Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Everything Investing: Hedge funds = bonds

Thanks to Abnormal Returns for the source of this post, which is actually just the image you see on the right. One key thing to note is that the risk adjusted return is likely much lower as well, so in the end you were better off investing in bonds (if you had the choice) starting in January 2006.

This goes back to the advice we gave earlier that no one has been able to time the market consistently. An additional piece of advice that goes hand in hand with the timing advice is that very few people can beat the market consistently. The hedge fund index performance on the right backs up that claim.

Addendum: Found out the original source and article for this graphic.

Today's Links (Friday, 8-31-07): Robot Cars/Self Destructing Email

- Did you know you can send out self destructing email?

- People are out inventing so many new things! ... or are they?

- On the topic, can you believe people have patented different ways of putting? For shame.

- Americans want academic rigor in their schools... or do they?

- Fixing the NCLB, from Joanne Jacobs.

- Top 10 overrated business books vs. top 10 underrated business books.

- On increasing business and university interaction.

- The next big thing from Stanford: robotic cars! Via Scobleizer.

- A good podcast on writing a good cover letter. This follows up on our advice from yesterday.

- Speaking of pods, here's how to make an iPod car mount.

- Always challenge numbers and assumptions (because they can be woefully wrong) and always be skeptical of analyst reports. Tip: taking an analyst report at face value, and not doing your own research, will lead to you often getting burned on an investment.

- Giving you some international flavor, here are some challenges Sarkozy faces with his "new" France.

- We are in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend; if you're sending an email regarding the blog, one of us will get back to you on Tuesday. Thanks.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Book Review: "Discover Your Inner Economist"

If you haven't heard of Discover Your Inner Economist, you can read book reviews and notes around the internet. We're going to eschew a traditional book review to instead simply recommend the book because it was oftentimes very thought provoking.

The book used an additional marketing campaign that, to us, was pretty interesting. But we wonder: did it work? Tyler may be underestimating how many people lied to get the URL (and then perhaps ordered the book or maybe didn't even order at all). Regardless, the idea got some good coverage in the blogosphere and should get credit for taking a new approach to marketing.

Of course, if his marketing campaigns are this outside the box and innovative, you can imagine how much fun it can be to read the book; indeed, not only did the book make us think about some things in a new way, we greatly enjoyed the experience while also expanding my life knowledge. Check it out and let us know what you think!

Want to chime in? We read all emails. Feel free to leave a comment or drop us a line.

Today's Links (Thursday, 8-30-07): Perseverance

- Some tips for developing memory, from the American Chronicle.

- Countries that are buying up the planet.

- "Teen centers" seem like a good way to keep kids off the streets.

- Happiness is all about your perspective, from the Naples Daily News.

- Cover letter tips for those of you looking for internships/jobs.

- "When it comes to reading, race can matter" from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

- Sharing the wealth, but related to college graduates. From the NY Times.

- Perseverance in sports and athletics, via Washington Post.

- Not surprised by the extent Gulf Coast students are still dealing with the aftermath of Katrina.

- Pros and cons of year round education.

- Some good college and career advice, via Penelope Trunk.

- What do bosses do? Do they matter? A perspective from Stumbling and Mumbling.

Want to know a good way to stay aware of our newest posts? Just subscribe to the blog by clicking the "Posts (Atom)" link at the bottom of the page or by clicking the orange RSS box in your URL window.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Whoa, thanks!

Looks like the Facebook "notes", free linking, and word of mouth efforts are paying off – every single day for the past 3 weeks or so (except for a Sunday) has been an up day on page visits. We even have blog readers from countries like England and India.

It’s too bad there isn’t a way to track FB note readership, but we'll go ahead and assume some of you are reading via FB as well.

Anyways, thanks to all of you who have been reading and are still reading!

Want to chime in? We read all emails. Feel free to leave a comment or drop us a line.

Today's Links (Wednesday, 8-29-07): Sleep Things

- Best ways to shake morning grogginess. Particularly helpful for those with early classes or jobs.

- Are electronic gadgets keeping you from getting enough sleep? (From Reuters)

- Noticed yesterday that Scobleizer is back - here's a series of his greatest videos.

- Google is scary good right now. But in that link there's some good mentions on Google's competition in the search space.

- Ah, the art of slow travel.

- On the lack of financial education for the general population - this is one of the motivating factors behind starting CK Tutors, actually.

- Volunteering is true patriotism.

- A couple good recent book recommendations.

- To the engineer/inventor friends out there: check out this sustainability contest.

- Interesting study on youth happiness which came out via MTV.

- Though young people can't be happy that their reading scores are at recent lows.

- Things you can do as a young person to be rich later on in life, via WSJ (subscription required but if you would like to read the article send us an email).

Want to know a good way to stay aware of our newest posts? Just subscribe to the blog by clicking the "Posts (Atom)" link at the bottom of the page or by clicking the orange RSS box in your URL window.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Today's Links (Tuesday, 8-28-07): Grocery Store Mindset

- Youth as media junkies, from The Economist. Who saw this one coming?

- Seen more of those trip applications on Facebook recently? That may have been fueled by a rumored $3 million offer for one of them.

- There has been an increase in Facebook induced roommate switches.

- Joanne Jacobs on how technology can only fix so much.

- Regarding technology: the CD turned 25 yesterday.

- Via blog reader feedback: Have you heard of The Singularity? It is, at the very least, thought provoking.

- Public education is getting worse, via Townhall.

- The response arguing public education is getting better, via Trenches of Public Ed.

- Overcoming Bias is arguing that academia's main function is to validate impressive people and that research progress is a side effect.

- Big Mike's satirical take on classes that colleges should offer.

- A strong defense of philosophy, via Philosopher's Blog.

