Jasmine Nahhas di Florio, Effective Philanthropy in the Middle East (Education For Employment – EFE.ORG)
First, this is the first podcast with some formatting changes (including making it easier to subscribe via iTunes and Google Play) and the addition of music . . . let me know what you think of it . . . now back to the podcast.
One of the main themes in 2019 is the focus on effective philanthropy amongst the wealthy. Following the example of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation among others, measurable outcomes, specific examples of positive change and solutions delivered at scale are more and more important to the people making philanthropic investments. Interested in seeing an example of a difficult philanthropic problem identified and addressed, I spoke with Jasmine Nahhas di Florio, Senior Vice President, Strategy & Partnerships, of EFE-Global. It's difficult to not be impressed by Jasmine's background and the accomplishments of EFE. Founded by Ron Bruder after a successful career in real estate development, Jasmine and EFE have devoted their efforts to providing opportunity and structure to men and women in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa). Listen with me as we learn about the problems in the area, the challenges overcome and some of the successes that they have been able to achieve in an area that many hear about, but few understand.
Below are some of the stories and links to EFE on Twitter and Facebook.
Jasmine Nahhas di Florio has over 20 years of experience spanning the nonprofit, philanthropy, government and private sectors. Having joined EFE in 2005, she has worked closely with the organization’s Founder and Chairman, Ronald Bruder, since its startup and is currently Senior Vice President for Strategy & Partnerships. Today, EFE is the leading youth employment and nonprofit job placement network in the Middle East and North Africa. Previously, Jasmine ran programs for private donors in Afghanistan for Afghan Women Leaders Connect at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and Arzu, a carpet social enterprise. Earlier in her career, Jasmine was a corporate attorney at the international law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, and she also served as an attorney-advisor at the U.S. Department of Treasury. Jasmine consulted the United Nations (UNFIP) on private-public sector partnerships. A Rhodes Scholar, Frank Knox Scholar and Fulbright Scholar, she is a graduate of the University of Alberta, Oxford University and Harvard Law School. She also completed the Columbia Business School's Social Enterprise Program Senior Leaders Program for Nonprofit Professionals and currently serves on the board of the Middle East Children’s Institute. Jasmine’s expert commentary on economic opportunity, women’s empowerment and youth issues has been featured in The Financial Times, Forbes, Stanford Social Innovations Journal, and Finance Middle East, among others.
2) How did the EFE come about and how did you become associated with it?
3) We watch the news and intuit the the economic situation in parts of the Middle East / North Africa are desperate. How does this relate to the problem that EFE tries to solve?
(EFE's WHITE PAPER ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN THE REGION)
4) This seems to be a widely supported goal- what are the challenges in addressing the regions?
5) What are the different options for programs?
6) How do you select your initiatives?
7) Describe some of the successes?
8) What are some of the future initiatives that are being considered?
9) How do we stay in touch with you and find out ways to be involved with EFE?
Tyrone Ross, Cryptocurrency Guru and Wealth Management Industry Voice
Frazer Rice and Tyrone Ross in the studio for "Wealth, Actually"
Welcome back to the "Wealth, Actually" podcast.
(Reminder: There is no investment advice here!)
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have come back into the news as they have jumped around in price in the last two years. To help us understand the crypto phenomenon, I spoke with Tyrone Ross of Noblebridge Wealth. An extra special thank you to Tyrone for his unique insight, not only into cryptocurrencies, but in describing his personal journey in the wealth management space. There are powerful lessons to be learned here.
Tyrone is a start up investor and financial consultant. He has developed a deep expertise in the cryptocurrency space
He has been a go-to expert for many financial advisors as the space evolves. In addition to his cryptocurrency niche, Tyrone has carved out a burgeoning media and twitter presence with his outspoken and impactful views on the need for inclusion in the closed off world of financial advice. Tyrone is also officially the fastest person I have ever interviewed as he was an Olympic Qualifier in the 400m back in 2004!
(For those looking for excellent primer on the blockchain and how Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies work, check out
BLOCKCHAIN BASICS: A NON-TECHNICAL INTRODUCTION IN 25 STEPS by Daniel Drescher. You will know more about how Crytpocurrencies and other technologies work [and their limits) than 99.9% of the public. I also explored the subject in two terrific WA podcasts with Blockchain investor, BART STEPHENS and the CEO and Co-Founder of the Kowala, EILAND GLOVER.)
Tell us a bit about your professional background . . .
Educational / Family experience
Olympic experience- what did you take from it? How did you use it?
How does that inform your advice to clients?
How did you get interested in cryptocurrencies?
Let's get right to cryptocurrency.
What is the appeal of cryptocurrencies?
How is the world adopting cryptocurrencies into use cases?
How do you distinguish between the use of crypto and investing in crypto?
Describe what the market has done in the last couple of years . . .
How do we distinguish between Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and the other currencies?
Who is equipped to parse through the differences?
Do you need to understand code? How many people really get the underlying structure of the cryptocurrencies?
Is blockchain- the technological underpinning behind cryptocurrencies and other uses- a better bet?
How would you get exposure to that space?
What are you telling clients?
Media and Marketing
When did you "know" you were an entrepreneur?
What was your marketing plan and how have you developed your practice?
We met through twitter and I am amazed at the power of that medium- what is your take?
Relationships within the #fintwit and media community (Josh Brown, Justin Castelli and Doug Boneparth, among others)- what are your impressions?
You tweeted an amazing video on the role of privilege and background in the investment community and lots of great media appearances- Where should these discussions be taking us? What's next?
How do we stay in touch with you?
DON'T FORGET TO PICK UP YOUR COPY OF WEALTH ACTUALLY- THE LINK IS BELOW.
John Farr, Movie Guru and President of the Bedford Playhouse
We're back with another "Wealth, Actually" podcast. This time I got to speak with John Farr, a man who blended his love of movies with the world of movie house restoration. John Farr has helped restore one historic cinema (The Avon in Stamford) and did it again for the BEDFORD PLAYHOUSE in Bedford, NY. Boasting a half-century love of great film and a career in advertising, John guides smart audiences to smart films through his website – BEST MOVIES BY FARR.
Quick bio- what was your background?
Ties to Bedford, career in advertising to interest in movies and that industry . . .
Best Movies by Farr . . . tell us how this came to be and what it is.
How did you go from being in advertising to becoming urban planner / real estate developer / media mogul?
Concept of movie theater as cultural center for a town
Brief history of the theater and the closing in 2015.
History of Bedford Playhouse – opened in 1947,
It survived my frequent attendance! from 1980 on . . .
What happened in 2015?
Experience with the Avon Theater in Stamford, Jacob Burns in Pleasantville, how did that translate to Bedford?
How did you get the various stakeholders around a reinvigorated concept? How did you meet Ken Horn and how did he get involved?
Groundswell and Description of process post-2015.
What can we look forward to in 2019 and beyond.
What are some of the interesting features that we should be on the lookout for?
Favorite movies generally: Hitchcock, Notorious, Vertigo, Cary Grant
How do we stay in touch with the Playhouse, Best Movies by Farr and your other exploits?
Some additional notes on the history of the Bedford Playhouse:
The Bedford Playhouse is a former movie theater located in Bedford, New York which first opened its doors back in April 1947 to much fanfare. It operated continuously in the village for close to seventy years. It had a state of the art sound system and projection, “modern” air conditioning and an exterior designed to blend in with the historic village of Bedford. The owner and designer, Joseph H. Stearns, was a resident of Pound Ridge.
In 1983, the theater was divided into two smaller theaters, and much of its majesty and historic nature was lost. In early 2015, the theater closed.
A grass roots organization was formed under the leadership of Bedford resident John Farr, with the goal of transforming it into a not-for-profit arts house cinema, cultural center, and community hub. Over $8 million has been raised since then and construction of the new facility began in Spring, 2017.
Advising through Divorce with Storey Jones, Founder and CEO of dtour.life
I recently spoke with kick-butt entrepreneur, Storey Jones. She is an expert on divorce and family planning and has founded a company around her expertise. I'll let her bio from her startup DTOUR.LIFE tell the story:
"Been there. Done that. Survived and thrived. In 1998 Storey Jones married a technology entrepreneur. By 2001 his company had executed a successful IPO and then an accounting scandal brought everything crashing down leaving her in a highly complex seven-year legal quagmire that included every unimaginable financial and emotional challenge including a protracted high-conflict divorce and custody battle. Though she lost everything including her home, possessions, savings & retirement, she gained a purpose. She recognized the glaring chasm between the human experience of divorce and the legal system; she developed a new business model as a divorce consultant to assist men and women in becoming far more informed, prepared and supported as they navigate their own unique processes. She also worked closely with divorce legal teams to help their clients be better prepared participants in their own divorce.
After 12 years as a divorce consultant in the San Francisco Bay area, Storey has now leveraged that experience to build the first holistic end-to-end platform for divorce to bring innovation and technology to an outdated system. She is determined to change the experience by providing education and smart efficiency with expansive day-to-day tools that are designed so both clients and professionals can seamlessly work on and understand the same financial and other case-related data. dtour.life is designed from the ground up to fundamentally redefine this life transition for both spouses and professionals.
