Writing Affidavits

I pride myself in being an internet power user. I think I can research most things on the net very well. I’ve had to draft an Affidavit for the succession wars and so I thought “surely this is something I can discover on the net”

Ha!

I found definitions and some general (albeit useful) guidelines. But you’d think there would be an accessability site somewhere dedicated to enabling citizens to take control of their legal affairs. While I don’t think it is a conspiracy by the legal profession to protect their monopoly, the complexity and formality of the legal process is unjust and disenfranchises citizens.

Democracies should embrace accessability and root out practices and procedures that create obstacles to ordinary citizens participating in social, political and legal action.

Now that I’ve made such a high faluting statement, I don’t know how to simplify the process so typical high-school educated citizens can participate. I recall when selling books to prison libraries, the most requested subject was a criminal law textbook for a 4th grade reading age. Prisoners did not lack intelligence; they lacked education, vocabulary and articulation.

So back to writing affidavits, if it takes five years of university education, a law degree and two or three years experience in a legal practice to lay out evidence in a civil matter, something is broken.

Plain english law is the first step. What’s the next?

Time Management

I’ve been a Palm user since 1999. My Palm m505 PDA has been playing up over the last few months. The digitiser is not responding. Generally it works, but then it fails at the worst possible time.

Unfortunately I’ve taken to trying to remember stuff. My head is a lousy place for me to store my calendar. I missed two important functions in the last two weeks because of it. Who knows what else I’ve forgotten. Not happy, Jan.

I’ve been waiting to see what way Blackberry or Palm or Symbian or cellular phones go before replacing the Palm, but this is now beyond a joke. I need to organise my time, todo list and appointments.

Intellectually I know and teach people to use a calendar, make lists, write goals. Life intervenes too often to keep this stuff in our heads. Unfortunately I’ve again become a bad example. 😉

Well not any more. I’ve dug out an old Palm V (actually an IBM c3) and will use that for now. My public resolution is if it’s not in my digital calendar I’m not confirmed to attend.

ASIC Closes Loan Calculators

I’m not a big fan of ASIC while its bureaucrats’ policies and legislative interpretations mollycoddle investors from taking responsability for their investment education and decisions. The Financial Services Reform Act created an nearly insurmountable obstacle for small business. Every business must hold a licence. Licencing and compliance is a nightmare.

But this not a rant. Instead I want to give props for once.

In 04-300 No credit for misleading loan calculators ASIC finally caught up with those shave years of your home loan calculators. You know the ones where banks or financial institutions compare a normal P&I home loan with a more expensive LOC and miraculously show the LOC saves time and money? Well they haven’t stopped the ads yet but they have shut down over 100 calculators on websites. How can a product with a higher interest rate beat a simple P&I loan? Well done for closing that down and issuing a press release about it.

Smoke and mirrors exist in the finance industry. Encouraging any government to attempt to legislate risk away is dangerous to your wealth. By the time politicians and bureaucrats catch up, the flock is fleeced. Wouldn’t it be better to spend time educating people to think critically and independantly?

If something costs more, consumers should automatically ask what’s the catch?. My ten-year-old daughter does.

Using Technology

We are selling 80-100 items per week on ebay Australia. 60 of those are our bestselling item, the balance is products we are listing in an effort to find another bestseller.

I got a call this week from Wendy at ebay who tells me we are in the top 3% of ebay sellers in June! Wow I was so flattered I forgot to ask if that was for Australia, by dollar value. I assumed that was the case.

The frustrating thing for us is how poorly ebay scales. We are doing roughly a dozen items per day and are buried in email and printouts. This is mostly to track everything and protect ourselves from fraud and chargebacks.

Most customers do not read the ads nor our emails explaining how the sale process goes. I could rant on that at length, but it is a fact of life. Therefore accept it and move on.

Similarly tardy or non-payers, buyers remorse is keenly felt on ebay. Again it’s part of the game.

So I spent the afternoon sitting with staff watching the process unfold. I haven’t got to the point of integrating the ebay data with our accounts system (MYOB). I am not looking forward to that at all.

Basically if we are to maintain our customer service attitude and make money I’ll either have to outsource the customer service to India (don’t laugh, it may come to that) or find/build a technology solution that grabs all the data and automates as much as possible.

