leveled player leap frogging your peers stuck on the assembly line by a couple of years worth of leveling (grinding).

At this point, you are tied down to a pretty hefty mortgage payment, owe a ton of student loans, got a spouse, probably have a few rugrats (kids) running around. Current risk tolerance is much lower than the beginning phases of the game, debt load substantial higher from the leveling required that helped you get ahead, and set to live and retire in your current home or maybe one level above it should you make Vice President, Director, Managing Director, or the coveted Executive-tier rank at a Major or Minor institution.

Some break down at this point and have a mid/quarter/third life crisis and ponder the meaning of life. Too bad, you are a little in over your head to change course and speed, because the cash-flow schemes don’t make sense with other options on the table and the bills coming in have to be paid. Those chains of debt keep reminding you of why you are where you are at right now and the only sources of comfort is the smiling face of your spouse, your children, and a wag of the tail from your pet. If you didn’t manage to start a family by now you might have already been Tango-ing with Xanax and Chacha-ing with various devilishly tempting flavors of Alcohol as you struggle to walk life in a straight line swiping left and right at the various mating prospects that you shopped and took home from the App store Meat Market. It’s not too late, or is it? Wake up, it’s time to get back to the grind, the system awaits your production!

C. End Game:

It’s over! You either know or made it at this point or you are simply doing the ‘road’ program waiting to collect various sources of social or company sponsored retirement packages at 59.5, 60, 62, 65, or whatever arbitrary set date as determined by mathematical models to keep the current system’s payout to influx of new cash sustainable.

Regardless whether you made it or not, you reflect on all the ups and downs of the past decades, the hours robbed away from the now trivial but then seemingly so damn important projects/promotions/merits/achievements/awards, and you wonder what to do now with this new experience of retirement; the unstructured, undemanding, and unrewarding afterlife as a cast-away divorced from exciting and engaging Corporate ladder climbing life. Free time seems like an infinitely long rope to climb to a peaceful life spent in indulgence of hobbies or a tight noose to hang oneself in absolute boredom. Isn’t life swell? Don’t worry, it’ll all be over soon. Average age expectancy is around 85 and the rest is determined by how your body, mind, and genetics withstood the damage done to you by being a working Bee. Still remember where you kept your stash of Xanax and 9mm rounds? Finish your last Will and Testament and make sure you took out a life insurance policy. Enjoy your time or what time you have left on this Earth, you’ve done well and it will be all over soon.

2) Rules:

In any competition, the rules are pretty obvious if one asks the right questions to determine how the game can be played. It basically comes down to this:

  • Advance OR
  • Get run over or worse left behind

At least this is how the game is played in a Capitalistic free-market society. You’ve seen examples of this in school where “Elite” students are heralded as Heroes and rest of the class a moving population of cannon fodder Losers for the successful. The Losers are told everyday and made aware of who the Heroes are and how the Heroes are infinitely better than whatever non-sense that the Losers can produce with their trivial lives. (But wait, didn’t some of these Heroes come from the lower-ranks once upon a time or deemed as losers by the media once upon a time before they made it? Shhh now, rest up, plug back into the Matrix, you didn’t just think this thought, erase it from your memory.)

Everyday, you either Advance or you get left behind. Produce or DIE. Simple as that. A group of individuals make up a company, a group of companies belong to a holding/umbrella/parent company, groups of big companies’ debt traded on exchanges, a group of the companies are aggregated together as an index to measure the overall health of the economies from various sectors, and the indices aggregated to tell the tale of the economic status of a particular Country. Everyday, economies get ahead or get left behind on a macro scale as determined by how the game is played on the micro scales between individuals up to the aggregated multi-national behemoth conglomerates.

Ask then the following questions to determine the rules of the game:

  • How do I get ahead?
  • What does it take to get ahead?
  • Who around my level do I need to leverage (or screw over) to get ahead?
  • How can I apply my talents to best exploit an edge?
  • Which mini-game(s) should I dedicate my time to in this big game of life?
  • Which Elite players (mentors/coaches/teachers) can help me level up quicker?

3) Ranking and Points System:

Capitalism made the ranking and points system pretty obvious:

Bill Gates, the Ultimate Elite IT Startup Hero

Take a peak here for the HighScore list aka Forbes 100 http://www.forbes.com/billionaires/list/

You are either on that list or you are not. If not, try and try again.

