REPOST: It’s time to build skill sets for the future

In his blog on the Business Daily, former Ministry of Information and Communication (Kenya) Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo argues that low skill level workers must start developing new skill sets designed to adapt with growing trends and major disruptions such as Big Data, the Internet of Things, and Artificial Intelligence. This way, job losses as a result of digitization can be mitigated. Read more:

I travelled to Ottawa, Canada, last week to attend a workshop sponsored by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The workshop’s theme was ‘‘Digitization and the Future of Work: Building a development-oriented research agenda.’’

Some of the questions that the workshop sought to address included: How will the automation of work impact emerging countries? What are the sources of learning that can be relied upon to support future jobs? How can governments prepare their citizens to thrive amidst this changing nature of work? And how can the Global South leverage digital entrepreneurship?

These are hard questions policy makers must contend with. It is dreadful to imagine a future without work in countries where majority of the citizens are aged below 30. Already, many of the developing countries are experiencing high unemployment rates. Yet the pace of technological change threatens to send many more people out of work. Many of the jobs today will be redundant in less than 10 years since the world of work is being reshaped faster than we have ever imagined before.

In 2014, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates said: “Software substitution, whether it’s for drivers or waiters or nurses … it’s progressing. … Technology over time will reduce demand for jobs, particularly at the lower end of skill set. … 20 years from now, labour demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower. I don’t think people have that in their mental model.”

Barely three years later, there are driverless cars dotting the roads in the city of Pittsburgh. Gates may have overestimated the period it would take for labour demand to be substantially lower, but he was right to state that we don’t have that in our mental model yet.

If we did, we would be thinking about the skill set we need for the future. As it stands now, more than 85 per cent of the routine work in most developing countries will disappear. As the cost of automation drops, cheap labour is no longer a competitive advantage. The argument that developing countries can still buy time has no ground. The problem with developing countries is magnified further by the fact that the millennials shun artisanal work.

Many village polytechnics built to develop technical skills are empty. Yet in most of these countries you cannot find a competent plumber or carpenter. These are skills that have not been automated, but can guarantee employment for some time before the computers catch up in this area.

 

Continue reading on this PAGE.

 

The knowledge economy and its driving forces

Image source: aim.com.au

Man’s endless search to improve our way of life has driven different revolutions that have proven to not only expand our understanding of the world but also define a whole new future for generations and generations to come. In the age of information, the economy of the world shifted from largely agrarian systems towards a demand of ideas and how they can shape global innovations through an inexhaustible resource derived from the “human capital,” the knowledge economy.

Knowledge economy recognizes the role of education and knowledge as essentially productive assets to produce more innovative products and services across the globalized worlds of business, manufacturing, trading, and many other economic sectors.  The main purpose of knowledge economy is to create an interconnection where sources of knowledge such as human expertise and trade secrets can be utilized to boost economic growth.

Image source: eir.co.uk

Several studies have suggested that there are different driving forces responsible in fueling this kind of economy that are changing the game in business especially in terms global competitiveness. Globalization is a big word in today’s business and it is one of the forces that drive knowledge-based economies around the world. For instance, today’s products and markets are now global in nature, making goods popular not only in their home countries but also across continents—and this is where the reliance on information proves to be important.

Efficient production for millions of manufacturing and software companies have to embrace knowledge-based resources to respond to a global demand of products and services. Thus, they turn to information workers to do the job with great efficiency and accuracy. Several developments in the information and technology sector have made this system possible. Through networking and fast connectivity via the Internet, the ‘global village’ found a more effective and faster way to do things together.

The end result of these forces working together enabled supplies to be developed, manufactured, distributed and sold whether physically or electronically to every part of the globe.

REPOST: How to Become a Traveling Nomad Entrepreneur in 5 Steps

Unlike expatriates, many digital entrepreneurs—such as travel bloggers and webmasters—do business in several locations within a given span of time. They are called ‘nomadic entrepreneurs,’ and the advent of the Internet and mobile devices has made this business lifestyle very plausible. To them, the workplace is anywhere, as long as there is Internet connection and electricity. Here’s an article from Income Diary on how to start a nomadic entrepreneurial endeavor:

Imagine visiting a new town every day, skipping from one country to another over the course of a few weeks.

