Ethics Still Matter

As human beings, we’ve all made decisions that we are not proud of. It’s inevitable; We decided to operate in grey areas instead of moving into more black-and-white territory. To be candid, people have done that for millennia with hopes of getting “away” with it (though I believe you always pay for it in one way or another). The problem (or maybe the good thing) about today is that there is a record of everything and people are out here with the goal of putting the pieces together.

As I do my daily read of the headlines in the WSJ (until my $0.99/month trial period ends) and NYT, the same glaring story jumped out at me: WeWork’s CEO is double dipping. He allegedly bought buildings and then rented the space to his own company. Now, as smart as that may seem, in the era of such tight fiscal oversight, I’d strongly recommend checking with both an attorney and business ethics expert before making such a move.

Now, I’m sure a lot of people would say, “Well, when he started this, he probably didn’t know WeWork wold get this big so he didn’t think it’d be an issue.” And, to those people, I say “You’re probably right.” No one who is immensely successful ever knows that their ideas will take off like they do. But they hope. And that hope/faith/belief is what should drive your ethical behavior. When you begin your business, act as if everyone is already watching you. Act as if your name is on the front page of the New York Times. If you’ve made poor bookkeeping/ethical decisions in the past, nip them in the bud immediately and move forward with integrity. Because that is exactly what happened to WeWork. Don’t tell me you’ll have to learn the hard way, too.

Here’s a tip: If people tell you that you have enough money/power and you’re going the extra mile to get more, take a step back and look at how you’re trying to get more. Then ask yourself, “Would someone else see this as greed?” If the answer is yes, STOP!

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Make learning from the mistakes of others a priority.

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It’s Not About Money

“It’s never ’bout the money ‘cuz I burn bread. It’s the principalities like Big Worm said” — Fabolous

Some people get so caught up with the dollars. I could care less about what my bank account said if I knew I lived in a nation that cared enough to make sure that I didn’t ever lose it all. I’ve been there and I can say that pursing happiness can be pretty tough when you can’t pay your rent/mortgage, don’t have health insurance, and are working a job you hate just to make ends meet.

Bankruptcy and poor credit don’t only affect those whose names they are attached to, but also the people attached to those names. Families get evicted, children lose memories as a result of going from home to home, and those things that could’ve grown to mean the world to a person end up in a storage auction never to be seen again. Or, worse, uninsured people enter a hospital only to be told they will be helped only to a certain level and, after that, they’re on their own. What makes any one human more or less deserving than another to receive quality medical care, housing, or nourishment?

America, if you take anything at all from this blog, know that it’s not about the money. It’s never been about the money. Money just provides security. But what if (imagine this…) community provided security? What if we didn’t let our neighbors slip through the cracks? Or if we buy things to fill the voids we created by not giving our family time? What if we taught integrity before integers? We shouldn’t be privatizing education. Actually, we should be doing the opposite and equally distributing the resources that elite institutions (private and public alike) have.

If we want to make America great in the truest sense, we have to teach love and empathy. Yes, we have to take care of our own households but who will really want to kill us when we show them love? Proposing a truce (within reason) isn’t weak in the eyes of anyone who doesn’t subscribe to a toxic school of thought. I am a vocal proponent of self-defense but let’s have a little faith in God’s ability to put the humanity in mankind. And, in our everyday lives, let’s exhibit that humanity. We should not let anyone be homeless or hungry. Our children ought not learn untruths that the school system teaches. We can change this world together, one neighbor at a time.

And if you think me telling you to love your neighbor is too political, you probably don’t understand the denotation of the word “politics.” But there’s a wonderful book someone put together once that’ll explain that to you if need be.

 

Make money an avenue to improve the world as opposed to a goal in and of itself.

