Old Timer’s Story

“Tell us a story that we couldn’t find in a newspaper…” (inquisitive voice) in media res

I had lunch with two older gentlemen from my church, we meet once a year and catch up and talk about baseball and life.

We ironically talked about who the most famous person we ever met happened to be.  Kenny Rogers in passing… David Schwimmer in passing… The oldest member of our group told a story, ironically, about a football player.

The older gentleman (+65 years old) has had some health problems, so the fact that he’s able to sit there and talk to us is a miracle in and of itself.  But, he energetically told us a story about an encounter he had when he was younger.  He was about 9 or 10 years old and he was in downtown Cleveland with his dad.  His dad was at a jewelry store and struck up a conversation with THE Jim Brown, one of the greatest NFL runningbacks of all time.  His dad asked him to tell them a story that wouldn’t be recorded in the media, they wanted a story they could tell others, maybe to prove they met him or to have a story in and of itself.  They asked him to “tell us a story that we couldn’t find in a newspaper”

Jim Brown obliged.  He recalled a game where the Browns were playing the Giants in Yankee’s stadium.  It was a tight game.  7-7, Jim Brown would make a run and then tackled by Sam Huff of the Giants of New York (Eddie Murphy voice/Coming to America) and every time Huff tackled Jim Brown, he would say, “You stink Brown!… You stink.” This went on the entire game.  The game eventually was tied again and the Browns were driving the ball down the field.  “You stink Brown, you stink!” Continued on that drive.  On the final play of the drive, the Browns are at the goal line.  Jim Brown is given the ball to jump over the players to land in the end zone.  As fate would have it, he lands on who else… Sam Huff.  He looks down at him and says, “You stink Huff, you stink!”  

It was amazing to listen to this story being retold by my friend, a moment in time that wasn’t recorded was passed down through storytelling.  A chance encounter produced a question which produced a memory which produced a conversation piece that produced this blog.  The start of one question threaded time and space to land on jeong.me.

This story wouldn’t have lived on except for 3 key ingredients.

  1. The dad of my friend had the insight to ask for a story like that.
  2. My friend has had some health issues, so the fact that he was sitting there retelling the story many years later was a miracle and an added bonus to the conversation.
  3. The story stuck with me and I had to have the desire to retell this story.  Now it will live forever* in cyberspace. (forever is a relative term, but this may be read decades after I die).  


How can you take this story and use the principles to advance your life and make it better?

Let me guide you with 3 simple take aways.

  1. Ask the right questions.  Look back on your life and ask yourself, what could I have asked in the past? What do I want to remember? Ask the right questions!?
  2. Understand your circumstances and capitalize on them. If you see Jim Brown, ask him a great question.  Make the most of chance encounters and enjoy that time you have with family and tell stories and retell them.
  3. Write things down in a journal and record moments.  Just record moments however you like and make sure it can be passed on to the next generation. Email yourself stories.  Take pictures.  Take videos (of legal things).  Record and pass on!



Wasting a Swipe

          I don’t use credit cards to pay for things. It is partly due to my credit card issues in the past and  I am also not a fan because of the behaviors it produces in me.  Recently, I was told by my girlfriend that I am wasting a swipe when I use my debit card and not my credit card.  I haven’t charged anything to my credit card since 2014.  I mainly chose to do so because I don’t want to go back into debt.  I would say that Dave Ramsey (I don’t know or endorse him) did influence me a lot on this topic, but I haven’t listened to him lately and the feeling and urge to swipe has come back.  

Every time she says it, it rings truer and truer, but then I have to go back to some of my basic principles of why I don’t use credit cards.  I have three major reasons for using a debit card/cash versus credit cards.

