We Were Eight Years in Power By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Book Review

Impressions

It is thought that the first documented African slaves arrived on these shores in the year 1612.

This book is so rich in historical benchmarks and telling(s) of times and people that sculptured who we are as a nation. There’s little space in this review to highlight all the points discussed. They are all so very relevant.  So, I’ll speak to a few.

I was waiting a long time for this journal and the writing is better than I’d hoped. In each generation an African American author presents to the world a treatise that paints a vivid picture in eloquent terms that speaks to the heart. This compilation points the way to understanding the deeper aspects of our culture. The results of Mr. Coates’ research is a brilliant and honest body of work and art.

He began with our most recent history

We saw Barack Obama as the quintessential choice for POTUS 44. This was a prideful offering representing how we view not only African America but America’s values.  Our gratification did not stem from just the color of his skin, rather the fact of his bona fide, the character with which he conducts his life.

The author captures this sentiment superbly.

To many of us in Chicago Barack Obama is the incarnation of what the old dreamers back in the day and just up from the south envisioned as what was possible. Barack is considered an expression of all that is good in our culture. Mr. Coates’ details of the times and social conditions that surrounded that election is brilliant journalism. His firsthand account of the primary and general, of Michelle’s roles during those history making moments should be a must read for aspiring journalists.  It goes beyond simple social studies.

We’re the hidden American culture

The book explores candidly how Michelle Obama’s middle-class upbringing seemed to be a subject of discovery for many Americans. The debates about whether she was a proudful American or not grew into a national phenomenon. It raged on explaining how the anathema amongst the White populist justified the events leading to the formation of the Tea Party. This aspect of American cultured cannot be defined or explained enough. Coates clarified in painful detail this false narrative that helped propel theories as fact that the first African American President is not a true American, in some quarters he lacked human attributes. It’s a painful reminder.

This book peels a way so much of what White American has chosen not to address or understand about our post World War II parentage.  Come up from the south they built communities where our doctors were black, the lawyer, real estate brokers, grocer and butcher were all people of color. It was considered disrespectful to patronize a white business when there were “our people” needing the work. African America enjoyed with pride insular communities. The author captures this recollection with care and great understanding.

 “The South Side was almost a black world unto itself, replete with the economic and cultural complexity of the greater city. There were debutantes and cotillions as well as gangs and drug addicts, Mostly, there were men like Fraser Robinson, black people working a job, trying to get by. The diversity and the demographics allowed the Robinsons to protect their kids from the street life, and also from digest, personal racism.”

Reparation; to make amends, to bring whole what was taken.

Coates’ views on the “banditry” of African Americans debates brilliantly the reasons for his heartbreak on this subject. The robbing of African Americans of heritage and vows of reparations is explored in this book. He explains the machinations surrounding broken promises made of forty acres and a mule to the various failed social reforms I’ll address later in this review.

The only thing missing in this chapter is the harsh reality of the lack of economic value our country still holds for its African American communities.  I’ve not to date viewed a plausible quant study on the cost to the Negro culture. It is indeed worth taking a knee for. According to the statistics in this book there’s continued harshness visited upon the African American, we’ve certainly earned the right to peacefully protest these egregious symptoms of imbalance.

It is hard to convey how needful it is for everyone to understand that we are not a “Photonegative of each other” – Ta-Nehisi Coates

Honesty

Coates uses as example social economists like Patrick Moynihan who lent his brilliance to creating various iterations of social programs meant to alleviate the Negro plight. Most failed and instead of them becoming teachable times, they more than often created deeper chasms of social wrongs. These social experiments have left indelible societal scars that will last for generations.

The end of marginalization is a many generational and much wish for event. And yet here we are again…more “the other” than ever…. or so it sometime seems.

Story/Plot/Conflict

Where do we go from here?  This story seems ageless but this writing will rank among the finest example of journalism.

The plot is yet to be discovered. Not until the current American culture comes to understand the nature of marginalization and its hideous influence on socio-economics and sovereign survival. Will this “plot” ever be understood.

The conflict lies in the need to dismiss and not read books like this that bring some understanding to the why of our selective ignorance about each other.