Sounds like an ideal vacation… but it’s an even-better job.

More and more people are making the decision to become a location-independent, traveling entrepreneur. Below I’ll walk you through how to become a “digital nomad” in five steps.

 

#1 Save up Money

Before you jump out of an airplane, you strap on a parachute. Before you hop on the nomad trail, you make sure that you have some cash saved up so that you can ride out the rough patches.

“Put your head down and put away some money,” advises Matt Wilson (Under 30 CEO). He continues, “You need some savings… as a buffer if you are going to make a long-term habit of living outside of the United States.”

 

How much Money Should You Save?

The answer depends on (A) the cost of living per month where you’re going, (B) the cost of travel to/from this location, and (C) how much your willing to go without luxury and security. You’ll also want to consider the travel cost of renewing your visa every 30, 60, or 90 days.

Let’s say I want to begin my nomad life in Costa Rica. I’m going to need at least enough money for the flight to and from Denver (about $600). Then I’ll need about $500 for the first month of food, lodging, wifi, and bus fare. Then it’s just a matter of how much I would want for luxuries (about $100) and a “rainy day fund” (let’s say $2800).

For this example, I would save up $4000 before buying my ticket to San Jose. Depending on where you’re at in life, that may seem like a fortune or chump change.

Given the risk of your laptop breaking, you needing medical attention, or your best friend getting married back home… it’s always a good idea to save up more money than you think you’ll need.

 

…or Don’t

“Leap and the net will appear.” -Zen saying

Like to take risks? Thrive under pressure?

If so, you don’t have to save up much money before you start. John Bardos of Jet Set Citizen had just $1000 dollars to his name when he arrived in Japan and began his life as a nomadic entrepreneur. Bardos hit the ground running and never looked back. He says, “It was easy because I had nothing to lose.”

Not having a financial safety net will motivate you to succeed, since you won’t have any other choice. Still, I recommend you have at least enough money for one month’s rent and transportation to get home at all times.

 

#2 Get the Essentials

Some items are no-brainers. If you’re a photographer, obviously you’re going to need your camera. Most everyone is going to need a laptop and a padded bag for it. Of course, you won’t forget your toothbrush.

Here are some essential items and resources that you may not have thought of:

External GPRS/EDGE/3G USB Modem

 

These little doodads plug into a USB port and turn a cell phone data network into an Internet connection. This vastly expands the number of locations you’ll be able to work while traveling.

 

Theft Protection Software

For most digital nomads, their laptop is their livelihood. But the value of electronic devices also makes them attractive to thieves.

If your laptop, tablet, or smart phone is ever stolen or misplaced while traveling you’re going to wish you had a way of locating it remotely. Prey anti-theft software is just that. Registering up to three devices is free and it only takes a couple minutes.

 

Online Backup

Services like Mozy offer regular cloud-based backups in case anything goes awry. For one computer, it can cost as little as $5.99 per month (about $72 per year).

 

External Hard Drive

As a video producer, my work eats up Gigabytes like PacMan eats dots. For me, an external hard drive is the cost of doing business.

But even if you don’t need an external hard drive for the storage, you should have one for a backup. Online backups are great, but you won’t always have access to a consistent, high-speed Internet connection.

You can pick up a 1TB external hard drive for under $100.

 

Pocket Notebook

When you’re hiking the Himalayas, you may not have your laptop handy. Ditto for when you’re laying on the beach.

But those are both times when you’re likely to feel inspired and creative. Always have a notebook on you and you’ll always be able to catch lightning in a bottle for your business – even when it strikes in the most remote of places.

 

A Grasp of the Language

A few important phrases in the native language goes a long way. I’ve personally used DuoLingo to sharpen up my Spanish. It’s amazingly robust (and free!) language learning software.

