http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/01/opinion/my-valuable-cheap-...http://education-portal.com/articles/Universities_with_the_B...http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/20/education/colleges-turn-to...Here are links to low-cost online college, including massive open online courses, or MOOCs at top colleges.Even if the student is not enrolled, studying the subject will give an immense advantage when taking it “for the first time” in class. Success in online study requires self-motivation and/or home schooling help. Only about 10% of students complete the online course work because most lack the self-discipline to do the work without being disciplined by a teacher. Those who do complete the coursework get the education for free and also demonstrate that they are very self-disciplined.In my opinion, this resource will eventually change the world by providing a top-notch education to the most intelligent and motivated around the entire world, even if they are too poor to go to college. Please use this information to your own advantage. Those of you with several children may be able to get a leg up on college for them without spending much, if any, precious family resources. Adults can advance their careers by studying independently.Wendy (cross-posted on LBYM Board)
While education is great, certified education is even better.Until these things start providing diplomas, people will still be forced to spend a fortune on traditional forms of education.HawkwinWhose wife earned her Masters completely online from Michigan State - at full stinking price.
Until these things start providing diplomas, people will still be forced to spend a fortune on traditional forms of education.Forced by whom?whafa, college dropout in a great career.
Wendy,I am taking the Khan Academy math course. Being the type that hates all that prep stuff, I just started with the practice. I started at the top. Basic Addition. I was surprised how bad I was, it was not until I got down into factoring exponents that I started watching the videos, the ones labeled "If you are stuck, watch this video."Great stuff. For anyone thinking of going back to college who does not want to take remedial math, this is an excellent resource. Just devote an hour or so a night. My biggest problem is not the dedication, mine is my wife telling me "It is after 11! You must get some sleep or you will be dangerous on the road tomorrow!" My response is generally, "Just one more stack, I know I will get another skill this time through." "No, that is what you said an hour ago. Come to bed!" "But I did get a skill, I almost have this factoring nailed!" "Oh well, your life insurance is paid up...right?, good night"https://www.khanacademy.org/exercisedashboardCheersQazulight
Forced by whom?whafa, college dropout in a great career.And 20 years ago someone with a HS diploma could have a good career.Try getting any non-trade professional job (teacher, medical, legal, engineering, finance, etc.) today without a degree and I am confident your experience would be different.Again, my wife received her Masters completely online. This was back in the day before video chat was common. Her classes were mostly via chat room discussions and written papers.All that education sher received would have been worth spit if not for the paper it was printed on. Her pay was based on the diploma, not the education.MOOCs, if they are to be a successful alternative (instead of just something supplemental), need to be recognized by TPTB.
And 20 years ago someone with a HS diploma could have a good career.Try getting any non-trade professional job (teacher, medical, legal, engineering, finance, etc.) today without a degree and I am confident your experience would be different.I just took a new engineering job 3 months ago without a degree, so your confidence is misplaced.
I just took a new engineering job 3 months ago without a degree*sigh*I suppose you just graduated from high school with no previous experience?Or, do you have a long history of working in this field with references?Can you at least acknowledge that your situation is not like anything a recent high school graduate would experience if they tried to get a job in say, civil engineering without a degree?
Whafa, are you saying that any joe could accomplish what you have? It's kind of coming across that way.
I am taking the Khan Academy math courseMr Khan has written a book about online learning.http://www.amazon.com/The-One-World-Schoolhouse-Reimagined/d...
