Hello! Welcome to MarkFord.net
This is the open-for-inspection half-way home for my writing!
What you’ll find here are essays, stories, book chapters, poetry, and journal entries, as well as words and images from others that I want to share.
The bulk of the essays will be about business, wealth building, and personal productivity. But there will also be things I’m equally or more interested in, such as art, education, economics, physics, philosophy, psychology, neurobiology, fitness, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Since much of what you’ll be reading here will be early drafts of work meant for publication I welcome any comments or suggestions you might have that will help me strengthen them.

One Thing & Another

August 19, 2018 in Blog

Delray Beach, FL

Notes From My Journal: Will the US Dollar Follow the Turkish Lira Down the Currency Drain?

It’s odd to read American economists on what’s going on in Turkey. They are almost unanimously agreed that President Erdogan has screwed up the economy by trying to boost economic growth through borrowing and cheap credit.

When you borrow billions of dollars for development purposes and then refuse to raise central bank interest rates as prices rise, you put your country’s currency and, therefore, its economy at risk.

Growth continues along fine until, at some point, the national debt begins to worry borrowers. When that happens, they start selling, rather than investing in, your currency and currency-based assets – and it spirals into massive inflation and a collapsing economy.

Makes sense. What puzzles me is why these same economists don’t see that this is largely what we’ve been doing in the USA.

Look at a graph of US national debt over the last 50 years and you’ll see a gradually inclining line that begins to climb steeply in the 80s and 90s and then shoots nearly vertically upwards in the last 20 years.

As for interest rates, under the euphemism of “Quantum Easing,” they have been artificially low since 2008.

Of course, there are differences between the US and Turkey. We are much larger. But so is our debt. President Trump doesn’t control the Federal Reserve. But he’d like to. And if he did, he’d bring rates lower.

Still, I’m not worried that the dollar is going to follow the lira or that we’ll be experiencing hyperinflation any time soon. I just think it’s interesting that the same economists that denigrate Erdogan’s policies don’t also condemn ours.

 

Today’s Word: quail (verb)

To quail (KWALE) is to shrink and cower in fear. Flinchrecoil, and wince are synonyms of quail, but each word is used in a slightly different way.

Flinching is an instinctive reaction to something surprising, dangerous, or painful. Recoiling implies horror or disgust. Wincing usually suggests discomfort or distress.

 

Fun Fact

 A jiffy is an actual measure of time: 1/100 of a second.

 

From My “Work-in-Progress” Basket

A Simple, 4-Step Public Speaking Technique 

That Could Make the World a Happier Place

I didn’t know who Lewis Howes was when I heard James Altucher’s interview with him. Turns out he’s a well-known dude. He’s all over social media. He’s always giving or doing interviews. He’s got his own podcast. He makes speeches, etc.

“With all that public exposure, don’t you sometimes feel anxious or overwhelmed?” Altucher asked.

He does, he said.

“And what do you do about it?” Altucher wanted to know.

When Howes starts to feel nervous when making a speech or doing a podcast or appearing in public, he told Altucher, the first thing he does is notice that he’s feeling nervous. Then he recognizes that if he thinks about his nervousness, it will only make him feel worse.

“So I do something to take the pressure off,” he said.

“What’s that?”

I say to myself repeatedly: “I’m here to give. I’m here to give. I’m here to give.“

“And then?”

Click to continue… One Thing & Another

One Thing & Another

August 17, 2018 in Blog

Delray Beach, FL

Notes From My Journal: Pythagoras as Philosopher 

From Maria Popova’s blog, BrainPickings https://www.brainpickings.org

“Alongside his revolutionary science, Pythagoras coined the word philosopher to describe himself as a “lover of wisdom” — a love the subject of which he encapsulated in a short, insightful meditation on the uses of philosophy in human life. According to the anecdote, recounted by Cicero four centuries later, Pythagoras attended the Olympic Games of 518 BC with Prince Leon, the esteemed ruler of Phlius. The Prince, impressed with his guest’s wide and cross-disciplinary range of knowledge, asked Pythagoras why he lived as a “philosopher” rather than an expert in any one of the classical arts.

“He replied: Life… may well be compared with these public Games for in the vast crowd assembled here some are attracted by the acquisition of gain, others are led on by the hopes and ambitions of fame and glory. But among them there are a few who have come to observe and to understand all that passes here.

“It is the same with life. Some are influenced by the love of wealth while others are blindly led on by the mad fever for power and domination, but the finest type of man gives himself up to discovering the meaning and purpose of life itself. He seeks to uncover the secrets of nature. This is the man I call a philosopher for although no man is completely wise in all respects, he can love wisdom as the key to nature’s secrets.”

