Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Our Brain Garden

I have always found it interesting how our brains work and how much different people are from one another. I recently came up with an analogy which helps me understand this a little better and is consistent with recent research.

Imagine our brains, or our minds if you will, as a garden. The garden can be anything. It can be beautiful with lots of flowers or rich with vegetables of all kinds. When we are born our brains are basically an empty lot. God has fertilized the soil and planted some seeds. Each person has received different amounts of fertilizer or intelligence, and a different variety of seeds. We might call the seeds gifts, or talents.

Soon there are little sprouts here and there and the seeds begin to grow in the fertile ground. It takes until about age five or six before the bare soil is covered with vegetation. That is when we are first able to do complex problem solving. That is why we generally start children in school and this age because this is when they are first able to understand more complex ideas such as math and spelling. Of course this varies from person to person because we are all different with varying amounts and varieties of “seeds” and “fertilizer” in our brain.

As we reach adolescence, the brain blossoms like a garden on a warm day after a spring rain. That is why teenagers think they know it all, because they know so much more than they did just a few years before. The truth is, at that point our brains are just an overgrown mess, with weeds and unruly growth everywhere you look, like a neglected garden. This goes a long way toward explaining teenage behavior.

We then start a life-long process of tending the garden. We can selectively pull up weeds, nurture the plants we like, and trim or prune to our heart’s desire; literally – what out heart desires.

We are still dealing with the seeds that God planted all those years ago, and we are limited to the richness of the soil, our basic intelligence. But for the most part, the amount of care and attention we put into tending the garden is what counts the most in the long term.

Tending the garden that is our brain looks like reading, education, the friends we have, the music we listen to, what television programs we watch, everything that goes into out head.

Because what we think about determines what we do and how we act; what we choose to nurture and what we choose to ignore or let die, determines our life. We can have a fruitful garden, a beautiful garden, a beautiful fruitful garden, or it can be a mess our whole lives.

Our lives will most likely be smoother if we identify the seeds that we have early on and work and tend them accordingly. In other words, understand our giftedness and follow up with education and work that best suits our giftedness. But no matter what, just paying attention to how we feed our head, how we tend the garden that is our mind, will decide the ultimate outcome of our lives.

Monday, November 01, 2010

On Poverty

There has been recent news about the poverty level in the US being at records highs. Of course they are talking about income level which is only one measure of poverty, and not a very good one.

I grew up in one of the poorest counties in the nation and now live in one of the richest, so I have thought about this a lot. How I got here is a bit of a mystery, but it boils down to an insatiable hunger for knowledge.

Reducing poverty to the notion of income or money is simplistic and leads us down rabbit trails in finding a solution. If that was the problem, just giving people more money would solve the problem. Lyndon Johnson tried that and it didn't work.

It seems to me that the dividing line between the classes in this country is education. Not the availability of education or the quality of the schools, but simply the desire to learn. Growing up in a very low income town, I got to see the kids get sorted out real fast. The dividing line was the desire to learn. That dividing line is even more prevalent today.

Some people are always learning, always reading, always going to seminars and continuing education classes. These are the successful people, regardless of their income level. Other people have no desire to learn anything new. They drop out of school, figure they already know it all, and if they get a job, never advance because they have no desire to learn. These are the people who live in poverty, regardless of their income level.

This is the culture issue that needs to be addressed immediately.

I have really been enjoying teaching seminars and classes lately, because I get to know people who have an honest desire to learn new things.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Physical Fitness

The Bible in I Corinthians 6:9 reminds us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and that we are to honor God with our bodies. This has a number of implications and taking care of our health is certainly one of them.

I have not written about physical fitness before but this seems like a good time. As I see some of the evidence around me such as the huge amounts of money spent on health care related to obesity and poor eating habits, and even chubby folks passing themselves off as fitness coaches, I decided I should try to encourage some of you with a little of my story.

I bought a new car in 1984. When I reached under the car and pulled on a wrench on the oil drain plug at the first oil change, I sprang my shoulder. We were leaving for vacation and I spent the week skiing nursing a sore shoulder. I was 36 years old. That is when I realized that youth was no longer on my side.

When we returned home, I joined Gold’s Gym, enlisted a fitness coach for a short time to get the basics down, and set out on a disciplined routine. I began a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in fat. I worked out with weights and on cardio equipment three times a week and got plenty of rest. I also subscribed to wellness and medical newsletters to learn about, and stay up on, the latest in fitness ideas. I have continued this routine faithfully through the years.

