Top 5 Books for Business Success

Hi everyone,

Today I wanted to talk about a key element of success — reading. It’s no surprise that reading is a common denominator amongst many of the biggest names in business, and almost all entrepreneurs have a book or two they accredit to changing their lives and shaping their careers.

Warren Buffet credits his business philosophy to “The Intelligent Investor,” by Benjamin Grahman; Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy changed Elon Musk’s life — and boy, did it! Sometimes it’s not a business book that gives you your “Eureka! Moments,” but nevertheless, it’s important to be constantly consuming new content to stay sharp and creative if you want to succeed. Bill Gates takes up 50 books a year, Warren Buffet reads 500 pages a day, Mark Zuckerberg challenged himself to read a book every other week and Jeff Bezos is also an avid reader.

With that, I thought I would share some solid recommendations for you to check out:

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

It is a common book suggested by business leaders, but it has such fundamental lessons that I would be remiss if I did not mention it. This 6th century BC book is still used for military strategy today and has direct translations for business strategy and management. Based on Chinese warfare and military thought by the legendary general Sun Tzu, this book can be used to gain advantage of opponents in negotiation, understand office politics and foster a sustainable and positive corporate culture.

Check out some of these quotes to get an idea of its timeless insights:

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” — Sun Tzu, The Art of War

“Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.” — Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Some strategies don’t change within 25,000 years. This is a must read.

The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail by Clayton M Christensen

There’s nothing better than using your predecessors to guide your own success. There’s a reason why Isaac Newton said: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” This book offers the success and failure stories of the world’s biggest firms and creates a guide for capitalizing on innovation. It encourages you to strategically think about the best times to take big jumps in your business — especially as it pertains to technology. It also covers situations when demand might not meet your innovations, which could destroy the business you already have.

This book is a great guide for when you come up with your next big disruptive innovation idea.

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

This book is championed by business schools around the country and illustrates a simple strategy that revolutionizes how people think about how to beat competitors.

A good takeaway from this book: avoid the cutthroat competition of going to a business market (or a bloody “red” ocean) and instead look for bluer waters, where you can swim to success unbothered. Sometimes it is much easier to become top in your field by finding your own niche than by trying to directly compete against more established enterprises that already own their respective markets.

Check out the full read for more insights into this idea.

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This classic book is perhaps the most well-known from Carnegie, and for good reason.

It gives practical tips for establishing relationships in business and in your personal life as well. Relationships are the foundation for success in many ways, so learning skills that allow you to cultivate meaningful and impactful connections with those around you is something that pays for itself many times over.

This book shows you how simple it really is to do — although getting yourself to follow them is a different challenge.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey

All of the habits that Covey suggests in this book seem simple — but they have a profound impact.

The one I want to stress the most is the habit of continuous improvement that Covey calls “sharpening the sword.” Covey stresses that through meaningful progress and growth, you will propel yourself along a path of personal freedom and success. One of the main things you can do to “sharpen the sword” is read! So by reading Convey’s book, you will be already starting to develop one of those highly effective habits.

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In business, the best way to be on top of the competition is to diversify your perspective, reimagine solutions to our world’s biggest issues and do things that spark your creativity. Reading the worthwhile thoughts of great thinkers is one of the best ways to do just that.

So while we are still stuck at home for the time being (although it is exciting that we are slowly opening up in Kansas City!), I suggest you spend some time reading.

This lists is a great place to start and will help give structure to your thoughts and your business ideology, but business ideas can come from anywhere. Start with whatever you have on your shelves, and who knows, you might think of your next big venture or inspiring idea.

Until next time,

~ Michael Gortenburg, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, Missouri.

Support Local Kansas City Restaurants

Hello folks – Michael Gortenburg here, checking in from Kansas City.

As we slowly make our way out of quarantine conditions and our city businesses have reopened to more capacity, I thought we could chat about something that everyone’s been missing: our beloved restaurants.

