Omaha teen takes lip balm idea from concept to completion — Omaha World Herald

Monday, August 17th, 2015

This post originally appeared on Tuesday December 13, 2011 in the Omaha World Herald.By Leia Mendoza
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

Daniel Schlessinger is known around campus as the “lip balm guy.”

The 17-year-old Omaha native and freshman at Northwestern University has had his college neighbors and buddies swarm his dorm room to get samples of his creation: FixMySkin Healing Balm.

Daniel even mingled with celebrities at the Emmy Awards in September to give red carpet walkers a sneak peek of the product before it was released to the public last month.

FixMySkin Healing Balm is a medicated body balm intended to heal a number of skin issues, including chapped lips and cuticles, dry elbows and heels, psoriasis, eczema, poison ivy and insect bites.

Daniel, who aspires to follow in his dermatologist dad’s footsteps, came up with the concept when he was only 12.

It was winter in Nebraska and the Kiewit Middle School seventh-grader had dry, cracked skin on his hands. So he rubbed some lip balm on his skin and wondered why it worked better than lotion, but didn’t completely heal his skin.

“It was my intellectual curiosity, I guess,” Daniel said by phone. “I was just really curious about why something like lip balm didn’t work there.”

Turns out, he learned from his father, Dr. Joel Schlessinger, that his lips and hands have two different types of skin and the hand requires a stronger medication.

“It was more complex of a problem than I imagined,” Daniel said. “And it led us into this whole journey.”

The journey began with Daniel’s idea, but his father saw potential in it and stepped in to advise and mentor his son.

Daniel researched the market to see if a medicated balm existed that could be used on lips and hands. There were lip balms with medications in them, but no skin balms that contained medications, such as hydrocortisone, or any that were specifically aimed at dry, cracked skin on the fingers or other targeted areas.

To be sure, his father hired a patent attorney to research it.

Their attorney, Roberta Hastreiter based in Atlanta, gave them the green light to move forward. The patent for FixMySkin Healing Balm is pending.

The mission to create a body balm that was portable, easy to use and medically effective had begun.

Daniel was still young and could help only so much because he didn’t understand much of the medical jargon and discussions. Even so, his father had him sit in on meetings and on conference calls with attorneys and manufacturers.

“This was really Daniel’s baby,” Joel Schlessinger said.

Even the business professionals they worked with during the process took time to explain details to Daniel, making sure he felt a part of the deal.

But, “it wasn’t an easy process,” Joel Schlessinger said.

Joel Schlessinger brought his father, Bernie Schlessinger, who has a PhD in physical chemistry, on board to help develop formulas. They knew they wanted to add 1 percent hydrocortisone in the balm, but hydrocortisone tends to glob and be messy and has a bitter taste in lip balms. So figuring out how to make it glide on smoothly and taste good was a challenge.

After roughly four years of research and 54 different formulations, they finally found the right one.

During the last few years, Daniel, who was attending Millard North High School and had taken advanced science classes, was able to understand more and get back into his creative role.

He worked with chemists after school, before track practices or whenever he had free time. He used vacations and time off from school to travel to potential manufacturers. Most recently, he spent most of his summer familiarizing himself with all of the Food and Drug Administration’s requirements and worked with a liaison for the FDA to make sure the product met all of the guidelines.

“These professionals couldn’t believe they were dealing with a high school senior,” Joel Schlessinger said.

But Daniel won’t take all the credit. Turning his idea into a reality was a “family affair,” with his sister, Claire, his mother, Nancy, and his grandmother June throwing in ideas and giving advice.

The FixMySkin Healing Balm, which went on sale a few weeks ago, has been featured in national health and beauty magazines such as Allure.

The healing body balms come in three sizes: a small jar, a chapstick size and a glue-stick size, ranging from $8 to $12. They can be purchased at Joel Schlessinger’s Omaha store, Lovely Skin, near 144th Street and West Center Road, or online. Visit Omaha.com for a link to the site.

Already, 3,000 individual containers have been sold in store and online.

Joel Schlessinger distributed the product to roughly 200 dermatologists and skin specialists at a recent convention in Las Vegas and sold an additional 200. The hope is to eventually sell the product through other vendors and retailers.

“It’s a good feeling to see all the work come together and produce a product people like,” Daniel Schlessinger said.

