Category Archives: biz

The Secret To Success? You Have To Learn How To Fail

Craig Stecyk, Tony Hawk, Stacy Peralta

Hear the name Stacy Peralta and you instantly think either: A) I love Stacy Peralta! or B) Who the heck is she?

He is the highest-ranked skateboarder of his time, turned multi-million dollar businessman, turned filmmaker. He is also the creator of, and father-figure to, the Bones Brigade, a skate team that featured the era’s top competitors, including Tony Hawk.

While heading up the Bones Brigade, Stacy went on to produce almost a dozen videos, which became some of the most influential skateboarding flicks of their time and set him on a path to film-making. His film Riding Giants, which traces the origins of surfing, specifically focusing on the art of big wave riding, became the first documentary film to open the Sundance Film Festival in 2004 and established him as a powerful filmmaker and storyteller.

His latest documentary, Bones Brigade: An Autobiography is not only a look-back at his life, but more importantly, an insider’s view on the evolution of skateboarding and how its pioneers and legends (like Tony Hawk, Rodney Mullen, Steve Caballero, Lance Mountain, Tommy Guerrero, and Mike McGill) were driven by sheer passion to create an art form. They were true innovators.

This was hands-down my favorite film from Sundance 2012 and in this intimate interview at the Sundance Cinema Cafe, Stacy shares his secret to success:

The secret is I had to learn how to fail. That’s the secret to success…is that you’ve got to learn how to fail. Because you fail more than you succeed.  You’ve got to get up off the ground and that’s the thing about success. You have to learn how to take those punches. When we skateboarded, we banged ourselves up all the time. But if you didn’t learn how to fall, if you didn’t learn how to bang yourself up, you couldn’t continue.

The film, expected to get a distribution deal for a theatrical release, is not a movie about skateboarding, but an emotional journey about passion, self-expression and the drive to create something meaningful and beyond the realm of possible.

Interview with Cisco Founder Sandy Lerner: The Difference between Weird and Eccentric? Wealth

Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing a screening of Something Ventured, a documentary that traces the genesis of some of the world’s most revolutionary companies, from Atari to Apple to Genentech, and the impact of venture capital on entrepreneurship. The film premiered at the 2011 SXSW Film Festival and features some legendary VCs who helped foster America’s start-up culture, encouraging an environment of risk that yields unprecedented rewards.

The documentary is well worth the watch (it comes out on Netflix next year), giving insight into and a history of venture capitalism, but the highlight for me was the entrepreneurs, who had the vision and passion to create entirely new industries. A hidden gem of the movie is an exclusive interview with Cisco Co-Founder, Sandy Lerner, who is touted as the first female philanthropist to emerge from the Silicon Valley boom era.

Lerner was ousted from Cisco (in very much the same style of Steve Jobs from Apple) at the age of 35, worth $170 million in stock options that she immediately sold. The most compelling component of the one-on-one is the utter acerbity she still harbors about the ousting. Cisco was not a company she built and co-founded; it was a child she conceived, that was brutally ripped from her arms. The interview is a telling confessional of how little money factored into her passion and ambition, which is an overriding theme for the entrepreneurs featured in the film.

After the screening during the Q&A, the film’s producer acknowledged how much effort it took to persuade Lerner to do the interview and speak about her firing, then directed the audience to a recent and rare interview she did with FoxNews about sustainable farming. Two highlights of the interview come in this admission from Lerner, “I got fired by the same guy who fired Steve Jobs” and her response when asked if she thinks she’s a bit eccentric:

I am now that I’m rich. I used to just be weird.

Second Life Failed Because Facebook Became Our Second Life

Slate recently did a piece on why Second Life, the virtual reality world, failed. It concludes, rightfully so, that the Linden Labs creation world lacks a clear purpose. Given how significant this factor is in the “real world” — people with a strong purpose and vision in life thrive, while those who lack direction, don’t — the rationale makes sense. In the words of Kit DeLuca (Pretty Woman): “You gotta have a goal. Do you have a goal?”

But there’s something missing, and I believe it’s an even bigger part of the equation: social, more specifically, Facebook. Second Life launched in 2003. Facebook came out in 2004 and with it came the rise and explosion of Zynga games, FarmVille and CityVille.

If purpose is the defining factor for success, then why is one of the most purpose-driven games in the world, World of Warcraft, losing players? My answer: Facebook. Blizzard Entertainment’s now seven year-old brainchild has been losing players since last October and has lost ~two million subscribers during the last 12 months.

