Leveling the Paying Field for Track and Field Athletes

The track and field Olympic Trials for Team USA wrapped up in Eugene, Oregon on Sunday, July 10th. Oregon and Southwest Washington will be well represented, with 26 athletes – from the University of Oregon, The Nike Oregon Project, The Bowerman Track Club, Oregon Track Club Elite, Barlow High School, Skyview High School, and the U.S. Army World Class Athlete program – as part of the 2016 Olympic team.

Track and Field’s Appeal

By some accounts, track and field is the second most popular sport in the world behind football – or soccer as it’s known in the U.S. Over the course of the modern Olympic games, there have been many famous track and field athletes from the U.S. Jesse Owens garners the earliest mention, though Bruce Jenner, Carl Lewis, Florence Joyner-Griffifth, Gayle Devers, and Michael Johnson are among the familiar former Olympic medalists. Even Steve Prefontaine, a name synonymous with track and field in Oregon, competed without medaling before his untimely death.

The Pay Gap

While we in the Pacific Northwest have a lot to celebrate with the success of local track and field athletes, many of these athletes are struggling financially just to be able to compete. Hammer thrower A.G. Kruger piled his family into an RV for the trip from South Dakota to Eugene so they could watch him compete; it was the only way for his family to make the trip. When asked about her financial situation, hammer thrower Britney Henry said that she is in debt. Ken Goe of The Oregonian, in one of his articles covering the 10-day Olympic trials, states that most track & field athletes are in debt.

Despite their successes, track and field athletes today are among the lowest-paid athletes on the U.S. Olympic team, according to Austin Meek of The Register-Guard. Track and field athletes who made it onto the Olympic team will receive a $10,000 dollar stipend from USATF. Compare that to the cost of living just about anywhere in the U.S., or the cost of travel to Rio.

Why does this disparity exist?

It doesn’t appear to be lack of money at USA Track & Field (USATF) – which has increased its budget from $16 million to $36 million since 2012, through the efforts of its CEO, Max Siegel. Some current and former athletes think Siegel is part of the problem.

It’s not for lack of a significant sponsor. Nike has a commitment through 2030 to provide some $400 million in sponsorship to USATF. There are some current track and field athletes have refused to sign endorsement contracts with Nike because of restrictive contract provisions.

It’s not for lack of alternative sponsors, although the way these sponsors are treated by the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) and USATF doesn’t help the situation. Some of these alternative sponsors are not official sponsors of USOC or USATF, and they complain that USOC is refusing to allow any images of the sponsored athletes in their advertising. Oiselle CEO and founder Sally Bergesen has been vocal about her inability to capitalize on sponsorship deals with top female athletes.

Is the answer to the problem in marketing? Vin Lannana, President of Eugene’s TrackTown USA, thinks that athlete compensation needs to be addressed by making a larger pie – attracting more sponsors and fans.

It doesn’t help that there have been several doping scandals since the 1996 Olympic games – most recently implicating much of the Russian track and field team – that do not help the perception of track and field. And with Michael Phelps’ performance at the last two Olympics overshadowing most other U.S. Olympic achievements, it seems that USATF doesn’t have a compelling athlete to promote, either.

Marketing may not hold all of the answers. However, it seems to us that better marketing and promotion would help, and finding ways to partner with smaller sponsors will help the athletes in the long run.

Delivering Huge Returns in a Skyrocketing Real Estate Market

Always wanted to build a Real Estate empire?

Want to know how to get started?

This 3 part series will get you well on your way with real life examples and experiences using proven techniques for generating huge returns.


The Basics of Real Estate Building

I began investing in real estate at the age of 25 in Jacksonville, Florida, during the crash of the real estate market from 2006 to 2008, a losing venture! I’ve learned a lot since then. During the last 5 years my wife and I began heavily investing in real estate in the Pacific Northwest, purchasing properties in Vancouver, Washington, Hood River and Portland Oregon. We have effectively delivered a 43% return yearly on our investments on average, 4 times the national average. How? Read on to find out.

