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Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Saturday, November 21, 2009
A man can speak to dogs.
A man listens, and that’s how he argues. He crafts opinions. He can pound the table, take the floor. It’s not that he must. It’s that he can.
A man can look you up and down and figure some things out. Before you say a word, he makes you. From your suitcase, from your watch, from your posture. A man infers.
A man owns up. That’s why Mark McGwire is not a man. A man grasps his mistakes. He lays claim to who he is, and what he was, whether he likes them or not.
Some mistakes, though, he lets pass if no one notices. Like dropping the steak in the dirt.
A man can tell you he was wrong. That he did wrong. That he planned to. He can tell you when he is lost. He can apologize, even if sometimes it’s just to put an end to the bickering.
A man does not wither at the thought of dancing. But it is generally to be avoided.
Style — a man has that. No matter how eccentric that style is, it is uncontrived. It’s a set of rules.
A man loves the human body, the revelation of nakedness. He loves the sight of the pale bosom, the physics of the human skeleton, the alternating current of the flesh. He is thrilled by the wrist and the sight of a bare shoulder. He likes the crease of a bent knee.
Maybe he never has, and maybe he never will, but a man figures he can knock someone, somewhere, on his bottom.
A man doesn’t point out that he did the dishes.
A man knows how to ridicule.
A man gets the door. Without thinking.
He stops traffic when he must.
A man knows how to lose an afternoon. Playing Grand Theft Auto, driving aimlessly, shooting pool.
He knows how to lose a month, also.
A man welcomes the coming of age. It frees him. It allows him to assume the upper hand and teaches him when to step aside.
He understands the basic mechanics of the planet. Or he can close one eye, look up at the sun, and tell you what time of day it is. Or where north is. He can tell you where you might find something to eat or where the fish run. He understands electricity or the internal-combustion engine, the mechanics of flight or how to figure a pitcher’s ERA.
A man does not know everything. He doesn’t try.
A man knows his tools and how to use them — just the ones he needs. Knows which saw is for what, how to find the stud, when to use galvanized nails.
A man is comfortable being alone. Loves being alone, actually. He sleeps.
Or he stands watch. He interrupts trouble. This is the state policeman. This is the poet. Men, both of them.
A man loves driving alone most of all.
A man watches. Sometimes he goes and sits at an auction knowing he won’t spend a dime, witnessing the temptation and the maneuvering of others. Sometimes he stands on the street corner watching stuff. This is not about quietude so much as collection. It is not about meditation so much as considering. A man refracts his vision and gains acuity. This serves him in every way. No one taught him this — to be quiet, to cipher, to watch. In this way, in these moments, the man is like a zoo animal: both captive and free. You cannot take your eyes off a man when he is like that. You shouldn’t. Who knows what he is thinking, who he is, or what he will do next.
Tom Chiarella, What Is a Man? (for Esquire)
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
- invitation to google voice (you could be waiting for weeks to receive your official invite from Google, but its worth the wait! If you need access ASAP, shoot me a message @WebbESQ and I will fwrd a "friend invite")
Google Voice (formerly GrandCentral) is a telecommunications service by Google launched on March 11, 2009. The service provisions a U.S. phone number, chosen by the user from available numbers in selected area codes, free of charge to each user account. Inbound calls to this number are forwarded to other phone numbers of the subscriber. Outbound calls may be placed to domestic and international destinations by dialing the Google Voice number or from a web-based application. Inbound and domestic outbound calls (including calls to Canada, Alaska and Hawaii) are free of charge, while international calls are billed according to a schedule posted on the Google Voice website.
The service is configured and maintained by the user in a web-based application, styled after Google's e-mail service, Gmail. Users must have an established U.S. telephone service to activate Google Voice. Users must configure this and optionally, additional phone numbers that ring simultaneously when the Google Voice number receives a call. The user may answer and receive the call on any of the ringing phones. Incoming calls to the number, any, all or none of the user's configured phones may be rung simultaneously. Based on the calling number, or contact group (e.g., Family, Friends, Work), or on time of day (e.g., disabling a home phone during business hours and routing calls to mobile or business number), individual numbers may be configured to ring. Google Voice provides additional features such as voicemail, call history, conference calling, call screaning, blocking of unwanted calls, and voice transmission to text of voicemail messages. Details below...
