Monthly Archives: May 2022

Does Money Care?

By Lloyd Graff

Should I sell a CNC lathe to some company in Iran, not knowing if they are making missile parts which may be used against the United States or Israel? 

Should Blackrock, one of the biggest investment firms in the world, try to influence the corporations it makes huge bets on to follow its notion of climate change behavior? 

Should I invest my child’s college funds in Philip Morris because of its reliable quarterly dividends, even if I believe tobacco products cause cancer? 

Does money care where it comes from or where it goes?

Because I am a sports fan, I would rather take on the intriguing and controversial case of DeShaun Watson, one of the great quarterbacks of the NFL. 

Watson was picked by Houston in the 2017 NFL draft as the 12th pick out of Clemson. He has more than justified the selection, leading the Texans with almost 5,000 passing yards in 2020. The Texans signed him to a $177.5 million contract extension with $111 million guaranteed.

But Watson was unhappy in Houston and requested a trade. Then the ceiling fell in. Twenty-two women filed civil lawsuits against Watson accusing him of sexual harassment, but still no criminal charges were filed in Texas. 

DeShaun Watson, celebrating his 2016 win with Clemson University

Watson went to summer practices but sat out the 2021 season while the Texans, the courts, and his agents saw his career pass by. By 2022, it became clear that the allegations against him would not be criminal. A financial settlement was likely, and Watson would never admit wrongdoing.

At least five other NFL teams desperately wanted him, especially Atlanta, where he had been a ball boy in high school and was a personal favorite of Home Depot founder and team owner, Arthur Blank.

But ultimately he ended up in Cleveland with the Browns, who had an unremarkable quarterback in Baker Mayfield, who had led the Browns to the playoffs in 2020 but was somewhat disappointing last season.

Watson signed a $230 million contract with Cleveland, but he still faces possible penalties from the NFL and has lawsuits from many women hanging over him. 

Watson continues to testify and still strongly professes his innocence. He is personable, bright, and very rich. The Cleveland Browns finally have the quarterback of their dreams. 

Well, maybe.

Are the Browns tainted for paying $230 Million to an accused sexual harasser?

The team has been an NFL doormat for decades. Watson could be the one to end their futility.

How does his signing make you feel?

Question: If DeShaun Watson played for your team, would you root for them?

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150 Episodes Often About the Machining World!—EP 155

By Noah Graff

Today we’re celebrating the milestone of 150 episodes of Swarfcast. This is actually Episode 155. We just didn’t get around to doing this one until now. I hope you enjoy as we look back at four of our favorite past episodes spanning the last four years. Four years! Not much has happened for me? Besides getting married, surviving a pandemic, and having my first child a month and a half ago.

Scroll down to read more and listen to the podcast. Or listen on your phone with Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite app.

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Making this podcast I’ve been privileged to meet and learn from a ton of interesting people and then share our conversations with the world. When we started the podcast we racked our brain to find some interesting guests. What we quickly discovered was that rather than interviews with famous people or “experts” on manufacturing or business topics, often the interviews our audience liked the most were with owners of machining companies. Every machining company runs differently, and people love to learn how others approach the same type of work they do.

In today’s podcast I inserted some old clips of two past interviews with owners of machining companies. In Episode 63, I interviewed David Wynn, CFO of ABF Engineering, a third generation screw machine shop in South Fulton, Tennessee. Wynn’s business philosophy is to run his machining company as though it were a modern tech company. This is somewhat ironic because at the time of the interview in 2019, more than 50% of the company’s work was produced on ancient Brown and Sharpe screw machines. One of ABFs management strategies that sets itself apart from typical machining companies is its undefined work hours. Its employees have the flexibility to work when they like and choose how many hours they work, as long as they get their work done and do it well as a team.

Lloyd and Noah Graff recording 155th podcast

Another clip I included in today’s podcast comes from Episode 121, Finding Customers Through Great Networking with Jay Sauder. Jay’s company Sauder Machine in Plymouth, Ohio, makes casings for mechanical pocket watches as well as wheel cylinders for horse drawn buggies driven by Amish people. Jay is Mennonite, which has enabled him to develop a customer network of Amish companies. He also has a large customer base of companies not owned by Amish people, but he says all of his customers came to him through word of mouth, as opposed to advertising on the Web or using salespeople.

Over the past four years, I have interviewed several experts on the show who have had a profound effect on my life. One of my all-time favorite interviews was Ep. 80 and 81, with negotiation masters, Chris and Brandon Voss, who wrote the best selling book, Never Split the Difference. Chris is a retired FBI hostage negotiator who adapted his negotiation skills for use in the business world. In the interview we talked about the advantage of having one’s counterpart in a sales negotiation name price first, as opposed to starting a negotiation with a high asking price or extremely low offer. We also discussed why it is best to make the other party in a negotiation say “no” rather than “yes.” Over time, I have incorporated their techniques into my daily personal and professional life. I still sometimes watch video clips from the interview to review some of their brilliant lessons.

