Friday, June 27, 2014

Starbuck's employees are offered a free college education...

With a few strings attached but no long term obligation.  With a college degree employees may move on from baristaship...even if it means leaving the company.  By investing in its employees well-being Starbucks will take a short term loss, but will lower its turnover in the long term - improving service quality which will no doubt increase revenues.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Why is it profitable to protect the environment?

One way is to consider the value of services that the environment provides.  Nature provides services like pollinating crops, purifying water, protecting us from storms, producing fish, and many many more - services that we depend on.  These services are provided to us for free!

The value of these services in 1997 was $125 trillion (compared to the world's GNP of $75 trillion)

In business we consider the cost of services that we need when calculating our profit margins, but I doubt the value of natural services are considered and why should they be...these services are our birth rights as residents of earth. That is, until these services start to degrade.  Since 1997, the value of the services the earth provides has decreased by $20 trillion, and where we have become dependent or have taken these services for granted, this has started to cost us money.  

What comes to mind is the money we are spending on water, farming fish, property damage from storms, and how much will it cost us take over pollination if the Bee's disappear.

Take a long look at your balance sheet and see if any of these types of costs might be creeping in and eroding your profit margins.

Every business from mining to manufacturing, from farming to fashion, from entertainment to banking, from healthcare to technology all have financial stakes in the environment.



Monday, June 23, 2014

Am I an alcoholic?

For 26 years, booze has been the cornerstone of my social life. I don't remember a fun night out without drinking...I don't remember a lot of nights when I did drink! Dinner with a friend or friends has always been at least a beer or wine. Parties and bars...usually a potpourri of options. Weddings...unrecognizable without drinks. Work dinners...the same story. Afternoon braai' much fun!

Since that fateful teenage night when I discovered the social ease of a drink, I've built dependence on drinking for the fun that comes from the source of that which makes us happy...interacting with people.

Although the last few years has seen a large organic decrease in the quantity that I drink. It was still there until 4 months ago when I decided to stop because alcohol's toxicity seems carcinogenic...especially since it's always listed as one of the lead causes of colon cancer.

Since that fateful day I have started to rediscover who I am. I am navigating my social network without the performing enhancement, without the boredom killer, without the inhibition's a whole new world. It's world that does not look anything like it did before. 

It's going to take a lot of getting used to! 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Long Way In...

As the crow flies, radiation takes the shortest route to the cancers ground zero. A triangulation of 3 beams meet in a well targeted rectangular perimeter around the tumor, joining forces to damage the cells' DNA, in hopes of starting a chain reaction where the malignant cells stop dividing.  The chemotherapy takes a little longer working its way into the blood and finding its way to areas where it may do the same thing.

This regiment of therapy for my specific situation takes about 6 weeks.  I coming to realize that this 6 weeks is just a blip in the time needed to establish body that stops the spread of cancer.

Working with cancer is like becoming fluent in a new language.  We start with the basics like daily pleasantries, then we perhaps takes some schooling, and then we live in an environment where that language is spoken.  And in time our fluency evolves, as does our accent.  Sometimes it takes years before we can put down the dictionary, and even then we are still learning new words and expressions every day.  At some point, we will look up and we are fluent, and we smile at ourselves stumbling over basic words a few years before.  This is assuming we didn't leave the environment where the language is spoken and the rust starts the creep in.

Its starting to sink in that no matter how effective medical treatment might be in the short term, its not the end of the journey, and in fact the journey is just beginning.  And its important to implement into my daily routine those activities that work to create balance, and that balance is a delicate measurement that is constantly changing and requires my full attention.

There is no quick fix.  Its a rest-of-life process!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

"What would Google do?"

I cant seem to think of one person that I might know that has not been impacted by Google.  Can you?

Google's corporate motto is ...Dont be Evil! Its written in their Prospectus. Their belief is that they would be better served in the world if they do good things even if it means forgoing some short term gains.

This seems to be working out nicely for them.