Every new voicemail is automatically transcribed into text and delivered to your Google Voice inbox as well as your e-mail inbox. While this feature can be turned off, I have no idea why anybody would want to do that. In fact, this is the biggest time saver ever. I am a big e-mail person, and I do in fact prefer e-mail over voice mail, because I can scan an e-mail inbox much quicker and pick out the relevant and important messages, than I can scan my voice mail system. Now, every voice mail is just another e-mail and can be scanned as rapidly as other messages. Besides, I NEVER check voicemail!
How accurate is the transcription? Well, this is the first version of Google Voice with transcription, so my expectations weren't too high. But - in my opinion - that doesn't impact the usefulness of this feature. All I want is the ability to quickly scan through a full inbox and identify the important messages, and for that purpose the accuracy and quality of the transcription is easily sufficient.
One interesting aspect is that in the Google Voice web-based UI the confidence of the transcription is indicated by a change in the text color (see above screenshot), and the words in black were indeed all correct. This is a very helpful way to present the transcription.
The Google Voice phone number supports SMS text messages as well. You can also send SMS through the web interface, and you have access to a full log of incoming and outgoing SMS through the UI:
Conference Calling* (personal fav)
With Google Voice, instead of having to provide people with a dial-in number and access code for a conference calling system, I can now set up a conference call and simply ask all parties to call my Google Voice number. Once I am on the call with one person and the second caller dials the same number, I can simply press '5' and connect them to the same call. This is incredibly useful!
Google Voice also offers international calls, and the process to load some money into your voice account is pretty easy. I was able to place an international call to a colleague by using the Call button in the web interface and the call was immediately established. A female computer voice informed me that the charge for this call would be 19¢ per minute, and I was connected right away. The voice quality was good, although the connection was a bit choppy on one of the test calls - but that is typical of most VoIP systems. After the completion of the call, it immediately shows up in your outgoing call log with the cost of the call, and any call that is not answered is also not charged.
The same rate of 19¢ per minute was charged to both calls to a mobile number in Austria and to a land-line number. It is still quite a bit cheaper than the $1.49 that Verizon is charging per minute, or the $1.70 that AT&T is charging. In fact, it is probably more akin to Skype costs. However, both Verizon and AT&T offer a world-wide value calling plan that charges a monthly fee of $3-5 and then the rate drops to 9¢ per minute. Bottom-line: if you make the occasional international call, Google Voice is a very good deal, but if you need to make calls to one particular country frequently it may still make sense to check with your land-line provider to see if you can't get a calling plan that gets you a rate that is even lower. Of course, Google Voice is fully integrated with Google Contacts, so you can type a name into the "Call" or "SMS" box and it will present phone numbers from your contacts. Likewise, if you go to the Contacts tab in Google Voice, there are now "call" and "sms" buttons next to each phone# stored for any of your contacts.
Also, the new Call Widgets in Google Voice make it even easier to add a "Call Me" button to your blog (still haven't decided if I am going to use that feature or not, lol).
To sum it up, it may get "tight" on Skype........ Hello Google Voice!
- XML Aficionado
Friday, July 17, 2009
Last night (July 16), President Barack Obama made an impassioned speech to the NAACP on the topics of education and personal responsibility. The speech marked another milestone in the young presidency of Barack Obama, whose address commemorated the NAACP’s 100th anniversary convention. President Obama acknowledged that those born in the inner-city face stronger adversity in the realms of economics and violent crimes. Still, he argued these elements were no excuses for students or parents to neglect their responsibilities. With the undeniable huge influence of Hip-Hop and sports on African-American youth culture, Obama noted that education should be utilized by parents to show children their potential extends beyond entertainment. “They might think they’ve got a pretty good jump shot or a pretty good flow, but our kids can’t all aspire to be the next LeBron or Lil Wayne. I want them aspiring to be scientists and engineers, doctors and teachers, not just ballers and rappers,” The President detailed. “I want them aspiring to be a Supreme Court Justice. I want them aspiring to be President of the United States.”