Critiques This work is a must read for everyone. No matter the country or culture there are lessons in this book that are needful to humanity. Ta-Nehisi Coates joins the esteem ranks of this generation’s finest author.

Thank you, Mr. Coates

“Consistent Emotional Labor”

Defining authenticity

 Today Seth Godin was in my email box and that’s a normal good thing…it’s my wake-up words for the day. Sometimes his commentary rings clear and at others it comes just clever. But today it came spot on.

Seth Godin’s comments on defining authenticity as doing what you must with panache. Since writing every day is what I must and is my pleasure. A smug smile hung on my lips while digesting his words.

If hanging out at the beach I am either writing or jotting down thoughts for composition later.

Before writing for a living I searched for reasons to compose in previous employments where writing wasn’t the mandated task. So, I know of days when composing relevancy has its moments of challenge.

In our drive as business writers we stifle our egos into whatever business or client we’re writing for. I wondered just how does a writer truly brand themselves.

The reveal for me, in this Seth moment was this,

“We call a brand or a person authentic when they’re consistent, when they act the same way whether or not someone is looking. Someone is authentic when their actions are in alignment with what they promise.”

Composing copy each day with words that titillate, captivate, make a reader salivate is not always easy. But if you enjoy writing, if you’re compelling incentive is to create prose, if every fiber of your being looks forward to putting pen to paper…then self-branding should come easy.

If thing one is writing as your raison d’etre, then thing two is where branding should become inevitable.

How, for me, does the term “consistent emotional labor” apply to the everyday job of composing content.

A writer’s choice of terminology and style reveals their brand. It becomes a brand by way of consistency. Whether selling compelling innovative copy, that motivates, or drive quant data solutions.

We must scrub our thoughts each day for words that compose thought filled and rewarding content.

Showing up with great copy every time makes your style of writing shine through. That to me is branding wrapped in “consistent emotional labor”.

 

The Earth May Come to an End But Marketing will Survive

 

Imagine preaching to a global audience in 2017 that the Earth is flat. And while imagining, did you know that the Rapper B.o.B is the iconic voice of this growing movement. He’s crowdfunding and promoting this premise. What’s most amazing? Is that there are more than a few willing followers ready to embrace his “reasoning”.

Now….I realize that we live in a world where intelligence often diverge onto paths of – shall we say – unintelligent rambling. But this gifted artist has set upon a vigorous campaign to enlighten the world. He goes so far as to propose that NASA covertly guards earth’s flat borders.

This bit of news caught my attention because of the sublime simplicity in its proposition and the admirable ROI. Obviously, what this artist is promoting is absurd…but his marketing efforts are working…people are listening.

Perhaps we should rethink our content marketing strategy.

I’ll name this marketing concept “the flat earth hypothesis”. People need to believe that there’s something new and exotic in their world, even if that thing is a misconception from uninformed eras.  But clearly, this is where a business story can become a best seller.

And then there’s the reality of hurricane destruction.

Global financial markets wait with baited breath for utterances from the world’s money regulators. Janet Yellen, Mario Draghi, Mark Carney, Ben Bernanke, Christine Lagarde to name a few. They are the guardians of the stuff that dictates the behavior of money.

20 years of BoE independence

While the world evolves around economic downturns and corrections, a relative few global banks have acquired an ever-expanding independence. Long ago governments relinquished their ownership of banks. Although regulations and regulators act as overseers, the world’s largest, banking institutions have become the rock stars of cultural and societal influencers.

There are a few things to consider post Harvey, Irma, and Maria as a Content Marketer whose business depend on the availability of money.

Thing one is that you know the current nature of your client business or market niche performance.

But the advent of destructive storms has and will unleash new money into our economy. The rising cost of replacing destroyed infrastructure will last for decades. Rising cost of rebuilds will tax insurance and government coffers.  In the role of marketing professionals, tasks of exploring new and testing old channels will also change.

Following the golden brick road

The will of the banking sector will hold sway and content makers should prepare for increased marketing dollars.  Financial shifts within the ranks of consumer giants like Home Depot and Walmart is a given.  But there is more to this story.

