Best Paying Jobs, with Projected Demand

People are happier if our work is interesting and satisfying. But we like to make money, too (for obvious reasons), which means there has to be a demand for our services (just ask most artists).

Here are some interesting data, with two comments: 1) salary data is median, not mean or ranges (average salaries and salary ranges can be quite different than the median), and 2) take projections with a grain of salt (humans are terrible at predicting the future).

Continue reading

If You Want to Make Money, Sell Things to Rich People

“If you want to make money, sell things to rich people.” This was the advice given by Naval Ravikant to his Periscope listeners last week. It’s good advice.

That’s what I did. I sold my legal skills and talent to rich people. And rich companies.

I could have sold my skills and talent to poor people. I could have represented poor people. God knows they could use it. But I didn’t. I opted for the more lucrative path — not only because of the money, but also because of the challenge.

Representing rich people is more complex and challenging. More intellectually engaging. More stimulating. More fun. Or so I told myself. But I wonder, perhaps it was only about the money. And prestige.

I’m glad I pursued the path I did. But I also regret it. I would be nice to be able to stand with the oppressed, claim the moral high ground, and be well compensated in return. But that’s rarely or perhaps never possible. The money doesn’t reside there. It’s the land of scarcity.

It’s not that I had to engage in conduct that people would consider immoral or unethical on the path I took. Yet the system I enabled arguably was immoral or unethical. So can an enabler claim innocence? I’m not sure, but I doubt it. I’m also unsure whether innocence is something anyone can claim.

That said, no one wants to be poor or financially insecure. So aren’t compromises necessary? Is there anything wrong with that? Or perhaps they aren’t compromises at all. Perhaps it’s just reality and what we need to do is accept it and be comfortable with it. That’s quite possible. But I’m not sure. There’s a lot I’m not sure about.

I used to feel really guilty about my choices. And I turned that guilt on myself.

I no longer feel guilty. Or at least as guilty. That’s a good thing. I think.

About all I know is that Naval was right. “If you want to make money, sell things to rich people.” That’s the easy part.

I also know that the torment of guilt must be addressed; it must not be allowed to fester. That may not be so easy.

Self-Inflicted Wounds

I don’t give a f**k. About the debate over the wall. It’s up to our elected officials to decide how to protect our borders. That’s their job. If they’re not smart enough to handle it, then we’ve elected the wrong people. I try to vote for people who are smart and wise enough to handle tough issues. I’ve probably made some mistakes along the way. That’s life. (At least I haven’t made as big a mistake as 63 million of my fellow Americans made in 2016.)

In any case, here we are. Self-inflicted wounds. Irreversible damage to the economy. Unnecessary economic pain and adverse impact on countless people and businesses. Just because our president thinks it’s OK to shut down our government. Unless he gets his way.

This is so incredibly stupid. Normally, I’m bothered by gross stupidity. But this time around I’m not bothered as much as I used to be. I’m not sure it’s a good thing. But as I said, this time around I really don’t give a f**k.

I’ve been working at it. To be less bothered by that which I can’t control, that is. Which is a good thing.

I’ve also been working at trying not to view things as either good or bad. But to simply accept them for what they are. Which is a good thing. I think.

To be fair, it’s easy not to be overly bothered by the current situation because I’m not directly affected by it.

If you are impacted by the shutdown (or extremely troubled by it) and feel the need to do something about it, then I’d suggest the following: Continue reading

How ‘Bout We Stop Using This Word

For a myriad of reasons, I hate the word “success.” The main reason, I suppose, is because the way we associate it with wealth. I guess I’m too old to fall for that line; I know better. Which is why this perverted use of the word is so annoying. Because it perpetuates a fraud. And misleads our youth. And takes people’s eye off the ball — the one that truly matters.

Donald McCullogh, in Waking From The American Dream, makes the point in stark terms as he described the fortunes of seven well-known successful men:

“In 1923, seven men who had made it to the top of the financial success pyramid met together at the Edgewater Hotel in Chicago. Collectively, they controlled more wealth than the entire United States Treasury, and for years the media had held them up as examples of success.