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Good wine is one of life's greatest pleasures. Whether you are a novice or a connoisseur, interested in simply sipping or expertly analyzing, enjoying a glass of wine can be a sublime experience. Wine is an often misunderstood beverage that seems to exude an almost stuck-up or snooty quality. Those who drink it are frequently thought of as know-it-alls or over-educated people with a poor disposition. However, wine can offer a great experience for the palate which cannot be rivaled by other (alcoholic) drinks. Nothing else can be served which so enhances the taste of a meal and thoroughly dazzle those who are eating it.
As young professionals I believe that we can benefit from a comprehensive guide on wine. Three years ago, I personally set out to accomplish this endeavor. I remember my line brother Dougan(@MrDougan)and I discussing the possibilities. Responses to wine are as individual as fingerprints. An aroma or flavor that is pleasing to you may not be so to another. The trick is translating your preferences into words. Accomplish this, and you will add new dimensions to your enjoyment of wine.
Unfortunately, many people find wine and how to choose, serve, and describe it more intimidating than enjoyable. The very scope of the topic seems daunting. But never fear -- you don't have to take a class to appreciate the subtleties of fine wine.
Still, as with many things in life, a little knowledge goes a long way. To appreciate wine as something more than mere drink, all you'll need is conscious, deliberate awareness. Let's face it: It makes little sense to pay the premium for wines of character only to swallow them unconsciously. Each wine has a personality waiting to be discovered: You just need to decide whether you like it.
Things to keep in mind before you Begin...
The best way to gain more of an understanding of wine is to try it – a lot of it! Taste as often as opportunity allows. This is the enjoyable part! There's no substitute for tasting, tasting, and more tasting. Try more than one wine at a time for the sake of comparison and add a few friends to the mix to have a really good time! Many liquor stores offer wine tastings in the evening or on weekends; these are great opportunities to try many different wines and/or wineries for little or no cost. (Shout out to Jewel-Osco's in Chitown, they 'set owt' the best wine/liquor tasting ever on BJ's(@briandavis4) birthday weekend. Their tasting embodies the "You can have whatever u like" theme literally.) Often, the wine is being poured by a distributor or independent winery which makes for interesting conversation and comparison. Don’t be shy about being new to wine; the people pouring can offer a lot of knowledge and advice about the different offerings. Ask a lot of questions – that’s always a great way to learn more - at least that is how I did.
Express yourself. It's difficult to know how or where to start describing a wine. And though it seems easy enough to sip and swirl the wine to judge its flavors, this can be a fleeting experience, one that may not add much to your taste memory in the long run. For this reason, it's a good idea to take some brief notes while you are sampling a wine, even if you never look at them again. The act of translating your instincts into words challenges you to make judgments and resolve uncertainties. This is where the notes/memo app on your smart phone device comes into play. Personally I always try and jot down a few adjectives to describe a new wine. Whether I am a huge fan of the taste or not. What is for you may not be for everyone, but what is not for you is most certainly for someone else - somewhere. As a former all white wine drinker, I forced myself to embody this principle by drinking all red wine for a few months. The result was a pleasant surprise. I acquired a taste for red wine and learned to distinguish the 'bad' from the 'not so bad.' Ultimately gaining an appreciation for my preferred wines even more.
There are four major types of wine: red, white, rosé (or blush), and champagne. Oh, and anything that comes in a can, a box, or a forty ounce container isn't technically wine; it will be listed on the menu under "This-Is-For-Lames."
As a general rule of thumb, red wines are heavier and more complex than white wines. White wines are usually a good place for beginners to start because they are initially more palatable to novices since they often tend to be sweeter.
