Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year: 2011

Just wanted to take a moment and wish everyone a Happy New Year!!! 2011 is going to be an amazing year.

This picture is from the last blizzard of 2010.

What a year...and thank all of you for your support.

Brad Szollose

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Truth About Unemployment and
The Digital Divide

In 1970 Alvin Toffler's book, Future Shock warned us about our not too distant future. Both Heidi and Alvin Toffler's research revealed a future where the human race would not be able to keep up, or stay sane. More scary than amazing the resulting emotional pathos was entitled future shock (much like culture shock. Except in this world, you could never return to your culture of origin). From the pages of his book, comes a startling revelation...

“The illiterate of the twenty-first century will not be those that cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

In this new world of Future Shock the adults would be displaced by the youth for several reasons:
1) The younger generations would be more employable due to their relationship with technology and their ability to rapidly discard old methodologies and 2) the old methods would be dying so quickly, mom and dad would be unable to keep up. Does any of this sound familiar?

According to the Toffler's research, in this fantastic future we would be facing a world where everything would become disposable, traditional values would become nonexistent and seasonality (experience) would actually become a burden. The equivalent of horse & buggy workers being displaced by the automobile one hundred years ago. How did those employees of the past reinvent themselves for an auto factory assembly-line?

In order to stay relevant and employable these days, a person must do the opposite of what made them successful all these years...namely get rid of knowledge hoarding. To stay up to date in this new world, one must discard old knowledge and replace it with new...consistently. Something Baby Boomers have trouble doing because we have been trained to memorize and use that knowledge to get ahead.  Gen Y on the other hand has had a lifetime of software upgrades. They are built to live in a constantly upgraded world.

If you are upset by Unemployment Benefits being extended you might want to wake up to a simple fact: as we get under full swing in the 21st Century, many Baby Boomers are unaware that their traditional skills are no longer in demand. Now, not all jobs will be influenced by technology - we still need waitresses and postal workers - but the jobs that matter have been automated with technological improvements. Shockingly much of the technology in use right now is simply not on a Baby Boomers radar! If you are 46 years old or older, the idea of the corner office, years of experience, higher salaries and a solid work ethic are simply not in demand. But Generation X & Y have skills that are in demand - skills they are born with.

This has created a gap in skill sets. A gap that
will keep many unemployable...

This gap is called The Digital Divide. Eerily, Alvin and Heidi Toffler's future is happening right now before our eyes. Check out this should make things clearer.

The Digital Divide is growing wider yet many Baby Boomers I speak with don't see it. From Gen X, Gen Y, Millennials and now Net Gen, we have one generation after another that wants action, activity, engagement and creativity in their learning AND working environments. Yet Boomer bosses want them to sit in a cubicle for 8 hours a day.

On many a college campus tenured professors have no idea that their students are texting, blogging, twittering and playing Multi-player Online Games. They are sharing ideas. Boomers see this as playing instead of working. The Net Generations are using digital tools to collaborate, work and play...the teachers are not. Why does it matter? Well we need to teach young people how to use their intellect in this world while embracing the high-tech tools as that: TOOLS. We need to show them how to reason and how to see the bigger picture.

But more importantly for this article is the big question: what will employment look like in the future when half the population is using technology to get their work done and the rest are waiting for "the jobs" to return? And by the way, the job market is so bad for entry level positions that the unemployment rate for college graduates under the age of 25 is over 9 percent. What is about to happen is nothing short of a train wreck:

College graduates will be interviewing for the same jobs
as Baby Boomers with 40 years of experience!

Yes we can blame the economy, modern economic theories and outsourcing on much of this, but please do not confuse Unemployment with Welfare. People who are on unemployment were fired. Some in the middle of a quarter century of employment at the same company not knowing that loyalty is dead. These were hard working people that were let go, laid off or simply phased out. Many were let go because computers have automated their jobs. Others, because their jobs were moved overseas.

And what is worse is Baby Boomers that are losing their jobs may NOT have the skills to successfully transition into new positions being created right now. As I point out in the pages of my book Liquid Leadership...
Millions of jobs have been phased out over the past ten years because they are no longer relevant. Key positions have become extinct, relics of the twentieth century, because the technology and methodologies they supported no longer exist. At the same time, there is a misalignment between those losing their jobs and the newly created jobs. This misalignment between jobs lost and jobs created exists because the skill sets don’t line up. This is leaving millions of unemployed workers wondering what to do next, unaware that all they need is training to fill key positions in high-growth sectors like Green jobs or robotic repair.