- Never thought about this before but what's your grocery store mindset?

- What are the chances that this analysis of Border's shows up hours after I write this analysis?

- Random thought of the day: Have you ever wondered about the way you walk? I heard an interesting discussion on the radio about how we analyze so much of our lives. This includes hair styles, clothing styles, personality styles, and so on yet there's never a detailed analysis of how people walk differently. Warning: You may find yourself thinking about how you walk after this random thought.

Want to know a good way to stay aware of our newest posts? Just subscribe to the blog by clicking the "Posts (Atom)" link at the bottom of the page or by clicking the orange RSS box in your URL window.

Like what you see and want to help us out? Just import our blog into your "Notes" on Facebook for hassle-free updates (thank you to those who have done so already). Spreading the word about the blog always helps.

Book Review: "Chasing Cool"

I didn't want to sit in traffic yesterday evening so I pulled off the highway and went into a nearby Border's (and paid the book tax). I decided to do a "random look around" though naturally I gravitated over to the business section. I avoided the usual suspects ("Investing"; "Management"; "Small Business") and instead read something new in "Marketing".

I settled on Chasing Cool, a new book about marketing and "coolness". The book was small, which in this case appealed to me because I wanted to flip through something in one quick session rather than spend a lot of time on a long, tedious book (see the previous book review).

Chasing Cool didn't teach me anything mind blowing but reaffirmed some key messages:

- In business, and life, you just can't force things. In this case, you can't force your way towards coolness and you definitely can't chase it; being "cool" has to be more of a natural fit. In that sense, it's something you develop over time by being authentic.

- When everyone is getting on a new trend's bandwagon, it's already too late.

- Oftentimes you've got to get out there and risk failing to get the big reward - in this case, coolness.

- You might have all the research in the world, but sometimes you just have to trust your gut instinct.

So was the book worth the money? Well, you'd be better served "allocating your capital" elsewhere, perhaps by getting a recently published good book I'll be reviewing called Discover Your Inner Economist from blog and Facebook friend Tyler Cowen.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Do You Pay the "Book Tax"?

Sometimes I save on my reading expenses by occasionally going to the bookstore, grabbing a good book, and paying the book tax. I pay my book tax by buying an overpriced coffee drink as a way to tax my (occasional) squatter reading habit. But how do book stores come out ahead? Do you pay the book tax? And if people are reading books for free, does this mean book stores are generally a poor investment? Well, the occasional super best selling book does seem to help, but that's only a temporary boost. Take note:

Of course, all of these companies reduced prices on Deathly Hallows to lure in customers, hoping that the extra traffic would push more transactions for other items... As I've said before, booksellers don't seem like terribly exciting investments to me right now, given's huge and formidable presence in an already fierce competitive landscape.

Reading a book for free, but still paying the book tax, can lead to a win-win situation. The consumer wins because they pay less than they would buying the book. The company wins because they get the customer in the store (more on this in a second) plus in the book tax situation they're getting higher margins by selling coffee than by selling the book.

Loyal squatters will occasionally actually buy a book or two after also paying their book tax, either because they feel bad or because the book is just that good, and the bookstore gets a nice boost all around. So the ability to get the customer in the store via the right to read for free becomes an important strategy.

Yes, bookstores might have the occasional visitor who reads for free and doesn't pay the book tax, but for the most part consumers either buy books without reading other books in the store or they use the blend approach by paying the book tax and occasionally buying other interesting books. Barnes and Noble sold over 300 million books last year with their retail and internet operations combined and stores represent 96% of their retail sales (according to their website) so they're definitely still moving books.

Searches on Google never led to an official policy from B&N or Border's on book squatters, though Border's does talk about Discovery being one of their values. The reading for free technique still works for the bookstores but not well enough compared to Amazon and other internet book resellers that do not have to deal with the squatter issue. Brick and mortar booksellers provide a great community resource but because of this they're not likely to be a great place to allocate one's investing capital when compared with the internet book resellers.

There are still some lingering questions. What did people do before bookstores began allowing squatters? What would happen if these stores ever stopped allowing reading for free? Would Amazon take away even more of the book retailing market? And how do libraries play into this discussion?

Got something to say? Come over to the blog and leave a comment under this post. We love joining in the discussion.

Today's Links (Monday, 8-27-07): Capitalize on the Past

- Maybe you can judge a book by its cover.

- Going to grad school? Try being peppy, via The Huffington Post.

- Doing a Ph.D might help you discover what you want to do in life, via Infectious Greed.

- This post touches on what we've always believed: it's important to capitalize on the experiences of those that came before you.

- Valuable information on how a mentor can help your career, via Forbes.

- Touching on this subject once again, but on the importance of having an advisory committee.

- Compensation is the 6th most important factor when accepting a job, via Macleans.

- Ever wonder what the "smart money" reads? From the Financial Times.

- Dealing with anti-intellectualism, something we've talked about before.

- Foreign student enrollment is up. An excerpt: International students, especially at the graduate level, are considered an important brainpower infusion to the United States. In certain fields like engineering and physical sciences, foreign students account for more than 40 percent of total students at the graduate level, according to CGS.

- The crisis in teacher turnover, from the NY Times.

- From socially responsible investing to sustainable investing, via GreenMoney Journal.

- Seems like offbeat career paths are more the norm nowadays.

- Alternatives to Harry Potter, via The Plain Dealer.

- Speaking of which, here's something on the politics and philosophy of Harry Potter.

- A treat for those that read this far: a thought provoking post (via Free Exchange) on economic freedom leading to political and cultural freedom.

Reading through Facebook and not seeing posts in color? Check out the blog in its original form by clicking here.