Whafa, are you saying that any joe could accomplish what you have? It's kind of coming across that way. Well, it wasn't 20 years ago, but about 16 years ago after I dropped out, I took a job for a self-employed technologist, doing his grunt work like fixing broken printers, installing graphics cards and crimping network cables (none of which they taught in my comp-sci classes). Terrible, dull work. After I couldn't take it any more I got a temp contract position for a large company working in a room with no windows doing ad-hoc data processing work. The contracting company was skimming (easily) 50% of my contracted rate off the top, which didn't seem fair, but the experience was enough to get me a technical interview at a small software company, which I promptly failed because I had no idea what I was doing.So I went home and spent the weekend re-writing the answer to their test as a web form that I sent it back to them. They "admired my tenacity" and brought me in for another interview, and I got the job. I am skipping a thing or two here but these are the important points.This was in 2000, and when the bottom dropped out for the dot-coms we got our business from and they had to lay off 50% of the workforce, well, they laid off the network guy and kept me because I could crimp network cables and install video cards, in addition to programming.That company went under but I was there to close the doors and I kicked around CA for a few more years until I moved to NYC and took a crappy job at a cafe downtown serving coffee to famous people and getting further and further in debt, and working on my feet all day. Finally I got around to posting my resume and it turned out that crappy data processing job (from P2) was interesting to someone, another contractor, who got me a foot in the door of the legal industry.I made friends with all the strangers there and when enough of them moved to a competitor, I went with them. I didn't need to interview at that point because they knew what I could do. I met a bright guy there who jumped ship when things went sour. I hung around way too long but eventually he called me and offered me the job I took 3 months ago.Have I been very lucky? Yes! But these things snowball. *None* of the above happened for any reason other than the experience I had on my resume, and maintaining relationships with people (which is the single most important skill to develop today; see Goofy's 5th wave post). Everybody wants to start working at Google. There are plenty of small business owners in every industry that will give a kid a chance right out of high school.So to turn the question back to you, does the above sound like anything extraordinary? Is that the story of a genious? Moreover, if any joe *can't* do that, what will he gain from a college education and thousands of dollars in debt?
Moreover, if any joe *can't* do that, what will he gain from a college education and thousands of dollars in debt? A piece of paper that states they are a licensed professional.That is the point; and the problem with the MOOC format as it currently exists.http://www.ehow.com/how_4908187_become-licensed-professional...Becoming a professional engineer takes a minimum of 8 years once you enter college. It takes a lot of hard work, including advanced course work in mathematics, physics, and engineering specialty courses to gain the knowledge needed to be an engineer. The payoff is the ability to receive a license as a professional engineer. -----------Again, try getting a job in teaching or your local hospital without formal, certified education. Knowing someone won't get you very far without an expensive piece of paper.
Again, try getting a job in teaching or your local hospital without formal, certified education. Knowing someone won't get you very far without an expensive piece of paper. And again, I am here to tell you there are many other ways to get yourself a lucrative career without incurring all the debt. Free online education and accepting a crappy starter job is just one of the ways.
does the above sound like anything extraordinary? Is that the story of a genious?but the experience was enough to get me a technical interview at a small software company, which I promptly failed because I had no idea what I was doing.So I went home and spent the weekend re-writing the answer to their test as a web form that I sent it back to them. They "admired my tenacity" and brought me in for another interview, and I got the job. I am skipping a thing or two here but these are the important points.I'd say your response to a poor interview is not the norm in the workforce, but rather several steps above the average. If your independent and confident approach were the norm, we would probably be having a different experience in the country, as many more people would not have been willing to rely on advice and guidance from "experts." Instead they would be doing their own research and coming to their own conclusions. Moreover, if any joe *can't* do that, what will he gain from a college education and thousands of dollars in debt? I agree with you on this point. I will not be persuaded that your particular combination of talent, experience, skill, and motivation is average.
Only about 10% of students complete the online course work because most lack the self-discipline to do the work without being disciplined by a teacher. I don't know if you can definitively say that. I'm sure it applies to many people. But since online courses are such a new thing there are probably a lot of people just interested in what it is. Or people who take a course and discover it isn't what they thought. Or people who learn the couple of things they were interested in then quit.When you choose to go to a physical school and pay money (yours especially) you are already pretty seriously committed that this is your plan. When you click on a web site you might just be curious, etc.Mike
Whafa, you appear to simply not understand the barriers to entry for many professions. There is no "crappy starter job" someone can take to get into education without a degree.*The same can be said for many other professions. Degree requirements are common for many many professions. Sometimes the requirements are not even industry standards but legal standards. How many lawyers do you know that practice without have passed the Bar exam? You cannot even register to take the test without a degree from specified and approved law schools.I applaud you for your accomplishments but not everyone wants to support their family by working in a cafe while they wait for their next professional opportunity.*Some states are creating or have created limited programs for certain individuals to get into the field easier based on previous job experience and previous formal education.
