Why I’m here

I can’t tell you why you’re here, but I can tell you why I’m here.

I’ve been writing in a journal for years now. Not entirely consistently, but enough to create a life story out of a few thousand pages of musings, stories and remembrances. I had been doing most of my writing on a tiny netbook — those little bargain laptops that are so stripped down that they are only good for word processing and checking email. (They may be weak, but damn, they’re convenient!) I used mine as a replacement for the Continue reading

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Beware of Rumors

Truth-Is-Full-Of-LiesLast week I purchased a couple of Monster Rehab energy drinks at a local grocery (they’re so yummy) . The lady who worked the register where I checked out noticed my beverage choice and told me that her grandson goes to school in Antioch, Tennessee and last year his best friend’s heart exploded from drinking just one can of Monster. And he got it from the school vending machine. My initial response (in my head, of course) was “No Way! That can’t be real. I would have heard about that.” But I was curious, so I asked more questions. She was adamant and consistent with the details, so when I got home, I looked it up. And I looked it up again today to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I’ve searched and searched, but there is only one instance of a kid dying from a caffeine overdose in the US and he lived in South Carolina (and he had coffee, Mountain Dew and all kinds of caffeine within just a couple of hours).


his best friend’s heart exploded from drinking just one can of Monster


Now, I’m not defending energy drinks. I know caffeine, sodas and energy drinks are not good for you, and excessive amounts can cause serious health conditions… especially in people with preexisting heart issues. But, that’s actually not my point. My point is that this sweet lady believed the story she told me. She believed it so much that she felt it her responsibility to give me a little “heads-up” about my purchase. And I appreciated that. After all, she’s a very nice lady. But in doing so, she inadvertently perpetuated a falsehood. And the next person she tells might not do the research and might believe her every word. And then that person might pass on that information and before you know it, an urban legend is born.

That’s what’s happening in our media and social media today. There is too much false information being accepted and repeated by so many people who don’t check it out first. It doesn’t take much to verify what someone says on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere else. You’re already online. Take a few seconds and look it up. That’s what I did and that’s what I try to do now. I repeated rumors in the past and was humbled and embarrassed after I found out the information I was sharing was incorrect. So, now I do my research. If I can find the same story from three unrelated and reputable sources, then I’ll presume it must be true (at least until new information is presented). I think we’d be able to avoid a lot of confrontation and get along better both online and in person if we double-check our sources before we start repeating stories.

In this case, our example is a likely unhealthy product of a giant corporation that may not give a crap about you and your heart (and by the way, this is where our own personal responsibility should kick in), but the principles are the same. The cashier at the grocery was spreading a rumor in an effort to be helpful, but if she’s not checking the facts on an alleged death close to home, then she surely isn’t going to check on anything else. And I’m afraid that’s where a lot of us sit today. We take in information and spit it right back out without checking to see if it’s true.

Dad always warned us about spreading rumors.

(Now, if it someone finds proof that this kid in Tennessee did actually die from drinking one Monster drink, please send it to me. I’ll retract this post, share the news and stop drinking energy drinks immediately.)

You lowered your prices AGAIN?!!

Stand up and do it right.
There are a lot of ways to compete in business, but lowering your prices is NOT one of them.

In fact, the Price Wars phenomenon is one of the key problems that is killing our economy and our standard of living.

Small businesses and self-employed business owners are notorious for competing on a price-only level and are therefore just as guilty as big banks and corporations are for helping ruin our economy.

Why?

Lowest-price competition is training the public to expect low prices. And consumers will almost always accept lower quality for lower prices. That produces a cycle of consumerism where we shop based on price alone. People don’t spend as much, so businesses don’t make as much. Businesses don’t make as much, so they can’t pay their employees or suppliers as much. Now those employees and suppliers don’t make as much, so they can’t spend as much. They cut back on their own expenses. Now the businesses they frequented aren’t making as much so they have to cut back… and the cycle grows.

Eventually, prices drop so low that the companies have to shut down. When that happens, all of those people who once had jobs are now out in the workforce looking for jobs and accepting even less just to be able to work. They get hired, make less money, struggle to make ends meet, and work themselves to death as their quality of life declines. They spend less and their spending affects the businesses they frequent. As those businesses start to lose money, they make cutbacks. And the cycle grows even larger. And this cycle spins in only one direction… down.

Most of us already know this and understand it. But what can we do about it? We all want to pay less (see, we’re already trained).

I have one idea. And it’s very simple, but also very difficult to do…

Pay what something is worth. That’s it, that’s all.

And for businesses, that means CHARGING what you’re worth.

Basic business strategy tells us how to do just that… You need to know how much to charge to cover your expenses AND make a living. But there is more to it. You also have to know how much YOU would personally pay for that same product or service if you weren’t the one providing it. That’s how you determine a fair price. It’s a simple concept, but not always easy. However, that’s how it HAS to work, if it is to work at all.

If you are in competition with another business and they charge less than you do for the exact same product or service, then they are likely making sacrifices just to get the business. And, while some sacrifices are necessary, many are not. Outsourcing jobs, finding cheaper materials, working longer hours for the same pay… it all saves money up front, but it will all kill a business in the long term. Cutting prices only encourages people to seek out cheaper prices. And cheaper prices ultimately mean reduced quality (of products and of Life). We should not have to suffer and struggle if we are providing a good product/service at a truly fair price.

Granted, the foundation of our economy is debt-based and will always be unstable, but our economy THRIVES on competition and the small businesses are no longer competing. They are giving up. They are giving up by reducing their prices to the point that they can no longer make a viable living. Somewhere, someone will ALWAYS be willing to do what you do for less just to get the business. But what they don’t realize is that they are killing their own future. By making it clear up front that they will charge less than the competition, their customers will always expect them to charge less and they will never be able to justify being paid what they are actually worth. They will continue to struggle and work twice as hard for half as much. They will always be in debt and they will always be chasing the next dollar. They will never “catch up”.