Academia is now played through the battlefields of:

  • TED Talk
  • NY Times Best Seller
  • Ad Space on Harvard Business Review Articles or Publications on or below this caliber (Business Insider is the purgatory but still better than being straight up in Middle-Class Hell).

Academia is all about Impact Factor. Either your work makes a difference or it doesn’t and gets filed away into oblivion where no soul knows of your work in this life or the next. If you actually want to be well known during your life, you have to resort to shameless plugs in the methods listed above to crowd source your academic/mental aptitude insecurities and validate your life’s meaning. Think on Hero, think on, the Nobel Prize/Fields Medal/etc is only a couple of publications away. Keep dreaming!

4.A) How to get to the next Level in Games (Selection of Quests Available):

Corporations at any level want to prevent an Icarus situation. Icarus in Greek Mythology tried to take flight with a pair of wings made from feathers and wax, flew too close to the Sun, his wings melted and he fell to his death. Fly carefully if you want to fly high, avoid hot things that will melt your wings, and pack a parachute just in case. Corporations prefer you to remain as predictable as possible just like you were when you left the Educational Institutions so that you can be shuffled predictably from one assembly line to another, from one factory/warehouse to another until you leave the assembly lines and ship off to be sold/repurposed/recycled(buried in the ground aka Game Over).

The Lament For Icarus by Herbert James Draper

A. Entrepreneur route (high-risk, high reward): If you somehow try to challenge the system (with your startup or idea), you will be converted into being one of them and join the elusive and exclusive club of the ultra elite (Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, etc). This is a complete IPO or buyout. If they don’t feel like buying you out entirely you will be allowed to survive so long as they want you to survive.

To complete this Quest you need to have (in no particular order):

  • Great innate talent(s)
  • Purposeful development of this/these talent(s)
  • Persistence
  • Dedication
  • Passion
  • Drive
  • Preparation
  • Great Mentors/Coachs/Teachers/Peers to support all of the above
  • A bit of luck here and there

You want to make money? Learn sales and how to market products, services, and yourself. HintThe closer you get to integrating the entire sales pipeline for your commission, the more money you stand to make. Be the person (company) that takes 95% of the revenue and flips the Salesman 5% for commission for a job well done. Be the person collecting the checks on your Yacht anchored out of your own Private Island in the Latin Americas and not the person still grinding when you get to your 30/40/50/60s depending on how you’ve played the Game.

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by Peter Bruegel (bonus points if you actually find Icarus)

B. Senior Level Employee route (mid* risk, predictable higher pay [120-400k USD/yr]): Slave away endlessly working for those who made it in the Entrepreneur quest. When effort, timing, and luck aligns you will be favored for promotion(s) assuming you didn’t leverage the nepotism card to get ahead in the game. An ideal end game is C-level position, else Senior Vice President or Senior Director, else Vice President or Director, else Senior Management or Senior Program Manager. The amount of your sacrifice has to be commensurate with attaining these ranks or you find the nearest bridge and promptly jump off of it because you failed to live up to your “ultra high” expectations that you’ve placed on yourself.

* = You will get to fire others before they fire you

C. Mid Level Employee route (high* risk, predictable okay pay [85-150K USD/yr]): Slave away to be the apple in the Senior Level Employee’s and Founder’s (Entrepreneur) eye. Promotions are far and few between because there is an ever larger and growing pool of entry level populating the Mid Level Pool (did I just hear a school bus backing up? Yep, there goes another innocent employee used to grease the tires on the bus that helped to advance someone else). You are fairly certain at this point that you aren’t going anywhere but your collection of DVDs/Blurays, 100″ Projector screen and Home Theater System, Semi-Luxury cars (BMW/Audi/VW/etc – by the way all made in the Bible Belt in good ole USA) keep you happy and off the ledge of the cliff. Having a spouse, children, and pets help as well. Hey, look at you, at least you might have a chance to maybe finish Senior level, right?

* = There are just too many of you and all the same, undifferentiated, and very replaceable if the Senior powers to be decides to cleanse the workforce to appease the shareholders on the next quarterly earnings report.

D. Entry Level Employee route (low* risk, unpredictable low pay [50-75K USD/yr]): You are the lowest person on the totem pole. You just got out of one game in the Educational Institution and you are trying to figure this one out. There are a ton of you around and you are ever so grateful but complain about the fact that your job sucks, hours are long, and you have a career that seems like it is going no where. There are too many people in the Entry level pool waiting to climb to Mid level waiting to climb to Senior. All your cool ideas are poached by the Corporation and you get flat fixed-fee pay off at least for your efforts or a pat on the back and “Thank You!” email from one of the Senior level(s) or Founder(s). You are too greenhorn to have an opinion, too naive to understand what’s going on, too young and still think you have your whole ‘life’ in front of you. Little do you realize that that’s exactly what the pool of Middle and Senior level all thought back in the day and they are still here today! Welcome to the [rat] race, here is your wheel to run on, get running.

