01 January 2016

FatScribe Top20 Films 2015

There are only so many times you can let your blog go to pot. I mean, really go to fallow ground, spoiled earth and soil, type of going to pot. I'm glad I have somewhat thrown an occasional seed to the ground over here, with some accompanying manure in the form of my wordsmithing (if I can call it that), my dark brooding moodiness for the much-needed SoCal rain, and my nonetheless sunshiny personality to bring down those good vibey solar smiley rays.

Re: above. Love film. Love to write about film and to critique it. And, to write my own films (about five (5) to-date). Good gawd, I would l-o-v-e to see some poor schlep (schlub/shlub?) actually have to write about one of my films ... now that'd be cool to be sure.

Anyway, Happy New Years for 2016, Dear Reader.  You've been a welcome guest around these here parts. Let's make it a good, nay, a great year over the next 365 days. Do your best and I'll do mine as well. Be nicer to the mailman, and I'll be nicer to my humorless octogenarian charge, even when he least deserves it. If you promise to floss, I'll raise you with getting up an hour earlier to get my quiet time in to help set my tone for the day.

Oh, one final thing: if you will promise to be gracious to your spouse, even when it seems a herculean task, wrapped in a Sisyphean effort, inside a crawling-across-glass chore,  I can commit to working on my taxes and facing a few well chosen personal "Giants" with aplomb in 2016.  It's good to be accountability buddies with ya.  See ya 'round the next post on the ole porkster.  Now, go crush 2016 like it's a poor defenseless gazelle to your goal-accomplishing python.


11 December 2015

Middle Income v. Middle Class


So, I've been thinking about this contradistinction quite a bit as of late, that is to say, what is middle class in America? Indeed, are we "middle class" if we're not uber wealthy?  When I started LuxeMont (justluxe.com) just out of law school ten years back or so, it was about an aspirational/lifestyle "eyeballs" play where we'd drive millions of readers each month to our various web properties with the hope of engaging demographics along the likes/lines of those whose incomes were well within the "very wealthy" and "wealthy" and the "wannabe wealthy" silos. And, of course, we'd load up 3 ads per page and publish a boatload of pages filled with loverly, luxe and lasting content.

Original landing page JustLuxe.com
Middle-income for a family of 3 in the U.S. (according to Pew/Bloomberg) is $53k approximately. As an entrepreneur post grad school I've emptied my pockets three times to start businesses, and have known a few lean years at this level; and as an exec consultant in the legal space (when I needed a day job to pay the bills), I've known much better years ... and not once have I ever felt that I wasn't "middle class." Okay, maybe upper-middle class during those good years? But still, in the big city, with loads of expenses, lower six-figures ain't goin' far. (see additional belly aching below.)

But, income is soooo overrated. It's not the end-all, be-all, say in Kansas City or Lynchburg or Waco or Detroit.  In these cities, the middle-income level will buy a quaint home quite nicely with the right debt ratios and reserves and stable job and decent income.  You're golden as they say, and quality of life seems to be infinitely better.  Perhaps that's for another discussion another day.

In Los Angeles or New York or San Francisco, a triple-salary of $150k will most likely not be adequate to the task of buying you a nice home, most likely in the $1M to $2M range (without an extraordinarily large down to adjust for the borrower's ratios).  Which, btdubs Dear Reader, in some trendy neighborhoods in these major DMAs, a million-dollar home will only get you a smallish apartment or constrictive townhouse.

No, we are definitely in some sort of real estate bubble, IMHO. And, there will be downstream corrections in various regions of this great country of ours. Here in L.A., we just got our first $500Million home listing (or soonish). Check out this Bloomberg report.

But, if this marks uber-wealth, does middle-income necessarily mean "middle class"? If one buys into the notion of eating out several times a week at trendy restaurants, traveling several times a year, and driving two leased German cars, then one could be living an upper-income lifestyle, but with a poorhouse destination.  It's more than income, it's a mindset, n'est pas?  The above Pew/Bloomberg report and survey was quite interesting and highly dispositive regarding our discussion.  I'd take a nice, safe, quaint mid-city (say 250,000 residents or less) way of life in a southern clime any day over an expensive, sketchy, big-city (over a few million population) stressed out life where both parents have to work and life is all hustle and bustle and kids have to be in private school, and there's no end in sight ... whew! Sorry, got carried away there for a second.  I may have to check in with Dave Ramsey.

What do you think?  As always, would love to hear your thoughts.