Let’s compare this to The Sims Social, the Facebook addition to the Sims series. By augmenting the videogame with a Facebook edition, it expanded its user base and is second only to CityVille, Facebook’s most popular leisure activity.

Second Life failed because Facebook became our new virtual world, our “second life.” The alternate world is simply too disconnected from where people spend the majority of their time online.

Huntington Beach’s Oil Rush from 1919 to 2010

"Oranges and Oil - a Combination That is Hard to Beat," Circa 1921

“March 11, 1919 put Orange County in the black in more ways than one. On that day Fullerton area citrus grower Charles C. Chapman watched as his gusher came in. Thousands of gallons of crude oil flew into the sky at Chapman No. 1, his Placentia-Ritchfield District well leased to the Union Oil Co. This well began producing 8,000 barrels of oil a day and quickly became the most productive single well in California.

Representatives of Rockefeller family-controlled Standard Oil were impressed, too, and scouted the surrounding countryside. Standard quickly leased the Samuel Kraemer property across the street and drilled six wells including the deepest “Kraemer Zone” well. All were productive in 1919.

The county’s single most productive “soil product,” crude oil, accounted for nearly on fourth of 1912′s $26 million countywide take. After Chapman No. 1 came in in 1919, estimates put the county’s production at 1,475,000 barrels a month, which equated to $22.15 million a year.

Standard Oil was quick to exploit the newfound oil potential of Orange County and quickly leased 500 acres in the northwestern of Huntington Beach. By 1920, the first well, A-1, was bringing in 91 barrels a day. The town’s sleepy population of about 2,400 in the late teens nearly quadrupled by 1922, changing forever the face of the coast as derrick forests spread to the beach.”

- From Orange County 2000, The Millenium Book, pg 54, Chapmans Gusher

Huntington Beach Pier, circa 1930s

“A third strike in 1933 had world wide impact because of the new techniques it demonstrated. Up until that time, drilling had been on he near-vertical, directly over an oil pool, With the invention of controlled directional drilling, first used successfully here to tap the tide land pools, a well could be drilled on a slant, in any desired direction. Within a year, 90 wells were producing from tall rigs along the coastline.

These bobbing pumps remained the symbol of coastal Huntington Beach for many years and were frequently used as background for movies, including “Giant.” Now, most are gone or masked by plantings.

A final oil strike came in 1953.”

- From a Brief History of HB, by Barbara Milkovich, 1986

January 28, 1940.

View from the Huntington Beach Pier

1960s

“Cal Nagel says, “It may have been ‘a stinkin oil town’ to the outsiders, but for the natives it was a comfortable small town of about 5,000 people. Before, we knew each other; now, the bigger the city has become, the more isolated everyone is.”

In 1970 Huntington Beach was the fastest growing city in the U.S. and the largest city in land area in Orange County. Today (1976) Huntington Beach has a population of over 150,000 in its 25 square mile area. It now has over 30 elementary schools, four high schools, and Golden West College.

Two recently completed projects are the new civic center and library, and a partially completed 400 acre Central park. The expenditures for these projects are subjects of debate.”

- From the 1976 Discoveries magazine.

Offshore rig in 1976 with 52 producing wells.
Modern day offshore oil rig taken in October 2010, with Catalina Island in the background.

Photos/Sources:

Orange County Archives: Pier 1930s, Orange and Oil, Brea Oil Field, & View from HB Pier

Jan 28, 1940 by former LA Times staff photographer Ted Hurley

1960s full-color pier shot by StockTeam

Oil Pie Chart from the 1981 HB City report on Oil Operations

1976 offshore rig from a fully-scanned article in the 1976 Discoveries magazine

Modern day offshore rig by Neil Armstrong2

cc

Huntington Beach's Oil Rush from 1919 to 2010

"Oranges and Oil - a Combination That is Hard to Beat," Circa 1921

“March 11, 1919 put Orange County in the black in more ways than one. On that day Fullerton area citrus grower Charles C. Chapman watched as his gusher came in. Thousands of gallons of crude oil flew into the sky at Chapman No. 1, his Placentia-Ritchfield District well leased to the Union Oil Co. This well began producing 8,000 barrels of oil a day and quickly became the most productive single well in California.

Representatives of Rockefeller family-controlled Standard Oil were impressed, too, and scouted the surrounding countryside. Standard quickly leased the Samuel Kraemer property across the street and drilled six wells including the deepest “Kraemer Zone” well. All were productive in 1919.

The county’s single most productive “soil product,” crude oil, accounted for nearly on fourth of 1912′s $26 million countywide take. After Chapman No. 1 came in in 1919, estimates put the county’s production at 1,475,000 barrels a month, which equated to $22.15 million a year.

