Interesting Features at CES 2020

Hey everybody, Michael Gortenburg here.

I just got back to Kansas City after attending the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). For those who might not know, CES is an annual tradeshow that features the latest consumer technologies making their introduction into the consumer market, from wearable technologies to smart house devices.

The show attracts some of the most brilliant minds in technology and innovation from all over the world, and this year certainly did not disappoint. While I cannot begin to cover all of the exciting features that were present, I thought I would share just a few highlights from the show.

Quasar System

Through my work at Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, I always keep a steady eye on the real estate industry and try to keep up with any technologies that can improve or add value to homes. This is one of the reasons that Wallbox’s Quasar System was a standout item this year.

The system is used in conjunction with power stations for electronic cars and allows users to convert the energy that would otherwise go toward their vehicle into powering their home. The Quasar System is built to “plug in” to a home’s electrical network and transfer energy into running everyday things like lights, air-conditioning, etc.

Not only is the engineering aspect of this system a marvel, it even allows the user to SELL the excess source of power back to the grid. Needless to say, this is an exciting idea for homeowners and property managers alike, and it will be very interesting to see how this technology develops in the years to come.

Hydraloop

Hydraloop was another addition that definitely impressed me. The Hydraloop is an automated water recycling device that has the ability to cleanly recycle water throughout a property.

It’s about the size of large freezer and is installed into the water system. Once installed, the system uses a series of brilliant engineering methods to treat and re-use water throughout the house – conserving a substantial amount of water and saving the owner money on their bill (after an initial investment of around $4,000). Another great aspect of this device is that it is largely self-automated and requires very little maintenance. The designers wanted to create a product that homeowners would actually want to use and know how to operate with ease. There is even an app that the user can download to gauge performance.

These devices are currently being used in places around the world where water conservation is a serious issue, but as we all look toward solutions for sustainable living, there’s a safe bet that this type of technology will expand greatly in the U.S. market.

Ballie – the Smart Home Robot

When robotic vacuum cleaners came out years ago, it was easy to see that domestic robot devices were going to be huge – and we are witnessing the expansion of this technology with the introduction of products like Ballie.

Created by Samsung, Ballie is a cross between a nifty pet and a tool for managing a house based on your lifestyle. It’s a ball-shaped robot that can fit into the palm of your hand, but you won’t have to carry it around. Ballie is equipped with a camera and uses advanced AI programming to roll around the property, where it begins to recognize and learn your behaviors to help you fulfill basic tasks around the house.

It’s designed to work with other smart devices from the Samsung line such as vacuum robots, smart TVs, smart windows and more. Once Ballie has gathered enough information about its owner, it will respond to commands and use its AI programming to help you with daily tasks. For example, if Ballie notices that it’s time to clean the house – it will send a notification to the vacuum robot to automatically start working. Ballie is even designed for home protection, as it can detect unusual activity around your property and send notifications, pictures and videos to your phone.

This is a really exciting area for smart devices and robotics. Unfortunately, the concept is still under design and Samsung hasn’t released details for when it will be released or how much it will cost; however, it is certainly worth keeping an eye out for its debut.

Sony Vision-S

As you know, I am a car enthusiast. As such, I was surprised to see Sony introduce their take on electric cars. The Vision-S was a big item at this year’s show, and for good reason.

To start, the car simply looks great. Designed in a sporty/sleek fashion, the car comes equipped with 5G WIFI capabilities and replaces the dashboard with a wall of panels that can be used for things like navigation apps, music control, climate information and more. It also comes with 33 sensors in total that help drivers navigate the road in a safe manner and promises to improve driving performance.

Consumer Technologies at Their Best

These are just a handful of the amazing products and concepts that I saw this year at CES 2020. If you’re interested in consumer technologies or if you’re just curious to see where the minds of the world’s greatest thinkers are heading – I would encourage you to do a little research on the full lineup from the show.

I can’t wait for these products to hit the market and to see how they perform in day-to-day use. Not only are these developments in tech great investment opportunities, but a large portion of them stand to change the way we live our lives for the better.

Until next time,

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

The Value of Teamwork in Business

One thing I’ve learned over the course of my life and as a Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) is that the business world can be highly competitive. Things move at a rapid pace, there can be a lot of pressure and you often have to rely on solid team members to accomplish your goals.

Few things are as important in business as understanding the real value of teamwork. Even if you’re running a solo operation or have a small business – forming a solid team to help carry the load and delegate tasks to can increase productivity tenfold.

Today, I’d like to go further into some of the ways that teamwork plays a crucial role in a business.