Insurance companies will alter their marketing strategy to attract the more fearful consumer. Banks will direct the consumption pace based on market sectors. 

Thing two, where in the feeding chain are your clients. And are they in need of stepping up their content marketing campaigns.

Up and down the manufacturing food chain…lumber, machinery, metals for tools, real estate markets, changes in financials, and the flow of cash will impact fuel consumptions and consumer buying.

All these things influence businesses large and small requiring new content marketing strategies.

Just sayin’

 

The Motives Behind the Lack of fitness in Our Healthcare Part 1 by Barbara Cerda

 

The OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) has empirically argued that those countries where women are attaining an equal voice in legislature are leading the charge in creating a higher quality of life and healthcare reformation.

As the strongest economy on the globe, the United States is falling far behind in the war for better wellbeing. Could this failure be partially due to the United States Congress, which is comprised of 19% women out of the 535 membership?

The United States has a life expectancy gap in relation to other OECD countries. Yet we consistently tout the wellness of our current healthcare system. While it fails to address the needs and cut public funding, for the most underserved…women and children.

Amongst many in leadership, there’s a dismissal in how women can play a significant role in how healthcare providers tailor wellbeing. That path to gender fluid legislature is arduous and complicated, pebbled by male centric sovereign politics. We find ourselves part of a third world economic dysfunction when we elect few women in our legislative bodies. Alleviating this societal injury is necessary to bringing about true healthcare parity.

One country has taken great strides toward gender equality in its government, Finland.

This nation boasts a healthy 38% of female presence in its parliament and leads the world in healthcare reform. It is by far more empathetic to the needs of women and children.

Elected in 2000, Tarja Halonen was Finland’s first elected woman to the office of president. Serving in office for two terms, her legacy was to achieve a successful balanced economy.  An important part of this responsible fiscal reconstruction was the reformation of their health care system.

Envisioning a robust, value driven and cost effective medical system, President Halonen embraced the principals outlined in a Harvard business thesis, “Redefining Health Care: Creating Value-Based Competition on Results”. The Harvard team of Michael Porter and Elizabeth Olmsted Teisberg authors the study. The book illustrates how most purveyors of private healthcare have failed to deliver a system of value-based care.

Normal economic ideology dictates that aggressive competition in private sector business results in a lowering of prices and an increase in the value of that service. Private and governmental run healthcare agencies in the U.S. are the costliest in the world and supply the poorest quality in its deliverance of care. Finland‘s success in providing gender parity in a valued based healthcare system, is attributed to a strong percentage of women in parliament; a healthy 38 percent.

In 2007, the United States spent $7,290 per capita for an inadequate healthcare system. This number is a staggering two and a half times the average of OECD countries. The OECD places an average of per capita healthcare expenditures at $2,984. The CIA World Factbook has ranked the Unites States 41 in infant mortality rates and 46th for total life expectancy.

This rate of infant mortality defines a healthcare system that fails to provide adequate means of preventive medicine. Poor prenatal care results in low birth weights and bleak infant survivability. What does this say about the future of our economy the future of our country?

God A Human Story By Reza Aslan

Book Review

Impressions

A monotheism experiment – “the climax of the fairly recent belief in a single, singular, nonhuman, and indivisible creator God as defined by postexilic Judaism, as renounced by Zoroastrian Dualism and Christian Trinitarianism, and as revived in the Sufi interpretation of tawhid; God is not the creator of everything that exists. God is everything that exists.” ~ God A Human Story

Nothing prepared me for this uplifting treatise on the intelligence of our evolution. We may be nature’s experiment, but humanity has always initiated its own exploration of the neural pathways that explain not only who we are but also how we are to each other.

 

The author Reza Aslan offers an explanation on how religions are constant constructs in evolution and is the creation of our civilizations.  So I ask have we engineered religions as guideposts to our evolution. Or is religion an organic living thing that progresses with civilizations.

This essay is not a read for those who understand or live religious dogma as an unchanging thing written on stone tablets. Rather this author explains concepts of the many religions we’ve embraced in clear and unambiguous terms. And his book is the brilliant product of much work. It comprises mountains of organized, substantive research and a discourse on the evolution and sometimes devolution of humanity’s faiths.