Very often, a beginning wine-drinker will gravitate toward sweeter wines. These wines are typically less acidic (if a white) or have very little tannins (if a red). But Be sure to move beyond white zinfandel into some of the table whites and reds or possibly a riesling or a gewürztraminer. While there is nothing fundamentally wrong with a white zinfandel, there are so many characteristics of other light wines that it is a shame to ignore them simply because of your lack of knowledge. Experiment with the unfamiliar. Life is too short to restrict yourself to the "vanilla" and "chocolate" of the wine world: Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Take advantage of an opportunity to taste a wine you've never heard of. You may decide you don't like it, or it may prove delightful, opening up an entirely new avenue of wine exploration. Either way, you've added another dimension to your wine adventures.
If you are new to wines and are looking for a few suggestions - try a Riesling, Gewurztraminer, or a Muscat dessert wine if sweeter wines suit your fancy. If you prefer a dry white wine then look for a Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc. As for reds, starting with a Gamay, Pinot Noir, or Merlot if you do not want anything too complex or full-bodied. If you are looking to turn up the complexity meter, then go with a great California Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah (or Shiraz if its from Australia) or a Zinfandel.
If you've ever glanced at a restaurant wine list or browsed the wine aisle of the grocery store, you know there are a lot of different kinds of wine out there. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Several hundred grape varieties are used to make the world's wines, resulting in different flavors, personalities, and qualities. The sheer variety can make choosing just one bottle a bit overwhelming, especially when they all look so enticing. Then again, isn't it fun to consider the possibilities?
Wine choices are as vast and varied as the people who choose them. Many novice wine connoisseurs ask the same question over and over, how can I tell whether a wine is dry or sweet? The answer is quite simple...
Most wines produced are considered table wines. A table wine is defined as a wine intended to be consumed with a meal. Table wines come in a variety of choices and based upon the "flavor" of the meal, different table wines should be chosen at each setting. But, as for the dry/sweet question; nearly 99% of table wines are "dry".
Drinking a "dry" wine is an acquired taste that some people just never develop. Keep in mind that there are other wines that can be enjoyed with a less "dry" feel.
If you like the idea of serving wine with a meal, but do not have the palette for "dry" table wines, you should look into German wines. German wines are made from Riesling grapes and almost always have a slightly sweet flavor without being characterized as a dessert wine. There are many different varieties from red to white, so you will still be able to make a wine to a meal perfectly.
Another choice may be what is affectionately called, "pop" wines. "Pop" wines, like Italian Lambrusco, are less dry than many table wines ad employ a slightly bubbly nature and fruit level that is sometimes palletized as sweet rather than "dry".
The second option for wines with no "dry" feel would be dessert wines. It should be noted, however, that dessert wines are intended for sipping after dinner and not for meal consumption. Dessert wines are strong and very sweet. Varieties of dessert wines include Port, Sauternes, Muscat, and Cream Sherry.
There certainly are choices for wine lovers who simply are not attracted to the "dry" feel of common table wines. By choosing a slightly sweet German wine or "pop" wines you should be able to serve an amicable wine at dinner that all will enjoy. And, if all else fails, dessert wines are there to save the day.
Quick reference list of the basic sweet and dry wines...
- Names of Dry White Wines: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis, Semillon, Chenin Blanc
- Names of Dry Red Wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Shiraz/Syrah, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc
- Names of Semi Sweet, Semi Dry Wines: White Zinfandel, White Pinot Noir, Rose, Riesling, Muscat Cannelli
- Names of Sweet Wines: Madeira, Sherry, Vermouth, Port
The Rule of Pairing Up Your Wine with Your Meal...
The reason you need to be aware of the differences between red and white wine is because one of the oldest rules in fine dining is that you should attempt to harmonize your choice of food and drink. If you are going to be eating something delicate with subtle tastes, the Rule states, you should avoid drinking something with a strong flavor that will overshadow the food. Conversely, a hearty meal will often be best complimented by a strong wine with flavor of its own. Now every single guide to wine in the world makes a point of saying that the Rule is out of date and the only hard and fast dictate of wine drinking is to choose something you enjoy. I agree, go with what you like; but the art of learning to harmonize the two can be enlightening.