Who were they? Charles M. Schwab, president of the world’s largest steel company; Arthur Cutten, the greatest wheat speculator of his day; Richard Whitney, president of the New York Stock Exchange; Albert Fall, a member of the President’s Cabinet; Jesse Livermore, the greatest bear on Wall Street; Leon Fraser, president of the International Bank of Settlement; and Ivar Kreuger, the head of the world’s largest monopoly.

What happened to them? Schwab and Cutten both died broke; Whitney spent years of his life in Sing Sing penitentiary; Fall also spent years in prison, but was released so he could die at home; and the others? Livermore, Fraser, and Kreuger, committed suicide.”

I think the world would be better off if we simply stopped using the word. I’m pretty sure our kids would be better off.

Some Big Questions with Small Answers

From time to time I take stock by asking myself some big questions. In case you’re interested, Vera, here are my answers as of today (in other words, either the questions or answers, or both, could change):

What’s the purpose of life?

Perhaps there is none. My focus is on experiencing life fully.

What stands in the way of contentment and happiness?

Three things come to mind: 1) desire, 2) the need to make a difference and 3) the idea that I and the world should be something we’re not.

Is there a creator-being (God)?

No one knows. Moreover, it’s a question that need not be answered.

What is the prime age?

Physically, our 20s and even into our 30s. Cognitively, our mid-20s to mid-40s. Emotionally and psychologically, we can improve with age; there is no reason to believe we ever have to peak (subject to disease).

What’s the most important factor to consider in deciding where to work?

The attributes of the people who work there: their purpose, expertise, standards (both performance and ethical), and values.

What deserves more attention than it gets?

The inner life. The external receives nearly all our attention.

What are the most precious things in life?

Authentic, caring relationships. And experiences that excite us.

Is money the root of all evil?

No, although it’s the root of much evil. But ego plays a major role, too.

If there is no god, is there even such a thing as evil or sin?

Depends on what you mean by it. Clearly, there are things that harm oneself, others, or the earth. Call it what you want.

What would I do different if I had the opportunity to start over?

Not spend so much time looking for answers that don’t exist. Seek deeper understanding and become more aware of the knowable. Recognize the dangers of the ego and desire. Waste less time in meetings and watching TV and sporting events. Accept reality, expect nothing from others or fate, and be less judgmental. Eat less sugar and sugar-containing products. Be a better listener. Start my own business or firm. Be less attached to, dependent upon, and concerned with others and the ego. Value relationships more. Work less and play more. Live more in the moment.

What’s the best movie I’ve watched, the best book I’ve read, the best president we’ve had, the best college, etc.?

I’m tapped out with our obsession with rankings and hierarchies. They’re a distraction and waste of time.

What constitutes a good book?

One that’s worth reading more than once. If you want to know what authors and books I value, come and look at my bookcase (and the floor surrounding it).

What would I do different in rearing my children?

Be less concerned with imparting values and what I thought was knowledge, and regulating conduct, and more focused on helping them discover things and gain a deeper understanding of people and themselves. Ask the question “why?” more often.

What do you think of organized religion?

It demands I embrace too many ideas I no longer believe are true or necessary or even beneficial. And I’ve grown weary of the way the institution manipulates people through guilt, embraces obvious charlatans, and condones — indeed, helps perpetuate — ideologies and power structures that subjugate and pacify people. So organized religion no longer has a place in my life. Even more personally, it filled my psyche with the seeds of self-doubt and self-loathing, which nearly killed me. All and all, the dangers of organized religion are under-appreciated. That said, its rituals and ethical foundations can play an important and beneficial role in the world. And some of the most admirable, authentic people I’ve known I’ve met through the church (although, admittedly, some of the most deceitful, fraudulent, and despicable people I’ve met have been regular church-goers).

What’s unexplainable in life?

Most things. Of the many, two stand out in my life: 1) a vision in my 40s (very different from a dream) and 2) a born-again experience in my early 50s (bearing absolutely no resemblance to what evangelical Christians think of as being “born again”).

What do I hope to understand better?

My own mind.

What do I hope to control better?