Today’s Word: halcyon (adjective)

Halcyon (HAL-see-un) indicates a time in the past that was idyllically happy, peaceful, and prosperous.

As used by the novelist Rumaan Alam: “One of the many American ideals that make no sense at all is that we’re all a million rugged individualists marching in lockstep. We dress accordingly, at least the men. If it’s always been thus, I yearn for the halcyon days of the man in the gray flannel suit because at least that guy had some flair.”

Fun Fact

It takes about 142 licks to reach the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop.

 

From My “Work-in-Progress” Basket

Read These Books or Die Broke!

“What are your favorite books on investing?”

I must have been asked that question a hundred times while I was writing for Palm Beach Confidential, a newsletter about building wealth.

It was a tough question for me to answer with any degree of confidence because (a) I hadn’t read many books on investing and (b) I wasn’t much interested in stocks and bonds. (Which is what most people mean by “investing.”)

So I would refer them to books recommended by investment experts I knew and trusted. That almost always included recommendations from the investing king: Warren Buffett.

Buffett is a serious reader. When he started his investing career, according to The Huffington Post, he would read 600 to 1,000 pages a day. Even now, he spends about 80% of his day reading.

Here are 7 of the titles he recommends:

Click to continue… One Thing & Another

One Thing & Another

August 15, 2018 in Blog

Delray Beach, FL

Notes From My Journal: Ad Writers Wanted for Social Media Marketing

Social media users spend an average of two hours and 15 minutes per day online

That’s a lot of time. So it’s no surprise that 88% of businesses in the USA are marketing on social media, according to an article in Adweek. Social media is where their prospective customers are researching their hobbies and interests and, increasingly, making their buying decisions.

Knowing how social media works and understanding the psychology of the social media buyer has become necessary knowledge for marketers and copywriters today. So I was happy to hear that AWAI has a new program to teach people how to write for this multibillion-dollar market.

This is a new version of what’s always been a great freelance career. And with the potential to get paid very well ($50 to $500 an hour), I’m thinking it should appeal to many people who are already copywriters as well as those with some sales experience who would like to use their skills in a more creative way.

Click here to learn more: https://www.awai.com

 

Today’s Word: festinate (verb)

To festinate (FES-tuh-nate) is to hurry. As used by Tibor Fischerin Under the Frog: “That night he had the firm belief he would never need to eat again as long as he lived, and he wandered around in the dark, keeping his legs moving in a desperate attempt to festinate digestion and to eschew puking, to grind down the anvil in his stomach.”

 

Fun Fact

Two states – Arizona and Hawaii – do not participate in daylight saving time. Neither do three U.S. territories: Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and Guam.

 

From My “Work-in-Progress” Basket

Growers and Tenders

Yesterday’s board meeting was the best we had in a long time. It was the first time I walked away excited about the ideas we came up with and optimistic about our ability to put them into action.

I believe the reason the meeting was so successful was because we had repopulated the team.

I was reminded of a bestselling business book I read years ago. The principal idea of the book was that business success comes from finding the right people and putting them in the right seats.

I think that’s largely true. Of the three primary factors that affect a business – capital, ideas, and people – people matter most.

I would not have said that 30 or 40 years ago. Back then, I believed it was primarily about ideas and that I had those ideas. I know better now.

People are critically important. Therefore hiring is a critical task. Every business manager looks for intelligence, earnestness, and persistence. And most CEO’s focus on experience and knowledge – as they should.

But here’s the thing. None of those attributes are as important as knowing one thing: What is this person’s personality with regards to their management style?

Click to continue… One Thing & Another

One Thing & Another

August 13, 2018 in Blog

Delray Beach, FL

Notes From My Journal: A reminder of why, after all these years, I continue to write about what I’ve learned

Every so often I get a message like this on LinkedIn…

Mark,

I hope this message finds you well. It has been over 4 years since I initially reached out to you, speaking of dreams and ambitions. This message is just another one of gratitude for you initially lending an ear and giving me honest feedback. With the way I have saved and invested, I am in a position where I will be able to step away from full-time work by spring of next year to pursue some of those dreams. Best wishes to you and yours. Maybe if I’m in your neck of Florida sometime, we can have a round on me.

MS

 

Today’s Word: magisterial (adjective)

Magisterial (maj-uh-STEER-ee-ul) means authoritative, dignified and masterful. Example from The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner: “The second man was huge, of a light coffee color, imposing in a frock coat and white tie. His head was magisterial and profound. His neck rolled above his collar in rich folds.”

 

 Fun Fact

Scientists recently discovered a 12-mile-wide underground, saltwater lake near the southern polar ice cap of Mars. It is a harsh environment, but could potentially support life. Microorganisms that have adapted to such conditions have been found in similar subglacial lakes on Earth.

