A Quote in the WSJ

I was quoted on the Wall Street Journal today. It was completely independent of what we are doing here at Emerging Demographics, but still a nice thing to be referenced.

Hopefully at some point the WSJ will find it appropriate to do a piece on our company…

May 31, 2007 at 11:26 pm Leave a comment

A Never Ending Rat Race of Despair

If you read last week’s cover story in the BusinessWeek, you probably felt sick to your stomach over the exploitation of the poor.

Growing up in Mexico, I routinely came across devastating examples of poverty. I witnessed a scary and growing divide between those with money and those without. There was hardly a middle class. If you didn’t have money you were stuck without any way up.

When I arrived to the United States I quickly recognized that the middle class is why the US is the land of opportunity. It didn’t matter where in life you were, with a little hard work one could join the middle class…and from there it was only a little more work to reach the upper class. There was always something to strive for.

The tables have turned.

Mexico now has a huge and emerging middle class, developments are booming, and there is a new sense of hope and possibility.

The US meanwhile is in the process of eliminating their middle class. In the age of unprecedented wealth, we are seeing the continued expansion of the wealth gap.

In the building of Emerging Demographics, I have had firsthand experience with thousands of jobseekers at the edge of despair. I can tell you that life is not fair. These are hard working and very smart people who have never had a chance in life. They want to do what they can to help themselves, but at every turn they are taken advantage of. Whether it is the money they have to borrow at 25% a year, or the check cashing store that takes 10% of their money, or even Western Union that charges about 15% to send a payment. It just isn’t fair.

But the worst of it are the companies that sell promises of a brighter future while raping the victims they claim to help. Institutions like University of Phoenix that charge thousands and thousands of dollars for half-backed courses that do little or nothing to advance the careers of the people taking them. I recently spoke to a single mother of two who was taking some of these courses. She was working a full-time job and raising her children. She was exhausted and she kept going because she felt this was her way out of poverty…but in the end the 15 or 20 thousand dollars in debt she will find herself after graduation will probably only dig her deeper into the never ending rat race of despair.

This can still be the land of opportunity, but we need to make education – real education – more accessible and less expensive.

May 31, 2007 at 11:22 pm Leave a comment

Amnesty – Offensive, Unfair, and Immoral to Immigrants

As I mentioned yesterday, the economic and social reality of the United States today is that we need and want the 12 million illegal immigrants. We require the labor they provide, and even if we didn’t, there is absolutely no way the country can round up 12 million people and deport them. Not only is it impractical and immoral, but it would be economic suicide. That being said, the loudest opposition war cry is that o f Amnesty. For some reason, the country has been swept up in the notion that allowing immigrants to stay in the country, with a defined (albeit incredibly difficult) path to citizenship is paramount to forgiving someone for committing murder. There is so much heat regarding the amnesty issue, that the current bill being debated requires illegal immigrants to go back to their country of origin before they can become citizens here. That is just an impractical, stupid, and very costly requirement that is totally out of place and accomplishes nothing.

Let’s talk about amnesty. Firstly, what crime was committed? Illegal immigrants entered into the US without proper papers. Good point, but is that it?

What about the businesses that hired illegal immigrants?

What about the businesses that didn’t pay overtime?

What about the businesses that paid below minimum wage?

What about the country that stood by and allowed the exploitation of immigrants?

What about the social conscience of the nation that mistreated them?

On the one hand you have a dedicated, hard working person, who crosses the border because there are readily available jobs. He pays taxes, he lives in terrible conditions. He works hard. He is exploited. On the other hand you have illegal activity happening every single day by the 10s of thousands of businesses that hired illegal immigrants.

Shouldn’t we allow someone who has been exploited by our country, who has served us so well, and who only came because we asked him to, allowed the chance to become citizens?

This isn’t amnesty, its fairness!

May 30, 2007 at 8:16 pm 1 comment

My Thoughts on Illegal Immigration

The views expressed in this post are my own, and do not represent the views or opinions of Emerging Demographics Inc.

Immigration reform has overtaken the country once again. 12,000,000 people are here in the United States illegally. As a Hispanic American myself, and a recognized expert on the issue of Hispanic immigration, I thought it would be interesting to do a couple of posts on the issue.

Our borders are broken – and our policies are screwed up

The US / Mexico border is easy to penetrate. A very, very large percentage of all illegal immigration comes through this border. Some people find it harder than others, but in general, it might be one of the easiest borders in the world to cross.

At the same time, the United States finds itself in a serious and possibly catastrophic labor crunch. There was a film that came out about 3 years ago called “A Day Without a Mexican” that asked what would happen to the economy if all Mexicans disappeared…you can imagine that the situation would not be pretty. And that is exactly the point; the US economy needs and depends on illegal immigrants because we are in the midst of serious labor shortage.

Understanding the situation from the vantage point of these two issues, one can understand how we arrived at the situation we find ourselves in. There is a porous border and tons of available jobs…well of course we would have a tremendous influx of immigrants.

For years we stood by in silence, never glancing in the direction of the border. We needed more workers, they needed us, let’s keep quiet and let the market resolve the issue on its own. However, over the last few years a couple of things changed.