Any sharp entrepreneur can see that there is a golden opportunity to build a training company to reposition the unemployed for the demands of a high tech job. This type of job training can’t be found in college. It’s just a matter of how the reeducation process gets actualized.

Being able to learn faster is the key to success in the twenty-first century. This means you must have not only the capacity to pick things up quickly but also the openness to let go of old methodologies while embracing new ones. Knowledge sharing works well when confronted with speed learning to learn, unlearn, and relearn in record time. Immersive learning has become the apprenticeship of the twenty-first century, and information driven entrepreneurs—infopreneurs—are making a killing teaching new methods of learning. Citizens of the Information Age must be dedicated to being lifelong learners."

- Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia, page 58

Many who are still unemployed cannot find jobs because there aren't any in their chosen field or the same jobs were moved to emerging countries were a dozen workers can be had for the price of one American worker. To keep a paycheck coming in, many Boomers may have to downgrade their expectations and take an  entry level job. While at the same time, colleges are creating degrees in technologies that do not exist yet in anticipation of future needs. It may be time to upgrade those antiquated skills.

Like I said before, a smart entrepreneur could create a training service to help align skill sets. If only our current Presidential Administration were savvy enough to allocate money for retraining and college tuition instead of bank bailouts.

Currently our GDP is so low the rest of the world wonders if Americans actually work. Well as long as we manufacture nothing here in the US (except war machines and construction equipment for overseas companies), and we consistently overlook the need for retraining along with normalizing quantitative easing (inflating the money supply), foreign investors are staying clear of the United States for at least 5 more years.

In other worlds, there will be a larger unemployed population chasing fewer and fewer jobs. Many Boomers will have to start working at McDonald's to pay the bills as jobs will continue to be scarce. Additionally do not be surprised when local municipalities, State and Federal Pension plans cut back on that monthly check they promised to pay. Think that won't happen? Guess again.

Boomers and their higher salaries may not be in demand, but their experience is. It may be time to start that business you've always dreamed of, or go back to college or start consulting. And prepare yourself for the long haul. Self employed full-time independent consultants make on average 17% more than a salaried employee.

Thank you once again for reading....

Brad Szollose

If you are unemployed or facing the possibility that you'll be laid off soon, may I recommend a couple of great books?:

The idea of employment has changed dramatically yet most are still looking for jobs the old fashioned way - perfect resume, suit and tie, and answering a series of questions. How do you set yourself apart when you are competing against thousands of applicants from 24 - 48 years of age?  This book, if followed, will awaken you to the facts...we live in a different world. You need different tactics.

Free Agent Nation by Daniel Pink
Daniel Pink interviews "America's new independent workforce" and offers analysis of the "new economy" with advice on how to succeed in it. Pink examines facts and figures, explores the roots of increasing free agency, and considers the new work ethic, employment contract, and time clock it generates. He outlines the structure of free agent work and major disruptions (especially for involuntary free agents) and offers some predictions about how this new paradigm will affect institutional arrangements, including education, "e-tirement," real estate, finance, and politics.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

As We Celebrate Christmas...

Many moons ago, my mother insisted that instead of sitting at home on Christmas Day, we volunteer at our local soup kitchen in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Naturally I didn't want to do it...I was a teenager and wanted to do anything but what my parents wanted. So with as much attitude as my father would allow, I begrudgingly put on dressier clothes to get this chore over with.

That Christmas gave me the lesson of a lifetime.

As my mom and dad helped prepare the turkey, stuffing, vegetables, sweet potatoes, hot soup and pumpkin pie, I played "waiter" to the hundreds of people pouring in. What shocked me was who came for a free meal. Entire families were coming to us for Christmas Dinner...and many of them were my high school classmates! Seeing them in the hallways of Lebanon High I would have never guessed they were in need. Intuitively I knew they were embarrassed to see me there, yet I greeted them cheerfully letting them know we are all here for a great time. Many hung their heads in shame.

In The United States, we like to pretend there is no such thing as a caste system...but there it was right in front of me. My illusion was shattered. Secondly, we have an unspoken rule here that if you have money you are somehow a "get it." If not, you fall into the category of loser...and people treat you differently. Try going into a hospital without insurance. Oh you may be served eventually, but you WILL be treated like a leper. Anyone remember their Bible stories about compassion?

Have we forgotten what this time of year is really about? The ability to buy one gift after another? Or is this time of year - this year especially - about rekindling our hopes, dreams and love for out fellow human beings? Total strangers in need of our kindness instead of our judgments?

This time of year has always been about that feeling in the air...not the gifts under the tree. The goodness in our fellow human beings that could be felt on every street corner. Whether you were a Christian or not, people suspended their attitudes as the streets filled with a ringing bell, shoppers and our kitchens filled with aromas from Christmas past. But not this year.  This year is different.