“What Would Google Do?” – As the book by Jeff Jarvis says…”companies need to learn from Google and grow by building platforms to help others prosper“.  Thats what Google does…they help others prosper.  We all have free access to most everything Google has to offer so that we can improve our lives...learn, stay in touch, build our business's.  Yes, Google makes an incredible amount of money by advertising but their first order of business was/is to create free conflict free access to information.  If you search for this book on Google, the first option to buy it is by Amazon (not GooglePlay)


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Big Number

Last year 72% of S&P 500 companies published sustainability reports.  In 2011 - only 20% did it!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


This week as chemoRT continued to run its course I took time to ponder this journey so far...

Unknown date(a few months before diagnosis) - started to see a bit of blood in my stool, but brushed it off.
Mid-January 2014 - went to see a South African Sangoma(also referred to as a Witch Doctor) in Santa Barbara.  The first thing he said after throwing a bag of bones in front of me..."Is there any reason that you might be in immediate danger".  I did not, but thought it might be a good time to get a full medical checkup.
Early February - join my partner in Cape Town
Late February - went for blood tests looking for parasites(perhaps Bilharzia).  Tests were negative so went for a colonoscopy expecting possible  Polyps or Hemorrhoids.
March 8 - "Tim, I afraid its not the best news"
A few days later - Colorectal surgeon staged the cancer as T3N0.  He gave me two options - radiation, with surgery as a possible follow-up, but not recommended.  The other option was an abdominal perineum resection(APR) which he believed would give me the best chance of cure.  I would be left with a stoma bag for the rest of my life. I asked for a second opinion
March 16 - Stopped eating sugar(except for whole foods), dairy, alcohol, caffeine, grains. I had been a vegetarian for the last 4 years.
March 17 - Started daily meditation prior to sunrise.
Late March - a second opinion at a different hospital recommended the same surgical solution.  Notified that my insurance company will not cover me since they consider this a pre-existing condition (sign up for Obamacare)
Late March - Continue research both in the medical world and alternative(Sono-Photo dynamic therapy, EMDR, Demartini, Ayahuasca, Supplements)
End of March - Scheduled APR surgery for April 12(not covered by Obamacare)
March 30 - Have lost 15 pounds in the last 2 weeks from my diet change
Early April - Discuss my situation by phone with multiple Oncologists and Surgeons in the U.S.  Come to discover a more effective approach is pre-operative chemoRT.
April 8 - Am told by the surgeon that nodes are likely involved (which would make the staging T3N1)
April 10 - Cancel surgery.  I feel that to lower the chance of re-occurance I must have neo-adjuvant ChemoRT
April 14 - Discover that the earliest they can start chemoRT is 7 weeks out, and it would be a treatment that hasn't been used in the U.S. for 20 years.
Late April - My partner and I decide to move to Philadelphia to receive neo-adjuvant ChemoRT at U Penn in Philadelphia.
April 29 - I am still on a 100% Alkaline diet - and have not lost any additional weight. Tomorrow I will add back eggs once a week and start to experiment with more grains. No dairy, no alcohol, no sugar, nothing processed could be permanent.
May 5 - Meet a Medical Oncologist, a Radiation Oncologist and a Surgeon at the Abramson Cancer Center.  They recommend 28 days of radiation while taking Capecitabine, then I will wait for a month after which they will scan me again to see how the tumor has reacted and then will proceed with surgery.  Because of the position of the tumor, they expect APR surgery
Mid May - PETscan and MRI are taken to re-stage the cancer (No Changes) - they believe that nodes are not involved - and to plan the radiation.
May 27 - 1st Day of ChemoRT.  Each day we walk 1.5 miles to the hospital - 6.15 am appointment.  Radiation takes a few minutes.  Chemo is taken orally after breakfast and dinner.
June 17 - Side effects have been subtle thus far.  Digestion has been more active and less consistent.  Appetite is still good but less food types are appealing - Fruit and carbs seem to be my cravings.  My energy levels are good.
June 18 - Who knows...