For Joel Schlessinger, “It was a beautiful thing to see Daniel grow alongside the development of this product.”

Contact the writer:

402-444-1336, leia.mendoza@owh.com

Copyright ©2011 Omaha World-Herald®. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, displayed or redistributed for any purpose without permission from the Omaha World-Herald.

Buy your own FixMySkin Healing Balm here.

Joel Schlessinger MD discusses navigating the cosmeceutical market on DermTube Journal Club

Friday, July 24th, 2015

Joel Schlessinger MD discusses navigating the cosmeceutical market on DermTube Journal Club
From the publishers of Practical Dermatology, DermTube offers a wealth of educational videos developed specifically for dermatologists and other industry professionals. Joel Schlessinger MD serves on the advisory board for DermTube and frequently contributes his expert knowledge through videos and other methods. In a recent video titled “Navigating the Cosmeceutical Market,” Joel Schlessinger MD talks to Nancy J. Samolitis MD about how cosmeceuticals are evolving and what effect this has on the skin care industry.

Dermatologists carefully consider products before recommending them to patients, explains Joel Schlessinger MD.

Ever since cosmeceuticals hit the market, many dermatologists have incorporated these products into their practices. Joel Schlessinger MD says that the only way for doctors to know which products are the best for their patients is to try each and every one.

“There are a huge variety of products out there and the benefit that we have as dermatologists is that we don’t just evaluate them based on the color of the tube or whether the product smells good, but we’re going to evaluate them based on their merits,” he says.

Dermatologists evaluate each product by looking at several factors including ingredients, clinical data, safety and affordability. This means that patients can feel good about using products recommended by their dermatologist.

“I think that there are a lot of things that we look at as dermatologists and we scrutinize with a much different eye than the average consumer.”

Joel Schlessinger MD discusses the possibility of the FDA regulating cosmeceuticals.

Recently, there has been some talk of the FDA starting to regulate cosmeceuticals. Joel Schlessinger MD discussed how this could potentially change the cosmeceutical market.

“Based on the FDA’s willingness or unwillingness to introduce sunscreens, I’m a little concerned about . . . the FDA getting cosmeceuticals under their purview,” he says. “At the same time, I like the thought of having some science behind cosmeceuticals and having the ability for companies to have a different track for approval of cosmeceuticals.”

When recommending products to his patients, Joel Schlessinger MD always returns to a few favorites.

Joel Schlessinger MD has tried many products over the years and he always comes back to a couple tried and true formulas.

“When I look for a sunscreen, it’s almost always going to be EltaMD,” he says.

Two of his favorite products from this brand are EltaMD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46 Sunscreen – Untinted and EltaMD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46 Sunscreen – Tinted.

“Additionally, we love products in our practice that have unique things that they treat,” Joel Schlessinger MD continues. “My son and I actually came up with a product called FixMySkin with 1% hydrocortisone in it. This product is a little balm that we can put on and it helps patients that might have dry skin issues, eczema, psoriasis or facial dermatitis.”

Joel Schlessinger MD and Practical Dermatology have partnered up several times over the years.

Practical Dermatology has been a co-sponsor of Cosmetic Surgery Forum since its inception in 2009. Led by Joel Schlessinger MD, this multi-specialty educational symposium focuses on the latest research, treatment and techniques in dermatology and cosmetic surgery. Practical Dermatology has been a valuable partner to Cosmetic Surgery Forum over the last seven years. Recently, the publication has also made significant strides in developing creative outlets to bring relevant content to the field.

Do you have a question for Joel Schlessinger MD? Share with us in the comments.

CSF Testimonial from Dr. S. Manjula Jegasothy

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Dr. Jegasothy

By Dr. S. Manjula Jegasothy

I have been attending Cosmetic Surgery Forum since its inauguration in 2007. I had known Dr. Schlessinger to be a stand-out lecturer, aesthetic innovator, compassionate physician and warm friend for sometime, so I was not only eager to support the conference, I knew that it would be well worth my time academically.

Attending the conference every year since then has been more educationally-rewarding and enjoyable than I expected. The registration and accommodation process is streamlined, while the Cosmetic Surgery Forum staff is friendly, competent and efficient. Requests are handled in a warm, personal style, rather than the “cold” corporate style of most other medical conferences I have attended. The format of the meeting itself invites total audience engagement, so that discussions are lively and entertaining. Plenty of time is allotted with each session for Q & A, which both encourages spontaneous learning from a larger variety of colleagues and discourages long “canned” lectures (with too many slides!) seen in many of our society meetings.

