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April 23rd, 2008 — , ,
One thing I have noticed about insurance and investment ads on TV is that the spokesperson is often a middle aged male. Usually the ads have a person deliver the product information and show the company logo. They are good and classy ads, but they don’t appeal to me very much. As a woman I feel like investing firms do not market to women very much. I think financial firms could gain a lot by effectively marketing to women, and here are some of my thoughts on the topic.
In a way, I think the traditional financial ads show the belief that middle age men control the most money in this world. For the most part that is true, but women are starting to earn more money than ever before and they need to manage it. Usually women love to research for extensive information before they plop down their hard earned money on some investment so pithy ads that says “My company is awesome” do not work as well. I think what appeals more to women are community portals or human representatives. However, in depth content like that costs more to build.
I hate to say this, but women can be more emotional than men and be irrational sometimes. So advertising could take advantage of women’s emotions. For example, I have read a lot of complaints by men who say that their wives forced them into buying a house in the recent years. I have to say that in nine out of ten couples I have met it’s the wife that wants to buy a house. So the entire housing industry sold the idea that “you are buying a home” and many people fell for it. Even now, the ads from the housing industry seem to be targeting women more than men, and they are very effective because they try to emotionally attach people to a few walls and a roof. If the investment industry could be as effective as the housing industry in marketing to women, I am sure they could make quite a bit of money because even though a man could be the breadwinner in the house, it’s the woman that’s in charge of distributing the money.
I think if financial firms took an effort to attract female investors they will not only get more customers, but better customers. A survey from a few years ago which studied 100000 portfolios Women are more tolerant and studied investors and take less risk, and their portfolios grow bigger with patience. If an investment firm gets a female customer they are more likely to get a customer that holds a fund or portfolio for a while, and that means better returns for the company. Women also live longer than men on average, so investment firms should definitely learn to market to all those rich widows.
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April 22nd, 2008 — , , , , ,
Some time ago I wrote and how they could drive you crazy. I haven’t had any super crazy boss, but I have had some nice bosses. Today I want to discuss the phenomenon when nice bosses actually encourage me to work harder voluntarily.
My current boss is really nice. He is really easy going and trusts people to work on their own. He wants us to get things done, but he never pushes extremely hard. He always allows people to take care of their personal hardships first and seems to truly care about his team. This week I asked for a day off for Friday because of the . So I asked if he would sign my vacation form, and he said don’t worry about it and just go. Then he told our entire team that we could take the whole week off because we just finished our release. This is actually the second time he negotiated with upper management to give us a week off. When our team is on a deadline we do work pretty hard and put in time late at night or on weekends so the days off are like a release bonus for all of us. Now the hubby says that I can use the time to clean the house and lose some weight. I’m not sure if that will really happen, but I could try.
I think nice bosses actually encourage me to work harder. When I am left alone and not prodded constantly I tend to finish my tasks faster. The key takeaway here is that if a boss leaves you alone to do your tasks it shows that he or she trusts you. Having that trust allows me to do the best I can do. I think if I had a crazy boss that looked over my shoulders constantly while I worked I would be pretty annoyed and just try to get him or her off my back as soon as possible.
Another thing is that by being nice, a boss actually instills loyalty in his or her reports. I know that in a previous article about I wrote that there isn’t much loyalty between employees and companies these days, but there I believe loyalty still exists between people. For example, my team at work all share the same goal when we are working, and we all want our product to be the best so that everyone on the team can look good in the company. Having a nice leader makes me want success for the entire team because in a way I don’t want to disappoint them.
Finally, I believe that having a competent and nice boss is really better than having a higher salary because to me a friendly working environment is more important than money. What do you think? Do nice bosses naturally encourage you to work harder?
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April 19th, 2008 — , , , , ,
A while ago I wrote an article on Wise Bread titled . One of the commenters wrote that she actually collects cans and bottles at work and then turn them in at the recycling center for a little bit of money. I thought that was pretty funny, but I do drink quite a few bottled waters and soft drinks at work. I also bring home a few drinks that the hubby likes so we discard quite a few bottles and cans each week. Lately I have been feeling guilty about throwing those bottles and cans away. Finally, last week I sort of broke down and brought a plastic bag to work and collected the bottles and cans I used. On Friday I took the dozen or so cans and bottle I collected at work and today I sold them all at the recycling center along with a pile of other bottles and cans I collected outside on the patio. I got enough money to buy a rotisserie chicken, and I was pretty happy about it.