Unless you’re fluent, pick up a travel-sized phrasebook. Once you’ve settled in, look around for a tutor. One-on-one lessons are highly effective and may be surprisingly inexpensive.

 

Eliminate the Unnecessary

I just listed some of the things you’ll need to have as a digital nomad, but the list of things that you’ll need to lose is even longer. It’s important to travel light. You’ll probably have to shed the majority of your possessions unless you’ve got some generous friends/family with a big garage.

 

Continue reading HERE.

 

 

E-commerce is changing business models: Is your company ready?

The search for convenience has led the world to innovate and even make a once impossible future a reality. One concrete example is how the Internet made it easy for everyone on the planet to connect and interact even from miles away with just a click of a button.

In order to take advantage of this limitless connectivity, business managers and entrepreneurs have found a need to conceptualize new and updated business models that would satisfy a new generation of customers in their constant demand for products and services—from the comforts of their home.

 

Finding economic refuge in a digital environment

Image source: willemisbrucker.com

E-commerce has increased the ability of an organization, big or small, to claim a vast outreach and attract millions of customers around the globe. Since it is still in its early stages, old companies may try to integrate their old business methods with new marketing strategies suited for an online marketplace.

The opposite applies to startups who can just start from scratch and figure out more effective ways of introducing their products and services by abandoning traditional marketing methods and taking risks in trying out new and more updated business styles.

E-commerce’s single most lucrative segment is the online retail sector, which is dominated by the sale of consumer electronics, apparel, and personal accessories. As reported by the U.S. Commerce Department, U.S. online retail sales during 2013 totaled roughly $262 billion. By 2016, this figure had grown to $395 billion, an increase of 15.6 percent over the prior year.

 

On meeting quotas and staying competitive

Image source: adobe.com

However, electronic commerce may have led to more effective ways of providing goods and services but the challenges that businesses face have also become more complex especially when it comes to reaching quotas and managing competition. Nowadays, one’s failure or success will always depend on how one is able to actively respond to customers’ demands and consistently keep positive reviews in order to build a credible online reputation.

Product-oriented businesses are now a thing in the past as customer-centric practices have been proven to fare well in this new environment. For instance, managers have to understand the needs of the customers as well as their buying behavior by utilizing data from online platforms such as social networking sites.

Perhaps, as a business owner, the most important question that you should ask yourself is: are you ready?

Reversing paralysis: A new breakthrough in medical science

Stroke is one of the most prevalent medical conditions that affects a sizable portion of the world population. It is one of the leading causes of death and disability, which can easily translate to financial catastrophe on the part of the patients and their families. Risk factors such as smoking, obesity, and an unhealthy lifestyle lead to its development. Modern lifestyle isn’t helping curb the chance for this debilitating condition either. One of the dreaded complications of the disease is unilateral paralysis, most commonly in the face. When hemiplegia strikes, there is no escaping it. This will certainly hinder a person’s activities of daily living.

 

Image source: amsvans.com

 

Scientists are determined to reverse the occurrence of such complication. A French neuroscientist had the idea of installing a recording chip inside the skull of a monkey who was suffering from right leg paralysis due to his spinal cord being cut halfway with a scalpel. Another set of electrodes are then attached to the spinal cord below the site of injury. The result is a device which would read the monkey’s intention to walk thereby transmitting that desire as electrical signals into the end organ.

 

Image source: pharmaphorum.com

 

Throughout the experiments that Grégoire Courtine and his colleagues have done, it seems that they are actually gaining a lot of progress. Initially, they have observed minimal movement in the affected limb. The specimen then extended and flexed his leg, hobbling forward in the process. The monkey’s thoughts of wanting to move made him able to walk again. There is still a lot of time before it can be used for human trials. It may even take as much as 20 years before it becomes operational, but the technology is showing a lot of promise.