It has been a tough time for restaurant owners and workers – so it is important to support them and other local businesses now that we have the ability to do so. I’d like to take a moment to spotlight a few of my personal favorites. That being said, this is only a select list which does not nearly encompass all the wonderful places Kansas City has to offer.

Jack Stack Barbecue

I’ve talked before about how Kansas City knows its BBQ — and Jack Stack’s BBQ is one of the best. They have five locations around the city and are renowned for the barbeque style dubbed for our city, Kansas City BBQ. People travel all around the world to get a taste of their ribs, cornbread and local brews. If you don’t feel comfortable enough to eat out just yet — try their curbside pick-up.

Cascone’s Italian Restaurant

This Italian eatery has been family-owned and operated since 1954. There are four generations working at Cascone’s and its fresh and delicious traditional Sicilian meals has drawn regulars for years. This is the perfect place to go with family or have big celebrations. The meals are hearty, but I promise you, you will finish your plate.

La Bodega

Tapas anyone? From tortilla espanola to patatas bravas to pintxos de higo – transport yourself to Barcelona with La Bodega. The restaurant atmosphere is reminiscent of Gaudi with colorful mosaics on the tables and the opportunity to have paella in an authentic pan! As of June 1st, you can visit the restaurant with patio and sidewalk seating. After a few glasses of sangria, you’ll believe you’re in a Taperia on Las Ramblas.

Grunauer

This Austrian restaurant has a delicious array of eastern European options. I suggest ordering one of their locally made bratwursts with a side of sauerkraut, washing it down with one of their selections of beer, and finishing the night with one of their traditional apple strudels for dessert. You’ll be still thinking about your meal the next day.

Seva Cuisine of India

If you’ve never tried Indian food before — this is the place that will have you ordering Indian cuisine every week. Seva’s is one of the most top-rated places in all of Kansas City and it’s no secret why: they have a great selection of tasty savory traditional Indian dishes. It’s a great option for lunch with their signature lunch buffet, but that might not be available currently. They also have fantastic and complimentary Chai tea! Portions are generous and prices are reasonable — what’s not to like?

Minsky’s Pizza

Since 1976, Minsky’s has offered some of the best pizza Kansas City has to offer. Their slogan “Gourmet, and going to stay that way,” wholly encapsulates Minky’s. Their dough is baked to perfection, the cheese is bubbly and gooey, and the toppings are always fresh and locally sourced. They also have other delicious offerings like hot sandwiches. Minsky’s is a great option for lunch or dinner.

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These are just a few of the many wonderful restaurants we have in Kansas City.

We are fortunate to have such a great array of diverse cuisines, and we’d like to keep it that way! So if you don’t feel comfortable going out to eat yet, consider ordering in, and please make sure to leave a tip. Workers have struggled unbelievably over the past few months, so they need all the support we can give them.

Enjoy!

~ Michael Gortenburg, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, Missouri

How to be Productive Working from Home

Hi Everyone,

I hope you all are continuing to stay safe and healthy.

Here in Kansas City, businesses and retailers are starting to reopen as the city eases its coronavirus restrictions, but like many of you I am not rushing to return to a shared office space just yet.

Working from home is great for reducing your daily commute and is obviously ideal in terms of practicing proper social distancing, but it can also be challenging to remain focused and connected to your work when the lines between your personal home life and your work life are so blurred.

With this in mind, I wanted to share a few tips with you that help me maintain my focus and more importantly my mental health while navigating these new workplace dynamics.

Set up a Designated Workspace

Whether you have a home office or not, make sure you have a space in your house where you can spread out and concentrate without disturbing other members of your family or letting them disturb you. Going to this same space everyday ensures that your mind will associate this space with work and not the personal tasks that are so temptingly close.

Dress Up (Sort Of)

As much as most of us are living in sweatpants right now, it’s still important to maintain some aspects of your morning routine to get you in the work mindset. No need to commit to putting on a suit or heels, but at least change out of your pajamas, brush your teeth, and go through any other steps to make you feel ready and awake for the day.