There are commercial solutions out there. All that I’ve found cost a monthly flat fee or a percentage of the gross. None tempt me enough yet, especially as our margins are not so fat that we can afford to give away 2%-5% of gross sales. I’m hoping to integrate something into OSCommerce, our ecommerce package.

Wish me luck. I haven’t had too much success with open source solutions this year. They just seem that little bit too complicated or not quite ready for our business. I’ve used OSCommerce before as an online catalog without enabling the checkout and was happy with it at the time.

Andre Weil’s Law of Academic Hiring

Following on from my Brains or Money posts, I came across a quote be Andre Weil. After a bit of research I found Patrick Moore‘s page for the Society for a Return to Academic Standards, Little Rock Chapter where he presents Andre Weil’s Law of Academic Hiring

French mathematician Andre Weil once mentioned an unconscious formula that weaker academic departments used when hiring new faculty. He told a fellow mathematician, Paul Halmos, about it and Halmos included Weil’s law in his autobiography. Here is what Halmos says:

“But what do you do when a department [in a university] goes bad? Andr� Weil suggested that there is a logarithmic law at work: first-rate people attract other first-rate people, but second-rate people tend to hire third-raters, and third-rate people hire fifth-raters. If a dean or a president is genuinely interested in building and maintaining a high-quality university (and some of them are), then he must not grant complete self-determination to a second-rate department; he must, instead, use his administrative powers to intervene and set things right. That’s one of the proper functions of deans and presidents, and pity the poor university in which a large proportion of both the faculty and the administration are second-raters; it is doomed to diverge to minus infinity.” (p. 123)

From I Want to Be a Mathematician: An Automathography, by Paul Halmos, Springer-Verlag, New York, 1984.

This doesn’t just apply to academics, it also applies to business, investing and wealth creation. But it doesn’t address how to become a first-rate person.

I’ve studied leadership and a followed and ongoing self-development program. Taking responsibility for my actions and their outcomes whereever possible is another trait I value.

I’d like to believe I’m becoming a first-rate entrepreneur (admittedly with a lot more to learn). But then 90% of people believe their an above average driver. Self-delusion is a comfortable place.

How does Weil’s law deal with Paul Zag’s competing theory of business success.

A successful businesss does not have to do everything with excellence. It just needs to do most things a bit better than the competition and have a passion for the business.

hmm I need to develop these ideas a bit more

Auctioneers in Administration

During my quiet time Mason Gray Strange Auctioneers and Valuers Pty Ltd (of Condell Park NSW) appointed a voluntary administrator. They owe us less than $50.00 so it’s not worth attending any of the creditors meetings. I’m too busy with my own legal defense to pay attention to someone else’s restructuring.

The sloppy reporting on the results of my stock sale should have rung alarm bells. I certainly got paid quickly, but it took forever to get a reconciliation out of them. The auction was successful for some categories, but awful for books.

I do wonder however, if traditional auction houses will be casualties of online technologies such as eBay. The quantity and quality of general auction bidders is getting worse. They’re looking for a bargain, but if general auctions cease to be a reliable clearance channel the stock will go elsewhere.

Over the last few months we’ve cleared so much stock that I can see diagonally across my warehouse! That’s saying something. I think I’ll take a photo on Monday. We’ve sold to wholesalers, retailers, market stall holders, the general public, you name it – the auction set the floor price.

My warehouse manager is worried, every time he’s emptied a warehouse he’s been made redundant. Now he’s looking at vacant shelves. I keep telling him there is no way I’m driving a forklift, but he doesn’t believe me.

Ziggyswarehouse.com.au live

After a long and challenging journey (or at least several vodka’s too many) I’ve started at Ziggy’s Warehouse. Its URI is http://ziggyswarehouse.com.au.

The online store is mostly finished and ready for testing (most of the products aren’t loaded yet). Lots of design changes on the way.

I’ll post on Ziggy’s business at the Ziggy’s blog, but I’ll keep wealth creation, psychology of the deal and general musings over here at wealthesteem.org

eBay adventures

I’m still waiting for the final results from the stock I sent to auction last month. That is frustrating and disappointing. I just haven’t had time to follow up with it.

I’m not blogging as much because most of my recent work is either legally privileged regarding the succession wars, or secret until I get the intellectual property side sorted out.

However I’ve started auctioning product on eBay. How exciting! Learning lots and making mistakes. I’ll document some of that adventure soon.