In the last 26 years, I have never missed a day of work due to illness, I have never been treated by a doctor or been in a hospital, and I take no medications. My weight has varied less than 10 pounds.

I realize that with a sample size of one and no control group, this is hardly a scientific study, but for an experiment of one in healthy living and consistent exercise, I believe that I have been successful.

I am sometimes accused of preaching the gospel of physical fitness, but now is the time to start encouraging my friends to take better care of themselves. I realize that it is very difficult to start improving your health if you are already over weight or in poor condition. The best thing to do is to start with good habits when you are young, so that you never have to spend the time and effort needed to break old habits and overcome years of neglect. But one can start anytime.

The best time to start living a healthy lifestyle was probably twenty or thirty years ago. The next best time is today.

If you are fifty pounds overweight and get winded climbing a flight of stairs, I am sorry, I don’t know what to tell you. I have never had that experience. If you are in good shape now, keep up the good work. My experience has been that it takes more effort to stay in top physical condition as our bodies’ age, but it is worth it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How old will we be in heaven?

How old will we be in heaven? This is a question that has been around since the beginning of time. The only people who don’t ask it are the ones who don’t think they are going there. One possible answer is that we would be the age we were when we died. Some of us would be very old, while others would be babies, or unborn. I think the answer may be less obvious. It is possible that we have sort of a preset age in our brains.

When I was a child in the ‘50s, a lot of people called me “the little man.” I would have been perfectly happy to wear a suit and carry a briefcase to grade school if I could have. I am not sure I didn’t sometimes. When I was in college in the ‘60s, others were turning on and dropping out. I didn’t get it. I was starting businesses.

Eventually, I hit my stride and the world was a wonderful place. For years the world was in sync and I was as happy as a clam. Actually, I don’t really know if clams are happy or not, that is just an expression.

Now people who were born about the same time I was are getting old while I am not. I know this is delusional, but that is the way it seems to me.

One of my heroes, filmmaker, Warren Miller, asks the question, “If you didn’t know how old you are, how old do you think you are?” His answer is 14. He has always considered himself a wisecracking 14 year old, even though he is now in his eighties. I know a lot of people who are emotionally and intelligently in junior high their whole lives. I also know people who have been seventy-five their whole lives.

Personally, I know how old I will be in heaven. I will be the same age I have always been, no matter how old my body is, forty-two. How old are you?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Schools Kill Creativity

Here is an excellent video on creativity by Ken Robinson:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Types of Commitment

There are different kinds and different levels of commitment. My favorite analogy is about the bacon and eggs breakfast. The chicken was involved, but the hog was committed.

Some people seem to never commit to anything, while others are quick to commit and just as quickly, uncommit. Others are slow to commit, but once a decision is made they go all out. I’m in the last group.

A number of years ago my wife and I were involved with a weekly Bible Study group. We met every Thursday night for about seven years. We only missed once or twice during that time and only because we were gone on vacation. There were six couples and it was rare when all twelve of us were there. This was always a mystery to me why people couldn’t commit.

I eventually figured out that some people commit to people and some to the event. To us, the Bible study was only a little important but the relationships were extremely important. We were committed to the people, not the event. It was easy to blow-off the event, but we couldn’t let our friends down, even though they consistently showed us through their actions that we weren’t all that important to them.

In a business setting we try to commit to an event, a product, or a service, but more often than not, we are really committed to the people. That is why when a procedure is put ahead of relationships, there is friction. We do business with people we like. The best companies hire for personality and train for skill, not the other way around.

Some personality types do tend to commit more to events. Here is a little test. Assume that you and a friend are planning to do something together, say go to a movie, and that person has to cancel. Do you go anyway, find someone else to go with you, or reschedule a time to go with your friend? Of course situations vary, but there is probably a trend. You are probably either committed to an event or schedule, or to people.

A few years ago I was on the board of not-for profit organization and we made a conscience decision to stop being event driven and start being people driven. I am not sure we accomplished much more, we were a lot happier and left less bodies in our wake.

I am not sure that one way is best, but it helps to understand that there is a difference.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sweet Tea is Heading North

The sweet tea line is encroaching on the north. Whether the armadillos are following the sweet tea or the sweetened tea comes with the armadillos is anybody’s guess.