Right now the real estate market is skyrocketing nationwide, with many homes “flying off the market” in a matter of days, at well over asking price. Is this the right time to buy? This leads to the first lesson in real estate:

A. There is no “right time”, ever.

The market is always going to be volatile, it’s real estate. It is more important to find the right property, in the right neighborhood, for the right price. Stop staying “I missed it”, there is nothing to miss, keep looking; you will find the right place with enough persistence.
B. Stop watching silly home flipping shows.

This not representative of a realistic situation you will find yourself in. Leave flipping to those who do it full time, it is a full time job. Doing this on your spare time, turning a property in months will be costly and not worth your time.

C. Have cash ready to invest.

I don’t care what the real estate books tell you, you need some cash begin with. This can be either out of savings, home equity line of credit (HELOC), or finding investors (friends and family is a good place to start). Down payments are 25% of the purchase price for an investment loan/property, or make it your primary resident (live in it) , and pay as little as 5% down with a conventional mortgage.

D. Build a Return on Investment (ROI) Calculator.

Build a calculator that will determine your return for each property you consider. Include maintenance, taxes, depreciation rates, and forecast for growth. Below I posted a screenshot of an example, and in Part 3: Closing the Deal and Cashing In, I will post a working spreadsheet you can use to make your real estate investments come true!



E. Don’t discount any property.

Look at EVERYTHING. I mean everything: rundown properties, homes with ghost stories, bad neighborhoods, good neighborhoods, even houses that are not for sale. What do I mean by that? If you see a home you like, find the owner, and try to buy it. They may be more open to it than you think and for a great price if you do not involve real estate agents. This also eliminates the competition. Real estate auctions, foreclosures, and short sales are also good places to start. Here is a good start on distressed properties.

F. Find a persistent agent.

Real estate agents that understand what you are looking for and are willing to visit a property an hour after it goes on the market with a flashlight at 9pm. This is especially important if you work full time. The best houses go off the market within days sometimes hours, be the first in.

First Discount Safety – Link

G. Find a good lender.

A good lender will know you and your finances personally, for every purchase. I like brokers; they are personally involved along the way and tend to close on time (which is important in this market). Establish this relationship before you look, you will need to act fast if you find that right property.

H. Find a good contractor.

Almost any investment property will need work, and the good ones will need a ton of work. Building a strong relationship with a good contractor can take time. Most good contractors are months out and talking to one before you even look will ensure projects will be completed in a timely manner.

Bottom line: Follow these essential guidelines and you are off to a good start. Relationship building is the key to success, start getting involved in the real estate community and contractor community now for long lasting profitable relationships. You will probably make some friends along the way as well.

Amazon: Signaling You to Buy No Matter What the Price

imgresFor over twenty years Amazon has been losing money on every transaction but winning in volume.  The now $100 billion E-commerce giant has eliminated the list price.  For individuals not familiar with the marketing and the signaling theory let me explain.  Amazon signals to the consumer that the item is on sale because the list price is depicted as what the item should sell for in an ideal market.

READ: Amazon Is Quietly Eliminating List Prices

Let’s say you need to get a new Iphone 6 case.  After a couple minutes
searching on line you spot a Crushed Damson Purple / Pink Otterbox Defender Series 6 case with a list price of $47.76 using Amazon Prime but wait, hold on,  just for you …it is now selling for $39.77.  You think to yourself hold on I need to logon to my Amazon Prime account right now and capture this deal before it goes away.  Deep breath you captured the deal and it will be on your doorstep in a day thanks to Amazon Prime.

So what happened, well your primordial brain sensed prey in the form of a deal, your adrenaline started pumping because you are on a proverbial hunt. This is when your rational brain kicked in asking the question “Hey is this a good deal?”  Now your primordial brain trying to appease the rational side of your mind says “ hey dummy chill out we just saved $7.99  from the list price. We got a killer deal!  High Fives all around!”