Whafa, are you saying that any joe could accomplish what you have? It's kind of coming across that way.Clearly "everyone" can't accomplish such things but strange things do happen. I got handed a brand new PC along with the task of doing squadron flying statistics alongside my instructor duties in late 1984. The computer was initially a large paperweight but I turned it on during long shifts in squadron ops and eventually started using the spreadsheet (Lotus 123) then started messing around with the database and doing little tasks. The squadron commander got all excited when he was the first one to use computer generated briefings for the base commander and in no time I had the other three squadron Ops guys hanging around my desk. The CO paid for me to take some evening courses at St. Mary's and more tasks kept ending up on the 'puter, some of these very useful including one that the Base Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Officer said was saving him millions. My squadron chief sent me off to do an aptitude test at the PSO (Personnel Selection Office) and mentioned a position in Germany. The results came back as “average” for a person with a four year engineering degree which was the only test they had. This was followed by nearly six months of a very intense training at the Navy Officers Combats Systems programming school and a move to Germany. After three years of repairing/changing code on AOCP programs for the NATO AWACs and incidentally writing administrative programs for the Canadian Support Unit I competed for and won a position as a civilian “operational support programmer” making twice my military salary but was no longer allowed to pay income taxes. The timing was somewhat perfect as they also helped out with university tuition and living expenses for the girls. }};-DAny <would rather be lucky than good any day> mousehttps://www.google.ca/search?q=nato+awacs+pictures&hl=en...
I wonder if a different way of thinking about this to say "Whafa has identified a way of negotiating around a barrier to entry (to a lucrative career) that can work in many situations, but not in ones with fixed moats (like medicine, engineering, chemistry, law, etc.)"
And again, I am here to tell you there are many other ways to get yourself a lucrative career without incurring all the debt.whafaI'm with you, half of USians with degrees are working in careers that don't require a degree (heard that on a money show last weekend). Tim
And that is why MOOCS are a game changer. This self directed learning is, IMHO, more like how humans have learned through history, through observation and experimentation on the materials at hand. The recent thread on the One Laptop Per Child reinforces Whafa's point and yours: humans can and will learn in different ways, with different technologies, constantly adapting to the environment at hand. Our networked computerized age is a fantastic enabler and accelerant. I totally understand Whafa's optimism, even if I have to be prodded out of dropping my innate pessimism to appreciate it.
I worked as the CEO of a modest size publishing firm -- 150 people more or less. I quickly became utterly exasperated with the flaws in college degrees as a credentialing system. Whether from grade inflation or huge gaps between reality and classrooms, I found myself hiring based almost solely on intensive job interviews with lots of open-ended questioning so as to find out "what does this person ACTUALLY KNOW about what I need to have done". Yes, most of my hires were college graduates. BUT, it is not the sheepskin that matters. I would hire a MOOC schooled applicant in a second if they could show that they knew what I needed. david fb
Whafa, you appear to simply not understand the barriers to entry for many professions. There is no "crappy starter job" someone can take to get into education without a degree.*I was originally responding to this comment of yours:Until these things start providing diplomas, people will still be forced to spend a fortune on traditional forms of education.I'm sorry but that's just wrong and I gave you an example. Nobody forces anybody to spend a fortune on traditional forms of education. You appear to simply not understand that there is a universe of employment outside the system of degrees and debt, that is accessible to anyone with the motivation to get into college to begin with. MOOCs, if they are to be a successful alternative (instead of just something supplemental), need to be recognized by TPTB."TPTB" is an invention in your mind. Now, if your point is that to become a surgeon a person has to go through expensive, rigorous and lengthy secondary education, I absolutely agree and that's how it should be. Incurring debt for future gains is a business decision that I posit the majority of people are not qualified to make ever (just look at how many businesses fail), and certainly not at 18 years. But for every hospital hiring a new surgeon, there are 1000 (maybe more) small businesses who will absolutely hire a kid out of high school, for low wages (and no debt) to get started on building a successful life.I applaud you for your accomplishments but not everyone wants to support their family by working in a cafe while they wait for their next professional opportunity.I thought we were talking about kids out of high school. But thank you. I really don't think I did anything I wouldn't expect out of any other thoughtful person. And if you're not a thoughtful person then you don't belong in college to begin with.Kids coming up these days have opportunities that make me green with envy. For christ's sake, I used a dot-matrix printer to print my papers, and a card catalog with *paper index cards* and moldy library books to research them! The amount of information that has become available, for practically nothing, in just the last 10 years, for consumption on your cell phone no less, is staggering. *Some states are creating or have created limited programs for certain individuals to get into the field easier based on previous job experience and previous formal education. This trend is only going to continue. "TPTB" are never going to let a heart surgeon walk in from off the street with a blog about his self-taught talents, and rightly so, but I think (certainly, I hope) we are finally getting to the end of the formal education bubble in this country.