This year is filled with confusion as people all over
the world begin to question the direction
our leadership has chosen.

We must face facts: Poverty is not declining, it is increasing. Unemployment is on the rise. Pensions are failing. And if you dare fly, you could get beaten and arrested...all because you have a tiny bottle of saline solution for your contact lenses. And here we are again in the middle of a Depression. How could this happen again?

Maybe it's time to get back to our roots. Christmas isn't about buying gifts. This time of year is about turning to family, friends and loved ones to show them how much we care. This time of year is about forgiveness...and remembering that despite the chipper facade, many are struggling with depression and poverty.

Time for us to reawaken and remember our true ancestry. We are not Christians, Muslims, Hindu's and Jews. We are people. It is not religion that binds us, but our love for each other. Something buried for some time. Time to celebrate what we have in common.

In director John Pritchard's new film Reawaken, he touches on a few keys for us to reclaim our humanity...and our sanity in this mixed up world. Open your heart, open your mind...

Go to to register for a showing near you.

The head without the heart is nothing. 

A friend of mine died this week. When I was a kid, he was a mentor and the coolest adult I had ever met. I looked back and give thanks for knowing him. He was one of those people on my journey that made a difference in my life.

Call a friend you have been holding a grudge against. Invite a lost family member over for dinner. Take a moment to take a plate of food to that neighbor who lives alone.

....and remember, be kind to each other.

Thank you once again for reading.

Brad Szollose

PS: If you wish to volunteer, find a Soup Kitchen near may be surprised to see a golf buddy on line with his children.

Here's one in NYC...

The New York City Coalition Against Hunger

Monday, December 20, 2010

Want to attract
New Customers?
Try a Sense of Humor

"One of my all-time favorite viral marketing campaigns is Will It Blend?  One lazy Saturday evening, my nephew Sebastian turned me on to this...and let me tell you, it is hysterical. Will It Blend? centers on a Blendtec blender, the ├╝ber line of industrial-grade blenders for home as well as business use. You may have seen a few of their commercial blenders behind the counters at your local Starbucks or Planet Smoothie outlet.

While the point presumably is to prove that Blendtec blenders are the best in the business, founder Tom Dickson does nothing to promote or tell you to buy one of their blenders. Instead, in a Mr. Science–style documentary, he decides to blend something that no one would ever dream of putting in a blender. Items have ranged from his grand-kids’ Matchbox toy cars (because they left them around the house) to Ipads, glow sticks, broom handles, and (my favorite) an entire chicken together with a can of Coke—yes, aluminum can and all. Look for the one where he blends a McDonald’s Extra Value Meal. Lending an ironic sense of authority to the presentation, Tom appears in each episode in a white lab coat, safety glasses, and rubber gloves. These videos are campy, dry, daring, and funny.

Here, take a look...

The Will It Blend? campaign took off instantly, impacting sales and making Tom a cyber celebrity. The videos have gone viral and ignited the brand. They sell without selling. Tom’s popularity has landed him on TVshows, blending anything viewers would deem impossible to blend. The viral videos have become so popular that Blendtec sells Will It Blend? merchandise on their site, including spoof T-shirts with the slogan “Tom Dickson Is My Homeboy” and the popular “Will It Blend?” logo.

This type of silliness has engendered an online audience for Blendtec and has flashed a big spotlight on its line of blenders. It has made them a leader in a niche market that is hard to sell in. Who says fun can’t ignite sales?"

From Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia - Multigenerational Management Ideas That Are Changing The Way We Run Things, page185.

We are strange times. Baby Boomer Brands are suffering as brands from their past slowly disappear. Brands like Playboy, L.L. Bean, James Bond, etc...will become irrelevant unless they reinvent their Unique Selling Propositions for a new buyer. A new buyer that has no relationship with them. Boomers grew up with these brands, Gen Y did not (they played video games while we watched TV), so a new relationship has to be created.

In order to attract newbies to your brand, try lightening up and having fun. In case you are thinking this is just for kids, well Generation X is now 34 - 45 years of age and Generation Y is between 18 - 33. They have money to spend and power to buy. They are not like Boomers in any way shape of form when it comes to growing up. Respect that.

Make a list of companies that are reinventing their brands for an online, always-on-the-go young consumer, yet not isolating their existing customers: Old Spice, Slim Jim, Timberland. Today, even CNN, Whole Foods, and Best Buy are using Twitter as a consumer gateway! My wife and I were able to contact CNN directly when the earthquake hit Haiti in order to check on family and friends. It was amazing to be part of this transparent process."

- Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia, page 186
Time to create a buzz on the World Wide Web. Take a look at a few more I cover in Liquid Leadership...

Wine Library TV with Gary Vaynerchuk
Watch for Gary's rants on his beloved NY Jets.

Ford Models on YouTube
Brings out the voyeur in you...

It will take time to figure out which campaign worked for you. It isn't rocket science, but it does take a grasp of your target audience and their habits, online tools such as social media sites and web videos, and...drumroll please...a sense of humor.

Thank you again for reading,

Brad Szollose

PS: Sorry to be so intense sometimes. I know my previous posts were a little in your face, but sometimes a good rant helps. I appreciate your patience;-) And I promise to lighten up after every heavy article. See ya next week...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Have Baby Boomers
Been Betrayed?

1969 Corvette Stingray Coupe
for sale.
Owner wants,
Yea, that's what I said.

If you haven't noticed it yet, perhaps once you read this article you'll pay attention to a growing phenomenon: while driving through suburbia you will start to see a number of Corvettes, shiny boats and campers sitting on front lawns across America, with a FOR SALE sign taped to the window. Also, you may notice an increase in yard and garage sales.

There have been so many yard sales many local municipalities are now requiring permits to have one!? But why you may ask, is this happening?

Well it's simple: Baby Boomers are selling their toys in order to pay their bills...and taxes.

How did we get here? Elizabeth Warren gives us a better picture of the 70s and how much has changed financially, (despite the long winded introduction, may I suggest you watch the entire video. It is eye opening). Here I give you The Coming Collapse of The Middle Class by Elizabeth Warren:

It's ironic that Professor Warren, whom I respect immensely, cites 1971 throughout her speech. That was the year Richard Nixon took us off the gold standard and announced aloud "We are all Keynesians now." (the phrase is actually attributed to Milton Friedman, father of Monetarist Economics). Yes, Professor Warren mentions the increase in fixed cost and new expenses like daycare, but what she does not mention is WHY we are not getting ahead. Here's something worth looking about our "modern" inflation driven economic policies along with creeping scope taxation - which taxes anything that moves - as the cause of all this. Saving and getting ahead are impossible when an economy becomes a moving target - even for those who make decent money.

You see, before 1971, the U.S. economic system swung back and forth between Monetarist economic policies - (favored by the Republican Party) - and Keynesian economic policies (favored by Democrats. Invented by John Maynard Keynes). The pendulum swung back and forth between the two systems depending on which party dominated Congress. This was not revealed to the population of course. It wasn't perfect, but it kept us in balance. But once Nixon took us off the gold standard, we had ONE economic policy no matter who was in charge and runaway inflation began. THAT economic system is Keynesian and is why some people state there is no difference between Democrats and's the same outcome.

If inflation is the engine of Modern Economic theory...then let's take a look at the results.

My first real job was at Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Circa - Summer of 1979. Hersheypark is an entire amusement park dedicated to fun, roller coasters, water rides and the history of chocolate and Hershey products in Chocolate World. What I failed to mention is that first job as a teenager paid me $3.53 an hour. That was minimum wage back then. With some bonuses thrown in, I could actually save for college.

Doesn't sound like a lot of money does it? Well in 1979, I could put $2 of gas in my car so I could take my date Robin to our local Pizza Hut restaurant. We would order a large Thin 'N Crispy pizza with 2 toppings - pepperoni & mushroom - with a pitcher of Pepsi. Then we would drive to the local theater, 2 tickets, a bucket of popcorn and two sodas (hey I was a teenager, we ate a lot). 

So how much did this entire evening cost? Seventy-five dollars? One hundred? Sixty bucks maybe? The entire evening, dinner and a movie cost me a whopping $20!!! Plus $2 in gas to joy ride for the night. That's right, $22!!!

You are probably thinking "come on Brad, you're exaggerating!" Well, ask any Baby Boomer who grew up in a small town in the 70s and chances are, they will confirm my math. Life was cheaper because the dollar was more stable. And the gap between rich and poor was almost non existent. No one was protesting high health care costs because health care was affordable. Taxes were lower both at the Federal and State levels. Sales tax was lower on everything. You didn't need an MBA to get a job. As a matter of fact, if you had a high school diploma and made $35,000 a year, you could own a house, buy a car, have your wife stay at home and raise two children.

Your efforts were connected to the value you received in coin. You did NOT have to work so hard to get ahead. To prove my point, most Americans had enough money left over to actually save 11% of their take home pay!

