I was just reading an article about car buying and it said that buying a car is one of the largest financial decisions most consumers will make in their lifetime. Really? I thought that was buying a house.
After being a university professor for seven years, I left with a feeling that getting a college education might be the largest financial decision. Today, student loan debt tops $1.3 trillion. The number of Americans with student loan debt is a record 44.2 million.
A record 107 million Americans now have auto loan debt. Worse, 6 million of them are behind on their auto loan payments.
Homeowners are doing little better with only one in four having more equity in their home than debt. Unfortunately, 5.4 million homeowners are seriously upside down – meaning they owe more on their mortgage than they can sell their home for. The rest of the homeowners are somewhere in the middle.
Then again, maybe it’s the cost of health insurance or putting away money for retirement.
Finding a Purpose in Life
Have you found yours yet?
I was lucky, I learned at a very young age what I wanted to do with my life.
It was to be a disc jockey on the radio.
Until one day, after being a DJ for ten years, I changed my mind. Now I wanted to be the radio station general manager.
That lasted over three decades until I changed my mind again. Now I wanted to be a university professor. I did that for seven years before deciding there was something more to life than just focusing on a career.
Business writer and editor Theodore Kinni says that “you can still build a rewarding career, even if you don’t heed the purpose ‘siren call.’ Start with what you’re good at and go from there – quit early and often until you’ve found work that works for you.”
“A sense of purpose is like an appendix. If you’ve got one, good for you.
If you don’t, you’re not missing anything important.”
Luck & Success
I’m not discounting the need for hard work to be a success in life, but I know a lot of people who worked very hard and still had a hard time getting ahead while others seemed to have a much easier time.
Recently, a report in Inside Radio spoke to the fact that some radio markets were enjoying phenomenal growth while other markets were very challenged.
If you’ve ever worked in a large radio group, I’m sure your property was often compared to others who were making their numbers while yours struggled. No one seemed to care or found it important to understand the local market dynamics and how another’s “Best Practices” were not in your best interests to employ.
Radio Stations & Colleges
Turns out colleges have similar geographic problems as radio stations. Colleges are married to their location in much the same way that radio station licenses anchor broadcast properties.
Have you ever heard of the DCI?
DCI is the Distressed Communities Index and it shows that the U.S. economy is very diverse and fragmented when it comes to economic well-being. The 2017 DCI shows 52.3 million Americans today live in communities characterized as “economically distressed.”
For colleges that operate in these areas, their prospects for recruiting students to fill the seats is very challenging. Not all that different from radio stations trying to produce cash register rings.
Another area that both radio and colleges are being challenged, is the internet and the mobile economy. Whether it’s listening, shopping or getting an education, more and more people are doing it online.
When listening, shopping or education moves online, it no longer competes with the entities, but the best merchants, radio stations and the best colleges in the world.
Internet Dollars or Dimes
For too long, I heard traditional broadcast media complain that going online was trading OTA advertising dollars for internet dimes. And that was certainly true. It’s because we tried to apply the same business model to the internet that we applied to our broadcast business model. Colleges did it too. It was wrong. Internet economics is an entirely different business model.
Look at the top 50 internet websites and you will see they don’t make money the way that traditional media companies or colleges made money. The top 5 didn’t exist before there was an internet.
I’m sure if you dig deeper you will find that the digital dimes are being made by the traditional media companies and colleges, while the digital dollars are being made by those digital startups. In fact, INCOME did just that and compiled a list of the top 20 companies making the most money on the internet.
The real eye-opener is when you scan this list of companies and see how much money they vacuum in every second (Amazon $1084 per second is #1).
Very quickly you realize that internet commerce is made up of a few haves and a zillion have nots.
Once upon a time America had strong antitrust laws. Antitrust laws are really anti-competition laws that were put in place by the U.S. Government to protect you and me from predatory business practices by ensuring that fair competition existed and we live in an open-market economy.
Fast vs. Slow
The beauty of our government is that nothing happens fast. It takes time and a lot of political capital to bring about change.
Fortunately, that slow pace of government wasn’t that much slower than the rate of commerce over the last 225 years. It all worked. Until it didn’t.
Welcome to the 21st Century
Computers are fast. Computers connected to the internet are even faster. Collaboration adds even more to the speed of innovation.
Government hasn’t been able to adjust to this new high-speed world the internet created.
Colleges and radio stations are also trying to play catch-up.
Life is a balancing act.
Things are moving very fast.
No one can ever tell you what’s right for you. And no one knows where all this is going.
And so, I’ll leave you with some great career advice from Dr. Seuss:
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”