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Why wont my husband divorce me even though he left me and our son, lives with his girlfriend of 3 years and they have a new baby?My ex husband refused to participate in the divorce, even though we had agreed to do it.I’m uncertain how all states work, but in California I was able to get the divorce without him. I was the Petitioner and he was the Respondent. He had 30 days to respond, which he didn’t. I continued with the filings and forms, following all legal steps. By law, he received copies of every form.Eventually after several months of being non responsive, he was served a Notice of Default. He didn’t respond to that either. At that point, he had defaulted out of the entire process.The court order and judgements were based on all the information I provided. Fortunately for my ex, I didn’t screw him over.However, as I was the only one in court, the judge saw through all of the bs and awarded me more than I asked for. Not that I’ve seen a dime, but it was very rewarding taking control of my life and knowing that my ex could not hold me back. His anger, avoidance, and temper tantrums had zero bearing on the legal process.I just kept moving forward, one step at a time. I got stronger and stronger as I went along.Also, being in Los Angeles County, I happen to stumble upon FREE legal services provided by the state. My divorce only cost me filing fees, parking and time. Truly a gift. And, the judge complimented me on how accurate and complete my documentation was.My first step was googling “how to file for divorce”. I found a YouTube channel that literally showed how to fill out the Petition for Divorce. All of the forms can be found online and are downloadable.That was the starting point for me. From there, resources began to show up.Since your ex is with another woman, I would move fast, hire an attorney if you can financially and get sound advice. Don’t settle for any crap. You’re on your own at this point and it’s necessary that you stand firm in your own personal value. The only person you need to take care of is YOU. You can do that morally and ethically. Take emotion out of it, and make sure that you and your son are taken care of. He has the option to do the same.Lead the way! You can and will do this. Time to get started.
How can we fight against the NRA regarding gun control?Are you sure that the NRA is the problem?Oh, I know that the media and the talking heads are all making them out to be some 500 lb gorilla and the reason psychos shoot up school yards, but have you ever bothered to look into the matter beyond the headlines?I’ll give you an example. In 2017, the push was for a “Universal Background Check”. The idea was to be sure that people buying guns were not criminals. Believe it or not, the NRA wholly supports this and in fact was involved with creating the current NICS (National Instant Check System) that is used.But the bill that was proposed was not what you heard in the media. First, it would not plug any “Gunshow Loophole” because there is no such thing. The only sales at a gun show that the bill covered was private sales. Of course, private sales can occur anywhere, not just gun shows.But the bill didn’t make the NICS easier for private sales. They just required all private sales to be conducted through a licensed dealer. Had this actually passed, a gun show would be an ideal location for such sales as there would be access to many dealer. In effect, you would greatly increase the number of private sales at a gun show by this law.So, what is involved with a sale through a dealer? Well, the dealer would have to do the following:1) Record the transfer in their bound book. This is a book where all the transactions of a firearm is recorded via that dealer. The book is auditable by the BATF and many dealers have faced fines for poorly kept records, so many dealers go to great pains to keep their book neat and accurate.2) Fill out the federal form 4473. This is required by all dealer sales of both new and used guns. It asks for the buyer’s name, address, the make and model of the gun, serial number, and then asks a bunch of questions. The dealer can get fined if the person fills out the form wrong. For example, answering a question with “Y” or “N” instead of “Yes” or “No” is a BATF violation. So the dealer has to carefully examine the form for errors and have the person fill out another if errors are found.3) The dealer then calls into the NICS. NICS can come back with a “Proceed”, “Denied” or “Delay”. A delay can take up to 3 days. Typically this is a name that appears similar to a Prohibited Person and requires some research. If this happens, the transfer is on hold. The dealer has no idea when the result of the research is likely to finish. If you are at a gun show, the show could be over before the approval is made.4) All this signNowwork, verification, etc takes time. Time is money. So dealers charge for this service. It is typical for a dealer to charge $25-$40 per gun, but sometimes multiple guns get a discount because the dealer can process up to 4 on a single form, but when more than one gun is transferred, the dealer has to fill out Form 3310 which is supposed to help with gun trafficking.All of this is well and good if you are buying a gun from someone you don’t know and many people will require sales be conducted at a dealer for the piece of mind such protections provide. But friends and family typically do not bother with the hassle and expense.One thing you need to realize is that to get a gun dealer license is not an easy process. Since the federal government cracked down on so called “kitchen table” dealers back in the 1980’s, you now must show a commercially zoned storefront with posted business hours to qualify. Many communities don’t want gun shops, and use zoning laws to make them difficult or unattractive. For example the city of Boston does not have any dealers. In fact, the nearest dealer is 3 towns away. Many rural areas don’t have the traffic to keep a dealer in business and you’ll find they are typically only open in the evening or on a Saturday as they work another full time job. Keep this in mind as we get into the next issue.But the bill didn’t stop at sales. It stated that ALL transfers had to be done in this manner. No exceptions. So, two friends out on a hunt would need to go through the whole process listed above just to swap guns for the afternoon. Oh, and they would have to do it all again to give the gun back. It is very common on a range to try out other people’s guns - such a thing would also require the full transfer and back process. Demo guns at a national event by manufacturers? Same thing.Basically any time a gun were to swap hands, the law would apply. There are private shooting clubs where guns are treated like library books and members take whatever they want. Families regularly swap guns. Heck, some shooting courses provide guns for students to use. All of these events would have been impacted by these new transfer requirements.The NRA balked at this. Essentially the rule would curtail many of the traditions and practices that are very common and virtually never result in any kind of criminal activity. In essence it would criminalize things that simply are not crimes.Not only would it create criminals where no criminal intent existed, but the cost to manage the volume of temporary transfers, the staffing needed to take the calls and do the checks would have cost millions each year. All money that would not go toward actually dealing with criminals.When the issue was brought up, many members of Congress agreed the requirements were too restrictive and the whole bill failed to pass. The supporters of the bill did not even attempt to listen to the complaints and work out a manageable fix.Did you hear any of that in the media?But what about catching criminals?Well, the bill didn’t change anything in regards to enforcing the