Not too many years ago, we hardly ever saw an armadillo in Kansas, or even in Oklahoma for that matter; and if you wanted your iced tea sweet you put in a couple of teaspoons of sugar. Now days flat armadillos are a regular feature of highway driving in Kansas and Missouri and waitresses have taken to asking if you want sweetened or unsweetened tea.

The amazing thing about this question is, how do you unsweeten tea? Tea is not sweet to begin with; therefore, you have to not add sugar to make it unsweetened. Taking the sugar out is a major trick.

At any rate, the line between sweet tea drinkers and us regular unadulterated tea types used to be the Mason-Dixon line. Then it became I-44. According to my friend, world traveler, and observer of such things, Dave Smart, the sweet-tea-line is now I-70. The alarming thing about this observation is that I live south of I-70, as do many of my friends. That means that the sweet tea infestation is near. It is time to defend ourselves. Can ‘possom stew and grits be far behind? And we haven’t even talked about Krispy Kreme.

I am sure that this is all caused by global warming and it is Al Gore’s fault.

Friends, let’s start rounding up the armadillos (those that haven’t already tried to cross the road) and send them back to Texas. And then next time somebody says, “Honey, would ya’ll like some tea.” Just remember that it is going to be loaded with sugar, and that you heard it here first.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Eye of a Needle

When Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God, it was a joke, but He wasn’t kidding. In modern language He could have said that it would easier to sell refrigerators to Eskimos; or maybe the rich man has a snowball’s chance in hell. It was that sort of statement. He went on to add; but anything is possible with God. This camel story appears three times in the Bible, so it was no casual comment.

That passage has worried me all my life and I think it comes down to the definition of “rich.” By the world’s standards, all Americans are rich. By my standards, anyone with more money than me is rich. I once thought that rich meant running water and flush toilets. Now I’m more inclined to think that it means gold-plated faucets.

My favorite recent definition of “rich” is to demonstrate our ability to be wasteful.

Not too many decades ago, if we owned land we used it to graze livestock, plant crops, or build something on it. Somebody decided that they could flagrantly demonstrate their wealth by setting aside a piece of prime real estate in front of their house. They would not graze cattle, or grow food, but just grow grass and then cut it down and throw it away. Now, just about everybody has a lawn, but few remember the purpose was to demonstrate that we are so wealthy that we have land to waste.

When Jesus condemned the rich, I think He was referring to the flagrant waste of resources. Fast forward two thousand years. How do we flagrantly waste resources? Are we so rich that we never have to open a window but instead rely on heating and air conditioning to maintain an even temperature in our office buildings? Are we so rich that we can drive around in oversized vehicles that are too large for our purposes? Are we so rich that we not only set aside space to raise grass just to look at, but then use millions of gallons of water to keep it green, just to cut it down? Are we so rich that we can keep fifty gallons of water hot, just in case we need it, instead of heating water only when we want hot water? I could go on for a long time, but I think you get the idea.

In the Old Testament, in II Samuel 15:1 “Absalom provided for himself a chariot with horses and fifty men to run in front of him.” I laugh every time I read that because I know so many people who would do that if they could. I presume that in Absalom’s time that was the equivalent of as stretch limo. He used it to impress people and it apparently worked. If you haven’t heard of Absalom, it is because God was not nearly as impressed as the people were and he quickly met his demise.

King Solomon is depicted as one of the wisest and wealthiest men ever to have lived, but he died unhappy and dejected. His autobiographical poem, the “Book of Ecclesiastes,” often refers to the vanity of chasing after things.

Surveys indicate that if there is any correlation between wealth and happiness it is the opposite of what we might expect. The wealthiest people are often among the most unhappy. The lottery has destroyed more lives than it has ever brought happiness.

Is it possible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven? Well, like Jesus said, “Anything is possible with God.”

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bob the Painter

Bob loved to go to art museums, so he decided he would become a painter. He studied the art of the old masters and began to learn to copy them brush stroke for brush stroke. He learned about color and texture and became a very good painter.

Bob’s favorite artist was Van Gogh so he decided that he would copy all of Van Gogh’s paintings. He became very good at copying Van Gogh and eventually could make exact copies of Van Gogh’s painting without even looking at the original.

Bob entered his paintings in an art fair, but the judges just laughed and said, “These are just copies of Van Gogh. These have already been done.” Bob was sad, but he went to the art fair anyway. There he found all kinds of exciting new paintings, things like he had never seen in the museums. Wonderful new exciting things were around every corner. So Bob sat down to think and listen to a band that was playing as part of the art fair.