There is a reason that Rule evolved in the first place: it makes sense. Balancing food with drink may not be required anymore, but it's a good tip to keep in mind and will instantly push you off the Zero mark when you start eating at nice restaurants.
A specific corollary of the Rule is that white wines tend to go best with fish and white meats, like chicken and pork; red wines go best with red meat and red sauces. Another adjutant to the Rule is that you should begin with lighter wines and progress to heavier ones throughout the course of the meal. This policy again reflects the idea that you should not overburden your palate: if you start with a strong drink, your taste buds will be shot and you won't be able to enjoy anything that comes after it. That is why aperitifs are typically light drinks while dessert liquids, like port, are rich and heavy.
Nevertheless, while learning your preference, rely on your instincts when matching up wine with your food. If you pick a wine that you would drink all by itself, you'll pick a winner. Pick a good wine, regardless of what you're eating and even if your meal is less-than-great, you still have a good wine.
Last but not least, whatever you choose to do, have fun! Whether you find the experience of wine tasting enjoyable or not. At least you know there is one guaranteed result - A nice buzz. A keypoint during this here time - not many things, if any, are "guaranteed" anymore...
It was, after all, Benjamin Franklin who said, "There cannot be good living where there is not good drinking." Later he elaborated and explained, "We hear of the conversion of water into wine at the marriage in Cana as of a miracle. But this conversion is, through the goodness of God, made every day before our eyes. Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy."
~ Benjamin Franklin
Finally, I have a few seconds to breathe and post my second blog entry. When I last came to you, I just completed my first week as a summer in Big Law. Second year, same firm.. I thought I had it all figured out. At that time, my biggest concern was the lack of swag from my fellow summers (5 weeks in, I regret to inform you, they've never found it!) and when Leaning Loubies' heel was finally going to decide, "It is Well" and just give up. Well, its taken me 4 weeks to respond, b/c they've been working me like a runaway slave just returned to the field by the Mississippi Patrol.
It is no surprise that the recession is hitting Big Law hard. YBF and The Life of a Burgeoning Professional are not the only blogs I read, so in my daily rounds I scan ATL and read story after story about lay offs, pay freezes, pay cuts, budget cuts, etc, etc. I came into the summer prepared for what it was going to be.. or what I thought it was going to be. I knew the fancy 4 days trips were no more. I knew I could kiss goodbye a week full of lunches at: The Four Seasons, Buddakan, Amada, Davios and Capital Grille, in no particular order, sprinkled with evening drinks at the Rittenhouse, following a delicious 4 course dinner at Barclay Prime. I was ready for "stealth" (all you ATL readers know, that is the big law buzz word) cutbacks, but I was not ready for what I have been experiencing. Despite the minor alterations the summer programs would make, I still figured we were overall.. recession proof.
Never last summer would I have to do a 65 hour work week to get most of my "work" completed, nor would that have been allowed. I can vividly recall once last summer, when I was still in the office at 7, waiting for my then "situation" to come get me for dinner, I had a partner and an associate tell me, I seriously needed to get out the office. Instead, as my eyes can barely stay open at 10PM because I've been here since 7:30, the associates just walk by, knowing I remember what it was like last summer and therefore the 180 on the expectations is more prevalent, and just give me a look.. The look basically means, "It's a recession.. whatareyougonnadoaboutit?"