12 October 2015

Gaffes and the Golden Rue (and other rules)


Photo source: Wikipedia

The Golden (olden) Rule runs something like this: “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.” In the world of communications professionals, replete with PR firms on retainer, Chief Marketing Officers’s (CMO) on antidepressants because their average tenure is 2.5 years, and communications directors on-call, ready to take over for the stressed-out CMO, the Golden Rue (that’s no misspelling) goes like this: Sooner or later, we all regret our very own gaffe-riddled words — and may have to eat them — so let’s not enjoy the Schadenfreude sandwich when our competitors screw-up their own maladroit syntax. Or, something to that effect (I’m still working on it).

This week the polymath CEO Elon Musk (Space-X, Tesla, etc.) is having to make amends for speaking his mind, as is his natural wont, during an interview with a German business publication last month where he revealed his plain spoken thoughts on Apple’s getting into the electric car business:

“They have hired people we’ve fired. We always jokingly call Apple the “Telsa Graveyard.” If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I’m not kidding.”

Elon Musk is oft-great for a quote, whether talking with Stephen Colbert about terraforming Mars with thermonuclear devices, or discussing “what-keeps-him-up-at-night” puzzlers like those pesky, inchoate A.I. robotic armies potentially threatening mankind with an extinction level event (this is not an exaggeration; Google has the patent on this). But, when talking about competitor Apple, the sui generis Musk showed himself human and proved up the adage that it’s best to keep the competitive hyperbole to a minimum. Salty language is great when company-facing, motivating the troops and whatnot; but when client-facing, speaking to the public (and by definition to the other side because any CMO worth their salt has a skunkworks competitive intelligence team running 24/7), the preferred ratio for the perfect bravado cocktail is 2 jiggers more graciousness, 1 jigger less hyperbole.

Being gaffe-prone doesn’t necessarily speak ill of CxO’s; just acknowledges the amount of face-time/prime-time a dynamic company will have by definition, especially in the age of Bloomberg West, all manners of Dreamforce’s, SouthBy’s, DLDnyc’s, and other cool venues where your hipster CxO can malaprop with the best of them.

If you’re in the C-Suite and actively engaged with the public, investors, the media, and creating content (both video and print), chances are you’ll come to rue and regret your (their) own gaffe at some point, so live by the Golden Rue which basically advocates not piling on, to be gracious to the other guy, and to “measure twice, cut once” as any good carpenter knows, especially when giving interviews, speaking publicly, or writing a piece, response (or remonstrance) on Pulse, Medium, or microblasting on social media du jour.

Having to walk back public comments can be a tricky task (trisky?). Herculean even. Some gaffes can end a career, viz., Amy Pascal, whose private gaffes were leaked vis-à-vis the Sony hack. Some gaffes are par for the course, especially if that course is public policy, e.g., Veep Joe Biden, George W., et. al., whose every word is public, parsed, and a potential whoopsie daisy. And, some gaffes are ill-advised word choices just because they sound gawdawful, as we were reminded by Christopher Hitchens about the D.C. politico who should have used the word miserly instead of the word which sounded an awful like the N-word. Whether you’re advising business executives or policy wonks, sometimes “just because” is good enough, Dear Reader, and occasionally career-saving great advice for your client.

Usually, though, a quick apology, and occasionally a mea maxima culpa, along with a heartfelt and concomitant corrective, and you’re well along your way helping navigate the communication waters for your organization. Nonetheless, both the rule and the rue (golden-hued didactic directives) suggest the giving and receiving of a full measure of grace and understanding when it comes to the ubiquitous gaffe. Especially, if we learn from the Golden Rue.


25 September 2015

Chanel, Uber, the Pope himself and St. Patrick's Cathedral Facelift


Wasn't terrifically thrilled with the Pope's coming to America (where's Eddie Murphy when you need him?) and lecturing Congress on all things Pope-centric.  But, I'll give him that he means well and his visit is good for the young folks in the Catholic church to get some revival going, Lord willing. Now, I'm praying and predicting that his pontiffness will realize the 1,000 year error of their ways and allow the priesthood to once again marry (please, God). Imagine a millennia of blue balls. Man, sake's alive!

Above is a wonderfully insightful weekly vid-recap from the amazingly prescient folks at L2. Many of you know that I launched a high-end aspirational website years ago called LuxeMont (JustLuxe.com) just a few years out of law school.  The idea of JustLuxe.com was to ultimately act as a placeholder for some luxury holding company to come along and fill it with the wares of their many companies (think Richemont or LVMH, et. al.).  I've since started 2 or 3 companies and pray and wish my brothers well in their/our endeavor to transition JustLuxe.com into someone else's capable hands.

So, L2 ... highly recommended to you, which is why I've slapped ole Prof. Scott Galloway's visage atop FatScribe.  These guys are entertaining, quite fun, and full of pith (and vinegar).

Have a great weekend all.