Standard Oil was quick to exploit the newfound oil potential of Orange County and quickly leased 500 acres in the northwestern of Huntington Beach. By 1920, the first well, A-1, was bringing in 91 barrels a day. The town’s sleepy population of about 2,400 in the late teens nearly quadrupled by 1922, changing forever the face of the coast as derrick forests spread to the beach.”

- From Orange County 2000, The Millenium Book, pg 54, Chapmans Gusher

Huntington Beach Pier, circa 1930s

Continue reading

Occupy Chinese Wall Street

Does anyone ever think about the power that comes with Wall Street?

We are the center of the financial universe and money flows into our country. The dollar is the standard by which everyone else values their currency. Millions upon millions of jobs are created by more than just the big investment banks, but also the small businesses that rarely face a credit crunch.

Nearly every person in this country can get a quick $20k to start a business, whether from a bank or through a credit card.

So, why do the Occupy Wall Street protesters want to put a monkey wrench in the works? Would they rather it be in China?

Perhaps they blame Wall Street for the recession or the bailouts.

Let’s start with the bailouts. There were two of them, one for Detroit and one for Wall Street. The one for the automakers cost us $14 billion on an $80 billion loan bailout, while TARP cost us $20 billion on $432 billion in loans.

That’s a 17.5% default rate for Detroit compared to a 4.6% default rate for Wall Street, and the TARP number is expected to go lower as more money is paid back. That $14 billion automaker loss it’s already on the books.

Further, the Wall Street banks have already paid their loans back, it’s the small community banks across the country who are defaulting.

The main reason they are defaulting: bad home loans.

Which brings up an interesting conundrum. Non-Wall Street banks taking our tax money. People taking on bad mortgages and government regulators performing a classic disappearing act.

Should we think twice about blaming Wall Street?

At the very least take responsibility for our own bad mortgages and elected officials.

You definitely won’t find me out protesting Wall Street — I would feel too guilty as I have an “easy mortgage” that I am underwater on.

I like having my country as the financial power in the world and all the money and jobs that go along with it. Not to mention that it’s better than it being in China or Germany.

Plus, I have work to do. I can’t sit around all day and be angry at other people…

[photo: blaisone-crowds / david shankbone-socialist]

The theory on career development: what psychology says about choosing your passion

In college I studied psychology and absolutely loved its theories. The field is so new and unknown that simply being able to describe how people behave is an accomplishment. Freud, the most famous psychologist, was really just a creative writer with a bit of fact.

I find something powerful in these theories. They allow me to make sense of a life that is often confusing and complex. For example, I recently fulfilled a dream by going from corporate blogger to personal blogger (this site).

It’s a great time for me but can be tough, and when I tell this to friends and family I receive a whole range of reactions, from support to disdain.

It becomes hard, at times, to find people to relate with. Most in my corporate network have trouble sympathizing with my new lifestyle, and I with them.

Complaining about your boss is no longer relevant to me, and hearing about annoying people at Starbucks seems petty to most.

It got me thinking about why this happens and I found an interesting psychology theory. One that applies to more than mid-career changes, but also to parents, teachers, and counselors.

Social Cognitive Career Theory

Social cognitive career theory (SCCT) represents an effort to extend Bandura’s social cognitive theory to the context of career development.

It is part of a revolution in psychology that believes people are an active agents in, and shapers of, their career development. This element of self-direction can be just as important as genetic and environmental factors, and puts an emphasis on self-exploration as a model for strong career decisions.

The theory draws on three basic constructs self-efficacy beliefs, outcome expectations, and goals.

Self-Efficacy


Self-efficacy refers to personal beliefs about an individual’s capabilities to perform . They are context-specific, meaning they change depending on the topic (e.g. I can be a writer, but not an engineer).

It is surprising how many of us have strong beliefs about careers “we know we cannot do,” but where do these thoughts come from?

They are thought to develop from four sources:

  1. Personal accomplishments
  2. Vicarious experiences
  3. Social persuasion
  4. Physical and emotional states

Remember that these are beliefs not actual actions and results. Many of us will not try something, that we could be great at, simply because at some point in our life we developed a limiting belief.

Outcome Expectations


Outcome expectations are acquired through learning experiences with a strong focus on the consequences of a behavior (e.g. what will happen if I do this?).

The difference between self-efficacy and outcome expectations relates to beliefs about performance and consequences.

Self-efficacy is the belief that one can execute the behavior needed to produce the desired outcome (performance).

