The Future of Minimum Wage: More Money, But No More One-Size-Fits-All

My Tuck classmate Barnaby Dorfman asked me if I would agree to do an interview for his company (payscale.com) blog on Seattle’s new law moving minimum wage to $15. Nothing incredibly new, but maybe interesting to some. At the end, I’ve also added my thoughts on the lawsuit filed by the International Franchise Association claiming that the new law unfairly lumps franchise owners in with major corporations in terms of how quickly they must implement the higher wage.

At the beginning of the month, Seattle’s city council voted unanimously to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour in stages over the next three to seven years. To get a business owner’s perspective on the issue, we spoke via email with John Pepper, co-founder and former CEO of Boloco, a Boston-based restaurant chain with 22 units across New England. Pepper told us a bit about why a higher minimum wage isn’t necessarily bad for business and what else needs to change for small businesses to thrive while paying their workers higher wages.

 John Pepper

PayScale: Do you think the $15 minimum wage is good or bad for workers and businesses?

John Pepper: $15 is the right step forward, I believe. Seattle is taking a big leap forward on behalf of the entire country, and clearly what happens in the coming months and years will be carefully watched. When I heard the news last week I applauded for a number of reasons.

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My 10-Day Juice Cleanse May Be Over… But I Have More To Cleanse

Maggie and I have been on a tortuous 10-day cleanse.  Today is day 10. We started 2 days after I arrived in Costa Rica for our month-long family adventure – Maggie, baby Bo and the girls had begun on their own three days earlier. 

I’ve nibbled on a couple of chips here and there – yes, that’s cheating – and I’ve had about 5 avocados total when really desperate in small pieces. And since I finally googled Starbucks when in San Jose this morning and found that there are actually four locations open now, I drank a tall medium roast coffee (I had ordered my typical “tall dark”, and surprisingly they told me they only serve medium in Costa Rica… still can’t believe this to be true).

The cleanse was truly agonizing for the first 4-5 days. I hated every other minute of my life. Cleansing makes me obsess about what’s next to drink, and half the time its just another strange tasting juice that leaves you feeling more frustrated than before. The one notable exception is the recipe with Spirulina and Chia that we chug at 11am every day. That is a winner. It needs to be commercialized quickly.  Joanne and Kevin are our cleansing gurus, by the way, and Joanne prepares masterful raw meals for Tom #12 and Giselle who have a house just up the hill here in Santa Teresa,

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“I think we, at a fundamental level, need to redefine the success metrics of capitalism. That they include three key ingredients: 1. Business, successful business, making money. The traditional form of success. 2. You have to be making a difference in the world, you have to be contributing in some way. 3. I think you need to be emotionally engaged in the work. You need to love the work. These three things aren’t, right now, considered the success metrics for capitalism”
Biz Stone via Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone And Bill Clinton Talk Better Business, Online Publishing, And Social Media (VIDEO)

Like that I’m hearing these sentiments more and more frequently.

UNSENT: Letter to Mayor Menino 5-15-2011 #TBT

3 years ago today I penned the letter that follows to Mayor Menino - I never sent it.  It followed a most ridiculous situation (captured nicely in the editorial below), and one that taught many people lessons about what not to do on social media based on my actions - and many others what exactly to do… you know who you are ;)

In case you are wondering, Mayor Menino never called me back.  We did, however, continue to donate many burritos to City events.

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May 15, 2011

Mr. Mayor,

It’s been less than a month since you and I spoke on the phone – Good Friday, the afternoon of April 22.  A lot has transpired since then.  And just as I promised my constituents, my wife, my daughters, and myself, I’ve moved on… I genuinely look forward to continuing to support the City’s biking efforts and any other relevant events and causes to which we are called upon to provide our assistance.  That said, our conversation that Friday coupled with the way the press and the public jumped on such a relatively minor situation will serve as a lesson for my team, my board of directors, and especially me for many years to come.

However, as the Mayor of the city millions of us love, it’s important that you hear what you were unable to hear that day we spoke.

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"Disconnecting" (September 2012)

I recently ran across this blog post that I had clearly begun to write in a moment of inspiration, but sadly never finished… it won’t be hard to guess why.

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I love technology.  Gadgets.  Tethered to me at all times. 

I remember skinny-dipping once a few summers ago up in Pointe au Baril – at the Worts’ wood-burning hot tub late at night – and swimming with my Blackberry elevated above the water as I swam with it.  It was my flashlight, I exclaimed.  Everyone thought it was a great idea.  But then someone saw what was really happening.  I was checking my email.  Swimming butt naked, at 1 in the morning, in chilling Georgian Bay waters, with friends from forever, and I was checking email as I swam.

