As some of you may be aware of, I was also involved in co-managing the group PinkSlipCoffee of Boston for the unemployed. It was primarily a meetup group that gained a lot traction that interested the New York Times, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal and Marie-Claire magazine. We’ve had 330 “Life Explorers” to date and over 800 Unique Visitors to the website to date.

With my partner Stephanie L. Cooper (stephanielcooper@gmail.com), I, WaiJe Coler (waije.coler@gmail.com) am also regretfully officially announcing the closure of our quite successful group.

It was a great, fun and invigorating journey for the both of us. However, the pro-bono attitudes we had for the people unemployed had finally took its toll on us. The time we would spend on our online venture and physical meetups just took so much time and made a big dent on our finances. That doesn’t take away from the fact that we are proud of the group and have enjoyed seeing people coming and going, and also getting jobs through this rough economy. It doesn’t take away the fact that I’ve enjoyed seeing the smiles on people’s faces, and meeting multiple individuals each with their own unique life-story to tell.

We are still keeping the website up and keeping an open mind on the online portion. It can be used for its forums, posts and dynamic informative resources. However, our time spending on it is very very limited.

I hope this doesn’t come as a downer to anyone. I am very grateful to have been presented the opportunity to  meet all the different amazing people in person. I have enjoyed every talk, every activity and game, every spark of energy we were able to muster up from the meetups. And it was an honor and enjoyable experience to work beside Stephanie Cooper, especially on the late nights we would spend brainstorming on who was going to speak, what we were going to do and what venue we could use. It wasn’t an easy task at all.

Thanks for the wonderful journey you all! And keep in touch! And good luck in these rough economic times. It IS turning around. Thank you.

And now, some closing words from Stephanie:

Hi Pink Slip Coffee Members,

After much deliberation, I have decided to close down the meetup group for Pink Slip Coffee. This has been an incredibly difficult decision for me as we have grown to become a terrific group and a much needed outlet for the Boston area. I, as many of you, am faced with financial challenges at this time and will need to secure full time employment. I have researched ways to keep the costs as low as possible for the group while still trying to be paid a little for my time and covering the meetup.com expenses. I really wish there was another way that I could afford to keep everything up and running, but I have exhausted all known options. WaiJe and I will be leaving PinkSlipCoffee.com running as usual and please, please use this as a resource for any help and support for each other. If anyone wants, I can add the member connection list to this site so everyone can keep in touch.

I wish everyone the absolute best on the job hunt and in the future. I always have my personal email address if you wanna write or ask for advice or anything!

Thank you for your dedication, support, and for making my first entrepreneurial venture so great :)

- Stephanie & WaiJe
StephanieLCooper@gmail.com
WaiJe.Coler@gmail.com

Hopefully everyone had a great Thanksgiving and a good Black Friday – if you celebrated that! And hopefully you didn’t spend so much. If you did, hopefully what you bought is put up to good use.

But as to continue the last article, there is an important part of being en entrepreneur starting from almost zilch. You must also take care of yourself outside of your business. One of the most useful tools that I’ve found on the web is FatWallet!

As I mentioned before, it has a great community of specialists from all walks of life. Not only can you get good deals on consumer goods (or know what is a good deal), but you can also find recommended credit cards, learn about property investments, and about high-interest Savings Accounts.

That’s right. Some people don’t realize or know that there are Online Banks that offer high-interest Savings Accounts. Usually people stick to the most popular bank, for example: Bank of America. Not to say that this is exactly bad, because they do offer a wide variety of resources that online Banks don’t, such as widespread ATMs, personal checks, etc, etc.

And some people will go with these large widespread banks and put money into a CD (Certificate of Deposit) for high-interest rates. However, with CDs, you cannot touch your money with the designated amount of time for the money to mature, unless you want to get penalized. With online Savings Accounts you can touch it for usually a maximum of 6 transactions per month (by U.S. law), but they match up or are sometimes higher than the usual interest rates for CDs.

So, why not educate yourself with various ways to improve your finances and make your decisions efficient and as cheaply as possible?

Another thing people do is go with a credit card issued by their bank. PAY ATTENTION! There are credit cards that offer great interest rates and rewards! I’ve had personal experiences joining credit cards that offer no rewards or only one reward (at the initial time of purchase).

There are also credit cards that in fact offer an introductory rate of 0% for 3-12 months on purchases. There are credit cards that offer balance transfers or cash withdrawal with no fee and no interest rate for 3-12 months. Take advantage of these tools and don’t be trapped with a credit card that offers no rewards! You may save  lot…and sometimes, you can even double up on the CashBack.

