Nature vs. Nurture: How Important Are Parents To Our Success?

Yale law professor and mother of two Amy Chua penned an incredibly fascinating article entitled, “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” on the WSJ.  Professor Chua is a first generation American who went to Harvard undergrad and then to Harvard Law School.  As a tenured professor teaching at the most prestigious law school in the world, I feel for her kids first and foremost!  Think about all the expectations that are put on them since her husband, Jeb, is also a tenured law professor at Yale.

Let’s say you had parents who walked 10 miles to school every day.  Do you think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that you will have a car in high school?  You might, but you’d feel guilty every time you get behind the wheel and your parents will likely remind you as well.  In the end, you’d probably compromise and either bike to work, have your parents drop you off, or walk yourself.

Here’s a non-offensive excerpt from her article where she justifies calling kids names such as “lazy”, “fatty”, “worthless”, “stupid”, and “disgraces” when they aren’t performing up to par:

“As a parent, one of the worst things you can do for your child’s self-esteem is to let them give up. On the flip side, there’s nothing better for building confidence than learning you can do something you thought you couldn’t.”  Amy Chua

I agree with her quote, but I definitely don’t agree with calling one’s kids names to shame them into conforming.  The main issue I have with Amy’s view is that she pits Asian mothers against “Western Mothers” who are by default deemed inferior.  I would be incredibly insulted if I was a Western Mother because who is Amy to impose her dictator-like ways on me.  Amy talks in stereotypes all article long about how Asian children always seem to be gifted in math & sciences and music.  Amy argues that it is in fact no coincidence since Asian mothers are such master motivators and disciplinarians.


Unemployment Checks Are The Best Form Of Economic Stimulus

I’m so excited, I can’t stand it!  So excellent to hear the White House agreeing with Congressional Republicans to extend tax cuts for 2 years through 2012!  As a concession, the Republicans agree to extend unemployment insurance for another 13 months.  That’s not quite the  “Shock & Awe Yeah” proposal I have of 260 weeks of unemployment benefits, but 155 weeks is still pretty damn good!

Deploying an enormous unemployment insurance safety net could very well jump start the economy or bring us back to socialism.  I take the former stance, as a bullet-proof safety net causes employees to work harder, take more risks, and be more creative since they no longer have to fear losing their jobs.

Getting 13 months of extra unemployment benefits after getting 99 weeks sounds like a lot.  That said, if you were unemployed, hell yeah you’d want to the extra 13 months!  Now that compromise is here between our nefarious, I mean selfless leaders in Washington, the next step is dealing with all this QE2, QE3, QE4 nonsense!  There are much better ways to spend $600 billion than buying back US treasuries to stimulate the economy.


Are Democrats Against A Middle Class Tax Cut Extension?

Senate Republicans blocked the middle class tax cut extension passed by the House earlier in the week.  There’s a lot of finger pointing by the Democrats who say that the Republicans are holding the middle class hostage.  Is that really the case though?  If the Democrats know their bill will get shot down by Republicans due to perceived inequality of only providing tax cut extensions for certain income classes, then in reality, it is the Democrats who are holding the middle class hostage for trying to keep pushing a bill which won’t get passed!  New legislation starts with the House and moves upwards until it finally hits the President’s desk to vote.


Federal Government 2-Year Pay Freeze Is A Miracle

When President Obama proposed to freeze Federal Government pay for two years I thought he was taunting us with an April Fool’s joke in November.  I mean really.  Is the public supposed to take the President seriously after he signed off on a 3.9% 2009 pay hike when Armageddon hit in 2008 while attacking the private sector for getting paid too much?  Not only did all Federal Government employees get a 3.9% pay hike in 2009, they also got another 2.9% pay hike in 2010!  In other words, while practically all of America suffered through the financial crisis with pay cuts and job losses, Federal Government employees raked it in!  We’re talking the percentage of Federal Government employees making over $100,000 jumping from 14% to 19% during the meltdown.  Sweet!

Does My Vote Matter?

Every two to four years we have government elections and every two to four years I wonder the same thing, “Does my vote matter?” In California, we have two Gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman (R) and Jerry Brown (D) who have the most vicious attack ads I’ve ever seen. Their ads make them BOTH sound unappealing, which makes common citizens like me depressed that no change will come.

I have to think there are attack ads in almost every city in America which is resulting in the same voter ambivalence. Am I wrong? You tell me. Every single politician says the same thing:

* I plan to change the way the Capital is run. No more politics as usual.
* I plan to balance the budget.
* I am qualified because of my experience in politics, or my experience in business.
* My opponent is unqualified.
* I answer to no one but you.
* Wonk, wonk, blah, blah, schimmy, schimmy, bang, bang.

How To Be Clutch In Stressful Situations

Watch Texas Rangers relief pitching if you want to learn how to NOT be clutch! Wow, I mean come on.  How does that one kid throw 11 balls in a row and walk two SF Giants batters in the 8th inning of Game 2 when the bases are loaded?  It’s absolutely unbelievable how bad the Texas Rangers relief pitching was, and it’s simply due to mental weakness.  Texas going from having a chance down 0-2 in the 8th to losing the game 0-9 is a 100% ass kicking.

I understand how difficult it is to close things out due to competitive tennis.  I’ve blown my share of 5-4, third set leads before, and 9 times out of 10, it’s because my mind broke down.  Tennis, like many one-on-one sports is a complete mind bend.  I started worrying and thinking about all the “what ifs”.  What if I shank the ball when going for it?  What if my calves start cramping?  What if he starts catching fire?  As soon as I start filling my mind with doubt, my body follows suite and then before I know it, I’ve blown the lead and lose.

I’ve since been able to calm some nerves that have helped me cross the finish line in tight situations before.  Here are some tips for keeping your head in the game.

The Comfortable Lifestyle Business or The Big Payout?

Contemplating the Lifestyle Business In HawaiiOver poker one night, we got to talking about what we always talk about: entrepreneurship.   Out of a table of 10, four work at start-ups, three are at Google, one is a high-tech lawyer, one works as a medical correspondent for CNN, and then there’s me, a hybrid.  I had just got done working on for three hours after working an 11 hour day, and needless to say, I was a little bit tired.

I love going to Friday night poker mainly because I get to bounce ideas off of really smart and incredibly hard working people.  When I hear stories of one start-up player working from 7am to 3am every night for two weeks straight to launch a product offering, I get pumped.  When the Venture Capitalist player recounts his firm rejecting a pitch by Tim Westergren, Pandora’s founder in 2008, I wince, but daydream in amazement.