Prior to founding Lemon Tree Advisors and dtour.life, Storey was president of Addis, a bay area brand strategy and design firm where for 13 years she was integral to its growth and vision. Storey now lives in New York City with her teenage son; she has a B.A. from Colgate University."
We covered an enormous amount of ground and I'm excited for you to hear her story:
Tell us a little bit about your background and help us understand how you came to start dtour.life
"I have a business background and when I found myself quite suddenly and surprisingly in the middle of a highly complex, expensive and protracted divorce at a young age. I realize now how naïve I was, and through my process, I was horrified at the system, the inefficient process and the lack of accountability of the professionals. It was one of those classic “If only I knew then what I know now,” and I couldn’t bear to think of anyone else going through it with the blind faith in the system that I had, so I developed a divorce consultancy to work with families. I had a consultancy for about 10+ years in the SF Bay area. Then, during those years, with a front row seat to the day-to-day workflow process, I had my second epiphany when I realized what was actually the root cause of so much of the massive cost and protracted timelines…that is what led me to develop and found dtour.life…)"
How does the process of divorce typically play out?
There are four fundamental layers to divorce:
Who are the advisers that surround this process? Traditionally, everyone believes they just need a lawyer, is that still true? Are there other advisors to be considered?
I prefer a team model, and at first that might sound expensive, but in fact, it is the most efficient and cost-effective model. Every case has a unique set of factors be It the psychological dynamic between the spouses, the complexity of a financial issue, the ownership of a business, difficult child emotional or schedule issues, etc. As we discussed earlier, divorce is this huge lifestyle arc that affects every single aspect of your life. It so far exceeds simply the legal issues that I enc...
Personal Finance Author, Jonathan Clements
This is a special "Wealth Actually" podcast. I spoke with an author and educator that has had a major impact on financial literacy and wealth management. He is also a terrific guy to boot! Over the course of our discussion, While I felt like I was nodding my head in agreement a lot (that's the whoosh near the microphone), My guest's nuanced views on wealth and his consistent and deep writing taught me a lot about the importance of great advice, clear thinking and long-term planning.
Jonathan Clements is the founder and editor of HUMBLEDOLLAR.COM. He’s also the author of eight personal finance books, including his latest, “From Here to Financial Happiness.” Born in England and educated at Cambridge University, Jonathan spent almost two decades at The Wall Street Journal in New York, where he was the newspaper’s personal finance columnist. He also worked for six years at Citigroup as Director of Financial Education for the U.S. wealth management business. You can find him on on Twitter (@ClementsMoney) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ClementsMoney)
FROM HERE TO FINANCIAL HAPPINESS
Tell us a little bit about your background
How did your career evolve?
How did writing become a part of it?
"From Here to Financial Happiness . . . in 77 Days"
Where did the need for this book come from?
"Just because it's not complicated doesn't mean it's easy!"
The Power of Compounding- why it's vital.
I'm impressed with the structure of the book and breaking down self-improvement steps in a series of days. How did you decide on that?
Enjoyed the saving for retirement section. It has to happen first even though it's a liability that is farthest away.
What works and what doesn't when trying to teach financial discipline to people whose
After tax, After fee, After Inflation (spending); why is it so hard for wealth managers to frame things in these terms?
Estate planning - necessary for everyone
Friendly debate . . . whole life insurance as a way to save for LTC (instead of LTC insurance); The emergence of HSA's . . .
Where should you expect an advisor to add value? Robo-advice, tax advice, sounding board, investment performance
State of the wealth management industry . . . fee compression, business models, the role of the advisor, consolidation, service standards
Humble Dollar- terrific blog on investing and general financial literacy- what can we do as a country to help make people make better decisions?
How can we get a hold of "From Here to Financial Happiness."
How do we find out more about your other writings?
How do we keep track of your whereabouts?
To find my book, "Wealth, Actually", click below!
The Impact Coalition’s Matt Posner: “Municipal Bonds: The Original Impact Investment?”
"MUNICIPAL BONDS: THE ORIGINAL IMPACT INVESTMENT?"
For this first WA episode, I spoke with Matt Posner the Director of the Impact Coalition. We attack a bunch of topics centered around the emergence of the municipal bond markets' increased relevance in the impact investing world. Matt is helping to coordinate through the efforts of the Impact Coalition.
THE IMPACT COALITION (www.theimpactcoalition.com) is working with the largest underwriters, investors, and state and local governments to build a new language to analyze public infrastructure projects. The Coalition allows market practitioners to have a universally recognized Social Rate of Return on projects that improve the daily lives of our communities, and as a result, lower the costs for those that are raising funds for the public good.
Matt has spent the last 15 years analyzing the intersection of public policy, financial markets and state and local governments. Prior to the Impact Coalition, Matt was Head of Market Strategy for a venture-backed start-up aiming to modernize public finance through technological advances, called Neighborly. During his tenure there, the firm successfully raised a Series A round and started an asset-management firm with a focus on socially responsible investing. It was during this time that Matt dove into the impact space and realized its true potential to help make positive community changes around the world.
Prior to Neighborly, Matt started a consulting and research firm, Court Street Group, which provides weekly analysis of public finance along with several municipal bond market veterans. He is an Advisor to that company and writes for them. He began his career writing about Nuclear Energy and was a Managing Director at a boutique public finance research firm, Municipal Market Advisors.
Matt has testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance on infrastructure finance problems facing the country and spent years educating staff in the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, among others, on public policy and market implications. Matt has been quoted on his views and published in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Bloomberg News, The Bond Buyer, the Municipal Finance Journal, and the Government Finance Officers Association’s Government Finance Review, among others.
Matt doesn't lack for international experience! He spent most of his childhood abroad in Senegal, The Gambia, Bolivia and Peru. He is a graduate of Georgetown University with degrees in Government and History.
The format of our discussion is below.
Tell us a little bit about your background
How did your career evolve?
The Impact Coalition:
What problem was it formed to solve? Why do we need a new language for public infrastructure?
What does it do?
Who is a part of it?
Various issues in the Municipal Space
Vast number of public issues
Some universal language, some language particular to state law
Problems with indexing
Intensive manual reading and credit analysis
Predicting interest rates
Different levels of information
Emerging technology AI, ML
Active v. Passive Management
How would the IC's work help the RIA community?
What is there problem in dealing with clients fixed income needs?
Fixed income ignored?
Difficult to tell the fixed income story?
Difficult to tell the ESG story? Municipals: The Original Impact Investment?
Munis simply a tax free income play or something more?
International Investing community
Confused by lack of universal vernacular around public infrastructure
Interest in infrastructure- unsure about "impact"
Little experience in munis- Americans have long retail history- don't understand the disconnect
Grappling with increasing interest rates?
Better to go with high dividend equity infrastructure on after t...
Frazer Rice discussing “Wealth, Actually” on Bookstr’s Facebook Live Channel
Thanks to David Grasso, Scott Richmond and the team at Bookstr for having me on their Facebook Live channel. It's always a pleasure to discuss "Wealth, Actually."
A link to the book is here and don't forget to leave comments on the Amazon site.
Frazer Rice, Author of “Wealth, Actually”, on the Josh Jalinski Financial Quarterback show.
Here is something that is a little bit new! I was interviewed on my new book "Wealth, Actually by Josh Jalinksi on his Financial Quarterback show on 710 WOR ad on #iheartradio. We discussed estate planning, family dynamics, investing and a host of tools that could helpful in making good decisions about wealth. Thanks again, Josh!
To buy "WEALTH, ACTUALLY" on AMAZON, click BELOW . . . Feel free to leave Amazon Reviews (hopefully good ones!). They help the algorithm.
Ben Phillips, Chief Investment Officer of Eventshares
With the 2018 midterm elections around the corner, I spoke with Ben Phillips about the impact of policy on the investment world.
Ben Phillips serves as the CIO of EventShares, overseeing research and portfolio management for the U.S. Policy Alpha ETF (PLCY). Mr. Phillips previously worked for Goldman Sachs Asset Management, where he had portfolio management responsibilities across several multi-sector total return funds. Prior to GSAM, he held senior investing roles at Providence Equity Partners and Lord Abbett. Mr. Phillips is a CFA charterholder and received an MBA and BSBA in Finance from the University of Missouri. Mr. Phillips works in the firm's New York office.
How do you think about investing at Eventshares? (What is the effect of Policy on the markets)
Government affects everything. How do you break this down and organize your thinking?
Once your themes are established how do you implement your findings into good investment ideas?
Onto the 2018-2019 political environment:
First, what do we make of the general political environment and the effect of Trump?
Second, what is the current thinking on the midterms?
Onto the specific policy themes that affect investments:
Policy themes outlined by Ben:
Trade: "Trade continues to be the biggest potential headwind to the market. We expect headline volatility to linger, as markets attempt to decipher if Trump is bluffing on tariffs. While negotiations play out, we prefer to hold U.S. focused companies with minimal foreign currency exposure."
Immigration: "Border arrests trended down in 2017 after Trump assumed office pledging an immigration crackdown. However, 2018 border arrests are increasing as the administration doubles down on its agenda and strengthens border enforcement. We expect this to impact U.S.-Mexico relations and be a defining issue in the midterm elections."
