This is one instance when an employee can curse the boss–and get away with it

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Have any of your employees cursed you out on Facebook recently? Would you fire them?  Of course you would – and I wouldn’t blame you. I also don’t blame Herman Perez’ boss at the venue Pier Sixty who did the same.

Buzzfeed reports that back in 2011, Perez got chewed out by his boss during a period when very tense union negotiations were going on.  Furious with him, Perez took to Facebook and wrote “Bob is such a NASTY MOTHER F—–” and a number of other choice words before concluding “Vote YES for the UNION!!!!!!!” Read More…

Bill O’Reilly’s Firing Wasn’t “Capitalism at Work”

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(This post originally appeared on PhillyMag)

Ellen Gray, who is an excellent TV critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote a commentary last week in which she said that Fox News’s recent dismissal of Bill O’Reilly was just “capitalism at work.”

“Make enough money for a company, and allowances get made,” she wrote. “Threaten the bottom line, and even the most understanding bosses get antsy.”

From a business owner’s perspective, I really don’t agree. O’Reilly’s firing had nothing to do with capitalism. Read More…

A Major Part of the Hiring Process Is Completely Useless

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(This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post)

I have been running a small business for more than twenty years. I have met thousands of people. I have hired employees, contractors and suppliers. I have sold products and services to countless customers. You would think by now I would have a good sense of when someone is telling me the truth. You would be very wrong. Even to this day, I’m still terrible at telling whether that person sitting across my desk is being straightforward with me or not. You just never know. I can talk to someone for an hour and, in the end, my decision to do business with him is based on a gut feeling.

That’s why job interviews are a waste of time. I’ve always thought this. Now there’s research to back me up.

Read More…

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a flying car!

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Move over George Jetson, Google’s co-founder will be flying his car right by you.

A Silicon Valley start-up named Kitty Hawk (in homage to the Wright Brothers) has finally unveiled its flagship product: the Flyer. It’s a flying car. Oh, and you can buy it by the end of the year.

The car can take off vertically (as long as you’re over water), fly about 15 feet over water but, according to this CNN report, “looks less like a car than a jet ski with wings.” You can be the judge by watching this video here. Read More…

A shortage of women in technology? Not in Russia.

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

If you’re part of the technology industry in the United States,. then you’ll no doubt agree it’s a man’s world.

TechCrunch reported last year on the “pipeline problem” created because a mere 18 percent of undergraduate computer science degrees and 26 percent of computing jobs are currently held by women. In the corporate world, only five percent of leadership positions in the technology industry are held by women. Alarmingly, the share of women in the U.S. computing workforce is projected to decline from 24 percent to 22 percent by 2025, according to research done by Girls Who Code.  Attracting and then keeping more women in technology is a big challenge for businesses – big and small – both here and in most of Europe.

Except Russia. Read More…

Microsoft Is Dropping Passwords…And Other Small Business Tech News This Week

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(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them? 

1 — Microsoft is dropping passwords for good.

Do you hate remembering passwords? So does Microsoft, apparently, since it has announced a new Authenticator app that does away with passwords completely. The Authenticator app is available on iOS and Android now. (Source: Ars Technica). My company, The Marks Group PC, is a Microsoft partner.

Why this is important for your business:  Read More…

Hey Juicero, Erlich Bachman Just Called and Wants to Invest

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(This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur)

If you’re a fan of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” then I’m sure you’re looking forward to the season four premiere on Sunday night. I know I am.

The show centers around a fictional tech company called Pied Piper located in — you guessed where — and its protagonists include Erlich Bachman, Richard Hendricks, Gordon Felson and a bunch of other narcissistic, self-centered, arrogant tech “geniuses.” They keep promising to “make the world a better place” with their incredible technology, yet are routinely unable to talk to women, boil a cup of tea or handle most normal social situations.

It’s a hilarious show. But if you can’t wait until Sunday, don’t you worry. There’s a bunch of other Silicon Valley people who are just as funny to watch as our friends on the TV show. Their story is true and you can watch it right now. Have you heard?

These are the people behind the “Juicero” machine, developed by Doug Evans, a real life Erlich Bachman. “Juicero” will remind Silicon Valley fans of Aviato, Bachman’s failed airline booking aggregator startup. We’re never quite sure if Aviato does anything useful, and we can’t be sure about the Juicero either.

According to  Bloomberg, the gadget is an “internet-connected device that transforms single-serving packets of chopped fruits and vegetables into a refreshing and healthy beverage.” It’s the “Keurig for Juice”! It all sounds so cool and techie that Evan’s company has raised more than $120 million from a bunch of Silicon Valley investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Google’s Alphabet Inc. Having bought into the idea, they have proved themselves to be as dopey and comical as the investors from Raviga Capital, the fictional VC firm from the TV show.

Why? Because this week it was demonstrated that anyone can just as easily and in less time — with bare hands, mind you — wring about as much juice from the pre-packaged fruit bags as the Juicero does. Not only that, but the “internet capabilities” of the Juicero — which are surely what romanced the community of tech investors —  is reporting on the same nutritional information that is on the label already attached to each bag of fruit. What’s even funnier is Evans’ description of the product: “There are 400 custom parts in here,” he once said. “There’s a scanner; there’s a microprocessor; there’s a wireless chip, wireless antenna.” Wow, is there a data compression algorithm just like Pied Piper’s?

Juicero CEO Jeff Dunn insisted the machine, which costs a whopping $400 (reduced from its original $700 price but don’t forget the weekly cost of its “Produce Packs”) is still an “incredible value” and a “great experience” that will not only save us time but, through its state-of-the-art wireless technology, be able to “remotely disable Produce Packs if there is, for example, a spinach recall.” Phew!

And here I was waiting for “Silicon Valley” to start on Sunday. C’mon HBO, just admit that the Juicero story is a funny marketing stunt to promote the TV show. Hah ha. Please? Erlich Bachman, it’s you, right?

Oh. This is not a TV show. These people exist and they really did raise $120 million. It seems like those brilliant, Stanford-educated, latte-drinking, BMW-driving, tech savants who think of themselves as geniuses changing the world aren’t nearly as smart as they believe they are. If you’re ever in negotiation with one of these people, just remember Erlich Bachman and the Juicero story to put things into perspective. It will remind you that you may very well be the only one in the room with some common sense — particularly if that room is somewhere in Silicon Valley.