Today Minimum wage (depending on the state you live in) is around $7.50 an hour. If the cost of living, along with inflation has gone up between 600 and 700% since I was in high school, shouldn't minimum wage be at around $18 to $22 an hour?

Yes it should. The reality is that minimum wage has barely doubled in 30 years!!! What that means is, if you are making $7.25 an hour today, you are making the equivalent of $1.35 an hour in 1979 dollars. And that should make it crystal clear why no one can get ahead on minimum wage these days. After years of hustling and never getting ahead, eventually they come to a realization that it is easier to go on government assistance like Welfare. Why work so hard when a government program is available?

We didn't need so many programs back in the 70s because life was affordable and even if you were poor you could work your way out of it.

Here's how inflation really works. That house your mom and dad bought in 1979 for $56,000 is now worth $550,000. They're rich right? You may thinks so, but in reality the price of the house didn't really go UP. What actually happened is, inflation caused the VALUE of the U.S. Dollar to go DOWN. What you used to be able to buy in 1979 for $56,000 now takes 10 times as much. THAT is what inflation does; creates the illusion of wealth.

This is why Inflation is called an invisible tax and one of the most destructive man-made forces ever invented. It steals your wealth. The dollars you save lose value every decade eventually becoming a liability instead of an asset. The line of what is considered poverty begins to rise, higher and higher until eventually couples making $120,000 a year can't get ahead. This is what happened in the Weimar Republic of Germany shortly after WWI and it is what is happening NOW in the United States.

Despite The New York Times unemployment numbers there are no real jobs out there. Taxes are going up in order to get cash flow from those that are still employed. Real estate taxes are increased to pay for a school system that has a larger percentage of the population attending than those paying.

And if wages and salaries do not keep pace with inflation, the American Dream starts to be just that: a dream.

We are currently in a crisis here in the United States. Everyone is saying politely that Baby Boomers will not have the same level of prosperity as their parents. The word no one is using is Baby Boomers will be living in poverty.

We have to take a look at modern economic theory and realize it does not work. At least not in its current form. We do this by simply observing and looking at the numbers. Now if the value of the dollar is going down (it takes more and more dollars to pay the same amount of goods) now look at the state and local and federal taxes on your telephone bills, your food and your clothing. Add it all up. If you do not own a house, add up the invisible taxes on your rent that your landlord may be paying.

Now add up the taxes removed from your paycheck: federal, state, local, FICA and such...if you add every tax up as a whole, you realize that more than half your salary is gone along with the addition of sales tax, federal usage taxes and state fees on all purchases and commerce. Time to face facts: most Americans are lucky if they are keeping 20% of their pay.

Your taxes have gone up and taxable opportunities have increased - like the taxes on your cell phone. Inflation is forcing you to work harder to make the same amount of money. Taxes are destroying what you have left, and like most Boomers, they can NOT retire anytime soon. This is because the same economic system that is destroying your prosperity now requires all governments to increase their intake...because, value and buying power are going down for the government as well.

Back in 1971 you only needed $300,000 to retire. Today you need $4 million in the bank to retire comfortably. Since only 50% of Baby Boomers saved for retirement...we are about to see the greatest increase in impoverished elderly since 1933.And now I have one last question...

WHY are we not furious at the leadership in this country?

In France and England they raised college tuition and the students rioted. In Greece they raised the retirement age and people rioted. In Spain the government takes austerity measures and people riot. But in the United States...we just sit there, waiting for what I do not know. Boomers were the radical generation and now we play Farmville or Mafia Wars on Facebook instead of getting angry.

Are Boomers being betrayed? You betcha. But are we really victims? Not really. We have to blame ourselves. We signed up for things that took our money and we agreed with it because we figured, hey we're moving up in the world. You are about to hear words like austerity, which is a fancy word for government cutting back while raising your taxes. You will be blamed for getting rich and now you have to pay the piper by living below your means.

This is a meme designed to get you to accept a horrible economy. (And to feel guilty instead of asking questions). Poverty is outpacing our ability to ignore it. Boomers selling their toys is the start of this downward spiral, but shortly we will no longer be able to ignore it. Tent Cities filled with Boomers are cropping up all over, from Florida to California. Boomers are broke.

Keynesian Economics
creates Boom and then harsh Bust cycles. At first they aren't so bad. The Boom cycle creates the illusion of prosperity as credit and money are easily had. The economy improves because people start spending when everyone has a job. But when the injection of money stops, a bust cycle destroys everyone's newly found wealth...even stable families, businesses and companies get destroyed in this down cycle. Anyone remember the Dot Com Boom and Bust? It almost drove Cisco out of business...and they were a tangible company! Trillions of investor dollars were lost in 1999.