The Law of Diminishing Returns… Kind Of

So, I don’t remember what math class I learned about the Law of Diminishing Returns. Probably Pre-Calculus or Calculus. That’s a moot point. The point is that, today, while I was driving, I realized that speeding is pretty pointless. I was driving to a place 46 minutes away. I’m often the kind of driver who tries to figure out how to beat the clock. Where can I cut corners (either in speed or backroads) to get where I’m supposed to get anywhere from 2 – 5 minutes earlier?

Today, I did the math and it hit me. By speeding, I’m not really making a sizable dent in my time and I’m risking a lot more. In order to go 20 more miles in an hour, I have to consistently drive 20 miles over the speed limit. That 20 mph could very well lose me my license, ultimately costing me in insurance and Uber/Lyft fees. That being said, anything above 10 mph is a risk that isn’t really worth it.

Apply that to your life: Are you staying awake just to stay awake? Are you in the gym just to be in the gym, hours pas the point of productivity? At a certain point, you’re putting out more bull🤬 than quality thoughts. That bull🤬 is a liability to your brand. So, do the responsible thing. Push yourself to a reasonable point, get some rest, and go at it hard again. But make sure you go at it after you rest.

 

Make efficiency a priority.

Reminders For a Reason

I don’t know about you all but I really use Siri as a personal assistant. “Siri, remind me to text Marcus tomorrow morning at 8:45.” “Siri, remind me to take out the trash when I get home.” “Siri, what’s 37 divided by 847?” She’s my best friend (and she has a British accent so that she sounds smarter than the average American).

But how often do we tell Siri to remind us in an hour when we could accomplish the task at that moment? We’ve grown desensitized to that tap that Siri gives us. We don’t see urgency in getting something simple done at that moment. Eventually, we have a mountain of reminders that seems insurmountable.

This post isn’t about anything super deep. Just stop pushing “Remind me in an hour” or “Remind me tomorrow” when you don’t have to. Knock out that small accomplishment. It’ll pay off.

 

Make checking off that box a priority.

APPL’s Stock Struggles, NFLX’s Bandersnatch, and Where We Go From Here

Yesterday, Apple’s stock closed at a major deficit, causing the overall market to take a hit. If you want to know more about the stock side of things, check out the NYT or WSJ. They can explain it better than I can. What I’m here to talk about is the trajectory of American business and the role we, as young professionals and creative minds, need to be focused on playing.

Innovation is the name of the game but how do you innovate when everything you thought could be done is being done. Seriously, we just reached Ultima Thule (no, that’s not a car by Nissan) and a manned SpaceX rocket could take off as soon as 2019 (Oh s***! We’re in 2019!). Smartphones (or smartwatches or tablets or whatever other piece of tech you always have with you) are extensions of ourselves, essentially making us cyborgs, minus the inserted chip. It is an amazing time to be alive. But it’s also a confusing one. What is the final frontier? Where do we go from here? What are humans if we’re not continuing to push the society around us forward?

That is an issue that Apple is obviously struggling with. Yes, trade issues between the East and West were pinpointed as the reason for Apple’s terrible finish on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (yes, I looked up what NASDAQ stood for so you wouldn’t have to). But, Apple users, let’s be honest: the advancements we’ve seen lately are disappointingly underwhelming and increasingly overpriced. Why does a new iPhone XS, at $999, cost 77% of what a Mac Book Pro does? (I intentionally chose the least expensive versions of these items. Bells and whistles cost more, of course.) I know, I know… I can do almost everything with an XS that I can with a MBP but it still doesn’t change the fact that I’m paying so much for cellular phone. And, not to mention, the new features to the phone aren’t that great. I wasn’t inclined to upgrade my phone this time and I probably won’t be unless A) some major changes come out or B) the updates stop working (which usually happens after a few generations).