Take Breaks

Part of being productive is learning to step away from work to refocus when you’re in a funk and can’t seem to be making any progress. Get away from your screen and take a walk outside, talk to a friend or family member, or even do some spring cleaning. When you return to your desk with a refreshed attitude, you’ll be more prepared to maximize the time you do have to work.

Stay Connected with your Coworkers

When working from home, it’s easy to feel isolated or disconnected from your office. Make sure you’re utilizing instant messaging and videoconferencing tools to stay connected to coworkers both for your own personal health and the greater health of the company.

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone if you feel that you aren’t being heard – sometimes words can be misinterpreted over text. And remember to share the occasional funny email with coworkers to lighten the mood.

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There are plenty of other strategies for maximizing your time when working from home, but these are a few that I have found to be the most helpful for me. Ultimately, I would suggest using trial and error to figure out what functions best for you, since every person works differently.

I would also love to hear from you about how you work best from home. Out of the box strategies are especially encouraged.

Please continue to make smart decisions both for your own health and the health of others. I know it is difficult to picture a life after the pandemic right now, but I am confident that together we can carry each other through this difficult period.

Talk Soon,

~ Michael Gortenburg, CEO and Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, Missouri.

Coronavirus Vaccine Before 2021?

Hi Everyone,

As many of you are aware, there’s a race going on worldwide to develop a coronavirus vaccine. Before I share my thoughts with you, I want to make clear that I am not a scientist nor a medical professional. I am just a concerned citizen like all of you, hoping to return safely to our pre-pandemic lives as soon as possible.

Status of Vaccine Development

There are currently over 100 vaccines in development globally, giving people a sense of optimism at a time when many feel completely helpless, especially when considering that recent statistics have shown that more than 5 million people have been infected with COVID-19 and over 300,000 people have died.

Pharmaceutical companies and researchers have approached the development of a COVID-19 vaccine through a variety of methods. Some are relying on cutting edge technology using mRNA, others are using more traditional methods to study fragments of coronavirus protein, and one team of researchers is conducting a trial on monkeys to show how a prototype vaccine could protect them from infection.

Phase 1 trials of some of these vaccines have recently produced positive and encouraging results: test subjects developed antibodies similar to those found in people who had recovered from COVID-19. Some scientists consider coronavirus to be a stable pathogen, meaning that it is less likely to have significant mutations and therefore will respond well to a vaccine – however, there have also been studies to suggest otherwise. We are still very much in the research phase of this novel virus.

Possible Good News

However far off we are from understanding COVID-19, there seems to be a feeling of optimism in the air regarding the future of the pandemic. According to a Pew Research study, 73% of adults believe there will be a COVID-19 vaccine within the next 12 months, and 72% of adults say they would get the vaccine if available today.

And while this is certainly optimistic – vaccines typically take years or even decades to develop, so developing a vaccine in such a condensed period is practically unheard of. That is not to say that it is not possible, but rather that we should manage our own expectations to realize that a return to “normal” life won’t be immediate.

One thing I do think is fascinating to see is how the world has mobilized to fight this virus on a united front. Scientists and medical researchers across the globe have joined forces to share information, test theories and work together to develop treatments and find a possible vaccine. That is a reason to be as optimistic as any, especially when you consider the history of pandemics and how past generations have had to simply live with dangerous illnesses as a normal way of life.

While we wait for the world’s brightest minds to develop a reliable treatment or vaccine, we should all do our best to follow guidelines and best practices as recommended by our leaders and experts. Even if we do not fully understand the virus, we should behave responsibly to avoid passing it along to a vulnerable party.

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What are your thoughts on a potential COVID-19 vaccine? I’m sure many of you, myself included, want this period of uncertainty and isolation to be over sooner rather than later. I hope sharing some of my thoughts will give you a perspective you might not have considered.

Also, try to remember when talking with friends and family about coronavirus that having different opinions is okay – everyone is trying to do what they feel is necessary to keep themselves and others safe and sane.

Take Care,

~ Michael Gortenburg, CEO and Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, Missouri.