1 – Terrorism emerged as a very serious threat and we realized that we simply could not allow such a gaping hole in our front-line defense. We have a right to protect and secure our border, and failure to do so is wrong, irresponsible, and dangerous.

2- We no longer need new immigrants. 12 million workers later, and we have satisfied our hunger for the labor they provide. Most of the jobs they fill are in the service industry, and at a certain point we realized we had as many as we needed.

As soon as these two things happened, we started to notice other problems: Undocumented workers were leading a very hard life; they weren’t being paid enough and were being mistreated. Payroll taxes weren’t being paid. Some of the immigrants where competing for better jobs with legal citizens. Our borders are a security threat…and before we knew it, the country was divided on the issue of immigration.

In the next post I will discuss the current situation and some of the proposals being discussed, as well as the question regarding “Amnesty”.

May 29, 2007 at 9:07 pm Leave a comment

Google Radio

Our Google Adwords account today had a little new message introducing us to Google Radio Ads. After playing around with the functionality, I am excited to have this option in my marketing arsenal, but I am weary of trying it out just yet.

The brilliance of using adwords is that it makes it dead simple to optimize campaigns and track the results. I would have assumed that if Google was venturing into the Radio ad world they would have taken a page from their previous success and let you target ads based on all sorts of demographic data. This is not the case, though that it is probably more because of a lack of radio inventory than anything else. Right now the only way to slice and dice the delivery of your ads is based on day of the week, time of day, gender, and age. That is just not enough to develop working and successful radio advertising.

That being said, Google does have a very neat feature called “Call Reporting”, which helps track the performance of radio ads by giving you temporary numbers to play on air, and which are routed back to your number. Google then provides you with a detailed report of how many calls you received to each of these temporary numbers, which makes it easy to segment the performance of your ads.Amazing that Radio and TV (with Spot Runner) are now fully accessible marketing platforms for small businesses. Even though these mediums are available, doesn’t mean they make a lot of sense for all businesses. My own experiences are that with radio and TV, and even print, repetition is the name of the game. Otherwise, they just don’t work. My hunch is that most small businesses will only realize this after spending enormous sums and getting little in return. Unless Google, Spot Runner, and anyone else entering this market, do a good job of educating us on TV and Radio advertising best practices, they will probably end up with few repeat users.

May 9, 2007 at 9:59 pm 1 comment

Perfecting the Pitch – A How to Guide

Starting a business is like assembling giant mechanical watch in that there are hundreds of moving parts that must be timed to interact perfectly. Much like a watch has a face which is the external component that the world sees; an early stage startup has “the pitch” – the one facet of the business that must beautifully communicate everything that is going on in the background.

The difference between a good pitch and bad pitch not only can determine whether you get meetings with investors, but also how well you are able to hire, establish partnerships, build buzz, and generate excitement.

I am no expert on the pitch, but these are my thoughts:

A pitch is like a minimalist business plan, you need to get to the bottom of the issue very quickly.

1 – Hook your audience:
Propose a big problem. Think of a heavy hitting sentence that you can use to catch your listeners attention with the sheer magnitude of the problem you are trying to solve.

2- Solve the problem:
Explain the elegant solution you are developing to solve this devastating problem.

3 – Bring it home
Knock em dead with a real world example of how your solution will solve the problem.

Do:
Keep it short: The goal is to generate interest so that you are asked further questions.

Make it a conversation: A lot of entrepreneurs memorize the pitch and spit it back out word for word, try to keep it light and easy on the ears.

Show excitement: The more into it you get, the more people will feed of your energy and share your passion

Don’t:
Quote numbers: These numbers are great in presentations and models, not in pitches. If you must, then keep it to just the market size.

Use words you can’t qualify: Saying your product is the best will get you nowhere.

Explain features: If you have to resort to explaining features, your pitch won’t work. The pitch is all about the big idea not the details. Save those for later.

April 26, 2007 at 9:49 pm Leave a comment

How would an MBA help you?

I posted last week asking whether you thought an MBA was a worthwhile way to spend 2 years and 100,000 dollars. Most of the responses talked about the degree in subjective terms, arguing that it depends on the person and his or her ambitions. Okay, fair enough, so allow me to pose a new question: Do you think an MBA would help you achieve your career goals?

April 26, 2007 at 6:48 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts


About

Exactly one year ago I set off on the most exciting journey of my life; I started Emerging Demographics Inc (the parent company of HireWorkers.com).

Along the way I was selected as one of the top 20 young entrepreneurs by BusinessWeek.com and the 21st coolest young entrepreneur by Inc. magazine. I have also appeared in ABC7, Telemundo, NPR, and been quoted in StaffingIndustry.com, WorkforceManagment.com, Entrepreneur Magazine, and various other publications.

Over the next few months I will recount some of the stories and lessons learned from building, developing and creating a business from scratch.

LinkedIn Profile

View Eli Portnoy's profile on LinkedIn

Recent Posts

The Entrepreneur Network

Feeds

spotplex


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.