Now is as good a time to bore you with the details of the Signaling Theory.
In the context of marketing the seller has full knowledge of the total cost
of the item, the quality, the breadth of similar items and the market price
that consumers are willing to pay.  The consumer meanwhile has few resources to compare the item to and in most cases revert to user reviews that have been cultivated by the merchandiser. Information asymmetry occurs where one side as all the information and the other side has little to none.

Back to the iPhone case, Amazon has all the information of what it costs to
buy the purple Otterbox Defender 6 case from the manufacturer. Amazon has calculated the administrative, holding and shipping costs down to the penny. They have metrics to determine product quality and demand for this and all similar iPhone 6 cases, so they know what is hot and what is not down to the tenth of a percentage point (or more).

But what do you know, well, let’s see you can see the list price and the
quoted price on Amazon’s website. You know that users like the product and that you can get it in 24hours if you buy it now.  More importantly, you know that you got a fabulous deal,  a savings of $7.99 is real money.  But did you save money, well that is another question?  It is a relative
question with a nebulous answer.  Yes, you saved money from an artificially high list price, remember Amazon and OtterBox are in the business to make money.  But did you get a good deal? Well, this is where Signalling theory comes into play because Amazon has signaled that you are getting a great deal, and you have accepted the signal without question.

So why does Amazon want to change business as usual,  well to be honest
because we have now been so conditioned to buy almost everything from Amazon that they don’t need to signal that you are getting a good deal anymore? In fact,  Amazon has collected so many data points from you that they know what you buy when you buy it, the frequency that you need it, who you are sending it to, what colors you prefer and the urgency in which you need it.

Like Pavlov’s dog, they have you trained and can predict what shipments to direct to their local distribution centers even before you click send on
your order. Because they have taken all the guessing out of this process,
there can fix the price on the optimal value proposition for the consumer
and Amazon.  To some, this is a thing of beauty but to some, it is very
scary, almost Orwellian.  Rest assured big brother Amazon knows if you have been naughty or nice and will be shipping your Purple iPhone 6 case to you even before you … oh wait the delivery guys here with an Amazon box.   I wonder what it is?

Who’s The Next Olympic Brand Hero?


The Rio Olympics are just around the corner, and with that comes grand stories of athletes who overcame the odds to be the best athlete in the world. But does that translate into endorsement deals for these athletes? Jeanette Mulvey of the BusinessNewsDaily has some specific criteria that athletes need to meet for them to be a successful brand ambassador:

  • The athlete is a high achiever. “Multiple Olympics or multiple medals are better than one,” Gwinner said. Think Michael Phelps.
  • Consumers believe the athlete believes in the product and is not doing it only for money. Mary Lou Retton, anyone?
  • The athlete is well-known and has an easily recognizable name. Remember USA Gymnastics’ “Fab Five”?
  • The athlete has a likable personality and is admired.
  • The athlete is visually recognizable. “This means beyond recognizing the name, will the consumer also recognize a picture of the athlete,” Gwinner said.
  • The athlete is physically attractive.


GroupingRemember these 7 successful Olympic marketing campaigns?  http://bit.ly/2012OlympicCampaigns

These are important factors to pick the right Olympian endorser, but does this actually make a difference? Lucia Moses at AdWeek found that having an Olympic endorser may actually hurt sales.

Oly Stats Big

So, with the Rio Olympics coming up fast will the grand story and the athlete endorser impact your decision to buy what they are selling?


Thoughts On Microsoft’s “Bae” Invite


Read about the Bae invite to get lit with lots of dranks here. 

Why is it so hard for the middle-aged to look hip and cool?  How many middle age men get ridiculed for being out of “vogue” and most middle-aged women are labeled Volvo driving soccer moms. Yes, it is true most of us have lost the battle with gravity, and any free time we may have after work and family obligations is not focused on discovering the latest trends in fashion or music. Heck,  I proudly admit that I buy shoes based on comfort over style or brand recognition, but does that make me a fuddy-duddy?