Because of FatWallet!’s CashBack policy and credit card companies’ rewards policies, you may, for example, earn 5% from FatWallet! and an additional 5% from your credit card. Think about that! You just saved 10% on a purchase, but what makes it even better is you might’ve saved more because the users of FatWallet! deemed your purchase a good deal which is usually quite a bit off the MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price). So imagine, realistically, saving 20-30% overall on a product. True you’ll have to spend the extra time doing your research and reading reviews, but generally, green on FatWallet! means good. And usually, you’re going to buy with a credit card anyway!

Remember though, Credit Cards are GOOD as long as you pay them off. Even in this economic downturn, we are still a nation that runs on credit. Credit allows you to get a good Mortgage on a house or buy a car. So for those who are skeptics and only use cash or debit cards…why not earn rewards and get a good credit score for the future? Why not save 20-30% on products? As long as you pay off your credit card and remain consistent on your monthly payments, there are only rewards, and you can gain a lot.

Without further ado, here are some forums and discussions that are useful on FatWallet! Don’t forget to sign up for account if you plan on participating in the discussion or want to be eligible for CashBack!

Now for a new user on the Web it may be a bit challenging to get used to the format of “forums” and “threads” which used to be similar to how Bulletin Boards work. But read the other users’ comments and learn from what they say. Users’ that may not be as useful as others may also get voted in the “Red” for what they say. So it’s all based on popular opinion, but the general consensus is pretty good and reliable on this site. Green (votes by many users) can definitely be counted on.

As a final note, notice the rates of the CDs and then the High-Interest Savings Accounts. You can generally make more in interest in the Savings Accounts plus you have the option of touching your money.

I would have it set up so that you do have a general bank account with checks and widespread ATMs, and have the Online Savings Account linked to it. Remember, only 6 transactions max per month! So all the surplus money you have, you should definitely put it in the savings.

But how about a CD or Stock Market? Well, the Market is still going up and we were officially listed as coming out of the Recession (then again, we’ve been economically in trouble for a while when there was no official word on whether or not we were in a Recession), so the safest bet are banks, especially when they are FDIC insured. True, there is a slight chance of governmental collapse in which money and banks may mean nothing, but the true foundations are pretty strong and it would take a lot for that to happen. For CDs with higher interest rate, you can take the chance with them. But the good thing about the Banks is that as they begin to do well again, they will raise their interest rates for you. With CDs, you are stuck. Now, CDs are good when you feel that the economy is about to go downward. However, I feel, in my personal opinion, the economy is in fact on the rebound. So when the average rate of Interest was around 5.5% a couple years back, and now the average is 1.5%, that may be the lowest we’re going to see in a long while. The economy is finally becoming stable and show what it’s worth, rather than being overly exaggerated as it was for a while.

So yes, Stock may be an interesting option, but always have a portion of your money in safe (no pun intended) accounts, just in case. You may never know! And plus, doesn’t it make you feel better you are earning a better interest rate than most banks?

Feel good about yourself, do your research, save money, it’ll pay off in the end and it might amaze you how much you save and how much you learn about business and saving money in general. Live frugally and cheaply but with quality.

One of the most important things about being an entrepreneur is knowing what your own financing is capable of. You have your product, you realize what it’s worth but it’s not quite there yielding a consistent income flow.

Whether you’re in that category or have a consistent good income flow, it’s always good to have a budgeting plan, for either business reasons or personal fun.

Black Friday is one of those days that retailers try to get a boost in their profit by making you come into the store and buy, buy, buy. It is strategically put right before the end of their fiscal year so they get that last “run” of sales so to speak.

So is it worth it to wait in lines and buy these items on sale? Well, coming from personal experiences, here is the run down of technology (because I am a tech buff and that’s what my businesses run around) on stuff that you may consider getting for the holiday season, for yourself or others. Be wary though, we are still in an economic downturn so the deals of the yesteryear may in fact be better.

Note that all of below are prices compared to usual “deals” that happen throughout the year, as well as last year’s Black Friday. I’m also using my knowledge and memory so I am in way exact on everything I mention.

First up, we have the most notables from Best Buy:

One thing to know about Best Buy is their Insignia brand. It may seem like such a good deal with that brand but it usually fits into the “you-get-what-you-pay-for” aspect. The products Insignia make are usually very, very cheap without any sort of reliability. It can be sporadic at best. So I would steer clear of that brand.