Did we miss something? Feel free to leave a comment or drop us a line. Feedback is always welcome and always read.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Today's Links (Friday, 8-24-07): The Golden Ticket

- Want to get rich? Perhaps you can start by getting a good team.

- Internships are the golden ticket. "It's often not what you know, but who you know."

- Speaking of internships, any college aged minority students interested in business should apply to my internship program (GCFL '06). I suggest applying in Round 1 as the program is highly competitive. Feel free to send an email for tips.

- Necessity is the mother of invention(s).

- Have you spent time "thoughting" lately? The post applies to life, school, and business.

- If you're out looking at grad schools there are usually some standard criteria to consider; note # 7 on this list because it's often overlooked.

- "We bond through our misery" via the NY Times.

- Reading "The American Scholar" as a back to school routine.

- A call for Australia to invest more of their budget surplus towards education.

- Great advice but I enjoyed the bit on anti-intellectualism. Caroline - looks like you're at a good school!

- On the different types of advice, via Ben Casnocha.

- If you've got a great business idea, pursue it. Don't make excuses.

- Remember the uproar over those big bonuses on Wall Street last year? Oops.

- A rant on fallacious reasoning and arguing badly.

- Looking to get married anytime soon? Beware the costs. (via The Numbers Guy)

- How sushi has changed the world by revealing the complex dynamics of globalization.

- I will be in Newport this weekend; if you're sending an email regarding the blog, I will get back to you on Monday. Thanks.

The weekly CK Shout Out: This one goes to two groups of people: the people who have been importing our blog into their Notes on Facebook and to all the accessible bloggers. In particular, Ben Casnocha and Tyler Cowen have been very good at getting back to me when I've sent them emails, even though they're very busy people.

Want to know a good way to stay aware of our newest posts? Just subscribe to the blog by clicking the "Posts (Atom)" link at the bottom of the page or by clicking the orange RSS box in your URL window.

We're Evolving (An Update)

Today marks our (drum roll please) 4 month anniversary of publishing this blog. It's amazing to see how much has changed since we started the blog.

A quick timeline: May comes around and we introduce our Linking Back feature for the first time. Then in June we introduce the Book Review series for the first time. In August we introduce the Everything Investing series and then the Today's Links feature. The introduction of the Today's Links daily feature makes the Linking Back series obsolete and so we retire Linking Back for now.

As you can see from the timeline, our blog is constantly evolving. Some of the best ideas for posts and features have come from our readers so we continually invite your feedback.

From a company standpoint, a lot has evolved and improved as well. It's amazing that we're coming up on our one year anniversary. One thing we're particularly proud of is our Giving Back initiative.

We started tracking blog statistics a few weeks ago and readership has gone up almost every day (not to mention readers via Facebook who we can't track). For instance, since we introduced the Today's Links feature earlier in the week readership has spiked upwards everyday. This is a testament to the valuable service our blog provides and keeps us motivated to continue improving the experience. Thank you for making the CK Tutors blog a part of your day; share the wealth and please keep sending readers over.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Today's Links (Thursday, 8-23-07): Playing Chicken

- Life is often about negotiations; sometimes you need to play hard ball. Here are 6 steps for making your threat credible (or how to win at Chicken) which I found via Ben Casnocha.

- The best business ideas in the world, via Business 2.0. The great thing about this page is that it's updated every day through the month of August, so you can come back here daily.

- For those of you planning on having mansions: maintenance isn't cheap. From WR blog.

- Random link alert: looking to buy a water bottle? Slate presents all the options.

- College Knowledge is growing and hiring more tutors in Atlanta. Check out the Facebook event or send an email for more information.

- Reading feeds the soul like food feeds the body.

- Thoughts on the obesity epidemic over at the Freakonomics blog.

- College health 101, via Star-Tribune.

- Looks like French is making a comeback, at least in New York City.

- Legal issues over the "high quality" teacher designation.

- It looks like the College Board got out of student lending. Here's another perspective on the matter, this time from the NY Times.

- Good summary on the NCLB and school quality, via Joanne Jacobs.

- Alex Tabarrok suggests a new way to pick presidents. He is serious.

- Here's a good resource for expanding your investing knowledge. I also suggest this book which we reviewed here. *Note: We realize there are limitations to theories presented in the book; however, we strongly believe in expanding our knowledge of all financial theory.

- You can learn from the past when it comes to investing... note that it's can learn from the past, not will learn from the past.

- Ever wonder why Google acquired YouTube? Here is a good estimate on potential payoff.

- Oh government, Donald Boudreaux doesn't want you meddling with the markets.

- What makes an entrepreneur?

Did we miss something? Feel free to leave a comment or drop us a line. Feedback is always welcome.

Like what you see and want to help us out
? Just import our blog into your "Notes" on Facebook for hassle-free updates (thank you to those who have done so already). Spreading the word about the blog always helps. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Book Review: "Capital Ideas Evolving"

After a couple discussions with a highly regarded financial expert I realized a few weeks back that my knowledge of finance theories was mediocre at best. Deciding I needed to do something about it, I ended up ordering Capital Ideas Evolving on Amazon; I've just now (two weeks later) completed the book.

Capital Ideas Evolving is the sequel (passionate defense) to Capital Ideas. When the original Capital Ideas was published, one reason it got big time press was for showing how finance theories developed from the late 1950's. However, since the original book was published a lot has changed in the world of finance: LTCM blew up, huge strides have been made in behavioral finance, market valuations went through the roof then came crashing down, etc.

A lot of the content in Capital Ideas has/had been challenged over the past 15 years or so. Capital Ideas Evolving simply expands on the previous book but also adds updates; for that reason alone I suggest reading Capital Ideas Evolving and not even touching Capital Ideas.