  1. Those who swipe tend to use 12% -18% more, this applies to debit and credit cards.  There is a “swiping effect” and the theory is that when you swipe, you are desensitized to the transaction of money versus handing over cold hard cash and getting change back.  So, you are in essence saving 15% (I averaged 12 and 18).  15% savings is better than any card cash back program that I have ever heard of.  If you find such a card, please let me know, I will be glad to sign up and use it!  So, with a debit card, you will only spend the money you have, but with a credit card you could potentially use more money than you have and run a deficit.  So, you do potentially save money by using a debit card, but you would be better served to use cold hard cash!
  2. I have heard these voices in the back of my head and I am sure you have too.  You go to buy something and you think, I’ll buy a couple of these, they’re on sale, I like them, whatnot… I will get cash back and then the extras that you bought are sitting around collecting dust.  It’s easier to spend more money when you think, I’ll get 1% or 2% back and I don’t have to pay for another 30 days.  That positive effect of 1-2% outweighs the fact that you overspent by 15% and you don’t need the product.  But, when you only have $30 in your back pocket and you are on a cash based budget, you decide, I’ll get enough of this to last me until my next budget cycle or I won’t buy it altogether.  The enticement of the 1% does alter your judgement.  
  3. I like the reaction I get when I tell people, I don’t use credit cards to pay for things. They’re usually amazed and some of them state that I am not cash flowing optimally or I’m losing out on certain benefits. But, there is a certain level of satisfaction in knowing that I don’t need a credit card and that I don’t need the points/monies associated with it.  I more than make up for it with my savings of 15%.  Would you rather have (on a per $100 basis) $15 or $1-$2?  Multiply that by 10 or 20, because it is possible to charge a couple thousand dollars on your credit card in a given year. That’s a large difference of $150/$300 versus $10/$20, respectively.  Ding ding ding!!!  Use cash as much as you can, it will save you money.


          But, you’re losing out Peter… I don’t think I am and there are certain situations where you need credit cards to rent a car or place a hotel room on hold, I would recommend credit cards in those situations.  Reserve the car or hotel room using the credit card, but when you check-out, pay with the debit card.  You won’t overspend and you won’t be tempted to spend more to gain a marginal 1% or 2%.  

          To totally rid your desires to use credit cards, try this nice little hack, use a credit card that doesn’t have any perks. Just a regular old credit card. I have one of those, I don’t use it because it doesn’t “beckon” me to use it.  I know in cases of dire emergencies, I can whip it out and use it, but other than for emergencies and placing holds on hotels/cars. I don’t have the “urge.”  Join the revolution.
(Legal disclaimer: I am not a financial planner, I’m a blogger).

The 0.01 difference

Usain Bolt just beat Justin Gatlin by 0.01 seconds to win the Worlds at the 100 meter dash in track and field. That is the closest you can get to beating someone in sports.  The first time this margin of victory spoke to me was when Gary Hall Jr won a 50 m freestyle by 0.01 in swimming.  Then, the world noticed Michael Phelps beating Milorad Cavic by 0.01 in the 2008 Olympics. Today reminds me of that margin as well.

When you are elite, when you are great at the highest level, the margin between first and second can be razor thin.  Sometimes, you need computer replays and special tools to mark the difference.

You have to work hard and train like you are vying for that 0.01 difference. That will be the difference between gold and silver.  Winning and losing.  You have to train without losing focus for 4 years for it all to culminate in a one-hundredth of a second victory.  In our everyday journeys, we are training as well.  We are all training for something.  It’s not four years away, it may be sooner or later, but we’re all training.

It begins with what you’re doing tonight? Are you going to watch another episode of <insert favorite Hulu/Netflix/Amazon Prime>.  Are you going to sit there and zone out to an album?

Starting something tonight, even if it is only 10 or 15 minutes can make that 0.01 difference in the future. You won’t know until you get to the high stakes medal rounds, but that margin of victory starts now.

Go, do that thing you’ve been pursuing. Refine it. Rough draft it do death.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes.

“When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.” — Jacob Riis

Full Stack versus specialization

Re: Careers and skill sets

Growing up, it was ingrained in me to be good at one thing.  Be good at something most people are not good at.  Be a specialist. Be an expert.