My hubby mocked me a bit and said, “Wow! Months of saving and all you got was a chicken!” I was still pretty proud of it because I got the chicken by recycling! If I were a bit more systematic about my recycling I could earn a few bucks a week and that could cover quite a few expenses. Here’s what I could possibly gain by turning in those bottles and cans.
real viagra vs generic viagra – $5 to $7 – Required recycling: 3 to 6 cans a day for a month (This is pretty easy to do between the two of us).
real viagra vs generic viagra- $10 to $15 a month – Required recycling: 6 to 10 cans a day (Sometimes I do drink 2 to 3 of the small bottled orange juices at work so this amount of recycling is definitely reachable).
real viagra vs generic viagra- $36 a month – Required recycling: 20 to 25 cans/bottles a day (This would require collecting other people’s bottles and cans but it is feasible.)
real viagra vs generic viagra – $100 a month – Required recycling: 60 to 100 cans a day (Okay this one probably requires me to be a full time dumpster diver so I probably won’t do it).
Now I have to admit that my mom is probably going to read this article and call me and say, “don’t be so damn cheap! You don’t need to be a real bag lady!” However, I think I will stick to turning in at least the bottles and cans my hubby and I produce everyday. A chicken or burrito every month for recycling waste is still a pretty good incentive to me!
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April 17th, 2008 — , , , , ,
My short life has taken place in three distinct places separated by oceans. They are China, Hawaii, and the San Francisco Bay Area. In terms of income, my family has made more money in the Bay Area than any other place in the world. However, I am not sure that our quality of life has drastically improved from the times when we were dirt poor. It is a bit mind boggling, but here is a side by side comparison of the places I have lived, and how my experience of life isn’t really vastly improved by money.
When I was young, China just opened up to the west, but most agencies were still state owned. My parents were college professors so we lived a pretty middle class lifestyle. We lived in a condo provided by their employer and had enough for all of our basic needs. The biggest purchase my parents made was a color television, and it worked quite well for many many years. I remember watching Ninja Turtles, Denver the Last Dinosaur, The Smurfs, and lots of other American cartoons from the eighties. The government also provided health care and schooling so everything seemed quite fine to me. The education I got in Chinese public schools was quite excellent and definitely gave me an advantage in school later. I knew that my parents didn’t have much money, but for the most part I felt that we had everything we needed. As far as I know, apparently many American people my age had the same kind of middle class suburban childhood as I did, and even watched the same cartoons.
Then we moved to Hawaii, and my parents were students and had no money at all. However,we always had a place to live and I qualified for the free lunch program at my school so I don’t remember ever going hungry. Hawaii is also a beautiful place and I loved living there. There was a kid in my class who came from Los Angeles and he hated Hawaii. I didn’t understand why he hated Hawaii, but he said it was because it is an island and it is so damn small. Since my family didn’t own a car, I felt that the island was huge. I didn’t understand why anyone would hate Hawaii, and I still don’t.
After my parents graduated from school we moved to the San Francisco Bay Area because my aunt already lived here and the economy in Hawaii isn’t that good. They both found jobs and we got a nicer apartment, and then a house, and cars to get to work. In terms of material wealth, we did have more. However, the entire Bay Area lifestyle was just so much more stressful than any other place we have ever been. People are just much more competitive and aggressive here and even after ten years I don’t think I am used to it. My parents made more money, but I don’t think our family became happier because of money. Instead, I think money actually created a lot more stress and worry for my parents and me. As they say, “mo’ money, mo’ problems”.
So now my husband and I both pull in decent incomes, and to some people it may seem that we make a lot of money for our age, but I feel that our quality of life is perhaps a little lower than my childhood in China. We have to deal with driving , the lack of job security, and potentially substandard education for our future children. We do live a comfortable life, and we are thankful, but I still long for a simpler and less stressful place to live. Perhaps my memories of China and Hawaii are a bit idyllic because I was still a child, but I would seriously give up my income to live in a place where things didn’t move so fast and the basics of quality education, health care, and housing are not so hard to come by.