rules to make sure the people who should not own guns were properly entered into NICS. In fact, other than maybe getting fired, there is NO PENALTY for failing to report a person. We have laws that will jail a teacher or coach that fail to report bullies. We have laws that put priests in prison who fail to report potential inappropriate behaviors in other clergy. But we do not have any laws that punish law enforcement agents that fail to do their job and make sure that dangerous people are reported to the background system. And this bill made no effort to change that.NICS is not open to anyone but federally licensed gun dealers. The left are so worried that the system might be used to check people for things other than guns that they refuse to create a means to allow people to verify someone they are selling a gun to. It would be easy to create an app that takes a photo of the buyer and seller’s ID (or just their faces and type in some data) and then return a simple “Proceed” or “Deny” with no other details. You’d have plenty of information to audit for illegal use. And if someone didn’t have an ID, they could then use a dealer. Heck, you can’t file taxes on-line without submitting some kind of ID, so this isn’t anything unique.And yet, the bill did nothing to address the issue of accessing the NICS for easier private sales.Here is the thing. We have 20,000 gun laws in this country. On the federal side, a prohibited person touching a gun could see them in prison for a minimum of 5 years. And yet, we still see cities with high violent crime rates that have virtually no federal cases. Why isn’t law enforcement using those stiff federal laws to get the violent people off the streets? Such a program called “Project Exile” worked wonders in Richmond, VA to reduce violent crime dramatically.OK, back to the “Universal Background Check” bill.I spent a lot of words above explaining what the bill would have required of people and why the situation would have been a nightmare. You never saw any of this in the news and the media pretty much ignored the issue.When the bill was defeated, it was never reported that a “terrible bill that would have cost millions and made criminals out of the innocent was defeated”, instead, all you ever heard was“The NRA used its influence to defeat the Universal Background Check bill that would have closed the gunshow loophole”Almost everything about that statement is false.So, be careful what you want to “Fight Against”. I suspect that most of what you think about the NRA is highly biased due to the way the organization is treated in the media. When you look at the actual facts, many times their concerns are quite valid. And, they have a lot of rank and file law enforcement on their side which helps them represent real world situations. I’ve found their positions in many cases very well presented. Most of the arguments you get on TV news are highly edited and taken out of context to promote an agenda, not facilitate a debate.Make sure you know what you are fighting for. You might be surprised.
Have you really encountered anything paranormal or a ghost? How did you deal with it when it happened?I will share two stories:When I was 5 I made a new friend, Evan. Evan and I played each day in my room. My mom and her boyfriend were not concerned about my “imaginary” friend, until they started seeing him. They would see him standing near our bathroom or in their bedroom sometimes. Once, my mom’s boyfriend literally ran out the bedroom and refused to sleep there. They thought switching rooms would help.One day, As Evan and I were playing, he became upset and hit me. My mom called a Reverend and his wife who were close friends of my family. They came over and brought others, but I don’t remember how many. When his wife entered our apartment, she went straight to my bedroom and walked over to a net that held my stuffed animals. She pointed at my favorite stuffed Barney and said “This one, he’s attached himself to this one”.Next, Reverend, his wife, and the others formed a circle around me in our living room. They were praying and speaking in “tongues”. This is what I remember the most: I was terrified, confused and crying. I remember them being so much bigger than I. I didn’t understand why Evan was bad and I certainly didn’t understand what they were doing.After their prayers, the Reverend told my mom that we mustn’t speak of him. He also told her that we would be getting a lot of company over the next few days. I remember getting MANY visitors. My mother would only let them in if they agreed to let her put a cross on their foreheads with oil, I think. There were also crosses on the door to enter the apartment. Later, she told me that she was instructed to annoint everyone because Evan would be trying to get back in “on the backs” of our visitors.She never let me talk about him after that. It’s funny because I remember him. He was a small boy, around my age. He had dark blonde hair, he wore a white collared shirt and white shorts. He was a kind boy, a fun playmate. Perhaps we had a disagreement about my toys like many children do. He was real to me even though his memory fades as I age. It’s insane to me until this day that he wasn’t “real”.That particular complex had some strange happenings from what I can recall. I had some very vivid nightmares during our time there, and even though I was quite young, I still remember them very well.There was a woman across the hall that would always come to my mom’s house and as I eavesdropped, I overheard the woman say that something was attacking her and her son. A lot of the people there gossiped about the complex being haunted.I have another memory of talking to another boy in the hall of the complex, he was older. He said something funny or I think he did because I remember we laughed. He walked away from me toward an elderly woman’s apartment who was one of the residents on our floor, Maggie. When I turned to say goodbye, he was gone. I had never seen him on our floor, my mom was friends with literally everyone on our floor (there were only 4 apartments). I do not know if the boy was “real” or not.I also heard years later that the residential manager said that the complex was built over a former cemetery. I do not know if there is any truth to this, I have not looked into it. If I can confirm that it is in fact true, I will update this post.————————STORY #2———————-I have an aunt and uncle who are very close in age to my brothers and I so we all grew up together. We all shared this weird experience while having nightmares. My aunt called them “Hanks”. The hanks were malevolent entities that we could not see, but they would attack us and grab and squeeze our sides. The sensation that was felt when they would grab our sides is similar to what it feels like when you’ve hit your “funny bone”. The feeling was deeper and more intense though, an uncomfortable feeling…like they were digging.When I got older, I started searching the Web for similar experiences with no luck initially. Finally, I came across a term: “haint” which are spirits that are unable to find peace. So, obviously I realized they weren’t called “Hanks”. It’s just odd because my aunt never told us how she learned that word. Even today, she has never said how she knew that, even though she was mispronouncing the word.I still have nightmares about the Hanks (I still call them this). Now, they appear to me as people. When I was a teenager, I was convinced that they were grabbing my sides because that was the easiest way to get to my soul. Now that seems so absurd but, after having so many nightmares about them over the years and considering the emptiness I have experienced over the years, I wonder if they haven’t been taking it piece by piece all of this time. This experience is recurring so, I’ve learned to wake myself up when it happens. Sometimes I can’t, so I close my eyes and pray to whomever is listening to wake me up.