Hey, it is what it is. I guess this first year salary isn't a free gift with purchase of a law school education anymore, it's apparently something I need to work for. But having reality hit before I am actually an associate has started the wheels churning. See years ago (and by years ago I mean 365 days ago), when a summer associateship was like day camp, you didn't really know what life in BigLaw would be. In other words, you got bamboozled. Your mind consumed with images of 5 star hotels, restaurants, and other goodies, constant lunches, dinners, and a daily 5PM departure left you naive. By the time you found out what it really was, you had signed on the dotted line.. and were a slave to BigLaw until liberated by CitiBank, Sallie Mae or any other lender you owed your life. But I, got a taste of the real life before it's "too late", and let me say, I'm starting to question my assertion that being a Corporate Lawyer in Big Law was the good life.
Don't get me wrong, I love the work I do. I love the "sexiness" of closing a $400,000,000 deal. But at the same time 65 hour weeks and 11 o'clock nights, make me wonder if this is for me. What about when I have a family? Will I ever have time to build a family if I'm stuck here til unGodly hours? Will I be able to maintain my swag with bags under my eyes from not going to bed til after 1 and waking up by 6 and never having time to hit the gym? I know this isn't the day to day (or so they claim), but if I'm really doing what I have to do to make my mark, isn't that what my day to day should be? Despite the concerns and thoughts swirling through my head.. I'm not ready to give up my dream.. just yet. I've worked too damn hard and kicked open too many doors, to just throw in the towel over a few missed episodes of "Real Housewives of New Jersey" (in my defense, I'm missing the reunion--that is big), trips to the gym and outings with friends. With that said, for the rest of the summer I have my game face as I try to figure out what's in store for my career. But for all you summers who thought you were recession proof? FORGETABOUTIT.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Am Law 200 firms on down are beginning to look beyond the billable hour as the lip service that has been paid to alternative fee arrangements for years starts to become reality in this buyers' market.
To be sure, even by accounts of alternative fee advocates, the billable hour is not dead and probably never will be. But a shift, slow as they go in the legal industry, is afoot in terms of how firms work to provide value for clients. And in this movement, the billable hour is seen as the antithesis of efficiency and value.
Dechert senior counsel William B. Lytton, a former GC for Fortune 100 companies, said for the most part firms don't offer and law departments don't ask when it comes to anything other than the billable hour. The larger firms will lead the way on this transition to alternative fees and it will be the ones that can get there first that will be best positioned in the market, he predicted.
But even people who embrace the concept of alternative billing methods are overwhelmed and cautious by the required shift in law firm structures, Association of Corporate Counsel General Counsel Susan Hackett said. "We're in that horrible middle stage," Hackett said. "As to whether or not it's inevitable, yes it is. For those who are saying the talk is because of the economy and that once things go back to normal we'll go back to billing as we used to -- wrong."
Evan Chessler recently wrote an interesting article in Forbes Magazine entitled “Kill the Billable Hour.” Mr. Chessler acknowledges that clients hate the billable hour because they feel the hours wrack up to meet firm requirements, they have no control over how their money is spent and there is no correlation between cost and quality. He admits that lawyers hate billable hours a well. He proposes that at reasonable intervals that client and lawyer agree on a price for work to be accomplished so that the client is not “surprised by a whopper bill.”
Perhaps that is easy for Mr. Chessler, but in practice, lawyers know that it is often difficult to estimate fees because in litigation,much depends on how litigious and how reasonable your opposing counsel may be during the course of the litigation. So I think that arranging for flat fees at reasonable intervals may be problematic for both firms and clients. For example, if a case seems as if it should go away early, but doesn’t and the opposing counsel is very litigious, then estimates based just on a legal analysis of the case may not be reflective of actual fees incurred. On the other hand, if a case that was thought to be complex is settled early in, the lcinet may have paid too much in a flat fee based upon anticipated necessary work.
Ricard Lloyd writes about some creative ways that British firms have devised to get around the billable hour requirement. British Television Network ITV asked its outside counsel to come up with alternatives to hourly billing. General Counsel Andrew Garard joined the company in 2007 from the London office of Dewey & LeBoeuf and wanted ITV to become the first UK company to have its outside counsel abandon hourly billing. Garard vetted and put together a group of outside counsel comprised of 9 law firms who were committed to alternative billing.