  • Acer – 20″ Widescreen Flat-Panel LCD Monitor – Black – X203 – $79
    Acer’s are generally okay monitors but with the price of $79 for 20″ it’s hard to beat.
  • Dell – 20″ Widescreen Flat-Panel LCD HD Monitor – S2009W – $99
    A little more reliable, this a Dell monitor that is worth the $99 over the Acer. There was a point not too many years ago where $99 would get you a 17″. And as of yet, HD monitors are the sweet spot, but most on sale will not give you that. Especially this.
  • Western Digital – 1.5TB External USB 2.0, FireWire and eSATA Hard Drive – Black – WDH1CS15000N – $119
    Western Digital are the best drives you can get today. Seagate (who bought Maxtor) has been having a lot of problems with failures and firmware. Though the firmware issue has been fixed, the fact that such a widespread issue existed taints their recent reputation. Hitachis are also good, but for long lasting reliable hard drives (usually, there are DOA [Dead-on-Arrival] HDs every once in a while). This deal is probably a mild-to-good deal, nothing too great about it. But if you need some extra storage space, go for it!
  • HP Desktop – AMD Quad Core Processor, 20″ Widescreen LCD, 8GB RAM, 1TB HD, FREE Printer – $499
    There’s nothing like a desktop deal. There is an eMachine that costs $299. I’ve had an eMachine before and they are decent machines with alright reliability – much more than the Insignia brand. However, for $499 you get more of a popular brand name, HP. You get 4 cores, 20″ monitor (in which it is an HP who rank up there in monitors as well), 8GB of Ram, 1TB drive and a free printer. Enough said. There is no word on the graphics chip, but with the current specs, the price of $499 makes it well worth it for its abilities and today’s technology standards.
  • HP – Photosmart Wireless Multifunction Printer/ Copier/ Scanner – C4795 – $65
    The ‘rents of a wireless printer and it’s about time that products like this come down in price. That being said, HP has had problems in the past with their printers, but generally their reputation is pretty good. So, if you have the urge to centralize a printer because of the fact multiple people might use it, get this! It also has a scanner. What is missing though, is the ability to fax. However, I recall printers like this usually cost above the $80 mark.
  • LG Chocolate Touch w/ 2-Year Activation – FREE
    Yes you need a 2-year activation contract. But, if you cannot afford a cool phone like the iPhone (which you can get for $99 now) or you do not care about how good a phone is, this will be a good intro into where the phone industry is going these days. It’s the beginning of the PDA & Phone convergence. It’s not quite there for being a replacement for your laptop however, and I’m not sure if that’ll ever happen in the near future.
  • Insignia – Blu-ray Disc Player with 1080p Output – NS-BRDVD3 – $99
    Ok, so this is the one time I’ll say it’s “okay” to buy Insignia. It’s the cheapest Blu-ray player I’ve seen yet and the reviews are good. Then again, how hard is it to mess up building a DVD or Blu-ray player if you’re abiding by specs and standards? So if you’re in the mood of moving to the HD craze – make sure you have an HD 1080P set! – try this on for size to start your Blu-ray collection. If you have a 720P set, realize that there are upconverting DVD players that in fact make your old DVD collection look REAL GOOD!
  • Sprint – BlackBerry Curve 8330 Mobile Phone – SP8330RIMR - FREE
  • Sprint – Samsung Instinct S30 Mobile Phone – Purple – SPHM810PPS – FREE
  • Verizon – Motorola Rival A455 Cell Phone – Purple – A455 - FREE
  • Compaq Netbook – Atom Processor, 1GB RAM, 160GB HD, XP Home – $179
    It may be from Compaq and may be a netbook that’s a year old, but these netbooks were around $250 a year ago with a deal for $215 maybe once. This is NOT a bad deal…
  • Samsung 40″ 1080p 60Hz LCD HDTV (LN40B500P3FXZA) – $598
    Samsung is one of the well-known quality brands of TVs. For $600, a 40″ HDTV with 1080p is a pretty good deal, especially from a company that’s been doing LCD monitors and TVs for a while now. They even get their panels rebranded by other high profile companies.

That’s it for now! Stay tuned for the rest of the Black Friday deals as we look at technology from my personal favorite, Staples (funny enough), Walmart and Target. Until then, try to keep yourself nice and calm. So far the list with Black Friday is lukewarm at best, and you must ask yourself, is it worth the pain and effort to wake up early – around 4:00am – and wait in line with a ton of other people? If you are needing (key word for budgeting) multiple items, then why not. If you can wait on technology, then do so because there is no point in getting it unless you plan on reselling for profit. But again, the deals are lukewarm…

Until soon!

