Let Me Work

By Lloyd Graff

I’m on vacation in the Bay Area and I’m working. Today it’s a blog, business calls, thinking about options for TMW and Graff-Pinkert. I’m in a coffee shop, sipping a latte and nibbling a superb authentic French croissant. I’m staring at a majestic eucalyptus and passing bikers.

I’ve been seriously considering what I really want to do on vacation – and frankly – this is it. I’m staying with my wife at my daughter Sarah’s and son-in-law Scott’s house. I get to be with my three grand daughters, watch the Cubs on cable, cheer on American Ninja Warrior, and do business and write.

I know there are a million things I “should” do on “vacation.” Hiking, RV’ing, museum’ing, I could go to Norway and cruise the fjords, maybe Australia too, and then there’s the majestic beauty of Alaska. I have the money, I probably even have the time (who knows), but I have no desire to do that stuff any more. I’d rather do work, family and Cubs. For me, my work is a challenging mind game each day. Bridge and chess don’t do anything for me, but the intricacies of a negotiation for real money is endlessly fascinating. As the machinery business has become a global bazaar it makes it even more fun.

The 3am email from China or Slovenia may screw up my sleep and annoy my wife but it’s definitely more exciting than a prostate call. And the beauty of email makes it possible to do business on weekends and holidays. The Fourth of July is a work day in Europe, Asia and Brazil.

I know I am extremely fortunate to have my work also be more avocation. Maybe I’ve worked hard most of my life to be able to get to do it now. But I’ll take it – happily. And I’m really enjoying the croissant, too.


The grand Tesla argument is in full swing now. Elon Musk is actually going to do what he promised he would do, build a $35,000 sexy American electric car and mass produce it, to the tune of 20,000 per month by December. He has pre-orders for 400,000 cars. And Goldman Sachs is hating on him – or at least his stock.

Musk has used the Amazon strategy of building a company from scratch by using borrowed money and hype. There is a furious tug of war going on between the bears and bulls.

The stock is $315 per share today, valuing the company at $51 billion, more than General Motors or Ford. Tesla is losing gobs of money as they simultaneously gear up to build the midsize car and build the monster battery plant in Nevada.

Meanwhile, Musk is also heavily involved in his reusable space launch company, SpaceX and his Boring Company which proposes to use a high speed tunneling concept to circumvent Los Angeles’ clogged highway mess.

Musk is overextended in every way. The stock is down 15% in the last month, but is still in outer space according to the doubters.

I find Elon Musk the most amazing entrepreneur of our day. He actually builds things and knows that he can fail on any of these ventures, but he keeps defying the naysayers. One day the Goldman Sachs’ers will be right and the stock will plunge like his rockets sometimes do, but folks like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos do absolutely remarkable things between the misses.

Question: What is your ideal vacation?

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18 thoughts on “Let Me Work

  1. Avatarallen

    The one gigantic flaw in Musk’s strategy is that his electric car/battery empire’s built on the conceit of environmental morality.

    The assumption is that enviro-cred will be a sufficiently strong selling point to keep people buying his cars until technology and time make electric cars competitive with internal combustion-powered cars. They’re nowhere near that now even with the vast subsidies dumped, and continuing to be dumped, into their development. And retail sales. And infrastructure development.

    Is there any part of that brilliant, electric-car future that isn’t utterly dependent on subsidies?

    No, and subsidies go on only so long as there’s the political influence to support them. Granted big outfits like Archer Danials Midland and General Electric have lent their influence to keep that tap open but it’s a lot of money. As the political tide of environmentalism recedes there will be a lot of folks eyeing that money.

    As for Hyperloop, I’m not at all sure it serves a worthwhile purpose.

    First, at least in California, it competes with Jerry Brown’s boondoggle, high speed rail with which it shares a few qualities. The worst of those is the inherent rigidity of the technology.

    Like rail a couple of hundred years ago, you travel on the schedule dictated by the technology with precious little flexibility in any other regard as well.