Valuable, cheap college education =================================Oxymoron. Jess gibb me my free stuff.
Again, try getting a job in teaching or your local hospital without formal, certified education. Knowing someone won't get you very far without an expensive piece of paper. And again, I am here to tell you there are many other ways to get yourself a lucrative career without incurring all the debt. Free online education and accepting a crappy starter job is just one of the ways.But he's right; with a large number of employers - which DOES completely take in certain entire industries - an educational certification is absolutely required no matter how much proof of ability and accomplishment you have.I think this is in large part - but not necessarily entirely - because of a need to be able to prove that hiring decisions were not made on the basis of race/gender/etc, combined with the fact that it's now effectively illegal for a former employer to say anything bad about you to a prospective new employer.
warrl,I agree w/ you. That "piece of paper" is important. It's not just the discrimination issues, but a whole range of other issues. Would anyone like to be the person at Boeing trying to justify the engineering decisions for implementing the lithium ion batteries w/o a degree or two in an appropriate field?PM
Wendy,It depends upon one's goal. Most free on-line courses don't provide credit towards a degree.#2 son is taking an on-line course in greenhouse mgmt. He's in grad school at Mizzou, but the on-line course is offered for around $800 from Arizona. He doesn't get grad credit, but he's learning a lot.PM
But for every hospital hiring a new surgeon, there are 1000 (maybe more) small businesses who will absolutely hire a kid out of high school, for low wages (and no debt) to get started on building a successful life.But will he not in most cases remain at fairly low wages and have limited opportunities for all his life in comparison to someone who got a B.A. in a useful field?
But for every hospital hiring a new surgeon, there are 1000 (maybe more) small businesses who will absolutely hire a kid out of high school, for low wages (and no debt) to get started on building a successful life.But will he not in most cases remain at fairly low wages and have limited opportunities for all his life in comparison to someone who got a B.A. in a useful field?In school as in life you get out of it what you put into it.Desert (sold own business and retired with only GED and some Jr. college classes) Dave
Desert (sold own business and retired with only GED and some Jr. college classes) DaveThe world you entered into unfortunately isn't remotely the world young high school graduates face today.You can still be successful as a business owner, of course, but unless you have parental ressources to draw upon, everything is a lot more difficult because low end wages today are a lot lower so it's difficult to get the capital you need to get started.And let's face it - most people aren't suited very well to run their own business in any case.
But will he not in most cases remain at fairly low wages and have limited opportunities for all his life in comparison to someone who got a B.A. in a useful field? I believe that this is a platitude that has become a stumbling block. The problem has become; if one borrows enough money, or is handed enough by his parents he can.get a degree in a "useful" field. The problem with this is it does not sort out people by how likely the are to succeed. In Gladwell's Outliers, he covers this well. Intelligence and training do not guarantee success. It takes other factors. In one chapter Gladwell describes a divergnece test. It is a backwards test. Instead of asking for a solution to a problem, you are given a solution and asked to solve as many problems as you can with it. (No I will not type it out for you, buy the book.)One of the rolls of college used to be the winnowing process. Those that could not adapt, and answer the struggles that were presented washed out. Today, between support from parents and government many are pushed through school. On the other hand, a degree can be the entry to some jobs that no amount of skill can get you. I was working as a Technical Security Specialist for an intelligence agency. I have a military background in electronics and telecommunications. I was looking for compromising emanations. I saw a job a security generalist. It was a cool job. It was field work, and was more like what you might see on TV.I had the skills, but I did not have a degree. From the position that I was already in, inside the organization, inside the department, I could have gotten the job with a liberal arts degree. I still do not have the degree and I am still a technician. (I am not complaining, when I walked home today the yard was mowed and the house was clean...nice..real nice)The problem with a degree is the expense does not seem to increase maturity nor does increase income a great deal. The best thing it does is get children out of the nest. However, a stint in the military will do the same and it provides funds higher education later.CheersQazulight
Thank you for recommending this post to our Best of feature.The best thing it does is get children out of the nest. However, a stint in the military will do the same and it provides funds higher education later.Not only that but it is a heck of a lot more fun for a young fellow than hanging around a cubical for decades? }};-D One of the things I loved about the military was the culture of constantly learning new things. You didn't always "have to" and many didn't take advantage but it was there for those who did want it. Any <old soldier with great memories> mouse
In my opinion, this resource will eventually change the world by providing a top-notch education to the most intelligent and motivated around the entire world, even if they are too poor to go to college.The ramifications of this are endless. It may happen slowly, but the traditional university is as doomed as the evening newspaper.