The band played all of his favorite songs that he had heard on the radio many times. Then the headline band got up to play. They looked and sounded just like his favorite band from 1964. They played all the great songs from 1964 to 1968. They sounded just like the original band.

Bob soon learned that this band was paid hundreds of dollars to sound like the old band, but the artists had to pay hundreds of dollars to show the new and exciting art.

Bob was very confused. He decided to become an accountant where cents makes sense, and he did not have to decide if he should copy the old masters or make new art.

Bob died that day, and he was buried fifty-four years later.

The End.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Toyota's Troubles

In 1958, I carefully cut out pictures of all the new cars from magazines and put them in a scrapbook, grouped by manufacture, make, model, and list price. I have been a follower of the auto industry ever since.

With that in mind I decided to weigh in on the Toyota deal. I heard the media say that Toyota has a reputation for quality, safety, and reliability. That is not quite true. Those are three different and mostly unrelated qualities. BMW and Mercedes Benz are known for quality. Volvo and Volkswagen are known for safety, and Toyota and Honda have a reputation for reliability.

Of the three, reliability is the most elusive. This is partly because all cars are pretty reliably these days with little difference between manufactures. Also, there are many ways to measure reliability. If we look at the number of times we have to take the car back to the dealer in the first 90 days, we would be looking at a totally different list than if we are talking about the cost of maintaining a car with 100,000 miles on the clock. Which is most important is up to the individual and of course, as they say, your mileage may vary.

Toyota’s problem was that in trying to hold on to this precarious position, they chose the route of denial, blaming their detractors, and offering a quick fix, instead of addressing the problem.

The lesson for the rest of us is to face our challenges head on, admit when we make mistakes, and solve the problems as best we can, as quickly as possible. Toyota, in believing their own marketing, has shown that any other approach doesn’t work.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Caring for the Poor

When Jesus began his earthly ministry, He stated His purpose in a statement at the synagogue in Nazareth. Reading from the Book of Isaiah He said, “God's Spirit is on me; He's chosen me to preach the message of good news to the poor, sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the burdened and battered free, to announce, ‘This is God's year to act!’” Later, the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 2:10, referring to the church at Jerusalem, “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”

A central message throughout scripture is the importance of caring for the poor, the homeless, the orphans, and widows. It is not our place to judge how they got there, but only to do what we can to help.

Last night, Sky Blue, (Bob, Theresa, & Jim) played a special concert for about 100 homeless men at the Kansas City Rescue Mission. We didn’t preach to them or beat up on them, but rather, attempted to bring some light and joy into their lives. We were very warmly received and it was a very good experience. I am sure we will do it again soon.

This morning I attended a meeting of the Leawood, KS Chamber of Commerce. Leawood is one of the highest income per capita cities in the United States. The meeting was only about a twenty minute drive from the rescue mission, but the contrast between the two groups couldn’t have been greater. Frankly, I am right at home in the Leawood group, and I felt a little uncomfortable at the mission, but one doesn’t have to very observant to know where the greater need is. Jesus didn’t call us to be comfortable.

I have spent most of my life thinking about the difference between the people at the Chamber of Commerce and the ones gathered at the rescue mission. At the chamber meeting we talked about all the great new restaurants in Leawood. The people at the mission were there because of an offer of free food and a warm place to sleep.

So far, my only conclusion about the difference is: not that much. When I was five years old, I was told I was smart, that I could do anything I wanted, and I was encouraged to read. Most of my new friends at the mission were told they were dumb, that they would never amount to anything, and they never read a book. Encouragement verses discouraging comments, education verses dropping out, maybe a few bad choices, and the difference is either sitting in a nice office in Johnson County or standing in a food line at 15th and Cherry.

Jesus knew the differences were small. I firmly believe that God provided some with abundance to help those in need, but 80% of churches do nothing at all for the poor or homeless.

No matter what your situation, there is always something you can do to help someone less fortunate, even if it is just singing them a few songs.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Seat Belts

When I was about 12 or 13 years old, as part of a 4-H project, I got very involved with promoting public safety. As part of the program several of us were on a live weekly radio program about safety, especially automobile safety.

We would often talk about the need for automobile seat belts. This was in 1961 and very few manufactures offered seat belts as optional equipment, much less standard equipment. By the time I was 15 I was very much convinced that seat belts could and did save lives.