Monday, June 16, 2014

Tesla shares their Secrets

As you approach the new Tesla, the door handles come out to meet you. Getting into the seat is like slipping into the near and distant future.  Extreme comfort, few gadgets and tapping the accelerator releases massive power...and not a sound.  Completely electric.  Its like driving an iPhone.

Last week Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, announced that he will share its secrets.  By taking down the patents he has on this world changing technology.  What's clear is Tesla's intent to spread opportunity and to protect the environment.  But Elon Musk is a pure capitalist so what might not be so clear is as he says...."We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard."  

He believes that sharing his secrets will make him more profitable.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Does being ethical Pay???

"For companies, the implications of this study -- albeit limited -- are apparent. Efforts to move toward ethical production, and promote that behavior, appear to be a wise investment. In other words, if you act in a socially responsible manner, and advertise that fact, you may be able to charge slightly more for your products.

On the other hand, it appears to be even more important to stay away from goods that are unethically produced. Consumers may still purchase your products, but only at a substantial discount."

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Corporate ethics is key to financial success

"A study done at the University of Chicago by Prof. Curtis Verschoor and published in Management Accounting found that companies with a defined corporate commitment to ethical principles do better financially than companies that don’t make ethics a key management component.  Public shaming of Nike’s sweatshop conditions and slave wages paid to overseas workers led to a 27% drop in its earnings several years ago. And recently, the shocking disregard of ethics and subsequent scandals led to financial disaster for Enron, Arthur Anderson, WorldCom, Global Crossing, and others."

Monday, June 9, 2014

Domini Social Investments

Key Issues

Before we invest in a company, our researchers work to understand how it is addressing the key sustainability challenges it faces. We also engage with corporate management to improve their social and environmental performance.

Learn more about how we approach the following key issues:

  • Environment: Companies that meet the long-term environmental challenges of their industries can benefit the environment and their shareholders. Learn about our comprehensive approach to the promotion of environmental sustainability.
  • Human Rights: Universal human dignity is a long-term objective of the Domini Funds. Learn about how we pursue this objective through in-depth research and effective engagement.
  • Consumer Health & Safety: Consumer health and safety presents a multi-faceted set of issues for a variety of industries. Our researchers look closely at product safety controversies and recalls, and programs to reduce the use of toxic chemicals.
  • Diversity: In a global economy, diversity is a hallmark of a well-managed corporation with a culture based on merit and open to new ideas and perspectives.
  • Harmful & Addictive Products: Learn why certain industries, including tobacco, military weapons, firearms and nuclear power are fundamentally misaligned with our long-term goals.

Investing in companies that are socially and environmentally considerate(SEC)

1 Trillion dollars!!! invested in companies that are socially and environmentally considerate.  Many funds and Investment managers specialize in this type of investment and spend the time to analyze how considerate companies might be.  There are many criteria that are published by these Investment Managers, some are standard across the board while some managers differentiate themselves by digging a little deeper.  

At some level we are all investment managers.  We invest in our own well being (brushing our teeth, exercising, saving money, eating and sleeping well...etc.) all day and every day, and just like money managers some of us are more successful then others.  Lets take our own intuitive experience and create a fund of companies that are SEC.  Here are some thoughts:

- Philanthropy is at least 5% of annual after tax profit

- Executive compensation is the lowest in that specific industry

- Lowest employee turnover within an industry

- Products that enhance customers lives

- High quality product - would we use it?!

- High customer service ratings

- Low climate and environmental footprint

- Long term (>10 years) financial goals

- Long term company strategy (>100 years)


Lets start a fund!!!

Socially, Environmentally, and Ethically Responsible (SEER)

Ex Navy Seal and CEO of Patagonia Michael Crooke travels the world consulting fortune 500 companies on how to do business through the SEER lens.  SEER values are:

  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Environmental stewardship
  • Financial strength
  • Product/service quality

Executives from around the world are starting to realize that these values go hand in hand, and you can no longer focus on "Financial strength" alone.  Mr. Crooke has also founded a SEER certificate program available for MBA students at Pepperdine University.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

How to cure cancer...