... a B.A. in a useful field...Isn't "a B.A. in a useful field" a contradiction in terms, since all the jobs are in science, math and engineering (which are associated with a B.S. degree)?;-)
Desert (sold own business and retired with only GED and some Jr. college classes) DaveThe world you entered into unfortunately isn't remotely the world young high school graduates face today. Don't go getting all dramatic on us. It's the same world just with higher inflation.You can still be successful as a business owner, of course, but unless you have parental ressources to draw upon, everything is a lot more difficult because low end wages today are a lot lower so it's difficult to get the capital you need to get started.Everything is more difficult when you go into it thinking it can't be done. Just because you failed doesn't mean the next guy will. Sure you need a lot of resources to start a car company or a railroad, but I'm talking about retail or manufacturing. Take a look at history most of today's big companies started off small and (through years of hard work) built international corporations. And let's face it - most people aren't suited very well to run their own business in any case. It's the acceptance of elitist attitudes like that that keep people from starting their own businesses.
Perhaps another way to illustrate that it isn't "parental resources" is to recount my own story.My Entrepreneurial sprit was born when I bought four new pocket knives for pennies on the dollar at a sporting goods store's going out of business sale. An acquaintance allowed me to sell them from the corner of his flea market table easily doubling my money. I caught the flea market bug.Soon I had my own flea market table selling into a niche market: military surplus. That's important. Like the thousands of entrepreneurs thriving in the shadows of Walmarts around the world I chose not to compete on price but rather sell what others weren't.Soon my wife and I were getting up at o'dark thirty on weekends to ferry one car, one long bed pickup truck and two trailers loaded to the gills to the flea market to set up our eight tables (the entire lower (sweet spot) end of one of the rows of venders) where we'd sell till late in the afternoon, i.e. more hours than either of us put in on a workday.The extra effort paid off because soon we were making more money on those two weekend days than we made all week working at our jobs which points out another fundamental of entrepreneurialism: A boss doesn't hire you to make you rich; he hires you to make him rich.My wife enjoyed her job more than I did so she kept working for "the man" and I quit my day job! (Yes, I do enjoy telling people that.) My supervisor and co-workers thought I was crazy to give up the security of a paycheck for the unknown vagaries of the free market, but I knew I was good at retail and I knew the secret of success: Give the customers what they want at a price they are willing to pay in a way that doesn't inconvenience them.I found a good corner, got permission from the owner and started selling military surplus weekdays as well as weekends. Like the weekends my weekday net profit usually exceeded the take home pay of my old day job. When Texas finally repealed the Blue Law in 1985 I foresaw the end of the glory days of Texas flea markets where store owners had for years closed their brick and mortar stores to sell the same items from flea market tables on weekends. Now people would be able to shop in air conditioned malls. Only diehard skinflints and tightwads would continue shopping at flea markets. Penny pinchers were not my chosen customer base so I began looking for a brick and mortar location of my own.The first few days I kept the new store open as long as the customers were coming in the door. That turned out to be midnight in a town where they rolled up the sidewalks at nine every night. I was giving the customers what they wanted at a price they were willing to pay at a time that was convenient to them.About a year later my wife's employer made a huge mistake. NAFTA allowed them to layoff a bunch of their highly skilled US workers and hire a bunch of lower paid workers at a maquiladora across the border in Mexico.It was a big mistake on their part because the lower paid workers produced lower quality merchandise and because by the time they realized their mistake I'd rented a second store, at a carefully chosen second location, and installed my wife as the owner/manager by the time they tried to call her back she'd discovered she liked being her own boss even if it meant working extra hours.We've had a dozen or so competitors over the years. None of them lasted. (I bought out the inventories of two of them for pennies on the dollar. I went into those deals with the mindset that I'd buy only those items I carried and I'd pay less for them than I'd pay my regular sources or I wouldn't buy at all.) Those competitors all picked poor locations, poor product mixes and many of them charged prices that were so high their "sale" prices were still more than my regular everyday prices. I spent many hours tracking down importers and manufacturers so as to be able to offer prices my customers were willing to pay while still doubling* my money. My competitors bought from wholesalers and wondered where the customers were.