Anyways, the book is full of useful information and does a decent job of defending many finance theories that have been "attacked" or "called into question". Just keep in mind that this counter-arguing and theoretical discussion can sometimes make for a boring read. Unless you have a strong appetite for finance theory (who doesn't?) you probably will find yourself struggling at times. However, the important question is this: is it worth the occasional struggle? For me, that's a definite yes; depending on your answer you should consider getting a copy of the book.

Today's Links (Wednesday, 8-22-07): Optimal Cookie

- We've posted before about branching out with electives, but this list takes the idea of unique classes to a whole new level.

- How young people are changing philanthropy, via the Wall Street Journal. (Subscription required but send an email if you want to read it and I can email to you). An excerpt: Some of the newer Web-based nonprofits, such as DonorsChoose and Kiva, are attractive because contributors say they allow them to connect directly with their recipients. Donors or lenders can hand over money directly to, respectively, teachers and students in urban public schools or individual entrepreneurs in developing countries, rather than sending a check that ends up with an abstract recipient.

- Sometimes all it takes to launch your career or company is spontaneous enthusiasm. (From the Financial Times).

- Both of us got our first real jobs at Starbucks a few years ago and experienced many unique moments, so it was funny when I received this article on Starbucks hacks (via Slate) in my email yesterday.

- Technology recommendations for college students, via PC Magazine.

- From the HBR: How to make a stressful conversation a little easier.

- Why you should avoid playing favorites, via Knowledge@Wharton.

- Since the emerging trend in today's post involves linking to top schools, I dug up this useful article on making first impressions (via Stanford).

- Great article I read a while back on avoiding corruption (and cheating) via Dartmouth.

- Last top university/college post: check out MIT's OpenCourseWare. It's a great resource for the intellectually curious.

- Short guest essay on affirmative action, from Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.

- A lot of psychologists say that people like to feel like they're in control. It's really no surprise that mandatory reading (via USA Today) ends up being painful when the same books might have been read had a person found it on their own. I certainly liked it when I was able to choose from a reading list.

- On our friends from Latin America coming to study at US colleges, from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

- Good meals have an impact on school results, via the Fremont Tribune.

- Good post on data and accountability in education via Eduwonk but you can get most of the message by starting at the "In my proposed accountability system..." sentence near the bottom.

- Recent troubles in the market lead many to believe that "this is Berkshire's market" via the WSJ (subscription required but I can email it to you if you ask). Buffett is known for (rough quote) "being greedy when others are fearful and being fearful when others are greedy."

- The second best world is the real world, via Free Exchange. A noteworthy point: If the optimal cookie contains chocolate chips and coconut flakes, but you have no chocolate chips, chances are you don't need the coconut either. The second-best cookie may be the gingersnap. If ingredients (or logical conditions) do their work through a certain combination or complementarity, you may have to aim for something completely different even if you're missing just one of them.

Are you reading through Facebook and not seeing our posts in color? Check out the blog in its original form by clicking here.

Like what you see and want to help us out? Just import our blog into your "Notes" on Facebook for hassle-free updates (thank you Jonathan Sharma, Orion King, John Chin, Becca Wehunt and others for doing so already). Spreading the word about the blog always helps. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Today's Links (Tuesday, 8-21-07): Entrepreneurs

Continuing our Today's Links feature, here are some interesting stories and posts on the web:

- Does Harry Potter have competition? Have you heard of Eclipse? (From ABC News).

- On capitalism ("the system of disorder") and entrepreneurship, via Marginal Revolution.

- An article from the WSJ on serial entrepreneurship. (Membership required but if you send me an email I can forward the article to you).

- We went through some of this when we started College Knowledge. The post, via the Brazen Careerist blog, has some good information. The best line: The most important advice is probably to stay confident things will work out for you.

- An article from the WSJ on the benefits of blogging for small businesses. (Membership required but if you send me an email I can forward the article to you).

- Switching gears, here's a bit of investing wisdom from Ben Casnocha. There's valuable information in there and the post is a good follow up to our Everything Investing post from last week. A personal note on Ben: he's been very kind in trading emails with me and he's someone I measure myself against. Also, his book makes a lot of good points so be sure to check it out.

- Related to the above is this article on social networking and investing, from BusinessWeek.

- I authored a paper in 11th grade on Brown vs. Board, an excerpt of which you can find here via The Key Issues project (note: no longer maintained) I created in 2005. However, this excellent (though long) post on Brown vs. Board is much better and worth a read if you have 10-15 extra minutes.

- Speaking of reading, if you're looking for a way to save money on books here's some pretty standard advice. I also suggest Project Gutenberg, something we've blogged about before.

- On democratic candidates and education, from the Huffington Post.

- This guy wants to change the college admissions process (From the San Diego Union-Tribune).

- Study abroad isn't just for undergraduates, from

- Addendum: A post on the topic of talent, from Freakonomics.

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Did you see something that we missed in Today's Links? Your feedback is appreciated and you can always comment, send a Facebook message, or send us an email.

Want to know the best way to stay aware of our newest posts? Just subscribe to the blog by clicking the "Posts (Atom)" link at the bottom of the page or by clicking the orange RSS box in your URL window.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Today's Links (Monday, 8-20-07): Volatility

Our Linking Back feature has gotten positive feedback for being a good way of aggregating information, albeit information either beyond the scope of the blog or that we don't have time to cover. CK Tutors sees a need for a daily feature with similar characteristics that brings together the best of the blog and news world regarding (mostly) education, learning, and investing topics. Of course, we won't lose our cheesy sense of humor and we'll surely continue linking to fun things such as we did in last week's Linking Back.

Without further ado, here is the first Today's Links:

- Have you ever wondered what makes one college more appealing than another? via Freakonomics. This was posted Friday but came after we published Linking Back.