Divine humanization

From Lord of the Beasts to a redefined god stripped of carnal form to become a dehumanized god…”without shape or form – utterly transcendent and apersonal.” From God A Human Story

It is reasonable to surmise that the growth of religions becomes part of a learned pattern of thought that manifest by way of cellular memories. The disparate events in discoveries of cave art depicting similar objects of deity in other times and spaces begs the question, is there cellular memories embedded in our DNA.  And, do these objects contain a formula for organized religions necessary for humanity’s socialization?

Although bioresearch has evolved to a place that aggressively challenges what we don’t know about the cell and the intelligence fueling its organelles, it is safe to say that they may harbor information about the origin of the phenomenon we call organized religion.

For me the most compelling argument made by Mr. Aslan on how we struggle to awareness is in the advent of Marduk.  He was central to one of  the longest lasting religions that arrived during Babylonian times when humanity was grasping for an inclusiveness. In a society led by Cyrus the Great and when Judaism was still new and Yeshua ben Joseph (Jesus) wasn’t born yet, the kernels of a culturally changeable society came to be.

The preponderance of evidence reasons that Cyrus the Great constructed an inclusive nation that respected values of a culturally fluid civilization.   While slowly dehumanizing its center of worship, a god name Marduk.

Our imagination driven by what we understand dictates our need to make gods in images and traits we know best…ourselves.

It requires a brave heart

One must enter into the labor of religious research with an open mind and heart.  Reza Aslan owns both with a healthy dash of skepticism and bravery.

In my opinion, to argue the relevance of the constructs of our belief systems requires extreme courage. The evolution of religion is the tender under belly of all human cultures.  They compose the most personal self-identification of societies and sovereignty. It composes what we understand as the collective reasoning.

I wouldn’t, shouldn’t and couldn’t comment on this read as an essay on opposing religions. Rather it’s a talk on how our ‘systems of faith” evolved to reflect our relative truths.

This author delves very little into the nature of the societies that constructed these religions. In my opinion because Mr. Aslan’s course of study and this book is centered on the far more important stuff of explaining how religions work and its mind numbing effects on human progress.

Survival

Our objects of worship served to explain the unexplainable while aiding our survival as a specie.  Are we in the midst of embracing and expanding the precepts of a dehumanized religion?

This is genius writing on comparative religions and the processes of its creators and inheritors.

Story/Plot/Conflict

An extremely ambitious book becomes an easy read on the roots of religions and thoroughly researched story of comparative ideologies.

The cultural timelines and borders appear almost a blur.  The author clarifies those lines that seem to disappear in the miasma of disparate teachings of scholars separated or compromised by secular belief systems.

The book explains in simple terms how the conflict lies in man’s reasoning for living and the need to look elsewhere for guidance and comfort.

The human story preaches how the varied forms of deification and religious fables have endured and colored how we see experience our religions. This author makes this 12,000 to 14,000 years tale seem like mere steps in discoveries of whom we are and how beliefs have inform our lives.

Main Character

God

My Critique: Even for the most august of theologians can experience epiphanies in this read. This writing has the rare flavor of pure objectivity.

Genre: General audiences and an enlightening read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Ways to Keep Your Nerd at the Door While Keeping it Simple.

Content or article ideas come by way of daily media headlines in every genre.

Every subject of public interest has a relationship to the business of your blog.  It’s all in interpretation of thought. The tricky bits come in understanding how to insure that the story actually convey what you do for a living.  In creating your website content, discuss a storyline choosing trending subjects that relates to your commerce offerings.

Write an article, exampling how Google is trending because of acquisitions or new technologies. The great reveal is how that bit of news pertains to your product/service performance, perhaps a useful tool for customer fulfillment. This reveals how your way of doing business is proactive not reactive. And then use captivating call to action words.

The most difficult part in presenting fantastical ideas into content is to present your accepted wisdom in clear unambiguous terms. Keep your nerd alter ego at the door.  If you have a product or service story to sale – just say it. Being too technical or roaming too far into the weeds when explaining what you have to offer can lose an important moment….capture the imagination of your new patron.

