Referrals are an exercise in trust

This is a message to startups worldwide – don’t ask for referrals from people signing up to a landing page with no information. Why on earth would I spend my personal “capital” referring my friends to your service when I don’t even know anything about it? That is just completely insane.

Let’s be clear – I’m NOT talking about websites that have a tour of the features and discusses what the company does or provides. If you don’t describe the features or show screenshots, you shouldn’t be asking for any of referrals. Referrals are an exercise of trust – you’re basically asking me to vouch for you to my friends based on.. what?

My rant for the day.

Economic mirage of the past 30 years

I’m surprised that this is my first economic blog post, considering that a large portion of the stuff I read every day is financially related, but something on (via John Mauldin) caught my eye:

I am reminded of former Vice President Dick Cheney’s comment that “deficits don’t matter.” He is right, if the deficit never grows past the rate of the growth of the country (nominal GDP). It might not be wise to approach that limit, but it would not necessarily be a disaster. And, to be charitable to Cheney, I’m sure it never occurred to him that the US could run a deficit close to 10% of GDP. Such a notion would have been preposterous to him. Unthinkable. The US government would pull back from anything even close to that. And that remained true – until it happened and we didn’t pull back.

This guy is a “renowned financial expert, a New York Times best-selling author, and a pioneering online commentator” (according to his website) and he is unwilling or unable to admit that our debt has been growing faster than GDP for the past 30 years. Don’t believe me? Check out a table of the History of the United States public debt and cross reference the growth of the federal debt vs the growth of GDP – the numbers don’t lie.

The Reagan era was the start of the debt-fueled “boom” – in the vast majority of years, the debt was growing faster than GDP. And something that many people don’t realize is that deficit-spending gets added into the GDP calculation. That’s basically how we’ve been “growing” over these past 30 years.

Let’s run the numbers up to 2007 (before the crisis) from that table above  just to be clear – in 1980, the inflation-adjusted debt was $1.808T, and the GDP was $5.422T. In 2007, the inflation-adjusted debt was $7.419T and the GDP was $11.329T. GDP increased 208% over that time period but debt increased 410% – *FAIL* (note: this doesn’t include the past 6 years where things get REALLY ugly because of the crash)

I don’t mean to pick on Mr Mauldin – I actually receive his weekly newsletter and it was there that I first started to open my eyes about our problem. Krugman and others on the left fail to mention or acknowledge it either. All they talk about is “growing our way out of it” when it’s plainly clear that’s bullshit.

I will leave you with this – 2012 had a GDP of 15.094T and a growth rate of about 2.2%, which means an increase of $332B. Except that our deficit was $1.1T.. oops. We spent $1.00 to get back $.33 but hey, I guess we’ll make it up on volume!

Take a boat trip to Bainbridge Island on a bright sunny Seattle day

Office Nomads had this great blog post (which I now cannot find the link to) about visiting Office Xpats on Bainbridge Island, and I had made a mental note to do that one of these days. Which ended up being today.

I got into the office at my regular 6am time today, cleared my inbox and worked on some things that had popped up over the weekend. About 9:30am, I looked outside and discovered it was going to be one of those gorgeous Seattle sunny days. I checked my schedule for the day and figured I could use a break to get outside. And that’s when I realized today would be the perfect day to go check out Office Xpats – wasting some time on the boat commute each way, sure, but I could still get some stuff done while I was out there.

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I just barely made the 10:40am ferry after mis-timing how long it would take for me to get to the bank. The great thing for me is that there’s a foot bridge starting on 1st & Madison right outside of SURF that runs under the Viaduct directly to walk-on ferry terminal. The ticket was $7.40 going to Bainbridge (return ride is free). It was pretty cold for being so sunny; I could only stand on the foredeck for so long before my eyes were watering and my ears freezing.

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I haven’t been to Winslow since before I first left for San Diego in 1996, which means it’s been  at least 17 years, and realistically more like 20-22 years. It still seems like a neat, sleepy little town – lots of little shops and stores along a laid-back main drag.

It’s about a 10-minute walk from the ferry terminal to Office Xpats, which is on the second story of a mini-mall, complete with a theatre, a small gym, some restaurants and shops. I think they did a great job fixing it up – lots of little partitioned spaces with comfy chairs, private meeting rooms and a kitchen.

I had a quick lunch at Casa Rojas on the 1st floor, then went up to to Xpats. It was pretty empty owning to the fact that the owners were at a coworking conference in Austin, and also presumably because everyone was out enjoying the sunshine.

I worked for a few hours and decided to call it a day to head back to SURF. A quick walk back to the ferry terminal (and a detour to the Blackbird Bakery for a delicious cranberry Oatmeal raisin cookie), and I was aboard the boat heading back to Seattle.

I wish I had a panoramic camera right now – on the boat ride back and all the mountains are out, from Mt Baker up north to an unbelievable shot of Mt Rainier to the south, plus the Cascades behind the city. Just breathtaking!

I would highly recommend this day-trip to everyone – you can have the veneer of doing some work, but also be able to get out on the sound, enjoy a quaint little town and hopefully some sunny weather!