My own thoughts.

What is the most destructive force on earth?

Fear.

What do I fear?

Too numerous to list. Someday I hope to fear nothing. My fears today are fewer and less powerful than they used to be. But I still am fearful of too many things. Courage is harder to muster than one would think.

What are the two most important words ever spoken?

“Fear not.” – Jesus

What are the three most important words ever spoken?

“Love one another.” – Jesus

Am I optimistic or pessimistic about the future?

Neither. Moreover, my views of the future are of no import, either to me or to anyone else. I have no idea what the future holds, nor do I need to. My focus is on today. I looked forward to getting up this morning. And I expect to have the same excitement tomorrow morning.

Whom do I admire?

People who risk or sacrifice something to help others. And people who are authentic and don’t pretend to be somebody they aren’t. People who do their best. People who are honest (with others and themselves).

What traits serve people well?

Curiosity, open-mindedness, and courage.

What’s most important in life?

Inner peace.

What do I want to be remembered for?

I’ll be dead. Such questions don’t interest me. They seem silly and narcissistic.

 

 

Mr. Cohen Is a Stark Reminder of the Temptations that Come Our Way

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, was sentenced to prison yesterday. Among his crimes were ones conducted with and at the behest of Mr. Trump. Whether Trump will be held accountable for his misdeeds remains to be seen. But in any case, Mr. Cohen is headed off to the pokey. Before he leaves, however, it’s good to take stock of the lessons imparted by his tragic experiences. Why? Because they may help you avoid the same fate, Vera. Continue reading

Code Is the World’s Language

Apple CEO Tim Cook believes it’s important to learn how to code. He thinks it’s even more important than learning English as a second language.

When recently visiting France Cook said, “If I were a French student and I were 10 years old, I think it would be more important for me to learn coding than English. I’m not telling people not to learn English in some form — but I think you understand what I am saying is that this is a language that you can [use to] express yourself to 7 billion people in the world.” He added, “I think that coding should be required in every public school in the world.” I think he’s right. Continue reading

When Will Enough Be Enough?

You’d think unions would be thriving today. But they aren’t. The masters have instilled enough fear to keep the serfs in check. And the propagandists have done a great job of selling the story that this is the way it should be because, after all, unconstrained capitalism is what God intended.

When will enough be enough?

I have no idea. But I have to believe the day will come. Eventually.

Putting on the Pounds

According to a new report, approximately 71 percent of millennials aged 17 to 24 — the prime age to enlist in America’s armed forces and fight a foreign war in the Middle East — are non-recruitable, with obesity disqualifying about 31 percent of them.

“Out of all the reasons that we have future soldiers disqualify, the largest – 31% – is obesity,” Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command, said last Wednesday.

This is new. In my lifetime. It used to be that overweight teenagers were rare. Not anymore.

I’m certainly not an expert in such matters, although some of the reasons for this erosion in the health and fitness of our nation’s youth seem obvious. Less physical activity. More high-carb junk food. More prepared food and sugar drinks. Fewer home cooked meals. More stress.

As for our armed forces, perhaps we won’t need all that many fit recruits in the future anyway. Perhaps drones, robots,  computers and people sitting at terminals will do most of the fighting. Moreover, if we need more than we can get with a voluntary army, we can always reinstitute the draft.

But that won’t make America fit again. That’s something you don’t hear much about these days. You hear about making America “great,” but apparently you don’t have to be fit and healthy to be great.

The first step, in my experience, is to control what comes into the house. My record in such matters is very spotty at best. Too often highly addictive sugar-laced crap finds its way into the shopping cart, destined for our cupboards or frig. I don’t know how that happens, but I do know that, when I’m serious about my fitness and health, it doesn’t happen.

The second step, physical exercise, comes easier. While it’s important for fitness, it isn’t a substitute for controlling what goes into my mouth. You can’t exercise enough to make up for a shitty diet.

We don’t go to the shopping mall often, but when we do I always see overweight kids and wonder why there are so many. And how it happened. And what they’ll be like in another 20 or 40 years.

Perhaps we should have a campaign to make America great again.