Why should I care?   I am okay with being a middle-aged man; I believe that the gray hair in my beard is just wisdom exiting my body, while the aches and scars I have accumulated during my youth provide a natural segue into a great story.   Shouldn’t an amazing company like Microsoft be comfortable with being middle aged?  I mean they had a spectacular youthful run in the 80’s and 90’s.  In the 00’s MSFT expanded into new markets during their early twenties and emerged in the next decade as a community leader and technology integrator. Microsoft mainstreamed personal computing, reimagined work productivity and transformed how the world communicates. Yes, there were some missteps, and more than once youthful exuberance got them in trouble but they are still synonymous with technological innovation and value creation. Not a bad pedigree for a middle company,

Sure they aren’t as shiny as Google or Facebook, but why should Microsoft a storied brand succumb to a disingenuine recruitment tactic?  I find it hard to believe that Microsoft recruitment tactic is to convince young developers that they are hip and cool?  Don’t they know that their recent recruitment effort was like a 45year old balding male divorcee trying to pick up a sorority girl as the trendiest Manhattan bar?  Didn’t someone say hey wait a minute, this is not befitting of our brand image?

When I think of Microsoft’s brand image, I think of integration, consistency, and global interoperability.  These are not expressions of youth but years of hard work, technological leadership, and innovation.  Microsoft should wear the badge of middle age with pride;  Microsoft is the elder statesmen in the technology world, the mentor to fledgling startups dreaming of achieving a fraction of the success that Microsoft has achieved.

As I have said before, I don’t pretend to be hip and cool, and I could care less if I am perceived that way. I believe my value to the younger generation is my experience, my ability to put their life into perspective and the vast network of resources that I can engage if required.

Microsoft has the same ability only exponentially bigger.  So why are they pandering to millennials with incomprehensible slang?  The only explanation that I can come up with is that they are insecure about their brand’s patina?  Unfortunately, they are not comfortable with their wrinkled skin and what’s even worse, this recruitment effort was like a Middle Aged woman getting a facelift to turn back the hands of time. Unfortunately, the result in every case no matter how good the plastic surgeon is a plastic façade that scares young people away instead of bringing them closer.  

So my advice to Microsoft is to be yourself, engage developers with a vision, test their skills with a real world coding challenges and engage them with a story that captures their imagination. Use your resources to shape their impression, if you want to be hip and cool, enlist a genuine millennial superstar to host a charity concert, have a celebrity chef cater the event but most importantly showcase why Microsoft is a technological giant in the land of start-up pipsqueaks.

Please , for god sakes don’t die your mustache, squeeze into a pair of leather pants and hit on sorority girls. That is totally gross and more importantly not in line with your professional brand image.

Target’s Target Market, Decided By Kids?


Sam Walton once said “There is only one boss.  The customer.  And he (she) can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his (her) money somewhere else.
TargetIt is a rough time in the mass merchandiser sector. Consumers are migrating away from brick and mortar stores like Target seeking the efficiency and flexibility that online shopping provides.  Why spend the time schlepping your kids to the mall or shopping center just to shop for school clothes for your children.  Most parents dread fighting traffic, the crowds and adding one more weekend task to their already chaotic life. If your family is kid centric like mine, then you can find a dozen reasons why buying junior’s new shoes online from an online retailer like Amazon or the direct to consumer (DTC) webstore from Nike is appealing.

So why would Target focus on the very reason why I don’t want to go their physical store?  The answer is simple follow the dollars, teen related purchases account for $117.6 billion in US discretional spending.  Target estimates that the youth related purchases account for  $25 billion in high margin annual sales.  Target realizes that getting kids to buy in to the Target brand of hip, funky, cool clothing will provide the

The answer is simple follow the dollars, teen related purchases account for $117.6 billion inTeenage Consumer Spending US discretional spending.  Target estimates that the youth related purchases account for  $25 billion in high margin annual sales.  Target realizes that getting kids to buy in to the Target brand of hip, funky, cool clothing will provide the differentiation from their physical and virtual competition.