----------*If you buy a merchandise item for a dollar and resell it for two your gross sale is two dollars i.e. you've doubled your money. However, you have to take one of those dollars and buy another item so you'll have something to sell when you open the store tomorrow. That leaves you with one dollar gross profit.But from that remaining dollar you have to subtract rent or mortgage payment, utilities, insurance, shrinkage, taxes and payroll. Those are more or less fixed expenses. When all the bills are paid you'll have ten cents pure profit left after doubling your dollar. Every penny you subtract from your sale price that cuts into doubling your dollar comes DIRECTLY out of that dime that's left over for you.Fight like hell to avoid selling for a price that's less than double what you paid for an item and if you have to sell (sacrifice) dead merchandise for less than double its cost you'll have to markup some other item(s) to compensate.If you don’t double your money on EVERY sale you don't own a business; you own a job.Yeah, Walmart sells for a few cents over cost and makes up the difference from doubling with volume and velocity, but you AIN'T Walmart.---------After about ten years we were able to build our own stand alone store on our own property and become overnight successes.I refused to advertise in the local daily newspaper because even with their "targeted" sections delivered to certain parts of town I'd have been paying to get my message in front of people who had no interest in what I was selling. I did advertise in one "house organ" newspaper that was aimed 100% at my target audience, but eventually realized that those ads only kept our store name in the minds of customers and reminded them that we had what they wanted. It was word of mouth that brought in most of our new customers. Several times I toyed with the idea of doing early morning (really early like o'dark thirty) radio ads because the rates would have been so low and that was the drive time of my target audience, but somehow it never worked out.After 23 years in business we sold our store to one of our long time employees and retired. I still smile at the number of cars in the parking lot when I drive by in my HUMMER.YEAH BABY ENTREPRENEURIALISM IS WHERE IT'S AT!
As long as we're talking about how to do business:I have a friend, let's call him Alton, who built a wholesale business from scratch to success and sold it to his brother-in-law. No, this isn't another one of those bad brother-in-law jokes. On second thought, maybe it is.Alton started out buying onyx (a colored rock that's soft and easily carved) animals down in Mexico, hauling them across the border and selling them from his van to “travel stores” across the southwest.Travel stores are those roadside purveyors of pralines, purple snow cones and grape soda located alongside long empty stretches of highway that let you use the bathroom in the back of the store in hopes you'll become enamored with the souvenirs located in the front of the store. If you've ever stopped to see “The Thing” you know the kind of place I'm talking about. Alton went through a lot of heavy duty tires hauling all them rocks around.Eventually he switched from self-delivery to UPS and settled into a rented warehouse in an industrial park. That's where I met him. He'd branched out to all manner of souvenir items. If you wanted a couple of pounds of genuine Indian arrowheads (Carved by a genuine Indian – in New Delhi.) Alton's was the place to come. He mentored me as I grew my surplus business from flea market stand, to flea market stands, to quitting the day job and opening a roadside stand, to a leased storefront, to two leased stores, to a my own stand alone building on my own property. By then Alton had already done the same and had built his wholesale business up to the point where he was ready to retire. (In his forties!)About the same time I put my company name on the building I'd had built to sell my OD treasures Alton sold his thriving business, the building and the land it stood on to his brother-in-law (let's call him Bob) and retired. Alton stayed around for a few months to show Bob how to use the five by eight cards he used for contacting customers and other ins and outs of the business before going into full retirement and leaving town.To understand the magnitude of the mistakes made next requires some background. For one thing, Alton had two secret weapons.Remember, Alton was a wholesaler selling to retailers so if the fright for a few dozen onyx animals and a “Real Japanese Samurai Sword (made in China)" came to ten dollars Alton would throw in something extra which he normally sold for five dollars. Ma & Pa's Travel Store & Culinary Castle Of Corndogs could then keystone the item and retail it for ten dollars thus achieving “free” freight. The cost to Alton was less than five dollars (remember he normally sold the item for five dollars) and grateful travel stores across the country took Alton's “free freight” into account when deciding who to place orders with.Alton had also established accounts with three of the big names in travel stores. Companies the size of “Running Indian” and “Stuckey's” (although not necessarily those companies) regularly placed large orders with Alton.Once he was in control, brother-in-law Bob promptly discontinued Alton's free freight incentive (and a few small customers). He also transferred Alton's sales cards to computer files. However, he didn't bother to type in all the data Alton had accumulated on those cards before throwing them away!Those cards were Alton's other secret weapon. Each card had the customer company's name, address, phone number and Point Of Contact (the only information the brother-in-law bothered to transfer) along with names of the POC's spouse and other “friendly” information Alton used to soften up the customer's