The JSE Blog

I read a statistic that the average person spends nearly 60% of their working life in the office… that’s over 25 years of continuous work. A full third of our life! If we’re spending that much time at work, we may as well enjoy it.

That’s what the JSE blog is all about.

In our monthly posts, we publish (what we hope to be!) helpful business tips both for folks in the industry and the business community in general. Upbeat and insightful pieces that run the gamut from business etiquette (no silver spoons or doilies, we promise!) to creative marketing ideas, personal branding and professional presence to business communication tips. We share our own business experiences and the sage advice of business experts, with bits of interesting (and sometimes kind of quirky) research we’ve found along the way.

In short, this little corner on the internet is dedicated to helping our readers strengthen their professional presence, enjoy those 25+ years at the office, and fight the good fight on a professional level. To quote my high school vice principal, it’s all “good stuff.”

We hope you enjoy reading our posts as much as we enjoy writing them. As always, send us line if you have any special requests!

Thank you for reading.

Lenka Walldroff

The Ant and the Grasshopper

Aug 1, 2015 | JSE Blog |

The JSE Blog


I read a statistic that the average person spends nearly 60% of their working life in the office… that’s a full third of our life! If we’re spending that much time at work, we may as well enjoy it. 

That’s what this little corner of the internet is all about. We publish upbeat and insightful pieces with business tips that run the gamut from business etiquette to creative marketing ideas, personal branding, improving professional presence, and communication tips. 

To quote my high school vice principal, it’s all “good stuff.” We hope that you enjoy reading our posts as much as we enjoy writing them… 

Thank you for stopping in! 
Lenka Walldroff

The Ant and the Grasshopper

Aug 1, 2015 | JSE Blog

It doesn’t take a futures trader to have an intelligent discussion about the fluctuating prices of crude oil-thanks to 24 hour media, the general public gets debriefed daily. Although OPEC aims to keep the cost of crude around $30/ barrel, in June of 2008, thanks in part to a trifecta of geo-political instability, a weakening dollar, and the burgeoning recession, a barrel of crude was selling at $140. Ouch.

Many of us have tried to block that memory. $140 barrel of crude oil translated into a $4 (plus!) gallon of gas- and increasingly more creative fuel-saving schemes on the part of Americans. They say that necessity is the mother of invention…

Well, here we are again- but in the inverse situation. It seems that the news has spoken of nothing else lately but the oil glut that has been crashing global crude oil prices. Currently, the cost of a barrel of North American crude oil is bouncing along in the mid-$40 range. While that price has not yet been re-flected at the pump, the news has already had a psychological effect on consumers. Consumer spend-ing and non-mortgage debt has risen in recent weeks as news of a forecasted drop in fuel costs has loosened the wallet, and the psyche, of the average American.

Enter “The Ant and the Grasshopper”- that famous fable from the ancient Greek storyteller Aesop. A Reader’s Digest recap here: the fable concerns a grasshopper that spent the warm months singing, dancing, and generally goofing off, while the ant worked diligently to store up food for winter. When winter arrived, the ant was well prepared and comfortable while the grasshopper found himself in a bit of a pickle. The proverb is well known for its lesson in the value of hard work, and the importance of plan-ning for the future. It may also provide a reflection on the fluctuating energy sector.

It’s well known that high oil prices raise public interest in alternative energy sources and high efficiency equipment. As oil prices drop, however, the payback on alternative energy systems increases which then decreases interest. Ditto for high efficiency equipment. Like the grasshopper, the markets reason that $1.20 gallon of propane isn’t so bad- and it’s certainly cheaper than solar panels, which can run in the neighborhood of 20K after rebates.

In low-cost energy markets, the grasshoppers sing. But what about the ants?

The ants look at the historic data (and perhaps read a few articles in the newspaper concerning the in-ternational political scene) and deduce that oil prices fluctuate and in all likelihood will rise again. Then they take a hard look at the ant colony’s HVAC equipment. How old is the system? Is it running efficient-ly? How soon will it need to be replaced?

Ants understand that an inexpensive energy market, like the one that the US is currently experiencing, is a great time to upgrade HVAC equipment for more energy efficient models. Why? Because, as Thomas Paine, an 18th century English economist and all around demagogue so aptly observed: “That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly”: the grasshoppers are not thinking about conservation when energy is so inexpensive. That disinterest is reflected in energy efficient equipment prices, and creates a golden opportunity for the ants.

Although the cost of efficient HVAC equipment rises with each new year, the cost is exponentially higher when energy costs are high. Buying energy efficient equipment now will save money, both in the current market (cheap energy can still be cheaper with energy saving equipment!) as well as in the future, when equipment costs soar along with the energy prices. Another point to consider: in an expensive energy market, the cost of a system overhaul (on top of already steep energy bills) is a double hit to the wallet.

A word to the wise: don’t sing the summer away- save when the saving’s good!

 

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