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California versus Texas – a tale best told through fishing parable

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California represented everything that is good

Since I was old enough to understand the concept of what a state was, California has represented everything that is good, fresh, growing, and beautiful. Everyone wanted to live here. Commerce grew in leaps and bounds since my childhood. Name an industry, it thrived. Our real estate was some of the most valuable dirt in the world. Regardless of business cycles it thrived, climbing to new heights after every temporary downturn. Population never stopped increasing. I realize how this all sounds, like a fantasy, but I lived it in real time from the 1950’s to now.

How dynamic was the growth? I’ll use my adopted hometown of San Diego to illustrate. As a proud 10th grade graduate I moved to San Diego from up interstate 5 in Orange County. I was 15, it was the beginning of summer 1967. The county’s population was roughly a million people. By 2005 or thereabout, the city limits was that much, and the county sported 3 million people. We went from a highly populated Mayberry, to OMG! we’re becoming like Orange County and L.A. To be accurate, San Diego merely mirrored most of the rest of the state. Business was almost always good to great. Real estate always went up over time, sometimes way up.

Then things began to change. More on that later.

Texas ain’t the Texas we all came to know and love

Texas, as many have discovered, ain’t the Texas we all came to know and love. You know, the cliché Texas. It’s now in pretty much every way how California used to be. It’s open, and free, and overflowing with real, not faux opportunity. Its employment base is now as diversified as any in the nation. No longer a one trick pony, completely reliant on oil, it now thrives on the dynamics of an unfettered market place, which rewards value, efficiency, and hard work. In other words, they’re now almost maximally diversified when it comes to employers.

Doing business there, I visit frequently. The atmosphere is one of ongoing, dynamic success. I say this several times weekly, but go to any Starbucks in a large Texas city. Swing a dead cat and you’ll hit a couple of venture capitalists. People, capital, and new or expanding businesses are no longer even news these days. The surprise is that the business, capital, and general investment isn’t just coming from other states, but from around the world.

My experience is a microcosm of this. A large minority of the competition for the product I covet comes from another continent. Everyone knows their capital and hard work are safe there. California? It’s been sad to watch.

What’s the core difference between the two states?

I think it can be illustrated by the classic tale of two fishing villages. Most of us have heard this story in one form or another. In a nutshell, one village believes those families with the poorest fishing skills are entitled to take fish from those who are relatively or highly successful. The other village believes it’s most skilled fishermen should take time to pass on their skills to those less talented — teach them to be self sufficient. Everyone keeps what they earn.

The former believes in equality of results. The latter prefers equality of opportunity.

Over time the most prosperous families in the first village end up leaving in order to live in the the second village. They grew tired of having the results of their hard work and honed skills, stolen from them. It troubled them further that the stolen fish went to families who fished little or not at all, knowing fish would be delivered to their doors anyway.

Taker Village vs. Teaching Village

Before long, the “Taker Village” discovered most of their best fishing families had disappeared, having fled to the village promising that they wouldn’t steal their fish. They were more than happy to share what they knew with those less proficient.

Before long, the “Teaching Village” had nearly doubled in size.

The “Taker Village?” California is broke.

They’re losing population for the first time in generations. Lousy fishermen from all over the country are moving there for the free fish, and have been for a generation, maybe two. They’re so desperate now that they’re attempting to tax the sale of fish from other villages around the land. This hasn’t been, um, well received.

The lesson being taught

The lesson being taught by the stark differences between the Texas and California economies is crucial to the country’s very survival, in my opinion. Where California believes it can steal fish from the most successful fishermen in perpetuity, Texas realizes that’s been a failed strategy since man made the first trade with another man and called it commerce. Eventually the producers get tired of having their wealth stolen, and they do the only thing they can — they leave — and take their skills and wealth with them.

Texas is showing the country how it’s done. Tell folks you won’t steal what they create through hard work, risk, and sacrifice, and it’s amazing how many people will run, not walk to your state, um, village.

Imagine that.

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32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Mark

    July 27, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Well done. Truer words were never spoke!