What are the common mistakes that seed-funded startup founders make?I raised $500,000 at 19. I was on my way to change the world. Three years later everything burned down.This post is not about how to shoot for the stars or run a company. Others are better at that.This is about what not to do.I’ve made every mistake possible. But ironically, I’m constantly meeting teams doing the exact same things that caused my first startup to implode. Everything I’m writing about I’ve experienced first hand through my own startups as well as various businesses I’ve been involved in. It’s been all my fault and this is my story.Some of you will disagree with me. Others will have things to add. I’m happy to discuss in the comments.Here’s my attempt.ZUCKERBERG SYNDROMMy girlfriend didn’t know what I was working on for nine months. I slept with a chair blocking the front door. My phone was tapped. Corporate America and Uncle Sam were listening. Someone was going to kill me to steal the idea.I really believed this. So I did everything possible (literally) to avoid getting feedback out of the fear of having our idea stolen.Ultimately, secrecy and stupidity killed us. Three years and hundreds of thousands later, we released an alpha version to a modest 30 people for the first time. Everyone hated it. Our capital was gone. Our morale: zero.I see this all the time. Startup founders hiding their ideas because of the fear that someone will steal it. Remember: no one cares about you. Your biggest issue is getting discovered. If someone steals your idea, that means you’re doing something right.Because of this syndrome, most startups are wasting their time and money building products no one wants. Why? Lack of testing. The biggest mistake a company can make (product wise) is to avoid talking to and testing with potential and current users. Every day. It’s also one of the main reasons startup’s fail.If you’re not constantly releasing and looking for feedback you’re either a) delusional (me) thinking too many people will sign up/buy your product and you won’t be able to scale b) scared that it’s not good enough (me) or c) someone will steal your idea (as I was).A. SCALING“Your priority, in short, is proving that people will use your product at all. If they won’t, then it won’t matter if you can’t scale. If they will, then you will figure out a way to scale. I’ve never seen a startup die because it couldn’t scale fast enough. I’ve seen hundreds of startups die because people refused to embrace their product.” — Guy Kawasaki [Emphasis mine]I’ve done this and I’ve experienced this in the past three startups I’ve worked in. It’s completely delusional. If five out of five people tell you that they wouldn’t use your product (before you build), quit. If eight out of ten people tell you that they hate this feature and you empirically see that they’re not using it, kill it. Don’t assume. Always be testing.More on feedback below.b. TESTINGSee point A.C. STEALING(!)No one will steal your idea. It takes time, money, skills and immorality to steal. Not everyone is born that lucky.Most importantly, no one cares about your idea.They’ll only start caring when there’s a massive amount of initial traction (50,000+ users). By then, you’ve already established a strong user/customer base and it’s too late for the others.HIRING FOR WEAKNESSOnly hire for a strength that needs to be filled in your company. Never for a weakness.Not once did any of the startups I worked in hire for a strength. I repetitively recommended hiring people purely out of loneliness, fear and scarcity repetitively. Each time it sunk us deeper.But what does that mean?Hiring for a weakness means that you attempt to fill a weakness in the fundamenetals in your company by hiring for a weakness. Example: If you’re building a product and it’s not gaining traction and your company doesn’t have inherent fundamentals, hiring Ryan Holiday to sell your product won’t help. You can’t fight weakness with weakness.However, if you have a rockstar engineering team and you want to add a marketing person to help take the product get to another level, then you’re adding a strength.Hiring for weakness also means:a. You hire a B+ player instead of a A+ player.b. You hire people so that they go through the struggle with you, so that they share your fears and paranoia. Not so they execute on what’s needed.c. Hiring someone to fill a position. Not to compliment the rest of the company.d. Hiring someone and not having any idea of what the hell you want them to do.e. It means hiring someone because you think there’s no one else. Scarcity.f. Hiring a client’s friend. Because you’re scared.It’s ultimately about the fundamentals. If the fundamentals of the product and the team aren’t there, adding someone is just adding a weakness. It won’t help, because it’s not a strength.PAINTER’S DILEMMAApproving emails? One week treks. Our first wireframes? $40K and four months. Did we have a working product after all this? No. We failed.The Painter’s Dilemma is when you’re so deep in the details of your project that you don’t even know what the idea is anymore. You’re blind. When you’re too deep you need help.How to solve it? Stop. Talk to people. Get feedback. Iterate and build. Release. Breathe.Repeat the loop.The more feedback you get the healthier you and your product are.FEEDBACK*I can’t emphasize this enough. If you don’t get feedback (everyday) you will die. I never got feedback. EVER. Well, until the cash ran out. Oops.If you’re not getting qualitiative and quantitive feedback/data everyday, the cancer will start.It’s easy: speak to people, Google Analytics, send surveys. Just don’t hide from it.*This is the crucial and worth a dedicated blog post in the future.COMMUNICATE“Don’t talk to him, he doesn’t understand. He’s out of the picture next funding round anyways.” I hid everything internally. It was easy, we were in 5 different countries! Our developers were remote (I’ll get to that) and Basecamp was our only means of communication. In other startups, I wouldn’t included people from discussions because “it isn’t necessary. That isn’t their job”New features, awful designs, conniving plans were all pushed through a funnel. I was the leader of the deceiving. Architecting a blue print to push my own delusional “never test and succeed” agenda. My style? The longer the email the less likely someone important will read it. What a strategy. As always, the CEO is the biggest idiot.I don’t care if you’re a church, a tech startup or a non-profit. If you don’t have a system of communication in place that keeps everyone aware of what everyone is doing in the company, in real-time, for every milestone, everyday, you will die very soon.Lesson: Live and breath Scrum.SCREW LAWYERSLawyers are criminals.I spent $15,000 on legal documents/fees we never used. Every entrepreneur/startup I’m involved with thinks lawyers are the first step to success. Bullshit.DOCSAll the legal documents you ever need are available online. If you’re B2B, all companies that you’ll work with have their own standard LOEs, NDAs, etc., that they anyways steal from Fortune 500 companies. Request it. Then use it. B2C? Here.BUT I NEED A TRADEMARK!Unless you have 10,000 clients you don’t need to think about copyright or even the name. Prove the concept first. Worry later. If you do have to worry, those are very nice worries to have.PATENT IT!Patenting something that isn’t validated with at least 10,000 clients is moronic. Ironically, this is the only mistake my first startup didn’t follow through with (fully, at least).DECISION MAKINGI was traumatized from taking decisions. Most startups never take decisions. In other statups I work in, decisions took weeks. People join startups for the reason of avoiding bureaucracy but everyone still does it. Why? Lack of trust and overview