Mark Tuminello

Finance & Business Professional

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Crunchbase

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When Crunchbase essentially restarted their site a few months back, it was a little scary. They simply deleted all of the accounts on the site and made users start from scratch. Now, that’s not as big a deal as it might seem – there was really not much you could do on the old version of the site. It was really just a way to crowdsource information about businesses and professionals. So when I wanted to update some information about my listing, I had to create a new profile again. I was surprised to see that there still was nothing else I could do with the site other than basic edits to a public profile.

But when I logged in today, I saw that there were some changes…hopefully a sign that the site is planning even more additions, which would be a welcome change!

Now you can follow the profiles of businesses and professionals that are catalogued throughout the site. What does ‘follow’ mean on Crunchbase? I don’t quite know yet, but I’ll be keeping my eye on my email after following a few people and companies as a test.

In the meantime, I’d love it if you would follow me on Crunchbase. I hope to have exciting professional news coming out over the next few months and years, and this would be a great way to keep up with all of it!

Looking forward to more additions to Crunchbase functionality soon…

Mark Tuminello Crunchbase

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Students Want More

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What happens when a brilliant person, a leader in their field, just isn’t a great teacher? It’s a problem if they’re teaching an important university-level class. Students in England have been complaining about just this situation, and it seems like academic institutions are making changes to deal with it.

One of the more common reasons students believe teachers aren’t doing their best is their work outside of the classroom. When a teacher is writing a book, conducting major research, or managing some other important project, they cut back on attention to students. Feeling that their tuition is the source of teacher wages, students are dismayed.

PhD students, who make up a large portion of one-day teachers, usually participate in a mandatory three-day training program. There they learn about different learning styles, how to manage a classroom, and general education. More recently, PhD students are presented material pertaining to their particular subject. It is generally believed, in academic circles, that teacher training gets better and better with each passing year.

But the students have a perception that the teaching isn’t all that great. While they need to develop as learners, their perception is ultimately very important for academic institutions to survive. It’s ultimately an issue of consumer needs – when students pay so much for their education, their expectations are high. One wonders how sustainable that is.

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What it will take to convince Americans to embrace more free trade

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Originally posted on Quartz:

Today, the US trade deficit shrunk unexpectedly as a new record in oil sales abroad boosted American exports. Though exports have helped boost the economic recovery since the 2008 financial crisis, American elites worry that growing populism, driven by fears of lost wages exploited by opportunistic politicians, is a major barrier for the US effort to ink major international trade deals.

“Most Americans believe trade is going to hurt them,” John Veihmeyer, the chairman of the auditors KPMG International, said. “Joe Public on the street has heard the soundbite,” Irene Dorner, the CEO of HSBC USA, said. “People are running for cover,” Jon Huntsman, the former US Ambassador to China, added. “If we were to take any kind of vote on Capital Hill, I’m not sure it’ll pass. I’m not sure we’d be able to do what we’d done in the past, where there was kind of a bipartisan consensus. I’m not sure that exists.”

These leaders in business and politics…

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Child Reading Tips…for Adults

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An answer from the social question/answer site Quora was syndicated recently on the Huffington Post (welcome to the 21st Century!) about helping children develop strong reading habits. It turns out, there was a lot of great advice for adults, too!

Turnable pages when reading at night. Light from social devices, sometimes referred to as ‘blue light,’ activates our brains to the detriment of sleep. Paper books still have a use for us humans, for the time being anyway.

Read only so long as interest is maintained. This is great advice. So many people I know will finish reading a book even if they don’t enjoy it. It can feel strange to stop reading a book, even more strange to get rid of it, but why continue if you don’t like it. It’s actually a bad habit that will decrease your enjoyment of reading.

Ask questions. We’ve all been on a reading kick and found ourselves burning through books quickly. Did we really take things in? Did we retain information for longer than a week? Often, the answer is no. If we stop and ask ourselves what exactly is happening, engaging our brain with the material more, we’ll be able to get more enjoyment from reading.

Don’t switch to digital just because it’s cool and new. Don’t stick with paper books because technology annoys you. Give each medium a try and make a rational decision about how you better enjoy reading. Factor in the weight of the device, transport, price, storage, the ability to share, etc.

If you haven’t heard of Quora, it’s a social network where users can ask questions which will be answered by other users. There are a lot of similar sites and networks – what sets Quora apart are three main things. First, the site and app are both very well designed, which attracts more serious users who might not be interested if the design was poor. Second, the content is curated to some degree by a very active staff of administrators. They rephrase questions, adjust tagging, and who knows what else to make sure the site works as a cohesive voice. The experience is much better as a result. The third thing that sets Quora apart is the community, which is devoted, large, and intelligent. This is partly a result of the design and admin work, but there’s also an ethereal stickiness about the site that has generated that minimum amount of activity to keep things interesting. I highly recommend it!