 

7 Ways Forex can make a Difference in Managing Your Projects. Published October 2016

 

 If you think that Brexit outcomes will have little effect on small and/or mid-cap projects…consider this.

Using Forex to forecast foreign currency behavior can keep managing costs of projects agile.  Coping with the unforeseen or getting to know currency market unknowable(s) in an age where the global paradigm rewards anticipators of currency shifts, is smart. But ignoring market sentiment’s influence on currency punishes those who rely on the traditional quantitative malaise. Brexit stands as an example of how social outcomes are factors that can shift project costs.

  1. Shadow bankinginfluences 85% of daily loan activity and is a major participant in traditional short-term commercial paper trade. Currency rates fluctuate at any moment and influence financial market behavior. Whether an upscale clothing and accessories chain or a business that provisions global services.  The price of renting money to meet daily operational cost and or fund a project may change in a heartbeat due to changes in global currencies and the interpretations of Forex trading. Phenomenon like Brexit will alter the behavior of shadow banking and its partnerships.
  2. No matter the size of our project funds, the troubles of large global banking institutions, like Germany’s Deutsche Bank, can influence the availability and cost of preserving global liquidity.
  • There is anticipation of a Brexit led relocation of banks with the accompanying brain drain from the UK.  It will have a ripple effect throughout local economies.
  • Contrary to current indicators of sustained economic growth, a recession will rear its head. A delimited pound will play itself out within the next year and will influence other global monies.
  1. Realignment of trade agreements, influences of tariffs and the costs of imports play an important role in cost of supply. Will your supplier pass that additional cost down to you?
  2. Even after finalization of the Article 50 agreement, the years of negotiating the messy divorce will and has diverted energy from the economy as it realigns trade agreements. Nervous businesses are already looking to reassert old trade agreements and create new ones inside and outside of the EU.
  3. While the Brexit event has lowered pound value, making exports cheaper, supply side economics will soon slow the pace of good news markets.

Next to the US dollar and Euro, the pound is widely used globally as legal tender for goods and services. Sovereign currencies pegged to the Euro and the sterling will experience the slowing markets first. Costs to ongoing projects will be at the whim of changes in expenditures to supply and will influence demand.

  1. In 2013, the EU had a population of 210 million making it the second most traded currency in the world. According to the IMF, the Eurozone has the second largest economy in the world. Because UK is a major trader within the single market, the Brexit will have implications to global monetary markets for generations. It would be pure folly to ignore Forex forecast of currency trends.
  2. By reciprocal agreements with larger global banks and shadow institutions, all US banks have some exposure to European financial systems. Hedging rules apply. The further out to completion of project the heavier the risks to rate changes. Forex can alert project managers of changes in the fundamentals effecting rate changes.

Think about this. A sovereign’s coin is like a living organ that is reactive to any social or political irritant. While tracking hourly journals of Forex markets will not satisfy all of your quantitative efforts, it is an excellent bell weather of how foreign currencies may influence your project scope.

The science of Forex forecasting  offers the advantages of anticipating trending costs over the life of a project. That keeps a Project Manager nimble. Consider this. Market sentiment will increasingly shift global monetary performance. As in the Brexit, which has forever changed how we anticipate human economic behavior and its influence on money.

 

5 Ways Harvey Changes Content Relationships by Barbara Cerda

While Harvey continues to wreak its worse, content strategists will reassess current projects or repurpose their favorite marketing channels.

The Houston Texas catastrophic weather event has struck the nation’s heart and soul. In the midst of it all, it is still too early to guestimate the damage to infrastructures and lives. As a result, content project managers will arrive to new understandings about strategizing marketing.

Whether designing or managing content marketing projects. Or just updating promotional strategies for existing teams and projects….Harvey will alter the nature of how we expedite commerce and trade.

Houston is home to a large number of Fortune 500 companies. Most are energy related giants that supply goods and cross services to many industries, both global and domestic. From fuel to plastics to product yields from research labs, the loss of man-hours and productivity will be costly to some and an inconvenience to most.