of the team, so they choke the process (have I suggested Scrum?).The board should decide on the vision and the group should decide what to execute on by creating a backlog for the week. The team should then have the power to execute it. With a great communication process in place, teammates should be able to take decisions without reporting to anyone while keeping everyone updated with everything’s that going on, live. Have a flat structure to achieve this by using Scrum.Let people do their jobs. Trust them. Don’t have a tedious review process as most startups do. Don’t suffocate the system. Empower your people.Read Scrum by Jeff Sutherland on how to manage your team. Then read Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal for how to organize the information flow. Both books compliment each other perfectly.THE BOARDThe ideal board is 3–5 people maximum if you’re a startup. Anything above that means that either no decisions will ever be taken (my first company) or someone has a hidden agenda and profits from a discombobulated board.A business is not a democracy. Unanimous decisions don’t work and will never work.Who’s should I put on the Board?Only investors/shareholders who hold a large stake and are extremely active in the success of your venture.INVESTORSSmart Money vs Still MoneyJust because someone is offering you cash almost always means you shouldn’t accept it.Your investor can have the greatest contacts in the pharmecutical industry. She can be CEO of Merck. If she doesn’t have a massive network in whatever industry you’re in, it’s worthless. The money will be worth nothing. This is true 100% of the time.Always onboard investors that can help you in your niche industry.MEETINGSThis is my top 3 favorites. Most won’t agree with me on this.I’ve never been to a meeting that has made me money/funded my venture. I don’t think anyone has. Has anyone ever handed you a check at a meeting? I doubt it. Today, it usually happens by wire-transfer.Meetings are pointless. Every team I meet, consult for/work with all think that going to meetings is the most crucial part of business. Most importantly, the whole team should be there. Pick up the fucking phone. Travel is time and money expensive. Even if you’re taking a cab.I would fly 10,000 miles for a 3 hour meeting and then fly back to Europe that same day. $30K. Gone.“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be: ‘meetings.’” - Dave BarryMost of the discussion can be ironed out over email and FaceTime.Ok yes, I agree. Meeting in person is important. But not until it’s necessary. Most of the time, it’s unecessary. And even when it is, it shouldn’t always be an excuse to leave work for a business lunch or to Shanghai for the day.Avoid meetings. Get more done.It’s a waste of time 99% of the time.FOUNDING PARTNERS = YOUR SPOUSEYou will be married to your partners and investors for the next 7–10 years. Choose wisely.Know your team. Speak to your investor’s enemies. Get references for everyone.Don’t be a deceiver. Use Scrum.WORKING HOURSWe worked 16 hour days. Yey! Startup life!No. Work 8–10 hours and you’ll get more done than working 18 hours a day. Don’t believe me. It’s proven.Working 18 hour days leads to a burn out, which leads to painter’s dilemma, then delusion, then deceiving others around you, then depression. Then it’s too late.Ultimately, the more you work the more mistakes you’re prone to make. Mistakes made are mistakes that need to be corrected. Mistakes that aren’t correct can take up to 24x longer to correct than if they were corrected immediately.But you can’t see that. You’re burned out. You’re in Painter.PRODUCT / MARKET VALIDATIONAnother reason I refused to test in the three product startups I was involved in was because “the ideas work successfully elsewhere. They will also work here.” Doesn’t work like that.Just because you’re making a mishmash of several products that have product/market validation elsewhere doesn’t mean people are willing to use your product. I have yet to meet a new founder who hasn’t claimed this.In order for someone to switch to your product, your product needs to be at least 8x better.*Is your product really 8x better than your biggest competitor? If the answer isn’t a clear yes, quit.*Read Hooked by Nir Eyal and Ryan Hoover for how to build habit forming products.RECREATING THE WHEEL“God gave you eyes, so plagarize.” -Michael LewisNo need to re-create the wheel. Everything is out there already for a reason. Use APIs, read books (many books), steal functions, designs, ideas, marketing slogans, branding, on boarding processes, software, colors, clients, everything from other people/companies who are successful.This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t test it in your own environment. You must validate every single function that you put out there. Use the Lean Startup KanBan by Ash Maurya for this.DILUTIONWe gave away 51% for our first funding round. How much did we plan to keep when we “exited?” Think about that. It doesn’t make sense.Startups do this all the time. If you retain 51% after the seed round, how much does the founding team plan to keep by Series B? 20%? If you take the average of what you got paid for equity after the exit + your salary you’ll be paying more in taxes with a minimum wage paycheck for the past 8 years it took you to exit. Might as well work in a shoe store.If you don’t have the bargaining power (a validated product) to raise money with, quit.GUYS IN SUITSOur tech partners wore suits. That made us comfortable. They ended up quoting $100k. We ended up with nothing.If you see tech people in suits, run.OUTSOURCINGI lost well over $100,000 for our first version that was outsourced. We were smart enough to not learn from our mistakes so we found another team to outsource with. Another hefty sum gone. Only myself to blame.I’ve had terrible experiences with outsourcing and great experiences with in-house development.However, many products (we all use everyday) have found great success in outsourcing. I also know many entrepreneurs who outsource and are extremely succesful. While there are massive benefits, there are also downfalls. If you plan to, find a free consulting company that has pre-screened teams.Either way, using Scrum increases your chances of success in-house or out.YOUR TEAMEntrepreneurs read about Steve Jobs’ management style and think he was a tyrant. So they curse at their employees and tell everyone that they are “shit.” They think that’s how a company should be run and that’s how teammates should be treated. Wrong. Treat your team like shit and you’ll get shit.Either way, that’s not how Steve Jobs did it. Steve Jobs empowered his team. He told them that what they’re outputting is shit because he knew that they could do better. Because they are the best in the industry. He made them feel good. He challenged them and today Apple is Apple because of that.On the other hand, I lied. Didn’t speak about the hard things and repressed whatever fear or worry we had. We were scared that someone would quit or that we would look bad if we showed our emotions in front of our investors.You should always be able to tell your teammates all the fears and worries you have. Chances are, if you’re worried about something, everyone is worried about the same thing. Bring it up. Talk about it. I keep mentioning Scrum* because it encourages team members telling each other what’s bothering them and what’s impending the growth progress. This is key to not failing.Not once, in any of the startups I was in, did I or others get credit for great work or for their ideas that ended up being implemented. Not once did anyone congratualte a teammate on a engineering triumph, a beautiful design or a new lead. Startups think “business is business. This isn’t a cute place to pat each other on the backs.”BUT THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT A BUSINESS SHOULD BE. You should be holding each other up, helping one another and listening to the problems in the team. Because ultimately, you’re on the same mission.The second the negativity flows in people become scared. They stop raising issues, telling you how they feel and how to improve the business. When that happens you start to slowly die because you’ve fell into dillusion that everything is working. Six months later, you’re on the street.Empower your team. Congratulate people. Love each other. When someone screws up, tell them that. But also tell them how to improve and ask them why they think they screwed up and how to make their job easier.You’re a team. Be one.*Believe it or not, I’m not affiliated with Scrum in anyway. I’m not even a Scrum Master.—When I reflect on all the stupidity I’ve personally done and the startups I’ve been involved in, I realize that the only thing I ever followed up through and executed with absolute perfection, were the things that eventually ended up killing us: not telling a soul what our idea was. Talking to lawyers. Partnering with bad teams. Hiring out of weakness. Going to too many meetings. No decision making system. Not using Scrum. Hiring people out of fear. Hiding from reality.Mistakes are simple to make but hard to correct. They’re usually the first option that pops up. But as entrepreneurs we do thing because they’re hard, not because they’re easy.Hard choices take a long time to get right. It takes guts, intuition, experience and lots of luck. But never settle. Never accept your situation.Life can always be better.…..This was originally posted on the NY Observer and our blog on Penta.Follow me @lukaivicev or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What would you do if a perfect stranger stopped by your house, gave you a bag containing a million dollars, said to you, "Take it, it's yours", and then walked away?Did you know that a million dollars in U.S. currency weighs just ten kilograms? It's true. A freshly-minted $100 bill weighs in at slightly over a gram, and 100 of them is ten thousand dollars. 100 of those stacks, and there's your million.It’s not often that 10 kilograms - 22 lbs of anything can change your life. But on February 25th, 2014, that’s exactly what happened. Day 1: $1,000,000 As the man in the gray suit walks away, I shout after him “Hey, come back here. Who are you? What’s this all about?” He does not look back and quickens his pace. Between the choice of chasing down a stranger, or securing what appeared to be stacks of currency, I chose the currency. We can resolve the issue of his identity later, but a loose sack of cash is, well, a loose sack of cash. I look through the contents again. Bundles of US$100 bills, stacked a hundred bills deep, wrapped in standard $10,000 bank bands. A quick count revealed that there were precisely a hundred of those stacks in the bag, and spot-check riffle-counts of the $10k bands suggest that there are no short-stacks within. These were full bands of $10,000 apiece of non sequential USD$100 bills, and I was holding what appears to be a million even in cash. And it feels like just as many question are swirling in my head, as I feel my pulse pounding in my skull. Who was that guy? Why me? What is this all about? But the most urgent thoughts swim past the dizzying deluge of unanswerable questions. Fakes. It’s one thing to inadvertently be the recipient of counterfeit currency; as you’re reading this very sentence, a clerk at a retail store somewhere in your city just accepted a counterfeit bill and made change from the real money in the till. But to be in possession of a life-changing amount of counterfeit currency of the United States of America? Well, that’s sort of thing that can bring the full might and wrath of their law enforcement apparatus on your head. My emotions swing wildly between the elation of instantaneous wealth, and sheer terror that I was minutes away from being snatched from my home and corralled into a Federal holding cell, where I will grow old within its walls. Terror was the stronger of the two emotions, and I quickly went to work. First things first: the bag had to go. If there is a GPS tracking device embedded in its seams, it would take too long for me to root it out. Better to incinerate it, and make sure that whatever trail it was laying stops at a dead-end for its pursuers. I pour the stacks of bills into an empty duffle back from my garage, and lock the bag in my condo. There’s an abandoned marina just a mile from my home and I get in my car and drive straight to the docks, at the top of the posted speed limit. After pouring enough Kerosene on the bag to see the shimmering mist of petroleum evaporate above it, I lit a book of matches and threw it in the middle of the mass. A satisfying “Whoomph” lights up the fire, and I watch the edges of the bag curl and burn - sizzling in the midmorning sun. As the remnants of the bag’s embers swirl around the scorched mark on the docks, I drive back to my condo, pulse still pounding in my skull.I still haven’t figured out if the bills are real or not, but if this morning’s bag-drop was an attempt to pin a piece of deeply incriminating evidence bearing a tracking device … well that plan has been thwarted. Or delayed, at the very least. What do I do? What should I do? Call the authorities? Consider how it would sound: “Hi, Police? Somebody dropped a million dollars in cash at my home. I don’t know if it’s fake or not. Please help.” Would you believe such a ridiculous story? I wouldn't. Any reasonable law enforcement dispatcher would consider the caller legally insane, and I'd be arrested on the spot and sent to psychiatric care. If the money was real, it’d be seized and I'll never see it or spend it. If it was fake, they’d find a way to stick “possession of counterfeit currency” charge on me, and I'll be shoved into a Federal concrete box, draining the best years of my life away, only to be released when I can’t chew solid food any more. No. The only recourse is to handle this myself. I call an old college friend practicing criminal defense law in New York City: “Hey Roger, it’s Kai. How’ve you been?” “I'm cool. It's been a while. What’s up man.” “We should catch up soon in person. But I’m calling because I need something.” “Ok, shoot.” I swallow hard - it’s difficult to even say the words: “Who’s the best CrimDef lawyer you know in California, who defends against Federal charges?” A moment. His voice lowers noticeably. “Shit, man. You in some kind of trouble?” “I’m not sure yet.” I said, truthfully. “But I need someone experienced and smart ... someone who you’d hire, if you’re facing serious attention from the Feds." He lets out a long exhale. “Vincent King. Former rockstar DOJ prosecutor in D.C. Had a change of heart halfway through his rotation in Maryland, when he was securing Life sentences for “interstate drug transportation” charges on young Black kids who were busted muling for the cartels. Was offered a fast-track promotion straight to the U.S. Attorney’s office but went rogue. He set up independent shop in San Francisco, fighting Fed cases. Heavy hitter clients, but makes a point of refusing to represent anyone accused of murder or human trafficking. Intimate knowledge of Federal prosecutorial procedures and evidence-collection protocol. Smart. Methodical. Very expensive.” “Perfect.” “I did mention ‘very expensive?’” “You did.” “I’ll send his contact information now.” =================================“I’m sorry - Mr. King is in court all day and won’t be back in the office. His earliest appointment is tomorrow morning after a client meeting. Shall I book him for 11am for you?” “Yes, thank you Marta.” “We’ll see you tomorrow at 11 then.” I look at the digital clock in my kitchen - it reads 10:44am. Just me and a stack of bills which may or may not be fake, no formal legal representation for over 24 hours. It’s going to be a long day. Taking even a few of these bills to a bank to corroborate their authenticity is out of the question. If a bank officer confirms they are fraudulent, I’ll be arrested on the spot, and since I haven’t hired counsel, I’d be at the mercy of the Public Defender’s Office - the most overworked and underpaid division of the American Criminal Justice system. No, thank you. The next number I dial is an old friend, Robert Kendrick, sole proprietor of ‘Secher Nbiw - The Golden Path,’ a gold bullion dealer with a whimsical Dune reference in the name of his shop. I’ve known Robert for over a decade; his business deals in large amounts of (mostly) legal cash. By necessity, he has a high-end currency counter/ counterfeit detection device in his office, which can swiftly count and verify large sums of money with precision. “Bobby, it’s me.” “Hey, what’s up.” “Can I come to your office - like right now?” “Sure, what do you need?” “I, uh, came into some money. Long story, and I really don’t want to get too much into the details … but I’m wondering if you’d be willing to run the bills through your counter for me? I’m not 100% sure they’re real, and I’d like a discreet way of verifying them. If they are, I’m going to pick up some bullion as well.” “Sure man. Happy to help. How much money are we talking about?”“$60,000” I flinch at that - I hate lying to friends, but at this point, I have no idea who to trust. Though if you want to be technical about it, I did come across $60,000. I am just simply not telling Kendrick about the other $940,000 that accompanied the $60k in the satchel that dropped into my life just three hours ago. “Come on by.” I pull apart a few $10,000 currency bands and start plucking random $100 bills from the middle of every 10k stack to assemble a randomized sample of the entire million. 100 bills, wrap it up. 100 bills, wrap it up. 100 bills, wrap it up. Three bands, thirty thousand dollars, randomized and fully assembled to be tested for authenticity. “Half” of my alleged $60k windfall. The rest of the loose bills are refolded back so there remains 97 stacks of $10k racks, re-wrapped and properly sorted. In 30 minutes, I will figure out if I’m rich, or holding on to enough illicit contraband to send me to Federal Prison for the rest of my life. =============================The Golden Path, like most bullion dealers, work out of small, highly secured office covered by multiple layers of security. At any given moment, Robert may have several hundred thousand dollars in cash or gold, silver and platinum bullion on the premise, it pays to be careful. One of the few civilians in California with a Concealed Carry Weapons permit, Kendrick and I met on pistol gun range ten years ago; we bonded over shooting .45 ACP slugs down-range. He and I spent countless hours debating the relative merits of his preference for single-action 1911s, vs my bias toward double-action SIG-Sauer P220s. In the bullion business, you learn to know the boundaries of money-laundering laws, and know how to walk right up to the edge without triggering reporting thresholds. Drop US$10,000 in cash or more at a car dealership, bank or bullion dealer in a single day’s transaction, and the U.S. authorities gets very interested in the source of your funds. By law, these business that receive such sums of cash must fill out invasive forms to tie the transaction to you and your Social Security Number. Keep cash transactions below US$10,000, and you can avoid much of that intense scrutiny. “Welcome back man. I haven’t seen you in a while.” A discreet man, Kendrick does not inquire further about the source of the cash. In the business of buying and selling gold bullion, you learn to comply with the letter of the law, while avoiding conversational topics that can jeopardize one’s own plausible deniability. While his clientele is mostly legitimate, I’m certain the most lucrative of his customers are criminals - and he smart enough to know not to ask the sort of questions that open up a line of liability for him. So long as the proper theatrics of anti-money-laundering protocols are observed, everyone is technically in the clear. I hand him the three $10k stacks and he pulls the bands off them and puts the entire block in his high-speed currency counter. After a second, the machine spools up and the digital counter swiftly runs from zero to three hundred. Thirty thousand dollars. “It’s real.” It’s real. His words hang in the air for a moment, and it takes a moment for them to sink in. One million dollars. Genuine currency of the United States of America, the most recognized and accepted form of money in the world - denominated in crisp, non-sequential bills. I hold my face as neutral as possible, but my excitement made me slightly dizzy, and I am glad I was sitting down. “What’s the spot price of Gold today?” Kendrick’s eyes drift to his laptop computer, where the current day’s commodities prices were fed to him via a live stream. “$1334 Ask, $1335 Bid.” I nodded my understanding.Precious metals bullion trade in troy ounces, and prices are quoted on a per troy oz basis; depending on the specific type of bullion (bars, coins, make), there are different markups from the quoted price. Depending on the specific form, Gold is typically marked up by USD$20 to $60 over the day’s quoted Bid price, and sells for $5~10 over the Ask. “What do you have in inventory right now for gold?” “The usual. South African Kugerrands. American Eagles. Canadian Maples. Oh, I do have a lovely Credit Suisse 5oz bar that somebody just sold to me, and I’m happy to let it go for $25/oz over spot.” I quickly did the mental math calculation. With the hard-cap spending limit of $10,000 before I trigger any mandatory anti-money-laundering signNowwork, $1335/oz works out to about seven troy ounces of bullion I can buy, without forcing Robert to fill out invasive forms about me and my identity. “I’ll take the 5oz Credit Suisse bar, and two American Gold Eagles.” Kendrick pulls out a calculator and taps in the numbers, “So five troy ounces at 25 over spot plus Eagles at $50 over spot works out to nine thousand six hundred and -“ “Take ten grand and keep the change.” I interrupt. “I will be back for more.” He raises his eyebrow, but says nothing. “Thank you. I’ll be right back.” He counts back $20,000 and hands it to me, taking the $10,000 in the back room of his office and returning with the 5oz Swiss bar and two heavy 1oz American Eagles, along with a receipt for US$9675. I pause for a moment and hand him back one of the $10,000 stacks. “I know the limit is $10k in transactions per day. Consider this pre-payment for a purchase tomorrow. Your call, on a mix of anything up that totals up to $9500. Keep the rest for you and Katie.” A barely-perceptible smile flickers across his face, then his face was clear again. “Sure thing.” There’s nothing like the feeling of holding physical gold - the density, color and heft of the metal is like no other substance on earth, and it is no wonder that since its discovery, every culture on Earth treated gold with awe and respect. With 18 hours left before I can understand my legal options, there’s only two things I know for certain: 1. The money is real. 2. At least one person knows exactly where I live, and where the money was dropped off. I need to get mobile. I need to get mobile and off the grid ASAP.... to be continuedIf you'd like to be the first to get updates to this story, please add me kai chang 張敦楷 (kaichang) on Twitter. Part 2 (of 10) is being written right now, will be announced on Twitter. Please follow for updates on the saga of the Quora Millionaire! :D