 

From My “Work-in-Progress” Basket

The “Living Rich” Way to Buy a Car – the Car You REALLY Want, not the Only One You Think You Can Afford*

You think it might be time to buy a new car. The thought begins tentatively and then sprouts roots. You do some research. You talk to some friends. The more you think about it, the better you like the idea. Pretty soon you are itching to do it… and you find yourself in a showroom.

A “sales associate” approaches. A friendly guy, he asks what you are looking for. If you don’t know, he asks about your driving needs. He may ask where you live, the size of your family, etc.

If he sees that you have a fondness for a particular model, he gets more animated. But if you change your mind, he doesn’t push you. He’s ready to sell you the car you want to buy.

There is one car on the floor – the most expensive one there – that retails for more than $100,000. “That’s a car for millionaires,” you think. “It’s not for me.” You don’t want to endure the pain of envy, so you avoid looking at it. Instead, you look at sedans in the $25,000-$40,000 range.

Eventually, with the salesman’s “help,” you settle for a sensible $30,000 sedan – one very much like the sensible sedan you’ve been driving.

You negotiate the lease, and end up with a monthly payment that is slightly higher than what you were prepared for. But okay. You are committed emotionally to having the car. So you sign the papers, feeling a little bit bad.

The salesman shows you the ropes – how to adjust the side mirrors, use the navigation system and Bluetooth. He cranks the sound system. It’s pretty exciting. You leave an hour later, happy, with that new-car aroma in your nose.

A few weeks later, the new-car smell is gone. After a month or two, there is a little scratch on the passenger door. It is still a nice car, and you still like it. But it’s no longer a new car. It is used.

Four or five years later, you trade it in for a new one and repeat the process. You never stop to calculate the total cost of your car-owning protocol. So you don’t realize that for the same money you have been spending on your so-so $30,000 sedans, you could have been driving that amazing $100,000 machine.

Click to continue… One Thing & Another

One Thing & Another

August 11, 2018 in Blog

Delray Beach, FL

Notes From My Journal: The logic of having a good day 

Having a good day for me is largely determined by how I start my day. And how I start my day is largely determined by me – i.e., what I choose to do.

I’ve discovered by trial and error (mostly error) that to start off right I must choose to do something that I value.

How do I know what I value? By taking note of how I feel during and after an activity. When I do something valuable (to me), I feel good in a special way. I feel like I have done something that satisfies my view of the person I want to be. And that is always something that challenges the head and lightens the heart.

That sounds like what I value is all about me – but it’s actually about everything outside of me.

What activities give me that good feeling? Teaching. Writing. Loving.

There may be other activities that hit the mark, but those are the ones I’ve identified so far. And I’ve been working on this for more than 50 years.

I wake up. Never anymore with the surge of energy I had during my first 40 years. I’m sore. I’m stiff. I want to do something easy.

What is easy?

* Reading the news

* Watching YouTube

* Playing video games

* Watching any sort of entertainment

* Reading email

In other words, any activity that amounts to going online.

So that’s what I want to do in the morning. But I know that such activities, though easy and even comforting, will leave me feeling empty. I also know that the activities I value – writing, teaching, and loving – are not easy.

Which brings me back to this…

Having a good day is all about the first thing I choose to do. And the first thing I choose to do is largely up to me.

It’s up to me but it isn’t easy. That is a fact that I have to deal with. Every day. First thing in the morning.

 

Today’s Word: nacreous (adjective)

Something that’s nacreous (NAY-kree-us) is lustrous and opalescent, resembling mother-of-pearl. Example from The Milagro Beanfield War by John Nichols: “The sunset, rosy, orange, nacreous in spots, flecked with pastel blues and streaks of lavender and blood, reflected gorgeously in those few school windows not yet broken.”

 

Fun Fact

We breathe 11,000 liters of oxygen every day.

 

From My “Work-in-Progress” Basket

Under the Limb of Forgetfulness (After CS)           

All this time seeping into us

After so many years memory is brittle

Yet I remember you now in the flowered shirt

Looking out toward something I can’t see

I want to go back again and run after you

Blind…

Chasing the fluttering sound of your shirttails

That picture of you on the book cover

I don’t look at it much anymore

What I remember are the nights drinking

And the silent stretches after the fighting

So many difficult conversations about love

About artifice and construction and language

Let’s sit inside this close circle

While the phantoms of our former selves

Dance clumsily among the flickering trees

Shadows…

Let’s meet then under a bough of forgetfulness

Embraced and untethered and start over

 

Worth Quoting

“Power does not corrupt men. Fools, however, if they are in a position of power, corrupt power.” – George Bernard Shaw

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