Another interview that has had a profound influence in how I approach my life is Episode 123—How to find Serendipity with Christian Busch. Busch is the author of the book, The Serendipity Mindset: the Art and Science of Finding Good Luck. He gives strategies to enable people to “be in the right place at the right time.” One of his techniques to find serendipity in conversations he calls “serendipity hooks.” The concept is to purposefully bring up topics that inspire connections between people.

For example, if someone were to ask me what I did for a living, instead of telling just them I was a used machinery dealer, I could say, “I’m a used machinery dealer, I also have a podcast, and I love salsa dancing.” That response would create three possibilities for interesting conversations, rather than just one that might not lead to talking about anything of substance.

Christian also emphasizes the importance of keeping one’s eyes open for serendipity. If a person believes that important “lucky” things might happen on a given day, there is a better chance they will.

Interviewing all the interesting guests on Swafcast creates a fountain of serendipity that really energizes me. I need that energy because making a podcast is often a grind! Thankfully, I have some good help to make the podcast possible. Ridgely Dunn, our Managing Editor, gets these pesky blogs and podcasts up, takes care of social media, and helps make the whole thing happen. Our editor Patricio Garcia does a good job making me sound a little smoother than I really am on the mic. Obviously, Lloyd is the great Lloyd Graff! He is the creator and nucleus of Today’s Machining World. He is my occasional cohost, mentor, and most importantly my dad.

Much of the podcast-making process is fun, and it fulfills my need for a creative outlet to some extent. Perhaps one day it will be a profitable business. But what really motivates me to make Swarfcast is the propose it gives me. I’m not a heart surgeon helping people cheat death, or a therapist helping someone cope with depression, or a philanthropist working to end world hunger. It’s easy to identify purpose in those occupations. Swafcast is my vehicle to effect a lot of people, to leave my mark on the world, at least just a little. If 500 people listen to it and 1000 people read the summary and they learn something important, or they reflect on a new idea or just have a nice 45 minutes of diversion, I feel purpose. 

Questions: 

What is one of your favorite episodes of Swarfcast?

Would you like to appear on the show?

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Where Have All the Men Gone?

By Lloyd Graff

Why aren’t kids wanting to go to college, especially guys? 

I’ve been intrigued by this question since seeing the stats showing college enrollment continually dropping over the last decade. We are now at the point where women comprise almost 60% of college students, although in our politically correct world I am probably offensive to some if I choose a gender. 

We just received the latest bombshell from the esteemed Harvard College newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, which published an unsigned group editorial in support of boycotting Israel for its apartheid policies towards Arabs. 

I see this as related to the falling enrollment at many colleges. Harvard has given up on standardized testing because it would force them to admit too many Asian applicants with perfect scores and unblemished grades. That court case will be decided at the same time the abortion case will be ruled on by the Supreme Court. It probably will not be pretty for Harvard, which heavily favors the Bush and Obama kids and its many other legacies. Poor Harvard, but I am sure it will fight fiercely for its history, which also includes slavery.

Harvard’s fight song by Tom Lehrer

I can see the indifference about college in my oldest granddaughter who is an excellent student. She loves theater much more than the academic world. She is also having a problem finding a school where a Jewish woman who cherishes Israel can bond with a group of people who dare to come out as Jews. Can you blame her after last week’s Harvard Crimson unsigned group editorial? 

For men, the increasingly belligerent wokeism of college faculties makes the campus life I loved at the University of Michigan more of a nostalgic memory for alums than a real place for an 18-year-old kid, who also will face at least a $100,000 in school loan debt if he stays around to graduate. Heaven forbid he becomes a high school teacher or social worker. He will have debt until he’s 80 unless President Biden decides to forgive it. 

It also appears the well-publicized examples of billionaires like Marc Zuckerberg and Bill Gates who dropped out of school almost immediately to seek their fortunes as entrepreneurs may be influencing the career paths of young people. Noah recently did a podcast with a young man from Wisconsin who moved to Bozeman, Montana, at 21 after completing technical school. He worked at two machine shops for four years, making his own parts for bicycles on nights and weekends. At 26 he started his own 1-person machining company and made enough money to quit by age 40. Now he spends the majority of his time on his passions, snowboarding and mountain biking. He still does some machining as a hobby.

The old myth seems to be fading that going to college, getting a desk job in a big office, and collecting a gold tie clip after 40 years was a life to hope for. Even with the current decline in college enrollment, much because of obscene tuition costs, not enough desk jobs are available for the huge volume of college graduates trying to play that game. On the other hand, jobs in the trades are in demand and growing in popularity. 

The lefties have done a good job of turning good colleges into factories of AOC followers and Bernie Sanders lovers, but the trend seems to be shifting just when they thought they had won the culture wars and silenced questioners.

Thank you, Harvard, for making everything more clear this past week.

Question: Do you need to go college to be successful?