Best Tech Devices to Have During a Quarantine

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all doing well as we ride out this coronavirus pandemic. I know that this has been a difficult time for many of you, and large parts of the country are sheltering in place to practice social distancing.

Here in Kansas City, we have been under our mayor’s shelter in place order for weeks, so I thought this would be the perfect time to check in. With all of this time spent inside, it got me thinking about the perfect things to have on hand in the middle of a prolonged quarantine.

As an avid tech connoisseur, I’ve prepared a small list of essential items that might make your time at home a little easier. Check out my list below.

Firestick

With all of this time spent inside, you will definitely need a way to catch up on all of those shows everyone is talking about, including the ever famous “Tiger King.” The firestick plugs directly into your smart TV and grants the user access to thousands of apps and streaming services.

This little device will give you access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus and more. With all of these options, you could last months or maybe even years without ever running out of options. And while tempting and somewhat understandable given the circumstances, I would not recommend spending more than a day or two binging on programs. It is important to maintain balance, even during a quarantine.

Ring Camera

Not everybody is staying at home during this quarantine. Criminals know that all of us are ordering products online and many of them are out patrolling neighborhoods looking for packages that sit on front porches/driveways.

Ring cameras help protect you from these predators – now during the quarantine, and throughout the rest of the year. These are tiny cameras that you fit on your front door that show a real-time feed of your front yard and record footage for later watching. Most notably, they can be linked up to your mobile phone, so you can view from anywhere you happen to be. In the event of having any packages stolen, or if you have unexpected visitors that you’d rather not greet at the door, this is a perfect option to have.

They also have a number of smart products like security cameras, smart lights and cameras you can use specifically for businesses.

WIFI Extender

Being forced to stay home doesn’t mean that you should be forced to sit in one room because of a weak WiFi signal. WiFi extenders boost your home’s internet access area so that you can get online from anywhere on your property. This is especially helpful if you have a hard time accessing your network in upstairs locations or from outside.

With a WiFi extender installed, you can move your home office to any part of the house where it might be quieter and easier to get work done. Or, you can lounge outside in your back yard and soak up some sun while still listening to your favorite music.

Kindle

How many times have you put off reading a great book because you just never had the time to sit down and read? Well, with a quarantine underway and with everything closed – all you have is time. That’s why a Kindle is the perfect companion to have with you while we ride this out.

Amazon’s Kindle gives you immediate access to digital versions of virtually any book you could want. Simply purchase them from the Amazon store and it will download onto the device for instant reading.

The Kindle has been perfected over the years to be intuitive and fun to use, so even if you enjoy physical books, this is a great option.

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Well, that’s all for now. Hopefully, you can use some of these items to make your quarantine a little easier over the next few weeks.

Please, stay home and stay safe.

Even if you don’t think you have anything to worry about, you could potentially spread something to someone who is vulnerable. Let’s all do our part to get through this together and we will return to our normal lives in no time.

Take care

~ Michael Gortenburg, CEO and Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, Missouri.

Tips for Hiring Employees

Hey there – Michael Gortenburg here!

The year is winding down here at Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, and we have already started to look toward next year. We’re factoring in new opportunities for growth, strategies to improve our business and plotting out a plan for how we would like to take things to another level in 2020.

In looking at all of the plans for Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) for next year, it got me thinking about one of the most important aspects of growing a business – hiring team members. It can be a tricky process, especially if you’re a relatively new business owner and have little experience in vetting and securing top talent for your company.

HR departments the world over have been studying how to improve this process for decades. I thought I would share some tips from my experience on what to look for when bringing on new employees.

Know What You’re Hiring For

Sometimes as business owners, we become so inundated with tasks and aspirations that we can get lost in the process of it all. A business owner who is trying to scale operations might not even know exactly what roles they’re looking to fill – they just know that they need help, and they need it ASAP.

Before any hiring takes place, business owners should take an objective look at their operation to see where exactly they need help. It is important to take inventory of everything that goes into the business to see where time is going, what can be tweaked and what may require the introduction of a new role or employee.

A wrong hire can cost you significantly in inefficiency and mismanagement.