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April 17th, 2008 — , , , , , ,
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Kapi’olani Community College’s Admissions Office is in a building with the backdrop of Diamond Head. I found it quickly and an administrator named Alice started to talk to me. I told her my background, including my experience as a college professor in China, but my English was quite poor and I wanted to repeat college. She listened to my stuttering English and often stopped me and said, “Excuse me, could you repeat? I don’t understand you.” After a bit of explaination, she understood what I was trying to say. She told me that it’s great that I want to attend the school and there are many older adults attending. There are even seniors studying courses of their choice. Additionally, there are some international students. With her introduction, I found out more about the University of Hawaii system. University of Hawaii is a public school system created by the state government, and includes three universities. The largest of the universities is the University of Hawaii at Manoa. It has over 20000 students and has masters and PhD programs for many different subjects. In addition to the three universities, there are seven community colleges on the major islands. These colleges generally have lower requirements for entry and also cost significantly less. At that time, each semester credit only cost 19 dollars and the max you had to pay was 228 dollars per semester. There are many subjects you can study and you have a choice to take classes you are interested in. After two years, you can get an Associate Degree and you can use the degree to find jobs or transfer to a four year university. I personally think that this system of higher education in America is commendable because it suits the needs of different types of students and saves resources for the society as a whole.
After Alice told me the information, she asked me what my English score was. I told her my TOEFL score and she said that I already qualify for the school. So she took out several different forms from a drawer and told me to fill it out. As long as I turn them in within a week I could enter college the next semester. I was extremely excited and took the forms she gave me and hopped out of the school like a little sparrow. As I walked home, my thoughts were like the turbulent waves of the nearby Pacific Ocean. I thought of the words of one of Helen’s friends, “Be not afraid of being slow, but be afraid of being still”. These words contain a deep wisdom.
After I got home, I started to busily fill out my application forms. In addition to the basic application, I needed to prove that I had economic support. In the application there was a section about high school. When the Cultural Revolution began, I was only in the 4th grade, and the schools shut down after I finished two years of middle school. When I was 15 I was sent to work in a factory, so I have no record of attending any high school. Fortunately, I had my TOEFL score and my college diploma, so it didn’t matter. Helen already had a graduate teaching assistant scholarship so she is considered an employee of the University and we had medical coverage. At that time, the most important question is what major I should pick. A Chinese proverb says, “men are afraid of picking the wrong profession, and women are afraid of marrying the wrong man”. From the point of view of a traditional Chinese person, I was already in a stage where I couldn’t turn back. However, I had to rekindle my fire, and I really needed to pick the right career.
I chose to study finance and accounting based on my skills. The main reason is that my English was horrible, but my mathematical skills are quite decent. Second, I already had a background in economics and law, and that could be important in a financial career. Third, many people think that being an accountant is quite boring and tedious so there is a shortage of accounting professionals. In general, accounting jobs are easy to find because accountants are needed everywhere. Recently America added many financial legislation so that auditors and accountants are needed in larger quantities. It is very different from China because in America financial professionals are paid quite well and they are generally respected individuals. Recently, I saw a paper which listed the 25 highest paying professions in America. The first 10 spots were taken by various types of doctors, and the top median salary is around $160,000. CEOs were placed at number 14, and accounting managers are placed at number 25 with an average salary of $100,000.
The things I experienced later proved that choosing to be a financial professional was correct. The year before last I was invited by my alma mater in China to do a series of lectures about nonprofit companies in America. So I created a course based on my personal experiences and successfully delivered a special lecture. Afterwards, I saw one of my old assistants, who is now the dean of the business school. When we had dinner together he asked me what I do in America for a living. I told him that do some financial consulting and accounting. He said, “it’s such a shame that talent like you is being an accountant!” After I have been in America for so long my thoughts and prejudices have changed quite a bit. I remember that the great author Lu Xun once said, “if you don’t have that much talent, just pick something small to do.” I do not regret my choice for a bit. If I didn’t leave my position as a professor, my life would have stood still and living for one day would be the same as living for one year, and perhaps I would still be the same after ten years.
A friend left a comment in my blog that said, “when you are studying you find joy in work. I have once said that if it were possible I would spend my entire life at school, but reality would not allow you to do so.” It is true and I agree with her view. I am extremely lucky and glad that I was able to make a new choice, have a new goal, and live a new life. In fact, when I started college once again, I felt so much younger since my classmates were teens and tweens. How many people have a chance to return to that period of their lives?
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