Tag Archives: How-To

What Fantasy-Football and Stock-Investing Have in Common


TouchdownAcross many computers, websites, and smartphones there are millions engaged in last-minute rituals of tweaking fantasy football rosters for gameday. Admittedly, I am one of them.

It is an activity only recently I call a hobby, in small part, due to embarrassment; the other, due to a real passion for winning despite its fanciful ways. Unlike arts and crafts that are relaxing and even therapeutic, the task of managing a fantasy football team can be mentally exhausting, layered with high risks and rewards: From looking at the injury status lists, making game-time decisions, and ‘pooling’ free agents in hopes of getting more points.

I thought about how ‘fantasy skills’ could transfer in ‘real life’ actions.  In truth, I think being a fantasy league player, coach, and owner is quite the same as being a stock investor , securities trader, or portfolio manager. 

For example, researching company’s ‘ticker’ symbols for making profitable returns is similar to a fantasy owner looking at icons for winning games.

So I encourage fellow fantasy players to start stock investing too.
We see commercials from Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, and TRowePrice and think we need tons of cash to make even more money. Unfortunately, starting with $10,000 accounts simply take some of us “out of the game.”

However, there are a few sites that you can invest as low as $10 a month. I’m not talking specifically about a 401K plan or the IRA (Individual Retirement Account) variety, although these may be helpful as well.

Time for a DISCLAIMER: I’m not an investment consultant or advisor, so you might consider talking to a professional before you act on my advice. But if you are a fantasy league owner, I’m confident you will learn a lot just by checking it out yourself.

These investment sites allow you to forego using a broker and discover how to invest directly:

Computershare:  https://www-us.computershare.com/investor/default.asp?cc=us&lang=en&bhjs=1&fla=1&theme=cpu

BNY Mellon Shareowner: https://m1.melloninvestor.com/mellonone/index.jsp

Some other helpful resources and associations:

Drip Investor:  http://www.dripinvestor.com/index.asp

The American Association of Individual Investors: http://www.aaii.com/

Again, these are opportunities to invest in companies directly and take control of your money as you do your fantasy football team. There are thousands of companies to choose from that ranges from the popular to the less publicized. Of course I wouldn’t tell you which companies to invest, just like I wouldn’t tell you my ‘watch-list’ of fantasy football players.

The point here is that although some may look at fantasy football owners as unproductive, I think you might find stock investing not only as a way to make real money, but also just as rewarding and fun as our Football Sundays.

Recommended Risk of Learning


When the topic of learning comes up, it soothes like a panacea of good wishes. Learning in its many forms as taking classes, getting certificates, diplomas, and degrees are all nice to pursue, especially telling others about it. However, learning is not pure.  There are some nagging risks that linger.

Receiving failing grades, incomplete work, or “hating math” are possible symptoms.  Unfortunately, elementary school, high-school, college,  teachers and learners have given us unwarranted and unwanted comments of performance. These negative experiences can paint internal caution-signs to never re-entering continuing education.   

This could be telling why many adults don’t pursue available science, technology, or engineering jobs.  Perhaps many years ago, that school teacher, other student, and even parent diagnosed you were unqualified.

But, we are to blame too. 

We add our own damaging messages such as:

“I’m not smart enough,”

“I’m stupid; I’m going to fail,”

“I’m too old,”

“too far behind,”

“too (fill-in-the-blank)” all-the-way-to-infinity…

These thoughts give credence to other harmful decisions to learning something new or seeking another career.

A risk in learning is the sickness from our excuses without finding a cure.

Since we know how to create and collect excuses, why not design and plan opportunities? I worry that because we have pre-scribed programs to help get credentials and skills, we dismiss the art of customizing learning  that considers our  needs, means, and feasible timetable.  A strategy or remedy may come through measuring our pace with our own reflective grading system. A system and solution that takes into account our entire life and learning experience.

Wake Up! It’s Time for School: Yeah You Too


BigStockPhoto_DmitriyMelnikovBack-to-school sales, crates and boxes, papers, pens, and ‘Post-Its’ are here again, falling on us like autumn leaves soon to follow.

Yet this time it’s different: The students are not just the toddler skipping to kindergarten; the teenager roving through highschool halls, or even the college freshmen with backpack, foot-locker, and laundry bin. The students today are the actual parents of these youths and young adults. They have jobs (or at least looking for one) with bills, mortgages, car-notes and responsibilities more than turning in homework.

Recent stats suggest the average college student is getting older, over 25, looking for an education. With many adults having to change jobs or keep-up with their career, going back-to-school is now a shared experience across generations.  Thus, three (3) critical roles about this trend we must reconsider: 

1) Changing the role of education:  No longer should education be reduced to schooling with abstract facts and irrelevant concepts.  Education is a part of life and living. So the content should change along with our mindset. We must view education not as an end, but a ‘continual beginning.’

2) Changing the role of ‘teacher’: Throughout the history of education, the teacher was the main character.  The teacher was all-wise, all-knowing, keeper of ruler, chalk, and grade report.  Today , the role of teacher must act as partner.  A partnership where all parties have some knowledge, experience, and most importantly, details making learning a living story; an enlightened and educative soap opera at best.

3) Changing the role of society:  When we see the news on education, they usually refer to elementary and secondary schooling.  Rarely is their discussion about the adult learning community.  I mean, learning beyond basic literacy, english as a second language, or the how-to, self-help presentation.  Our society must include the 45-year-old mother of two enrolled as a first-year college student.  Or a returning military veteran, taking advantage of the G.I. Bill headed for a new direction. And lastly, the unable-to-retire workers, who make very little and see the only way to make more is to pay the costs of classes: at night, on-line, or at their community college.

The alarm bell is ringing, and some of us have pressed the snooze far too many:  We must get-UP!

Lifelong Learning Accounts: A Sharing Fund for Continuing Education


Higher Education Nest Egg

©2006 Jeffrey Collingwood. Image from Bigstock.com

As our global economy limps, its footing securely rests upon constant knowledge and information. The knowledge-based market prefers facts over opinions, information over hearsay, results over speculation.

Jobs are victims too: Adults in the workforce are not only concerned with finding a job, but also keeping one. Staying current requires more education and training beyond the grand ole days of past experiences, traditional stories and out-dated dogma.  Despite these conditions, the cost of education, training, and credentials leaps toward higher-dollars.

One remedy to the ills of economy, employability, and tuition are :

Lifelong Learning Accounts.’

Lifelong learning accounts, often called LiLAs (coined by CAEL– The Council for Adult & Experiential Learning in 2001), are a personal and educational investment nest-egg in which employees, employers, and others contribute to financing continual education.  In essence, they’re apart of a sharing fund to keep a worker employed, knowledgeable, and current in the workforce.   

Unlike other funding solutions, LiLAs are employer-matched and tax-incentivized, while remaining owned by the worker to keep; even after finding other employment.  Throughout the US, there are states and municipalities either piloting, implementing, or sustaining LiLAs today.  In fact, on July 13th, Congress introduced the Lifelong Learning Accounts Act of 2010 (H.R. 5715). 

So, lifelong learning accounts and this sharing model are worth getting to know and learn.  With that, there is still a great deal of research and inquiry necessary.  My concern is not about its worthiness, but its responsiveness to certain populations being targeted.  These accounts appear to be geared for “frontline workers,” but not for all adults who want to continue their learning.  What we have seen in workplaces is the need to further education across executive, managerial, and entry levels.

Another concern is the investment ownership of the account.  I understand that the funds collected will be used to help further education (similar to a 401k, but for training);  but I wonder how these accounts are set-up and managed.  Can the owner choose investment vehicles like mutual funds, individual stocks, or even an IPO as ways to increase the learning portfolio? 

Still, even after our knowledge economy and job market  fully heal, I embrace the concept and the direction where learning and employment become one and the same .  Even if the bill doesn’t become law, interests across the nation and other countries speak to educational needs we cannot afford to ignore.

Really Simple What? Basics of RSS Feeds and 6 You Can Use


rss iconWhen talking to a friend about the LEARNLONG BLOG, I mentioned how our postings can be taken through RSS which sparked the title. The look of confusion was beyond words. Yet, I realized that this gaze is rather common to anyone new to RSS feeds (even those like me who may understand what RSS does, but wouldn’t teach a class) .

So I’m taking on the challenge of explaining how RSS really works, in practice at least,  and what’s available for anyone interested in trying it out.

To start, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It allows websites to transfer information that eventually “feeds into” your own computer or cell phone, which are called RSS Feeds. Of course, there are more complex coding and installations involved, but we don’t care how the digital sausage is made right now, do we?  Exactly!

In fact, probably your internet browser has this icon on its tool bar just like when you add favorites. By the way, one quick tip:  You can tell if a website or blog offers RSS feeds-the icon actually lights!

Simply stated, the purpose of receiving RSS feeds is to get current, up-to-the-minute info and alerts in all the areas that interests you.  Doing it the old-fashioned way would take several annual subscriptions from paper newspapers, magazines, newsletters across all disciplines, local, regional, national, and around the world just to keep up: That’s just too costly and very time-consuming.

RSS feeds are a way to have the essential information and content that interests you, all-in-one page, even your very own home page if you prefer, especially the latest versions of Internet Explorer and Mozilla Fox.

internet-explorer-logo

firefox logo

You simply click on the orange icon, subscribe to receive the information and that’s it!

rss logoThe question left becomes where do you want to receive your RSS feeds and through what online service? Your internet browser can collect feeds or you can use other services below.  Most of these are free to download, register, and set-up, so I cheer you on to click any link to one and test it out.  Even if you may have a Google or Yahoo! Account, which many do, I am sure you can take this opportunity to structure your feeds that saves you time and money.

Here is a list of Six (6) other RSS Feeds “Readers” for starters:

Free to subscribe:

Google: www.google.com/reader

google_reader

My Yahoo!: my.yahoo.com

MyYahoo

Bloglines: http://www.bloglines.com

Bloglines is also a free online service. As the service suggests, there is no software to download or install, simply register as a new user and begin accessing your account at any time, from any computer or mobile device.

blogline logo

Others RSS Feed Readers (some costs apply)

Feed Demon: http://www.newsgator.com/individuals/feeddemon/ -Under the larger Newsgator used by enterprises but they offer easy-to-use interface with a free download.

NetNewsWire (reader of choice for Macs): http://www.newsgator.com/INDIVIDUALS/NETNEWSWIRE/ -Also under Newsgator.

Awasu:  http://www.awasu.com/ -There are personal, professional, and advanced editions available.

Reference: Shaw, Maura D. (2007). Mastering Online Research: A Comprehensive Guide to Effective and Efficient Search Strategies. Writers Digests Books.