* = You’ve got no epic gear to lose, no epic spouse or house to write home (parent’s home, not yours, you don’t make enough to have one remember?) about, and no epic experiences to be had. If you lose everything now, you can build back tomorrow, no harm, no foul!

4.B) Wait, what? That’s it? So how the hell do you get ahead???

Good question, how do you get ahead? The more you act and behave like the folks who are most successful in this game the more successful you become.

  • Want to run a company? Go start one!
  • Failed at startup? Good, try again!
  • Can’t lead worth shit? Good, join the military and learn some real leadership!
  • Don’t have any money? Good, go work a job on WallStreet or Military and save that money, try again!
  • Not going anywhere in life with your current group of friends? Good, dump them, get new ones!
  • Your peer group whining about the same things? Good, dump them, start talking to coaches, mentors, and teachers who are at least 10-20 years older than you preferably retirees 60+ who have more time available to share their life story and wisdom with brash and aggressive young lads such as yourself.
  • But old people suck, I don’t want to talk to them! Good, stay a loser and let others win for once and leave your whining ass behind.
  • Okay fine, but where do I find these old people to talk to? Good, finally came to your senses. Ever heard of grandparents or retirement homes? Volunteer your time and learn to give before you receive or take. Learn the power of opening up yourself to strangers and let them ripe your life to shreds so your life can be built back up together with a supportive team of experienced individuals.

You kind of get the gist of how to Win in this game by now.

Bottomline: Dump what doesn’t work such as useless activities, habits, and/or people in your life and fill it back up with useful activities, habits, and/or people. You will be on the right track to success by doing the above.

Life doesn’t get any simpler than that. Any deviation from the above truth is nonsensical waste of time. Have fun and go live. When you’ve figured out this life and can start to live it fully you can then start to ponder how to play the next game as you level up and what the next life is about.

Descarte once remarked “I think, therefore I am.”

Modern day social media clout hoarders often dubbed this as “I tweet/update/upload, therefore I am.”

Bruce Lee once said that life is about subtraction not addition. Take out the bullshit!

Smile, have fun, enjoy life, and live life by: “I am!”

Valuing Yourself – How much are You Really Worth? [Part 2]

By: Heero Yuy

american-psycho3

Part 2 – How to Value Ourselves:

How to Make a Country Rich video in the previous post hinted at some of the “loner” and “loser” activities that made great philosophers and thinkers great because our current society prefers worshipping the “celebrities”, headline grabbing icons, or controversies.

We are more than just the following (just to name a few):

  • Grade Point Average (GPA)
    • Arguably the worse non-weighted metric to evaluate students (easy credits == hard credits)
  • Salary or Networth
    • Competition of who has the BSD (key term in Finance)
    • Person with the largest FU money (another key term in Finance)
  • Title and powers assigned
    • Ranks in military or government
    • C-level, Senior Executives, Senior Management, Mid-Management, etc, etc, Lowest level Employee
  • Educational Status and/or relative Prestige of School
    • Mine’s better than yours in XYZ department/sub-specialty
      • Boring ice-breakers as used by recent graduates long retired by experienced industry veterans
    • Reliving artificial experiences in a predictable game to find a common ground with a fellow inmate student.
  • Number of plastic trophies and medals won at XYZ Competition

For a high functioning “doing” type of job that requires fierce competition, the above values are used parametrically to formulate some equation to accurately assign a value to individuals for a best-fit into their future prospective roles at a multinational conglomerate (not quite what happens but at least we can hope. Actual process is a close guarded secret by HR). Being proficient at the above items makes us very productive for the system that churns out products or services.

However, the above attributes fail to measure the following:

  • Compassion
  • Empathy
  • Emotional Quotient (EQ)
    • High EQ usually overshadows and excels vs a caustic high IQ individual
  • Intrapersonal skills
  • Presentation, Salesmanship, and Acting skills
  • Listening
  • Eloquence and Articulation

These attributes measure qualitative assets as possessed by the individual that would otherwise be missed by the pure quantitative assessments mentioned earlier. We will revisit these ideas later on in this post.