I was not quite 16 when I got me first car, a bright green 1952 Pontiac Catalina 2-door hardtop. The first thing I did on the very first weekend, was go down to the auto parts shop and buy a set of seat belts and install them myself, making sure that they were bolted directly to the frame of the car. I never started the car without first buckling the seat belt.

A year or so later, I was driving home from school with a friend when I topped a hill doing about 60 MPH to find another car straddling the center line. I swerved but over corrected and hit the steep ditch nose first. The car flipped over end for end, sliding upside down on the pavement, before continuing to roll, landing on its wheels.

My friend and I jumped out of the car as I realized that my beautiful Pontiac was now a scrap of metal with deep grooves gouged in the roof from our upside down slide. Neither of us had a scratch. Without seat belts, the outcome would have been much different. Many people have been killed in much less serious accidents because they hadn’t bothered to fasten the seat belt that was already in the car.

After that I got a 1956 Pontiac, a 1958 Oldsmobile, and ’59 Olds, all of which I installed seat belts myself. The next car, a ’61 Chrysler New Yorker came with factory belts. A ’61 Thunderbird was the last car that I had to install seat belts in, after that, the other 30 or so cars I’ve owned came with factory seat belts, mostly three-point types with a shoulder belt.

A little know statistic is that traffic fatalities per mile driven have dropped every year since the 1920’s when they first started keeping track of such things. This is largely due to increased use of seatbelts, with slight improvements due to better belts and airbags. The other big reasons are better highways and cars that stop and handle better.

I was thinking about this after seeing the movie “Crazy Heart” last weekend. In one scene, the hero, “Bad Blake” suffers a concussion and a broken ankle after rolling his Suburban without having his seatbelt on. It reminded me of another relatively minor accident a few years ago when a Kansas City Chiefs football player was killed when he was thrown from his Suburban because he didn’t have his seatbelt fastened.

Fasten those seatbelts folks. Somebody might need you someday.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Knowing too much

Ted DeMoss, the late president of CBMC would occasionally comment that a person was “educated beyond their intelligence.” This was just his funny way of saying that the person knew too much and thought too little.

I can certainly see where this whole idea of knowing too much and not thinking enough is a common trait. I see it in myself. In my early career, I started a photofinishing business. I know absolutely nothing about photofinishing, so I had to think through everything and figure it all out for myself, relying mainly on my heart and intuition. (I know now that this was wisdom from God and not any knowledge I had.) This led to some very creative solutions that set us apart and led to a very successful business.

Later in another project, I was very well prepared and approached the business pretty much along the lines of our competitors. This business was no more successful than some others in the field. In retrospect, I am sure it was because we were not forced to be creative and find new and better ways of doing things. We relied on our own understanding.

This seems counter-intuitive. One would expect that the more you know about something the better, but it doesn’t always work that way. I suspect that Steve Jobs never would have started Apple Computers if he had come from a background with IBM. His lack of computer experience caused him to think in totally new ways.

In the spiritual terms we could say to trust God and not our own knowledge. Proverbs 3: 5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

Before the Renaissance 500 years ago, it was assumed that all people were about the same and if someone was capable of produced art, music, or literature, that they somehow had a received a gift from the supernatural of some sort. People would say that someone had a genius, not that they were a genius. With the renaissance came a belief in humanism and that man was highly capable of creativity on his own. While this type of thought has some practical advantages, it is not altogether correct.

God most surely gives and takes away gifts, and we should not give ourselves too much credit or beat ourselves up too much, if we do not have the gifts we want. Chances are we are gifted in ways that probably don’t seem like gifts to us. One of my definitions of giftedness is if we don’t see why others are not like us.

Mark Twain said the real danger is not in not knowing something, but in being absolutely certain of something that is wrong.

The only thing worse than too much information is having the wrong information. That is why it is dangerous to trust in ourselves too much.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

30 Years of Lifting Weights

About 30 years ago, I realized that youth was no longer on my side and decided to join a gym and start lifting weights to get into shape. I was assigned a personal trainer who took my measurements and made up a chart of the exercises I should be doing. I kept the chart in a file drawer at the gym along with all the other members.

I faithfully and regularly worked out, recording my somewhat remarkable progress. One day a few months later, I went for my regular workout to find the file drawer missing. I was told that they had thrown out the charts; they didn’t know how many people used them, and besides, it wasn’t their responsibility to keep track of everybody’s charts anyway. I was furious. I could have easily kept my chart in my gym bag if I had known they were going to throw them out.

