Announcing My New eBook: How To Find Your Passion

I’ve written an eBook called “How To Find Your Passion.”

This 25 page book covers my decision to drop out of graduate school to pursue comedy and how you can use the lessons I’ve learned to find your passion before it’s too late.

This book wasn’t something I wanted to write, it was something I had to write it.

If you’re gonna read the book as embedded below, I recommend viewing it in full screen mode.

Or you can download the pdf here.

If you find this useful, please pass it along to anyone else you think it might help. Comments, as always, are welcome.

If you like my eBook and have a group you think would want to hear me present this message as an hour long talk please contact me. (The talk will be more interactive than the book, I’m a stand up comedian after all.)

How Not To Ask For Help

So I’m registered on the Rutgers Career Services website as a resource for students to contact if they have any questions about consulting. I typically receive one or two emails a semester from students with questions and am happy to talk to them through phone or email. However, I will not be responding to the following letter:

Mr. Rosenfeld,

I was put in touch with you through the Rutgers Alumni database.  I am a recent MBA graduate of Rutgers and will be relocating to Fairfield County, CT.  I have interest in the Management Consulting industry and wanted your opinion of the field, your company, the compensation, and the type of work. 

Any information you can provide is useful. 

[name redacted]

Rutgers MBA

Let’s pick at some of the issues with this…

  • No greeting. “Hi Mr. Rosenfeld” or “Dear Mr. Rosenfeld” would be nice, I’m not a robot. While this already put me on guard, if this was the only issue, I’d still setup some time to talk.
  • The first three sentences start with “I”
  • There is no “thank you” anywhere in the letter
  • There is no “please” in the letter
  • No acknowledgment that it will take some of my time to respond to the request
  • He wants to know how much I make in an introductory letter
  • “I was put in touch with you through the Rutgers Alumni database” just sounds awkward and robotic. “I found you through the Rutgers Alumni database” would sound more human. As a side note, I’m still not certain this is a real person because the email’s domain address forwards to another domain, so this can just be a robot spamming for information on consulting or just trying to find live email addresses.

Now I’m not that important of a person, I think this is just basic human courtesy. I could’ve sworn MBA programs had required business writing courses. Shouldn’t some sort of persuasion class taught this guy how to add value instead of steal value?

A humble student seeking my opinion and caring about what I say makes me want to help them. I gain value by feeling good about helping nice people. This guy is all “me me me”. I don’t want to help him. But I wanted to help people who may not know better, ergo this post.

The Economy as a Prisoner’s Dilemma

The current economic crisis can be modeled as an iterated (multi round) prisoner’s dilemma between firms and consumers:






Keep Workers

Layoff Workers





Don’t  Buy




In the chart above, 1 is the worst outcome and 10 is the best outcome. The best mutual outcome is for consumers to keep buying merchandise and for firms not to layoff workers (this is economic growth). However, individually, if consumers think they may get laid off, not get bonuses, or not get a salary raise, they will stop buying things. This will be better for them in the short run as the worst outcome is for them to keep buying things and then get laid off, but the same “saving money” behavior will hurt them in the next round of this model, when firms lay off workers. The reverse is true as well, where a firm would benefit by “trimming the fat” even if its competitors keep their workers for the first round, but if all firms lay people off, consumers will stop spending (they won’t have jobs) and more layoffs will be necessary as purchasing power drops.

A New Revenue System for TV Shows

What if advertisers stopped buying TV spots? What if they decide to spend their advertising budget exclusively in other mediums? How would television shows be funded? Here’s my proposal, which might also be best if television shows (instead of television networks) wanted to maximize the amount of money they make:

Have each user pay $X a month for unlimited video. A cable box-like device would measure how many M minutes you watch each show (or network, although I don’t think we need networks anymore, but that’s a different post).

That show’s income would = M (minutes of show watched) / T (Total Minutes of Video You Watched) * $X (the monthly service fee)

For example: The service costs $40 per month, I watch 5 episodes of The Office with each episode being 20 minutes long, and I watch 800 minutes of TV in the month. The creators of The Office would receive (20 * 5) / 800 * 40, or $5. With 9 million viewers, these numbers add up quickly.