There is a ongoing question on success and learning on whether or not it is good to learn and not make any mistakes or make mistakes and learn from them.

What is of greater value? A person who’s never made a mistake or a person who’s made a lot?

Well that is a question that a lot of people ask especially the higher ups in  companies. Though it’s not in the forefront of their minds, they may wonder that if a person has never made mistake, how would they handle their first?

True these people may be especially talented and hard working and usually in the professional environment there is no room for error – but believe it or not, it’s almost impossible to be completely perfect. And then you must ask yourself the question, is a person that has never made mistakes indeed Perfect?

The truth is, it could go either way. You could be a person to make all the possible mistakes but learn from every single one of them and in return learn faster because you have the first-hand experience in making them.

Or you could be a person who’s never made a mistake but also have the knowledge on what to do when one is made, or how to advert it since this kind of person might’ve been adverting his or her mistakes all along.

Whether or not you are a perfectionist or an unfortunatist (being put in the unfortunate situation on somehow making all possible mistakes), you should learn the other side and grow from the experience. Never made a mistake? What is it like to make one, could you handle it? Making a bunch of mistakes? Ask yourself are you learning from each trial, and then ask if could advert them.

Either way, never forget to grow yourself and learn from your mistakes. And if you don’t make any, don’t be afraid of them. You might be causing more stress to yourself over-compensating vs. a person who believes he or she will triumph vs adversity.

The mistakes written about here aren’t the obvious ones. You should always try your best in whatever you do and avoid mistakes when you can, whether it’s a mistake of compromising your designated position in soccer, or procrastinating TOO late and not being able to turn in your homework on time. It’s about evolving and compensating for the unforeseen future before the definition of “mistake” comes in to play. Can you adapt?

What is written here should not be taken too seriously but rather, and hopefully, be thought about with some introspection in at least some small portion of your mind. And this site will not be purely based on subjects of this matter. This is merely an introduction of the mystery that is unraveling behind this site. Yes “Maybe Something Useful and Biased” may still hang true, but that is not entirely the true meaning behind this.

Stay tuned…

People have heard of Abject Failure but what about “Abject Rejection”?

There is a specific letter that I keep above my desk that reminds me of what it takes to do your own thing in this dog-eat-dog world. No, wait…The world is worse than that. This is a shark-eat-shark world. The competition is vicious and will cut you a part, especially when you are an entrepreneur, a writer, actor or an artist. I happen to be the former 3. Or are you just an entrepreneur for being any of those?

The letter is as follows:

Strotham Agency Rejection Letter

Strotham Agency Rejection Letter

And it reads:

Thank you very much for your query. Unfortunately, your project is not right for us at this time. Publishing is a matter of taste, however, and another agent may feel differently–we encourage you to keep looking for an enthusiastic editor or agent. We wish you the very best of luck with your work.

Best,

Rejection Letter from Lauren

Rejection Letter from ...?

So imagine me, who submitted a transcript in my very first attempt to the Strotham Agency, to receive a letter back so fast. What could it be? What would the answer be? I thought. Yeah, the letter was sent way too fast for comfort.

I open it up and receive the above. Hmm…now, what is it trying to say? Publishing is a matter of taste and my transcript leaves a sour taste in their/his/her/its mouth? Is it even possible in this downturn economy they flung my transcript away and just sent the rejection letter? The truth is, I will never know because agencies are so busy and will not take the time to respond to a small-fry. In fact, in acting as well, studios will not take in unsolicited material or respond back. There are so many requests to be in movies and to get published that there is just no time to answer them all.

The problem is, there is no clear answer in a rejection letter. At least they sent one so you don’t ask yourself, Did my manuscript get lost? Did the Post Office not send it? Did I send it?


But one thing I did do was send a letter of appreciation back. Because I didn’t know if it was Lauren or whatever, I copied, cut and pasted (literally) her name and put it in the front of the envelope and on the letter. I mentioned how great it was (hopefully) that they sent a letter back (vs. some automated process) and thanked them for their time. This is all because I feel like we live in a busy world where there is no time to respond to everyone’s request and care for those we do not know the names of. And I decided NOT to be like them, I would take the time to respond with some outwardly and different thoughts rather than their standard rejection letter.

So, are there any signs of rejections you have lying around? Ask yourself this, does it fuel you to succeed in what you want, in your aspirations? And at what price does it fuel you? That’s the question I precisely asked myself and the reason I have it over my desk so that ever time I sit down to work, I can look up, and smile.