A Negotiation Win

Here’s an interesting quote from Sam Zell’s book, Am I Being Too Subtle? Straight Talk From a Business Rebel:

My definition of a “win” is not binary. It is not a zero-sum game. Negotiation that leads to a winner and a loser rarely leads to a successful transaction or another one down the road. That’s how it’s been  throughout my business career. Sometimes my team argues with me-they can’t believe we’re leaving money on the table. But I want to create an environment where everyone wants to keep playing. (p. 220)

Zell knew that by making other side happy early on he could get more deals in the future. Everybody stays in the game and everybody keeps playing. Great mottos for anyone in business or investing.


What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team

What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team is very interesting article from then NYT Magazine. This is a long-from article that can take some time to read but is worth it.  As the title suggest, the article looks into what makes a team better or worse. The conventional wisdom of assembling your brightest most talented people together doesn’t necessary translate into higher results. We have some countless of examples, like in professional sport, where a team full of superstars can’t get the job done. With the right elements, a team of average talent can have superior results.

How does a team work? Were the best teams made up of people with similar interests? Or did it matter more whether everyone was motivated by the same kinds of rewards? How often did teammates socialize outside the office? Did they have the same hobbies? Were their educational backgrounds similar? Was it better for all teammates to be outgoing or for all of them to be shy? The article digs into that.

This is a very long article, so I’m going to summarize parts of it. Below are cut and past of different segments of the article.
Continue reading “What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team”

Overcoming Mental Barriers – Navy Seal Advice

Interesting 4 minute video on overcoming mental barriers. Talks about the 40% rule which is when your mind is telling you you’re done, you’re really only 40% done. Best part of the video:  If it doesn’t suck we don’t do it

Coffee Divorce

*Updated Friday January 29, 2015 with more info.

That’s it. It’s over between me and coffee. Me and coffee have officially been broken up for almost a full month. I’ve been faithful by not messing around with any other source of caffeine (and no decaf, it’s weird and still considered cheating in my book). I have been juggling with the idea of quitting coffee for a couple months and that now my baby is finally doing her nights, it definitely help make the hard decision. So I was “using” coffee to get through.

Why do such a cruel thing to myself? I did it for me. I wanted more energy. I also don’t like the idea of being “addicted” to anything. The motivation also came from a friend of mine, a more intense coffee drinker than me I just should note, who has quit coffee and as a result claims he has way more energy than when he was on coffee. I heard that from other folks as well. I had to test it myself.

I should give you a little background on my coffee habit. I’ve been a daily drinker for 9 years (same amount of time that I’ve been with my spouse). I average two cups a day, occasionally three. One or two in the morning and one after lunch. I’m also not one of these grumpy people in the morning because they didn’t have their cup of coffee.  I love my coffee. I like waking up the morning and making it. It’s almost like a little ritual and there’s pleasure in doing it. Those who visit my blog probably read a couple posts on coffee. They have been among my most popular posts. I think people visit the blog more for the coffee posts and than the investment stuff. I’m one of those coffee “amateur”. I have a few coffee/espresso machines, grind my own beans, shop for organic beans etc… I’m that coffee guy. As many coffee lovers know, the idea of quitting coffee can be torturing.

The verdict: It has been 28 days and I feel awesome. The first benefit I noticed is the quality of my sleep. Now I have these very long colorful dreams. it feels like the dream never stops.  It’s definitely sign that I’m sleeping more deeply. The first week is the roughest but it gradually gets better. The first three days I didn’t notice anything different. Then I think on the fourth day that’s when my  body realized that the good stuff wasn’t coming in anymore. I got hit by random fatigue attack. My thinking was at times blurry and I suffered from the lack of concentration. So my start to 2016 wasn’t the most productive. If you Google a list of symptoms, I had about half of them. And fortunately I didn’t get any headaches, and that’s a big one and a deal breaker for a lot people. Four weeks in I can testify that I have more energy than before and it’s going to get marginally better. We know that non-coffee drinker don’t need coffee to have energy. We drink coffee to get that “natural” energy level, whatever that might be, and not to be above.

After a couple weeks the benefits outweigh the cost. Quitting coffee is an experiment that’s working well  The break up was fine for the most part. There were a few instances where I really wanted a cup, like the time I had breakfast at a restaurant. It feels really weird not have a coffee when reading your newspaper. I could have ordered decaf so I could have the complete experience but I didn’t. Coffee and a newspaper. They go together so well. I’m not a smoker but when a smoker says they need a cigarette with their drink, I can sort of relate to that now. They call themselves social smokers. I haven’t banned coffee from my life. I plan on drinking the occasional cup sometime the future but I don’t plan on reintroducing coffee in my daily diet. I will treat coffee like alcohol, I will have it occasionally for pleasure purposes. Maybe on weekends or when I read the newspaper. I guess you can call me a “social” coffee drinker.


You have brains in your head.

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…

– Dr. Seuss

Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story

Total RecallAs the title suggest, it doesn’t disappointed. What an incredible life story. I grew up on Arnold’s movies; Predator, Commando, the Terminator, True Lies, Kindergarten Cop, Total Recall, and Twins. They are just as entertaining today as they were back then. I was looking forward to reading his book Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story .

He’s a poster boy for the “American dream”. Arnold wasn’t destined to have success. He really wasn’t. He’s from a poor family living in a “no-one know or care you exist” little town in rural post-WWII Austria. Not exactly the kind of place that comes to mind when looking for the next global icon. The story starts with no money, a sub-par situation, no connections, no higher education, no special privilege or access. All he had were clear goals, a plan, and determination. He believed in himself, worked hard, and surmounted any obstacles in the way. It’s really incredible how he just crushed everything on the way. He became Mr. Universe only 7 times, then became one of the biggest movie star in Hollywood, then he became governor of California, one of the top 10 economy in the world. He also married a Kennedy. And that’s just one life.

