The Biggest Value-Creating Business Decision

Applying Artificial Intelligence to the Retail Experience
In retail, many of the most vaunted algorithmic success stories have as much to do with human psychology as with engineering know-how.
The biggest value-creating decision in the history of modern decision: Apple’s crazy decision to forward integrate into stores.
~ Scott Galloway

Apple vs. Amazon

Apple made this crazy irrational decision 20 years ago to forward integrate into the medium that was supposedly going away.
The thing carrying Apple to the largest margins, margins that are somewhere in between Hermès and Ferrari in terms of operating margin, is its brand equity or its halo. Now, what did they do differently to establish this unbelievable resonance as a brand? Samsung, their closest competitor spends double on advertising. They also spend double on online advertising. So where has Apple reinvested that capital?

Apples Hermes

Apple made this crazy irrational decision 20 years ago to forward integrate into the medium that was supposedly going away. Stores. And they have somewhere between five and six billion dollars in store leases now on their balance sheet and have reallocated capital out of traditional broadcast media, which is declining every day in effectiveness, into the store where people still make physical contact if you will. They still consummate the relationship with the brand at the point of purchase.

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Did Frederick Douglass think that slavery was a choice?

“I had reached the point, at which I was not afraid to die. This spirit made me a freeman in fact, while I remained a slave in form.”

Frederick Douglass & Edward Covey

Well, my dear reader, this battle with Mr. Covey—undignified as it was, and as I fear my narration of it is—was the turning point in my “life as a slave.” It rekindled in my breast the smouldering embers of liberty; it brought up my Baltimore dreams, and revived a sense of my own manhood. I was a changed being after that fight. I was nothing before; I WAS A MAN NOW. It recalled to life my crushed self-respect and my self-confidence, and inspired me with a renewed determination to be A FREEMAN. A man, without force, is without the essential dignity of humanity. Human nature is so constituted, that it cannot honor a helpless man, although it can pity him; and even this it cannot do long, if the signs of power do not arise.
He can only understand the effect of this combat on my spirit, who has himself incurred something, hazarded something, in repelling the unjust and cruel aggressions of a tyrant. Covey was a tyrant, and a cowardly one, withal. After resisting him, I felt as I had never felt before. It was a resurrection from the dark and pestiferous tomb of slavery, to the heaven of comparative freedom. I was no longer a servile coward, trembling under the frown of a brother worm of the dust, but, my long-cowed spirit was roused to an attitude of manly independence. I had reached the point, at which I was not afraid to die. This spirit made me a freeman in fact, while I remained a slave in form. When a slave cannot be flogged he is more than half free. He has a domain as broad as his own manly heart to defend, and he is really “a power on earth.” While slaves prefer their lives, with flogging, to instant death, they will always find Christians enough, like unto Covey, to accommodate that preference. From this time, until that of my escape from slavery, I was never fairly whipped. Several attempts were made to whip me, but they were always unsuccessful. Bruises I did get, as I shall hereafter inform the reader; but the case I have been describing, was the end of the brutification to which slavery had subjected me.
~ My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Your life doesn’t just “happen.” Whether you know it or not, it is carefully designed by you. The choices, after all, are yours. You choose happiness. You choose sadness. You choose decisiveness. You choose ambivalence. You choose success. You choose failure. You choose courage. You choose fear. Just remember that every moment, every situation, provides a new choice. And in doing so, it gives you a perfect opportunity to do things differently to produce more positive results.
~ 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Habits chart
Martin Luther King and Malcolm X

The R F Smith Card: Good Jobs & Financial Health

The R F Smith Card

It’s a sad truth of American life that the poorer you are the more you pay for banking.
For example, according to the Wall Street Journal, banks and other financial firms in 2016 generated $33 billion in fees related to overdrafts on checking accounts, this is the highest level in seven years. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has compared overdraft fees to a short-term loan with a 17,000% APR!
Mehrsa Baradaran, associate professor of law at the University of Georgia, and author of How the Other Half Banks, writes “As the banks are set up currently, the fees they charge are meant to dissuade small accounts, or accounts by people whose incomes are minimal and very uneven.”
As Baradaran writes in her book’s introduction, the banking industry has stopped serving those who are “too poor to bank”, pushing them into the arms of non-bank service providers to provide the most basic services: to cash pay checks, pay bills or transfer money. In exchange, she calculates that they fork over up to 10% of their income for these services.
In some cases, they don’t have an option: a bank may refuse to open an account for them. And banks have long been trying to “discourage” their smaller customers: fees on accounts where balances dip below a specified level even briefly can look extremely costly to a low-income household.

Financial Health

Financial Health for Everyone using A.I.
Our vision is an audacious one: to increase the number of individuals with positive financial health and well-being. To achieve financial health, people need day-to-day financial systems that build long-term resilience and opportunity. Financial health enables family stability, education, and upward mobility, not just for individuals today but across future generations. Promoting financial health is good for the American economy. Financially healthy consumers drive new opportunities for increased engagement, loyalty, and long-term revenue streams. Lasting financial health also has a positive macroeconomic impact on communities at local, regional, and national levels.
We are developing a financial adviser system with several artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to help achieve this goal. This system learns from historical data to predict the account balances of individuals for a future time period, identify the recurring charges in their spending, determine unexpected large expenses, and analyze the category-wise spending behavior of user groups.