Of course, the company (most likely cable or satelite provider) that creates and adminsters such a system would charge an administrative fee (I’d imagine it around 10% – 20%).

Some Consequences / Impacts:

  • The more popular your show, the more money it makes, instead of going to the TV Network.
  • Built in residual income — if your show gets popular five years after it comes off the air, you still get paid and can turn a profit. This is basically The Long Tail effect.
  • Contracts structure might be changed so that more actors / directors / writers are paid a percentage of the total income, instead of a one time fee. This better aligns everyone’s incentives for a successful series.
  • Instead of pitching an idea to a TV Network or production company, you could pitch it directly to a venture capitalist (Sillicon Valley Style). You’d just need one (really rich) person to believe in your project.
  • This same cable-like box could also incorporate an Amazon / NetFlix like recommendation system for TV. Users can rate and review shows, and receive recommendations on what shows they may like based on how they’ve rated shows to date.
  • Would there be a need for television networks anymore? This could turn into a Yahoo! Music type stream, where everyone has their own customized channel(s) with the shows they like to watch.
  • Everything but news and sports might become on demand
Opinions? Any obvious consequences or impacts that I missed?

Can targeted advertising lead to cable free for everyone?

Would you be willing to give marketers your demographic information in exchange for free cable and the ability to watch ads that might actually interest you?

The technology exists to create a Google/Amazon-eque interactive television which would combine demographic focused commericals with user ratings and system recommendations.

Advertisers would pay more for a direct-cast (the commercial is only seen by the exact demographic target) instead of a broadcast (where 90% of viewers don’t care about your product).

Some features / details:

  • If you watch and rate enough commericals, you don’t have to pay for cable. It would be the same concept as currently occurs on sites like, but with better (digital cable) quality and on demand delivery.
  • The amount of your cable bill ajusted based on how much advertising you watch. Pay a regular cable bill price (or higher) if you fast forward all commercials. The more commercials you watch and rate, the more your bill goes down, until it’s free.
  • You can rate TV shows and episodes that you watch as you watch them. These ratings go into a database similiar to Amazon and NetFlix. The system then recommends other shows you might like based on other users’ behavior.
  • You can rate commercials so that the system eventually can predict which commercials you’ll actually like and which products you may want to know about. Perhaps I want to know about all new Will Ferell comedies that come out, but never want to see an Adam Sandler movie while you want to hear about all new electronics gadgets that come out and action movies.

Is this desirable? Feasible?

Aggregate Google Reader Reporting

I’d like to know more details than just how many RSS subscribers a blog has. Google Reader reports your personal trends, but I’m not aware of an aggregate trend report. Imagine knowing some of the following stats:

  • The percentage of a blog’s posts that are read / total number of the blog’s posts (Would you rather have 1 post per day that 90% of your subscribers read or 20 posts per day that only 1% of subscribers read? This would hint at the overall quality of your blog / reader engagement)
  • Which of your posts are emailed and starred most frequently. This could be turned into a widget that you share on your site “Most Starred Posts” and “Most Emailed Posts”
  • A Top 10 “Most Emailed Posts” across all blogs list (both daily and weekly) just like the New York Times has
  • A Top 10 “Most Starred” across all blogs list — both by percentage of starred posts divided by times the post was read (this would increase visibility for smaller blogs), and just the number of times a post was starred (this would work out in favor of larger blogs, as I’d be interested to know which posts thousands of people find worthy of a star)
  • Last 30 days reading trends for each site
  • Subscribers added in past 30 days / Subscribers dropped in the past 30 days
  • Average number of subscriptions a user has

I’m sure Google could release even richer data. What kind of patterns would you like to find out about your blog (or someone else’s) ? Does anyone know if other readers have simliar trend reports? I know feedburner gives you your own site stats, but I have in mind being able to view data about all sites (that agree to it).


