Foster’s Buerk Center translates students’ Innovation into start-ups from Foster School of Business on Vimeo.

Truly a privilege to be asked to tell a little bit about my story. Foster School of Business at University of Washington was a great experience.

What is a Michigan Man? I learned a little about that unexpectedly from the man himself, Bo Schembechler almost 25 years ago. I was in my sophomore year and in need of a hair cut. My barber at the time was Jerry Erickson at the Coach and 4 Barber Shop. I first went there because it was close to my freshman dorm, I later learned that Jerry was the barber of Michigan’s best and never charged much.
This one day, I was waiting for awhile and longer than usual, but the conversation was good. Bo, recently retired from coaching and still UM athletic director and president of the Detroit Tigers at that point, had just fired broadcasting legend Ernie Harwell. Bo’s house had been egged. It was on ESPN and was the talk all over campus. It was a barbershop full of righteous sermons about this pure sacrilege. I was about to be next when an old man in a suit bounced in and literally jumped in the the bathroom. Jerry, the barber, looked at me and said, “Mind the wait, will you?” At first I was annoyed, but I let it go. Turns out that old man was Bo. Here he was not some figurine on a faraway sideline. The man and legend in the flesh. He just canned the greatest living announcer in the great game of baseball and jumped the line at the barber shop. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Bo vented to Jerry that he was upset about the eggs. The shop agreed that it was unacceptable. I chimed in. It was clear that asking why the eggs happened was a non-starter, so I opened with how baseball broadcasters were different that other broadcasters. They paint a picture and connect with audiences. In those Detroit summers, the velvety smooth voice of Harwell made the terrible Tigers teams interesting night after night. He was not the rah-rah party animal I grew up with in Harry Carey. He was the bridge to the first great baseball broadcasters, like Red Barber. Bo listened and showed respect for my opinions in away that I never expected. I always have appreciated the respect shown and the confidence it gave me in that brief moment.

Max Effgen

Last week, I had an amazing opportunity to talk about the World’s Biggest Machine and how to fix it. These great pictures by Morgen Schuler Photography are a bonus.

Comment on Dr. Laffer’s recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece on taxing internet sales.

Sales taxes are legally due for in-state transactions. The online retailer (e.g., Amazon, etc.) does not have the obligation to collect these taxes due to the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA), enacted in 1998 and extended in 2001, 2004 and 2007 and remains in force until 2014, as well as legal precedence from the 1992 Supreme Court case Quill Corp. v. North Dakota. It should be no surprise that these legally due taxes are not willingly paid when state’s lack enforcement for sales taxes. Generally sales taxes on the Internet are not collected by any online retailer unless a company has a physical presence in the state.

Concurrently, the Great Recession has left many states with balanced budget amendments reeling. Sales taxes make up to one-third of most state budgets. A convergence of government and competitive pressures are being forced against online retailers are being played out in a very public fashion through the media and public referendum.

Amazingly, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Home Depot and Target have been actively funding interest groups, such as Alliance for Main Street Fairness, that often target large brick-and-mortar retailers as well as backing state legislative efforts across the country to attack what they say are online retailers (e.g., Amazon’s) unfair competitive advantage. States are looking for additional sources of revenue without the political burden of raising taxes in a down economy.

I agree with Dr. Laffer’s assertion that collection of sales taxes can reduce the need for income taxes. With willing accomplices from major retailers pursuing policy as a competitive pressure, I doubt states’ willingness to make that reality.

blue mosque, sunrise

A friend of mine will soon be traveling to Istanbul. The mention of travel immediately took me back to my visit there now over a decade ago. Amazing city. The sights, the smells, the history. I developed an appreciation for oriental carpets during an earlier trip to Morocco. I ended up with 6. That’s another story. In Istanbul, I was traveling with a buddy and he was interested in a small carpet. We looked around over town. Nothing worked for him and the salesmen were on the pushy side. Later that day we found Harem Carpets in Arasta Bazaar. We chatted with Mustafa, one of the owners, for a bit and made an appointment to return the following morning.

Great experience and beautiful pieces. They take a tremendous amount of pride knowing the history and origin of each piece. If you are in Istanbul check out Harem Carpets.

Edgar Martinez final at bat October 3, 2004
Edgar’s final at bat

Edgar Martinez was overlooked by the Baseball Writers of America again yesterday. Total shame.
The DH rule has been in place for 40 years this season. Ironically, the rule is older than the Mariners.
The statistics are real and even more impressive given the steroid fueled era in which he played.
He lead teams by example: 7 All Star Games, 2 batting titles and 4 playoff appearances. It is time for a truly great DH to be honored at Cooperstown.

As is often said in baseball, “Wait ’til next year.”

I am on to my next startup challenge and I could not be more excited. We are heads down at the moment, but received some nice press today in Seattle’s Geekwire.

GeekWire: Stealthy energy startup SuperCritical Technologies

Great, yet brief, take on success. Check it out.

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By far and away the most exciting baseball player I have ever seen play is Ichiro Suzuki. Traded from my Mariners yesterday. As a fan, thank you for 12 exciting seasons.

Fenway Park 100th Anniversary Game, April 20, 2012

I have been fortunate to attend some amazing baseball games. Fenway’s 100th anniversary game last Friday will join that list — not for the Red Sox play, but for the amazing pre-game celebration. Nearly all living, former Red Sox players took the field.

The best seats I have ever been in put the game over the top. Right on top of the “X” on the Red Sox dugout. The game and the players were so close you caught every word. Plus it allowed me to capture this great shot of legends Johnny Pesky and Bobby Doerr. Thanks for the thumbs up, Mr. Pesky!

Johnny Pesky, Bobby Doerr at Fenway's 100th