As a teenager  heard a story about a family friend that often ponder.  The friends had a grandchild who was born with HIV because her mother had AIDS.  The child was cared for by by her grand parents from a very early age.  A few years after they started caring for her, she was tested negative for HIV.  This confounded everyone.  How is this possible? The girls grandparents believe that only possible explanation is that they gave her so much tender loving care.  Love!

"Spontaneous remission" is a term used for the unexpected cure of a disease that appears to be progressing in severity.  It happens sometimes in diseases like cancer. It is unexplainable, at least with todays  understanding and vocabulary.  How is this possible?

My research to find this miraculous cure has taken me in and out of hospitals, homeopathic doctors, integrative medicine, Ayurvedic doctors, Therapists, Shamans, and across the internet. As we all know there are vast differences in opinions about how one should treat cancer.  Some turn their nose up at the medical world, while the medical world is often offended by alternative opinions.  But, Im finding that there is a common subtle theme running among all opinions...from oncologists to witch doctors...and that is, cure and prevention comes from homeostasis, or balance.

What does balance mean and how do we find it? Well I think a great start is to notice how we feel when we start to get sick, maybe its just a cold.  How do we react, how do we decide make ourselves better, what food do we crave, how does our body feel.  These are all subtle messages that can help us find where we might be imbalanced and what we can work on, whether we are sick or not.  I know that when I start to come down with a cold, my first instinct is to wish I felt normal again, and to do whatever it takes for that to happen as soon as possible so that I can get back to my busy life without hindrance.  Im not as hungry as often in the day as I usually might be.  My hips and shoulders and other joints are stiffer then usual.

Im learning now that these signals from our bodies, are requests, asking us to stop or start doing certain things.  To stop being as busy, to stop wishing away time, to eat more mindfully, and to find counter activity to give those muscles and joints always being used some reprieve...rather then sitting all day, get up and walk around more. This is balance.

Balance or homeostasis will be different for everyone, as distinct as our finger print.  And therefore there is not a formula for us to follow.  We must find this balance for ourselves.  Diet books, fitness instructors or regimes, self-help books, therapists, doctors et al;  are all sources of information, but ultimately its is up to us each individually to find our own balance.  We must pay attention, so we can start to discover and implement what food is best for us, how much rest we must get, how much we work, how we we live.

We demand instant relief, which falls into the same category as instant gratification...and we hold doctors accountable if we don't get it.  Doctors believe in the placebo effect, but can't explain can.  I've heard Doctors say the source of all disease is the mind - the same doctors who resort to medicine and surgery.  We demand results that in this day and age only medicine and surgery can come closest to guaranteeing...quickly.  But between the lines, the cure-all is balance.

Homeostasis takes time, it is hard work(because it requires change).  In extreme situations, balance may include surgery or an operation but these are only part of the solution, and just the beginning.  I must NOT be passive in my own well-being.

I must take responsibility for my own well-being and for my own growth and evolution!!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Great companies

"Good to Great" by Jim Collins, a great company is defined by consistent superior performance compared to competitors over a period of 30 years.  When he searched for companies that might fit those criteria, he ended up only finding a handful.  So of all the thousands and thousands of public companies, only 11 consistently were great.  Furthermore when he analyzed the possible reasons, he found undertones of consciousness, of passion, of executives acting for the benefit of a much bigger picture, of happy employees and happy customers...of harmony in the marketplace. Rather then scrambling for the quick big buck, these companies are the most profitable because they invest for the long term by thinking beyond "Profit"!

So "What Would Google Do?" - As the book by Jeff Jarvis says..."companies need to learn from Google and grow by building platforms to help others prosper".  Thats Google does...they help others prosper.  Google doesn't have a 30 year track record yet, but they certainly seem to be blazing the trail to Greatness!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

$1 trillion invested by conscience