Trucking: "Electronic logging devices (ELDs) continue to be implemented, which we believe will slow trucker productivity. In our view, ELDs are compounding a driver shortage, which will force trucking companies to increase compensation and turn down freight. We prefer to own asset-light companies with exposure to the spot freight market, as well as companies involved in the intermodal and rail markets."
Defense: "The FY 2019 appropriations process is underway in Washington D.C. We continue to expect companies involved in the defense industry to grow their revenues over the upcoming years due to the long lead time of defense contracts and the added tailwind from foreign demand. In our view, aircraft manufacturers and shipbuilders are best positioned to benefit from increased spending."
Refining Spreads: "The U.S. energy boom continues to redefine the energy market. Drilling companies in the Permian Basin are extracting record amounts of oil, but pipeline capacity issues mean not all of it is moving out of the area. Trucking shortages (see above) are exacerbating the issue, causing some drillers to sell at the local Midland spot price to refining companies. The refining companies may then be able to capture the spread by selling the oil at WTI or Brent benchmark prices."
Financial Deregulation: "The Trump administration continues to focus efforts on dismantling the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which is responsible for consumer protection in the financial sector. In our view, this will continue to benefit specialty finance companies, non-traditional lenders, and select regional banks."
"The Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to be a long-tail policy. After years of fighting the ACA, Republicans appear slightly more willing to expand Medicaid and Medicare, but only under their terms. While risk reduction payments were recently in the headlines after a New Mexico court ruling, we don’t believe they will be stopped under the ACA. In our view, these two items will help stabilize the insurance exchanges and insur...
Bill Yoh, Family Business Expert and Author of “Our Way”
In Podcast #25, I was able to speak with Bill Yoh, the author of "OUR WAY".
In the book, Bill tells the story of Spike Yoh, the driving force behind Day & Zimmermann with un-sugarcoated candor. An embattled son becomes a patriarch. An untested employee becomes a CEO. A husband becomes a caregiver. A student becomes a teacher, and ultimately a student. Spike Yoh’s life story paints a vivid picture of the profound and very human forces that shape leadership. From a troubled childhood that would have propelled most into a cycle of broken relationships and self-doubt, he rewrote the rules of his own life, and in the process built his father’s company into a billion-dollar enterprise.
Author, Bill Yoh serves as a speaker, biographer and strategist, helping other family business owners navigate the opportunities and challenges that inevitably arise when personal and professional lives intersect. As a third-generation owner of Day & Zimmermann, his family's 43,000-employee, century-old family business, Bill has a rare and personal view of the complex and human dynamics behind today’s multi-generational family businesses.
Tell us a little bit about your background
How did your career evolve?
How did writing become a part of it?
How did the story and the principles of Spike Yoh become a focus?
Day and Zimmerman
Tell us a little about where Day & Zimmermann came from and what they do
Recount some of the fulcrum moments of Spike’s leadership
Importance of the motto
Difficulties that were surmounted
Involvement with the community (and family) and its importance to corporate mission
How did Spike first begin to involve the family in the decision-making around the family and the wealth?
What worked and what didn’t?
What moments in his life may have informed some of the choices made?
Process of succession of the business
Operational Succession v. Ownership succession
How was the future management of the business chosen?
Tradition v. Qualification? Inside v. outside?
Tenure v. new blood?
Direction- growth v. income? Focus v. Diversification?
Public v. Private?
How were family members chosen within that context?
Aptitude, Ability, Interest, Capacity, Temperament
Stories around successes and issues here
How was ownership succession chosen? Every one equal or each according to need, none of the above? Was there structure around the wealth to try to prevent bad habits/encourage good ones?
How did you surround yourself with advice around that? You obviously had formal advice (legal, banking, accounting etc . . .). But did you have a shadow cabinet or a set of like-minded executives with similar experiences that you could lean on for their advice? How was the board involved?
Was philanthropy part of the equation?
How were decisions made within the family? How was the process of socialization/buy-in?
How were the other stakeholders incorporated in the decision-making? (employees, customers, vendors, community)?
What are the issues you see with families with succession issues
What are best practices that you have seen with your family and others that can apply?
What are the various tools and communication practices that can be useful in helping families on that journey?
How does FAMILYTICS work?
How can we get a hold of “Our Way”?
How do we find out more about Familytics
How do we keep track of your whereabouts?
BILL YOH, AUTHOR
Podcast #24: Leslie Danks Burke, Founder and President of Trailblazers PAC
Today we were able to speak with Leslie Danks Burke.
She is a public advocate and the Founder and President of TRAILBLAZERS PAC : a political action committee dedicated to finding and supporting candidates for local political office beyond typical party ideology and structure.
Based in Horseheads, NY, Leslie's goal is to improve the quality of candidates and the political discourse in this country, one municipality at a time.
Their mission statement states: "Trailblazers PAC reconnects citizens with democracy by moving politics out of the back room and onto the front porch. We educate candidates on building an honest donor relationship with their own voters. We invest in candidates for local office who take action for clean government."
She is here to help us
make sense of the current political environment,
its impact on the current political apparatus, and
the direction of grass root campaigns going forward
Where are you located?
Interest in politics
Frustrations with the System
Consensus between parties being thwarted
Quality candidates scared off by a poor process
Lack of new ideas / good ideas thwarted
Impact of money
The Impact of Trump on the Political Industrial Complex
Big gov’t v. small gov't
Changes in the media and distortions in “story distribution"
Gerrymandering / obstructionist voting laws and other distortions
Schisms in voters along income, education and cultural fault lines
The pull of better economics (and weather!) in other states
How do you establish consensus-common ground
The Opportunities for Positive Change
What does Trailblazers seek to do?
What type of races are interesting
Is there an ideology?
Improving candidate quality/interparty dialogue?
Predictions for the future
How do we keep track of your progress?
Eiland Glover, CEO and Co-Founder of Cryptocurrency Innovator, Kowala
On Podcast #23, we have Eiland Glover, founder of Kowala.
He helps us sort through the cryptocurrency noise, sets out the problems to be solved, and challenges us to think about cryptocurrencies in the future.
Eiland Glover is the CEO and Cofounder of KOWALA, creator of the world’s first autonomously stabilizing cryptocurrency: kUSD. Eiland has spent his career creating systems and companies at the intersection of finance, technology, education, game theory, and human psychology. He is a firm believer that new technologies must be consciously designed and utilized to empower humans. In 2012, Eiland learned about Bitcoin and wondered why this amazing technology had not become ubiquitous. He co-created Kowala based on his belief that a decentralized stable coin is necessary for the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies.
As a lead up to our discussion, we referred to broader issues that affect cryptocurrencies:
Outgrowth of the use of blockchain to add integrity in peer to peer transfers of digital information (and, more specifically, value)
That has led to the development of cryptocurrencies which have exploded in popularity in recent years most acutely in the last year.
Bitcoin, Ether, Dash, Ripple and many others have stormed the headlines as the curious have sought ways build on the promise of crypto currencies (and maybe get rich quick as well!)
However as we have seen in recent weeks, volatility, hacking and generally uncertainty have become a bigger part of the crypto currency picture
KOWALA'S kUSD VIDEO PREVIEW
Eiland’s background and how he got interested in the space.
A quick history of cryptocurrencies and their function and how we got to this point.
Bitcoin, et al- how did we go from intellectual exercise to solve integrity issues in peer to peer information transfer to intangible value transfer?
Obstacles of mass adoption of cryptocurrency
What does the business person who would like to embrace cryptocurrecy as a method of payment need to be worried about?
What does the casual cryptocurrency investor need to be worried about?
What does the consumer who would like to pay in cryptocurrency need to worry about? (wait for?)
Stable coin - its vital role in next phase of development in blockchain and cryptocurrency sector
Speed of transfer- How do you get the distributed ledger participants to ratify block transactions faster so that commerce can flow more smoothly?
Security of coin storage and value transfer- how does one minimize hacking, theft, double counting, broken hard-drives, lost passwords etc . . .
Non-volatile store of wealth? What is the value in being pegged to a country-backed currency? Why not just be in the currency itself?
Will countries “cut out the middle man”? And employ crypto currency features in their own currencies? Would that work?
Tipping point for adoption: will it be when it is common place to buy real estate with it? Candy bars? Used as wages?
- Different stable coins models, other coins compare to Kowala
Which ones are out there? What makes them good or bad?
Digital coins melded to different state-backed currency?
What happens if the USD goes haywire? Can that be a source of volatility?
How do miners help kUSD? As important parts of the blockchain ratification process, how do you keep them happy?
-How do we stay in touch with you, KOWALA, and kUSD?
(THERE IS NO INVESTMENT ADVICE IN THIS PODCAST OR POST)
Wealth Novelist and WSJ Contributor, Norb Vonnegut
Podcast #22 features Norb Vonnegut, wealth management practitioner turned novelist and journalist at the Wall Street Journal. Besides talking finance and the future of wealth management, we talked a lot about his fiction writing. He is the author of three Wall Street thrillers:
The Gods of Greenwich
He also works on non-fiction. As a contributing columnist for WSJ.com, Norb probes wealth management issues ranging from
The gender pay gap among industry professionals to
The clash between Wall Street and Silicon Valley for market share of investment management.
Norb knows what he is talking about. He spent ten years in Private Wealth Management in New York City, where he developed an international practice with over $1 billion in assets under management.
