I will never forget the day that my car was repossessed. A bunch of us were standing in the hallway of our second-floor office and watched out the window as the two truck cut through the fence, drove into our parking lot, hitched up my car, and drove away. I hadn’t made my car payment in over three months at that point, but the inertia for this occurrence really began six months prior, at the onset of the recession.
Our company had been showing strong growth in the years leading up to September 2008, and when things started to collapse, we really were not anxious. Elauwit was always slower during the summer. We planned on the usual uptick we saw every fall. And we waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually it became clear that it was not happening. Our August billings — usually the worst of the year — were going to be the new standard. We met on a Monday morning and in what has been one of the worst days of my life, slashed pay and laid off 15% of the company so we could keep the lights on. Those of us that were partners would only sporadically see paychecks for the next year.
Dan and I started eating at the McDonalds in Marlton, specifically because they had a special that got us both dinner for under $5. I was evicted from my apartment. And, as noted above, my car was repossessed. But our company became leaner, and more efficient. The people we kept delivered, and we emerged (finally!) in 2010 with another year that put us back on the growth track.
Elauwit Media was a company that had one full time employee when I arrived, and almost 30 when I left. Woden is undergoing some of the same exciting growth: from nothing to a team of eight already (probably 11-12 by the summer). Neither of these companies are creating jobs in the thousands, but they’re real enterprises offering good work and making an impact on the local economy.
I’ve only had one true “salary” job in my life. I hated it, but I can tell you: the stress is a fraction of trying to run a business. At the end of the day, you just go home. If the company doesn’t work, it’s someone else’s problem. If you don’t like it, you just get a new job.
This narrative was spurred by Rob May’s (since deleted) post on Medium this week:
Dear Bernie Sanders, Sorry I’m the Problem with America
The post is now on Fortune, and Rob’s comments really struck me. I believe America is too unequal. I believe that we need to do more to help those who are less fortunate and ensure a standard of living. I believe that we need to institute reforms that create more opportunity, especially for people of color. But we also have to embrace the idea that this country will always have stark inequality, and that’s a good thing. Without the tax incentives (both in the short term and also in the hope of a large capital gain at sale) in place, there’s simply no reason for me to put up with the aggravation of owning a business. And I don’t even run a big one! I can’t even imagine the stress and complexity of running JP Morgan, Apple or Ford. It’s okay that there’s huge incentives for those people — they wouldn’t do it otherwise. Without those incentives, we look a lot like Europe: stagnating economy, and relying on others for innovation. Voting for Bernie-style capitalism is tantamount to embracing a world where someone else (China, India?) runs the show.
Donald Trump is unfit to lead a great political party
Any glimmer of hope that Donald Trump will NOT be the next president is rapidly fading. The Economist walks through very clearly (for the umpteenth time) why Trump is not even fit to lead the party, let alone America. Yet days later, with Christie’s endorsement, I’m terrified that the party has begun to embrace the concept of a Trump candidacy. Worst yet: this article, intended to make a case for Sanders as the Democratic nominee, has me more or less convinced that should Clinton emerge on the other side, Trump will absolutely destroy her. What’s happening in the American political system is absolutely terrifying right now. I really wonder if we’re on the precipice of another 1850’s-like moment: goodbye the GOP and back to the Whigs?
FBI v Apple will be the fight of the century
It was incredibly surprising to see that a majority of Americans believe Apple ought to comply with the FBI. That’s absolutely lunacy. Slate (how is it that on privacy and civil liberties, liberals often seem to better understand conservative viewpoints than conservatives?) walks through how this battle may be the defining court case of the century. Apple’s battle against FBI is not about opening up a single iPhone. It’s about the government using an 18th century law to compel companies (or citizens) to aid them by creating technologies and about completely eroding anything resembling personal privacy.