Surprising Results From My Experiments with the American Express Platinum Concierge Service

– Night Market in Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir (nothing to do with the post at hand, but I still like the picture) This post is a story of 1) Three Cuttlefish Eggs for Under $20, 2) Helping a Friend Research Master’s Programs in International Development, and 3) A Database of Entrepreneurial Alumni on Christmas Eve. Intrigued? Good. Read on. Credit is one of anyone’s most important assets. Credit can do amazing incredible things for you, if you’re credit is good. This post details three of the quirkier things I’ve used the AMEX Platinum Concierge Service for, none of which would happen without good – excellent credit. —– Read Time: 10 Mins Skim Time: 5 Mins (skim the emails and focus on the “verdicts” if you’re in a hurry) —– #1 – Three Cuttlefish Eggs for Under $20 I’ve developed a strange obsession with Cuttlefish since reading Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not a Gadget. Which is an excellent excellent read even not counting the Cuttlefish. At any rate, I was curious to see what it might cost me to acquire a Cuttlefish or two. —– My Email Requesting Research Help Hi there! I’ve been thinking about buying a Cuttlefish, an absolutely adorable little Cephalopod. I was hoping you could help me find somewhere I can buy one, and get an idea of how much it might cost, and how much the relevant aquarium equipment might cost also? Thanks much, and absolutely no rush. Happy New Year! —– Concierge Response Dear Mr. Yoder, Thank you for contacting American Express Concierge.  I hope this email finds you well and you are having a wonderful day!...

Interesting Reading

Was going through a few papers today, and wanted to share with everyone out there. Well written and thought provoking. Migrant Worker’s Rights in Qatar Leading up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup “Qatar can expect exponential growth in the migrant population during the run-up to the World Cup when infrastructure investments are expected to top $100 billion. Some estimates suggest up to one million additional workers will be needed to build the 12 stadiums, 70,000 new hotel roomsand a network of road and rail links planned for the footballextravaganza. The Qatari government has announced plans to improveconditions for the migrant workers expected to flock in for the 2022 construction boom, including model housing com-plexes and tighter laws to prevent abuse. However, pressure will be on the world football body FIFA and the Western companies lining up for lucrative World Cup contracts toensure that workers are provided with decent working, wage and housing conditions.” Link. Hat tip to Aakash for the recommendation. The Effect of Decreasing Electronic Storage Costs on Government Surveillance in Non/Authoritarian Countries “Within the next few years an important threshold will be crossed: For the first time ever, it will become technologically and financially feasible for authoritarian governments to record nearly everything that is said or done within their borders – every phone conversation, electronic message, social media interaction, the movements of nearly every person and vehicle, and video from every street corner. Governments with a history of using all of the tools at their disposal to track and monitor their citizens will undoubtedly make full use of this capability once it becomes available.” Link. Parasitic Flies Turning Honey...

My Cold Email to the National Palace Museum

– National Palace Museum, Taipei, credit njj4 Today I bring you the story of a minor win. I think it’s important to celebrate minor wins, and this particular minor win comes with a message for anyone trying to reach out to successful/busy/expert people. You know how people say that if you try to get in touch with people who are successful, or in positions of authority, a lot of the time those people will respond? Like you try and write a letter or an email to Bill Clinton, or some other person who inspires you, and they write back. Yeah, I’ve heard stories like that a lot. But honestly, I’ve  always found it difficult to reach out to inspiring people. It’s some kind of mental resistance. Part of me feels like I might be wasting their time. Part of me feels like there’s no chance that they’d respond to me, so why bother in the first place. I recently cold emailed the National Palace Museum in Taipei. The National Palace Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of Chinese art and artifacts, and is considered to be one of the top five museums in the world. I didn’t set my hopes too high, but I figured what they hell – the worst that can happen is they don’t respond. Super short backstory: One of the projects I’m working on while in Taipei is setting up internship opportunities for my alma mater with local companies and institutions. It’s a fun way to try and help students, and it’s a fun way to meet people here in Taiwan. I can...

Self Tracking: Setting Up Your Own Daily Tracker

– Shikara oarsman at Dal Lake in Srinagar, Kashmir The Question One of my closest friends in the world recently asked me if I had any thoughts about how best to keep track of his progress on personal projects, as separated from his work life. He has a demanding job, works bizarre hours, and is occasionally saddled with unexpected responsibilities. I wanted to write up a quick post in answer to his question and share it here in case it’s helpful to anyone else interested in self tracking. Self tracking is one of my favorite hobbies. I’ve written about it before here and here. Self tracking is a simple way to help you take stock of how you’re spending your time, boost your productivity, and hone your focus. Self tracking helps maintain a mental connection to your macro level goals and projects on a daily basis. For anyone who wants to get started self tracking, I echo what Sebastian says here: start off with something relatively small and manageable. Which brings us to the topic of the day: a daily tracker. A single question you answer every single day to help yourself stay accountable to yourself through automated email systems. The Daily Tracker: Track Incremental Progress Every Day With Automated Email Systems What question would you ask yourself every day to encourage yourself to action in a meaningful way? What was the biggest thing you did to move your business forward today? What was the biggest thing you did today to help your friends? What did you do to meet interesting new people today? Name, contact information, conversation. Here’s mine: What was...

Overview of the Annual Review 2011

My old RV, Rocinante, parked about a block away from Georgetown University. This post is a placeholder. It is a collection of the posts that I wrote relating to the idea of the Annual Review in 2011. I’m mainly publishing this so that I have something to direct people to who are interested in learning about what an Annual Review is, and how to conduct their own Annual Review. The Annual Review is a goal setting exercise that I do to systematically map out what I want to accomplish in the coming year. There is no other discrete exercise or habit that has been more valuable for me, or given me a better sense of direction. Hopefully it can be helpful for you, too. Part I Annual Review: The Basics – going over the basic concept of the Annual Review. What it is, why I started doing it, and the five steps that I include in my own Annual Review. Part II Annual Review: My Year in Review (2011) – going into more depth on how I choose which categories to set goals in, more depth on the idea of the Quarterly Review, and a reflection on progress I made and didn’t make on my goals for the year 2011. Nude photo shoot – check. Part III Annual Review: Do *Big* Things With Your Year – why I think it’s a good idea to think as big as you can, and then some, while doing your own Annual Review. Part IV: Annual Review: Resurrection – have you ever read the text from the fifth movement of Mahler’s Second Symphony?...