    Want to bring your bike? Sorry, doesn’t fit. How about your bass boat? That doesn’t fit either. 6,000 gallons of milk or 80,000 pounds of boutique toilet paper? Nope.

    Building Hyperloop will reduce passenger traffic on “Los Angeles’ clogged highway(s)” but those highways wll still have to be maintained since Hyperloop, and rail, are at best an adjunct to the highway network and not a replacement. Can we afford both?

    My ideal vacation? A lot I haven’t seen/enjoyed in the good, old U.S. of A. so there’s that. Israel sounds interesting as does Spain. England’s interesting as well plus I speak the language. A lot of possibilities.

  2. Avatarmichael ottenweller

    Oh, brother, i am so with you on the “non-retirement” retirement. I think a lot of us boomers will hang around well into our 70’s
    I did have the pleasure of hiking Zion and Brice Canyon in mid May. Something every person should see!
    Musk is an absolutely amazing maker. I hope he can keep it going!
    Keep writing, always enjoyable.

  3. AvatarJD

    To continue to work beyond financial necessity is complete and utter foolishness. Do you really think you are going to live forever, or that people will remember or care about your work?

    1. AvatarMarvin

      Awe JD … Let the guy do what he likes. He is in his comfort zone and will need to deal with his own regrets if he has any. Some of us (especially Toolies) just need to grapple with machines and or what they make or design once in a while to make the heart feel good. Besides; he has his writing and the atmosphere he is in sounds comforting. I like to do both as well and the add in music and little travel and a lot of family and I feel comfortable too!

  4. AvatarCharles D Schultz

    Ditto on retirement. If I laid down on a beach someone would run for a harpoon. Please ignore naysayers like JD. As long as you are enjoying your work it really does not matter if there is a lasting impact on the world.
    With regard to that ugly “subsidy” word folks want to attach to alternate energy methods: What do you call years of tax credits, land giveaways, and cheap leases to the oil/gas/coal industries? Not to mention the taxpayers being on the hook for trillions in environmental clean-up costs. While I think it is laughable that Tesla Motors has a higher market valuation than other car companies, Wall Street and all stock markets operate on the Greater Fool Theory. As long as people buy the shares they will keep offering them. Does anyone talk about the hundreds of car companies that “failed” up to this point in time? Or the number of gas/oil/coal outfits that swallowed up investor cash? No, because the fools have short memories and modern economies need failures as much as success. It is a big Monopoly game and we cannot all be winners.

  5. AvatarArt Santana

    Follow your instincts Lloyd; there is a point that it is not about the money anymore, rather the love for what you do and contribute to society. Can you just toss all that experience, wisdom and little secrets you have accumulated over the years? I hope not. Heath permitting, I will be busy as long as I can, do I need to work as hard? no, no need anymore. I have seen too many people retire and basically be gone or become useless in a hurry.
    Just spent 4th of July across the border, price of gas there $3.90 a gallon, price of gas at my son’s in Wyoming? $2.12. Gridlock in Tijuana and San Diego? We need to continue researching and finding an alternative to fossil fuels and mass transportation.
    Best vacation? wherever you have nice weather, a beach, great food and family. Luckily there are many places like that that anyone can experience close by.

    1. AvatarMarvin

      I agree Art with most of what you say but I do have a problem when folks call them “Fossil Fuels”. They are not any more fossil than the watch I wear. If peeps really thought about all that garbage that the EPA and Left Leaning Universities and Good ol’ Hollywood tries to sell us, they would probably have some of the best combustion engines in the world to use for whatever. This is not say anything bad about electricity but it does have it limits compared to what each of them need to carry around with them for “fuel”. There is room for everyone, I just wish the hysteria would end and let the competition begin. Somes going to like one and the others the other one …. I do have an issue with novelty businesses leading the way but hey it’s their money.

