Category Archives: Business and Technology

The Dark Side of Capitalism

Philosophically speaking, I favor capitalism over other economic systems. The free market is a beautiful thing. When operating as it should, consumers are free to choose the companies and people they want to do business with. Those entities that provide the most value to consumers are rewarded, and those that don’t go out of business.

I also favor smaller government, particularly at the federal level. When the government regulates marketplaces, they alter the playing field. Their actions can significantly disrupt a market and determine the winners, even when not intended. When this happens, consumers are usually the ones who lose.

Unfortunately, my philosophical views don’t always work out for the best. There is a dark side to capitalism. There are times when unchecked capitalism is not in the public interest. In extreme scenarios, it can bring harm to the public. It can concentrate wealth among the rich through the exploitation and transfer of wealth from the public domain.

Allow me to explain.

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Book review: Don’t Just Roll the Dice

Book cover for Don't Just Roll the Dice: A usefully short guide to software pricing

No, this isn’t a book review about gambling. although it tends to be the way most companies price their product, especially when the product is software. Why is that?

Pricing a software product is a difficult, challenging task. The problem is that the cost of software doesn’t lie in making another copy. The marginal cost to make an additional unit is effectively zero. The internet has eliminated the cost of distributing it. So if production and distribution are free, what makes software so expensive?

It’s the cost of the people required to develop, market, and sell it. These elements add up quickly and can get very expensive.

In Don’t Just Roll the Dice, Neil Davidson addresses the difficulties pricing software. And as the subtitle states, it is a ‘usefully short guide to software pricing,’ with the operative words being short and software.

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Book review: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Book cover for The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

If you’ve been following my latest business book reviews, you’ll notice they’ve been mostly of the storytelling type. They include The Energy Bus, The Go-Giver Leader, and Get A Grip. I like business books written in this style. They’re much easier to read than business books written like academic textbooks. They’re more entertaining, obviously. Best of all, when they’re written well, I learn from them.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that my latest business book read was also of the fable variety. My nemesis, the Amazon recommendation engine, has clearly figured me out. It suggested The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, multiple times. I finally relented, purchased the book, and added it to my reading list.

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Book review: Get A Grip – An Entrepreneurial Fable

Book cover for Get A Grip: An Entrepreneurial Fable by Gino Wickman and Mike Paton

Most business books tend to be dry and boring. An author introduces a framework or set of concepts. These are explored in detail. Theoretical examples of how to apply them are given. Every once in a while, I’ll come across a business book in this format that is well written and reads easily. For the most part though, these books are a slog and take me a long time to read.

The business books I like are those that weave the framework or concepts into a story. They are easier to read and entertain at the same time. While I may not be able to apply or use the concepts presented, more often than not, I read through this style of business book faster. It feels a lot less like work and is way more enjoyable.

My latest business read, Get A Grip: An Entrepreneurial Fable by Gino Wickman and Mike Paton, uses the story-telling style to introduce their Entrepreneurial Operating System framework, or EOS for short.

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Book review: The Energy Bus

Book cover for The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon

Business books are generally very dry. Most times it feels like you’re reading an academic textbook or business journal article. Now, I’m not saying that there’s anything fundamentally wrong with that style. You can learn a lot from a good business book. I just find that it’s more enjoyable and easier to read a business book that teaches its concepts through an engaging, interactive story.

The first business book I read that was written in this style was The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt. He used a fast-paced fictional story to show how his Theory of Constraints principles were applied to make a factory more efficient. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend reading it if you haven’t already. Since then, I’ve read a number of other business stories, including my latest read, The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon.

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Book review: The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs

Book cover for The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs by Hal Elrod and Cameron HeroldI’m continually on the lookout for ways to improve. I especially like reading books that provide tips and techniques on managing myself. With each book I read, there is often at least a couple of things, and sometimes more, that I learn about and can incorporate into my daily routine.

It’s one of main reasons that I became interested in The Miracle Morning, which is available in numerous versions. There is a generic title that is applicable to everyone and other versions tailored to specific occupations. For example, there is a version for real estate agents, one for salespeople, one for writers, and one for college students. Since I spend the majority of my days running my own business. I chose to read the version titled The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs by Hal Elrod and Cameron Herold.

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Is this a Golden or Gilded Age for VC Funded Startups?

Last month’s delay of the WeWork IPO and the subsequent turmoil around the company got me thinking about the startup scene again. There seems to be a never-ending supply of capital available to promising startups. We’re seeing public market exists for companies Uber, Lyft, Slack, Peloton, Pinterest, and Zoom in the billions of dollars. On the surface, it would appear that we are in a golden age for startups.

Are we really in a golden age for VC-funded startups? Or is it possible that we could be in the gilded age of VC funded startups?

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Book review: The Business Blockchain

Book cover for The Business Blockchain by William MougayarIn addition to working in technology, I enjoy observing trends and watching up-and-coming technologies. Blockchain is one of those new technologies that I’ve been watching closely over the last couple of years. General, as well as my interest in blockchain has risen due to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. While I’m not a fan of cryptocurrencies (a rant I’ll post some other time), I am fascinated and keenly interested in blockchain. So much so that I felt it was worth the effort to read a book on the subject, which led me to The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology by William Mougayar.

A lot of people mistakenly think that blockchain is just another name for cryptocurrency. In reality, crytpocurrencies are just one application that is made possible because of blockchain technology. Blockchain enables cryptocurrencies. So if I’m not a fan of cryptocurrencies, why am I interested in blockchain?

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Custom (aka Lambda) Authorizer for Verifying Client Authorization Tokens Generated by Firebase

In one of my current projects, I am using a serverless setup in AWS for the API. The project uses API Gateway and Lambda functions. For deployment to AWS, I’m using the serverless framework, which helps to streamline the process.

One of the issues I ran into was verifying the client authorization tokens generated by Firebase in the serverless environment. The brute force approach would have been to verify the token in the Lambda function for each API microservice I created, but this seemed inefficient. I also found that adding the Firebase Admin SDK added a lot of heft to the lambda function. It seemed like there should be a better way, and there is.

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Book review: The 80/20 Principle – The Secret to Achieving More with Less

Bokk cover of The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with LessI’ve written about this before, but I’m always amazed at how deep you can go into any one genre or subject when reading. Here’s a case in point. I like to read personal improvement books, especially those that help me set priorities, get things done, and, on the whole, manage myself better. I’d have to go pretty far back to find the first book I read on the topic, but the genre only seems to get deeper and wider the more books I read in it. Whether it’s exploring other books by the same author, references to other books embedded in the ones I’m reading, recommendations by friends, families, or blogs I follow, or my ultimate nemesis, the Amazon recommendation engine, the quantity of books that I can read on the subject never ends.

It should be no surprise then that I happened upon The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch. I added the book to my reading list after I saw it referenced in Ninja Selling by Larry Kendall. I’ve found that when a book you really like makes reference to other books, you generally can’t go wrong reading them.

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