Here I discuss the ends and outs of the BRRRR method of investing (Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat) and answer questions about when to flip and when to hold, how to assess the ARV (After Repair Value) of a property, how to find good contractors and what seasoning means. Enjoy!
And check out my main article on the BRRRR method here.
Empathic design is a product design method first developed by Dorothy Leonard and Jeffrey Rayport in The Harvard Business Review. The method outlines a five-step process for designing customer-focused products:
The method is similar to that used by cultural anthropologists insofar as it avoids the traditional method of simply asking customers what they want or think by actually going to them to observe them in their natural habitat. In a way, it borrows from the likes of Jane Goodall and her extended observations of chimpanzees in their natural environment. In this case, however, it is consumers in their natural environment that are to be observed and learned from. Indeed, some companies have actually hired anthropologists for these observations.
This method removes many of the problems that traditional approaches such as surveys, focus groups and laboratory experiments have. Some of those problems include:
As Leonard and Sax put it,
“At its foundation is observation—watching consumers use products or services. But unlike in focus groups, usability laboratories, and other contexts of traditional market research, such observation is conducted in the customer’s own environment—in the course of normal, everyday routines. In such a context, researchers can gain access to a host of information that is not accessible through other observation-oriented research methods.”
In a focus group, for example, a customer may say that a given product works just fine. But when observing that person in real life, one may notice that it’s very difficult to assemble, or that the customer has created a work-around to a given problem that takes extra time, or that many of the features are never used. There are an endless number of issues that may not even cross a consumer’s mind when they are simply asked about various products.
Leonard and Sax again note that, “…Customers are so accustomed to current conditions that they don’t think to ask for a new solution—even if they have real needs that could be addressed.”
Indeed, it should be noted that many products we commonly used today were not invented for their given purpose. Some examples include:
On the other hand, some products looked good on paper, but never caught on because of a lack of consumer demand. The Segway is a good example of this. It was supposed to “revolutionize” walking. But had the designers spent more time with actual consumers, they would have likely found that few people considered walking to be a problem or concern. In the end, the Segway failed to find a market.
As noted above, the process is broken into five steps.
Step 1: Observation
In this step, it is critical to ask three questions:
It is important to have more than one observer, preferably from different backgrounds. Different people will notice different things and you want any preconceived biases to be “cancelled out” by others with different perspectives.
Step 2: Capturing Data
It’s important to record the observations so that others can view it to bring a fresh perspective and those that originally observed the consumers can review and look for details they may have missed. In the field, observers should only ask open-ended questions such as “why are you doing that?” Observers should also look for actions and not reported behavior as people often misinterpret the reasons for their own behavior. And throughout, it’s critical to, as Mathiew Turpault put it, “Treat your users like product development partners throughout the process.”
Step 3: Reflection and Analysis
After the field observations are complete, the team should gather to reflect on what they saw with colleagues who did not participate. Those colleagues should then ask questions to facilitate a conversation. Throughout this conversation, the goal should be to understand what exactly it is that the customer wants and needs, even if the customer is unaware of those wants and needs.
Step 4: Brainstorming
Brainstorming is a very useful way of collecting a large number of ideas that wouldn’t have been thought of otherwise. The key is to do it without judging ideas as they come out. Just let the process flow and then evaluate and discuss the various ideas at the end. Leonard and Sax recommend IDEO’s five rules of brainstorming (which has since been updated to seven):
Step 5: Developing Prototypes of possible solutions
After the brainstormed ideas have been evaluated and a concept (or concepts) agreed upon, a prototype should be built. This prototype accomplishes three things according to Leonard and Sax:
After another round of feedback, the prototype can be improved and upgraded or perhaps discarded. This process can continue until a final product is ready for market.
Leonard and Sax note many examples of Empathic Design being used successfully. One involves Kimberly Clark. After some of their representatives spent time with actual customers, they realized that a pull-up diaper was sought after by both parents and toddlers for its emotional appeal. Pull-up diapers were seen as a sign of growing up.
With the Empathic Design method, Cheerios realized that parents didn’t see their product primarily as a breakfast cereal but enjoyed the fact that it could be bagged and carried around. This was important for marketing purposes. Likewise, Japanese automakers have set up design studios in southern California where there are a large number of car enthusiasts who like making modifications to their cars. This has given these automakers a chance to observe them and get ideas for new features to add.
Downsides to Empathic Design
While there are many upsides to Empathic Design, there are some things to be cautious about. Taylor Higashi notes that “…Removed from entertainment and close personal relationships, such intimacy clouds our judgement when we attempt to make objective decisions.” Higashi references a study noted in C. Daniel Batson’s book Against Empathy where subjects were asked if they would move a terminally ill girl to the front of the line for treatment. When simply asked, they tended to not move her ahead of those who presumably were more in need. But when asked to imagine how she felt, they tended to move her up the list.
Sometimes, it’s better to be removed from a subject when evaluating it. That being said, this will generally only be a problem with regards to particularly emotional situations and problems.