It is much more difficult to get an idea of how the person will do by qualitative assessments. There are lengthy psychological profiling as part of job applications to vet candidates to conduct this assessment by gauging responses to artificial scenarios. This is most likely why most HR departments defer to looking at quantitative data on candidates since it is easier to compare and much less time consuming on the front-end of the job hunt without any consideration to the back-end cost incurred later for hiring a bad candidate.

The continuity of a company is much like a telling of a successful tale; a good story builds through different cycles and can be blissfully only if certain elements align between the inception and present day. Companies are comprised of workers who contribute to this entity to ensure its long term survival. Therefore, for a company to survive and tell a healthy tale the company must have strong main and supporting characters to carry it through all the stages of the plot and themes. These characters possess emotional and intelligence qualities that need to be carefully assessed for their potency and placement in the storyline. Without the emotional piece, the company is just a horde of robots doomed to fail. Emotion is the glue in which humans bond and intelligence used in analysis and telling of the tale. Both parts are equally important.

Assuming equal weighting on EQ and IQ, when was the last time that HR applauded your Emotional Quotient (EQ) during the interview process vs. the times they admired your GPA and hard metrics?

Automation – Divine Economic Salvation or Ultimate Demise? WALL-E or Terminator?

By: Heero Yuy

Repost from WallStreetOasis.com! Enjoy!

Automation is a very controversial topic. So controversial in fact that one of my friends got pissed off when I got under his skin about it.

Martin Ford explained Automation to me in his book Lights in the Tunnel back when I was a grad student and his recent New York Times Best Seller Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future dives deeper into this very topic.

I’m all for automation. It makes our lives easier, more productive, and enjoyable at the cost of jobs. While we want to believe this is frictional unemployment and leave it at that I truly believe it is structural unemployment that has no easy solution. Why?

Two things must happen to a displaced worker in order to get ahead of the Automation curve:

  1. Out learn and pivot into the next best field
  2. Hope that field doesn’t get automated before they’ve extracted enough Capital from selling their services through employment or business venture

1 deals with a rates issue and time available to dedicate oneself to training in a new discipline. When good ole Peabody, the Coal mining company, went belly up last year a lot of the miners were interviewed as to what they would do next. Turns out they are going to grind it out intellectually and pivot to become programmers. Very awesome and this shows the true American spirit for those who’ve made that transition while others were left behind. Bills, your spouse, and kids don’t stop though when the individual is put out of the job so time available for this retraining process is a premium the further down the road of life you’ve traveled. Different story if you can ramen noodle sleep on couches as a single person.

2 Deals with picking the right field that has lower likelihood of being Automated out. No one really knows how to do this because the speed and acceleration of the growth of Automation is quite alarming. Go be a Dentist or a Doctor or something, who knows!

My friend’s counter-argument against Automation:

  1. The human “potential” is infinite, we will always outpace automation as we’ve done in the past
  2. People have been dealing with automation for centuries and we’ve thrived
  3. People can learn to adapt even when displaced from jobs

1 Potential doesn’t get you jobs when you put that on the headline of your resume.

2 Automation has actually crushed a lot of people in the form of outsourcing. Some have drawn ties to middle-aged White American Men suicide rates to the Increased Trade with China.

3 Open-ended statement. Can but don’t is also useless. It’s about learning rates and deadlines. Given infinite time, most of us can figure everything out. We don’t live forever.

My friend doesn’t understand the difference between velocity (speed) and acceleration. This is crucial for not only understanding Physics but also Market dynamics and other things like the Peak Oil Hypothesis (can’t drink fast enough of black gold on to keep up with consumption). He overcompensates by being emotional and repeating his statements many times until I sent him packing by telling him that he is a lazy student.

What threw my friend and others like him over the edge

Ask him to employ those people who’ve been displaced and who he would choose if he had the option of selecting an overly qualified candidate and one that is pivoting with the aptitude but not the experience for a job ceteris paribus (i.e. same pay, benefits, etc). No rational person would pick an unknown over those with heavier paper and real life credentials.

When challenged with a real life problem, these arm chair theory guys go running right back to their books, journals, and obscure publications for rebuttals.

Automation. Our best ally or most feared invention to date? WALL-E or Terminator? You decide.