Hold Out for the Right Fit

Sometimes when business owners are seeking to expand, they may jump the gun when hiring to meet their demand. This can lead to making the wrong decisions when hiring new employees or promoting current members to a new level.

Hiring the wrong candidate can be a disaster for your growth plan and even your bottom line. One of the many things that we have done in hiring our highly-talented team at Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City is to carefully consider each candidate before making a selection.

Once you know what it is you’re hiring for, always consider the following:

  • Are they currently experienced enough to handle the responsibilities of the role?
  • Are they capable of learning as they go?
  • Do they have an interest in learning and growing in their career?

To some people, a job is just a job. It’s a place they go to shuffle some papers and do just enough to pay the bills. And while that may work well for that individual, as a business owner – you have to consider whether that works well enough for your plans. There is a saying that “you don’t hire for experience; you hire for mentality.” I have found this to be true to a large extent.

A candidate that might not be the most experienced, but has a demonstrated interest in learning and growing within their career can often be the better choice for hiring. When considering candidates like this, business owners know that they have a team member who will strive to achieve excellence, rather than simply “going to work.”

Understand the Market

Hiring isn’t just about “filling positions” within your organization – it is about retaining top talent that will take your company to higher levels of success. To achieve this, you have to understand the job market within your field.

Know what other companies are offering their employees in terms of salary, benefits and perks. A top-tier candidate is more likely to go to the company that offers more of these, but there is wiggle room that can be made to help entice them to join your team. In the age of digitization, consider offering remote-working, flexible hours, and other things that appeal to workers.

You might think that smaller businesses would have a harder time offering enticing positions, but in a smaller operation, there is more wiggle room to fit the needs of employees. Due to the natural bureaucracy of larger organizations, they have a harder time remaining flexible and are forced to streamline into a one-size-fits-all model. This can turn away top talent who have developed their career and are seeking to be more than just a cog in a corporation.

Ultimately – business owners should do their homework and understand what they need to do to bring the best people into the company.

Go With Your Instincts / Avoid Obvious Red Flags

It’s hard to get a wholly accurate read of a candidate and how they will perform for your business in the hiring process, but obvious red flags should be avoided. Sometimes it just takes going with your gut.

Some classic indicators for when you might want to skip a hiring option:

  • When the candidate shows a lack of interest or general curiosity about your business and industry (this tends to carry over into the role once they’re hired).
  • Candidates who pre-maturely talk negatively of their previous jobs. This could indicate that they carry a lot of baggage and drama that could soon find its way into your business ecosystem.
  • Candidates who fail to meet the bare minimum of effort for interviews. If a hopeful team member dresses poorly, talks like they’re in a sports bar and doesn’t demonstrate their relevant skill sets – it might be time to move onto others who take joining your business more seriously.

There are a number of things that HR departments can do to weed out the obvious no’s, and it is never a sure thing when bringing on a new employee, but these are the types of things that business owners should consider for new hires.

If you’re in the market to hire new employees, hopefully these tips will help you know when to actually hire for a position, what to take into account to retain top talent and some of the more obvious mistakes to avoid.

It is never a clear-cut process, but these tips have served me well. I hope they do the same for you.

~ Michael Gortenburg, Kansas City, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG)

Gifts for the Hard-to-Gift People

Hello readers, and greetings from Kansas City!

The other day as I was thinking about some of the coolest tech gadgets that I have seen recently, I naturally thought of people that might enjoy some of the items on the list.

It led me to think of those people in our lives who are hard to buy gifts for. As we get older, it can be difficult to find gifts for people. Gifting turns into a game of trying to surprise the person with a thoughtful gesture, a funny novelty, or a handy item that they will actually use in their day-to-day.

But this can be challenging, especially if we’re pressed for time. I thought that it would be fun to share a quick list of failsafes that work for most people with any lifestyle or background.

Imported Coffee

High-end, imported coffee is a great gift for any person over the age of 25. Almost every adult lives off of coffee, and what better way to start the day than with a premium cup. A premium bag of imported, luxury coffee beans won’t cost you very much and it’s the kind of thing that most people don’t have in their home. This makes a great gift for a boss or co-worker in your office.