Norb, we both come from a wealth management background, but you have morphed into a formidable writer covering wealth management and other topics.
Take us through your background and how you got into the industry
How did you scratch the writing bug? What were your first experiences in getting published?
- Your work centers around adventures of wealth managers that get in trouble around their rich clients
Take us through your process in structuring plot and developing your characters?
What is it like to come from an industry and dealing with an editor and customs of the publishing industry?
What was it like to get your first edits and comments from your editor?
Your attention to the details of the industry reminds me of John Grisham or Tom Clancy. How do you research the ins and outs of the wealth details that make your novels vivid and “ring true”?
What are your plans for the series? Could this be the cornerstone of a movie or TV series?
You write a robust wealth management column for the WSJ- what is the process and timing for articles?
How do you and the paper decide what is newsworthy and how does that square with what is intellectually interesting to you? Or what might be a niche issue but could have significant impact?
Any plans for collecting your experiences/research for the broader reader?
Trends in Wealth Management
You must talk to a lot of professionals, clients and commentators- what are the broad trends that the industry is struggling to solve
Evolving business models
Justification for fees / compression issues
Active v. Passive (Commoditization of investment management advice)
Demographic shifts (aging advisor population)
Destruction of “free agency” (Dismantling of Protocol, who owns the client, does this affect advice?)
How do we stay in touch with you and how do we find/buy your work?
Podcast #21: Blockchain and Bitcoin VC Investor, Bart Stephens
Podcast #21 features a fascinating conversation with Bart Stephens on the emergence of Bitcoin and blockchain.
Bart is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of BLOCKCHAIN CAPITAL, the first VC firm to raise a venture fund through an ICO, and the most active VC investor in the sector, with 72 portfolio companies across three funds. Bart is also a Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Stephens Investment Management, a family owned and operated hedge fund and venture capital firm. Bart has a background of 20 years as both an operating entrepreneur and a venture capitalist. Bart earned a B.A. in Political Science from Princeton University.
We touch on a host of issues as I try to better understand the blockchain, its application to Bitcoin and its impact on industry in general. Interesting stuff as we try to peer into the future.
- Bart, you have a diverse background
You started out at E-Trade and come from a deep background of operating and investing in technology based venture capital.
What lessons did you pick up from your early experiences?
- Now onto the blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography.
- The term usually is the second word mentioned after hearing “Bitcoin” and “Etherium” and other digital currencies that have become popular in the last 5+ years.
- But it’s the blockchain system of recording and verifying transactions and data that seems to be the exciting game-changer across many industries.
- Bart, perhaps a brief rundown of understanding what the blockchain is and how it works
Help us understand the problem that “blockchain” helps to solve.
From a 30,000 foot view, "How does it work?”
What are the terms we need to be familiar with?
What is the benefit of block chain’s decentralization and affirmation of data by consensus?
How does that disintermediate current manual processes and improve security over the system
Public blockchain systems vs. private systems- can you make money on the public systems or is it the private systems where you have to play?
What will Blockchain impact?
What is the general bottleneck or way of doing things that the blockchain fixes or makes more efficient?
Benefits for recording of events,
Helping with medical records,
Helping with identity management,
Helping with transaction processing
Improvements for provenance or basis tracking
Back to the currencies- where do you see the potential for Bitcoin, etherium and other ICO’s?
Jamie Dimon’s comment
Banking in underserved markets
More frictionless and cheaper e-commerce transactions
Impact on Western Union and traditional banks?
Conflict with money laundering, banking secrecy laws?
Where are blockchain advancements really going to affect financial institutions?
Where are the opportunities?
Describe some of the themes and businesses that are interesting
What are the dangers?
What seems like a fad or a business theme that is going in the wrong direction?
Is there a risk that computational power can’t keep up with the explosion of data?
Without centralized records, is that a problem?
What if we get an EMP?
What is the best way to follow the development of blockchain?
How do we stay in touch with you?
Nickerson PR Technologist and Virtual Reality Expert, Matthew Cooney
I recently spoke to Matt Cooney at NICKERSON PR about the development of Virtual and Augmented Reality. We charted the differences and Matt made predictions about the future of this technology on a variety of industries and businesses including real estate. This is fascinating stuff and vital as we try to understand where the trends in economic growth and employment are going.
Forming and engaging communities has been the common thread in Matthew Cooney's career path. He has built and scaled social media communities for organizations including the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at M.I.T., iRobot, and Monster. Prior to joining NICKERSON, an award-winning full service marketing and communications agency, as Director of Social Media and Emerging Technologies, he served as a subject matter expert on virtual reality technology at Dell EMC.
Today, he works at the intersection of real estate and emerging technologies, witnessing firsthand how virtual and augmented reality technologies are disrupting social media and the way we live and interact in both the real and digital worlds.
Samantha Wolfe provides quick definition of Virtual and Augmented Reality HERE and a list of the typical tools and interface points HERE
- How did you get started in the technology space?
- VR versus AR: what they are/what's the difference?
- What are practical applications for both?
- How are they being used? Entertainment, Education, Enhancement
-How can these technological concepts be developed?
-Who are the major players?
-Where are the hotbeds of innovation?
-What are the hurdles to adoption?
-Are there multiple approaches to the same problem?
-What are the security concerns?
-How does this intersect with the major leaps made recently with Artificial Intelligence? “Big Data”?
-How does this intersect with the advances made in robotics and exoskeleton/cybernetic technology?
-What does the future hold, both near term and within the next five years, and beyond?
-What is exciting in space?
-What is worrisome?
-What industries are are in the crosshairs?
-What will the impact be on social media?
-Specifically, how we consume and share content, and congregate and interact online?
-How do we keep up to date on NICKERSON and what you are working on?
Founder of Phace Bioactive, Marisa Arredondo
It is impossible to come away from a conversation with Marisa Arredondo and not be impressed. She is the founder of skincare and lifestyle brand PHACE BIOACTIVE.
After graduating from Stanford University, Marisa worked as an analyst on Wall Street for 12 years to research and invest in cosmetic, drug and biotech companies. There, she learned about skin biology, ingredient technology, and pH balance as it relates to anti-aging. She also graduated from Harvard Business School, where she conceived the business plan for PHACE BIOACTIVE.
You can also check out the brand here: PHACE INSTAGRAM and PHACE FACEBOOK
We touch on a host of topics:
The joys and hardships of entrepreneurship,
When she knew she was ready to give it a go,
The evolution of the business past the startup stage,
The evolution of the brand and using her unique experience to drive the story of the company
Learning how to manage people and processes and when and how to delegate
Getting ones arms around the marketing strategy and the importance of social media and TV.
Describe your how you discovered and developed your product-
What need did you see that needed to be filled?
How did your personal experience allow you to see this?
At what point did you see the competition and decide- I have something that’s different and better?
How did you know it was time to take the plunge?
In brushing up on Phace Bioactive, you are involved in every aspect of the company. It’s rare that a person is a good at one or two things, but you seem to be on top of the science, finance, marketing, distribution and many other facets of the company. How did your background inform these different areas of expertise?
When do you decide that it’s time to bring in other experts and delegate?
Once you felt like you had the product right, how did you think about your marketing plan?
Once you have the formula right, how do you make sure it’s manufactured consistently?
You had a great run on QVC where you presented extremely well- how did you get involved with them?
What made them attractive?
How did you prepare for that experience?
How do you know when you have good advisors around you?
How do you select them?
Who has been helpful in mentoring you as you reach various stages of business development?
How has the advice changed since you have gone from planning to liftoff to growth?
As an entrepreneur, what was the thing or things that you ended up being the least prepared for?
Or what was your biggest surprise?
What were you most prepared for?
How has your experience changed as you begin to manage more people?
What are the plans for Phace Bioactive’s future- where do you see your next avenues for growth?
I notice on the site that you have a section that deals with lifestyle branding around the product. How does that relate to your future plans?
What is the best way to find PHACE BIOACTIVE?
Hedge Fund Manager and “Betting On Zero” Producer, John Fichthorn
Podcast #18 gives us a chance to speak with hedge fund manager and documentary producer, John Fichthorn, about his documentary, "Betting on Zero". John co-founded Dialectic Capital Management, LLC in 2003 and serves as its Portfolio Manager.
"Betting on Zero" offers an inside look at the controversy behind multi-level marketing companies and the gamesmanship that occurs on Wall Street . The documentary follows Bill Ackman, principal of Pershing Square, and the impact on Herbalife after Ackman makes a billion dollar bet against the company. The film documents the short position and the conflict it causes between Ackman, Herbalife CEO Michael Johnson and Wall Street titan, Carl Icahn. BOZ also follows the stories of former distributors and employees of Herbalife and provides examples of the controversial impacts Herbalife has had on the communities it serves. The film is available on iTunes, Google Play and Netflix.
We cover a lot in a short amount of time including what made the story interesting for John and how he and director, Ted Braun, were able to get the amazing access. Finally, we hear about the business (or lack thereof) of documentaries and some of John's future plans.
[*THERE IS NO INVESTMENT ADVICE IN THE PODCAST]
Bill Ackman is a huge figure in the shadowy world of hedge funds and his flirtation with Herbalife has become the stuff of legends.