1. Evolutions in commerce and trade will require changes in how content marketing teams strategize.

Businesses like retail giant Amazon depend upon integrated logistics. Unpredictable and lasting effects of Harvey will cause unseen challenges to smooth delivery of product and services. This will test the strength of their customer response teams. Communication will be their first line of defense.

2. Emphasis on the changing costs of rebuilding high-rises, roads, bridges, and highways will require content project leadership able to create easily understood reports and proposals.

As the concrete dries, civil engineers and city planners will come to a new understanding of how standing water and bacteria effects concrete structures. The demand for project managing content to explain and put into English proposals needful of explanation will be in demand.

3. Extreme weather changes and forced shutdowns will motivate changes in technology and virtual work forces.

Building digital bridges that connect content project management teams will become more needful. With an eye on how to lessen loss of time and revenue…employers will depend more of outsourcing and virtual talent.

4. Because of the phenomenon of standing sewer water, Fortune 500 companies in Texas will experience inordinate numbers of sick employees.

The emotional stress of loss will burden existing healthcare costs, loss of time and wages. Marketing budgets will suffer and content will have to deflect budgetary changes while still delivering great content.

5. And finally and this is most important. As the frequency and severity of hurricanes, continue so will the need to create global warming awareness content.

Companies desiring to present to the public their global warming awareness must also alter business practices. That will elicit an event where customers’ will increasingly depend on marketing channels or social media for its social news and communications.

Stand Alone Quant Analytics without Human Behavior Economics will not suffice by Uday Raval

The growing phenomenon of global socialism and protectionism influences the paradigm paralysis or the failure to recognize how current models of thinking are dominating investor behavior. This has become an important component of how data models are failing at predicting asset price behavior across the globe. While age-old ideas centered on quantitative modeling, number crunching, and reviews of comparatives of past performance is still widely used. Quantitative analysts ignore the nascent economic concepts that actually drive and predict pricing. This new construct is human behavior.

Simply put. Any asset price is a function of quantitative information and human behavior. Prices and yields are predictive of quantitative fundamentals and behavioral economics.

We use Human Behavioral Economics scoring, to capture and quantify sentimental data. Our calculation methodology and its component scoring are proprietary. It behaves as an instrument that captures each overt and subtle human sentiment operational in trading markets. Human Behavior Economics is a method that quantifies the subtle differences between what investors say, think and their actions.

Investment management absent Human Behavior Analytics using rules based on standalone quantitative modeling merely represents sub substandard and outdated modes of investment management.

Earlier market traders centered on antiquated quantative correlative modeling that no longer work and are yielding abysmal returns.

In delivering alpha, traditional quant analysts follow truths based on mathematics and statistical analysis. This approach merely verifies and group together evidentiary financial shifts. It ignores the fundamental proof of Human Behavior Economics while fueling trends in pre-boxed analytics. Current methodologies of investment has reached its peak and has exhausted its outperformers or the select few.

Before considering this new investment strategy, first initialize an honest analytical compilation of your portfolio’s performance. In addition, think how the historic predictors of currency behavior was brought on by social influencers, as an unexpected Brexit. This socialistic event changed forever global investment behavior. So in order to solve for social unknowns a new approach to quantifying human behavior must translate into a viable vehicle for a sound investment strategy.

This wealth building approach starts by exploring how we quantify herd mentality that alters investment sentiment. Many strategists understand the importance of quantifying how market sentiment acts on and translates into a viable tool for investment growth. Nevertheless, many fail to produce a measurement of market sentiment that will change incrementally wealth outcomes. That approach requires the next generation in behavioral predictors.

Human behavior analysis or human psychology is that meme upon which investment behavior should be reliant on and up until now, it only represented unstructured information. To become useful this information must undergo vetting and a cleaning up of unusable statistics. Raw data becomes usable information and enabled for conversion into a myriad of valuable quantitative tools ready for investment analysis. This is where the new breed of human behavior analytics in investment planning plays an important role.

There are many investor sentiment indicators and analytical tools available, but are they able to capture the real essence of human behavior analytics. In addition, are these investment applications able to exhibit an in-depth understanding of the constant shifts in current financial sentiment?

Uday Raval

Barbara Cerda, Editor