Increase Productivity

As stated earlier, teamwork can multiply your productivity no matter what kind of business you’re operating. Whether running a multi-state private equity firm like Eighteen Capital Group, or a weekend landscaping business as a “side hustle” – having a group of people helping to tackle challenges is essential to success.

There are simply not enough hours in the day for one person to tick-off all the to-dos that are required to maximize a business’ potential. Onboarding new hires, preparing for meetings, securing new clients/customers, managing finances and more – it all stacks up.

If you want to scale your company for growth or increase productivity across all of these various levels, it will require teamwork. Building a team and expanding your company will allow you to focus on the bigger-picture aspects of your business while others execute the day-to-day tasks. Having a network of people in place working toward a unified goal will massively improve your company’s productivity.

Increased Efficiency

Similar to improving productivity, a solid team structure within a business can also make your business more efficient. When a company creates an environment where all of its departments and roles are working in unison, teamwork becomes an obvious strength.

A business that contains a solid level of teamwork will develop into its own ecosystem where systems are sometimes on “autopilot.” Of course, there will always be a need for management to guide projects along, but once an established team is set in place, they begin to naturally increase the efficiency of operations.

Departments and different members learn what is needed from one another to make their jobs easier and more successful. They learn how they can help each other achieve their tasks – and the company’s overall mission. They begin to distribute assignments across a wider spectrum, easing the pressure on individuals, and can streamline your operation to get things done faster, smarter and with less effort. Team members also have the ability to learn from one another’s mistakes to avoid future errors.

It can take a while for this type of ecosystem to form, and it may require some organizing from the top down, but it will help any business owner immensely when it all comes together.

Teamwork Brings Out the Best in Employees

When a team has learned to work hand-in-hand with one another, it can bring out the best in us as individuals, as employees, and certainly as a business.

As employees learn that they can rely on their fellow team members to help accomplish goals, they will often adjust their own roles according to their own individual strengths.

A classic example of this is seen in organizational structures like sales teams. One sales rep might be simply unmatched in terms of generating interest from a prospective customer in a product/service – but they may struggle to close the sale.  Another rep might be able to facilitate the final transaction, but might not be able to capture the customer’s initial interest. But together, they can both work through their strengths to achieve the desired result.

Having a network of individuals with their own unique strengths can give business owners an incredible edge and an extended toolset to reach levels higher levels of success. Furthermore, a diverse group of team members can provide insights to a business owner that they might otherwise miss.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

It’s a bit of a cliché, and you may have heard this phrase before, but it is absolutely true. Any level of business success can be multiplied when the right team is put into place. If you’re a business owner, do not make the mistake of underestimating the value of teamwork.

Take some time to study your organization, analyze all of the team work that goes into making the operation successful, and always look for ways to enhance your team so that they can do their best work.

Until next time,

~ Michael Gortenburg, Kansas City, Eighteen Capital Group

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)

Travel Notes: Israel

Hello friends!

Michael Gortenburg here and greetings from Kansas City!

As you may have guessed from some of my earlier posts, I am an avid traveler. I always take advantage of any chance that I can to get away and experience another place or culture. I think it is good for the soul, and it provides fun and eye-opening experiences.

Today, I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned in my travels to the ancient land of Israel – a place that I find to be as beautiful as it is fascinating, and a place that I hold dear in my heart. To someone who has never been there, maybe this post will inspire you to see it for yourself!

The Foundation of History

Israel is a land that is rich in history, and it is apparent from the moment you set foot on its ancient city streets and its gorgeous countryside. Although the current state of Israel was not established until 1948, the land has been settled since the earliest days of humankind and has served as the center of history’s most significant moments.

Every building seems to tell a story and the country is filled with historic sites to visit. History buffs are sure to enjoy this aspect of Israel. One of my personal favorites is the city of Jaffa – the oldest port city in the world. It is a charming coastal city with its own distinct architecture style and beautiful beige buildings that evoke its Mediterranean feel.

Of course, if history is what you’re looking for, it is hard to find a more significant city in Israel – perhaps the world – than Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is a central holy site for some of the world’s major religions and draws millions of visitors from across the world for its rich historical and cultural offerings.

If you find yourself in Jerusalem, there are plenty of historic places to visit: The Wailing Wall, the Temple Mount, the Tower of David and more. One could spend days in this city alone – but the nation of Israel offers so much more!

International Destinations

Breathtaking view from Haifa

Outside of the historical sites of Israel – there are also plenty of places visitors should be sure to check out once they visit. The city of Haifa comes to mind, with its impeccably manicured terraces and world-famous Baha’i Gardens. Haifa is built along a hillside so visitors in the gardens are treated with breathtaking panoramic views of the Mediterranean and the rest of the city below, complete with a central staircase that leads wanderers down to the shore. Haifa is easily one of the most scenic and well-planned cities that I’ve been lucky to come across in my travels.