How did you become interested in the man and this particular trade?
Why was it important to produce a documentary on the subject?
You have a pretty high stress day job . . . How did you become involved with the project?
How was the team assembled? How was the director, Ted Braun, chosen and who were the other driving factors behind the project?
The film ultimately comes down to two strong-minded characters, Michael Johnson, then CEO of Herbalife, who believes in the promise and growth of Herbalife, and Bill Ackman who has bet a substantial amount of money that company will fail.
In short strokes, take us through why there is such a divergence of opinion as to whether Herbalife is thriving business or a recipe for failure.
The film takes great pains to present the various impacts that Herbalife has on its employees, customers and investors.
How were these constituencies assembled?
In a world of regulations, compliance and other red-tape snarls, I was stunned that Johnson and Ackman provided as much access as the did.
How did you get these two figure heads to agree to appear?
How did you get them comfortable with the idea of a documentary?
One of the key subplots, is there emergence of Carl Ichan, another famous financier, who emerges later in the process and seems to relish, not only profiting on the other side of the Ackman trade, but in embarrassing him as well.
How much of that goes on in finance? When the investments become emotional/personal?
When does it become a bet more than an investment?
Since the film was released, Michael Johnson has left Herbalife.
Governmental investigations haven’t yielded any particular smoking guns.
Without having to get too specific, what are the implications of these events?
What do you see going forward?
The film has a had a nice reception at the Southampton and Tribeca Film festivals.
And it’s now on Netflix . . . What is the plan for the documentary now?
I was part of a low-budget horror movie and I learned first-hand that movie-making isn’t for sissies.
Now that you have one under your belt, has it become an addiction?
Are there any other stories that you would like to see told?
What is the best way for people to see the “Betting on Zero”?
[*THERE IS NO INVESTMENT ADVICE IN THE PODCAST]
Jonathan Leaf, Playwright and Author of DECONSTRUCTION
I recently met and spoke with New York City playwright, Jonathan Leaf, about the challenges and success of his new play DECONSTRUCTION.
He has written numerous plays and most recently had a successful run for DECONSTRUCTION which played at the Storm Theater in New York City. I was lucky enough to see it and experience firsthand the intelligent thought provocation that his work achieves.
DECONSTRUCTION dives into the one of the main scandals in the field of literary criticism . . . "Set in 1949, the play imagines the rumored love affair between famous novelist Mary McCarthy and young aspiring academic Paul de Man. Later in his life, de Man gained worldwide notoriety as the foremost American promoter of deconstruction, a concept inspired by German philosopher Martin Heidegger. The story exposes de Man’s hidden past in war-torn Belgium, where he was suspected as an embezzler and Nazi collaborator."
The play has been extremely well received:
" . . .Jonathan Leaf's Deconstruction Bravely and Brilliantly Delves into the Difficulties of Truth . . ."
- Victoria Ordin, Broadway World
"... an erudite detective story, an inquiry into a man’s personality wrapped up in an in inquiry about philosophical concepts ... Leaf strikes a rare balance between narrative and thesis, between action and thought.
- Kyle Smith, The New Criterion
"Peterson and Dobbins handle their roles admirably, particularly as the emotional pitch of events escalates. Dobbins is a convincing McCarthy, shifting seamlessly between vulnerability and icy wit, while Peterson’s amorphous de Man manages to be both repulsive and pitiable. These subtleties are facilitated by Leaf’s smart script and the simple set, constituted largely of scattered books."
- Ian Tuttle, National Review
“ ... a REFRESHING and CONTEMPORARY take on love and philosophy.”
- Ed Malin, Theatre In The Now
Jonathan Leaf has been nominated for “Best Original Full-Length Script” by the New York Innovative Theatre Awards for his play “The Caterers.” His plays have been produced and performed at 59E59 Theaters, the 29th Street Rep, the Arclight Theater and The Mint. As a journalist and critic, he has written for “The New Yorker,” “The Weekly Standard,” “National Review,” “The New York Post,” “New York Press,” “New York Daily News,” “New York Sun,” “The American,” “Humanities Magazine,” “City Journal,” “City Arts,” “Forbes.com,” “NewPartisan,” “TheStream,” “EdgeMedia,” “ContemporaryThinkers.org,” and “Mosaic Magazine,” among other publications. A Tikvah Fellow and Yale graduate, he is the author of the play “The Germans in Paris,” which was the highest-rated play in audience surveys on TheaterMania.com during its run.
You can follow his exploits here: http://jonathanleaf.weebly.com/
We covered a lot of ground in a short period of time . . . here is the format of the podcast:
You grew up Trenton and went to Yale- where did you get bitten by the writing bug?
How did your experience as a teacher influence you?
Let’s talk about Deconstruction- where did you get the idea to take on this affair in 1949?
What are you trying to communicate to the audience?
What do you want them to think about or stubble with?
What are the themes that predominate in your plays?
Are there any taboos or sacred cows that are in your crosshairs?
When you sit down to write a play how do you go through the exercise?
Do you have a set process?
Then there is the process of producing a play- that seems daunting in and of itself.
Take us through the story of how Deconstruction got from the blank page onto the stage?
How does the casting process work?
Do you find yourself writing parts with certain people in mind?
What is the next step for the play?
You have written a well received book on the Politically Incorrect History of the 60’s.
How is that different from writing plays?
Given your playwright background, are you interested in TV or movies.
How does that differ from the play process?
Nutritionist and Entrepreneur, Ashley Koff RD
I recently spoke with Ashley Koff. A registered dietitian, Ashley is not only one of the top people in the nutrition field, but she's a terrific entrepreneur as well. We have known each other since college so it was particularly fun to catch up on her exploits. [In typical Frazer fashion, the last time we saw each other was in a NYC steakhouse . . . which must have been real fun for a top nutritionist!].
Ashley is a Registered Dietitian and one of the top Nutritionists in the country. In addition to major corporate clients and individuals, Ashley advises many Hollywood and TV productions on better nutrition. She is the author of two books and acts as a spokesperson for many brands. She launched the Ashley Koff Approved brand to house and manage the many facets of her practice. You can find information about her programs and projects at https://www.ashleykoffapproved.com/.
With all of that, I wanted to pick her brain on two fronts:
1) What are the trends in nutrition and healthy living that we should focus on and
2) How have you turned your expertise into a successful business?
When do people make the decision to see you?
How do you get them think about their goals? Number on the scale vs. performance/energy vs appearance goals?
When someone walks in to your office, what is your process to assess where they are and where they should go with their nutrition?
Once you have an idea of a person’s situation, what are the next steps in implementing a process for them?
Concept of a balanced diet- vitamins vs. calories vs. person’s physical attributes-
How detailed does your analysis go?
Picking a theme and sticking with it
Overflow of information- fad diets
Vegetarians vs. vegans vs. pescatrians vs Paleos
Herbs/Vitamins- how do you focus on the important details (and ignore the less important ones)
Speed of eating
Timing of eating
Grocery stores: Buying fresh v. organic v. what we normally see
Avoiding processed foods- what does “processed” mean now?
Restaurants: how do you teach good habits in navigating those environments?
Competing with time challenges when preparing foods
Budget issues- expensive to eat well
Demonization of Fat v. sugar and carbs
Fruits and vegetables- obvious benefits, but can you overdo it?
Are there true superfoods that you can’t go wrong with?
Clients are individuals, companies, brands, organizations in addition to media products-
How do you organize your time?
How did you come up with the AKA brand?
How do you incorporate employees or partners in your concept and vision?
What was the role of media and books in building your brand? Was there a big break?
Does social media work for you? How does that translate into business?
What are your broader plans?
Does that include a prepared foods line?
Mathlessness – America’s Fundamental Problem (ca. 2011)
(This appeared in Rick Lazio's Ignite Blog back in July of 2011 . . . I reread it and liked it, so I thought I would repost it.)
MATHLESSNESS - AMERICA’S FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM
by Frazer Rice.
Modern Americans are largely innumerate. They are, to borrow Richard Posner’s felicitous phrase, “mathless”- most can’t use or judge the effects of numbers.
Such ignorance would be of little concern, except that math permeates everything and ignorance of it imperils both America and Americans. For example, mathless Americans can’t understand or interpret statistics popularly discussed in the media, thereby disabling their ability critically to assess what’s reported. Nor can they comprehend the scale of the numerical problems addressed in government budgets, leaving them to the not-so-tender mercies of craven politicians funding government programs through deficit spending.
Most importantly, mathless Americans lack the quantitative tools to prosper financially and avoid bad investments, critical skills of self-reliance in a non-welfare state. If you want to see this in action, watch a lawyer try to equitably divide the bill and calculate a tip at a nice restaurant. It takes twenty minutes and they usually have to consult an accountant … by phone.
Consider the millions of people who bought houses they couldn’t afford. Cautionary tales abound about people making $50k/year who were living in $400K houses that are now in foreclosure. The analysis exposing such folly isn’t rigorous: Assume (optimistically) after-tax income of $37,000, or $3,125 per month, that the buyer paid 10% of the purchase price ($400,000) at closing, which leaves $360,000 remaining. With an interest-only mortgage of 5% (historically low, but a reasonable figure), the buyer pays at least $1,500 in monthly interest, which is nearly half his or her take-home pay (you do get to deduct the interest, but you don’t see that until the following year).