- Someone's undergraduate institution continues its trajectory upwards. The news is undermined by the fact that we're skeptical of these types of rankings in the first place.

- Not to be outdone, Emory had some nice news to report as well.

- In the most recent Everything Investing we warned budding investors to not try timing the market and to not panic. Taking a look at this chart from last week further verifies how difficult timing can be (just look at that volatility!):

- Speaking of stocks, a new place where stock culture meets pop culture via the Arizona Daily Star.

- Common sense advice, but a lot of people don't listen to some of these tidbits. From Star News.

- On making a career change, from the Wall Street Journal (subscription required but if you want to read the article send me an email and I'll forward to you). This applies to people in college because it has overall good advice.

- How do the presidential candidates feel about performance based pay? It's a topic we've covered here extensively so their views shouldn't be too surprising. From MSNBC.

- Boosting your mood naturally via the Imperial Valley News.

Addendum: A good summary of this week in preview (investing) from The Big Picture blog.

We work hard to bring you these links but if you have any suggestions please post a comment, send a Facebook message, or even send an email. Enjoy!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Linking Back: Leadership, Voldemort, and Gelato

Continuing our linking to the stories we wish we had time to cover, from all over the news and blog world:

- I wonder what look is best for me, from Brazen Careerist.

- Covering leisure from every angle, from Freakonomics blog.

- All about gelato, from the Free Exchange blog, via The Economist.

- Corruption in the study abroad world, via the NY Times.

- A true travesty, brought to you by Joanne Jacobs.

- Amazing sidewalk art, via the Marginal Revolution blog.

- Who knew class attendance was so important? From the Chicago Tribune.

- Voldemort and schooling are connected, just ask Alex Tabarrok.

- Leadership is important, especially in business, from the blog of Irving Wladawsky-Berger.

- The numbers behind the Rubik's cube, via the WSJ Number's Guy (subscription required). You know, I'd put my money on Austin Cobert to beat the guy (winner of the Rubik's Cube Canadian Open) in the picture below:

Everything Investing: Don't Panic

No one has been able to time the market consistently (profitably). A look at this chart should show you why it's so difficult. Talk about volatility!

Very few people are in the black right now (on a Year-To-Date basis) which is why it's very important to follow some Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Advice: Don't Panic.

That's actually good advice for such volatile markets if you're like most people - a long term investor. Unless you're a day trader, or really know what you're doing, volatile markets can often present the best buying opportunities. Remember - be careful, do your homework, and if everything still makes sense - be patient and don't panic.

Addendum: I added Berkshire to the comparison chart because of all the talk on Warren Buffett. Don't interpret it as a buy recommendation or anything else - it's just an interesting point of reference for the chart.

Addendum 2: Reports say the markets are going to open sharply lower today, after yesterday's extremely volatile trading. I try not to get caught up in the day to day news of the market except when volatility presents buying opportunities.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pressure to Pick Early

So now there are high schools where you have to pick a major? According to the NY Times, that is the case at Dwight Morrow High. And it's a trend that's been going on around the country as evidenced by this passage:

Despite such naysayers, a number of school districts around the country are experimenting with high school majors, an outgrowth of the popular “career academies” that have become commonplace nationally, and in New York City, over the past decade. But while many career academies simply add a few courses to a broad core curriculum, majors require individual students to make a more serious commitment to a particular educational path.

Starting this month, Florida districts will require every ninth grader to major in one of more than 400 state-approved subjects, ranging from world cultures to fashion design to family and consumer sciences. South Carolina enacted a similar law last year, designating 16 career clusters, including architecture, government and agriculture.

In Mississippi, a $5 million pilot program in 14 districts this fall will have ninth graders following one of seven career paths, like construction and manufacturing or science, technology, engineering and math.

I think this is the reverse of where the trend should be going; I often wish I had felt less pressure to pick a major right away in college. I would imagine that the pressure to pick what I felt was right for me in high school would make things really difficult. The pressure, mostly speaking, is to pick something early on so you can start working towards completing your degree. I initially picked International Affairs because I figured, hey, I like international relations and our world is (cue the overused phrase) increasingly globalized. What I didn't do was figure out what the ranking of my program was at the time nor did I think about career prospects (fortunately I have a strong interest in finance and wizened up by adding that track as part of my undergrad education).

Imagine many high schoolers doing the same thing but then being pigeonholed in their "chosen" "career". I put chosen and career in separate quotes because to me making a choice means making an informed decision - something most high schoolers likely won't be able to do. Then I put career in quotes because the idea of a career is absurd to most high schoolers.

This is a small scale outrage. Earlier this year I found out via my younger cousin Carolina, who lives in Spain, that this has been the case over there for quite a while. Students are separated into two general "tracks" (either into sciences/engineering or a law/humanities/social sciences type of track); the process is very stressful for most people her age because they don't know what they want to do in life. So how can they make an informed choice? And why are we trending towards this in the United States? So that people have a better shot at getting into a higher ranked college?

On the whole, we should be emphasizing taking one's time in picking a major and pick a career. People shouldn't be afraid to dabble - it's extremely important in developing alternative viewpoints and broadening one's perspective. I count the random electives I took at GT (out of my own initiative and discouraged by my advisors) as some of the best learning experiences. Sure, I've forgotten the facts I learned in African American Politics and in the Building Construction seminar, to name a few random classes I took... but I now have a better perspective on learning and life than if I hadn't taken the classes. If you're a current student, I encourage you to take random classes as well because as I've found out it's the things you currently aren't comfortable with (and/or don't know too well) that help develop you as a person and student.

Book Review: "Doing Nothing"

I've learned my lesson - do not listen to (most) book recommendations from authors, particularly the authors of Freakonomics or Malcolm Gladwell. The last few books I've read via their recommendations have been pretty disappointing. I get the feeling they're just trading outstanding book quotes with other authors so that when their next books come out they'll have all sorts of glorious praise.