 

Image source: christopherreeve.org

 

Within the healthcare and medical sector, plenty of breakthroughs are being made year after year. The aforesaid is just one of them, and many governments, private organizations, non-profits, and R&D institutions are spending billions of dollars every year to bring more medical innovations, and consequently, improve the quality of life. This makes the industry not only a beacon of hope for humanity, but also an attractive investment opportunity for investors, businesses, and even ordinary workers. Healthcare and medical stocks for example, are staple components of many portfolios. For financial institutions like LOM Asset Management, Bloomberg, and the Wall Street, the sector could be just as essential and profitable as other tech industries such as telecommunications and semiconductors.

 

REPOST: 7 Ways Entrepreneurship Helps You Be a Better… Anything

Entrepreneurship teaches one to learn and master several key skills that he or she may eventually use in other fields of endeavor. Here is an article from ENTREPRENEUR which explains how such skills can help one become a much more well-rounded person.

Whether you ultimately decide to be a poet, salesperson, scholar, chef or anything in between, entrepreneurship can give you the skills that will improve your chances of success.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

For some people, entrepreneurship is a way of life. Creating something new and leading a team is living the dream, and a destination in its own right. For others, it’s only a means to an end, or might even be considered a detour en route to even bigger and better things.

If you’re struggling with the notion of entrepreneurship, seeing the appeal but either fearing the risk or recognizing that it’s not your ultimate goal, think carefully about your options. Entrepreneurship isn’t just about making a lot of money or leading a company to greatness. In fact, the experience of entrepreneurship can make you better at . . . well, almost anything you can think of.

How? Here are seven ways.

  1. Critical thinking

There’s no application that doesn’t demand at least some level of critical thinking. Being able to spot and compensate for your own biases, analyze the roots of various problems and discover alternative perspectives on certain subjects can help you address issues more thoroughly, and make smarter plans for future development.

In the professional world, this means being more efficient and seeing better results. In your personal life, it may mean better understanding your relationships and identifying key areas for personal improvement.

  1. Creativity

Entrepreneurship also forces you to be creative. While you can’t force creativity, you can practice it — and the more time you spend generating creative thoughts, the better and faster you’ll be at doing it in a practical environment. How you apply that creativity is entirely up to you.

It could help you in a creative hobby, like painting or photography, or give you fuel for professional visions like marketing campaigns — or maybe even another business in the future.

  1. Adversity

Entrepreneurship is rife with hard times. The strategies you thought were brilliant (and, hypothetically, perfect) may not work nearly as well as you thought they would, or you may reach a point where your finances are stretched so thin that you have to consider closing up shop.

Though times of adversity and failure will test your patience and fill your life with stress, they’ll also teach you valuable lessons about the nature of challenges and hardship. You’ll learn that failure is only temporary, and you’ll grow more confident — not to mention, likely to stop worrying about the smaller problems you face in everyday life.

  1. Independence

As the founder of a business, you’ll be in charge of all the decisions. You’re the ultimate source for accountability, and you’re the one who makes the rules. At first, this will be both exciting and intimidating, but as you become more familiar with your role, you’ll start to accept that level of independence and direction as fundamental to your being.

After you gain some experience, you’ll be more decisive and confident, and less dependent on others, which will be beneficial no matter what you do afterward.

  1. Management

It doesn’t take long to realize how much entrepreneurship demands. You’ll be spending countless hours working on your ideas, and managing full teams of people (not to mention partner, vendor and client relationships).

In some ways, entrepreneurship can be seen as a juggling act. In others, it’s a game of micro-economics, demanding that you work with limited resources, like time, to gain the greatest value for the money you put in. In any case, entrepreneurship teaches you the fundamentals of management, which makes you a better decision-maker, better planner and better allocator of resources. There’s no downside to these benefits.

  1. Personal branding

Spending time at the helm of your company, you’ll have the chance to develop your personal brand. You’ll get some press coverage as the “face” of your organization, you’ll attract more followers to your social accounts and you’ll likely have the opportunity to publish more content under your name.

All of this can be used in the future to build your resume, help you stand out from the crowd and prove your expertise in at least one niche.