  6. AvatarRuss Ethridge

    This falls in the category of “everyone’s choice is correct.”. You do what floats your boat, and sometimes that means working because you need money or working because you need something to do, or playing golf three times a week, or hiking the Oregon trail with your kids, or some combination or work, recreation, and family. There is no right answer. I have a 94 year old friend who cannot sit still. He has two dozen businesses around the country, and he visits a couple of them every week. His light reading is a P&L, and his wife said he gets itchy after a day or two at his vacation home. Work IS his play. Of course, your perspective is shaped by the work you do. I can imagine that the interest of a deep coal miner in working longer is vastly different than the interest of an artist or even a desk jockey. Mostly, it is about remaining engaged.

  7. AvatarBob Ducanis

    Could you please describe an ‘authentic French croissant’? Is it air-shipped to Seattle from France? Can’t you locate one in the Chicagoland area?
    In Seattle? I’d take car on ferry across Puget Sound and head out to Olympic National Park. Head to Hurricane Ridge or further out to the Hoh Rain Forest. Eat salmon.

  8. AvatarDave

    My Grandpa worked until he was 83, died when he was 84. Think he just wanted to get away from Gramma. My dad worked until 79, died when he was 80. Due to heart problems, I quit working at 63. Just turned 66 last Friday. That part about dying a year later has had me concerned for a couple years.

  9. AvatarDonnie M

    I really like the south west. Years ago while on vacation on my motorcycle, another friend on his we went from Indiana down through Texas, New Mexico, AZ, San Diego and all the way up the coast on Pacific Coast highway, 101 I think. Redwoods etc. All the way back home to Indiana through the northern states. Also been thru Zion and Bryce Canyons in Utah. Rocky mountains.. Been through all 48 continental states except for Wyoming. Parts of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. All on motorcycle in the 1980’s. Never would have done that in a car as I lived on those 2 motorcycles. I don’t ride street anymore, seen to many idiots on the road anymore, texting, distractions etc. I have fond memories of those days. Sleeping in rest areas, cemeteries, golf courses, parking lots all in just a sleeping bag. I don’t do that any more either but what memories! We went out southwest earlier this year and I love the wonders like the Hoover Dam, grand canyon, went through death valley. That was so desolate and beautiful in its own way. I want to go back next winter and spend a week in death valley. America is beautiful! get out there and enjoy it! I sure don’t regret it!

  10. Avatarrick

    I will probably work until I die just like my father before me.

    Are there NO engineers here? or have they all drank the Kool-Aid?

    The most efficient transportation today is still so called “fossil fuels”.

    It takes approximately 16 times more weight of batteries to equal the same energy contained in gasoline or diesel.

    Where did I read that if we lighten the vehicle it is MORE EFFICIENT? and if we add weight it takes MORE ENERGY?

    Does no one actually study physics or engineering any more?

    As for the so called “fossil fuels”, I ask why are the Russians finding HUGE oil fields over SEVEN MILES down, were the dinosaurs hanging out in the nether regions of the “underworld”?
    Oil and gas are naturally occurring and there is an incredible amount that defies any true scientific calculations of some dead dinosaurs.
    It is the Russians pushing our environmental agenda behind the scenes, because they want to control the energy market. Follow the money.

    Regarding electric cars, WHAT A WASTE OF RESOURCES!!!
    rare earth minerals, and batteries that last only a few years.
    And do YOU want to wait many, many HOURS to “fill up”?

    These useless devices have and continue to rely on government mandates, subsidies and political motivations.

    Let the market decide winners and losers. We would still be driving Studebakers if the government had their hands in the mix.

    All Electric Vehicles do is move the tailpipe in the back of the car to the smoke stack down the road. Remember, we still get 3/4 of our electricity from burning those EVIL so called “FOSSIL FUELS”!
    But if you don’t see the exhaust pipe, it still makes you feel good that you at least think in your feeble mind that your saving the planet.