Eventually the Boom & Bust cycles happen more frequently until the entire economic system collapses...and a new one must be invented.

But John Maynard Keynes knew this...that's why he abandoned his work near the end of his life. The guy who invented our system warned that this would be the result: the total destruction of our economy. Anybody paying attention?

Boomers kept our eye off the ball...and trusted the wrong people. WE partied while we watched the hostess spike our punch. We didn't care cause we felt so good about ourselves. We became YUPPIES and BUPPIES figuring we worked hard so we deserved to pamper ourselves. As we were getting "richer" (or so we thought), we didn't mind paying higher taxes, cause after all, we could afford to. Government kept getting bigger and bigger while taking more and more. They invented the 401K  without telling us why, (read Robert Kiyosaki's book Prophecy if you want to know the full story). The cost of living went up and up and up...and people at the bottom didn't get a real raise for 30 years. Slowly the divide between rich and poor got bigger and bigger...until now we can't ignore it. Because the impoverished are us. We are about to get a taste of our own medicine. After all, the poor were required to pay higher taxes over the years as well. It was the affluent who were driving the tax code, not the minimum wage earner.

But we didn't care. The dollar wasn't going farther, but now we had a new thing to "pay" for the American Dream: credit cards. Inflation was an increase in prices right? But now we are all making more money. We should have seen first hand how inflation was destroying our lives if not for credit cards. It helped us "get ahead" and experience the American Dream. And we went deeper into the illusion of prosperity.

Baby Boomers are about to be competing for the same jobs as Generation X and Y and even Millenials!!! Desperate times will call for desperate measures and as Baby Boomers we need to let go of old thinking, outdated beliefs and face the truth: Yes, we have been betrayed and it is about to get worse. The Middle Class, the backbone and tax base of this great country, is about to be decimated.

I am sorry to be so intense, but we gotta wake up. If we don't do something only the rich will be going to college and our ability to rise out of poverty will end with this generation. War will continue to break out somewhere because John Maynard Keynes felt that wars should be started anywhere and everywhere to keep things stable. This was part of Keynesian economic theory...after all, wars are good for the economy right? But as Richard Maybury says "How is killing people good for an economy?"

This period we are going through will be studied a thousand years from now in the history let us start demanding better leadership on both sides. From those that represent us and those that are leading the charge. WE ALL can do better...especially if all the generations come together and face the truth.

Politics has always been about economics. But at its root, it is about political power overriding liberty.

One final video: A 15 year old British student gives the government a piece of his mind.

Thank you again for reading,

Brad Szollose

Want to learn more about economics and how to protect yourself? Let me suggest a few books besides my own:

Whatever Happened To Penny Candy?
by Richard Maybury

Richard Maybury teaches how our current economic model destroys the value of the dollar. Easy read. Ever wondered why you can't get 5 pieces of candy for 5 cents anymore? Read this book.

Ancient Rome: How It Affects You Today
by Richard Maybury
Welfare, free housing, inflation, lotteries, government programs and Social Security are not new ideas. As a matter of fact they were the same economic policies we use today that brought down the Roman Empire and brought about the Dark Ages in Europe. Know things that others do not...but more importantly, learn how to protect yourself.

The Money Mystery: The Hidden Force Affecting Your Career, Business, and Investments
by Richard Maybury
During the 1980s the velocity of money circulation became erratic; now the entire country is affected. The Money Mystery explains why the Federal Reserve is afraid of inflation, why the stock market swings erratically and the precautions you should take.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Future of Television

My wife and I used to have a Friday night ritual: she would order the best Chinese food in Manhattan from Charlie Mom and we would plop down on our living room couch and watch The SciFi Channel 'til midnight.

Back in those days SciFi had a show on called Farscape starting at 9:00 PM followed by Stargate SG1 (based on the movie Stargate with James Spader). They would repeat the same 2 shows over and over 'til 1:00 AM. Now I know some of you are rolling your eyes "Great, another science fiction geek talking about some nerdy show." and THAT would be your big mistake.

So... "what's the big deal Brad, it was just a television show?"

Let me explain: I live in Manhattan. The heart of New York City. I stayed home on a Friday night to watch what most would consider a stupid science fiction show. But the reason I liked Farscape was because it was a damn good show, and it was neatly scheduled at the end of the week. So, every Friday I could have some alone time with my wife...we could catch up on our day, watch some silly TV that allowed us to escape for a few hours from the hustle bustle of New York City and then lazily fall asleep.

And I wasn't the only person rescheduling my life for this...millions were tuning in on Fridays to watch Farscape, SciFi number one rated show.

