Insights For Success

Strategy, Innovation, Leadership and Security


TSA agents may steal your belongings

Airlines, Airport, Holidays, Money, One Bag, Security, Travelling, iPadEdward KiledjianComment

Would you be surprised if I told you that some TSA agents have been caught stealing from passengers?  The TSA is reporting that  an agent at JFK may have stolen up to $5,000 in cash from passengers as their personal affects rolled down the screening conveyor belt.

Another TSA employee, this time in Dallas, has been put on administrative leave because he may have stolen up to 8 iPads from passengers. MSNBC interviewed (Nico Melendez ) a TSA spokesperson who made some interesting recommendations for travellers:

  • He recommends putting all your valuable items (cash, watch, wallet, phone, etc.) in a zippered pocket in a briefcase. I couldn’t agree more. Never drop valuables in a plastic bin where a good thief can steal it in the blink of an eye. Make is as difficult for them to steal as possible. Personally I put my valuables inside one of the many inside pockets of my Scottevest jacket, then zip the pocket and zip the jacket.
  • He recommended never checking in valuables. He says that in addition to TSA screening, a checked luggage may be handled four or five times by airlines (by up to 10 different people). I read this and wonder why people still check in luggage.
  • He says that sometimes passengers pick up the wrong luggage (from the carousel) and therefore lost luggage may not have actually been stolen but rather taken by mistake. 
  • He also highlights the fact that items often get forgotten in “resolution rooms” after a more detailed inspection. So double check to ensure you packed up all your belongings if you get sent to secondary screening.
  • He recommends adding clear identification to all your belongings to ensure your items can find their way back to you if misplaced. I agree with this recommendation but with one caveat, never list your address.  If a thief knows you are heaving to Cancun on vacation and picks up your address from your luggage tag then he can more comfortably rob your house while you are away. I recommend listing your name and a cell phone number.

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Canada's WestJet to charge more service fees

Air Canada, Airlines, Airport, Holidays, Money, One Bag, Travelling, WestjetEdward KiledjianComment

Westjet is Canada’s second largest airline and it recently announced that it has found opportunities to double “ancillary revenue”. Ancillary revenue is income derived from non-ticket sources. One of the possible sources of new income “could be” checked baggage.

The Westjet CEO said more specifically (according to Reuters) that they are carefully watching airline industry practice of charging passengers a fee as of the first checked bag (Air Canada charges $25 as of the first checked bag).

This provides more motivation to be a onebag traveller. I will be travelling to Asia next month using only a carry on and some Scottevest clothes with lots of pockets. Stay tuned as I will be blogging product reviews, tips and tricks.

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Investments, MoneyEdward KiledjianComment

Humans are very opinionated. We have opinions about politics, economics, sports and everything in between. Enter the wacky world of prediction markets. These are speculative markets where market participants bet on future uncertain events.

Just like the stock market, you make money by buying low and selling high. The most popular of these markets is InTrade.

"Intrade isn't just an entertaining website.  It is the latest iteration of one of the most important economic developments of modern times."

David Leonhardt, Economics Reporter, The New York Times

It is important to note that many economists denounce the accuracy of these new markets but I am willing to bet most of the participants just want to make a bet and hope for the best (like the lottery, casino or stock market).

As I write this, the most popular "markets" are US politics:


The concept is pretty simple. If you believe the event being sold will occur then you BUY the market. If you think the event being sold will not occur then you SELL the market.

Intrade itself is a market and not a market maker. This means that in order for you to buy or sell, someone else in the market must be willing to take your counter-trade (aka an opposite position). If no one is willing then you cannot enter or exit a trade. Intrade is not a market maker and will NOT take your counter-trade.

Ok Mr know-it-all, this is your chance to prove just how good your instinct is.


Research shows that Nice Guys DO Finish Last

Behavior, Management, Money, Motivation, Organization, Persuasion, Team buildingEdward KiledjianComment

If you have read any self-help books, you have undoubtedly read the adage “Nice guys finish last”. Now research from Notre Dame and Cornell Universities show how being too agreeable negatively impacts your earnings. 

More recent research from Stanford, Northwestern and Carnegie Mellon) continued on the same path showing that people who are overly caring, for overs, generally tend to make bad leaders. In particular, being overly nice generally means that you will likely fail in 2 important leadership domains: prestige and dominance. Prestige comes from sharing within their group while withholding gave the person dominance. 

The researchers said:

We predicted that contribution behavior would have opposite effects on two forms of status – prestige and dominance – depending on its consequences for the self, in-group and out-group members. When  the only way to benefit in-group members was by harming out-group members (Study 1),  contributions increased prestige and decreased dominance compared to free-riding. Adding the  option to benefit in-group members without harming out-group members (Study 2) decreased the  prestige and increased the perceived dominance of those who chose to benefit in-group members via intergroup competition. Finally, sharing resources with both in-group and out-group members decreased perceptions of both prestige and dominance compared to sharing them with  in-group members only (Study 3). Prestige and dominance differentially mediated the effects of contribution behavior on leader election, exclusion from the group, and choices of a group  representative for an intergroup competition.

Their research showed that in situations of group competition, individuals preferred having a dominant leader over a prestigious one (since the prestigious individuals were perceived as more submissive). So nice guys (the ones that share) are seem as prestigious and thus nor thought worthy of leadership during trying competitive times.

You can therefore assume that when things are going great and no major competition or risk is felt, people then prefer a prestigious boss.

Prize Linked Savings - encouraging people to save

Finances, MoneyEdward KiledjianComment

We all know people love to play the lottery. For only a couple of dollars, they can dream big dreams for a week. The sad truth is that many people choose to play the lottery instead of building a nest egg. After all, putting a money aside is good but it doesn’t carry the chance of winning big. Or does it?

There is an interesting invention (in some parts of the world) called a Prize Linked Savings account. It allows people to save money while giving them the thrill of the lottery (all without risking a penny). The concept is simple, it collects the interest accumulated by all of the savers in the plan and awards it (via random draw) to one lucky person. Everyone else get’s to keep their money. In the UK, it is called a Premium Bond.

A South African bank tried this scheme to encourage the population to save. The response was so overwhelming that it impacting the South African government’s lottery revenue so they sued the bank and stopped the program.

A Prize Linked Savings Account test was run in the state of Michigan and the results were interesting: “56 percent of the Michigan participants in the program were non-savers prior to the program”. 


Unfortunately many jurisdictions (including my own – Canada) make this type of program illegal to ensure there is no competition to the state run lottery corporations. Changing the laws to allow for these types of unique and attractive savings mechanisms is simple but politicians lack the will to push them through. After all, government is addicted to spending our money.