  2. Charlie Elwis

    July 28, 2011 at 10:34 am

    I lived in California my first 54 years and have spent the last seven unhappy years in Texas. Since I have been a real estate broker since 1979, It became clear to me that California real estate would soon go from boom to bust. Memories are short and California tends to have ten-year cycles.
    I dispise Texas. The weather is horrible, the educational system is 47th in the nation, and it is "a right to work state." A Right to Work State in plain English means that you have the right to work for low wages without benefits. The median hourly income in Texas is the lowest in the nation. Texas also has the highest rate of people without health insurance (25%) If I were given an lare enough random sample of photos of the teeth of people throughout the nation, I would easily identify those most likely to live in a right to work state. Their teeth are more likely to be scrambled/missing.
    Futhermore, I expected for Texans to be unusually honest since they have a saying that a man is only as good as his word. To the contrary, I have been cheated more in the seven years I've lived in Texas than the entire time I lived in California.
    Employment in the Silicon Valley is now grawing at 15% per aannum. While California has debt problems, so does Texas. Texas currently as the third highest debt in the nation.
    If it weren't for the fire ants and miserable weather, I'd have nothing good to say about Texas.
    California, here I come.

  3. Manhattan Beach Agent

    July 30, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    You hit the nail on the head! Real estate demand always follows economic activity. Base industry, and a climate favorable to business provides the capital resources required to push housing demand. What we saw in the last housing boom in California wasn't in response to true economic growth; it merely obscured the real story that we're losing our businesses, and population must either follow, or acquiesce to lower standards of living relative to other parts of the country, and world, that attract business.

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Opinion Editorials

Have an in-person job interview? 7 tips to crush the competition

EDITORIAL) While we all know the usual interview schtick, take some time to really study for your next face-to-face job interview.

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Job interview between two women.

So, you’re all scheduled for an in-person interview for a job you’d kill for. It’s exciting that you’ve made it to this step, but the question is, are you ready? Especially with remote interviews being the new norm, your nerves may feel shaken up a bit to interview in person – but you’ve got this! And many of these tips can be applied no matter the interview setting.

We all know the basics of a job interview: dress nice, get there early, come prepared, firm handshake, yada, yada, yada… However, it’s good to really sit and think about all of the requirements of a successful interview.

There are seven steps for crushing a face-to-face interview. Do your homework upside down and inside out in order to walk into that room.

Which brings us to the first step: know everything you need to know backwards and forwards.

This can be done in two steps: getting to know the company and getting to know yourself. By doing website, social media, and LinkedIn research, you can get a feel of the company culture as well as the position you’re interviewing for.

By getting to know yourself, have a friend ask you some interview questions so you can practice. Also, take a look at your resume through the eyes of someone who doesn’t know you. Make sure everything is clear and can compete with other candidates.

The next step is to anticipate solving future problems. Have some insight on the department that you are interviewing for and come prepared with ideas of how to better this department. (i.e. if it’s marketing, give examples of campaigns you’ve done in the past that have proven to have been successful.)

Step number three requires you to go back to the research board and get some information on the employer. Find out who you’re meeting with (head of HR, head of the department, etc.) and make your self-presentation appropriate for the given person.

Next, work on making the interview conversation a meaningful one. This can be done by asking questions as people like to see you take an interest in them. Also, be sure to never answer the questions as if it’s your regular spiel. Treat each job interview as if this is the first time you’re presenting your employability information.

With this, your next step is to have stories prepared for the job interview. Anecdotes and examples of previous jobs or volunteer/organization experiences can help bring life to an otherwise run-of-the-mill resume.

After this, you’ll want to make sure that you’re showing enthusiasm for the position you’re interviewing for. Don’t jump on the couch in the lobby like you’re Tom Cruise on Oprah, but definitely portray that you’re excited and up for the challenge.

Lastly, make a good impression by being impressive. Be professional and in control of your body language. Put yourself in the mindset of whatever position you’re interviewing for and show them that you have what it takes.

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Opinion Editorials

The benefits of remote work are just too good to overlook

(EDITORIAL) Employees scream it from the rooftops and businesses don’t want to admit it: Remote work is just too beneficial to pass up- and here’s why.

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Work from home written with scrabble letters.

Remote work has been rising in popularity in the past several years. Especially following the COVID-19 global pandemic, more companies saw significant benefits for both their business and their staff that went beyond the realm of finances by allowing remote labor.

Less happily, many people lost their job during the pandemic, but they ended up having more time to put toward their passions or were compelled to get creative with their remote business ideas to ensure a consistent stream of income.

If you remain on the fence about allowing your employees to work remotely, or are considering a career shift yourself, take a look at the top four benefits of working remotely, which may sway your decision.

Better Overall Quality of Life

Allowing your employees to work remotely doesn’t necessarily mean they work from home full time. There are benefits to having your employees work in an office part of the time – say, two or three days – and working from home, in more familiar surroundings, the rest of the week.

In this way, your workers enjoy some freedom and independence while retaining the ability to interact face-to-face with their peers. That provides human interaction, which can play a substantial role in terms of improved mental health for your staff.