So off to Target we go… but wait… how do you get kids to follow the plan? Well, this is where it gets tricky because most 10+ year olds can smell a gimmick 100 yards away.  During the recession Target lost the bubble on what made them special, they began to differentiate with lower prices, which any marketing class student will tell you is an unsustainable strategy.  This was evidenced by their slogan “Expect More. Pay less” however consumers perception of Target indicated that shoppers felt that they were paying more for less.

After years of declining sales Target remembered its secret sauce. To re-capture market share they need to generate sustainable brand differentiation by catering to the wants and desires of their target market (youth).  This is dangerous territory because today’s youth can be fickle if they feel pandered to, Merchandiser’s must genuinely seek out their input and then deliberately integrate preteen and teenager input into their product plan. (kids today are inherently suspicions of institutions) and can be very vocal of their displeasure if they feel slighted.  Based on their focused research they discovered that kids want to be unique but not different.  So how do you walk that fine line.  Easy…. Like Target you have kids draw it.  Currently, Target engages with close to 1,000 kids ages 4-12 nationwide developing one of their signature brands.

Most retailers conduct research on kids.  Target on the other hand integrates kids in the entire process.  Kids are advising the clothing designers, helping produce multimedia ads and informing merchandisers of store physical layouts.  This approach can sometimes become contentious because well this shouldn’t be a news flash but spoiler alert kids and adults don’t always see eye to eye.  So why bother with all this drama? Well Target realized that in order to capture the hearts and minds of the decision making unit they needed to increase the odds.  Kids today have a significant sway in consumer purchasing decisions.

Target experienced a shift in its typical consumer from a boomer mini-driving suburbanite mom to an urban ethnic millennial.   Target’s strategy is to develop products & marketing material that appeals to the parent’s projection of love while still satisfying the youths need to express themselves.  This is a marketing play on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs focusing on the desire for love and belonging.

The school lesson for the day is not to follow the fashionable trend in both business and apparel purchase.  This may seem counterintuitive but is it pure genius when you think about it.  If you spend all of your time chasing the latest management or marketing fad you may miss the big picture strategy of chasing your consumer which in the end is what the retail game is all about. Paraphrasing Sam Walton “your customer will spend their money somewhere else”  if you don’t pay attention to them.  So if your consumer wants to buy online and pick it up in the store give it to them.  If your customer wants a fun shirt that works for both girls and boys then produce it. So what do you want?  Well, if you are like me you want a kid that feels confident in his own skin, one that sticks out from the crowd just enough to be recognized but not bullied and you want value because why should we spend a ton of money on a t-shirt that will get stained or out grown before it goes out of fashion.








Free From Fear

“I’ve decided to relieve you of a fear. Yep, the fear that I think paralyzes more operations in more ways than we can calculate.
As of this writing, you are free from the fear of failing.
If we as an organization suffer a setback, it is my fault. It’s my fault because I failed to either plan properly, I was lacking in my leadership, I was poorly organized or I failed to see the potential problems.
I will not blame subordinates, the quality of the equipment, or a lack of guidance from our Headquarters.
I blame me.

I can hear my Dad’s voice:
If anything goes bad…I did it.
If anything goes good…we did it.
If anything goes really, really good…you did it.”

Free from fear…Pass it on!

Elon Musk teases new master plan for Tesla

Tesla’s first master plan in 2006 eventually became the Model S. What does Elon Musk have up his sleeve now that he’s hinted at a second big plan? A connected home with SolarCity? A Tesla truck? Teslas that pick you up like Uber?

Tesla’s first master plan in 2006 eventually became the Model S. What does Elon Musk have up his sleeve now that he’s hinted at a second big plan? A connected home with SolarCity? A Tesla truck? Teslas that pick you up like Uber?

Sourced through Scoop.it from: money.cnn.com

Sometimes when genius first shows up, it looks like insanity. After a short time later, people wish they had thought of it.