Outcome expectation is a person’s estimate that a certain behavior will produce a resulting outcome (consequence).

These expectations are thought to develop from:

  • Performing that action in the past
  • Observation of the outcomes produced by others
  • Attention to self-generated outcomes (e.g. self-approval)
  • Reaction of others to outcomes
  • Sensitivity to physical cues during task performance (emotional disturbance, sense of well-being)

Goals

Goal-setting has been defined as deciding on specific outcomes of learning or performance. By setting personal goals, people help to organize, guide, and sustain their own behavior, even through overly long intervals, without external reinforcement.

Thus goals constitute a critical mechanism through which people exercise personal agency or self-empowerment.

The interplay between self-efficacy and outcome expectations is constant. The achievement of a goal increases self-efficacy and improve outcome expectations for the next time. Often creating a positive reinforcement loop, or, through failure to achieve a goal, a lack of new goals in a negative reinforcement loop.

One factor that seems to strongly effect goal-setting is specificity. One study found that those with high self-efficacy tended to set specific goals, whereas those with low self-efficacy tended to set vague ones.

Those with specific goals tended to achieve more, set more challenging goals, progress more, and evaluate personal progress more effectively.

Conclusion

Thinking about your own, or your children’s, self-efficacy is important. Do you think you can do it?

If not, what is stopping you, are you thinking about something that prevents you from trying it?

Do you set goals, specific ones, and do you feel comfortable doing so?

In my situation, I find myself living and dying by goals. I have to self-start my day and continue pushing through distractions.

Having a specific but challenging goal has defined my work. Even more, it guides me through tough times and when questions of self-doubt arise.

But, then again, I think I have a high self-efficacy and a strange lack of fear for the outcomes of my behavior. How about you, is there one area you excel in or have trouble with?

Sources: Career Choice and DevelopmentSelf-Efficacy Beliefs of Adolescents, & Self-Efficacy, Motivation, and Outcome Expectation Correlates.

Photos: Cobalt123 (swimmer), Woodley Wonderworks (children’s table), Angie Torres (goal setting), & JJPacres (writing).

 

Happy Monday! 50 big name bankruptcies

I’ve got the Monday’s. What better way to celebrate than troll the bankruptcies. Did you know that Rembrandt lost it all in 1656 and so did Mark Twain in 1894 ?

Here is a list of the major brands that went under during the Great Recession (2008-11).

Of note, many of these companies are still alive, emerging from bankruptcy, or bought by another company.

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Phoenix Coyotes
  3. Texas Rangers
  4. Michael Vick
  5. Bill Buckner
  6. Lenny Dykstra
  7. Stephen Baldwin
  8. Sinbad
  9. Trump Entertainment Resorts
  10. National Enquirer
  11. MGM Studios
  12. Round Table Pizza
  13. Yellow Pages
  14. Tropicana Casinos
  15. Sbarro’s
  16. Philadelphia Orchestra
  17. The Octuplet Family
  18. Active Ride Shop
  19. Air America Radio
  20. Six Flags
  21. Filene’s Basement
  22. Fatburger
  23. Samsonite
  24. The Walking Company
  25. Borders
  26. Hollywood Video
  27. Circuit City
  28. Washington Mutual
  29. Black Angus
  30. Hometown Buffet
  31. Mrs. Fields
  32. Ritz Camera
  33. Nortel
  34. Claim Jumper
  35. Loehmann’s
  36. Big 10 Tires
  37. Z Gallerie
  38. KB Toys
  39. Midway Video Games
  40. Anchor Blue
  41. Eddie Bauer
  42. Crabtree & Evelyn
  43. Golfer’s Wharehouse
  44. Ziff Davis
  45. Tribune Company
  46. Sharper Image
  47. Mervyns
  48. Madoff Investment Securities
  49. Linens ‘n Things
  50. Levitz Furniture
  51. Countrywide Financial
  52. Bearing Point
  53. Fuddruckers
  54. Marie Callender’s

Who makes more, college professors or coaches?

I bet you’re thinking this is a no-brainer and the coaches win by far. Not so fast, the medical departments at colleges rake in money for patient care and consulting.

