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  • An article appeared recently arguing that there is no tradeoff between inflation and employment: Can one of you knowledgeable economists enlighten me?  I was under the impression that inflation would tend to reduce “real” wage rates while nominal wage rates remained the same or even increased.  If “real” wage rates fall, then labor is cheaper and more of it can be purchased, hence an increase in employment.  That has been my understanding. Reference this section from Human Action: Specifically: In the boom period that ended in 1929 labor unions had succeeded in almost all countries in enforcing wage rates higher than those which the market, if manipulated only by migration barriers, would have determined. These wage rates already produced in many countries institutional unemployment of a considerable amount while credit expansion was still going on at an accelerated pace. When finally the inescapable depression came and commodity prices began to drop, the labor unions, firmly supported by the governments, even by those disparaged as anti-labor, clung stubbornly to their high-wages policy. They either flatly denied permission for any cut in nominal wage rates or conceded only insufficient cuts. The result was a tremendous increase in institutional unemployment. (On the other hand, those workers who retained their jobs improved their standard of living as their hourly real wages went up.) The burden of unemployment doles became unbearable. The millions of unemployed were a serious menace to domestic peace. The industrial countries were haunted by the specter of revolution. But union leaders were intractable, and no statesman had the courage to challenge them openly. In this plight the frightened rulers bethought themselves of a makeshift long since recommended by inflationist doctrinaires. As unions objected to an adjustment of wages to the state of the money relations and commodity prices, they chose to adjust the money relation and commodity prices to the height of wage rates. As they saw it, it was not wage rates that were too high; their own nation’s monetary unit was overvalued in terms of gold and foreign exchange and had to be readjusted. Devaluation was the panacea. The objectives of devaluation were: 1. To preserve the height of nominal wage rates or even to create the conditions required for their further increase, while real wage rates should rather sink. 2. To make commodity prices, especially the prices of farm products, rise in terms of domestic money or, at least, to check their further drop. 3. To favor the debtors at the expense of the creditors. [p. 790] 4. To encourage exports and to reduce imports. 5. To attract more foreign tourists and to make it more expensive (in terms of domestic money) for the country’s own citizens to visit foreign countries. However, neither the governments nor the literary champions of their policy were frank enough to admit openly that one of the main purposes of devaluation was a reduction in the height of real wage rates. They preferred for the most part to describe the objective of devaluation as the removal of an alleged “fundamental disequilibrium” between the domestic and the international “level” of prices. They spoke of the necessity of lowering domestic costs of production. But they were anxious not to mention that one of the two cost items they expected to lower by devaluation was real wage rates, the other being interest stipulated on long-term business debts and the principal of such debts. To me, this indicates that the policy of inflation is intended to lower “real” wage rates, lowering the cost of labor, and creating a condition where more labor can be purchased. i.e, an increase in employment.  And thus, a relationship between inflation and employment. What is the flaw in this argument?  

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  • Would love some input on this one. I live and work mostly in a state where on the northern border cannabis is legal for medicinal use and on the southern border lies a state where cannabis is “legal” for both medicinal and recreational use.   Get this…if I travel to Colorado and use a legal product and, upon my return be subject to a random drug test by my place of employment I will be instantly fired if I show THC at the “detectable” level under my company’s zero tolerance policy.   How is this fair or right…or even “legal” for that matter?  Has there been any court challenges to this type of scenario?  Does this sound insane to anyone?

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