The Empathic Design method is a great way to create customer-centered products that the customer actually wants or needs. Often people don’t even know what they want or need. Who would have thought to want the car? Or the television? Or the Internet? In most instances, observing consumers in their natural environment is a highly effective method to inspire ideas for how to better serve those consumers.
Here is my interview with Abhi Golhar from ThinkRealty Radio on different strategies to get started in buy and hold real estate investment as well as tips on finding financing and tenants:
And expressing ambivalence about whether to trust Putin or the United States' intelligence agencies on one issue does not even brush the surface of that threshold.
Out of an endless series of examples of how pathetic the old anti-war Left has become (or how consistently bloodthirsty the neocons have continued to be), I will select Michael Moore (and my pithy response):
These "peace-loving" Democrats do realize that all this saber rattling at Russia is about war, right? I mean, Politico called the DNC hack the "Our Pearl Harbor," and we went to war after Pearl Harbor. Plus, our conflicts in Syria and the Ukraine are really proxy wars with Russia. And the neocons (and mainstream Left too) want war, particularly in Syria.
Oh and then there's NATO. After all, we must protect ourselves from the Soviet Union! And Trump wants to undermine it! And thus we get this syphilitic take:
From the article he linked:
"According to government documents, which BIRN has seen, Montenegro plans to increase the number of soldiers by 50 per cent to meet US demands for allies to help share the load. Currently, Montenegro has 18 troops in the country, rising according to plans to 26-28."
Thank you for defending us Montenegro!
I'm not old enough to remember the Cold War, but I've read enough about it to know that Democrats were consistently pushing for a detente with the Soviet Union. And you know what? They were right to do so. But I guess that was back when Russia was communist and now that they're not, it's time for war. From the mainstream and supposedly prestigious Politico:
"Act accordingly?" What in the Hell does that mean? Does this guy know that we declared war on Japan after Pearl Harbor?
By the way, 2400 Americans were killed and another 1200 wounded in the attack on Pearl Harbor. How many people died when Russia hacked the DNC? And given the bogus intelligence about Iraq, the mistakes regarding the rise of ISIS, the inability to see the Soviet Union was about to collapse and the general difficulty in attribution when it comes to hacking along with the fact that the DNC refused to turn over their servers to the FBI, I would say there is still grounds for skepticism regarding Russia's culpability.
But let's say Russia was responsible, which they very likely are. According to one study , the United States has interfered in 81 different elections. (The Soviet Union meddled in 36.) And that doesn't include invasions (such as Iraq or Libya) or coups (such as Iran or the Ukraine). Remember when Hillary Clinton was caught on tape proposing the United States rig the Palestinian election? And if meeting with Putin cordially is such a great crime, what do we have to say about this guy:
Or this guy, who looked into Putin's soul by the way?
Or maybe it's just when you collude with Russia. (Still waiting on the evidence for that regarding Trump, but it's only been, what, two years?) Wait... what's this?
OK, but this outrage is about Trump siding with (or more accurately, being indecisvie) about whether to side with Putin or our intelligence agencies. But given their many failures noted above, the lies of people like James Clapper, the obvious politizied nature of these investigations, as highlighted by Peter Strzok and the piss dossier, and the embarrassing antics of the torture-loving, warmongering, illegally-spying, perjuring, former communist and probably current communist John Brennan... can you really blame him?
Everyone hacks and everyone interferes. China hacked the OPS and Hell, according to TMZ, the multinational corporation with no inherent loyalty to the United States, NBC intentionally leaked the infamous Trump tape. (Which under California law, was probably illegal.) Interference much?
This is not to say that Putin is a nice guy or that Russia is an ally. Nor is it to say that if Russia did the hack that that was somehow OK. But let's have some perspective. Their goals are pretty obviously regional. They want NATO off their doorstep and they want influence in Eastern Europe and the Caucuses (which is exactly what the United States and EU want). They have an economy smaller than Italy and a population that is a fraction of China. They are also less authoritarian than China. Basically, as far as international relations go, Putin is not "literally Hitler" or some new boogieman. And Russia is not Nazi Germany. Russia is China Lite. And that's how we should see them.
Other than the fact that they have a ton of nuclear weapons and it's probably a good idea to have a detente. Funny how none of these neocon and Democratic warmongers thought to throw a hissy fit over Trump's meeting and massive arms sales to the theocratic oil company of Saudi Arabia (which has spent over $100 billion funding Wahhabism all over the world). Perhaps Trump just needs to sell billions of dollars of weapons to Putin. Then the hysteria will end.
But let's talk about foreign interference again real quick. Here's who Politico agreed to have pen an article about why the United States should presumably declare war on a country with enough nuclear warheads to end the world several times over.
"Molly K. McKew (@MollyMcKew) advises governments and political parties on foreign policy and strategic communications. She is a registered agent for Georgian President Saakachvili’s government, which she advised from 2009-2013, and for former Moldovan Prime Minister Filat, who has been in prison since 2015."
And of course, they note that the agent of a foreign government and antagonist of Russia wrote this agitprop at the end, not the beginning of the article.