One of the law firms, Slaughter and May, has never used billable hours nor doe sit have any billable hour requirements for its attorneys. At the end of a job they ask clients if they have done a good job and pay is base on that assessment.
The articles conclude that the trend will be away from the billable hour. Firms would be wise to anticipate this evolution in the practice of law and to come up with strategies to propose to clients before clients require alternatives that may not be as appealing.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
-Paying cash makes more sense: Cedric the Entertainer tells us that the old school way to pay for something was to use cash. This way there’s no debt and no worries.
-People have lots of credit cards on average: The average person has about 5-9 credit cards. You really only need one.
-It takes 58 yrs to pay off 10k if you pay only the minimum.
-If a student starts school, buys a laptop on credit for 1k, and makes only the minimum payment it can take them close to the time they’ll attend their 20 year re-union to pay off the debt. WOW!
-Many people are living paycheck to paycheck: You need a safety net; an emergency fund of 3-6 months expenses.
-A system to start building up an emergency fund: Start saving 1 dollar a day for four months. Then up that to 2 dollars a day. Now amp it up to five dollars a day. Before you know it you’ll have $1000 saved.
-Definition of stock: A share of ownership in a company.
-Definition of bonds: A loan to a company for a set period of time with a set return.
-You have to take a long term view when investing: The stock market goes up and down but over the long term the market goes up.
-Stock indexes give a measure of how companies are doing: Dow is the top 30 companies, the S&P 500 is the 500 top companies, and the Nasdaq lists newer tech companies.
-You need a retirement account. When stocks go down there’s an opportunity to buy. It’s tough to save for the future without stocks in your portfolio. Individual stocks can fluctuate but overall markets go up. The biggest risk is not taking a risk.
-One term you need to know to retire: 401(k) - Money goes in before taxes so it grows tax free. Even though stocks can fluctuate wildly in the short-term, over the long-term stocks have always gone up. You can invest up to $16,500 a year in a 401(k) plus many companies offer a company match. Variety is crucial in your portfolio so make sure you diversify. A 401(k) is automatic savings since it comes right out of your paycheck. If your company offers a match it’s ridiculous not to meet the match. For example: if company offers a 50 cent match that’s 50% return right off the bat. These days saving for retirement is mandatory.
These are all great basic premises for someone to take care of their finances. Hopefully it helps to get a few people to take a look at their financial situations.
Friday, May 29, 2009
I met the person who would become my first legal mentor (largely in my head) when I was a senior in college. As president of my college's pre-law organization, I organized a trip to Richmond, to visit a major, Vault Top 100, prestigious law firm. When I walked in, I was greeted by an attorney, we'll call her Sasha (she was fierce, so Sasha seems like the natural choice). She was a seventh year associate (she's since made partner) and was oh.so.fly (you'll come to learn, I use periods for emphasis). She had on a chic black dress, some Cheeta print pumps (thinking back, I'm almost certain they had a red bottom, although it is possible my memory is clouded by the over-saturation of Louboutins presently) and her hair was perfectly coiffed, as if she had just walked out of FeekLeMoy (yeah, I plugged my salon). Seeing her affirmed something for me; you can be on point professionally, have a swagga that's, well.. on Mars and most importantly bring that swagga with you to the firm.
I've carried that theory with me, since. I've balanced trying to be the best I can, while refusing to compromise my swag. For example, last summer, it was I, that despite being warned about wearing heels on the cobblestone streets of the Tower of London, rocked a fierce pair of 4+ inches because, that it was my swag. I made those almost five inch Gladiator sandals which were all the rage last year, apart of a work appropriate ensemble, receiving compliments from young associates and the hiring partner alike. And inspired by my mentor, I found a way to bring out the Leopard peep toes--rocked them with a cute work appropriate Black dress, carefully straddling the line between business casual and happy hour fly. Don't get it twisted, swagga is not all about what one wears or their outside. I just used this as an illustration because I consider my style as an important part of my swag.