The reason this is important is because low-price competition trains the public to expect to pay less. By continuing to lower your prices, you are not simply meeting consumer demands… you are affecting consumer behavior… in the wrong direction.

Charge what the product or service is actually worth. It will be tough, but well worth it in the long run. You won’t be damaging your future and, more importantly, you won’t be harming your industry. Stand up and do it right.

Want another opinion? Read what the Harvard Business Review has to say on the subject: https://hbr.org/2000/03/how-to-fight-a-price-war

New blog

Do you get pissed when other drivers do something stupid? Do you wish there were a way to let them (and others) know how stupid those people are?

BadDrivers_20141014_0005BadDrivers_20141015_0007  BadDrivers_20141015_0014 BadDrivers_20141015_0024

Well, after a little therapeutic venting, I came upon the idea to take photos of these idiots and share them and their brilliant moves with the world. (Don’t worry, faces and license tags will be obscured to protect the stupid.)

http://drivemuch.wordpress.com/

I know it’s not an original idea, but I didn’t do it to be original. I did it to help with my own personal demons when I’m behind the wheel. And, you know what? It helps. And it’s fun. So, there! 😛

Anyway, take a peek, share your experiences and drive safely.

changes

I don’t know what happened to my list of links and favorites, but I’ll figure it out and get it back up soon. There are a lot of friends and colleagues that have played parts in the development of my career and that link list is a tiny way of saying “Thank You.”

One of those colleagues is Bill Green. Bill is the guy who did my banner image. That is a shot from the 2010 Carbon Neutral Expedition (Bill and Nathan Hindman’s rig is the Bio Bonatti Defender 110 bringing up the rear). Thanks Bill!

http://williamgreenphotography.com

It pays to get up early

This morning, I was up at 6:30 to catch a perfect sunrise over the venerated Chattanooga Golf & Country Club in East Tennessee. But, I wasn’t there for the stunning course photos. I was there to photograph the beautiful and talented Whitney Noonan. Here’s a sneak peek at one of the unedited proofs…

 © 2014 Holt Webb

© 2014 Holt Webb

FREE MONEY!

(But not for you)

How you may be giving your health insurance company money for NOT covering you.health insurance is unethical

Frankie had health insurance. Frankie is a good family man and has had health insurance for his family with the same company for years. His youngest daughter, Amy, has diabetes and Frankie’s health insurance covers her medication.

One month, Frankie is late on a payment. He sent it in, but it just didn’t arrive in time. Frankie worried about that and called to make sure they knew it was coming. He was told that they would look for it, but would not process it if it arrived later than the due date. Frankie kept his fingers crossed. A month went by, but he never received any notices, reminders, phone calls or emails about it, so he assumed everything was okay. Then, as he’s reconciling his checkbook, he notices that his insurance check still had not been cashed. Concerned, Frankie looked through that day’s stack of mail and found a letter from his insurance company. It told him that his coverage was cancelled. He didn’t know it, but they had cancelled it the day his payment was late. They didn’t give him a grace period, they didn’t give him a courtesy call to make a payment over the phone. They just cancelled his family’s health insurance policy and didn’t tell him about it for an entire month.

Last month Frankie took the kids rock climbing. With a surprising shock, he thought, “What if one of them had gotten hurt? We wouldn’t be able to help her.”

As soon as Frankie got the cancellation notice, he called the insurance company. They told him they would reinstate him, but he has to pay for the missing month.

Yes. You read that correctly. Frankie had to pay a month of full coverage for the month that his family had no coverage. In order to get insurance for his family again, Frankie had to pay the insurance company the full amount for the month that the insurance company refused coverage.

Confused and upset, Frankie called an attorney friend. They referred him to the Department of Consumer Affairs. The Department of Consumer Affairs told him that it was no violation of the Insurance Code for an Insurance company to force a customer to pay the back premiums prior to reinstatement. If your coverage lapses, they told him, and you reinstate coverage, you must pay for the months that you were not covered.

Frankie was furious. But there was absolutely nothing at all that he could do. He took it to the highest levels of the governing body itself and was turned away. In order to get health insurance for his family again, Frankie had to give his insurance company Two payments of $547… one for the current month and one for last month when he didn’t have any coverage. $547 for not being covered. That’s like paying for a month of electricity when the power was out the whole time.

This is a story that has been heard all over the country for years. Brokers and agents all know about it. The Department of Insurance Consumer Affairs (who is supposed to be protecting the consumer) even condones it! Apparently it is legal and acceptable to charge a customer Back Premiums for coverage that was never provided before any agency will reinstate that customer’s insurance.

I believe that being covered by health insurance is a good thing. And I’m glad our government is trying to fix the problems that plague our health care system.
But being FORCED to have health insurance, and being FORCED to pay for months you aren’t covered is not what I call “fixing it”. It is completely and utterly wrong.

Now… how do we make this right?

The Beast goes for a swim

Yesterday, I took the Defender out to Windrock Park, TN.

It used to be called The Greasy Beast when it ran on used veggie oil. Now it has a Chevy LT1 V8 and runs on gas. But it’s still a Beast!

This image was taken on the top of the old coal strip mine at Windrock.Defender90BW_2

Because The Beast is my daily driver, I didn’t take it out on the “difficult” trails. Call me crazy, but I wanted to make sure I could get home. 😉

So, I stuck primarily to the “intermediate” trails. (I really wish WordPress would allow me to post videos, but until they do, I’ll have to take you to my website for the show.) The link below will take you to a video clip from one of those trails.

http://www.holtwebb.photography/p606362383/h20C2DB0E#h20c2db0e