So my first article has been published in ThinkRealty Magazine. (I have previously written a few posts for their website.) The article is on a subject I've written about before; the importance of deferring gratification and the good ole-Stanford Marshmallow experiment (which unbeknownst to me at the time, has come under fire recently.)
Anyways, here's a snapshot of the article in the latest edition of ThinkRealty's magazine:
For those landlords out there, this is a relatively common problem... and a weird one. Every once and a while, a tenant will want to pay six months in advance or something like that. Usually this comes along with them not meeting your rental criteria. It's always a red flag.
I always say to stick to your rental criteria no matter what. Who knows, maybe this person is a drug dealer and makes lots of money, but you can't verify it since it was garnered illicitly. Regardless, I see this problem fairly frequently and it's one landlords are the most clueless about.
I think Brandon Turner breaks down the problem really well on the AskBP podcast here:
And if you're interested in real estate investment, make sure to check out my blog at BiggerPockets while you're at it!
I recently had to quit smoking again after I fell back into the "habit" after some tough life events in the last couple of months. Fortunately, I quit again with Allen Carr's Easy Way method, who's book, The Easy Way to Stop Smoking, I've written about before, and who's webinar can be found here. I have been smoke-free for five days.
I certainly don't recommend ever doing this. It's a waste of time, health and energy and admittedly harder after the first time. But the method still works. This time I used the webinar and one of the last things they recommend you do is to "write a written record of what your life was like as a smoker and what made you want to stop." This is my record, and hopefully, if there are any smokers out there, this will help inspire you to check out Allen Carr's method and quit for yourself.
Once again, I find myself sitting in a motel room watching Allen Carr's webinar to quit smoking. What a waste! Why have I gone to back to this garbage? How much of my time has been stolen from me by this worthless drug? How much of my energy? How much of my health? How much of my self respect? Life is too short to waste it inhaling toxic fumes into my lungs! Life is far too precious for that! I love living, but I most certainly hate smoking.
I hate how it made me smell.
I hate how it made me feel.
I hate how it made me hide from friends and family.
I hate how it robbed me or my energy.
I hate how it wasted my money, especially when I didn't have much.
I hate how I "waited" to quit to travel, ask girls out and do what I wanted in this one and only life I get to live.
I hate what this evil thing did to me.
Yet I love being free.
And all I have to do to be free is choose to be free.
I choose freedom.
Now the Internet mob has come for Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy. And he may very well deserve it, but the story so far is a weird one to say the least,
"LeSean McCoy has been accused of beating his girlfriend, according to an Instagram post from her friend.
"The user @Miamor_i_adore posted a disturbing picture Tuesday morning that showed a woman, who she says is Delicia Cordon, McCoy’s apparent girlfriend, with cuts, bruises and blood on her face with a caption that alleged, among other things, domestic assault by the Bills running back.
"McCoy quickly denied the allegations.
"'For the record, the totally baseless and offensive claims made against me today on social media are completely false,' he said in a statement. 'Further more, I have not had any direct contact with any of the people involved in months.'"
So this all started from an anonymous Instagram post? OK...
That being said, we should all suspend judgement, at least for now. The injuries to Delicia Cordon appear to have been confirmed and it was from a home invasion. And she has stated (I believe on record) that, according to ESPN, LeSean McCoy "set [her] up for the attack."
Is it true? I don't know. But we should all remember that not long ago, San Francisco 49ers running back Reuben Foster was accused of domestic assault by his ex-girlfriend. Now, she admits she "lied a lot" and according to ESPN again,
"Ennis, who testified against the advice of her attorney Stephanie Rickard, said she made up the story because she wanted to ruin Foster's career and sue him for money after he broke up with her on the morning of Feb. 11. She also admitted to falsely accusing a former boyfriend of domestic violence in Louisiana in 2011 after he attempted to break up with her."
Listen and believe...
Of course, that isn't just said ironically when it comes to feminists these days, as one back-and-forth on Twitter I saw made evidently clear:
"I literally don't care" might as well be the motto for feminists when it comes to men's well being. Or perhaps they're just a more extreme version of the normal, as science is starting to prove. First with the "Women are Wonderful Effect," then with the trolley car experiments, and now this:
I don't really think this is changeable. Nor do I think men don't have advantages of their own (most notably, perceived competence). But I do think it's something we as a society need to recognize. And that's especially true given that feminists are under the indefensibly stupid delusion that it's the other way around.
At the very least, we need to get away from this idea it's acceptable to just make serious accusations without evidence over social media.
So I got into a Twitter exchange with an actual bigshot (or sorts) for the first time, which was fun. I don't agree with Bloomberg writer Noah Smith that much, but he seems like a pretty fair-minded liberal. Here was his original Tweet and my response:
Of course, I'm referencing the fact that Antifa (the group that was fighting the Alt Right in Charlottesville, which is what Smith was referencing by "Nazis marching in the streets") are a bunch of communists.
"Every day is a new life to the wise man."
The Righteous Mind
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