  1. Connections

Even if you don’t consider yourself a social butterfly, you’ll gain from adding connections to your network. Entrepreneurship gives you a good excuse to find and retain those connections. You’ll have greater access to employers, mentors, employees and teachers, but also hobbyists and specialists, whom you may call upon for personal projects, as well. Just be sure to keep in touch even after your stint as entrepreneur.

No matter what other goals you have in life — whether you want to be a poet, salesperson, scholar, chef or anything in between — entrepreneurship can give you the skills that will improve your chances of success in your professional life.

Entrepreneurship is an unparalleled experience that offers a diverse range of opportunities for improvement, opportunities that are accessible to just about anyone. If you have the ideas and the motivation to back you, I highly recommend it, and even if you fail, you’ll come out better for it.

The Podcast Network (Finance,Business & Investment Podcasts)

Hi guys!  So okay I’m planning to do this podcast network about business, finance and accounting.  Right now I’m just trying to get as many suggestions as I can about what interests listeners and what needs have yet to be filled in this market niche.

For now, these are my ideas:

  1. Basic accounting podcasts. Undergraduates or those doing their MBAs can listen to these podcasts during their dead time or when they can’t handle reading their accounting books anymore.  I don’t think you should discuss journal entries that much though. It would be hard to picture the entries and it might get all confusing. Like, imagine two people screaming at each other over which account to debit and which account to credit. That’s crazy.  Or maybe boring for some.  Me, I like it.    Maybe just simple issues like, what is the rationale behind accounts receivable aging? How is it to be used when analyzing the effectivity of a company’s billing and collections process? Something like that.

 

  1. Advanced accounting podcasts. Those in their third or fourth year of college would be interested in advanced accounting.  Here, maybe, we could discuss real life examples of mergers and consolidations.  Like, current business news about a buy-in or a divestment and how that ought to reflect in the books of the companies involved.  Take for example, Microsoft’s $100 million investment in Uber.  How would that reflect in Uber’s books?  How would that reflect in Microsoft’s books?  Will it require consolidated financial statements or not?  That kind of stuff.

 

  1. Finance podcasts. Maybe here we can also delve in real life M&As and current business news but this time we’re going to focus more on the finance aspect of the business transactions. Like how did Microsoft value Uber when it infused the $100Mn?  What assets in Uber’s balance sheet got a good appraisal value? Which ones were written off?  How did they value intangibles?  What is Microsoft’s internal rate of return for Uber?  What interest rate did it use to discount the cash flows?  How much in revenues were projected for the ten-year horizon they were looking into?

uber

  1. Accounting Software podcasts. Here we can discuss the basic computerized accounting systems used by businesses – like Quickbooks, Xero or SAP.  Cloud accounting and any other new developments in technology that are affecting businesses – like in their remittances and billing systems would also fall under this group of podcasts.

 

  1. Business Law podcasts. Corporate lawyers can discuss basic concepts in business law as well as any changes forthcoming.  Definitely, there should be real life business scenarios being discussed here.  Even current business news wherein a certain principle in business law would apply. There’s bound to be a lot of gray areas here and there’s going to be a lot of room for debate and discussion.

 

  1. Career podcasts. This should help a lot of people since everyone wants to find a good job and stay ahead in their field.  We can talk about basic things like how to make your resume stand out, how to prepare for an interview, what are the most likely questions to be asked in an interview and how you’re supposed to answer, how to dress sharp, things like that.  We can also discuss salaries and what pays the most, where the most job vacancies are and maybe where the most promising areas in business and industry are right now.

 

  1. Millionaire secrets. This one can focus on personal finance and maybe we can get to interview famous people, or even just your neighbor with the simple house you didn’t know was a millionaire.  Everyone want to know how they can become rich.  A lot even want to know just how they can get themselves out of debt.  So maybe we can also get some personal finance “gurus” to discuss those things.

 

  1. Taxation podcasts. We can get a lawyer to discuss tax laws and the IRS’ implementing rules and regulations.  There are changes every year so this proves helpful to a lot of people and businesses especially as they prepare for tax filing season.