Individual Google Reader Sample Stats
Individual Google Reader Sample Stats

Virtual Call Centers

Instead of having huge centralized call centers, why not have virtual call centers?

The employee clicks a button on an internal webpage that he’s available to answer calls. This is his “clocking in”. His hours get logged and all service calls go straight to his cell phone (or VOIP). The employee can click the same button to become unavailable and go to a doctor’s appointment or pick their kids up from school.

Some type of hours coordination and management might be needed, but if you have employees in enough time zones with different working time preferences, this may work itself out. You can even try paying different hourly rates for different times of the day to control supply and demand without a rigid command and control scheduling system.

Get the person a set of headphones and an unlimited calling plan, and you can save millions in overhead costs. No rent, no electricity, no time lost commuting, less internal tech support, less admin work.

Value added ways to invest these savings:

– Listening to more recordings of customer service interactions to ensure quality, reward your best and eliminate your worst employees

– Hiring more operators so every call can be answered by the second ring, thereby getting rid of those awfully annoying automated answering systems

– Hire Americans that speak and understand English fluently instead of the current off shore call centers, which would also improve customer satisfaction (this assumes your customers are calling from America, change this as applicable)

This type of flexible scheduling also increases your potential work force. Stay at home mom’s and elderly people, who tend to be more responsible but unable to commit to 8 straight hours a day can now help your business.

Even better, you’ll get less turnover in your work force due to the new flexibility you’re providing. It would also be good for the environment (less carbon emissions, no driving to work, etc).

Flight Delay Insurance

Maybe I travel too much, but why don’t airlines sell flight delay insurance? This can help them gain additional revenues AND even increase their incentive to be on time.

A traveler chooses an amount of coverage, $x, he wants to be compensated if his flight is more than 1 hour late or if he misses a connection. The traveler pays some % of $x for this insurance.

If the flight is delayed, the traveler is less pissed because at least he receives a large cash payment.

If the flight is on time, he loses a small amount of money.

You could also do different levels of coverage. Late 1-2 hours would pay much less than being late more than 4 hours, or having to stay overnight.


I want to be paid $200 if the flight is 1 – 6 hours late and $2,000 if the flight is more than 6 hours late. Assuming flights are on time within an hour 95% of the time, and within 6 hours 99% of the time, the pure premium should be: 5% of $200 + 1% of $1800 ($200 of the $2000 have already been counted, as you would receive a total of $2000, not $2200l) = $28. Willing to pay $30 for the possibility of $2,000 if you have a nightmare of a flight? I bet lots of business travelers are.

A Bar for the 21st Century

Nobody wants to be up at the bar for 20 minutes ordering a drink. Good thing we can fix this with existing technology:

Install a bunch of touch screen kiosks throughout the bar where you can order drinks. Order your drinks, swipe your card, add a tip and a receipt prints out with your order # and a bar code.

Put a huge screen (or ticker) above the bar that lists all the order numbers that are ready to be picked up. Present your receipt, the bartender scans it, it disappears from the screen and you get your drinks.

These touch screens would take care of the transactional side of bartending currently done by humans, allowing bartenders to make drinks faster. You could also allow tip size to influence drink order queues. Let the guy willing to tip a $20 get his drinks first, just like it would happen in an old fashioned bar.

Of course, the kiosks should have user friendly menus that make finding any drink simple. The first menu could list beers on draft, wine available, specials and have a recommendation wizard. Want a drink with vodka that’s sweet but not girly looking? Use the wizard!

Bonus 1: Have on screen advertising by alcohol manufacturers to offset costs / increase profits. You could also create the actual kiosk in the shape of an advertiser’s product with their label (i.e. it looks like a giant beer bottle with the advertiser’s logo all over it).

Bonus 2: Bars could also charge for strategic positioning of drink items, just like supermarkets do. As research has shown, the upper left quadrant of a screen is where digital users look most often. A choice placed in this position would result in its being purchased more often, so you could charge alcohol companies to put their products in that corner.

Bonus 3: Combine this with a congestion priced bar to be the talk of the town (until everyone else copies you at least)