Packaging, Garbage, Recycling and Regulation

The other day on Twitter I was chatting with my friend Arnold.  We were chatting about packaging.  Both of us are concerned about all the plastic in the ocean and in the environment.  Now that China isn’t buying America’s garbage, the problem is becoming more noticeable.

There are different ways to approach and deal with the problem.  Arnie prefers government regulation.  In Chicago, Alderman Waguespack recently proposed a city ordinance banning styrofoam and limiting plastic knives and forks for carry out at restaurants.   Scott is a super liberal guy.  Very left.  The heavy-handed centralized approach will only layer on costs and grumbling from restauranteurs, and they will pass on the costs to already heavily taxed citizens.

Also, whether you know it or not China used to buy a lot of our “recycling”.  Not anymore.  Recycling programs are mostly worthless.  Continue reading “Packaging, Garbage, Recycling and Regulation”

Markets And Preferences And Longevity

The dairy industry is in a bit of trouble.  I don’t know if you saw this or not but it is evidence of a shift that has been underway for a while.  I think the entire food industry is shifting big time and it’s not totally clear how it will shake out.

For example, a lot of folks are going vegan or vegetarian while at the same time a lot of folks are pursuing protein-rich diets with lots of meat.

I lifted this from Dan Primack at Axios.

Califia Farms, a Los Angeles-based almond and oat milk producer, raised $225 million in new funding. Qatar Investment Authority led, and was joined by Temasek, Calridge, and Green Monday Ventures.

The Free Market Always Is Better

One of the great debates of our times is about free markets.  A lot of people think they are broken.  “You hear capitalism is broken.”  “Free markets are broken.”  Things like this.  Bernie Sanders and people like him with very similar socialistic political views have captured the fancy of at least 30% of the Democratic party if not more.

I watched a documentary on The Weatherman the other day.  They were a domestic terrorist group in the US that formed in the 1960’s.  They wanted a violent overthrow of the US government and the capitalistic system.  Unfortunately, liberal enclaves like Chicago coddled and turned them into icons.  Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dorhn are examples of this.  Interestingly, the language that they used then to legitimize what they wanted to do is very similar to the language being used today.

Let Continue reading “The Free Market Always Is Better”

A Tale of Two Cities

I am in San Francisco meeting with the Kover guys.  Excited about what they are doing.  I came a day early.  One reason is sometimes it snows in Chicago, and I wanted to give myself enough time to get here so I wouldn’t be late.  The second reason is, anytime I can get out of the winter in Chicago, I take advantage of it.

I landed and walked the city.

I spent a month here a couple of years ago.  I was shocked at how radically different it was.  It’s gone totally downhill.  I read all the stuff online about how dirty and disgusting San Francisco is.  I try not to believe it.  I know what I read about Chicago and a lot of times it is inaccurate.  The stuff they are writing about San Francisco is totally accurate.  Continue reading “A Tale of Two Cities”

Crypto IB

Had a great chat with my old friend Brock Connelly about crypto. He and another friend of mine, Jimmy Simmons, are starting a crypto IB. Hope you enjoy the conversation. Both Brock and Jimmy were on the CME trading floor and have deep family histories in the business.


I hope you can support this effort I am leading.  I am raising money to dedicate a hotel suite to the Unknown Soldier at the new National World War Two Museum hotel.  Any proceeds over and above dedicating that space will go to Museum STEM projects dedicated to helping grade school children across the United States learn STEM.  

Uff Da, I Gained Some Weight

I take decent care of myself.  I am not on any prescriptions and have a relatively active lifestyle.  But, since last summer I let myself go a bit.  I gained 20 pounds.  I swore after the holidays I’d start on a diet and so my wife and I did.  I am cognizant of getting older, a slowing metabolism, and I don’t want to be a doughboy.

For those that don’t know, Uff Da is a Scandinavian expression of frustration.  It’s like the Yiddish Oy Vey.

We started intermittent fasting this week.  We also quit drinking alcohol during the week-my wife quit drinking entirely for the month of January.  I am drinking a couple of glasses of wine with dinner on the weekend if I feel like it.  We aren’t eating foods with simple carbohydrates like bread, rice, and noodles. We also Continue reading “Uff Da, I Gained Some Weight”

Fill The Void

As I was surfing through various things to read this morning, I came across my friend William Mougayar‘s blog post “Owning Your Own Narrative”.  William has been a thought leader when it comes to crypto and blockchain.  Combine that with my friend Ted Wright’s blog post about how to start a word of mouth marketing campaign and you could create something powerful.  Ted is CEO of Fizz Inc, a marketing agency out of Atlanta.

William talks about how when a crisis happens, you have to fill the void with information.  It’s worth reading his whole post to understand what he is talking about and how to critically think about taking steps to achieve outcomes you desire when a crisis happens.

Back when I was trying to learn all I could about social media, I spoke with Allan Schoenberg about crisis alleviation at corporations.  Continue reading “Fill The Void”

“But I Got Contracts”

A lot of times, entrepreneurs use this approach in order to raise money from VCs.  It goes something like this from their perspective.

  1.  I have potential contracts with big customers.
  2.  I need the funding to execute on those contracts.
  3.  I can’t launch without the funding.
  4.  Those customers will not do business with me without the funding.

Of course, it’s a massive industry in the multi-billions and the VC has a chance to get in at the ground floor.