That story alone should give one a sense of how bad it has been, and how bad it got. Dinner tables, board meetings, kids’ plays and dance recitals, airplanes on final descent, while driving (yes, #fail, I know).  It seemed necessary somehow. Productive. Fast. Boom. 

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Perspectives from the Driver’s Seat of Uber (Part 3 of 3)

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NOTE: If you are looking for an abridged version written by a professional, see Scott Kirsner’s story on boston.com

Click here for Parts 1, 2, and 2.5 of this 4 part series

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UBER LESSONS LEARNED & RETIREMENT

As I wrap up my UberX experience, my ‘lessons learned’ can be boiled down to four main topics: earnings, leveraging existing skills, performance reviews, and culture.

1)         UberX Driver Earnings

Let’s get the most basic question out of the way.  What does an UberX driver earn?

In my first 53 rides, I drove 154 miles over the course of 10.35 “rider-in-vehicle” hours and earned $664.24.  If it weren’t for that small detail of “dead time” between rides, and operating costs, this would be an incredibly lucrative job, averaging over $60/driving hour.

For me, my time with UberX has been more of an experiment (and a commitment to my friend Shabih) and not a put-food-on-the-table position, so I work hard to minimize this dead time.  While “online” with Uber, I am always on my way home from dropping the kids off at school, or from a meeting, or from completing a chore, so I am already out and about anyway. I have to get home. Now, if I happen to get intercepted with an Uber request along the way, terrific.  If not, I arrive home and move on to the other things in my life (like “what’s next” for my career!?) and don’t think a thing of it. I realize mine is not the average UberX driver mindset. 

When I factor in all dead time, I earned exactly $29.98 per hour

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Wheelock sitting on a 500-gallon barrel of rum with a Native American, forever observing his beloved @dartmouth from 200 feet above ground. Who knew? #dronepix #bakertower #dartmouth
ABOUT THE WEATHERVANE
Early architectural sketches of Baker Library included a weathervane. President Hopkins decided that the weathervane would feature a Dartmouth theme.
The architect, Jens Fredrick Larson, was busy with the rest of the Baker Library construction project, and so held a contest among his assistants for a weathervane design. The prize was a Dunhill pipe, brought to Hanover from Montreal.
A Trustee, the College Librarian, and the Research Professor of Physiological Optics were the jury entrusted to decide on the best design. Architect Stanley Orcutt’s design, “Wheelock and an Indian under the Pine,” was the winner and is the weathervane topping Baker Library today.
The weathervane was built from copper by A.N. Merryman. It is 8’9” long, 6’8” tall, weights 600 pounds, and stands 200 feet above campus.
The “keg” sitting behind Wheelock has been rumored to be a keg of 500 gallons of New England rum, referred to in the first stanza of the famous drinking song by Richard Hovey 1885:

"Oh, E-le-a-zar Wheelock was a very pious man;
He went into the wilderness to teach the In-di-an
with a Gradus ad Parnassum, a Bible and a drum
And five hundred gallons of New England rum.”

Some say it is a keg of rum, some say it is the pivot point for the weathervane.

Wheelock sitting on a 500-gallon barrel of rum with a Native American, forever observing his beloved @dartmouth from 200 feet above ground. Who knew? #dronepix #bakertower #dartmouth

ABOUT THE WEATHERVANE

Early architectural sketches of Baker Library included a weathervane. President Hopkins decided that the weathervane would feature a Dartmouth theme.

The architect, Jens Fredrick Larson, was busy with the rest of the Baker Library construction project, and so held a contest among his assistants for a weathervane design. The prize was a Dunhill pipe, brought to Hanover from Montreal.

A Trustee, the College Librarian, and the Research Professor of Physiological Optics were the jury entrusted to decide on the best design. Architect Stanley Orcutt’s design, “Wheelock and an Indian under the Pine,” was the winner and is the weathervane topping Baker Library today.

The weathervane was built from copper by A.N. Merryman. It is 8’9” long, 6’8” tall, weights 600 pounds, and stands 200 feet above campus.

The “keg” sitting behind Wheelock has been rumored to be a keg of 500 gallons of New England rum, referred to in the first stanza of the famous drinking song by Richard Hovey 1885:

"Oh, E-le-a-zar Wheelock was a very pious man;

He went into the wilderness to teach the In-di-an

with a Gradus ad Parnassum, a Bible and a drum

And five hundred gallons of New England rum.”

Some say it is a keg of rum, some say it is the pivot point for the weathervane.