Another international destination is the city of Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv could be compared to Miami for its warm temperature and similar design of seaside towers, glistening in the sun as beachgoers relax on its sandy shores.

Tel Aviv is more of a secular city – drawing millions of tourists every year to its party and cultural scene. There are many clubs, beachfront restaurants and bars for partiers of any kind. But if you’re more of a relaxed type, you could also visit its many museums, gardens and markets. A personal favorite of mine would be the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

And while Tel Aviv is a huge draw for fun, it is also an economic powerhouse for Israel and a technology hub for the world. Tel Aviv has its own “Silicon Valley” of sorts and is home to some of the most advanced technology companies in the world, like RAD. It also houses pharmaceutical giants like Teva and has a vibrant startup scene. Many groundbreaking companies focused on AI/Machine Learning and software are based in Tel Aviv and its surrounding areas.

A Journey You’ll Remember

Whether you’re interested in making a trip for its religious or historical significance, or whether you’re more curious about its party and vacation scene – Israel has a lot to offer. It is one of the few countries in the region that is readily available for tourists to enjoy and you will never run out of things to see and do.

I would highly recommend anyone thinking of going to take the opportunity and visit Israel. It is certainly a place like no other and a memory that you will never forget.

Happy travels!

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

Why It is Important to Give to Charity

Hello readers and greetings from Kansas City!

My wife was recently volunteering at one of the city’s great charities – Wayside Waifs. The organization is filled with amazing individuals who work tirelessly to rescue animals within the community and provide them with loving families. It is a charity that is very dear to her and myself, and I highly recommend any fellow readers in Kansas City to consider donating or volunteering (even if you’re not an animal lover).

But while I was thinking about the organization and how amazing the service is that they provide – it got me thinking about the concept of charity and how it becomes increasingly important to an individual who spends their time or hard-earned money on giving back.

Today, I’d like to share my thoughts on some of the personal benefits of participating in charity.

It is Personally Gratifying

It is often said that giving is a greater joy than receiving, and I have found this to be absolutely true. When you actively choose to dedicate your time and resources to benefiting the lives of others or your community – you see the effects of positive change that you, as an individual, can make on the world around you.

Even if it’s merely a couple of dollars or making small deposits of time at a local organization like Wayside Waifs – it all matters, and it gives you an unmatched enjoyment that cannot be gained through typical notions of “success.”

Charity Gives You Another Perspective

There’s really nothing that can give you a new perspective like making a positive difference in another person’s life. Whether that’s through helping organize a clothing drive, donating food for struggling families or even dropping off old items that can be useful to someone who needs them.

When we make the effort to participate in an act of charity, we undergo an immediate shift in how we think about our lives. It opens us to learning about the experience of another individual. This can be extremely humbling and give us the chance to reflect on all of the things we have to be thankful for. It also shows us how easily someone can fall into unfortunate circumstances outside of their control.

This type of perspective shift can be a very moving experience that we can take with us as we go on with our lives. It makes us better versions of ourselves.

Gratitude

Perhaps the most personally rewarding benefit that we all gain from charity is the enormous sense of gratitude that it bestows upon us.

Often times we get so caught up in the day-to-day drama that we lose touch with reality and create needless headaches for ourselves. We get bent out of shape over cancelled flights, annoying traffic jams, slow WIFI, and other little inconveniences all the time. We’ve all seen someone lose their mind when their favorite sports team loses the big game.

This type of behavior is a normal part of being human. The problem is that without a little grounding, we can get carried away and find ourselves in a toxic, negative feedback loop. We start to focus on negativity and soon even start looking for reasons to be upset.

Charity is a powerful way to instill gratitude and gives us a chance to refocus our perspective. It is hard to feel sorry for yourself and get upset over minor inconveniences when you understand that there are people who are really in need of help in the world.

This type of clarity brings us peace and thankfulness for the many things that we tend to take for granted. You then start to notice just how amazing and blessed you are to be in your situation. As a result, the negative feedback loop that you may be carrying around dissipates and things like traffic jams become a lot more tolerable.

Simply put, charity is a doorway to joy.

Choosing to Make a Difference

Charities are also a great way to make a difference in the issues that you care about.

We all have interests in the world that we would like to make an impact on. Charity is a direct way to that impact. Even if it’s a small contribution – it adds into the larger scheme of things that brings about real effects.