The above scenario is unmercifully tight, especially if income taxes or the cost of living increases and/or income declines. Financial common sense bristles at such a position. Unfortunately, most Americans lack such common sense. And that is the core of the problem: math can help lead logical decision-making by spelling out future realities that predatory lenders’ hawking teaser rates don’t want you to consider. Lotteries, casinos and the investment banks thrive in part because Americans can’t or don’t want to think about math. As Homer Simpson put it when told that having mayonnaise and whiskey at the same time was a bad idea, “That’s a problem for Future Homer.”
Obviously, one can’t prepare for every eventuality, but more mathematical common sense could have prevented people from committing what amounted to financial suicide. The ability to see the immediate snapshot of a mathematical situation isn’t the glaring problem for America. Intuition and the advice of others tend to get most past square one. The real issue is getting people to conceptualize the numbers governing their lives in such a way that they can anticipate future consequences of financial decisions. For that task they are ill equipped.
Mathless Americans are also increasingly outstripped by foreign competitors. There are 98.8 color televisions for every 100 U.S. households. Television is the most important thing in America! There used to be over 70 US TV manufacturers. However, in 1995, Zenith sold to LG. That brought the number of U.S. TV manufacturers to zero. Only tiny startup Olevia assembles Asian TV parts in this country.
In the business world, being deficient in math is going to be like running a race with no legs. According to Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds program, eighty percent of jobs created in the next decade will require math and science skills.
Furthermore, the American education system isn’t up to the task. According to the Programme for International Student Assessment,
Politics with Robert George, NY Daily News Editorial Writer
It was a treat to talk to my friend, Robert A. George, about the political landscape washing over New York, Washington, and the rest of the country. We cover Donald Trump and his initial stumbles, the departure of Preet Bharara, the future of Governor Andrew Cuomo, and the re-election prospects of Mayor Bill DiBlasio among other topics. Lots of fun in the world of politics!
Robert is an editorial writer for the New York Daily News (and formerly for the New York Post) and a conservative/libertarian blogger and pundit. He was born in Trinidad and lived in the United Kingdom before moving to the United States. A graduate of St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, George worked for the Republican National Committee and, following the 1994 midterm elections, Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich.
In addition to his newspaper work, George also has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, Fox and regularly appears on other political affairs programs. George has written for the conservative National Review, the libertarian Reason and the Huffington Post. He also sponsors his own group political/cultural blog, Ragged Thots. In addition, George occasionally moonlights as a stand-up comic and improviser.
The Donald, Leader of the Free World
Former US Attorney Preet Bharara looking skyward
Governor Andrew Cuomo feeling good about the future
Mayor Bill DiBlasio ponders the future
NYC Psychotherapist and Founder of “A Quiet Room”, Will Meyerhofer
I spoke on my podcast with noted psychotherapist, Will Meyerhofer. He deals with heavy hitters on Wall Street, the NYC legal world and entertainment professionals. He pulls no punches.
While I have written before on the psychological perils of legal practice and Wall Street (The Death of a Profession: Law's Long, Bitter Descent and Its Tragic Human Toll), there is nothing like speaking with someone who is in the trenches helping people deal with the modern (and misunderstood) strains of the professions. Will has been there and walks the walk.
Will holds a BA, magna cum laude, from Harvard University, a JD from the New York University School of law and a Master of Social Work from the Hunter College School of Social Work. Since 2005, he has been operating his private practice, A Quiet Room, offering individual, couples and group psychotherapy from his home, a loft in TriBeCa, in Lower Manhattan.
In late 2010 Will released his first book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy, an introduction to the concepts and philosophy underlying psychotherapy. During 2011, Will released a second book, Way Worse Than Being a Dentist – the Lawyer's Quest for Meaning, based on material from his columns on law and psychotherapy from AboveTheLaw.com. A former associate in the General Practice group at Sullivan & Cromwell LLC, Will is an acknowledged expert on psychotherapy and lawyers,
Will writes a regular column for the popular legal website, AboveTheLaw.com, as well as a blog of his own, The People's Therapist, reflecting a psychotherapist's take on the world.
Tell us a bit about your background . . . How did you go from working at a white shoe law firm in NYC to becoming a psychotherapist?
A sizable part of your practice comes from the worlds of NYC lawyers, Wall Street and business. These are intense people, many of them unique in their own ways. Are there any universal traits that surround them?
Why do they come to you?
What are your clients struggling with?
How do you discuss vulnerability for these types of clients.
Do you have a process to help them open up?
Are there times when they never open up?
Long hours + “talent” should equal success, which should lead to money, prestige, fame. What happens when their progress doesn't measure up to their expectation? How do you help clients who feel inadequate when their numbers don’t measure up to their neighbors?
What happens when they feel behind, passed over or a sense of failure?
What happens when the numbers and the trappings aren’t enough?
Are they trapped by success? Have they taken on more responsibility at work and at home and built golden cages?
Do they feel Impostor syndrome? I.e. How do they reconcile that luck can be involved with success? Do they belittle their own achievement?
Do they have trouble appreciating the forces that are beyond their control?
For the client that “feels unhappy” or “lost" and has trouble verbalizing their problems- how do you structure the conversation to get them to tell you their truth (even if they don’t quite know what that is)?
The practice of law is far different than what is portrayed in the media (and even in law school). Do you notice clients that feel cheated or misled by that phenomenon?
We know by conjecture the punishing hours involved and the litter of paradoxes and inequities. What else is it about the practice of law and finance that creates such hurt?
What traits in your clients seem to be universal?
How do you unwind depression and cognitive distortion issues from chemical issues? For the uninitiated, does one drive the other?
You deal with artists, writers and other creative types, is there anything about their endeavors that makes their problems different? Is the currency of their self-esteem different from the other professionals? Is financial hardship measured differently? And does it have more impact?
For those that need help,
Eddy Lui, Founder and CEO of 18Birdies
With the excitement of Tiger Woods' return in the Bahamas, it was time to do a podcast around golf.
Welcome to Podcast #12, where I spoke with Eddy Lui. Eddy is a fellow golf fanatic who has founded a new golf platform called 18Birdies. We were able to get a round in this summer at Winged Foot and then record this interview about the company shortly afterward. 18Birdies can be downloaded on most mobile platforms and their website is www.18Birdies.com.
The "Live Engine for Golf", 18Birdies is a mobile golf platform that enhances the experience between golfers & the courses they love to play. The platform incorporates cutting edge technology, social elements, and gaming to take golf into the next generation. A deeper discussion of the company can be found is his article in Golf Inc.
Eddy began his career at the global consulting firm Bain & Company and then at Fairlook Capital. He spent 20 years successfully building and growing technology startups, Now Eddy is combining his business experience with his passion for golf with 18Birdies.
I had a terrific time learning about his combination of golf, technology and entrepreneurism- three things that I enjoy. We go into detail about the the challenges of driving the business and have some fun discussing the state of the game and the frontiers of the sport for 'millennials" in an internet age.
The format is below . . .
Golf- tell us how you fell in love with the game
How did you become involved with technology and startups?
Let’s talk about 18Birdies- How does the platform help the golfer increase enjoyment?
Where does the technology come into play?
How does the social component work?
How does the gaming component work?
Discussion of bringing high end tournament experience to the everyday player
Multi-course tournaments/leagues, having the leaderboard in your pocket, expanding network of other golfers
Based in San Francisco, one of the great golfing cities in this country- how does that help?
How do you bring on brand ambassadors and get the word out?
Lots written on the decline of golf- How does 18 Birdies address these issues?
Steep learning curve in the sport: Too much time, Too expensive, Too hard to access (public/private; men/women, minorities )- how can 18Birdies address these issues?
Talk about your association with Matty18UndaPar and growing the game.
Bring social (and video) to a closed community- what are the challenges in breaking the "private course" code?
What are some of the other trends that you are seeing?
How do you intersect with the governing bodies? USGA, PGA, LPGA, MGA, AJGA
Talk about some of the golf professionals like Darrell Kestner and Kris Tschetter that surround the brand
Is 18Birdies something that can be incorporated into scholastic golf?
What do the next few years look like for growth?
How do you begin to bring in revenue?
Favorite Golfer? Tiger Woods
Who is your favorite of the Young Guns? Patrick Reed
Best Round of golf ever?
Strengths and weaknesses of your game?
Is Tiger coming back?
Who is going to have a big year next year?
How do we keep track of 18Birdies? 18Birdies.com and downloadable app on most platforms.
For more on TIGER WOODS' re-emergence . . . see his blistering 65 in the Bahamas below!
Bryan Sells, Election Lawyer and Civil Rights Expert
I was thrilled to speak with election lawyer, Bryan Sells a week or so ahead of the big confrontation between Trump and Clinton. We talked about the process and importance of voting and the issues with the current election and future trends in our country's voting.
Based in Atlanta, Bryan is a civil rights lawyer specializing in voting rights, election law, and redistricting. He represents individual voters, civil rights organizations, political parties, candidates, and campaigns. Before founding his own firm, Bryan was been a senior litigator at the Department of Justice and the ACLU. Bryan posts frequently on twitter at @SellsBryan and his firm's website is www.BryanSellsLaw.com.