Not long after that the management posted signs at the parking places closest to the door saying they were reserved for the owner and managers. It was not unusual to see the parking lot full, with cars on the street with the four or five parking spaces by the door blocked, being reserved in case the owner should stop by. It was pretty obvious that the needs of the members were of little interest.

Of course, I cancelled my membership and moved to another gym. Now 30 years later, I still workout and lift weights regularly. I think I am in better shape now than I was when I was thirty. Of course, I will never know, since Gold’s threw out my workout charts years ago.

Monday, January 18, 2010

On being flexible

This week I heard two different definitions of being flexible. One method which I am familiar with is flying by the seat of your pants because you haven’t prepared. This seems to be what most people are referring to when they say they are flexible.

A better definition of being flexible is being so over prepared that you are prepared for just about any contingency. This seems to make a lot more sense.

I was at a gig recently when the question of flexibility came up. I said I was flexible. It dawned on me that what I meant was that I had about every piece of equipment I might need, and a few backups, in the car. Not that we would make do with what we had as is sometimes what we mean by being flexible.

Yes, flexibility is a good thing, but only if it means being over-prepared and not under-prepared.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Foul Language and Consistent Pricing

I have inadvertently got caught up in a couple of controversies lately that I didn’t even know were controversial.

The first was a few months ago when I responded to a survey asking whether cursing was ever appropriate in a business setting. I said no and soon found out I was in the minority. Later when I quoted my late father as saying that foul language is a sign of a lack of vocabulary and poor education, I was surprised by the negative response. And when I said that if I ever heard one of my employees cussing a customer, I would show them the door, there was even more negative response. Someone suggested that I was out of touch. Obviously I am because I thought cursing went out of style with smoking. I presume that most of those people have no idea how much business their language has cost them.

Then this last month I commented in a professional photographer’s magazine that photographers should follow the lead of other professions and develop a consistent pricing policy. It turns out many, or maybe most, commercial photographers make up prices as they go based on the clients ability or willingness to pay.

In looking at the history of civilization, one mark of a civilized culture is consistent pricing. Third world street merchants are pretty good at sizing up their customers and extracting as much money as they can from them. In western culture, we rely on prices in stores being well-marked and everybody paying the same price. I know how much my mechanic charges an hour and my dentist will quote a flat rate for teeth cleaning no matter who calls.

In every business I have owned, setting the prices, publishing a rate card, or displaying a menu has been a high priority. Restaurants know that they live or die by their menu. When I decided to get back in the photography business a few years ago, having sold my photo lab in 1996, the first thing I did was decide on my hourly rate. I charge $50 an hour plus expenses, with prints and extra CDs a la carte. If there is any negotiating with a client it is over how much time a project should take, not how much I charge per hour. If I get too busy, I will raise my hourly rate. This is basic Econ 101.

Five thousand years ago Moses cautioned the Israelites in Deuteronomy 25: 13-16, “You must use accurate scales when you weigh out merchandise, and you must use full and honest measures. Yes, always use honest weights and measures, so that you may enjoy a long life in the land the Lord your God is giving you. All who cheat with dishonest weights and measures are detestable to the Lord your God.” The problem Moses faced was merchants using a different set of weights depending upon the customer. In modern terms - treat everybody the same.

I researched some books on business ethics and just about everybody addresses this issue. The most common problem is charging poor people more and wealthier people less without a sound business reason. For example should people with less money pay a higher interest rate than a major corporation; after all, what is the chance of General Motors going bankrupt? (That’s a joke.)

The last time I addressed this issue it concerned the wholesale cost of film. My question was “Is Walmart seeing the same price list as I am?” The answer was yes they were. If I wanted to buy film by the truckload and send my own trucks to Rochester to pick it up, I would get the same price as Walmart.

But the opposite question is, “Is Walmart paying more for their commercial photography just because they have deep pockets.” Apparently they are. Commercial photographers still size up the client, shoot from the hip and charge whatever they think they can get away with. Portrait and wedding photographers usually have printed price list, offer a variety of packages, and let the cutomers know what they are getting for the money, and charge everybody the same.

My dad was in the auction business. An auction is the purest form of letting the market determine the price. The rest of us have to make sound business decisions based on what we think out product or service is worth; and then stick by those decisions until we have a good reason to change our prices.

After five thousand years, it seems most professionals are finally standardizing their rates and charging fair and consistent prices to all of their clients.