Here is a breakdown for the UC system in California which includes Berkeley, UCLA, and San Francisco with a combined 100+ Nobel Laureates:

2010 Pay

  1. Coach – $2.4 million - Jeff Tedford (Berekeley)
  2. Coach – $2.1 million - Ben Howland (UCLA)
  3. Prof. – $2.0 million - Ronald Busuttil (UCLA)
  4. Coach – $1.9 million - Mike Montgomery (Berkeley)
  5. Prof. – $1.8 million - Khalil Tabsh (UCLA)
  6. Prof. – $1.5 million - Anthony Azakie (UCSF)
  7. Prof. – $1.5 million - Philip Leboit (UCSF)
  8. Prof. – $1.5 million - Timothy McCalmont (UCSF)
  9. Prof. – $1.4 million - Richard Shemin  (UCLA)
  10. Coach – $1.2 million - Rick Neuheisel (UCLA)

The coaches hold four of the ten spots. The disparity in pay between the two groups isn’t all that great either. Average of the top 10 has the professors earning $1.6 million and the coaches earning $1.9 million.

If you keep going, the next fifteen are all on the healthcare side with twelve professors and three health executives. Of the top 100 they take up 84 spots, with only fourteen non-healthcare salaries.

#3 - Ronald Busuttil, Transplant Surgeon

It’s also worth noting that the next coaches on the list are Norm Chow (UCLA) at #95, and Joanne Boyle (Berkeley) at #119.

I have to admit the numbers are pretty shocking. The common understanding is that professors make little money, while doctors make good money. Combine the two and it’s a gold mine.

One that doesn’t pull money from the schools themselves. Like the coaches they are largely paid with the money they pull in. In the world of college academics this is called an “auxiliary program” (thanks Norman), and the opposite is normally true. These programs (sports, healthcare) funnel money, prestige, and students to the schools.

A final note, these salaries are determined by combining each persons base pay with their incentives and bonuses. For the coaches this means winning, playoffs, and championships. For the health professors it means seeing patients and receiving awards for their research.

Take out this extra pay and not one in the top 10 earns above $317,000 in base pay. Many of those lower on the list have a set base pay of $500,000 and $800,000.

Interesting, to say the least, and I hope I informed your opinion of college salaries.

Entrance to UCLA Medical Center (only 20% of the whole complex)

****

Information pulled from the OC Register article: UC coaches’ pay outstrips Nobel laureates’

Photo of Jeff Tedford by Avinash & of the UCLA Medical Center by Benny Chan

How I spent my summer, by Steven Mandzik

Yesterday was the first day of Fall and Summer is officially over, which means it’s time to write my follow-up to Amy’s back to school letter…How I Spent My Summer.

An act in two parts.

Part I – The Taming of the Bear

[box type="shadow"]Forward, I pray, since we have come so far,

And be it moon, or sun, or what you please. And if you please to call it a rush candle, Henceforth I vow it shall be so for me.

- The Taming of the Shrew, William Shakespeare[/box]

The quote is from the final moments where Petruchio finally tames Katharina. Which is what I spent greatest amount of effort on this summer. Except, instead of taming the Bear I set her free.

Perhaps, I should call it by its modern name, 10 Things I Hate About You. Where Heath Ledger prompts Julia Stiles to let go of her hurt and smile again.

This summer Amy started smiling again. She is surfing and writing and feeling proud. Ready to love me and move our relationship to the next level.

While details of this struggle are personal let’s just say I was nearly killed in the process.

Part II – The Blogger

I’ve never been a good writer. All through my high school and college years I rarely got higher than an B. In fact, those years were a slapstick comedy of errors, with everything from a state-wide English teacher strike to a series of corrupt substitute teachers.

After I left school is when I learned how to write. It turns out that part of the problem is my nonconformist streak. Even when the teachers taught me how to do it the right way, I would do the opposite. I simply refused to write a boring essay.

Then blogging came on the scene and being unique with poor grammar was/is all the rage. Ever since I have been writing and writing, often getting paid to do it by big corporations. You could say that I have been a corporate blogger for 5 years.

During those years I dreamed of leaving everything behind, moving to paradise, and trying my own hand at writing. That is done. Amy and I moved out of DC, into a tranquil Southern California life, and I’m blogging my heart out.

So far I have been able to post something new, and interesting, every day and our growth is good, from 300 to 40,000 views/month.

In many ways this lifestyle is ideal. We get to set our own schedule, avoid the working crowds, and even pick-up long-lost hobbies (surfing). In other ways it is the scariest thing we’ve ever done. I say ‘we’ because Amy is also taking up writing, as a screenwriter.

The thing about being a writer is that you’re nothing until you have a name. It takes forever to build up that audience and, in the meantime, makes you a “struggling writer”. Once you do build up the name you have to be a hit machine. There are no consistent paychecks only your own ability to write something that works and keep doing it.

This summer served as our starting point. The beginning of our path toward our dreams. It was not all peaches and cream, but what they say is true. When you do what you love, it’s not work.

photo by Rajeev Nair