Now, the trendy thing to say is to be good at a variety of things, be good at a whole bunch of different things.  Be a jack of all trades.  The phrase “Full Stack” is going around.

Which one is it? Be great at one specific thing or be good at multiple things.

My take is to be great at a variety of things, but be exceptionally good at one thing!  Way to toe the line with your answer.

Go to India next week

Eating lunch with a friend last Saturday, catching up.

He is a recent college graduate and pursuing ministry opportunities overseas.  He has a burning desire to go to India.  He talks about it a lot and he feels he is called to go. He is networking.  He’s really trying to get over there…

I started to hear him talk.  But, it suddenly occurred to me that he’s never been there. It’s one thing to read about a place. To hear about it. To see YouTube videos.  But, it’s absolutely another thing to smell a place, to feel the atmosphere and to taste the local cuisine, and to hear the everyday language.  He has a good chunk of savings and definitely enough to pay for a round trip ticket.  His job is flexible enough for him to take a couple of weeks off.

I told him that he should buy a ticket next week and go there for a week or two.  Take a box of protein bars for sustenance and a water bottle, maybe a filter.  At first glance, it looks like an impulse trip.  It would almost wipe out his savings.

But, I started to explain to him that It’s a win-win proposition.

He looked at me like I was crazy… what do you mean,… blow all my savings?!?!

I started to explain the situation.

There is an opportunity cost to this situation.  He could take the next year to set up contacts, save, and make it there to realize that India wasn’t for him… This happens a lot in life. You think something is your dream, only to realize once you get there, that it’s not.  This impromptu trip that I suggested could save him potentially a year of his life if he were wrong in his dreams…. assuming he makes the average annual salary… that’s a $50,000 opportunity cost!

Let’s say he goes there and it turns out that his gut feeling is legitimate, he belongs in India!  Then, that experience will fuel the fire within his soul.  Yes, he’ll be out of a couple of thousand dollars, but he will know!  That singular experience in his heart, that experience will thrust him towards his goal.

He left laughing and probably won’t give it much thought, but the concept is real and tangible.

What is your pie in the sky dream?  Why do you want it? Do you know that you really want it?  How?… Do you know that’s what you really want? Why?

Go find out…. Go!

Facebook is worth more than Walmart

Facebook broke the $90/share price yesterday and that makes Facebook (247 billion) more valuable than Walmart (237 billion).

When you take a step back and look at this, doesn’t it seem ludicrous?

Walmart is Walmart… 482.2 billion in net sales (news.walmart.com).

Facebook is everywhere. 1.4 billion active users (newsroom.fb.com). But, they have had difficulty monetizing this market penetration.

I respect Facebook, (I own some FB shares), but to say that the market capitalization of FB is/was greater than WMT is not right.  Something is off…

There needs to be a correction, not necessarily in stock prices, but in valuation of companies, especially companies that are tech related and not producing to the levels of their market capitalization.

Arguments could be made for the long term approach.  If FB is able to develop a way to monetize their user base, then we can revisit the valuation.

Until then, let’s tread cautiously…

(I am not a certified financial person, these are my opinions, don’t make any rash moves based on this blog entry).

Dieting season starts

You know the routine, New Years rolls around and you make these resolutions: I’m going to work out, I’m getting fit, etc…

Then, April 29th rolls around and you’re getting ready for a shower and realize you’ve gained some weight.

Well, I’ve discovered the secret to weight loss…

I got to thinking, how did this happen.  Where did this extra weight come from?!?!

My thought process led me to the discovery that I wear a lot of layers in the winter and i don’t necessarily see my added weight…

I propose a new wave in fashion, in lifestyle….

365 spandex.  Wearing spandex every day of the year will show you that you’re slowly growing those love handles.  It’ll make you put down that chocolate cake. I can’t afford that on my waistline.

It sounds a little extreme, I know.  You’re thinking, who wants to see me in spandex, and that’s kind of the point.  You’ll fake it ’till you make it to…look good in that spandex.

Keep Calm and Spandex On!