What does this have to do with Bandersnatch? I’m glad you asked. Bandersnatch is Netflix’s movie version of the extremely popular show “Black Mirror,” a show that didn’t have enough episodes to satisfy my interest but hopefully they’ll bring it back. The good thing is I cannot give anything of substance away about Bandersnatch because I’ve only seen one scene so far but I will say this: even if the movie isn’t good, the concept is simultaneously out of this world and eerily nostalgic. Remember, as a kid, reading books where the ending was up to you? I want to say Goosebumps and Animorphs had some like this but I’m sure a ton of other series did as well. Bandersnatch is that in movie form. I can only imagine the planning and time spent in shooting, editing, and coding that had to go into making this movie work but, once again, Netflix has set a new standard. Only, this time, in order to look forward, it first had to look back.

Innovation is the name of the game but, as Netflix has shown us that the answers are sometimes behind us. Brands like Apple have spent so much time pushing the bar forward that they’re starting to hit a brick wall. So, why not look back at something pre-modern technology that changed an industry and reformat it to improve our modern lives? Just a thought for Apple, General Motors, and any other company that is having a hard time being innovative.

You may have a hard time teaching an old dog new tricks but maybe you can teach a new dog a few old ones.

 

Make innovation a priority.

Are Your Goals Actionable?

Before I begin, I want to thank you all for coming along on this ride. Don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere (or at least I don’t plan to). I just wanted to announce that, as I write this, I have published exactly 1,400 posts to The Daniels Daily Reader (and hundreds more on those blogs that came before this one). So, as we come up on 2019, I’m going to put out some of my best young professional content to date and I expect you all to hold me to it. This is #TheRoadToPost1500. Let’s work.

I know, I know… We all say “New me, new you” is overused but let’s be for real. We’re just over a week from a new year and that year is a new benchmark (Obviously, this was written before Christmas but just work with me). We figure out what we set out to accomplish and examine what we did. We evaluate what we lost and what we learned. And then we move forward.

Last December, I wrote down a decent-sized list of objectives for 2018 and shared it with one of my accountability partners for feedback. This year, I am doing the same, and I’m adding a plan of action for all measurable goals this time. Steps. Timelines. Things that you can measure. Make the list actionable and malleable. If you find yourself ahead of schedule, stretch further. If you’re behind, adjust the action plan. Let’s make this year phenomenal. Let’s learn more about ourselves and how far our potential can take us than we ever thought we would.

 

Make making it make sense a priority.

Across the Aisle

This morning, I woke up around 4:30, lay in bed with my phone in hand, and found out that J. Cole has another feature with a trap rapper. While some fans may have been confused by it at the beginning, especially because the content many trap rappers put out is antithetical to Cole’s overlying message, I see what he’s doing and I love it.

As far as current messaging within mainstream hip-hop goes, J. Cole is arguably the dopest lyricist. He doesn’t appear to compromise his values to remain at the top of anyone’s charts and yet he remains in that #1 conversation. He’s done everything that every revolutionary hip-hop head needs him to. So why is he on songs with artists whose lyrics frequently fail to uplift black communities? Because that’s the only way he can continue making progress. J. Cole isn’t rapping to wake up the woke just like doctors aren’t here to heal the healthy. He has his fan base. We’re going to rock with him as long as he keeps coupling fire lyrics with complementary beats. But he has to reach across the aisle if he ever wants to have the impact on the nation that he can have.

Boom! Ok, now you’re asking when I became a music blogger. But there’s a point to this. As a young professional, you will hit a point where you have made all the waves possible in your own office. You’ll have gotten your numbers up and this and that. You’ll be good but that’s when it’s time to step into a leadership role. There are some in leadership roles who aren’t leaders. They sit in their corner offices and expect everyone in the building to know everything they do because they have access to it. But what if more managers took the J. Cole leadership route after they have become individually successful? What if they reached back to those who were least likely to succeed, put them on game, and helped them transform? Without touching 21 Savage’s or 6ix9ine’s bases, he’s just another dope conscious rapper. But now he’s a thought-leader because his thoughts are affecting change outside the room of other thought-leaders. That’s culture-changing influence.

 

Make stepping across the aisle a priority.