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You Have to Trust Your Gut

By Noah Graff

It’s strange how at Graff-Pinkert we sometimes can be so tentative about specing on a used machine that we’re supposed to be experts on but then surprisingly decisive buying something more obscure that we know very little about. 

Sometimes we find a used machine that we are unfamiliar with, but still the opportunity seems intriguing. We often have to decide how much to bid for machines at auctions of which we have only seen a few photos on the Web. We have to decide whether or not to trust strangers overseas selling machines for $50,000. Then, even if the machines we buy show up in good condition, there is no Kelly Blue Book to tell us the value of cam screw machines from 30 years ago. 

Trust your gut

I used to think that decisions were best made when a person leaves emotion out of the equation. But I’ve learned it’s scientifically impossible to truly do that. Humans can only make decisions if they have emotions. The key is to prepare as well as we can before we hold our breath and trust what our gut is whispering to us. We do research, talk to supposed experts, and role play situations internally. Then we have to have to take a leap of faith. Yes? No? Something more complicated? The key is to make a decision—to be clear with ourselves. Indecision in all aspects of life usually yields poor results and almost never feels good.

Questions: 

When do you feel most indecisive?

What’s one of the best decisions you’ve ever made?

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Sports Refuge

By Lloyd Graff

The war in Ukraine is a genocide. The economy is a perplexing complex of boom and missteps. Politics has degenerated into angry posturing and eliciting cheers from your fans rather than changing the minds of voters who are capable of listening to challenging ideas. 

Today I will write about SPORTS.

***

The NBA playoffs are in mid-flight, and I am loving it. 

The game has evolved. The caliber of play is much better than I have ever seen. Defense is active, incredibly athletic, and mobile. It has to be better, because the 3-point shot has revolutionized the game since Daryl Morey as General Manager of the Houston Rockets used statistics to deduce that a good three-point shooting team would win more often than even a disciplined screen and drive team. Players 7ft tall are shooting and making 3-point shots. Guards like Steph Curry win the MVP award and get endorsements for cryptocurrency exchanges. The NBA has become a world game that now challenges soccer, with immense popularity even in China.

NBA teams draft players come from around the world. Giannis Antetokounmpo, AKA the Greek Freak, is reigning MVP and should win the award again. He is 27 and so phenomenal his team, the Milwaukee Bucks, put his brother on the squad just to cheer. He is not good enough to play much, but nobody cares. 

With the 24-second clock dictating the speed of play, fast breaks are cherished, but when the pace slows up enough to set up plays, the old days of big guys with hook shots playing the pivot are now over. Wilt Chamberlain would have had to alter his playing style. Today’s game is pic, roll, drive, and pass to the corner for the 3-ball. New stars like Nicola Jokić, Ja Morant, Luka Dončić, and Devin Booker invigorate the game year after year. Streaming networks are currently featuring various series based on Kevin Durant, Jerry Buss, and Magic Johnson. LeBron James has become a billionaire with NBA and Nike money. The NBA is the world game, the NFL is the American white guys game, and Major League Baseball is still looking for the next Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays.

***

Kenny Pickett’s hands

The NFL just held its annual draft. Despite the enormous emphasis on the passing game, only one quarterback was picked in the first round. Kenny Pickett of the University of Pittsburgh was chosen by the Steelers as the likely replacement for Ben Roethlisberger who has been playing since the Vietnam War. Pittsburgh ownership has always been unorthodox in how they run the team. They keep head coaches for 20 years. Mike Tomlin was the first black head coach and is still there. Now they have drafted a quarterback with the smallest hands in the game. Will he prove the cynics wrong?

Ending the NFL discussion, the North Dakota State Bisons likely will soon have produced two starting NFL quarterbacks, Carson Wentz and Trey Lance. Wentz plays for the Washington Commanders (not Redskins) and Lantz for San Francisco. What are the odds of that?

***

Last, a little about baseball. 

Major League Baseball continues to slip in popularity, but as an old white guy, I still love the game. They keep tinkering with the sport, but the players and managers cannot seem to make it better by jiggering with it. Computer analysis of millions of pitches and thousands of games have shown that shifting infielders can deprive hitters the chance to get on base. This approach has crippled most left-handed hitters who pull the ball. It is almost impossible for them to hit a ground ball through the shift into right field for a hit. 

Add to this today’s pitchers’ improved ability to throw sinking fast balls to the bottom of the strike zone or just below it, and the catchers’ talent for “framing pitches,” making them appear to be strikes. This has reduced batting averages by 50 points. 

One of the beauties of baseball is that the players adjust over time. We are starting to see left-handed hitters learn to hit to an empty left field side, but power hitters who get paid for pulling home runs are still struggling.

Baseball could eliminate shifting. It is being tried in the Minors, but the game is very slow to change. 

I keep watching. The Cubs could be contenders in 2024 or 2025.

I miss you, Ernie Banks.

Question: Who will replace Tom Brady and Aaron Rogers as the great quarterbacks of this decade?

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