Flip it.  Here is what the VC is thinking.

  1.  I have to lock up a bunch of money in an unproven business for 10 years or more.
  2.  I will automatically limit what I can invest in since if another competitor comes along in your business I will have to pass since I am already invested.
  3. Why don’t the customers fund the business if it’s so compelling?
  4.  Why isn’t this business Continue reading ““But I Got Contracts””

Human Resources Automated

In a world where we have distributed workforces, what happens when we use artificial intelligence, video, virtual reality, and embedded cookies that track people to make hiring and firing decisions?

Taken to an extreme, you could envision a world where a person applied for a job, did a virtual artificial intelligence interview and worked for a company remotely.  They never would have direct human interaction with an actual personal representative of the company.  They could be based anywhere in the world.  Their “boss” might be an algorithm or a machine learning quantum computer.

Already, there are a lot of products that do various things when it comes to human resources for video interviews.  A few years ago, Dave Weiland started a company in Chicago called RIVS that does video interviewing.  Imagine if there was a machine that could read body language that watched the interview Continue reading “Human Resources Automated”

PopSockets and NuCurrent

I’s appreciate it if you can support this effort I am leading. I am raising money to dedicate a hotel suite to the Unknown Soldier at the new National World War Two Museum hotel. Any proceeds over and above dedicating that space will go to Museum STEM projects dedicated to helping grade school children across the United States learn STEM. Even $10 or $20 can go a long way.

I received an email from the CEO of NuCurrent, Jacob Babcock the other day.   Now that I am back in Chicago, I have good internet and can actually work on the web and do something with email other than just look at them and respond in small ways. I was a seed investor in NuCurrent.

NuCurrent offers up wireless power solutions in innovative ways. It has become the industry standard for wireless power.  They work with Fortune 5000 Continue reading “PopSockets and NuCurrent”

Controlled Versus Uncontrolled

One of the things we always ask startup founders is if their product is launched or not.

If it’s not launched it is a thesis. It might work on the blackboard or in a lab but we still don’t know if it works in the wild.

There have been countless blogposts and books written about what entrepreneurs learn after launching.

The same can be said for a lot of behavioral economic theories. They work in the lab or with a highly curated group of people but when they go “wild” they don’t work as efficiently as classical theories.

The problem is the total randomness the real world confronts people with. You can’t control for it.

I have been thinking about that a bit the last few days.

Experiments Sometimes Don’t Work

We ran an experiment this vacation. We rented a Palapa in Mexico called Palapa Ganesh near Salyulita. It was a family vacation and a chance to unplug and reconnect.

I see people engage in things all the time and they become fanatical about them. They refuse to look at or accept data that might alter their view or change their mind. Paul Jrugman is a good example.

Instead it became a drama and a fight to live like a civilized person.

What a dump this place was. I will review it in depth on some other sites but this place was a fake it to you make it place. Online reviews are most likely fake.

When we told people in Salyulita where we were renting they rolled their eyes and shook their heads in empathy.

Yesterday I woke up in the morning and pulled the plug. I have an old Continue reading “Experiments Sometimes Don’t Work”

Sunk Costs In Life

Sometimes it’s a good idea to power through adversity. You have spent time or money and you have psychological commitment to something or some goal. The psychological commitment can be especially strong if you have invested a part of yourself or if it’s sort of difficult to establish a beachhead on something.

Other times that commitment leads us astray. We are unable to break free and look at a situation objectively. An artificial construct gets in the way. Maybe it’s time or money.

I can think of times in my life when I should have forged ahead. I can also think of times when I kept plowing the field when I shouldn’t have.

It’s often really hard to know whether to keep going or not. Success and taking risk often come with a lot of pain.

But, sometimes you have to suck it up and pull the ripcord. That can Continue reading “Sunk Costs In Life”

In A Stridently Opinionated World Is it Okay Not To Have One?

We live in a hyper partisan and very opinionated world.  90% of the “news” we see isn’t news at all. It’s spin.  Hence why so much of it has zero credibility.

It seems no space is safe from very strong opinions which lead to very strong rubrics and confirmation bias leading instead of critical thinking and decision making.  Even the smartest of us get caught.

I’ll give you a couple examples.

Bloomberg said he’d turn the White House into open office and sit with his staff.  It worked for him while building the Bloomberg empire.

I was intrigued because I had made a couple investments in the space   It doesn’t mean I endorse it for the White House but it could be an interesting academic excel use that might open up some other ideas-maybe even unrelated to open offices

There was blowback about how open office concepts contribute to Continue reading “In A Stridently Opinionated World Is it Okay Not To Have One?”

The Flashpoint

Movements need a flashpoint. It’s usually an organic thing especially in this day and age. The internet can rat out fakes before the movement has momentum.

Sometimes when the flashpoint occurs it’s not readily apparent.  Only in the rear view mirror do you see it.

An example you might readily grasp is the Tea Party movement in 2009.  Obama’s policy sparked a reaction from CNBC’s Rick Santelli.  That started a movement which was quashed by establishment Republicans with the blessing of Democrats.  It sort of illustrates our divide today although establishment Republicans are slowly losing their grip and power.  As they do the Democrats fall further and further to the hard left.

Scary times indeed.

I was chatting with my daughter who’s in law school about potential movements that could lead to civil disruption  I posited that what is going on right now in Virginia could be the making of Continue reading “The Flashpoint”