Exotic Wine

People often bring a bottle of wine to a dinner party or as a housewarming gift, but it also makes a great birthday, Christmas or casual gift as well. Anyone who enjoys wine will always welcome a new bottle that they haven’t tried – and if they already have a full case, they’ll never turn down another addition. Try to go for an imported wine or an exotic blend that they typically wouldn’t go for. It will give them an excuse to try it and may introduce something new that they’ll enjoy.

Travel Journal

Do you know someone who enjoys traveling and takes a lot of pictures of the places they’ve explored? If so, a travel journal is a unique and thoughtful item that they might actually use. It is a journal of sorts that they can use to document their experiences and include their favorite moments and memories from their trips. They can also include any photographs that they may have as well – but in 2019, they are probably in digital format, which also gives you the opportunity to include a disposable camera – if you can still find them.

Stylish Backpack/Shoulder Bag

Another gift to get any travelers in your life, backpacks and shoulder bags are great items that we can all use but may not necessarily take the time to purchase. A lot of times when people go on trips, they may want to opt for something more mobile than a luggage case but less formal than a briefcase. Backpacks and shoulder bags are the perfect compromise. They allow anyone to store their stuff and take it with them wherever they go. You’ll get extra points if you pick a stylish option.

Board Games

If the person you’re shopping for has a family or likes to host parties with friends – board games are a great option to pick up, and one that they’ll have fun using. You can go for the classics like “Monopoly” or “Life,” but you run the risk of them already owning those, so try to go for games that are new additions or are more unique. The great thing about gifting board games is that it can open an opportunity for you to enjoy time with the person while playing them.

Portable Speakers

For any music lovers in your friend group, you can get them a portable speaker. These have vastly improved over the last several years and can be found for a very affordable price. On top of that, they are extremely handy. People can use portable speakers when they go for a swim at the pool or beach, or grilling out with family, or even working on cars. This is another gift idea people will find themselves using more often than they think and will thank you for later.

Candles

These are a great option for anyone in a pinch. People who don’t own candles always wish they had them and will use them when they’re around. They’re a nice gesture that no one will say no to. They’re also very inexpensive and it can be useful to have when the power goes out.


Hopefully this list will give you some ideas that you can fall back on when it comes time to getting a gift for that person in your life that has it all. They’re timeless options that are practical and have real use in everyday life.

Do you have your own ideas to share? Let me know in the comments!

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG)

Living in a Plastic World

Whether you love spending time in nature or rarely see the light of day, one thing that we can all agree on is that it’s important to preserve the environment. It’s a hot button issue these days that weighs on almost everyone’s mind, and for good reason. As the world advances industrially, we’ve began to notice just how much pollution we are putting out on a global scale and it’s a tragedy.

Perhaps the biggest culprit of global pollution is the use of plastics. Piping, bags, electronics, containers, straws, plates, bottles, wrappers – almost every industry and aspect of modern convenience makes use of plastics. It is the go-to material for industries like packaging and manufacturing because of its cheap production costs and general usefulness.

But no matter how convenient plastics may be for our lives, it is affecting our environment in ways that are hard to imagine. As most plastics are non-biodegradable, it poses a very real problem for future generations, wildlife and natural ecosystems all over the planet. Plastics collect and destroy marine life when they reach oceans, they clutter and contaminate rivers, they endanger land animals. Plastics also commonly contain toxic chemicals that seep into the soil and water of our neighborhoods. On top of it all, nothing ruins the beauty of our world more than piles of multi-colored junk.

The threat of ocean pollution from plastics is so high, that some experts believe that we may eventually have more plastic in the oceans than fish.

This problem doesn’t just come from the United States – in fact, most ocean pollution can be contributed to manufacturing powerhouses like India and China. We are experiencing a global crisis that will require a global effort to address.