-How did the practice of voting law get your attention?
-How did your background point you in the direction of election law? What were your other influences?
-Explain why it’s important to have a full and fair representation in the political process
Many people assume that voting is as easy as registering to vote and then showing up at a polling location and casting a ballot. However, many times it’s not that easy.
-What is the actual process of voting?
-How is it run at the federal, state, and local level?
-How and why can that get distorted?
-Where are the greatest injustices/blockades to access right now?
-What about the notion of dead people voting and “pre-voted” voting machines
-Redistricting and gerrymandering?
-One of the great unintended consequences of our system-
-How does it disenfranchise voters?
-How do we rewrite the rule book on this?
-Two party system continues to dominate- how do other parties and ideas begin to penetrate the system?
-Term Limits- what are the arguments for and against? Is it time to have them at the federal
-Finally, technology and voting? Are they the cause of or solution to voter fraud? Or a little of both? What should we be looking for when thinking about technology and the expense of voting?
With Trump's shocking win, let's see what I was thinking back BEFORE he took the nomination: Trump: The Yard Sale. This was published 9/7/2015- well over a year ago and with no expectation that Donald Trump had a chance (at the nomination!) . . . boy, I was wrong. but there was some interesting thinking in there.
This podcast was the first done by telephone. I liked the results and it opens the podcast to a bunch of interesting participants. Look for more shortly.
Andrew Peek, Intelligence Officer and Foreign Affairs Expert
Podcast #10 was a fun and intense conversation with Foreign Policy and International Relations Expert, Andrew Peek. Andrew is the Director of the Washington Program at Claremont McKenna and an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine. He is also a former Captain in the US Army and Strategic Advisor to General Joe Allen. He has written and appeared widely in the media and can be found on Twitter at @AndrewLPeek.
We conducted a brief primer on Foreign policy and the Election starting with a quick summary of what we know about the candidates' viewpoints and approach to working with foreign countries
We started with Hillary Clinton and the evolution of her foreign policy approach.
What do we need to know about Hillary’s world view?
What is the impact of her vast experience and relationships?
What is the impact of Bill’s presence if she wins office?
Our next line of discussion analyzed what we know about Donald Trump- what informs his world view?
How would he go about staffing his foreign policy apparatus?
How does the volatility and inconsistency of message play out on the world stage?
How would he relate to the military?
Finally we embarked on a quick tour around the world . . .
Terrorism in France and Germany - Nice, Normandy, Paris, Orlando, etc
Germany and Syrian refugee policy
Vlad Putin and Syria/Ukraine/east europe/Trump
Middle East / ISIS
It is a wide ranging discussion with terrific analysis from an expert who lives and breathes these issues and has helped form and implement foreign policy at the highest levels.
Blake Morgan, CEO of ECR Music, Driving Force of #irespectmusic
It was a genuine pleasure to speak with Blake Morgan about the state of the music industry . . . we spoke for an hour and could have kept going for much longer!
Native New Yorker Blake Morgan is a recording artist, record producer, and the founder and owner of ECR Music Group, a global music company which operates under an elemental principle unprecedented in the music world: all of its artists and labels own one-hundred percent of their master recordings.
On the heels of his sold-out eight-month run at New York City’s Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3, Blake Morgan now embarks on his first large-scale West Coast solo tour of the United States. The New York Times calls Morgan “Disarmingly unselfconscious,” while Billboard Magazine writes, “Blake Morgan has a voice that was made to be heard on the radio…inspired songwriting and passionate performances.” The Washington Post adds, “He’s got killer pop-rock instincts, something that leaps out at you…a natural when it comes to fashioning sharp melodies and catchy choruses.” Blake Morgan’s 2016 West Coast Tour will run from August 22nd until September 3rd, with Morgan performing ten concerts in nine cities. Morgan returns to Rockwood Music Hall’s Stage 3 on September 14th, for Season Two of his ongoing artist-in-residence concert series in New York City.
We covered a lot of ground . . . Here is a framework of the topics covered.
What is the process of developing musicians now?
How do people access music in this day and age?
How do you reconcile the different definitions of success in your artists?
How do musicians get paid now? What is the difference between “songwriting” and “mechanicals”
What is the role of outside interests? Sponsorships, merchandise, acting / books etc . . .
And how is that different from the past?
Regarding the impact of technology on the previous music industry business model, the dilemma it poses now for emerging musicians, and the impact of #irespectmusic . . .
How have the innovations of Napster on through to iTunes/ Pandora/ Spotify/ Youtube impacted artists
What are the positive and negative aspects?
How does this impact artists and their ability to earn?
How does the law protect artists currently? Is it outdated?
What have been your legislative efforts? Is this a chance for actual bipartisan work from Congress?
What is that political process like? How do you educate our leaders about the importance of music and protecting the artist’s livelihood?
What can the artists do to help protect themselves?
Finally a little discussion on ECR and future plans
What is your vision for the modern record label – what is its role and how does it work in this day and age?
What are the signs of optimism for recording artists in the future?
Where do you see the future of music going?
How can people support #IRespectMusic?
Blake Morgan (Facebook)
Blake Morgan (Twitter)
IRESPECTMUSIC.ORG and via hashtag (#irespectmusic) on most social media platforms.
Michael Devlin, Agri-Business Adviser to Urban Seed
I recently spoke with Michael Devlin, adviser to Urban Seed (www.urbanseedvegas.com)
We covered a variety of topics related to agribusiness and food policy.
Urban Seed’s mission is to become the premier supplier of locally grown, low carbon impact, fruits, vegetables, and micro greens in the local market using proprietary and innovative technology & processes with modular, easily expandable structures which provide opportunities for unlimited growth. Their philosophy is to prioritize the “Made in the USA” concept. Their proprietary modular system provides superior quality and larger volumes in the same footprint allowing Urban Seed to grow 30 to 50 times the amount of produce than that of traditional farming without use of chemicals or pesticides. Facilities will be as close to the customer base as possible to reduce cost of transportation & delivery which can run as much as 75% of total operating costs for traditional farm to market operations.
1) We went though a description of the traditional timeline from food to fork. Most produce travels 1,500 miles from farm to fork.
- High carbon footprint
- Nutritional values falls over time
- Shorter shelf life = high food waste
- Lower freshness = bland taste
2) We laid out a broad gamut of food production challenges:
- Burgeoning world population,
- Water scarcity,
- Global warming,
- High pesticide use.
- Lack of access to fresh produce is highly correlated to rising BMI - especially in poor communities.
- Where are some of the investment opportunities in the food world?
- We spend time defining the concept of urban farming
4) Finally, we describe what Urban Seed does
- Farm to fork in 12 hrs
- No chemicals - herbicides or pesticides
- All non-GMO seeds (why is this important?)
- Grown under glass with no supplemental light - very power efficient.
- 30x crop yield vs traditional farming
- Uses 90% less water
- Extremely Profitable - Each 6,500sf greenhouse generates $1mln annual revenues and ~$500k EBITDA
- Tax benefits for buildings / urban settings?Jobs?
Film Director, William Wedig
I spoke with director, William Wedig, who is starting to make a dent in the world of movies.
Having done work for brands such as PBS, MTV, Sports Illustrated, People Magazine and Time Magazine, his work has been shown on broadcast and cable television, in AMC and Clearview theaters, on Times Square billboards and in festivals such as Sundance and the Toronto Film Festival.
In 2012, William began his television-directing career. 145 shoot days, 550 script pages and 5,000 shots later, William completed directing 26 episodes of the half-hour action-comedy kids show, Team Toon, set for release winter 2013 on Cartoon Network.
Utilizing a mixed-format presentation, the show fuses live-action with animation to allow for the adventures of four friends whose imaginations tend to blur the line between reality and cartoon. Part Scooby-Doo-style mystery, part monster madness action, Team Toon was a technically challenging show as well as a lengthy and action-packed production.
Most recently, William co-directed and edited the show Exposure: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2011. Starring Brooklyn Decker, Irina Shayk, Hillary Rhoda and 14 other supermodels, the show is available on the Playstation Network and DVD.
In 2011, Wedig’s feature film, Forged, was released theatrically. Forged won Best Film at the HBO New York Latino Film Festival and the Outstanding Film Award at the Providence Latin American Film Festival, and screened in the Los Angles Latino International Film. The film stars Manny Perez and Emmy award winner Margo Martindale. Variety’s Ronnie Scheib said that the film’s “powerful ending build kinetically” and that lead-actor Manny Perez is “frighteningly convincing as a man ruled by desperation.” For more, visit www.ForgedMovie.com.
He also post-supervised Josh Crook's La Soga, which is opened at the prestigious Toronto Film Festival and was released in theaters in August of 2010 through 7th Floor.
In the fall of 2008, he completed editing on a one hour documentary for This Old House and PBS, The Life a House Built: The 25th Anniversary of the Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Work Project. The film details the experiences of volunteers and homeowners working to rebuild the Gulf Coast in connection with Habitat for Humanity in the summer of 2008.
William began his career with his thesis film from the School of Visual Arts, entitled Rise of the Dead. The film was released through Lions Gate Entertainment in November of 2007. The film has been described as a "smart and original take on an equally old genre" (Fangoria) and William's directing as "a breath of fresh air" (C.H.U.D.).