    Remember the rolling blackouts of California? They are again coming! Hope you have a “windmill” on top of your beanie!

    The whole CO2 myth is a hoax!
    What EXACTLY is the correct amount of CO2?
    NO ONE knows
    Why are greenhouses pumped full of carbon dioxide?
    Why have the temperatures NOT increased over the past 18 years?
    Why has the NOOA manipulated and “ADJUSTED” the temperature readings?
    Why are the readings not just the data, and be left as they are?
    Why does no one speak about Climate gate at the University of East Anglia where numerous emails show how data was manipulated to prove the predetermined script of Global Warming, strike that, “Global Climate Change”.
    And can we control the carbon dioxide spewing from politicians mouths?
    Believe the myth? – No problem live it and love it
    get rid if your Air Conditioner and use NO heat in the winter, pedal your bicycle wherever you go.
    GET OFF THE GRID! including this blog and ALL energy sucking interwebs and phone systems consuming ecologically unfriendly rare earth elements.
    Lemme know haw that goes?
    send us a letter.

    Want to eliminate the burning lots of fuels?
    YES I said it! But that too is verboten!

    Energy is life, Liberty, and Freedom!
    Control that, and you control the populace, that is the end game, with a “SAVE THE PLANET” “HAPPY FACE”!!!
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    I love my 300 plus horsepower V8!
    0-60 in under 7 seconds
    I can fill up in less than ten minutes for another 300 miles at over 80 MPH.

    Time for a vacation after all this writing, enlightening and ranting.
    I cannot stand the hot weather, the hazy, hot, humid days of New York City are a killer!
    Give me a snowy peak and freshly waxed and sharpened skis!
    I guess I’ll check travelocity for some cheap fares to the Chilean Ski resorts next weekend.
    I wish I had access to ALGORE’s private charter jets that spew so much carbon dioxide for the happy flowers to take in and enjoy.
    I can’t wait for winter to come!!!

  11. Lloyd GraffLloyd Graff

    I love the comments. Allen, you are on top so many things. I know the electric car floats on subsidy today, but you still have to admire Musk’s guts and resoursefulness to build the company against such huge competition.
    Bob, if you had the croissant you would know what I mean. Lots of folks speaking French in the Voyageur du Temps in Los Altos.
    Rick, I am with you on the Climate Change baloney. I am HIGHLY skeptical. I see it as a “beat up the U.S.” ruse. Obama was stupid enough to love self flagellation by joining the Club of Fools in Paris. Love your Al Gore reference. Lloyd

  12. AvatarSara Ragnini

    Lloyd, Never stop writing I look forward to your stimilating feedback. You make us think and discuss our differences. Surprising we really aren’t that different lke the awful media protrays. Will it ever stop? I think we have stopped listening. Keep making us think!!

  13. AvatarDonnie M

    Amen to all of Ricks comments! The whole climate change is one of the biggest and most deceitful hoaxes or lies told! Its out right fraud. I think we have quite a lot of oil way down there, the only problem is the dipsticks are in Washington. The climate change is only about power and control of the masses. Can you say ” global government” That’s the whole goal. Just as it was said about Al Gore, he doesn’t care about the environment flying around in his jet. He should fly airlines if he was really concerned.

  14. Lloyd GraffLloyd Graff

    Sara, thank you. We can argue and not hate demean. Writing the blog forces me to face my own biases, expose them and see how the balls bounce. I have come to hate the media I used to laud like The New York Times and Atlantic, both of which I still read because amidst the lynch Trump gibberish are some astute pieces. Bret Stephens just joined the Times which means they still want the occasional contrary piece. David Brooks still wtites interesting stuff but The Times atmosphere seems to be exhausting him. The Times also ran a very good piece about the battle between Uber and the Black Taxis in London which is a microcosm of the cultural and political battle in England.
    I am not objective. God forbid. But I will try to be thoughtful yet provocative. Glad you are reading.


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