Regardless, Doing Nothing has been a waste of my time. I only got 1/4th of the way through before dropping the book. As Tyler Cowen says, sometimes you have to cut bait on the losers - and that's exactly what I did. So don't even bother reading the book reviews for the book. Unless you're supremely patient and enjoy mishmash novels, you won't enjoy Doing Nothing. Now if only I could get my money back!

P.S. I re-re-read Harry Potter 7 - by that I mean that I skipped through most of the book, re-reading scenes I enjoyed, and definitely skipping the poor epilogue. Also, this past weekend I re-read Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? by Lou Gerstner - it's a pretty good read about IBM's "return to glory", but it reeks of occasional arrogance which is a big turn off in a book.

Following Up on Wireless

After this post I made on wireless, its impact, and its shortfalls about a week ago, I was surprised to see a full article on the topic in the Wall Street Journal. It is an excellent follow up to the previous conversation on wireless. Some of you may not have online subscriptions to the WSJ, so I'll put up two key excerpts that cover or expand points in my previous post.

A passage with more background on the Wi-Fi movement:
The municipal Wi-Fi movement is far from dead. More than 90 cities and towns, including Portland, Ore., Corpus Christi, Texas, and others, have already launched service, according to, a Web site that tracks the projects nationally. Nationwide spending on municipal Internet projects was $236 million last year, up from $117 million in 2005, and is expected to nearly double this year, the organization said. Wi-Fi technology, generally, is gaining popularity. Consumers are increasingly accessing the Web at hotspots like coffee shops and airport lounges. And they are doing so not just from laptops, but also from new mobile devices like Apple Inc.'s iPhone.

But municipal networks aren't on track to offer consumers a cheaper high-speed alternative to the powerful U.S. phone and cable companies, as some backers once envisioned.

And here's a specific passage that relates to EarthLink:
At the end of the second quarter, EarthLink had only about 4,000 subscribers from its rollouts in Philadelphia, Anaheim, Calif. and Corpus Christi. The company, which is operating under new leadership after the death of former Chief Executive Garry Betty early this year, said in late July it would pull back on further investments in Wi-Fi until it negotiates better deals with cities. In particular, the company wants a commitment by cities to become a significant customer, or "anchor tenant," and thereby guarantee EarthLink a steady revenue stream. "The Wi-Fi business, as currently constituted, will not provide an acceptable return" for EarthLink shareholders, said newly installed Chief Executive Rolla Huff on a recent conference call with analysts.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Everything Investing: A look at Sham Gad

I got an interesting request last week from a pal to start a blog related to investing. While I generally like the idea, I decided with the various things on my plate (M&A work, running College Knowledge, running the CK blog, researching my own investing partnership, reading, etc) that it would probably be stretching me a bit thin. Instead, I think the next best thing is to write an ongoing series of investing related posts under the title "Everything Investing".

My thinking behind adding investing to the topics covered in this blog (wide ranging topics within education and life) is that everyone should have some sort of basic knowledge of investing. Indeed, it's not too hard to learn, it can be fun, and best of all you can make money. To do so, however, requires dedication, patience, and confidence coupled with occasional outside the box thinking.

So for the first post in the "Everything Investing" series, I want to turn your attention to Sham Gad. Sham is an (unfortunately) UGA b-school graduate who follows a Buffett/Munger/Pabrai/value approach to investing. The best place to read about Sham is at his blog. I suggest reading through the value investors library on his blog as well as reading through some of his later blog posts. I get a good vibe from Sham and have felt comfortable enough trading emails with him and even posting some honest comments on his blog. While he has no public track record, he seems wise and should be a formidable investor for quite some time if he can stick to his guns running Gad Capital.

So anyways, we've covered Munger on this blog before (you can find the link right here) and I've book reviewed Buffett's biography so it's not hard to see these famous investors have influenced me as well. And if you go to Sham's blog, you'll see the two investors have influenced him strongly. I strongly recommend a value approach to investing, particularly for beginning investors, and a great book to start you off is the Little Book of Value Investing. For a more passive approach to investing, I strongly suggest the Little Book of Common Sense Investing, which I've book reviewed before right here.

Addendum: If you have any investing related questions, please feel free to send emails or post comments. I'm willing to answer investing questions in addition to education, career, and life questions, so don't be shy!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

China and India are coming to get you!

Ok so they're not really coming for you, but here's an interesting post from the Wall Street Journal on the number of engineers they are producing. I agree that just because you produce more of something doesn't mean the quality is better. So why do people get two very different things so confused?

My initial thought is with people like Tom Friedman publishing The World is Flat and warning us about China and India's oncoming dominance, a certain sense of paranoia/fear gets paraded around. Yes, China and India are both rapidly developing countries with many people hungry for "success". I put "success" in quotations because that "success" they strive for is a definition of the word that the western world has created and spread. Thus I find it ironic they're striving for something we mostly have (if you agree with the common definition of success including lots of luxuries and an easier way of life) when its precisely the lack of luxuries that is giving them their current advantage. What I mean by this is that the western world becomes accustomed to luxuries and thus are not "hungry" for "success" like the many people in China and India. It's quite a vicious circle of consumption...

My next thought is wondering what role the private sector is going to play in the balancing of education/training between the western world and rapidly developing countries such as India and China. Take, for instance, this passage from the WSJ post:

In China, a program to expand college enrollment in the 1990s led to slipping standards, says Prof. Mao Shoulong of Renmin University. “Once you get in, it’s [too] easy to graduate,” he says. Many Chinese universities support themselves by charging tuition. Despite taking in as many students as fit in cramped dorm rooms, they can’t generate enough cash to pay for high-quality equipment, labs, and classrooms. The resulting scarcity of strong scientists and engineers coming from universities has led many companies to set up in-house training programs. Microsoft was the first high-profile company to set up such a program in China. Software-services company Infosys Technologies Ltd. has a 16-week training course that costs $5,000 per employee.”