References:
Harvard Business Review: Beyond Automation
I Don’t Think we can Stop the Future of Automation and Job Losses – Martin Ford
Trade Liberalization and Mortality: Evidence from U.S. Counties – Federal Reserve
Lights in the Tunnel – Martin Ford
Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future – Martin Ford

Veteran Elite – Why you should Ditch the Debt Train and Join the Military!

Uncle Sam

By: Heero Yuy

Someone asked about the barriers to entry to the job market and the necessity of incurring debt from getting a college education. Here is my response from WallStreetOasis.com Post on how to circumvent the debt part, have fun, and get ahead in the game. Enjoy!

US Military

Service Academy or Scholarship Route
Get a free degree from US Federal Service Academies (Army, Navy, Airforce, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines) OR the ROTC route (possibly NUPOC or BDCP [Navy programs, go see www.Airwarriors.com ]).

  • Do your time and bank six figures for five (5) years guaranteed
  • Do three more to get 100% of your Post-911 GI Bill. Puts you at Eight (8) total post college
  • Get out earlier with a smaller portion of GI Bill and use Yellow Ribbon for M7 MBA

Officer Candidate School Route

  • Get degree from a very cheap University next to free (State school scholarship loopholes or scholarships)
  • Join any branch as an Officer
  • Take the GMAT before getting out, it is free (one time)
  • Get out after minimum four (4) year commitment with 100% Post-911 GI Bill
  • Get into M7 and use GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon for minimum debt load

Compensation

Active Duty DoD: Total Comp for Junior Officers (O-3 with four years or less) is $90-110K stationed in CONUS and $110-130K stationed Overseas (+$10-30K more at least if you are deployed in a War Zone. Whole paycheck is Tax-free and you get additional things like Hazard Duty Pay, Jump Pay, etc). This includes a TON of tax-free benefits and free perks such as:

  • Food Allowance (BAS)
  • Housing Allowance (BAH or OHA)
  • Oversea Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)
  • Free Dental
  • Free Medical
  • Free Prescriptions and anything else Health related
  • Access to the Commissary (Grocery store) and the Exchange (Wal-mart) which are all Tax-Free
  • A bunch of other subsidized entertainment, education, and resources
  • Secret or Top Secret Security Clearance (worth a lot to employers if they are looking for those with this gem)

All those are taken into consideration when calculating the approximate total compensation. I was clearing about $3400 net every other paycheck living in Japan as a junior O-2. Not a bad life! Every year for the past decades the Military has gotten across the board pay increases of 1-3% (inflation adjustment) in addition to the regular rank and time-in-service pay bumps.

Reserves: You can choose to join the reserves to keep some of the aforementioned Active Duty perks with weekend drills during your MBA program and get paid for drilling. Continuity can lead to a pension program that you can draw on starting at age 60.

Merchant Marines: Starting Salary for US Merchant Marines (Captain Phillips and Crew) is around $12-14k/month as an Engineer or Mate. More on this later if anyone is interested in this career (badass experience and all the perks of the US Navy with none of the bullshit. Personally shook hands with a 32 year old Captain [think Managing Director] of a mega military container ship. Works only half the year [2-3month on, 2-3month off, rinse and repeat] and takes off the rest clearing $250-300K a year. Never seen a happier sailor in my life.). Harbor Pilots, the folks who taxi cargo ships from the Ocean into the Harbor, consider minimum wage to be $250K a year and they average around $450-500K with the more senior Pilots clearing well above $600K at the busier Ports. Drive ships or manage Analysts/Associates/VPs? Desk job vs Adrenaline Job. Up to you. 🙂 Merchants are also eligible for the Reserves in addition to having their own pension from their respective Unions.

Post-Service MBA rebrand Option

M7 MBA is Veteran friendly typically having an existing Veterans Network. Chat up current students and Vet Network for assistance and apply with a GMAT 700+. They value the leadership and perspective from a military Veteran in that classroom setting when everyone else has been doing battle with Excel, Ballpoint Bic Pens, and Clickers for “Next Slide” during PowerPoint presentations. Tales of leadership under duress is a case study in and of itself.

Bottomline: Join the Military, See the World. You’ll come out the other side as a Leader with a degree, experience, and money in the bank. This enables you to apply to M7 MBA program and be a favored candidate to get another prestigious degree for nearly FREE. Afterwards, you can go hear others whine about the fact that you now have Veterans preferences, an M7 MBA, and a host of other excuses that makes you more employable vs the Average Joe.

Lastly, we have the Public Health Services; not as sexy but also uniform option: https://www.usphs.gov/

Footnote: Pricetag on freedom can be steep. You are risking your life for a greater good and getting a degree as a secondary effect. By being in this elite club, you have exclusive access to one of the finest networks in America as a Veteran.