Each one of his accomplishment is normally somebody lifetime achievement. What I mean by that is once he became Mr. Universe, that could been a fantastic story on its own. A book could have been written just on that section of his life. But no that’s not enough, why not go to America and become one of Hollywood’s biggest star. I want you to grasp how insane that means. First he didn’t speak English. Even when he does speak English he has this massive German accent. It’s much better now but go back to Hercule in New York and they had to do a voice over. Go ahead and try to find a producer willing to take the risk. Second, he’s super massive. His body wasn’t camera friendly. Third what does he know about acting anyway? So there’s book number two for you. But I guess that’s not enough, let’s run for governor. He runs, wins, and governs for two terms without any prior political experience. There’s book three for you. That could have been three lives, three different stories, each extraordinary on its own.

His book his inspirational, funny, interesting and candid. The book is mostly about Arnold’s background and success but the book also covers his failures. Yep he happens to have flaws too. I don’t think millennials are into Arnold as much as I did, but you don’t need to be a fan to be use him as a source of inspiration. You don’t even have to like his movies and he has his share of flops. The point is that whatever you dream is you have to go for it a mad men. The key is to have a crystal clear goal and a plan.

The goal needs to be measurable and you need to be able to track your progress. And you need to know the ”why”. That’s important. Why are you doing this? The “why” is that thing that light up a flame inside you, it’s your passion and that force that drives you. Find out what is it you want, write that shit down, and go for it.

Enjoy reading,


To Get One’s Goat Origins

To Get One’s Goat means to aggrevate.

Origin: Hyperactive racehorses were often given goats as stablemates because their presence tended to have a calming effect on the horses. After the horse became attached to the goat, it got very upset when its companion disappeared, making it run poorly on the track. In the 19th century, when a devious gambler wanted a horse to lose, he would get the horse’s goat and take it away the night before the race, thus agitating the horse.

With the Belmont Stakes coming up this weekend, you want to make sure that there’s no gambler trying to take your horse’s goat.

Horse and goat

Win Hands Down Origins

To win hands down means to win by an enormous margin.

Origins: If a racehorse jockey is so far ahead of the competition that there is no danger he will be passed again, he can drop the reins and his hands and let the horse finish the race without spurring it on.

With the Belmont Stakes coming up this weekend, this is what you wish from your horse.

Great Interview with the Owner of the New England Patriots

Robert Kraft Super Bowl
Mike Ozanian from Forbes did a great interview with Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots.This is same Robert Kraft that got one of his Super Bowl ring stolen by Vladimir Putin.

This 50 minute interview is a refreshing from all 1 minute rapid fire sounds bite that’s flooding the Internet. Why is it that in the world of non-stop 24-hour we can’t have a decent interview? I guess that’s the topic a future blog post. Regarding the interview, Robert Kraft goes in-depth on not just the Patriots, but also his philosophy, faith, how he acquired the team, what you need to be successful, what drives him and more. He’s not just any NFL owner, since he acquired the team the Patriots won 4 Superbowl on six appearances, that basically qualifies for a modern day dynasty in the salary cap era. Nice job by Mike and team Forbes for scoring this interview.

In 1994 Kraft bought the team for $172 million, about $50 million more than he told his wife he was willing to spend. He told his wife that a reasonable price for the franchise was $115 million but was willing to go as high as $125 million. With that purchase, it was the highest price ever paid for a sports team at that time. Then afterward he built Gillette Stadium, recruited Bill Belichick, drafted Tom Brady and the rest is history. Today the New England Patriots are worth $2.6 billion, or a nice return on your investment.

At the moment the video has less than 2,000 views. That mesmerize me. I know the local chamber of commerce charge upward of $250 per person to bring guess speakers in and they sell out. Youtube has millions of hours of video like this one for free that will educate you and make you a better person, sort of a e-library. 2,000 views…..that’s insulting. In the other hands, Justin Bieber probably just broke the Internet with his latest music video. We’re definitely heading in the right direction.
How New England Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Thinks

A Cheaper Plane Ticket to Omaha for the Berkshire Hathaway AGM

I made an interesting discovery while shopping for planes tickets to go to Omaha, Nebraska for the 2015 Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting.  Because of the popularity of the event, US airlines take advantage of the situation to boost ticket prices. By shopping around I found to save money and it could work if you live near a Canadian airport.

Since I’m on the US-Canada border, I can either fly from Canada or the U.S. Normally, if I have a flight in the U.S., I usually take off from a US airport since US domestic flights are much cheaper compare to leaving from Canada, except for going to Omaha Nebraska on the first weekend of May. It appear that Canadian airlines don’t jack up prices for that special weekend. This is pure discrimination because I’m redirected to an US airline for the trip. I also have one stop in the US to pick up people that paid more than me to get to the same destination. Maybe it’s because Canadians doesn’t have that many BRK shareholders. So here’s how you save money:

1) Buy your cheaper ticket in Canada

2) Use your strong US dollar. At the moment one USD = ~1.25 CAD.

That’s like a form of double dipping. You save on the ticket plus you save on the exchange. On the downside, you have to leave the US to come back in the US. It’s weird how it works.

I don’t know if it will work all the time and if it will work from anywhere in Canada, but it worth’s to a ticket search.