William was also post-production supervisor on Salvage, a horror-thriller, which premiered to a packed house at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. The foreign distribution deal included a theatrical release and Echo Bridge Entertainment handled domestic distribution.
He graduated with a degree in film from the School of Visual Arts in New York City and lives in Brooklyn.
We covered a lot of ground in this one!
William's background- where are you from and how did you get to NY,
How did you get bitten by the filmmaking bug?
Take us through what you have worked on . . .
When do you know you have a project you are interested in directing? Are you writing it?
How do you read a screenplay and know if it’s good? If it’s for you?
How do you interact with the writers, producers, talent?
What makes a good partnership?
How would you describe your working style?
When did you know you were good? And could make a go of this?
How do you keep the business angle from overwhelming the creative process?
When do you compromise v. digging your heels in?
Impact of the Editing background- how does that help?
Surfing and SI Swimsuit work- what did you learn from those experiences?
Use of light, how do you make people or landscapes look good, how do you drive a story?
Animation- what makes that difficult or interesting?
Scott Johnston, Co-Founder of Wayin and LiquidSky
I recently spoke with Scott Johnston about his transition from banking to entrepreneurism and two of his technology projects.
WAYIN is Scott's venture co-founded with Scott McNealey. They help major companies aggregate and understand the date generated by consumers and their social media presence. That data can then be used by the company to better focus their marketing efforts and sell more efficiently.
LiquidSky is Scott's venture that seeks to more efficiently allocate the world's computing power. The company employs a subscription model and delivers computing and processing speeds on an "as-needed" basis. Liquidsky hopes to help people, businesses, universities and governments accomplish their computing goals without making huge equipment investments that could quickly become obsolete.
Scott and I have known each other for years having interacted in the political arena and on the golf course. In this episode we cover . . .
The transition from Wall Street to technology entrepreneurism
The genesis of Wayin- how does one take an idea and turn it into a business?
What problems does Wayin solve for marketers and advertisers?
Can Wayin apply to other arenas like politics?
How did Scott find the idea for LiquidSky?
How did he develop the talent to turn this idea from a twinkle in the eye to a viable business that could solve "Billion Person Problems?"
What is the impact of the video gamer? How big is that market? What is the impact of their influence on media production?
What are some tips and issues for investors to note if they are interested in investing or being involved in young companies?
Scott also collects his thoughts in his "Naked Dollar" Blog
CEO and Co-Founder of Beartooth, Michael Monaghan
Michael Monaghan, Co-Founder and CEO of Beartooth
What an exciting thing to watch the launch of a business. It represents the beginning of a new, scary and wonderful challenge. It also culminates years of innovation, planning, preparation and hard work. Today, Beartooth launches officially for the public. It is the brainchild of Michael Monaghan, a friend I have known for years. An idea borne out Michael's experiences both as a financier at Goldman Sachs and as a devout skier and outdoorsman, Beartooth builds on the promise of handheld phone use off the typical cellular grid. It is a tech company based in Bozeman, Montana! I spoke to Michael recently on his experience starting the business, the challenges of being an entrepreneur and probed to hear his thought process on a variety of new business issues. Below are some of the points that we covered:
An introduction into what the Beartooth radio does [How Beartooth Works]:
What does Beartooth do?
"Beartooth is a small device that works with an existing smartphone to communicate when you have no service. You can talk, text, use maps, and share location to Beartooth users within range when you have no cellular service. Beartooth also works as a backup battery for your smartphone.
Whether you are skiing fresh powder in the backcountry or dancing at Coachella, you can now reliably stay in contact with your group in ways that were previously unavailable. Beartooth allows for peer-to-peer communication between the devices, completely bypassing the Wi-Fi and cellular network."
What problems does Beartooth solve?
Where did you get the idea and develop the product/meet your co-founder?
How do you go from a Goldman Sachs background to an entrepreneur?
What is it like raising money?
What is it like having the responsibility of having employees?
How do you find and interact with investors?
How do you surround yourself with expertise? When bombarded with advice- how do you pick who you listen to?
What is it like dealing with the government and how did you learn about the various approval processes involved with a media product?
What is it like living and working in Bozeman? What are the pluses and challenges of Bozeman? How does Bozeman impact the attraction of talent/capital?
Beartooth sounds like it applies to rural and adventure settings- what are the uses for technology in urban environments?
What are the benefits of having "redundant" VHF/UHF benefits?
What are some of the technical features involved?
What are the applications to industry, leisure, military?
What are the real life experiences that could be enhanced with Beartooth? Festivals, skiing, hiking, lake, ocean, golf courses, vineyards?
Are there any potential information security benefits? (texts that don’t go through a plan/stored through iCloud? I.e. Device to device texting?)
Are there any battery life improvements that Beartooth adds?
How do you go about your marketing strategy? What are your marketing ideas? What segments are you working on?
Mass retail application?
To learn more about Beartooth, check out their website here: BEARTOOTH.COM
And check out more about their story below . . .
Beartooth profiled in OUTSIDE
Beartooth covered by TECHCRUNCH
Delaware Lawyer and Entrepreneur, John Williams
John Williams, Principal of the Williams Law Group and President of IncNow.com
I sat down with my colleague and fellow Emory Law graduate, John Williams, to talk about the differences and challenges of driving both a law firm and an online incorporation business. We spoke about trends in the legal industry and peered into our respective crystal balls about the direction of Delaware corporate law and the opportunities and issues that entrepreneurs face.
What percentage of the day is spent lawyering and what percentage is spent running Incnow?
What is does your law practice look like?
Delaware Corporate law; we hear about other jurisdictions -what is still advantageous about incorporating in Delaware?
Corp v. LLC v. Partnership- what steps should people go through in deciding which entity to use?
If I’m from New York or any other state, why would I have my business entity incorporated in Delaware?
Talk about the formation of your business Incnow- what need does your your business fulfill?
Having a law firm to deal with nuance associated with Incnow makes a lot of sense . . . Does that component get used a lot?
Challenges of running law firm v. start-up business? Benefits and challenges of being located in Delaware?
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg using LLC instead of a foundation for his charitable arm? Will we see that more? http://charitylawyerblog.com/2015/12/15/llcs-as-philanthropic-vehicles/
In addition to traditional S and C Corps, What about B-Corps also known as “Public Benefit Corps” that are chartered to have a broader purpose beyond shareholders- emerging trend or fad?
Increased scrutiny of entities and shell companies; increased banking laws and Treasury scrutinizing property purchases - what are you seeing in your business? What appears to be on the horizon on this front? (See some of my commentary on the subject from a past article here- Anonymity and Real Estate)
Delaware has always had a competent and efficient judiciary which is one of the attractions for many companies locating their corporate situs there . . .What else is Delaware doing to innovate?
Bankruptcy Lawyer, Steve Wilamowsky
In the latest Podcast, I speak with Steve Wilamowsky about the development and current state of bankruptcy law.
Steve Wilamowsky is a partner in Chapman and Cutler’s Litigation, Bankruptcy and Restructuring Group.
For over twenty years, clients have relied on Steve to guide them through complex corporate reorganizations, distressed asset transactions, and bankruptcy-related litigation.
We track his road into legal practice, go into detail about the landscape of bankruptcy law and muse about its future.
You can read more about Steve's background here.
Crime Novelist, Terrence McCauley
EPISODE 2: Crime Novelist, TERRENCE MCCAULEY
Crime Novelist, Terrence McCauley
Meet Terrence P. McCauley. He is a part of a new breed of crime fiction writers. This up-and-comer is one to watch. His acclaimed new thriller SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL will be published by Polis Books in July 2015.
Sympathy for the Devil (New from Polis Books)
Polis is also republishing Terrence's first two award-winning crime novels set in 1930 New York City - PROHIBITION and SLOW BURN.
In 2008, Terrence won the TruTV 'Search for the Next Great Crime Writer' contest. In 2014, he won three New Pulp Awards for Best Short Story, Best Novel and Best Author.
Terrence has had short stories featured in Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Spinetingler Magazine, Atomic Noir and Big Pulp among other places. A proud native of The Bronx, NY, he is currently working on his next work of fiction.
(Topics: Writing process, influences, favorite three books, favorite three movies)
Architecture Critic Jayne Merkel & New York City’s Evolving Skyline
Welcome to the first episode of the Frazer Rice Podcast (Trust me . . . I'm working on getting a snappier title!).
Expect to see more interviews with artists, entrepreneurs, commentators and tastemakers from New York and beyond.
Today we have an interview with Jayne Merkel, contributing editor for the Architectural Record and author of the monograph, Eero Saarinen. We discuss the evolution of New York City's skyline and downtown redevelopment, trends for the future and our favorite neighborhoods and buildings.
Among the highlights . . .
Manhattan's newest and most controversial residential tower- 432 Park Avenue
An afternoon photo of one of NYC's "Old Faithfuls"- the Flatiron Building
A night photo of the Union Square Pavilion with the Zeckendorf Towers in the background
THE NEXT PODCAST WILL FEATURE CRIME NOVELIST, TERRENCE MACCAULEY, WHO WILL TALK ABOUT HIS NEW BOOK, "SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL".