October 10th, 2014

On November 4th, East Lansing residents will be asked to vote to give East Lansing City Council the right to sell parking lots #4, #8 and #15 for redevelopment to private developers

Parking lot # 4, located on the northwest corner of Albert Avenue and Abbot Road (south of Dublin Square)
Parking lot # 8, located east of Valley Court Park between Evergreen Avenue and Valley Court (By Crunchy’s and Peoples Church)
Parking lot # 15, located across from City Hall between Abbot Road and Evergreen Avenue (North of Dublin accross from City Hall)

Will voting to sell parking lots clean up blight?

No. None of the properties in the DTN site plan are blighted. The site plan would replace parking lots, a modern privately owned student rental, four historic houses bought by the city for City Center II (long used as student rentals and no more blighted than many other student rental houses), and a contemporary building by noted architect, Bert Seyfarth. When DTN failed to purchase the privately owned City Center II properties, it lost the ability to redevelop the blighted properties about which everyone is concerned.

Is developing the parking lots necessary to enable redevelopment of the blighted City Center II properties?

No. The properties along Grand River can be redeveloped within that space, perhaps with a little road reconfiguration, as a smaller scale project. The original City Center II concept was much smaller. A classy hotel and conference center, along the lines of the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, would be quite feasible (FRIB has indicated a desire for a conference center downtown). The planning department has, in fact, endorsed a recent self-contained proposal from the City Center II developer (relabeled Park District Investment Group), although there is inadequate parking and it is unlikely to get financed, due to the developer’s credit-risk profile. The parking lots are only necessary for a mega project.

What is the best way to get action on the blighted private properties?

The properties were allowed to become blighted by the City Center II developer (and city officials), and the biggest obstacle to redevelopment is the existing $32 million mortgage (in default). The owner does not want to sell and the high risk lender who made bad loans does not want to foreclose as long as they think they can do better than a sale at fair market value (a fraction of the mortgage). Experts on commercial mortgages generally agree if nothing had been done after the rejection of City Center II to encourage holding out for a better deal, the lender would have by now seized the properties and sold them, written off the losses, and tried to recover some from the personal guarantor. This is still the most likely outcome, but delayed by 2-3 years by the Park District process. Condemning the buildings is another option.

Why do city officials want a mega Park District development?

About a decade ago, the very ambitious former city manager and his allies decided they wanted to transform East Lansing into “the next great city in the midwest” with an aggressive use of public funding for private development. The result was the Museum Place/City Center II mega development that was never financially viable for the city. Even after the real estate bubble burst and the Great Recession ensued and the over-leveraged developer saw about a dozen foreclosures on projects in Michigan and Florida, city officials persisted. The reasons why such a development is supposed to be a good thing, and what the development should entail, has continued to change. By now the motive seems to be that the city officials and politicians who have been pushing such a development for such a long time are so vested in it, they won’t let go and accept a smaller project to clean up the blight.

Are there any restrictions attached to voter approval of a sale?

No. There are no guarantees as to developer, type of development, or time frame. When voters approved sale of the old DPW building in 2002, we were promised its sale and redevelopment would pay for the new DPW building without bonds. Ten years and $9.34 million in bonds for the new DPW building later, the old DPW building was sold for $350,000. After Lansing voters recently approved sale of the Red Cedar Golf Course, the “nice guy” who was going to bring in a world class Boston developer was dumped and much of the cost for development will be foisted on taxpayers. DTN might back out. The site plan or financial impact on the city might change. Officials claim they do not have immediate plans for Lot 8 by Peoples Church, but want to be able to redevelop later. Voters are being asked to write a blank check and trust government, current or future, to act wisely in the public interest.

Should the latest version of a site plan by DTN, just in time for the vote, with fewer student rental beds, 55-plus residences, and an office building, be taken at face value?

No. Previously plans included many hundreds of new student rental beds and that is where the money is in the current market. Market analysis has persistently said there is no need for downtown office space, and there is empty high-end existing space. The 55-plus building is in a bad location for senior housing, and all those leading the advocacy for a high-class senior housing option near campus are actively campaigning for a no vote. Three floors of parking have been added from previous plan, with no indication as to who will pay for the construction cost (very likely meaning taxpayers, when all is said and done). Unlike previous versions, no finance plan has been submitted, which is the key to knowing whether a plan might work. This looks like a plan changed to win votes.

Can site plans or brownfield tax incentive plans be changed after approval?

Yes. Plans for redevelopment projects have frequently been changed, with planning staff, development authorities, and developer-friendly members of Council happy to oblige. A restaurant incubator, as the public purpose for a brownfield plan, becomes a bar with a high priced lease; a fancy restaurant becomes a sports bar; apartments for young professionals, empty nesters, and families, become student rentals; condos for permanent residents get bought by parents for college student children; if the developer doesn’t like the terms of a brownfield plan, it comes back and gets better terms.

Will development resulting from sale of parking lots bring new tax revenue to the city?

No. This would be a brownfield project, and given the extent of infrastructure and parking structure costs, would probably involve 100% diversion of new tax revenue (tax increment) for 30 years. Meanwhile homeowners in the neighborhoods and other existing taxpayers would be expected to pick up the costs of public services for the development, which rise over time due to inflation, as with previous brownfield projects and with the Downtown Development Authority TIF district (downtown business district) that only contributes to public service and public safety costs at 1991 levels.

What impact will proposed redevelopment have on the city’s finances?

Although city officials don’t want to talk about it, the city issued bonds (technically bond anticipation notes) for $5.45 million in 2009, when the economy was collapsing and the developer’s abysmal track record common knowledge, to buy the Evergreen properties for three times market value. Since then, the properties have continued to be leased, which has covered much or all of the debt payment on the interest-free BANs. Permanent refinancing (interest plus principal) with 30 year bonds for ~$5.85 million and doing a better job of leasing would leave a deficit in debt payment of ~$150,000 per year, until there are better circumstances for deciding to keep or sell the properties. Proposed financing plans from DTN have included a ULA loan component, a low interest loan from the state to city, which is amortized (paid back) over 10 years. Even for just $3 million (with sale of properties covering rest of existing city debt), this would require $315,000 per year loan repayment, with no lease revenue to compensate, plus lost parking revenue. This would leave the city with ~$375,000 per year deficit, not including added public service costs. It is unlikely that a developer would agree to a deal better for the city and likely, given precedent of changing terms after the fact, a deal would be even worse. If the city is asked to issue bonds, which seems likely from the latest DTN site plan with added floors of parking, the deficit for the city would be much, much worse.

Can government be trusted to make good decisions in the public interest if voters approve sale?

Definitely no! Those who have followed City Center II, St. Anne Lofts, Avondale Square, Campus Village, and lesser known troubled redevelopment projects are well aware that a government determined to make development happen lacks the checks and balances to protect the public interest. With City Center II, we were repeatedly lied to, while city officials continued to treat the developer as a client/partner. Without a concerted campaign by community activists, city officials would have gambled $30 million (or $23.8 million in last City Center II financing plan) on a developer they knew had a disturbing history of losing other people’s money, including of the state employee/teacher pension plan. With St. Anne Lofts, the planning department helped the developer get away with adding a floor without permission and changed the brownfield plan in his favor. Review of standards to protect neighborhoods have consistently been slanted to help favored developers. Planning staff who have been repeatedly caught lying or misrepresenting have not been held accountable. Public concerns are dismissed without adequate response. Officials have refused to review past development projects and have claimed failed, partly completed, or underperforming projects, some at great financial cost to citizens, as successes. Not a single public-private development project in East Lansing has lived up to promises. Reforms sought by community activists to better protect neighborhoods and city finances have obtained no traction in city hall. East Lansing officials are still pushing an obsolete model for tax incentives for discretionary redevelopment, refusing to participate in discussions of how to do better at local and national levels (in which Ingham County Treasurer and Congressional candidate, Eric Schertzing has played a thoughtful part).

Don’t we need redevelopment?

We need responsible, not irresponsible, redevelopment. City officials failed to institute reforms before placing sale of parking lots on ballot. They failed to include ballot language that would have restricted conditions for development and set a short time frame. They could have placed sale of properties allegedly owned by the DDA, for which taxpayers are responsible for paying for the bonds, on the ballot, instead of using the DDA to skirt the city charter. They could have placed sales as separate votes, so voters could vote yes on sale of Lot 4 but not Lot 8 (near the church). There is no need to be hurried into a bad outcome. After reforms are in place and developer-friendly city officials and politicians are replaced by neighborhood-friendly ones, we can have responsible redevelopment.

Written by: Eliot Singer, community activist

LSJ Op-ed - “Travis Stoliker: Don’t over regulate online economy”

March 2nd, 2013

From LSJ (Archive - Screenshot)
Written by:
Travis Stoliker is marketing and sales director of Liquid Web, a Lansing-based web hosting company. November 25, 2012

With the election over and politicians getting back to business, most political watchers’ attention has turned to the fiscal cliff. But there’s another issue flying under the radar that will impact nearly every company — regulation of the Internet and the Federal Trade investigation of Google.

Last year Congress went overboard with anti-piracy legislation that would have shut down the Internet as we know it. The Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and Protect IP Act in the Senate would have forced online companies to pre-screen and monitor all user comments, pictures and videos — fundamentally changing the Internet.

Right now, the Federal Trade Commission is wrapping up its investigation into Google’s search business for monopolistic practices. While it’s understandable that a company of Google’s size can appear to have a monopoly, the government and public need to recognize that the open nature of the Internet makes it nearly impossible for an online-based company to establish or hold onto a monopoly. That is especially true in the search business.

At any given moment users are no more than a mouse-click away from moving away from Google to a competitor. The only way for Google to compel users to continue to return to their site is by providing the best search results on the Internet. They are successful at this because they update their algorithms daily and continue to provide innovative search products that meet market demand. If Google does not continuously innovate, users will stop visiting their site and they will quickly lose market share.

Since the FTC’s investigation of Google began, several companies have stepped up their efforts to knock Google off the top of the search pedestal. Apple announced that it would stop using Google Maps for its operating systems and instead is using their own map software. Facebook — where people spend more time online than Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL combined — has said it plans to enter the search market. In a recent talk at the Disrupt Conference in San Francisco, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg stated that his company is “basically doing 1 billion searches a day and we’re not even trying.” And smartphone apps that allow users to browse the Internet through the app rather than relying on typical search engines are growing exponentially. Both Google and Apple receive more than 1 billion app downloads each month.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that companies making up the online industry — search engines, Internet publishing and social media — have posted a 44 percent increase in domestic employment over the past four years. You can see hints of the job growth created by the online industry locally in businesses such as TechSmith, Web Ascenders and Liquid Web.

This growth has occurred largely without any government intervention whatsoever. However, when the federal government launches unwarranted investigations of successful American companies, they are not only wasting taxpayer dollars, they are risking the growth of an entire sector of the economy.


August 29th, 2012

Taco Bell and Doritos - August 2012

Liquid Web - June 2011

5 Must Have Business Tools in 2012

May 15th, 2012

I have been using a few new business tools that I wanted to share.

TheResumator is a comprehensive solution for posting job openings, distributing job openings, receiving resumes, administering questionnaires and scheduling interviews. Instead of just having resumes emailed to an email alias, this system creates a database of candidates and even shows detailed reports about the candidates. I love being able to see exactly which job boards are referring the most qualified talent.

CheckDog scans any website to look for misspelled words. The system can be setup to run monthly reports and email you the results. This is great for finding misspellings before your website visitors do. It’s also fun to run reports on your competitors to find the many errors on their website. :)

SEOmoz is the best tool for improving your websites search engine optimization. SEOmoz is a tool that will allow you to track your web pages and the keywords that you wish to optimize for. This tool will track your progress and make intelligent suggestions to improve your websites visibility to search engines. (hat tip: Netvantage Marketing)

Google TV Advertising
Did you know you can buy national television advertising through Google Adwords? It’s pretty amazing.

Google Adwords Remarketing
Google Remarketing is one of the most powerful forms of advertising I have found. Essentially remarketing, or retargeting as it is sometimes called, allows you to advertise to people that have viewed a particular page on your website on a third party site. A typical example would be: Customer visits your website, puts shoes in their shopping cart, then leaves or abandons the website. Using Remarketing, you can advertise the shoes in her shopping cart while that visitor is on a third party site, like Youtube.com for instance.

What business tools are indispensable for you in 2012?

Please Help Rachel Battle Cancer

April 21st, 2012

Rachel Kaye BethkePlease Help Team Rachel Kaye Bethke battle Brain, Kidney and Lymph node Cancer. All donations will go directly to Rachel’s medical bills.


Thank you for your help.


February 29th, 2012


Interview on Connections LCC.TV with Travis Stoliker

January 23rd, 2012

Google gets closer to bilateral voice translation with Google Translate Conversation Mode

October 13th, 2011

Google is getting closer to the bilateral voice translation that I referred to back in July with Google Translate Conversation Mode.

Google building “bilateral voice translation” into Android?

July 20th, 2011

In the 2011 Google Shareholders meeting question and answer section, Eric Schmidt dropped a hint about a new google feature they are working on that would allow instant voice translation. Incredible…

“The good news from your perspective is that we’re building bilateral voice translation phone to phone, so you will be able to call your friends in Ukrainian, speak in English, and it will come out Ukranian on the other side.” Here is a link to the time in the video where it was said.

If we eliminated language barriers, how would the world radically change? If we eliminated language barriers, how many wars would be prevented?

Quote in the Lansing Business Monthly

November 1st, 2010

I was quoted in the Lansing Business Monthly recently.


Full Size Image

Delta Township Economic Development Video

October 28th, 2010

Apparently I was in a video for Delta Township Economic Development.

6 Rules Everyone Should Know

September 8th, 2010

Jevons paradox - More efficiency doesn’t always mean less usage.
The Mythical Man-Month - “adding manpower to a late software project makes it later”
Dunbar’s number* -It is hard to maintain stable social relationships in groups over 150.
Diminishing returns - The point at which an additional unit of input doesn’t produce the expected unit of output and output progressively decreases over time.
Opportunity Cost - When presented with mutually exclusive choices, choosing one means sacrificing the other. “The basic relationship between scarcity and choice.”
Correlation does not imply causation - Pretty self explanatory. If you think “correlation proves causation” - you’re an idiot.

*hat tip to Chris T Reinhardt IV

Pure Michigan “buy Michigan” website hosted in Denver, Colorado

July 5th, 2010

By now you’ve certainly seen the television ad from “Pure Michigan” encouraging people to buy from Michigan companies. No question, a laudable goal. However, if you were to type in “PureMichigan.org/BuyMichigan” into your web browser your request would be routed to servers hosted by IBM in Denver, Colorado. The irony and hypocrisy is awesome.

Here is a screenshot of my tracert to puremichigan.org
Tracert to Puremichigan.org

Interview w/ Travis Stoliker & Capital Gains Media: “Why do you use foursquare?” (Raw Transcript)

February 24th, 2010

My favorite local magazine, The Capital Gains, asked to interview me about why I use foursquare. Only two or three sentences of my interview are going to be printed so I figured I would post the entire transcript here.

[Capital Gains Media] - Why do you play foursquare?
[Travis Stoliker] - I don’t “play” foursquare really. The points and mayorships are not the reason why I use Foursquare. I use foursquare as a means to track my activity, share it with friends, observe my friends activity and engage with others based on their location.

How does foursquare help you discover local venues, bars, and cafes?
This is an important part of Foursquare. While it is unlikely that your morning breakfast will be memorable enough to take the time to mention it on Twitter or Facebook, my friends will check-in on foursquare repeatedly at their favorite establishment and it is often somewhere I had never heard of. This lets me discover the places that my trusted group of friends frequent often so that I may uncover gems within my own community that I was previously unaware of.

What have you learned about your neighborhood via foursquare?
People love to drink. A lot.

Do any Lansing businesses offer incentives for foursquare players? Which?
None that I am aware of but it is only a matter of time. This is a missed opportunity currently.

About mayorships…
Are there particular places that you are often the mayor?
Honey Baked Ham, Los Tres Amigos in East Lansing and sometimes Liquid Web data centers.

Do mayorships general rotate weekly between a couple of people in a friendly competition or do they tend to be more random?
Foursquare is still a brand new technology and it is growing fast. It’s too new to have trends in my opinion :)

How often can/do you hold a mayorship?
Pretty much the whole time since I joined, but I am generally an early adopter. I should state that I don’t care if I’m the mayor of anything. I do it for the social aspect’s. I have never been fond of games.

Who’s playing foursquare in Lansing?
Thats a pretty easy answer, early technology adopters. In general it is the same crowd that was on Twitter with me 3 years ago. There is just a certain personality that is passionate about understanding new tools constantly.

What benefits do you think this type of competitive neighborhood exploring could bring to the tri-county area?
I disagree with the premise that it is competitive. It’s more like Boy Scout Merit badges, or whatever those things are. I wasn’t a boyscout as if that was a surprise. It’s not like you’re competing against other people, it’s more like you’re competing with yourself. The point, the badge, whatever, is it’s own reward. I do not see it as a comparative metric to quantify my social status.

Who are your foursquare friends? Are they friends from the 3-D or met via foursquare?
They are all my friends from real life. Mainly coworkers from LiquidWeb and twitter friends that are tech savvy.

Have you ever, say, met up with other foursquarers at a locale because they saw that you’d checked in there?
Absolutely. Several times after work a group of co-workers have met at a particular location and other co-workers joined simply because they saw the foursquare check-in. I have also had several occasions where multiple groups of friends were at the same location but only knew it because of the foursquare notification. This is by far the most personally valuable aspect of foursquare that I have found.

What has been the biggest surprise about foursquare?
How fast adoption has been. This is not the first “geo location social media” or whatever you want to call it. Google has one, Latitude. Twitter has geo-location enabled in their API. Facebook has some Geo features in development and it, in general, was started as a Geo product by being limited to College campuses. Here is the most important part of what I am going to say, Geo Location is the next big opportunity. Hyper local news, hyper local advertising, hyper local social media - these things all exist in some form currently but they have been limited due to price, availability (how many people have them) and distribution (was hard to sell mobile apps). These things have all converged. I am going out on a huge limb and I am not qualified to make predictions, that being said, I believe that where we sit right now with technological progression of mobile technology is similar to the the point of progression in Internet technology when most people had broad band access in their homes. After everyone had broadband in the home, everything was possible. It was “always on”, gave access to Audio, Video, large email attachments, high quality photos, and everything else we take for granted now. This, in my unqualified opinion, is where we are with mobile technology. Most people have a data plan. Most people have some version of a browser on their phone. Camera, video, GPS, truly high speed internet, and 3rd party app delivery. All this technology - always on them. This is gigantic. Foursquare is just the beginning of location aware technologies.

My Speech to Charlotte High School’s Graduating Class of 2009 for the GFWC

May 8th, 2009

Here is the transcript of my speech today. Video is processing now and will be online soon.

Update: Video up

“Thank you very much for the honor of speaking to you, the future leaders of our community. Congratulations to all the graduates. Whether you realize now or not, your successful graduation today is a cumulative achievement shared by you, your family and your community. We should all celebrate it.

I was asked to speak today because your scheduled presenter was unable to be here. So I’m sorry to say but you’re stuck with the 2nd string presenter ;) I only had a couple days to prepare for this presentation and I’m approaching 30 now so I’m a little out of touch with your generation. So I decided to ask some of my younger friends and relatives what they would want to hear about. The consensus was “what I wished I knew in high school” - so that will be the theme of our discussion today - I hope you approve.

But first let me start by telling you a little about myself because I know that if I was in the audience I would be wondering who the heck is this Dude talking? My name is Travis Stoliker. I grew up and graduated from Holt. Attended LCC and got my bachelors from Northwood. I’m the Son of a UAW tool and die maker for Generous Motors (as my grandmother called them) and my mother is a Realtor. I’ve traveled to a few places in the world as a product manager for the software company, TechSmith. Worked for WILX Channel 10. And now I am the Marketing and Sales director for Liquid Web. A web hosting company in Lansing. I’ve started my own company - that failed. I’ve been nearly fired from jobs for refusing to shave my beard and I had my neck cut by a hockey skate during my senior year in high school. — That experienced changed my life - and I want to start this speech by telling you why.

On Christmas break in 1997 my hockey team headed to Saginaw to play in a weekend tournament. I was playing center and one of my chief responsibilities was to keep the front of the goal cleared so that the goalie could see the puck at all times. As I was pushing the opposing teams player from the front of our net, he fell and the edge of his hockey skate cut a 6 inch long - very deep, cut in my neck. I lost a tremendous amount of blood and had to be rushed by ambulance for emergency surgery. I was awake through the surgery when the doctor told me I was a quarter inch away from dying .

That experience completely changed my perception on life, forever. I began to question every assumption that I had formed about life. I found a new thirst for life and I wanted to experience everything.

It took a near death experience to wake me up and call my attention to the incredible amount of possibilities we are all capable of pursuing. It made me realize that my life didn’t have to be a random collection of events which I passively observed from the sideline.

I started to realize that - You can make your life. You can choose to be great. You can choose to achieve your goals. But you can only do that if you make a choice. It doesn’t matter much what you choose, it only matters that you make a choice. Do you choose to be great? Are you capable of what that takes?

One of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell, has a new book out called Outliers which demonstrates that most of the successful people in the world have one unifying trait in common - ten thousand hours of experience in their field.

So I ask you now - If you knew that you could be the best at anything that you wanted to be - would you invest the ten thousand hours in it? Many of us want to be great - but we are unwilling to do the work.

I am begging you. Please, make a choice. Choose to be great. If you are willing to do the work, you are guaranteed success.

For all intents and purposes, today is the beginning of your adult life. Up until this point your parents, your society, even the law pretty much mandates that you get to this point. After high school is when it becomes your decision. It is the start of your adult life. Are you going to choose to be great? Or are you going to watch your life from the sideline?

So that is the first thing that I would have liked to know in High school - if I choose to be great today, I am guaranteed success.

I sound a bit like a optimist right now and a lot like a liar. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. I’m not going to be one of the people that tell you everyone is equal and you all have the same chance at success. The reality is that some of the people in this room are more intelligent than others, some are more attractive, some are more popular and some are going to be more successful.

I am not saying it’s going to be easy for everyone - what I am saying is that if you want to change something - with enough time - you can change anything.

The second thing that I wished I had known in high school is - Failure is okay but results matter.

One of my married friends was talking the other day about their kids soccer team and how they don’t keep score anymore. They want to encourage the children to play for the love of the sport and not be focused on competing with the other team. They don’t want any of the children to feel like they lost. — We have a tendency to do that in society now. We try to pretend like failure doesn’t exist. We pretend like everyone is a winner - all the time. This isn’t just prevalent for children. It is pervasive throughout our society. If a company fails - we bail it out. If our school can’t pass MEAP, we lower the threshold. If our government lies to get us into a war, we are complacent. Our society has decided to ignore failure. To pretend like we cannot learn from our mistakes.

I am here to tell you that the most memorable learning experiences in your life will be your failures and the most successful people in the world are the ones that are not scared to risk failure over and over and over!

Failure is okay. Failure is the result of risk and risk is the only way to attain reward. Do not let your failures distract you. Accept them - learn from them - and move on. You will be better for it, I assure you. Do not think you are a failure simply because one of your ideas was.

That leads me to my third point - have ideas - not beliefs.
Beliefs are hard to change, but idea’s can flex with time and evidence. Beliefs are things that get people burned at the steak. Beliefs are what make people hate without logic.
Ideas on the other hand can change the world. Ideas are what make you great. Ideas can change with time. Ideas can be discussed. Idea’s can be shared.

People get “personal” about beliefs but people get Passionate about Ideas.

When you have an idea, it can change with time and an accumulation of evidence. This is important. Now that you are an adult, you are judged by your logic and your evidence. From this point on, you will not be given credit simply for your effort, simply for completing your homework, or showing up to class. From this moment on, you are an adult. And adults are judged, or should be judged, only be the quality of their arguments and the results of their actions. If you hold ideas that are wrong, it is up to you to change them and improve yourself. Continual improvement is paramount to your ongoing success. Never settle. Never stop improving. Never stop learning.

The last thing that I would have liked to know when I graduated High school is not something that I take any pleasure in telling you. But unfortunately, I believe it to be true. — Your high school diploma isn’t worth much. Your parents High school diploma was more valuable for them than your bachelors degree will be for you.

Now I’m not saying that you don’t need a high school diploma. That would be like saying you don’t need elementary school or you don’t need to be potty trained. No - high school is important. But it is an expectation now. It is a minimum requirement. It is a prerequisite for adulthood. But your high school diploma is NOT going to measurably change your life in the next few years. No employer is going to ask to see it. It’s not something you should hang on your wall. It’s not going to unlock any doors to amazing careers with huge salaries, job security and generous retirement packages.

Your High School diploma is not your finishing line. It is your starting line. This is where your life begins. Your teachers and family generously provided you with their perspective on life. They gave you the tools to understand the world but now it is your turn to see if they were right! I’m not going to tell you that you have to go to college. That would be presumptuous and ironic considering my 27 year old boss is a multi millionaire without a single college credit. I am not telling you that you must go to college - but I will warn you that it’s going to be the number one question at your open house, so get ready!

College is not a requirement - but life long learning is. If you expect to retire from the job that you take out of college, you are kidding yourself. You will most likely have changed jobs five times by your 30th birthday. You will have multiple career changes throughout your life. You will be engaged in life long learning and continuing education for your entire career.

Did you know that today the top careers which are in the highest demand - did not exist 4 years ago. That means that if you start college today, we will be preparing you for jobs that don’t yet exist. Technology and globalization have changed the speed of innovation. Everything is faster now. The successful people in this room will be the ones that realize that.

Your life is an exercises in trial and error. Testing and refining. You’re opinions and views on the world are going to shift dramatically over time. Some of the things that you believe today will be proven wrong. But don’t worry - It’s all okay. — That permanent record we told you about, it doesn’t exist. You will be great. If you choose to be.

It is possible that one of you will cure cancer. It is possible that one of you will be the first to cure Multiple Sclerosis, an illness my mother has. Your have the opportunity to solve many of the biggest problems that humanity faces. Like energy, health care, poverty, water supplies, the for nuclear war and on and on and on. Do you realize what you are all capable of? Because I am and I am honored that you asked me to be here with you today to celebrate your accomplishment.

Thank you very much.”

Recent Press Mentions

March 26th, 2009

A few recent website and press mentions:

Microsoft.com feature about how Liquid Web uses Microsoft servers.

CapitalGains Magazine featured me in their article “10 People to Follow on Twitter

WILX interviewed me for their story, “Digital Dirt”

Interview on 6 News (CBS WLNS) about Liquid Web Hiring & Michigans Employment Challenges

March 11th, 2009

Mona from WLNS did a story on an unfortunate study released which indicates many Michigan cities will be seeing increased unemployment for 2009. Fortunately, Liquid Web is hiring so they came out to interview us about our growth and hiring projections.

“Don’t look for the hiring slowdown to change any time soon.

According to the most recent employment outlook from Manpower staffing, only 15% of companies nationwide plan to add staff between April and June, while 14% plan to slash jobs.

It’s the weakest employment forecast since 1982.

Here in Michigan, the picture is even more bleak in some areas.

In the Flint area, 6% more companies plan to fire than hire workers.

In Detroit, 5% more businesses plan to shrink.

And in Grand Rapids, 1% more will downsize.

But the Lansing area is actually the bright spot in the state, with 6%more companies planning to add jobs rather than slash them.

Diane Mansfield, Manpower, Lansing: “I think the most encouraging part is 66% are looking to stay the same, so there’s not a huge number that are going to layoff within the next quarter, so hopefully there’s some light at the end of the tunnel.”

The Manpower survey finds information technology companies like Liquid Web of Delta Township are among the few hanging out the help wanted sign.

Mona Shand shows us why even in a down economy, high-tech has high potential.

From the loud buzz of computer servers to the quiet hum of the call center, it’s the sound of success: a company growing against the odds.

Travis Stoliker, Liquid Web Marketing Director: “We’re still experiencing very strong growth. We are still hiring at an incredible rate and we expect that to continue for the rest of the year.”

With the shrinking economy, the company’s not growing quite as fast as in the past, but they’re still in need a constant supply of workers.

Travis Stoliker, Liquid Web Marketing Director: “We have hired as many as 10 people a month. Now we’re scaling back a little bit, but still it looks like about four to five people every month.”

And Liquid Web says it’s not alone, their IT competitors are also thriving.

Travis Stoliker, Liquid Web Marketing Director: “If you look at the overall trends, you’re seeing most of the hiring being done by technology companies that are providing a service that is of value to businesses and to consumers.”

To get the jobs, you do need to have the skills.

Travis Stoliker, Liquid Web Marketing Director: “Most of the people we hire are geeks and we’re proud of that.”

It’s a title that doesn’t sound so bad considering it comes with job security. “

Car accident

January 6th, 2009

I was in a car accident Friday leaving work. My car is totaled. I have a bruise on my right knee and my sternum. The knee makes it hard to walk, but the sternum makes it hard to do anything. Even coughing hurts. My injuries aren’t that bad. I will heal completely but I am still unable to move around much. This is my first car accident since I received my license 12 years ago.

I was driving East on Lansing road about to get onto 496. A mini van in the west bound lane tried to turn left across my lane to Old Lansing Road. They did not yield and turned directly in front of my car. I was going about 40-45 and they were prob going 20 or so. We hit pretty much head on (from what I remember). The driver and passenger of the mini van were Okay. They had to use the jaws of life to remove them and took them in the first ambulance. The police officer notified me that the driver of the mini van was born in 1919. (That’s 89-90 for those of you playing at home).

I called Strandt to give me a ride home, but the police officers and paramedics highly recommended I go to the Emergency room by ambulance. When I arrived at Sparrow’s ER everyone was freaking out. They wanted to give me an IV, MRI and CT. I thought they were going way overboard. It took me a while to settle them down but finally I convinced the nurse Laura and she helped me. After a quick (3hrs) chest and knee x-ray everything looked fine.

Video of the car damage…

Google street view of the accident…

I’m selling my motorcycle now. If this would have happened on my bike I would be worm food.

RIP :(
New Whip 2

What caused the financial crisis? Repealing the Glass Steagall and the Bank Holding Company Acts

December 11th, 2008

Rise of Subprime Mortgages

I thought I would try to make this as simple as possible: Here is my take on understanding the current financial crisis. All you need to understand is the history (and eventual repeal) of the Glass-Steagall and Bank Holding Company Acts.

Following the 1929 stock market crash, historic legislation called the Glass-Steagall Act was signed into law (1933). The Glass-Steagall act regulated the banking industry in several ways including, but not limited to, preventing banks from underwriting stocks, prevented banks from “engaging principally in” the securities business and created the FDIC to insure bank deposits.

In 1956 the Bank Holding Company Act was passed which prevented banks from engaging in non-banking activities, from buying banks in other states and prohibited owning insurance-underwriting companies. These two acts helped to control the volatile banking industry by establishing firm guidelines that banks needed to adhere to.

Starting in 1986 the banking industry begins to lobby congress to repeal portions of these acts.
In 1987, they successfully repealed portions of each act. Now banks were allowed to handle several underwriting businesses, including commercial paper, municipal revenue bonds, and mortgage-backed securities.

In 1998 Sandy Weill and John Reed were attempting to undertake the biggest corporate merger in history by combining Travelers, Solomon Smith Barney and Citibank to create Citigroup. At the time, this was not legal.

Weill begins a public relations strategy to change the laws which prevented this merger. In May of 1998, he was successful and in late 1999 the Glass-Steagall act was completely repealed. This led to a ballooning industry of Mortgaged backed securities, investment derivatives, oil price speculation and reinvestment of bank deposits.

I don’t think this crisis is all that confusing. Bankers pushed for deregulation, the deregulation led to massive speculation and created an artificial bubble which we’ve now seen burst.

The real question is, why are we now bailing the banks out? They made the gamble, they should live with the results.

Here is a very good longer description of the Glass Steagall Act.

Interesting Additions to the “bail-out”

October 22nd, 2008

From the time that the “bailout” was originally proposed to the time it was actually ratified, a lot of non-bailout items were added to pork-it-up. Here are some of them:

“Sec. 503. Exemption from excise tax for certain wooden arrows designed for use by children.”

“Sec. 317. Seven-year cost recovery period for motorsports racing track facility.”

“Sec. 309. Extension of economic development credit for American Samoa.

“Sec. 315. Accelerated depreciation for business property on Indian reservations.” (Nice one for the casinos)

“Sec. 322. Tax incentives for investment in the District of Columbia.”

“Sec. 325. Extension and modification of duty suspension on wool products; wool research fund; wool duty refunds.”

“SEC. 211. TRANSPORTATION FRINGE BENEFIT TO BICYCLE COMMUTERS.” A tax break for companies that provide bicycles for employee commutes.

“Sec. 308. Increase in limit on cover over of rum excise tax to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.”