Should Ireland Increase Minimum Wage

There’s been talk of late, especially from the Junior Minister of increasing the Irish minimum wage from €8.24 to €11.50. It’s been interesting to listen to both sides of the argument, in expensive locations like Dublin city center, with high rents and cost of living many suggest that €11.50 is a “living wage”. While IBEC has pointed out that increasing the minimum wage makes Ireland highly noncompetitive to our EU and Brexit counterparts. In other words, people will import products rather than buy Irish because while they want to buy from Irish companies they aren’t willing to pay the premium. Think of the rise of the foreign supermarkets (Lidl, Aldi, Tesco) and other big chains in clothing and electrical.

What I’ve been contemplating though is the short term thinking of the policy makers. With a relatively short shelf live of our politicians and lets be frank, a lack of prolonged sectorial experience are these people qualified to evaluate the outcome of the decisions? Sometimes I think of the Borris and Brexit situation, where a politician says they want something because it looks one way to take that stance, but deep down know that the reality would cripple the economy. However, by proposing a loose concept (extra money for those who need it), they look good and the common sense politician looks bad as they try to explain complex reaction theory to those likely not to be able to understand.

While in Japan recently I ate in a fantastic restaurant, where there was minimum staff. Orders were placed on ipads at the table. Food was prepared by a mix of robots and humans, then delivered by conveyor belt. It was novel, enjoyable and the meal was high quality but remarkably cheap. Not only was the lack of waiters or waitresses not a problem… in this scenario it was a benefit. Two deserts? Who was there to judge me. Turnover up, cost of service down, cheaper dinning experience and the restaurant next door was empty yet there was a 40 minute queue to get into this place when I was leaving.

Its a supply and demand issue. Assuming people will always choose the low cost item for the same or better utility (in this case a product) then if cost of delivering goes up, in the short term consumers will be less likely to embrace the new prices immediately. So for a period people will be open to new methods of making their money stretch further and in this period the old model businesses that created minimum wage jobs will begin to become redundant, jobs between the old rate and the new minimum wage will be proportionally redundant.

There will be an even bigger divide between the have and the have nots, because if the leap to get on the bottom of the ladder is so high many may never even start a career.

Taxi, Truck and Courier Drivers – Driverless car automation
Cashiers – Auto checkout, think of the current supermarket model
Builders – 3D printing of whole houses, office blocks and hotels
Accounting and Admin functions – replaced with rules automation and machine learning.
Warehousing – automated picking and packing
Restaurants – Robot preparation.

Its not as far away as people think.

The issue then becomes that the only entry level jobs available are those that runs the machines and develop the systems. High level, high paid and the skill set is of those with huge qualifications. Not ones that would previous received a minimum wage.

While progress is good and I love technology, I have a deep fear that the politicians and leaders of the western world have their heads in the sand when it comes to these issues. We need a plan for when these jobs become obsolete, social welfare at scale doesn’t work and until such a time that we have upskilled our workforce to add a minimum value of 11.50 we simply cannot accelerate the replacement of the lower wage jobs by automation.

Another Great Year At Christmas FM

Another Great year at Christmas FM – We raised €265,000 cash for our 2105 Partner Make-A-Wish. Christmas FM continues to go from strength to strength and each year increase listeners and reach.

Christmas FM

Christmas FM Raises €107,000 for Age Action

Christmas FM

Christmas FM has has exceeded our fundraising target, raising over €107,000 directly for our charity partner Age Action Ireland which promotes positive aging and better services and policies for older people.

The funds raised will go directly towards facilitating 30,000 home repair and maintenance jobs and visits for vulnerable older people across Ireland as part of the charity’s ‘Care & Repair’ programme.

Thank you all for donating and making a difference! The station was sponsored by Centra and broadcast from the Ballsbridge Hotel Dublin 4.

Junior Entrepreneur Program

Can entrepreneurship be taught? I think so.

The Junior Entrepreneur Program (JEP) is a 10 week entrepreneurial education program for primary school pupils. The program is about introducing the concept of entrepreneurs to kids before the school systems have set them on a path to before teachers, lawyers or factory workers – by that i mean following the path our schools current consider success. More than half the children in our school will end up in jobs that currently dont exist. So our plan is to teach them to think for themselves and learn to create value for other, which then results in profit – real cash rewards, money they earned!

The program uses things they are learning in school while giving them purpose literacy, writing, presentation, drawing, technology, researching, numeracy, financial, consumer awareness, storytelling, listening, creative thinking, problem solving, team building and collaboration.

We’ve had 6,500+ students through the program and at the moment we are doing a last minute drive to recruit schools to participate. If you are a teacher, school board member or parent, please join us in trying to get your school to sign up. We understand that schools have zero funds – which is why JEP as assembled a team of Top Irish Entrepreneurs who not only pay all the expenses needed to make the program happen but also offer a local project manager for the course. It requires no extra teach hours, the course plan.

I’m Proud to be one of many backers of this project and with being based in Laois I’m the co-ordinator for the Laois area. Laois is an area that really will benefit from this project as with so many public sector jobs, private sector jobs and entrepreneurial activity really is required to get. If any one has any questions or needs support getting their school signed up, please reach out to me and I’ll do whatever i can to help get this project rolling in your school. We really want as manay children as possible to not only benefit from the project but to become empowered in their thinking. Best way to reach out is on twitter.

For more info visit our website. Please join me and my fellow entrepreneurs, bringing this vital education to the next generation.

Life Lessons from a Navy Seal

Sometimes a good story can give you great energy.

University of Texas at Austin 2014 Commencement Address – Admiral William H. McRaven

How to Fast Track Tech Start Ups

Spent a bit of time watching the below interview on Tim Ferris’s Blog this morning and the message here really rings true for me, so much so that I thought it was a must share.