sales resistance during a sales call.But the most important data that didn't get transferred to the database was Alton's notes on what that particular customer had bought from Alton. Shish Kabob Bob's (“The World Famous Home of Rattlesnake On a Stick®”) didn't have to worry about running out of Rattlesnake Eggs (Yes, Alton actually sold them, although they aren't what you think.) because Alton would ask if he needed any more during his monthly “visit” with that customer. When he'd finished updating a customer's inventory Alton would ask if Pinnacle Pete's Porcupine Palace & Petting Zoo would like to try some of the “new” novelties or “hot” fad items “just in” this week. It was a long laborious process, but any salesman will tell you you're lucky to make a sale on ten percent of sales calls. Alton did better than ten percent, much better.Nope, brother-in-law Bob threw all that info away and sat back waiting for customers to call orders in to him. Alton's “free freight” had made his company stand out in the minds of the small travel stores. Without it and in the absence of regular sales calls more small customers drifted away.Then there were the three big travel store chains, remember them? Bob managed to alienate all three of them. One called about a broken covered wagon and was told to glue it back together. Another had a similar experience and I don't recall why the third member of the big three stopped buying from Bob. When Bob finally called Alton and told him he wouldn't be able to make the payments on the business and the building Alton came back into town and tried to patch things up with the big spenders. He managed to talk two of them into ordering again but the third was so pissed off he refused to buy from the company as long as Bob was there. Alton probably could have helped promote sales with the smaller travel stores too, if he'd had anything to work with, but it had been years and all that “useless” data had long ago been flushed from the system. One incident from that time period illustrates why Bob's business was in a tailspin. After the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers there was a tremendous upsurge in patriotism in this country.American flags were gold (we sold out in a day) and nobody had any. I'd stayed with Alton's old company, for the items I'd bought from him, as much out of laziness as loyalty to a departed friend. But, when I couldn't get any American flags from Bob I dug into my trade journals trying to find another vender. It was the same everywhere. Wholesaler's stocks had flown out the door in a day and it would be weeks before manufacturers could gear up to the new demand. I passed the information on to would be customers and watched lost sales walk out the door.But Bob believed (giving him the benefit of a doubt here) importers claims that boat loads of flags were just days away and pre-sold flags to, among others, a guy I know who then “sold” a large number of the flags, and the promise of imminent delivery, to a government entity.Weeks later, when the flags finally arrived the importer had placed a premium on them. Rather than eat the small price increase on merchandise he'd failed to deliver on time, Bob told the guy the flags would be more than the agreed upon price. The guy went ballistic and swore he'd never buy Bob's merchandise again, none of it, not any of it, never ever again!Going to the guy's shop and apologizing profusely for something he wasn't responsible for, Alton managed to talk this guy too into agreeing to at least give Bob another chance. It's a testament to Alton's salesmanship that he was able to repair so much of Bob's self inflicted damage in such a short time. Having done as much as he could, Alton returned to retirement.Fast forward and I had a new (to me) freight scale, 2,800 high quality American flag pins, a few dozen flags, 71 woodland camo bandanas and assorted other goodies sitting in my store. All purchased for pennies on the dollar at the court ordered bankruptcy sale of Bob's business.
Isn't "a B.A. in a useful field" a contradiction in terms, since all the jobs are in science, math and engineering (which are associated with a B.S. degree)?Not really - I got a B.A. in math. It was what my school offered (don't ask me why).
It's the acceptance of elitist attitudes like that that keep people from starting their own businesses.That is a good thing for the vast majority of them. The majority of businesses fail, and people who today start businesses are likely better suited, on average, to run businesses than those who don't.
As long as we're talking about how to do business:I had a programming co-worker that loved music. He played the sax in several jazz groups.At one point, he decided to become an independent contract programmer, so he could spend more time on his music.Hah!He ended up spending 60-80 hours per week programming, and ended up on several "preferred vendor" lists, including companies like 3M. He didn't dare turn down a contract, or the customer would never come back to him.So, he started farming out projects to other programmers he knew. I did one of them myself, for 3M (in the very building my dad worked!).After a few years, he had a number of programmers working regularly for him, and was spending more than 40 hours per week on administration duties. And having almost NO time for his music.At that point, he got bought out by a temp agency, for several million in cash, PLUS several million worth of shares in the main company.I never did hear much from him after that.
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