But for some weird reason, after a multitude of programming glitches, they canceled it in the middle of the 4th season!!! No reruns. No reasoning. No explanation. That's right, they canceled their cash cow because (they claim) it was too expensive to produce!

You can get the complete story at Wikipedia: 

Ratings were not the issue, after all, a regular person doesn't choose to watch Science Fiction. This is a niche channel. If execs at the top believe their channel could get the same ratings as say CBS on a Monday night, they are delusional.

The SCiFi Channel shut up the Farscape fans with a 2 night 4 hour follow up to the series called Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars. 

But my point to this article is that when leaders at the very top of an organization are disconnected from their customers, they can make some pretty erratic decisions. Their actions reflect their hubris: they do not respect their customers.

And because of that, SciFi lost my loyalty

Look, television runs like any other business and since I know it so well, I use it as an example in my books and lectures. And like any other business it works on a model: create a captive audience, give them great content and try to sell 'em something while you have their attention. Television believe it or not is not about the is about trapping a captive audience in front of the screen so advertisers can run commercials.

Nothing makes sense, unless you know what to look for. Our system here in the United States works on ratings. How many people are watching at a given time of day. So every channel is hustling to attract viewers to their particular channel. Competition is stiff. From 8 PM to 11:00 PM is considered Prime Time least it used to be. When ratings dip below a certain amount, a television show is in danger of being canceled...but this tactic seems to be arbitrary and unscientific...and old fashioned. The company that usually tracks viewership is the Nielsen Company. They measure and track everything from radio and television to book and magazine sales.

And here is where executives are making their big disconnect: there is a division in your audience right now. That division is between Baby Boomers (raised on TV...who like to sit down while being entertained) and Generation Y, who is NOT really watching television, (if they do watch TV, it is not at any specific time). This is the generation that likes their media on the download their favorite TV show to watch on a bus or train or airplane. If they watch at all. They like interactivity and Reality TV, and UFC fight nights and Keeping Up with the Kardashians. In other words, to attract Gen Y to your show, you've got to be over the top. But once a show is off, they shut off the TV and start using one or two of the 6 other devices they can use for entertainment.

Over the past 25 years our media habits have changed gradually without us knowing it - especially from generation to generation. My Dad's generation - The Depression Era and WWII generation - enjoy radio, newspapers, magazines, television, records, books and movies as their source for news and entertainment. Baby Boomers media habits are similar but center more around television, magazines, books, rock concerts and movie theaters. Generation X & Y on the other hand get their media news and entertainment from The Internet, DVDs, smartphones, video games, YouTube, Twitter, Hulu, and online games like Second Life and World of Warcraft. Television is very rarely on Generation Y's radar. You are more likely to see a 24 year old having a Rock Band party on Saturday night than inviting friends over to watch TV.

Ever wonder why reality shows like American Chopper, Dancing With The Stars and Ice Road Truckers are so popular? Or intense dramas like Sons of Anarchy, The Closer and Dexter? These shows are luring viewers because they are really well done. Who is taking the time to sit down and actually watch these shows for several hours at a time? Baby Boomers.

It makes no sense, but people have no time to actually sit down at a specific time of day. That is a last century model. People have more important things to do with their time. Our media needs to catch up with us and be available when the customer wants it...on demand. Those in charge of programming have to figure out what TV means in the 21st Century. Sure sporting events will always attract an audience that wants the game "live" in real time...but the rest needs to be delivered when the customer says so. Tivo, video on demand and Netflix have done excellent jobs at using technology to reach us.

Next, our ratings system needs to be changed. Shows need time to attract an audience. Remember, it took Seinfeld 3 years to get a decent audience. Today he wouldn't have lasted 3 episodes.

And finally, figure out if your channel is geared for Boomers, Gen Y or the WWII generation. MTV knows their audience. The History Channel knows their audience too...but, Ice Road Truckers could run on any network.

That's because the shows are brands...
NOT the channel.

If you disappoint your customer, we look elsewhere. Treat us well and you get our loyalty...loyalty Generation Y does not have. They have other cool things to do, watch or instant message on.

Over the years since The SciFi Channel canceled Farscape, they did bring us a few well made hits like Dune: the miniseries, Tin Man (a revisit to the Wizard of Oz) the New Dr. Who?, The Children of Dune, Firefly, even Stargate got better and better in the writing, and created 3 more spin offs.

And finally, a down and dirty, grittier revision of Battlestar Galactica (a.k.a. BSG). This is NOT the Battlestar Galactica of the Baby Boomers childhood with Lorne Green...this was an intense series about the possible end of the human race. They brought in Edward James Olmos to play Adama. Even non-science fiction types started watching it.