Very interesting! And then there are programs such as the one provided by Infosys for US employees where they send the trainees to their 300+ acre HQ campus, train them for 6+ months, then set them free in various cities around the US. *Note: To read more about such an experience I point you to Rizwan's blog, a former CK employee and a good friend.

Somewhat on a tangent, I wonder specifically how this US to foreign country type of program pays off for a company when it's so obvious how the above mentioned programs such as Microsoft's (foreign country to US or improve skills in foreign country) pay off. In the latter case, it's that the company trains driven, often poor individuals, thus capitalizing on lack of resources/opportunity in said country, then "underpays" the individuals relative to performance in comparison to western world, expenses stay low, profit goes up... and the company has a loyal employee who is likely thankful for the opportunity the company that is often from the western world gave the individual.

More importantly, I'm amazed at the ability of companies to influence the balance of education/skills between the western world and the developing world. However, if you're a young adult like me in the western/developed/whatever you want to call it world, you shouldn't be afraid of the ongoing improvements in China, India, and the like - you should welcome it, because the improvements there improve the companies and way of life here, making us (in theory) all wealthier. Not to mention that certain jobs CAN'T be outsourced and if you're good enough, you're not going to get outsourced... so this phenomenon should only drive improvements in our productivity, the developing world's productivity, and thus the general quality of life should continue improving.

Addendum: But then I wonder about other things, to be written about in other posts. One of these worries is that even with the gap between the developed and developing countries narrowing, the gap (seemingly) between the have and have-nots within the developing countries seems to be widening. This could become a significant issue, if it is not one already...

25 Hottest Colleges/Universities

Here's the 2007 issue of the 25 Hottest Colleges and Universities from *gasp* one of our competitors and Newsweek.

A few comments:

- I only keep up with these lists to stay "informed"... and find myself falling into the trap of discussing the lists, both because they cause debate and because people want to hear about these lists. However, I know they're generally subjective (and often wrong) when I see that Georgia Tech isn't the hottest school for science and engineering. Tsk tsk. Who else has our combination of academics and athletics in a hip, cool urban atmosphere?

- The hottest school for rejecting you is Harvard... no surprise there. But I want to know what schools gets the least amount of people to whom the school extends admission towards. That would be interesting!

- The hottest school for business is Babson - why had I never heard of it until a year or two ago? Was it my fault? My college advisor's fault? A quote:

"Just as violinists know why they're at Juilliard, and physicists at Caltech, the 1,700 students attending Babson understand what made them choose this small campus. They are entrepreneurs, and no school does a better job than Babson in teaching how to start businesses."

I wonder if this sort of environment would also be a negative - being around so many entrepreneurs might not give you the wide ranging experiences of meeting people with other interests. For example, at Georgia Tech I met people who studied all sorts of engineering disciplines, different sciences, some business students, some liberal arts students, and some (yikes!) architecture students. I consider that a strong positive compared to just being around entrepreneurial students, but that could just be me.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Linking Back: Rich Kids, India, and Virtual Worlds

This week, our Linking Back feature will be on Thursday instead of Friday because I'll be out of town for the next few days. Look for new posts to be up sometime Monday or Tuesday of next week. Cheers!

- A great post on virtual worlds from a top blogger I just discovered.

- If the Freakonomics bloggers read the above post, they wouldn't have had this post.

- The inevitable knee jerk response to the bridge collapse. Here's one of many pieces I have issues with: "Many independent experts say that even with robust economic and productivity growth, America simply cannot grow its way out of these entitlement-program problems." That may be true, but I wish the author had provided some sort of data/links to support this claim. From the City Journal.

- It's true, your views are very much influenced by your perspective and experience. From Free Exchange, the Economist blog.

- First they have more money than us, now kids? From Joanne Jacobs.

- On the dominance of egos, from the little known Stumbling and Mumbling blog.

- We've visited this topic many times on the CK Tutors blog and elsewhere. Just pointing out that the NY Times is now recycling (intellectual) material.

- Sometimes being abroad isn't always peachy, from my friend (and one time CK Tutors employee) Rizwan.

Due to the (relative) popularity of the Linking Back feature, we here at CK Tutors are considering adding a similar feature but on a daily, rather than weekly, basis. Any suggestions for the name of the daily feature are welcomed.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Take (or Two) on Wireless

How does the wireless internet/networks phenomenon impact you? How does it impact education? Check out this interesting article from eSchool News (sounds goofy, but it's actually a great source of information).

I'm excited about the continued onslaught of *free* wireless availability - and seriously, is there a better feeling than picking up free internet when you turn on your laptop? Ok, so maybe it's not the absolute best feeling in the world, but it's up there... and I'm ready for free wireless in cities!

And talking about convergence... if you think this is a good profit opportunity, you'd look to get exposure to this area. I can't make an official recommendation, particularly since in this case I'm not planning to put my money behind it (and I have other doubts), but one company that has some exposure (but has had troubles) is EarthLink and their municipal networks. However, there's been some recent negative news about the project, so that might be something else to consider.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

What To Do After You Get "Robbed"?

Now that I really have your attention...

Tip: review your bank account balance online once a day.
Tip #2: keep your receipts until you verify completed transactions in your account.
Tip #3: shred your receipt afterwards.

Why the first tip? Because you never know when you'll have a charge for $1,215.54 plus another charge for $27.33 in a hospital in Mexico such as I had today. Fortunately, I called ING right away, canceled my card, and filed a dispute. The problem is the process is quite onerous - it could take up to 45 days to fully credit my account, plus I might have to submit supporting paperwork.