For example, with Wayside Waifs, we help distraught animals find loving homes, and help bring happiness to families who are searching for a pet. But there are other charities that pertain to specific challenges that others might care deeply about. Pollution of our oceans, helping rehabilitate wounded veterans, providing resources to impoverished peoples in local communities – there are plenty of charities that specialize in addressing worthy causes that we face as a planet.

Charity is a tool that we can use to make the differences we wish to see.

Charity is Worthwhile

There are countless other aspects in which charity provides a direct benefit to the individual, as well as our world. Charity reduces stress, helps our friends and neighbors, improves our communities in ways that we can enjoy, gives us hope and makes life better for everyone involved.

I would highly encourage readers to consider taking the time to think about ways that they can give back – large or small. It all makes a difference.

If you have a specific charity that you are involved in, or if you can think of more ways to contribute – let us know in the comments below.

Sincerely,

Michael Gortenburg

~ 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

Make Moving Day Easy

They say that moving into a new home can be one of the most stressful things that a person can deal with. Maybe that’s because there are a lot of things to consider: the commute to work, the kids’ new schools, learning how to get around the general area and more…there’s a lot. In fact, some people might feel a little overwhelmed throughout the whole process.

With such a stressful time, the one thing that shouldn’t be stressful is the actual move itself. As a Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, Missouri, I have seen a lot of movers in my time through our work developing and managing multi-family housing.

I’d like to share a couple of quick moving tips to make your next move a lot easier.

Tip #1: Start Early

After you’ve decided to move into a new home – it’s never too early to start planning. The planning phase includes researching your new area, strategizing for commutes, boxing up all of your belongings, scheduling movers, and a million other things that have to be completed over the course of weeks.

One helpful way to handle this often-challenging phase is to break the process down into small chunks and knock out the steps at a slower pace to avoid feeling rushed or overwhelmed. Make a list of steps that must be completed before/after the move (change your addresses, inspect and childproof the new place, etc.)

As far as packing – this is a perfect opportunity to throw out or sell all of those items that have been cluttering up your closets and spare rooms. You would be shocked at how much you can actually get rid of when you take the time for an honest assessment of what you need. It’s quite a freeing feeling to drop items from your past.

Another note on packing is to start with the nonessentials. Put away as many things as you can prior to the moving date, then once the final day rolls around – you will have very little to do. When you are packing for the final move, group boxes by room so that you can easily unpack them in your new place accordingly.

Finally, avoid harder-than-necessary moving experiences by place heavier items into small boxes

Tip #2: Make All Arrangements Ahead of Time

So, it’s move-in day and you’ve finally arrived with your new things, but there’s just one little problem – there’s no power!

After managing housing units for years, I am never surprised by the amount of people who forget to notify or setup utilities for their new place prior to moving in. Ideally, you should make contact with all services to have everything squared away by the time you arrive.

You will obviously need power to move in and will want the A/C circulating to clear out any sitting air. You will also need the water on and running, as you never know what impromptu cleaning may be needed when you start to settle in. And I would be shocked to see a family that doesn’t require the internet/cable for personal or work purposes upon moving in. All of these things can be arranged ahead of your move-in to avoid any last-minute headaches.

Also, make sure you work with any moving teams in advance so that everyone is on the same page for the big day. You don’t want to be sitting around waiting to load up your things. Luckily, most moving companies are very professional and will work to ensure your experience is as smooth as can be.

Tip #3: Settling In

Once you’ve finally gotten everything moved into your new home, it’s time to start the long process of settling in.

First, I always recommend a careful walk-through of the new property just to confirm that there aren’t any lingering issues that need to be dealt with. And make sure to check cabinets and to test out things like faucets, AC units, and power switches. Never just assume that everything works perfectly, because a previous tenant/owner may have neglected maintenance.

If you’re renting, go room to room and make a list of any problems that you encounter. You should have an opportunity to alert the landlord for repair and avoid responsibility for any damages.

Once, you’ve cleared the new place and you’re ready to begin unpacking, start with the essentials first. Things like setting up your bed, stocking away any groceries that you might have, and organizing your bathroom are all great places to begin.

Then it’s really a matter of taking your time and unpacking as you go. You may wish to experiment with furniture placement, or you might want to just dive right in – but this is the part of the process where you can relax and have fun with it.

Moving In and Moving On

Moving to a new place can really be stressful. Don’t make it extra work with added difficulty. It ultimately comes down to planning. The earlier you start, the more time you have to prepare and the easier the process will be.

Hopefully by following these simple tips, you’ll be more prepared to deal with the day when it inevitably comes.

If I left anything out, feel free to drop some tips in the comments below.

Until next time.

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Missouri