And then SciFi did it again. Weird gaps in programming. BSG would come on for 6 episodes then disappear for 4 months. No warning. No reruns, until a week before the new episodes. Then Canceled. A big miniseries finale to shut up the fans. BTW: Ratings for the show dropped because no on knew when it would be on (no one reads TV Guide anymore), once again, the fans suffered.

Last year The SciFi Channel decided they wanted to change their image because of the negative image of the science fiction geek. Whoever did this marketing survey should have been fired because the SciFi channel spent millions to relaunch as the meaningless SyFy Channel with the tag line "imagine greater." (yawn). They wanted to target 18 - 24 year old's when their audience is in their 40s. What a disconnect.

The only good thing they did do last year was create another gritty prequel to Battlestar Galactica called Caprica...but , and this is the stranger thing about this SyFy Channel...they never give reruns of any of their most popular shows? Why I ask? They only run reruns when attempting to get us excited about a new set of episodes. They are missing out on a huge untapped market.

Look it's simple: give us Boomers gritty shows, middle aged sitcoms and the occasional odd ball idea and we will watch...and you will have a hit. Why do you think Modern Family, Burn Notice and Fringe are so popular? BOOMERS who watch TV...on a television set!!! Hell we'll even sit down and watch a family show with our Glee or 90210. But please, learn about your audience!!! If your audience is made up of Boomers, give em middle aged dramas and comedies we can relate to. If you're audience is Gen Y, give 'em outrageous reality shows like Jackass, Gossip Girl and another Keeping Up with the Kardashians styled show.

Know your audience...oh, and Boomers like reruns. Especially when it comes to science fiction and Julia Roberts. Conan O'Brien is a Gen X & Y mystery why his show bombed in a Boomer time slot.

Thank you again, sorry for the rant;-) LOL...

Brad Szollose

The Truth
About Motivation

Daniel Pink rocks as far as I am concerned. That is why I made sure I put him in my book Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia. Daniel did some research on what really motivates people at work and in life and put it in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.

I suggest you pick it up if you are in charge of inspiring your workforce.

But Daniel says it best...

On page 126 of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia - Multigenerational Management Ideas That Are Changing The Way We Run Things, I chat a little about motivation:
Companies that are flourishing in this economy are the ones that inspire their workforce, both inside and out, with a sense of purpose! And the little secret is this: Purpose and profits go hand in hand.

In short, companies that nurture a results-only, creative culture trust their people to be self-directed and give them the training and the challenge so they can do so. Try putting that in a mission statement."
Where there is freedom to create, there is innovation. Where there is innovation, there is a shot at becoming an industry leader. And when companies try to make our world a better place, they get our engagement.

It reminds me of another story about how freedom changed things...but that story centers around the events of 1776. A story for another article.

Thank you again for reading,

Brad Szollose

Brad Szollose Bio:


Who Is Brad Szollose?: 

Cofounder of Another Big Production. Host of Awakened Nation™. Award-Winning Author. Creative Director. Leader. Visionary. TEDxSpeaker. Web Pioneer. C-Level Executive.

First things, first. How do you say Szollose?
It’s pronounced zol-us.

From founding partner and CMO of K2 Design, Inc. the first Digital Agency to go public on NASDAQ to international leadership development expert, Brad Szollose has worked with household names like MasterCard, American Management Association and Tony Robbins, to create leadership training programs for a new generation.

As an award-winning creative director, he has been the creative force behind hundreds of high-end corporate events, personal and consumer brands, and website launches. Brad is the recipient of the Corporate Identity Design Award and the Axiom Business Book Award along with various awards for website and print design.

As a C-Level executive at K2, his unique management model was awarded the Arthur Andersen New York Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation Amongst Employees (Workforce Culture).

Today, the world’s leading business publications seek out Brad’s insights on next-generation leadership development, branding and modern Management Strategies, and he has been featured (both print and online versions) in Forbes, Inc., Advertising Age, USA Today, New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, International Business Times, Le Journal du Dimanche (France), and The Hindu Business Line to name a few, along with television, radio and podcast appearances on CGTN America, CBS, Roku Network and other media outlets.

Brad continues to challenge the status quo with his new book, Liquid Leadership 2.0, and his new podcast, Awakened Nation.

After 35 years in New York City, he now calls Las Vegas home. In his free time, he enjoys hiking in the mountains, working Star Trek and Dune quotes into everyday conversation, and painting and drawing the stunning landscapes of the American Southwest.