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Loving Your Neighbor is Good for Your Health

Ask, and it will be given to you;
Seek, and you will find;
Knock, and it will be opened to you.
~ Matthew 7:7

Seven Magazine

Click the image above or below for
A rough draft of Seven Magazine.

Seven Magazine

What is the greatest risk factor for your health?

Loving Your Neighbor is Good for Your Health

“There was no suicide, no alcoholism, no drug addiction, and very little crime. They didn’t have anyone on welfare. Then we looked at peptic ulcers. They didn’t have any of those either. These people were dying of old age. That’s it.”

Roseto, PA

Scientific evidence suggests that loneliness may be the greatest public health issue few people are talking about. We are tribal beings, and when we feel lonely, our nervous systems sense a threat, activating stress responses that predispose the body to illness.
AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’
“The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
~ Mark 12:30-31

Connection to the Divine

Is Connection to the Divine important?

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Michael Jordan Chooses Failure: A Message to Entrepreneurs

Your life doesn’t just “happen.” Whether you know it or not, it is carefully designed by you. The choices, after all, are yours. You choose happiness. You choose sadness. You choose decisiveness. You choose ambivalence. You choose success. You choose failure. You choose courage. You choose fear. Just remember that every moment, every situation, provides a new choice. And in doing so, it gives you a perfect opportunity to do things differently to produce more positive results.

Michael Jordan Forbes

This past fall Adidas passed Jordan brand as the second most popular sneaker in the United States.

When it comes to sneaker sales, Michael Jordan no longer has that hunger, and this lack of hunger reminded me of a recent email that I sent to motivate an entrepreneur. The text of the email is below.
Getting right to the point, you will most likely fail. Mainly because you are too afraid to make mistakes. Too afraid of looking stupid and therefore incapable of doing anything original:
I don’t mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative. But we do know is that if you are not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. If you’re not prepared to be wrong.
I have written versions of this email a number of times since our only meeting but have never sent the really blunt version. I didn’t want to seem mean.
Since I have written my Elon Musk article, it is much easier to make my point and also make the case that I am not picking on you to be mean or for some other trivial reason.
Ideas in the abstract are worthless. You have a good idea. So fucking what! Here’s a cookie and a gold star!
Friendster launched two years before Facebook, and MySpace copied Friendster and launched a year before Facebook.
Yahoo! and other search engines like Lycos, AltaVista, Infoseek launched about four years before Google. Yahoo! even had two chances to buy Google in 1998 and 2002.
In the mid-1980’s Commodore sold far more computers than Apple. Yet today Apple is the most valuable company in the world and Commodore went out of business in 1994.

Computer sales 1984-1987
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Dear Mr. Man: Let America Be America Again

All of history’s greatest figures achieved success by having pistis, “trust; commitment; loyalty; engagement.”

Dear Mr. Man - A documentary

Might not be in the back of the bus
But it sho’ feel just the same
Ain’t nothing fair about welfare
Ain’t no assistance in AIDS
Ain’t nothin’ affirmative about your actions
Till the people get paid
“Dear Mr. Man”
Prince
Where are the Black and Brown Mark Zuckerbergs? That was essentially the question — the challenge — that the late musician Prince asked Van Jones, civil rights activist, founder of the Dream Corps, and host of CNN’s The Messy Truth with Van Jones.

Prince Van Jones
Langston Hughes

We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!
“Let American Be American Again”
By Langston Hughes
Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick

San Francisco 49ers Eric Reid (35) and Colin Kaepernick (7) take a knee during the National Anthem prior to their season opener against the Los Angeles Rams during an NFL football game Monday, Sept. 12, 2016, in Santa Clara, CA. The Niners won 28-0. (Daniel Gluskoter/AP Images for Panini) ORG XMIT: DGCA101

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Dear Mr. Man, Why Don’t Black Activists Fare Too Well?

Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick

San Francisco 49ers Eric Reid (35) and Colin Kaepernick (7) take a knee during the National Anthem prior to their season opener against the Los Angeles Rams during an NFL football game Monday, Sept. 12, 2016, in Santa Clara, CA. The Niners won 28-0. (Daniel Gluskoter/AP Images for Panini) ORG XMIT: DGCA101

Might not be in the back of the bus
But it sho’ feel just the same
Ain’t nothing fair about welfare
Ain’t no assistance in AIDS
Ain’t nothin’ affirmative about your actions
Till the people get paid
“Dear Mr. Man”
Prince
Prince was a great musician

“Prince came in, and he said to the labels, ‘Do not try to just put me with the urban group; I want the world. I want to be with the pop staff. I’m going to make rock and roll, as well as soul, as well as funk…I don’t want to just go to Soul Train, I don’t want to just open up for Rick James, I want to be on Dick Clark.’”
But more importantly, Prince was a great activist
“[Prince] helped so many people. Most people don’t know that. He wanted to keep his charitable activities a secret. He wanted to keep his passion for underprivileged people between him and his god.”

“We spent hours talking about [Prince’s] concerns about technology and getting those skills to inner city youth.”
Often in the United States, Black activists don’t fare too well

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