Remembering my summer associate swag last summer, I was super excited for the summer to begin, so I could once again play a fly, high-swagged, attorney. To adequately prepare for my first day, I did my weekly bid in the salon to make sure the hair was right and picked out a cute, yet conservative suit (I opted against a trendier, fitted slim leg, suit which is honestly more my swag, since I was meeting the Chairman again), but of course, made sure I didn't completely lose my swag, by adding a Fuschia button up and some high pumps. When I walked into the conference room, and surveyed the other 18 summers, I could help but first, yawn and then second, hum to myself; "no one in the conference room has swagga like mine." The next thought was, perhaps I was being harsh. I justified their lack of swag by saying, these 18 2Ls were nervous as hell about their first day and were therefore playing it safe in their black suits, white/light blue collared shirts and perfectly strung pearls. I figured they needed time to get to know the firm and realize that it was not necessary to be a robotic, carbon copy of everyone else. At this firm, it is okay to have a swagga and once they realized this they would not be afraid to let their swagga shine through (although I am a firm believer that if you swag, there is no hiding it-- but I was trying to give the benefit of the doubt). So I decided that before rendering a verdict, I should give them a few days. Well, three days later, after lunches, an event, and a reception at a trendy, Philadelphia restaurant I had only seen mild (and I mean mild) traces of swag from my fellow summers (meaning 2 out of the 18) and am sooo frustrated!
I am having a hard time wrapping my head around what happened with my class?!?! Objectively speaking, these people are intelligent, respectfully accomplished and some (okay a few) are even attractive-ish. Despite these things in their favor, they were missing that certain je ne sais quoi, that is the heart and soul of swag. I wondered, is this what all summer associates are made of?!?! The answer; no.
I thought back to my summer class last year, at the same firm. They were NOT like my current class. They (okay a select few, but enough to restore my faith) had that confidence, that style, that flair. Albeit it different that mine, they had swag!!!!
Furthermore, when I think of my group of friends and extended network encompassing future lawyers, they are both on point professionally and their swagga's right. They all have their individual swag, which may not be for everyone BUT their swag is still undeniable. Like WebbEsq, creator of this blog and close friend-- it was thinking about how unparalled our swags are in most firms, that birthed this post. Or guest blogger MeMe (well I call her Pieces) and K. Cayce, my sbff-- check out the facebook photo albums from when we introduced swagga to the NBLSA. My network of future Philly lawyers; Shu, Brei, Kevin, Samantha and Roy; again all tight professionally, with swaggas to match. I def have to shoutout my bff Nai; I dare someone to catch us on our way to our summer gigs and dispute the swag. Lastly, I can't forget A. Carter, A. Satt, D. Barnes. C. Hogue, S. Laine, K. Alce or A to the.. Again, all upcoming attorneys, but all have held on to their swag. This list is by no means exhaustive; I am missing people and there are lawyers out there with impeccable swags, I have yet to come across. It just goes to show that it is in fact possible to be pristine with regards to your career, have a swag and not be afraid to demonstrate that swag. Since this is both possible, and judging from my circle of friends and associates, rather common, why is it sooo hard for the other summers?
I honestly hope that within the next 9 weeks, the timidness goes away from the summers and their swag (I'm tryna give them the benefit of having one) starts to shine through. It is soooo hard to feign interest in a conversation over cocktails with someone when your swaggas don't match (lookout for that post :-)). In the event that this doesn't occur, ::sigh::, I guess it could be worse. In that case, I will for the rest of the summer find solace in the associates and recruiting staff who are not afraid to demonstrate their swag. Then, once I (prayefully) become a full time associate (No, seriously.. pray.with.me), I will join the ranks of the associates, I admire; not just because of their professional accomplishments, but because their swag.is.ridiculous and they have no qualms about it. I can almost see it now. At the summer events two years from now, I, along with them, with sip my margarita in the corner, in my cute summer work dress, and over-indulgent designer shoes and hum "no one in the firm has swagga like us."