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Alternative Investment Opportunities for Young People

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Young people tend to have less spare money, which means their investments tend to be a little on the conservative side. A recent Guardian article discussed options for alternative investments that could be appropriate for people in their early 20′s who are willing to take on a little risk for some extra returns.

What’s really important to remember with investing is that there is no guarantee that there will be a return on the investment, and sometimes not even a recovery. It would be wise for any investor to be prepared for the worst.

Young people are familiar with crowd funding, and there are similar options in equity. This gathers up multiple smaller investments and turns it into a much larger one, opening up a variety of new options for people with less money to invest. Crowdcube, just one option, has only a $15 minimum. Because young investors will presumably have less money than the average person, it would be smart to make sure they only invest a small percentage of their liquid money into equity crowd funding. The Guardian offers a 5% maximum.

Another option are person-to-person lending, with companies like Lending Tree. Instead of putting money into a bank account, it goes into a protected account and lent to other people. There are risks of losing the money, but there are also significant gains to be made. Apparently no P2P platform have any worse than a 3% default rate, which is decent. Many companies have some kind of contingency money that can help recoup losses. These platforms offer much better returns than a standard savings account – up to 15%.

There has been a great deal of growth and increasing interest in groups like these, with lots of money being offered to startups. The space is still young and open to big players. There is a lot of potential. While a lot of the sites and platforms are very shiny and attractive, but young people still need to be informed and cautious about the industry.

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Reagan at Reykjavic – Obama in Syria

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Thomas Friedman blogged recently about the book ‘Reagan at Reykjavik: Forty-Eight Hours That Ended the Cold War.’ The book is by Ken Adelman, the man behind that administration’s arms control agency, an advisor at the 1986 Iceland summit with Gorbachev.

There’s a lot of new information about Reagan in the book. It contains newly declassified documents that shed light on the early stages of an agreement that would eventually lead to a major reduction in nuclear warheads. What Friedman found particularly interesting (and makes this book sound so great) is the way Reagan recognized how different Gorbachev was from other Soviet leaders. Reagan saw potential there when his intelligence team didn’t.

Friedman also takes the opportunity to contrast the world of Reagan with the world of President Obama. While Reagan was facing a ‘Communist superpower that had thousands of nuclear missiles aimed at us!’ Even still, he says, Obama’s world is a much more difficult one. The reason being that Reagan’s enemy was another source of world order. The cold war was fought on creating as much order as possible (communism vs capitalism) and reinforce weaker states around the world to win support.

Today, things are much more complex, less binary. There are many divisions, some of which are regions of disorder. There’s no leader with whom to bargain. In a world where groups of people consider people our enemies, complete with power vacuums, advanced weaponry, and technologically advanced communication, ‘just one needle in a haystack can hurt us.’

Gorbachev was the enemy in the 80s, but he later won a Nobel Peace Prize for peaceably allowing eastern European states become independent. The Islamic State will never win a Nobel. Even the Soviet Union with all its communist differences, it was still a western power. When Reagan faced something similar to what Obama faces now across the middle east, in Lebanon, he saw that there was no fight to win there – only nation building. So we left.

The book sounds great, and Friedman’s comments, while not up everyone’s political alley, are very convincing.

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Global Trade Growth Slowing…

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There has been some celebration in the news regarding the recovering US economy, with the GDP gaining some momentum again. A recent post on The Economist points out that any celebration ought to be tempered with a more macro view of things.

The blow to optimism comes on the heels of an updated forecast from the World Trade Organization, which reduced the prediction for international trade growth in 2014 from 4.6% to 3.1%. 2015 was also cut from 5.3% to 4%. It’s a significant reduction with large global implications, but the article points out that even the new forecast is optimistic. Trade from January to June of this year was 1.8% – which means in order to meet the prediction of 3.1%, we need a serious rebound before December.

The trouble is coming from South America. Sure, Asia’s exports are growing much faster than it’s imports, which isn’t helpful, but South American exports actually fell by nearly 1%. Imports were even worse, falling 3.4%.

Struggling and developing economies saw smaller growth rates than the larger powers, which means the pendulum of market share is still swinging out in terms of market share.

What’s strange is that we enjoyed a tremendous period of growth in 2010, which we haven’t matched yet. This is all a result of a slowing of growth in emerging markets. The lack of Chinese demand for imports isn’t helping, either. Then there are the geopolitical issues that have direct effects on the global economy, such as the tough winter in the US in the first quarter, the Russian sanctions, and the rise in Japanese sales tax.

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