changing the world is heavy stuff

I know this sounds cheezy, but trust me on this one…

I just finished watching Episode 1 of the new TV series The Philanthropist, and well, I was inspired and moved by the story.   Why?  Well I recommend you watch the episode yourself, but I saw what a difference I could make in someone’s life as a rich philanthropist.

Earlier this week, I watched Soccer’s Lost Boys, the story about young African men being sold and deserted in foreign countries where they are forced to endure prostitution, poverty, etc., and I was just at a loss for words.  I just wanted to be able to do something but didn’t know what to think.

It has long been my plan to accumulate wealth so that I can make the world a better place, but the last scene in the episode where the main character, which is based on the real person Bobby Sager, gives the little toy to the young boy who he had been searching for completely made clear how the overabundance of things that most people in the U.S. (including myself) through away would be treasured by people in places like rural Africa.  The look on the boy’s face when he sees the simple toy in action just did me in.  Now I want to work with Mr. Sager, his family, and his foundation as a volunteer.   Hopefully, I can also one day also achieve the level of financial independence I need to properly take care of the mother and grandmother that raised me to be such a caring, loving person and who also are living just above the poverty line here in the U.S.  I owe very much to these strong women.  Without their will and strength, I don’t think I’d be half the person or leader I aspire to be.

Watch the Episode 1, and I hope it prompts you to act, as it has done to me.

I’m going to email Mr. Sager right now, asking how I can help, and then read more on Team Sager website.

Why “TV” is on the way out

You know how commercials are played at louder volumes than the programming segments between which they are played.   I can’t help but think this is done on purpose as a means for trying to make the commercials more affective advertisements.  This is just one of the six major reasons I think internet-deployment of programming content will the business model of the future.   Frankly, why most all the players in the TV commercial industry are not sprinting towards an internet-deployment model, is beyond me.

Continue reading

Casa Santo Domingo (Antigua, Guatemala)

If you ever travel to Antigua, Guatemala (say for a destination wedding like I did), I highly recommend staying at the Casa Santo Domingo.  The converted 16th century convent, now luxury hotel, is a special place.   In January 2010, it was a Conde Nast Gold List Hotel (#681) – World’s Best Places To Stay, and #1 in Guatemala.   Thing seem in balance there.  Nothing moves too quick or too slow.  The centuries old architecture (from the monastery) blends in balanced form with modern accents and accommodations.  The rhythm of nature dominates that of fast-paced technology, making for a relaxing retreat inside the walled fortress-like compound of the hotel property.  Gardens, patios and balconies off every room, tropical plants that grow in the air drape walkways, and even macaw parrots are kept near the pool area.   Everything is kept in proper proportion to remind you just enough of where you are, which is very much still an ancient Spanish speaking village.

The food served at the hotel restaurant is also excellent.  Knowing we were staying in a country where tap water was not safe to drink, we all ate and drank confidently and happily the food and drink served by the resort restaurant.

Pricey, yes, but Casa Santa Domingo is worth well worth visiting if you travel to Guatemala.  If you are looking to get away from it all and just decompress, it may even be worth traveling to Guatemala just to stay at Casa Santa Domingo.    P.S. You would be mistaken to interpret the outdated design of the resort’s website to be reflective of anything more than it being a low priority of the resort.


One style of room at Casa Santa Domingo


Bad credit application methodology

Whenever I recognize where a part of world is such that we can’t access something when we most need that something, and–worse–that we have best access to that thing when we least need it, I am confused. This kind of situation seems wrong.

So this brings me to a small example of such a paradox: the credit credit card application process. I don’t understand why the consumer credit application process is not more sophisticated in the sense that credit card companies can issue credit cards soley to refinance (a.k.a transfer) a balance from another card, allowing the individual who most needs a lower interest rate to gain access to that lower rate. this I what I wanted to do with one of the banks that i do business with a couple of days ago. Unfortunately, for me and the bank that could have not only gained my business but taken it away a competitor, the customer service representative who was taking my application was unable to specify anywhere in my application that the application was not be submitted to increase my total credit, but rather that it was being used merely to replace an existing credit account. Thus, although the risk profile would have actually improved upon securing a less expensive (i.e. lower interest and financing fees) credit account, the bank denied my application, because it could only assume that I was applying for the credit card because my other two cards were maxed out.

To a degree, I understand why lenders have to charge higher interest rates to those borrowers with more risky profiles; but one could argue that this model actually causes that which it wishes to avoid: unpaid/uncollectible loans. Why? because the borrower ran out of cash before he was able to fix his situation either with more income or lower expenses. Had he a lower rate, he might have been able to make a couple more monthly payments; and these two months might have given him the time he needed to make adjustments to his life and expenses.

I worked in the high-yield lending business for 3.5 years, and I saw predatory lending at it’s worse, so I know that more often than not, the reason lenders charge higher interest and fees to certain borrowers is because they can; not because it is neccessarilly right. For example, I have seen lenders create a lending product that frequently took advantage of borrowers ignorance and literally was lending the borrowers money back to the borrower.

A bank needs to create a credit product that gives it the opportunity to refinance other credit card balances while keeping the risk profile of the borrower in check by requiring the borrower close the card account from which the balance was transferred, and maybe even prohibit that the borrower not open any new lines of credit until the borrowers financial situation markedly improves. I think this could be a win-win opportunity for both th lender, borrower, and society.

Be bold

I’m not sure why, but I am scared to be bold; and I think this is bad. I think our society and business educations teach us that an idea can be good only if supporting evidence/data can be found.  I find this troubling.  I want to be the innovator that I was born to be, and that probably many more people were meant to be.  I want to keep that playful-kid part of me alive so that my imagination runs wild.    The epiphany I just had related to keeping this part of me alive, is two fold.  First, I need to guard and protect it from people and organizations that try to kill it–for whatever reason, whether intentionally or not.  Second, I need to proactively surround myself with people who encourage this abductive reasoning and dreaming.

Continue reading