Shifting to Other Materials

As mentioned above, the heavy reliance on plastics in almost every industry can largely be attributed to the low cost and flexible use of the synthetic material. Companies can create gadgets, furniture, or other items for an inexpensive rate – then upsell the product for a profit at the market.

But while this may be the most profitable move on the part of businesses, it simply is not worth the long-term cost to our planet. One approach to addressing the crisis is to shift manufacturing towards natural and eco-friendly materials, like wood, glass and metal. There are many advantages to switching to these types of materials. They’re more natural, easier to recycle for multiple uses and easier to dispose of.

Of course, we also have to be responsible in regard to maintaining our forests – but preparing and maintaining forests is easier than sending the world into a plastic death spiral. Additionally, there will be an added cost to products as businesses will have to spend more in manufacturing their products, but that is a reality that we will all eventually confront one way or another.

If we have to rely on plastics, there are in fact eco-friendly synthetics that we can use. There are ways to manufacture plastics out of natural materials like corn, instead of relying on petroleum. They too might be a little more expensive and harder to find, but as consumers become more environmentally conscious – businesses will likely adapt.

Recycling

The other immediate alternative is to encourage sweeping recycling efforts. The good news is that this process has been underway for a couple of decades and is only getting stronger as younger generations are waking up to the issues that will affect their world. Most kids these days are being taught about the importance of recycling in their schools and the effects of plastic on our environment.

This education is slowly starting to emerge. It’s now commonplace to see paper bags being used at grocery stores and cities are making an effort to make recycling a more convenient option for their citizens with increased recycling centers and organized programs.

Industries of all types are also starting to switch from paper to digital solutions for their day-to-day needs. Sure, many of our electronics rely on limited natural resources and still make use of plastic – but the digitization of our workspaces saves a lot of plastic from being used.

Continued Education

Ultimately, it will require a continued effort in education to raise awareness about our environment and its long-term health.

And there are actionable steps that we can take. You may consider joining or donating to reputable organizations that seek to make a difference. You can also talk with friends and family to encourage them to take action in their lives in practical ways. Just maintaining an awareness of the issue will naturally inspire change and every little effort adds up to build massive results.

We all want the same thing: a clean, beautiful and natural world that can sustain generations to come. Together, I am optimistic that we can achieve that vision.

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG)

Cool Tech Gadgets Worth Checking Out in 2019

As someone who grew up working in auto shops and as an investor – I’ve always been fascinated by all types of technology. And since the internet’s big takeoff in the 90’s, we’ve seen an explosion in the tech sector, changing everything from how we listen to our favorite music to navigating traffic.

Today, I thought we would take a look at some of the coolest gadgets that I’ve seen recently. Some of them make great gift ideas. Others are just interesting as a concept and could become game changers on a larger scale.

Wireless Charger

When I first heard about wireless chargers – I saw them as more of a novelty item for tech geeks to display on their desks, or for the laziest among us to just charge their phones. But they have drastically improved over the last couple of years.

I recently tried one out at a store and immediately saw the appeal. You simply lay your phone down directly on the charger and it effortlessly begins to charge. Sure, it may not be entirely necessary, but it is satisfying.

Sleep & Wake Therapy Lamp

Like most people, I love to catch up on my sleep. Things can get busy very quickly running Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) here in Kansas City, so it is vital for me to get a decent rest everyday. And nothing is worse than being woken up by a blaring alarm clock and hitting snooze over and over.

Well, somebody has come up with a solution. I recently discovered the perfect to start the day – it’s called a “smart lamp.” The lamp is designed to mimic the gentleness of a natural sunrise, helping the sleeper come alive at a slower and less startling pace. It’s very different than waking up with a jolt.

AirPods (or similar items)

We’ve all seen them – Apple’s new AirPods that seem to be sweeping the nation in popularity. Everyone is jumping on board of this craze – making the speculation alone reason to give them a try. What’s more is that everyone who tries them says that they are the greatest Apple product since the iPhone.

It may be trendy, but if that many people swear by them, then it might be worth checking out. The one thing that might be stopping some people from jumping on board the bandwagon is the hefty price tag, but being able to talk and listen to headphones handsfree might be worth it.