The woman I spoke to on the phone said it's unlikely I'll have to submit any further paperwork because I was calling from my phone in Connecticut and the charges in Mexico were showing up as recently as today (and unless I can be in two places at once...) so this should put an end to this mess.

And why the second and third tip? Because you never know when the few horrible people in the world are trying to rob you (such as whoever used my card number at the Mexican hospital) or when they're going through your trash to get your account number (that didn't happen in my case, but it's good advice to shred receipts regardless).

Finally, my last money management security tip... have a backup bank account and/or carry some cash at all times. Fortunately, I have a second checking account where I'll be able to withdraw money while this account is canceled and until my new checking card arrives. If you don't want to maintain a second checking account, make sure you have at least some cash on you at all times because you never know what might happen!

Book Review: "Brazen Careerist"

Sorry I haven't done a book review in a while. Since the last time I did one (a week or two ago) I've re-read the Clif Bar book, read and re-read Harry Potter 7, read The Black Swan, and now I've finished Brazen Careerist.

I've been an on again off again fan of Penelope Trunk's blog, so about a week ago when I was searching through Amazon I figured reading her book could do no harm - and thus ordered a copy. Well, it arrived yesterday so I began reading at around 8pm. Less than 3 hours later I was done with the book and I decided to go to sleep before writing a book review.

This book is for anyone age 16 and up. Brazen Careerist provides job, networking, and life advice. Her take on the boomerang phenomenon is spot on and so is her writing on email etiquette; the thing that bugged me about the book was that I felt I had read lots of it before... and it turns out I was right.

See, Penelope often uses book excerpts on her blog - so much so that I felt a good portion (maybe 20%?) of the book had already been posted on the blog. This was a big disappointment because after spending around $15, I expected more unique advice I hadn't seen before. I also was surprised at the brevity of the book; her book totaled 197 really small pages.

My recommendation: if you haven't/don't read Penelope's blog then you likely haven't read the book excerpts she's posted online. If you haven't read the book excerpts yet, I suggest you do so to get the general gist of her book. From there, if you like an excerpt or two, and have money to spare, then stop reading the blog and buy the book so that the experience is better! But make sure you don't pay over $15 and if you can borrow the book from someone then that's an even better deal.

Monday, August 6, 2007

An (Average) Week In the Life Of Me

*Note: only keep reading if you're one of the people who has asked how I find time to do things or if you have a particular interest in such things. Otherwise, you will probably find this post to be a bit boring as it relates to time management/prioritizing. Also, this post delves into success and hard work - two topics that (yes) go hand in hand.

I've been running an experiment on how I "use" my time the past 4 months. Now that the four months are up, I can take time to reflect on these breakdowns.

I've carefully (and accurately) put down in Excel the hours I work - every single day. I wanted to see what time I got to work and what time I left work, sure, but I also wanted to see how I spend my time at work. For the first two months, I wrote down everything I did (those things that were of note). I then got so busy that writing everything down became cumbersome, so I just took a few minutes to note when I got to work and when I left work. *Tip: writing down everything you complete (and attempt) is a great way to keep your productivity up. I probably worked harder when I'd look at what I'd done for the day and realized it wasn't (until that point) anything significant.

From there, I conservatively estimated how many hours I spent working on/for/with CK. In truth, there have been weeks when it's been way above my estimate and a few weeks (like the last) where it's been below. Regardless, this works out to a decent extra amount of work per week (and is factored into the graph below).

Then I thought it'd be interesting to see how everything adds up if I include how often I read per week. I've been at a steady 2 to 3 books per week clip, with the occasional drop off. My conservative estimate is factored into the blue line below and while I won't give away the amount I (truly believe) I read per week, I'll give you a hint: at least an hour per day, plus many more on the weekend.

So with the precise measurements of time spent at work (and the two quite conservative estimates of CK related work and reading) you can see see this conservative breakdown of my time spent per week:

That is (again, conservatively) over 70 hours per week, every week, for 4 months. In truth, it's probably closer to an average of over 80 hours per week.

So how do I do it (and why do I do it?) and what are my tips? Firstly, 80 hours per week is not hard to do (seriously!). Rather, it simply requires dedication. My suggestion is to stick to a relative routine and set daily goals. To give you a taste, these are some of my daily goals: I don't wake up later than 6am on a weekday; I don't go to bed after 11pm on a weekday, save for the occasional Thursday night; I try to (and usually do) read for an hour per day on a weekday and I read even more on the weekend. Instantly, these workweek routines give me 17 hours per day of being awake!

My other tip is to turn off your television. It's not hard to do and you don't miss much (particularly after you've been doing this for awhile). I can't emphasize enough how much time this saves you.

Does this sound boring? Or difficult? Maybe to you, but certainly not to me. I happen to love reading and reading happens to (generally) make you more knowledgeable. The benefits of my typical week (increased productivity, efficiency, knowledge, etc.) outweigh the negatives (workweek routine, "discipline" though I personally wouldn't count this as a negative).

I've definitely never been happier in my life (and for that matter, I've never been more productive). And if you want to be successful, I've noticed more and more that a good portion of success comes as a byproduct of hard work. Working hard then puts you in position for more opportunity, more success, and (perhaps more often) in the way of good luck.

*Addendum, caveat, etc:

I am not saying I am successful (I frankly have much more I would like to accomplish!) nor is this post meant to be taken as anything other than explaining how to maximize your time. I am also not "advertising" how "hard" I work; there are many people out there who work harder and longer hours. The takeaway from this post is that no matter how hard you already work, or how successful you already are, you can always become better (and more efficient). So keep at it!