So, #Brexit.  It was exciting to hear about on this side of the Atlantic, after all, what effect does it have on me?  I’m not British, I don’t live in Europe – hell, I don’t even watch Downton Abby!  Waking up and hearing that David Cameron has decided to resign was just another piece of news that followed the weather.  It wasn’t until I talked with a close friend who lives in London that I began to realize how much Brexit may in fact have an impact on the United States.

Now, to understand why, she had to give me a tutorial on UK immigration law.  You see, there are three “buckets,” as she put it:

(I) EU Immigrants: Anyone from any EU nation can come live and work in the UK. No questions asked, and stay as long as you like. These are the immigrants which Brexit pertains to.

(II) Commonwealth Immigrants: This is the category that addresses the UK’s post-colonial guilt. Almost as a form of an apology, citizens of countries that have once been colonized by the UK can come live and work in the UK for two years. Note this only applies to, well to put it bluntly, white countries (eg. Canada and Australia) – African countries and India, despite suffering under colonization for far longer, need not apply!

(III) Everyone else: You can come live and work in the UK insofar as you fulfil a number of criteria, most notably an income criteria – at any given time, you have to be making more money than the threshold set by the British government. Once you start earning below this threshold, you are deported. Yeap, it’s pretty harsh.

Type (I) and (II) are allowed voting rights, whereas (III) are not. Which means not only does my friend have to consistently remain within the highest income tax-bracket for the mere privilege of not being deported, but she has no say in how her taxes are spent!

Another key factor: everything is free and funded by the state in the UK. Meaning that everything – education, healthcare, housing, extracurricular school activities, etc. is free to anyone living in the UK. And now we’re getting to the heart of Brexit:

“Compared to the US, it’s nothing short of a utopia. And every immigrant who makes their way to UK soil is entitled to all of it. And that’s the heart of Brexit. [For the majority of EU immigrants] there is no income requirement whatsoever. And it is what causes UK citizens to be resentful – the idea that a European can “cut you in line” and get that free housing before you do. . . .”

This was the rhetoric and base of the #Brexit camp – fear and resentment that their country was no longer their country.

So, why does Brexit effect the United States? I asked, still blissfully unaware of the potential similarities between our nations.

“The British heartland votes based on fear, much as you’ve found to be the case for Donald Trump’s massive following in the American heartland.”

Now the picture was becoming clearer. “Be careful what you ask for,” were her parting words as I hung up the phone, and stared at blankly at the latest political ad being played on the television.


Social media has an amazing ability to rapidly disseminate information to a large audience base, and one of the best demonstrations of that ability comes when there is a health scare. Over the last ten years, we have had a number of health scares. As social media has evolved, so has the ways it has been used to communicate these health risks.

Some of the communications are simply informative. Trans-Fats raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol. Toys coming out of China may have lead paint on them. Bisphenol A (BPA) is bad for you. Too much time on your cell phone might cause radiation exposure.

Other communications through social media are more severe. They inform where serious health risks have been discovered, how contagious these risks are, and what to look for. Whether or not the health risk is determined to be a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).


Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) has been discussed on social media because of how difficult it is to treat. Social media has been used to communicate swine flu (H1N1), bird flu (H5N1), and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) warnings such as regions where it is likely to contract one of these viruses. The most recent example of social media use with a health scare is the Zika virus. Social media first started reporting on the dangers of the Zika virus to pregnant women and where the virus was currently known to be (Brazil). With the Olympics coming up though, the focus has moved to how the athletes can protect themselves. Most recently, Facebook and Twitter have been exploding on which athletes are skipping the Olympics due to fears of the Zika virus.

zika virus

Keep in mind though, that anyone can post anything on Facebook and Twitter. If the information about the latest health risk you are looking at isn’t from the government, WHO, or another credible source, it is no better than Wikipedia.


In short, social media is a great resource for getting rudimentary information about a potential health scare, but always go to the source for the most current and accurate information.


For more information about the Zika Virus, please visit the following links: