New year, new time management woes. Wired tapped former MTV VJ (Singled Out, anyone? Anyone?) and jack-of-all-trades freelancer Chris Hardwick to test out three self-help tomes on productivity—David Allen's Getting Things Done, Julie Morgenstern's Never Check Email in the Morning, and Timothy Ferriss' The 4-Hour Workweek—to see if they could help him get through his eight other gigs and turn in his article on deadline, with enough personal time leftover so his girlfriend wouldn't leave him. A little inspiration for those that prefer their self-help minus the pep.
Are you an Atlas Shrugged virgin? Over at the WSJ Op-Ed page, Stephen Moore considers how required reading of Atlas Shrugged would surely have gotten us out of our financial quagmire faster. In fact, careful readers will note the bailout plans and stimulus schemes bear an uncanny resemblances to the "very acts of economic lunacy" that Ayn Rand parodied in her 1957 hit, says Moore. Check out our 50th anniversary tribute to the high priestess of objectivism, including quotes from Rand-obsessed entrepreneurs on how Atlas Shrugged changed their lives.
Obama lobbies to keep the death tax. In 2001, Bush approved a slow rollback of the estate tax with a full elimination slated for 2010. Despite Obama's reluctance to follow-through on his campaign pledge to raise income tax on top earners (a move he worries could have an adverse economic impact in the recession), reports the WSJ, Democrats are moving ahead with their plan to block the repeal.
Second annual Crunchies. While the glitterati descended on the Beverly Hills Hotel last night for the Golden Globes, the tech community was still basking in the glow from Friday Night's Crunchie Awards. Facebook took home best overall start-up for the second year in a row with Zuckerberg nabbing best startup CEO over Tony Hsieh and Elon Musk, our entrepreneur of 2007. And Twitter's Evan Williams shared best startup founder with Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone. But some less familiar names rose to the top as well, like best bootstrapped startup GitHub.
TiVo makes a bid for 'Google of TV'. At CES last week, TiVo announced a new, more visually-oriented way to search that functions more like the search bar on your Firefox browser, reports Wired's gadget blog. Type in the first few letters of a show and relevant recommendations for shows pop up with easy to scroll info about each episode. Wired's take? It looks prettier, but the beta version is still slow and won't make a huge difference for active search.
The mind-control market heats up. At the Consumer Electronics Show, Mattel unveiled Mindflex, a game in which players attempt to move a ping-pong ball through a mini-obstacle course with a headset that detects brain waves. It has garnered positive reviews, though Ars Technica doubts whether it's worth the $80 price tag. As it turns out, the game doesn't quite put mind over matter: you still have to turn a knob to get the ball through the course. Mattel is one of at least three players in the mind control market. Our December cover story features Emotiv, a company that has developed headsets that act as controllers for video games by detecting over 30 expressions and emotions.
Designing the stimulus bill. Any stimulus package needs to be at least $750 billion, or roughly 5% of the GDP, according to Glenn Hutchins, co-CEO of tech investment firm Silver Lake and a former Clinton advisor. His article at CNN Money lays out what a successful program will require, including measures to see that the people who receive money actually spend it—unlike the last stimulus bill, of which consumers spent only half. He also advocates a mix of shovel-ready and long-term projects, seeing the opportunity for a major investment in infrastructure—including traditional assets like bridges and highways, a national broadband network, green technology, and education.
Buying vs. leasing office property. At BusinessWeek, Inc. 500 CEO Christopher Hurn of the Mercantile Commercial Capital weighs in on a query from a business owner on whether to renegotiate for a lower payment or take advantage of the opportunity for tax advantages and income-sheltering in purchasing commercial property.
A cautionary tale. The credit crunch has torn through businesses of all sizes, including J.W. Hulme, a 104-year-old luggage maker based in Saint Paul. The WSJ has the details of how this small company "borrow[ed] heavily to grow fast." Frightening stuff.
Offer value over low prices. Despite early buzz about the big-box retailer, it looks like Wal-Mart is feeling the effects of the slowdown, after all. Business Week breaks down how consumer cutbacks have hit even the home of "everyday low prices." According to Wayne Titche, chief investment officer of ABMS Investments, Wal-Mart's example demonstrates that heedless discounting is no way to weather the recession—consumers want value, not just low prices. So slashing prices on low quality flat-screen TVs, as Wal-Mart has, isn't guaranteed to entice buyers. "Just offering merchandise that's cheaper doesn't get someone to buy it," notes Titche.
The best states for small business? The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council has released their rankings of the most small business-friendly states. According to the Small Business Survival Index: South Dakota, Nevada, Wyoming and Florida round out the top five. The bottom five include Rhode Island, Maine, California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia. The rankings, by the way, put a heavy emphasis on taxes. What do you think of the list?