Is Stability an Illusion? Three (3) Ways to tell You have a Skewed Perception!

By: Heero Yuy

Is the above structure stable? This question can be answered in terms of equilibrium and not stability because it is in a state of unstable equilibrium as pictured below:

There are three (3) ways that someone can have a skewed perception on a subject matter:

  1. Ignorance of the problem at hand and how to correctly state it
  2. Making incorrect assumptions
  3. Utilizing incorrect perconceived notions and stereotypes

Skewness #1 was stated above when the problem wasn’t about stability or instability but the different classifications of equilibrium. The stack of rocks in the first picture is in a state of unstable equilibrium. The man sitting on the ice is in a state of stable equilibrium on a unstable surface (ice breaks, man falls in, man dies of hypothermia).

Skewness #2 Would be to make the assessment that all rock structures that resemble the diagram above and the first picture of the rocks to be in a state of unstable equilibrium. This is oversimplification because some of these rock structures might be glued together or bound by wire to resemble this state of unstable equilibrium. Without further assessment, one cannot draw the conclusion that any repeat of the above likeness is automatically unstable.

Skewness #3 For someone who hasn’t ever seen an unstable equilibrium, the above rock stack would be infeasible or appear as some form of magic trick. Those individuals who’ve never seen something new would utilize their own past experiences of stacking rocks themselves or seeing others, perhaps trying to create this unstable structure, failing at this and learned this endeavor to be fruitless. By their own admission, they know this to be ‘impossible’ so therefore anyone else who attempts them or they themselves attempting in the future will be met with failure. Perception of a successful attempt is outside their scope of understanding.

How this Applies to the Job Market

People incorrectly perceive stability in the job place with equilibrium. An efficient capital market takes no prisoners and leaves people behind who aren’t as competitive or hungry as their competitors. Therefore, the job market and the people in it are in a constant state of unstable equilibrium.

Companies comprise of people who work for the company who sell products or services. People are expendable and new people can be brought in to replenish the depleted workforce. The moment the product or service is useless to the market place and the company fails to prepare or pivot would spell doom for the company and all the people in it. Company and the workers in it are both expendable because other companies and workers can take their place.

A job can be of divided into the following four categories:

high work, high pay low work, high pay
high work, low pay low work, low pay

High work = Lots of work, Low the opposite
High pay = $$$$$, Low the opposite

Everyone wants the “low work, high pay” so that job is over subscribed (Lazy and entitled). Not many want to work a lot so “high work, high pay” is not as attractive and certainly no one wants to work a lot and get paid very little in “high work, low pay.” Finally, most people wouldn’t mind low pay for low responsibilities at work (Lazy and satisfied) which makes this category the second most coveted and over subscribed.

Low and High work jobs are equally at risk for automation irrespective of the resulting pay. “Low work, low pay” type jobs are a drag on HR resources and benefit packages. Since they are the most plentiful, they would be the first ones to go as the “high work, low pay” yields a better marginal gain for hour paid. Obviously, “high work, high pay” type jobs are typically too crucial to completely cut out, such as sales type roles, and the company would suffer financially if they replaced these jobs without much consideration. The next obvious category to dissect is “low work, high pay” as these are not as abundant but the largest saddle sore of the organization.

From the company’s standpoint, the most “stable” jobs are the most sought after and the ones that will be cut first! Are these then stable or unstable equilibriums for people to coast in what they perceive to be a stable job?

In any free capital market, those who bring the highest marginal yield are the most valuable members. Typically, these are classified as “high work” employees irrespective of their pay structure.

Since this is the case then your best bet is to work your butt off to escape the guillotine of automation while providing the company the highest yield per hour for your time at their office.

An incorrect understanding of the job market, free capital markets, and the utility of its workers can have serious consequences. Markets don’t function based on how people want them to work but how they actually work. Backtesting present job market opportunities based on previous market conditions for job seeking without actually seeing if there has been any changes in all of the aforementioned markets is catastrophic. The game is always changing, it has to in order to survive, and any misstep can cause irreversible consequences. Without proper education on how this game works and staying current with all markets, any investment strategies applied for yielding alpha (good job) would be met with failure.

Stable jobs do exist. They are called expendable overhead. Either way, working for a company or yourself requires a ton of work to stay ahead of the competition.

Welcome to Capitalism!