Touch Screen Gloves

It’s not uncommon for temperatures to dip into the freezing category in Kansas City. Everyone wears winter clothes to protect themselves, but that can be a problem as gloves make it hard to use touch screen devices. Luckily, they make touch screen gloves.

They’re very inexpensive and come in some nice designs, like the all leather driving-style gloves. With these, you could keep your hands warm in the wintertime, actually use your phone or other electronic device and look stylish all at the same time.

Dog Door Collar

Tech doesn’t just expand to us humans – now even our pets are getting in on the convenience. One thing that I would recommend for dog lovers out there who have inside dogs, is the automatic dog door collar.

The door itself may require installation, but once everything is setup, the dog is able to let themselves in or out as often as they’d like, whenever they’d like. The dog simply approaches the door and the electric scanner picks up the signal and lets them in or out. This gadget is definitely a game changer for dog owners who are tired of having to monitor them all day.

Drones

Not really a “tech gadget” for the average person per se – however, a great invention and fun toy nonetheless. When drones first came out, they were large, expensive and it took dedication to learn out how to operate them. But as the years have gone on, these aspects have improved.


Today, you can purchase a standard camera drone for $70 at your local Best Buy. They’re outfitted with great cameras and have a user-friendly design that most people can use intuitively. They are extremely fun to play with to get a birds’ eye view of locations, and even have professional uses in real estate. If you have the chance and the curiosity, I would highly recommend checking these out.

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So there you have it, a handful of tech gadgets that are useful, interesting and attainable for the average person. Do you have any that you’d like to recommend? If so – let me know in the comments section below.

Until next time!

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Groupl (18CG)

3 Strategies to Help You Acquire Premium Real Estate Investments

Before my partner and I built the foundation for Eighteen Capital Group (18CG), I started buying and flipping residential properties around the age of 36. Flipping residential homes in the Kansas City area soon became a passion of mine, and a few years later with a couple of flips under my belt, I was ready to elevate this hobby of mine. Within the next few years, I went into the apartment building and management business where the idea for Eighteen Capital Group came to life.

My career has been shaped by making smart and informed real estate investments–as this market has the ability to bring great wealth to individuals who have a keen eye for investment, economics, and of course, risk. With the right strategies, real estate investments can generate extra income and propel your business forward.

If you have an interest in real estate ventures but are unsure of where to start, here are three of my top strategy recommendations.

1.) Fix it and Flip it

Flipping houses was my first step through the door of real estate investments, and it truly gave me a deeper appreciation for the industry as a whole. You value the time, the money, and all the details that go into each renovation. The fix and flip strategy is optimal for those who like a good challenge. The key to flipping a home is locating a property that exudes potential. You’ll want to think carefully about the location, the market, and the type of client the finished product will draw in. The fix it and flip it method is an excellent way to generate cash and support future projects.

2.) Rentals and Short-Term Buys

Holding short-term rental properties–typically one to five years–allows for property appreciation through rent prices, remodeling, and lower expenses. On the other hand, short-term buys are quite beneficial for those who invest in multi-unit apartments or have various flipping projects. Short term buys and rentals tend to work best in higher prices markets.

3.) Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT)

For those who are interested in real estate investment, but don’t have the time to be too hands-on during the process, you may want to weigh the option if REITs. Real estate investment trusts allow individuals to invest in real estate without the need to be involved in every step of the way. But first, you have to select the type of REIT that will be most beneficial for you and your specific needs:

  • Equity REITs: property investments
  • Mortgage REITs: mortgage investments
  • Hybrid REITs: a mixture of property investments and mortgage investments.

While it’s essential to select the type of real estate investment trust that works for you, do note that each of them offers higher yields. This means you will receive a return in finances from the interest that others are paying on their mortgages.

What started off as a hobby, turned into a long-time and successful career for me. With the right strategies and mindset, the same can happen to you too. I hope you find these strategies useful in your next real estate investment endeavor.

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Missouri