Friday, July 14, 2006


Well, according to the people at "The Happy Planet Index," "Happiness" can be measured. The United States of America ranks as #150 out of 178 countries. Pretty laughable considering the other company that rank as low as the U.S. does.

You can also calculate your own "Happiness Index." The question is, "how happy are you?"

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Joel Greenblatt's Magic Formual Investing

This site can help calculate the return on capital and earnings yield for hundreds of stocks.

The website asks you what size of companies you're interested in buying, then it asks you how many stocks you want — 25, 50 or 100. You click on "go" and the site gives you a list of U.S. companies that meet your criteria. You just buy five to seven stocks recommended by the site every few months and turn them over after holding on to them for a year.

Can the Magic Formula be risky? Sure, in the short-term. But over the long term, no, it's not risky. The basic idea is buying good companies for cheap prices. "Good" as in a high return on capital, and "Cheap" as in high earnings compared to the priced paid for it (The earnings yield, or the inverse of the price-to-equity ratio [P/E]. Better to pay $100 for a company that earns $10, than to pay $100 for a company that earns $1).

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


After having had several people ask, I decided I would finally give in, and jot some pointers on how to "prepare" for an MBA. (Perhaps the first of many entries on the MBA now that the floodgates have been lifted...)

1.) Know why you want to get the MBA. Wanting more money as the sole reason will not fly with the AdCom. This one step will give you a definite focus. This is noticeable.

2.) Then...I believe many other MBA folks would agree that the number one thing is the GMAT. It took me two months to prepare for it. It could take less time or more time, depending on your dedication and your background.
If you feel that taking a course is the main way for you to work/study hard and be motivated, go for it. If not, it is a waste of money.
I did not take any course. HOWEVER, there is ONE book I would recommend.

The Official Guide For GMAT Review
or at the website

Why is this the ONLY book I recommend? Because this has ACTUAL exam questions. Some other guide books will have questions that are similar, but sometimes, the questions the other books provide can be misleading in preparing you. The questions will be similar and will stimulate your brain to think in similar ways, but it won't be the actual type of question that the GMAT would have. If you do try even a few questions, you will notice the differences.

A while back, I took Kaplan's LSAT course, (perhaps the GMAT course is different) and while it provided me with great materials, it did little else to assist me in the test preparation.

When you sign up for the GMAT test, will also give you a free CD with practice exams. Which leads me to the other important aspect of test preparation. Practice taking the exam on the computer. Since test questions get "harder" as you get the correct answer (and "easier" in the case of a wrong answer), a computer exam simulates that increasing/decreasing difficulty level.

There are SO many books on test preparation and how to get into business schools that it can be overwhelming at times. Fortunately, there is the internet and every school has a webpage with information so you don't have to buy into every "advice" book you come across. I did most of my research on my own, which I found to be more helpful. Since I was not spoon fed the information, I came to remember details and was more acquainted with the schools.

3.) Know your schools. Depending on your reasons in #1.) each school will have a different fit. Location, size, prestige, part-time/full-time, career opportunities, etc. Know what the school has to offer you, what you have to offer the school, and what you hope to take away from the school. It is important to remember that you do not have to be the super business person yet. That is why you are going to get an MBA in the first place.

4.) Start Early. Just to give you an example of a timeline (a great one too), a friend of mine started preparing for the GMAT in October of 2004. Then took the GMAT in January of 2005. Started writing the essays in February/March (Essays are key. There is debate over how important, but they are very important). Refined them (which takes TIME) and then in May/June started asking for letters of reference. Then put together the complete application to apply for Early Decision/Early Action schools in Aug/Sept/Oct of 2005 and will now be attending business school in the Fall of '06.

4.) Ask early for letters of reference. Make sure that you give them a copy of the essays you write, your CV, and any other information you think is pertinent. You want to make sure that the person who is writing the rec letter is NOT writing any other letters for other people who are applying to that same school. Or, if they are, that you are the strongest candidate. Make sure this person has seen you in action and can testify to you truly being a great candidate. You want to be in the position where you are comfortable enough with the recommender that you can ask him/her if they will be able to write a strong letter of rec. If not, wrong place.

As for job experience, it is undeniably important. I think most people in a top 10 b-school program have around 3-5 years of work experience on average. Sure, you could have less, or more. But the number of years goes to reflect once again, #1. Work experience doesn't just show the ad com you are more qualified, but you can tell yourself that you are ready. And you can justify spending $120K+. You know what work you've been doing, what's out there and what you hope to pursue.

5.) Practice Interviews. Whether you are comfortable or not, it is important to go over the key points of why you want to go to business school and your qualifications for school. Thus, if you are invited to interview, you will be ready. Ask current biz students or other people who have gone through the process. Some schools automatically give out interview bids, others are invitation only. There is some truth to the rumor that if you are given an interview bid, your odds of getting in are better. Basically, the interview is another chance to double check your story, make sure everything is straight and the way it is on paper. Here's another site for more "tips."

6.) Talk with current business school students. They don't have to be from the school that you are planning on attending. I talked with several students from NYU Stern to get a different perspective on the business programs. Get to know the atmosphere/environment where you will be for two-years.