Do military members have to pay any fee for leave or fiancee forms?NOOOOOOO. You are talking to a military romance scammer. I received an email from the US Army that directly answers your question that is pasted below please keep reading.I believe you are the victim of a military Romance Scam whereas the person you are talking to is a foreign national posing as an American Soldier claiming to be stationed overseas on a peacekeeping mission. That's the key to the scam they always claim to be on a peacekeeping mission.Part of their scam is saying that they have no access to their money that their mission is highly dangerous.If your boyfriend girlfriend/future husband/wife is asking you to do the following or has exhibited this behavior, it is a most likely a scam:Moves to private messaging site immediately after meeting you on Facebook or SnapChat or Instagram or some dating or social media site. Often times they delete the site you met them on right after they asked you to move to a more private messaging siteProfesses love to you very quickly & seems to quote poems and song lyrics along with using their own sort of broken language, as they profess their love and devotion quickly. They also showed concern for your health and love for your family.Promises marriage as soon as he/she gets to state for leave that they asked you to pay for.They Requests money (wire transfers) and Amazon, iTune ,Verizon, etc gift cards, for medicine, religious practices, and leaves to come home, internet access, complete job assignments, help sick friend, get him out of trouble, or anything that sounds fishy.The military does provide all the soldier needs including food medical Care and transportation for leave. Trust me, I lived it, you are probably being scammed. I am just trying to show you examples that you are most likely being connned.Below is an email response I received after I sent an inquiry to the US government when I discovered I was scammed. I received this wonderful response back with lots of useful links on how to find and report your scammer. And how to learn more about Romance Scams.Right now you can also copy the picture he gave you and do a google image search and you will hopefully see the pictures of the real person he is impersonating. this doesn't always work and take some digging. if you find the real person you can direct message them and alert them that their image is being used for scamming.Good Luck to you and I'm sorry this may be happening to you. please continue reading the government response I received below it's very informative. You have contacted an email that is monitored by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command. Unfortunately, this is a common concern. We assure you there is never any reason to send money to anyone claiming to be a Soldier online. If you have only spoken with this person online, it is likely they are not a U.S. Soldier at all. If this is a suspected imposter social media profile, we urge you to report it to that platform as soon as possible. Please continue reading for more resources and answers to other frequently asked questions: How to report an imposter Facebook profile: Caution-https://www.facebook.com/help/16... < Caution-https://www.facebook.com/help/16... > Answers to frequently asked questions: - Soldiers and their loved ones are not charged money so that the Soldier can go on leave. - Soldiers are not charged money for secure communications or leave. - Soldiers do not need permission to get married. - Soldiers emails are in this format: email@example.com < Caution-mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org > anything ending in .us or .com is not an official email account. - Soldiers have medical insurance, which pays for their medical costs when treated at civilian health care facilities worldwide – family and friends do not need to pay their medical expenses. - Military aircraft are not used to transport Privately Owned Vehicles. - Army financial offices are not used to help Soldiers buy or sell items of any kind. - Soldiers deployed to Combat Zones do not need to solicit money from the public to feed or house themselves or their troops. - Deployed Soldiers do not find large unclaimed sums of money and need your help to get that money out of the country. Anyone who tells you one of the above-listed conditions/circumstances is true is likely posing as a Soldier and trying to steal money from you. We would urge you to immediately cease all contact with this individual. For more information on avoiding online scams and to report this crime, please see the following sites and articles: This article may help clarify some of the tricks social media scammers try to use to take advantage of people: Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/61432/< Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/61432/> CID advises vigilance against 'romance scams,' scammers impersonating Soldiers Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/180749 < Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/180749 > FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center: Caution-http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx< Caution-http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx> U.S. Army investigators warn public against romance scams: Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/130...< Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/130...> DOD warns troops, families to be cybercrime smart -Caution-http://www.army.mil/article/1450...< Caution-http://www.army.mil/article/1450...> Use caution with social networking Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/146...< Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/146...> Please see our frequently asked questions section under scams and legal issues. Caution-http://www.army.mil/faq/ < Caution-http://www.army.mil/faq/ > or visit Caution-http://www.cid.army.mil/ < Caution-http://www.cid.army.mil/ >. The challenge with most scams is determining if an individual is a legitimate member of the US Army. Based on the Privacy Act of 1974, we cannot provide this information. If concerned about a scam you may contact the Better Business Bureau (if it involves a solicitation for money), or local law enforcement. If you're involved in a Facebook or dating site scam, you are free to contact us direct; (571) 305-4056. If you have a social security number, you can find information about Soldiers online at Caution-https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/sc... < Caution-https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/sc... > . While this is a free search, it does not help you locate a retiree, but it can tell you if the Soldier is active duty or not. If more information is needed such as current duty station or location, you can contact the Commander Soldier's Records Data Center (SRDC) by phone or mail and they will help you locate individuals on active duty only, not retirees. There is a fee of $3.50 for businesses to use this service. The check or money order must be made out to the U.S. Treasury. It is not refundable. The address is: Commander Soldier's Records Data Center (SRDC) 8899 East 56th Street Indianapolis, IN 46249-5301 Phone: 1-866-771-6357 In addition, it is not possible to remove social networking site profiles without legitimate proof of identity theft or a scam. If you suspect fraud on this site, take a screenshot of any advances for money or impersonations and report the account on the social networking platform immediately. Please submit all information you have on this incident to Caution-www.ic3.gov < Caution-http://www.ic3.gov > (FBI website, Internet Criminal Complaint Center), immediately stop contact with the scammer (you are potentially providing them more information which can be used to scam you), and learn how to protect yourself against these scams at Caution-http://www.ftc.gov < Caution-http://www.ftc.gov > (Federal Trade Commission's website)