 

  1. Financial Reporting podcasts. This would focus on the preparation of financial reports for management accounting as well as for filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The topics should cater to both small and medium scale enterprises and Fortune 500 companies.  We can get one filing of a listed company, for example, and dissect it to show how the relevant portions illustrate the proper way to do your financial reports.

So those are all the ideas I have for now.  I need more so if you have any suggestions though, head to LOM, a financial services company I recommend if you are looking to invest…

Movie Review: The Scam versus Wolf of Wall Street

A bit off topic, but there’s this really cool Korean movie I watched the other night called “The Scam.” If you really want to find a movie that shows you how insider trading and stock rigging takes place, this is the one you want to watch.

I think, when it comes to detailing how a pump and dump operation is executed, The Scam is definitely much better than “Wolf of Wall Street.”  Much of the wrong deeds the Wolf confesses too are nothing but kindergarten crap compared to the real gangsta stuff you see in The Scam.

I don’t know, I guess it’s probably because Jonathan Belfort is an actual real life person who still wants another chance at life.  So he really wouldn’t want to admit to anything he hasn’t been charged guilty of yet, right? I mean, I don’t want to accuse the man though.

Wolf of Wall street focuses too much on the sex and drugs and side issues like money laundering. Maybe those things sell better in Hollywood. Yet even if the movie was really long, all that time, I didn’t get any emotional attachment to the characters.

But with The Scam, you begin to feel for the lead character Hyeun-Soo, right at the start.  He’s a small retail investor who trades online and loses whatever small capital he has from trades gone wrong.  That moment when he stands on the edge of a bridge and he’s just about to jump, that is real.

The Scam

Through the years that I’ve worked in the stock market, I’ve encountered those instances where I hear about this trader who’s a friend of a friend, who jumps off this or that building because he has a margin call on a couple million he can’t pay, or this sales head who shoots himself in the chest because he owes his brokerage big time. That kind of stuff.

I literally started worrying about some people I know when I was watching the movie.    It just hit me that some of them might actually be planning on killing themselves over their stock market woes and maybe I should pause the movie first and give them a call.  Yes, the misery in that movie was that real.  Okay, for the record, please don’t think that I am actually “my friend” and that I might be planning to kill myself.  I know how to cut my losses early on.  I have very tight stop losses when I trade.  So don’t worry. (They say Iive by the tenet of POP COLA. Prolong our Profits, Cut our Losses Aggressively).

Anyway, so when I was watching The Scam, I could really feel the energy of the stock market.  To think that it was just online trades they did there.  You didn’t even see anyone on the trading floor!  But the way they sat in front of their monitors, fingers tapping, waiting for the opening bell, before they executed their scheme.  The way they correlated charts and timing and emotions and a trigger finger, you can really feel the suspense.

There’s also this part of the movie where they’re in a meeting and they hatch their plan on how to rig the trades, hype their stock with some fake story, and then dump everything on the market once it reached critical volume.  They then use the analogy of a glass filled with liquid to explain it all in layman’s terms.

I think it’s really commendable how they pulled that off. They really took pains to explain how a hype and dump scheme works while still maintaining the scene’s entertainment value   And it was clear, concise and very artfully done (it’s beginning to sound like I’m talking about a sex scene here).

Wolf of Wall Street tries to depict Belfort as some bad ass trader but it fails to do so because I don’t think the guy would really agree to having all of his past stock market schemes being laid out in the cinemas.  So maybe they can only work with all the Hollywood fluff stuff type of confessions Belfort agrees to have featured in the movie.  But I was really expecting more hard core confessions and meat about stock market manipulation so I felt let down, I guess.

But with The Scam, you don’t see too much high power office pep talks.  You don’t really see anyone from the public getting ripped off.  You don’t see circus parties at the dealing room.  But you get an inside view on the real excitement of the ticker tape and the ticking clock, the MACDs and stochastics, the wild swings between hope and despair that comes from the price movements of a manipulated stock.  Even if you’re not a stock market technician, you can feel it.  It’s so raw and palpable in that movie.

Watch it guys.