Hope this is helpful and my best to all you folks

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


A study by National Geographic shows the following:

6 out of 10 Americans ages 18-24 CAN NOT FIND IRAQ on a map! (I wonder if the soldiers can even find it on a map. Heck, does Bush know? Seriously.)


75% of young adults can't find Israel.

9 out of 10 can't find Afghanistan (And we can't find, go figure).

Fewer than 50% of Americans know where the state of Ohio is.

1/3 can't find Louisiana (Despite all the news, the "boot" folks, come on). 48% can't find Mississippi.

Fewer than 3 in 10 believe it is important to know the location of countries.

14% believe that speaking another language is a necessary skill. (I believe that nearly everyone at Columbia B-School speaks another language. Perhaps a reverse, 14% don't speak another language.)


You want an entertaining video? Go to CNN.COM and check out the "Video" section and click on Jeanne Moos' "Where in the world is...?"
You want even more proof? Check CNN.

If this doesn't get your blood running, I don't know what will.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


I sit on a park bench in front of the Catholic Church. I take out a small Styrofoam box from its plastic encasing. The park is packed tonight. Some people unfamiliar, but mostly the regulars fill the benches and steps with cold beers in hand. “Se fue ella” yells someone and the town is plunged back into darkness. Luckily it is a waxing moon and the sky is clear. Bodega Tony across the street in front of the church blasts some reggaeton and announces a special 3 for 2 deal on Bohemia beer. Several people rush in Tony’s direction, others stumble and should be cut off, not because they are drunk, but because they are drinking away their family’s food. But I see what these people go through at work, and suppose this is their only relief from reality. I am here only two years and although I have it easy, I find daily life tough. I can only imagine their pains and sense of hopelessness. I cannot even pretend to understand, try hard as I may to imagine a permanent life here.

There goes Ricardo, the 74-year-old PRD man who lost his job as a hospital janitor with the change in governments and does not have a family or government that will support him.

There goes Guillermo, a big shot dairy farmer who wants me to help their association even though I have explained to him many times I do not have time and that they do not need the money. He complains that I only help my friends. That may be, but they are “poor” friends I explain to him. He still does not understand. He’ll ask me again later though.

An eight-year-old boy and his 10-year-old sister ask when there will be soccer practice. I tell him maybe Sunday “Si Dios Quiere,” if God wants. I tell the two to go ask Manuel, your other coach.

The only homeless woman in this town approaches me. Actually, I smell her first and see her coming from behind later. She says give me something. I lie and say that I have nothing. She does not go away, and so I ignore her. Luckily, Club Barbaro members, Pancho and Fernando come up and ask me if I want to drink some of their special mix (rum and wine). I politely decline again, but talk baseball briefly and the homeless woman asks Pancho for something. He tells her to get lost. She does. Carlixto comes and asks if I have ten pesos so he can have dinner. I tell him no, but give him some of my chicken and tostones (fried plantains). He leaves maybe not happy, but with some food in his stomach at least instead of alcohol or chewing tobacco.

There pass two pregnant girls, one who is 14, the other 17, by men who could be their fathers. Julia, the 14 year old is lucky because her parents are able and willing to help economically. Veronica, on the other hand, has nowhere to turn to, and still has two years of “bachiller” (high school) left.

I sit and chuckle as I watch a three-year-old toddler walk by with his mother, with only a shirt on because of the heat.

Over at another park bench, a 9 or 10 year old kneels to polish a dairy farmer’s boots, next to a 30 some year old shoe polisher. I wonder, “Does the 30 year old man only charge the bank teller five pesos for shining the shoes? If so, what does he do, or what can he do with five pesos?” I am too ashamed to go ask or have him shine my shoes. “What if he only charges five pesos?” (Boys charge 5 pesos)

There goes Ayala, a man who lost his political job and will be paying upwards of 30,000 pesos for a yola (illegal boat trip) to the U.S., the Promised Land.

There goes Julia, whose husband died last week in a motorcycle accident while he was trying to show off, leaving five kids behind, three with Julia, one with Fulana (Jane Doe), y otro con otra tipa de alla (and another with another women out there). My memory reluctantly conjures up images of the left eye indented, not closing because it was embedded in the skull. Precious red blood flowing freely from somewhere in the back of the head.

There passes Yunior with his grandmother since his 26-year-old dad is in jail and his 24-year-old mom died during an illegal abortion, trying to get rid of a baby that some irresponsible army general created.

There passes suave Rivera, a 30 odd year old with another of his high school age girlfriends, leaving his three beautiful children at home with his faithful and religious wife.

There goes Noel, orphaned after his mom and dad died from what rumors said were “worms eating the brain,” when it was really AIDS.

There go Kenia and Pablo with their recently widowed mother, after their alcoholic father hung himself, leaving nothing behind economically, or in a last note.

There go Angel with his son Angel Jr., both bread makers of Pan de Leña (brickoven). I told them I would try to help them get a gas oven and improve their business.

A boy from the SIDA/VIH multiplicadores group comes by and asks me when I will be going to the gym. I shrug, “tomorrow, if it isn’t raining.”

I sit back with my dinner of tostones (fried plantains) and pica pollo (fried chicken). I sigh deeply wondering…too many things. This is my community, my home, and my family, for better or worse.