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.

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No One Wants Regrets

Yesterday, I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off and I didn’t make time to write. Today will be the same but I decided to start my day off creatively.

On this day in particular, I want to say enjoy the weekend. Being an adult is hard and it can rob us of our joy if we let it. Pay attention to the underlined words. We have a choice in this thing we call life. Some may have fewer things to restrict them than others but we all have a choice. I don’t have kids so I may have more freedom than some folks with kids but someone has no wife so they can make decisions at the drop of a hat without consulting anyone else. Still, there are people with kids who have amassed such wealth that they can conceivably get up and leave work today and be no worse off. No matter what, we cannot live our lives buying into society’s narrative that, to be an adult is to be unhappy. I just won’t believe that. I like to believe I will always look for that opportunity to relive moments of youthful joy. I still know my dreams of making an indelible impact on humanity is possible. Shoot, I still love picking up books and reading for fun.

Life is too short to be unhappy, undervalued, unloved, or unloving. Today, I challenge you to ask yourself if you are happy. Do you feel valued and loved? Are you loving those things and people God placed in your life? If the answer to any of these is “No,” and you are just going through the motions, take time to figure out how to say yes to them all. And then take a step to do that. If it’s discussing a (deserved) raise at work so you feel valued, have that talk. If you and your significant other need to find a book so that love is flowing more abundantly on both ends, head to Barnes and Noble ASAP. Maybe finally starting that business you’ve been wanting to start will add to your happiness and I’m sure you can find some time today to do some research on first steps. Whatever you do, know that your time here is limited and, when it’s all said and done and you’re in heaven or hell or some box six feet deep thinking “I wish I had…” you want that list to be as short as possible.

Make having fewer regrets a priority.

The Golden Rule

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Follow this rule and you’ll be fine.  The issue is, if you follow this rule, you will be going against the fundamental standards of capitalism.  But how do you balance integrity within a capitalistic culture?  You do your best to be fair.  Your employees are likely not dumb.  They know how to feel out the market and see what fair wages, benefits, and work expectations are.  When you see them going above and beyond, taking leadership roles, and working harder than the rest of the team, it is your job to retain that employee as opposed to seeing them go to your competition.  Sadly, so many organizations would rather pinch pennies now when, in the long run, they end up losing more than they could have saved by giving a raise.

So, leaders, look at the team you directly manage.  Are you happy with the performance of each of them?  If not, ask yourself, “If I were in their position, would I feel valued by this organization if I were him/her?”  If the answer is no, maybe, instead of looking at their performance, you should look at your ability to go to bat for those you have working for you.

 

Make professional development a priority.

Everyone Cannot Afford A Ferrari

Do you know what I realized after working with one of my more recent customers?  Two things: 1) people don’t want to pay full price. 2) Everyone cannot afford my services and that is ok.  As a consultant and freelancer, I have to be confident in the fact that I provide a quality enough service that my prices will reflect that and, if people cannot affford them, that is alright.  Everyone cannot afford a Ferrari.  But most people can make payments on an Accord.  Make sure your prices reflect the caliber of service you are offering and, outside of offering specials from time to time, don’t cheapen your brand.

It’s OK to Discriminate

Today, I’m here to discuss discrimination. I am here to motivate you to discriminate.

Most people see that and think, “Why would he want people discriminating?” I’m not telling you to be prejudiced. This type of discrimination requires that you have knowledge of the person’s work ethic before. It has nothing to do with race or gender or sexual preference or anything you can see. No, this time you discriminate on basis of responsibility.

If you’re reading this blog, you probably see it as an investment. You probably view most of the things you do with your time as such. Therefore, when working with a team, you need to think likewise. For instance, why join a project with others who are not as serious about its success? More important than you agreeing to participate in the project is your personal brand. Your credibility is on the line every time you align yourself with others toward a common goal. Make sure it is on the line with someone you trust. If that person can’t hold down their end of the bargain and the project fails, that is a collective failure. And, yes, failure is a learning experience but if you can avoid that failure and come out with a win, you should do that.

So like I said, discriminate. Those you work and associate with can make or break you before you ever really get going.

More Than Money

“If you want to feel rich, just count the things you have that money can’t buy.” – Proverb

On the hook of one of my favorite songs to recently come out, the artist says that “money comes and goes.” He says a lot of other things come and go too but I would like to hone in on that part. Money and all the things it can get you can be here today and gone tomorrow. So, instead, focus on things that will take you the distance like health, integrity, family, love, and personal growth. Get all those together and the money will come. Believe me.