When I meet people who want to start businesses – I see the same thing – they want to spend heavy, commit lot long term agreements and make the product or service; All before they find out if they have customers who actually want their products.

There is pure gold here. (If you are short time Tim suggested skipping 20 mins as the last part is the most valuable.) Enjoy!

The Chobani Story

Hamdi Ulukaya is the CEO of Chobani Inc and one of the best entrepreneurial stories of the decade. He started Chobani in 2005 and Chobani Greek Yogurt two years later. He’s a World Entrepreneur of the year winner (2012) and when you meet him literally oozes entrepreneurial spirit. Sales this year in Chobani are expected to exceed the $1bn mark (yes 1 billion dollars in Yogurt!) and on an accelerated growth path in that doesnt seem to be slowing down as the company becomes a gigantic institution. Yet when I had the privilege of meeting Hamdi he had his feet squarely on the ground and unquestionably the one person I’ve met that afterwards I could help but wanting to emulate. Hamdi Ulukaya owns 100% of the company, which is unheard of for a company so successful. Convincing banks to finance such a aspirational business goal must have been a constant challenge.

Hamdi Ulukaya and Ronan O'Brien
Billionaire Hamdi Ulukaya and I

10% of Chobani’s profits are donated to the company’s charitable foundation, Shepherd’s Gift Foundation. Hamdi Joked that it’s a great idea when your starting but when the figures get to the hundred of millions and advisers suggest giving away hundreds of millions – well your commitment can be tested. Fortunately Hamdi is committed to being remarkable and making a difference, so his tithing is set to continue.

Motivational Alarms

Lately I’ve been pushing things harder than ever before, while i normally bounce out of bed – Lately I’ve needed to get up several hours earlier than sense would dictate.

My coach sent me this clip on facebook and as an experiment I’ve decided to reprogram my alarm to use it’s audio to wake me up in the morning. For those app developers out there – I think there might be a business in it. Wake up every morning to a new inspiring, motivating and be ready to take on the world – Now i’d pay for that.

Obviously the motivational video is meant for sport, but for me my game is business. If you want to be the best in the world at anything, you need to out preform all others, it does matter if you want to be the best parent, business or sports star. The difference is making the hard decision when the easy decision would suffice.

The Super Hero In You

One of the things that I get asked during interviews is who inspires me and who are my hero’s. It’s a question a always struggle to answer, there’s honest answer – but I might aswell make up random names as very few people have heard of them.

Well Peter Diamandis is one of my hero’s. If you want to be truly inspired, study his work.

3D Printing – It’s history and future

If there is one thing that I am most excited about in the technology world it’s the leaps in progress in 3D printing. Not since the mobile phone has their been an items that can change our existence and standards of life so quickly. For those that don’t know what 3D printing is, think how a letter is printed with a single layer of ink, now replace that ink with a 1mm layer of plastic or better still chocolate, as it dries another layer is placed on top of it and the cycle continues until a real life 3D object is formed.

Now this technology has been around since the 1980’s, but like the evolution of all things took time to get to the point we are at today – where basic models are available in businesses and homes. That’s right was as little as a few hundred euro a company like Makerbot will sell you a fully working model and websites like Thingiverse will allow you to download the plans to create literally anything your mind can imagine.

At the moment the main drivers of the technology are the three human basic requirements:

1. Health
2. Food
3. Tools

From a heath perspective, 3D printing in the next 10 years will be able to print organs and within the next 3 to print replacement skin – something the huge military budgets just love the idea of as well as the unbelievable potential to extend lives and avoid the awful transplant waiting lists that exist worldwide.

It might sound a bit star-trek but if you think about the composition of food, it’s something a 3D printer could emulate. An end to starvation and on a commercial side dieting – delicious foods without the parts that cause obesity epidemic the western world is facing.

As a species we’ve separated ourselves by our creation and use of tools to better our standards of life. In a talk I gave to an EU committee and policy makers in Brussels, I was discussing the legislative nature required to react to this advent of 3D printing – a concept the majority of the room were unfamiliar with. As you can imagine telling a group of people they had to create rules and laws about the handling of a concept that was as limitless as this wasn’t ever going to be received easily.

The truth remains though that 3D printing is the advent of making complexity almost free, in a decade we will have machines that will build houses and hotels, including all their fittings, in a tiny fraction of the time and cost that it would have taken before. By the line of code the machine will change from adding concrete to make the wall to putting in a copper pipeline alternative for plumbing and a nice wood resin finish to cover it all up. That’s right while we continue to educate children to be white and blue collar workers we are simultaneously replacing some of these jobs with a machine that never sleeps and if it breaks down – can print it’s own replacement parts.

Video with thanks to the folks at 16×9

With all breakthroughs in technology comes dangers though, the creepy serial killer-esq looking “Cody” (10 mins into the video) is using this technology to develop the blueprints to allow anyone to create a weapon at the click of the button. This isn’t a what if or some day scenario, this technology and blue prints are available now (just not widely available yet).

On a more positive note I have a friend who has set up a new business printing medical parts which will have a profound impact on heath care and patient recovery time after operations. It’s truly fascinating and ground breaking stuff, I’m delighted that Ireland will have such an impact on the world this way and always look forward to hearing about their latest break throughs – some day I’ll share these with you but at the moment I’m not certain what is public knowledge or not.

So what now? Well we need to be proactive. All children would be taught about this technology in school and start learning the basic skills needed to adapt to this new reality. CAD and designing skills will be far more beneficial to them than woodwork classes or academic business models from twenty years ago. With any shift in technology there is massive potential for business opportunity – but will you be proactive or reactive?