Is it true that many foster parents are only in to taking in children because of the check that is allotted to them?I do not know if ‘many foster parents’ are only taking children into their homes for the money, because everyone doing it absolutely denies it, but I can tell you that you will commonly hear from former foster kids that some, or even all of their foster parents, were extremely neglectful, and/or abusive, in a multitude of ways, and that the foster parents never purchased them a book, or a shirt, or even some toothpaste… So, even though the foster parents aren’t getting much money, it is still some nontaxable money going into their pockets from each child that they take in, and the foster kids aren’t seeing even one cent of it.That is exactly what it was like for me, in every single foster home that I was in, during the 70s and the 80s, and these reports are still coming through from many people who were in care much more recently than I was.Of course, all abusive foster parents and pretty much all social workers will always tell you the exact opposite of this.It’s not like they're going to ADMIT that it is going on, right? They’d be admitting their own roles in the bad situations that so many foster kids are in.There are some good foster parents. I’ve met a few of them, as an adult.They are, sadly, in the minority.And, they usually hate the social workers, because they're often doing a pretty shit job.The social workers working for children’s services are often and/or eventually totally burnt out. They have too many kids, too little resources, too low of a wage, and they put in far too many work hours.Eventually, they are often in the horrible position of just trying to get through their days, without losing their jobs, and without losing their minds.They often become overwhelmed by the impossible demands of their field, and they basically stop trying to do their impossible jobs, because they are just try to keep their heads above water.There are some good social workers. I’ve met them, as an adult.The few good social workers that I’ve met are actually former foster kids.The whole system is a shit show. Bad foster parents aren’t even the biggest issue faced by kids in care.It is a business. Foster care is a business, and a lot of people are making their living off of kids being placed into care - even if they originally went into the field with a desire to help, they still make their living off of kids being taken into care - which is a weird thing to think about.Social services needs to have children placed in care, or they will cease to exist - They will all be out of work, without children being placed into care. No kids means no money, and no money means no jobs, and no job means no income.Child services, the government entity itself, isn’t nearly as altruistic as many people seem to assume it is.Child Services is exactly like For-Profit Prisons, but it uses the commodity of abused and neglected children, rather than the commodity of convicts.And, before anyone even asks me, because I’m always asked these things… No, I do not have the solutions to the problems within the foster care system, and I never will - Victims aren’t responsible for healing perpetrators, right? Right, and victims of the foster care system aren’t responsible for fixing the foster care system, and I am someone who was victimized as a child by the foster care system. I’m not responsible for fixing an entity that damaged me, which is what that question does imply. And, no… I do not have a ‘good’ foster care experience that I can tell you about… It was all horrible. And, no… When I was in care, nobody had a special influence on me, or made a difference in my life, or ‘saved’ me… I ran away from a nefariously operated group home at age 14, and I saved myself.If any former foster child has had an exactly opposite, and truly wonderful experience within the foster care system, that’s great! I believe you, and I’m relieved that you did not suffer the way I did, and the way so many others of us did, and the way so many foster kids still are suffering. I’m happy for you.If anyone is a wonderful foster parent, or a wonderful social worker, or works for a wonderful district that is doing perfect work, that’s great. If you think that you’ve saved a bunch of foster kids, that is also great. You don’t have to tell me about it under my response. Working in the foster care industry, for a career or as a volunteer, is not the same as being a commodity in the industry. Personally, I do not place any validity on anything said by anyone involved in the system, except for the people who have actually survived being in foster care. It’s actually quite pointless for you to tell me about all of the fantastic work that you've done.Foster parents and social workers and group home attendants all seem to spend an inordinate amount of time praising themselves. To be completely blunt about it: I find that sort of repeated and self congratulatory promotion, by people who are involved with kids in the foster care system, to be very, very suspicious.Call me jaded, but… The truth is, sadly, I really just… Won’t believe you.Not after my experience. It’s just not possible for me to believe you. I’d have to actually see it for myself, and hear it from the actual foster kids.When I was in foster homes, the foster parents were all the same… the foster parents drank alcohol, and beat all of us, and fed us mostly rice, and plain pasta, and we slept on floors… They took in as many kids as the system would allow them to take, and we did their housecleaning, and babysitting, and yard work.We were treated a bit like slaves, and the foster parents cashed the checks that they received for taking all of us in, and they went clothes shopping for themselves, and they ate steaks. They endlessly bragged about being wonderful people who took in unwanted kids, and constantly lamented their struggles of being dedicated savior of abused children, to everyone and anyone who would listen to them.I’d have to stand there, silently and with my stomach growling with hunger, hiding my bruises and listening to clueless people who believed their lies, calling them saints, and angels.The social workers barely came around, and when they did, they appeared for about five minutes, and they pretended that they didn't notice all of the totally obvious signs of abuse and neglect. They got paid for doing their job.So, basically… EVERYONE WAS IN IT FOR THE MONEY.Well, everyone… EXCEPT for the actual foster kids.Check out this Google review that I just came across, for Carmax’s Cherry Hill, NJ location, where a Foster Parent is referring to the checks that she gets FOR the foster kids as ‘her Paychecks’, and is upset that Carmax won’t allow her to use that money - the money that she gets FOR the foster kids - as HER ‘income’, in order for her to purchase herself a car:THAT SAYS IT ALL, PEOPLE.Thanks for the A2A, Matthew. I hope I’ve answered the question to your satisfaction. xx
Why do ex-employers refuse to fill out the VA form 21-4192 for a vet?VA Form 21–4192 is an application for disability benefits and like similar state benefits, it must be filled out by the veteran or by his or her qualified representative. This is a private, sensitive, legal document and every dot or dash in it can be critical, so must be accurate and verifiable.Employers have zero responsibility to fill out this form or furnish information for it, however, Social Security would have all the information required that the Department of Defense did not have. The veteran’s DD-214 is likely required, but does not furnish all the information required on the form.
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