Happy employees means healthier employees, which can save your outfit money in the form of healthcare costs and lost productivity. But we will get further into the cost-saving benefits a little further on.

If you’re a remote worker, you should see yourself becoming significantly more productive. But why would this be the case if you don’t have a manager over your shoulder watching your every move?

It’s true that when employees have a greater sense of independence, they also experience a significant sense of trust on the part of their employers and managers. This is one of the huge benefits of working remotely because it has a trickle-down effect on the quality and overall production of people’s work.

Can Work Anywhere with Internet

Whether you are a small business owner or have crafted your work to tailor toward a life of remote labor, this is an opportunity for someone who has dreamed of being a digital nomad. You have the ability to work anywhere in the world as long as you have access to the Internet. If you love to travel, this is a chance to spend time in various places around the globe while continuing to meet your deadlines.

Multi-member Zoom call on a Apple Mac laptop with a blue mug of black coffee next to it.

Set Your Own Hours

In some cases with remote businesses, you have the freedom to set your own hours. Content writers, for instance, tend to enjoy more flexibility with regard to when they work because a lot of what they produce is project-based rather than tied to a nine-to-five schedule.

When you’re a business owner, this can be incredibly useful when you outsource tasks to save money. You can find a higher quality of performance by searching for contractors anywhere in the world and it doesn’t limit you to workers who live near to your office.

Saves Everyone Time and Money

 In the end, remote work typically saves money for every person and entity involved. Businesses save costs in terms of not having to pay for a physical space, utilities, Internet, and other expenses. This allows you, as the owner, to spend more of your income on providing quality software and benefits for your employees so your operation runs more smoothly and efficiently.

According to FlexJobs, employees or remote business owners may save around $4,000 on average every year for expenses such as car maintenance, transportation, professional clothing in the office, or even money spent dining out for lunch with coworkers. Eventually, the costs add up, which means extra money in your pocket to take that much-needed vacation or save up for a down payment on your first home.

These benefits of working remotely only skim the surface. There are also sustainability factors such as removing cars from the roads and streets, because people don’t have to travel to and from an office; or employees missing fewer workdays since they have the ability and freedom to clock in from home.

Weigh the pros and cons as to whether remote work is right for you as a business owner or online professional. You might be surprised to find that working from home for more than the duration of the pandemic is worthwhile and could have long-lasting benefits.

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Opinion Editorials

Do these 3 things if you TRULY want to be an ally to women in tech

(EDITORIAL) We understand diversity helps and strengthens our companies, and individual teams. But how can you be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce?

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Two women at meeting table discussing working in tech.

More and more women are leaving their positions with tech companies, citing lack of opportunity for advancement, wage gaps, and even hostile working conditions as some of the reasons why.

What’s better for the tech industry and its employees than cultivating inclusive and diverse departments? Diversity is known to strengthen the overall performance of a company and its teams, and there are a number of ways you can be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce. To name a few:

1. Be open to listening to different perspectives.

It can be awkward to hear so many reports of workplace politics stacking against women, especially if you’re not a woman!

Instead of getting uncomfortable or defensive – ask open ended questions and be interested in a perspective that isn’t yours and may be unfamiliar.

Don’t seek to rationalize or explain the experiences you’re hearing about, as that can come off as condescending. It’s common for women to be interrupted or spoken over in team gatherings. If you notice this happening, bring the conversation back to where the interruption began. Offering your ear and counting yourself as responsible for making space will improve the overall quality of communication in your company.

Listening to and validating what women have to say about the quality of their employment with a company is an important step in the right direction.

Expressing something as simple as “I was interested in what you had to say – could you elaborate on your thought?” can help.

2. Develop an Employee Resource Group (ERG) program.

An ERG is a volunteer-based, employee-led group that acts as a resource for a particular group of employees. An ERG can help to foster inclusiveness through discussion, team-building activities and events. It’s common for a department to have only one or two women on the roster.

This can mean that the day to day feels disconnected from concerns commonly shared by women. disjointed it might feel to be on a high performing team, without access to relatable conversations.

3. Be responsible for your company’s culture.

Chances are, your company already has some amazing cultural values in place. That said, how often are you checking your own performance and your co-workers performances against those high standards? Strong company culture and values sound great, but whether or not they’re adhered to can make or break the mood of a work environment.

Many women say they’ve experienced extremely damaging and toxic cultural environments, which lead to hostility, frustration, and even harassment. Take action when you see the new woman uncomfortable with being hit on at team drinks.

Call out those who make unfriendly and uncouth comments about how women perform, look, or behave.

Setting a personal threshold for these kinds of microaggressions can help you lead by example, and will help build a trustworthy allyship.

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