Because Cosmetic Surgery Forum is fun (Las Vegas during the holiday season is FABULOUS!) and educationally-unique, it attracts the highest-level aesthetic physician experts. This further adds to its value from a networking and extra-curricular perspective. My mother usually meets me in Las Vegas when I attend Cosmetic Surgery Forum, it is out “holiday season trip” together, and we never plan to stop! I cannot overemphasize how valuable Cosmetic Surgery Forum has been in my practice growth. You should attend – Cosmetic Surgery Forum is more than worth your time…

S. Manjula Jegasothy MD

President, Miami Skin Institute

Clinical Professor of Dermatology

University of MiamiMillerSchool of Medicine

Joel Schlessinger MD’s FixMySkin Healing Balm featured on Refinery 29

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Joel Schlessinger MD's FixMySkin Healing Balm featured on Refinery 29
There are often habits that dermatologists wish you would shake and some of them might not be so obvious. In a recent article on Refinery29 titled “Skin-Ruining Habits You Need To Quit,” Dr. Doris J. Day and other dermatologists weigh in on these common skin care mistakes. One of these habits, Dr. Day says, can be fixed with FixMySkin Healing Lip Balm.

This unique balm contains 1% hydrocortisone to quickly heal chapped skin, Joel Schlessinger explains.

There is a myth going around that people can become addicted to lip balm, which Dr. Day says is a trick of the mind.

“These people just have dry skin and miss the feeling of the balm when it’s gone,” she says.

Often people resort to licking their lips, which leads to dry, cracked skin or worse.

“Saliva can contain bacteria and irritants, so you can end up with a rash around the lips as well.”

Dr. Day recommends applying a lip balm with hydrating aloe to improve chapped lips. Her favorite, she says, is FixMySkin Healing Lip Balm with 1% Hydrocortisone.

FixMySkin Healing Balms were created by Joel Schlessinger MD and his son, Daniel, to soothe and heal chapped skin.

These newly patented balms were invented seven years ago when Daniel Schlessinger used lip balm to treat dry, cracked skin on his fingertips. He and his father worked to create a cosmetically elegant formula that delivered hydrocortisone deep into the skin. This active ingredient is what sets FixMySkin Healing Balms apart from other products on the market.

Hydrocortisone goes beyond moisturizing to treat and heal the skin. A quick swipe of these balms will relieve itching and heal dry skin, chapped lips, psoriasis, eczema, insect bites, poison ivy, seborrheic dermatitis and allergic skin reactions to cosmetics and other products.

FixMySkin Healing Balms with 1% Hydrocortisone come in vanilla or unscented varieties and they are available in three convenient sizes for the facelips and body.

Do you have a question for Joel Schlessinger MD? Share with us in the comments.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger’s synopsis of the 2014 Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting

Monday, May 5th, 2014

For the past 15 years I have attended the annual meeting of Berkshire Hathaway, which is arguably the best long-term investment ever in the history of investing. Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger spend six hours talking to the shareholders and putting forth their wisdom.

This year’s meeting was no different, although there were clearly more questions about succession and a bit more morbid reality among both of them. Overall, however, the outlook was positive and the plan seems to be in place for a successful transition and a well-run company.

Their outlook for the future is optimistic, as it generally has been and the stock continues to increase in value. Their insights are the big deal here, however. The following quotes and summaries of discussions are the highlights in my mind. I didn’t include any of the intricate discussions involving financial instruments as that is beyond my level of knowledge for the most part.

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have enjoyed this incredible meeting each year.

I am including this piece out of place as it was one of the most interesting and telling discussions of the day: Buffett stated that all of his shares will go to five different charities when he dies. He will ask them not to sell for 12 years and has been donating parts each year to charities already. As always, he hopes you won’t sell any Berkshire shares when he dies as they will do well. They asked why he told his wife to invest in S+P: “My wife’s situation is that she has 100% more money than she’ll ever need. I instructed my trustees to not sell Berkshire(BRK) stock until they absolutely have to…”

Munger: After Warren dies, the money will go back to the civilization in which it was earned. I like being associated with him.

There was much discussion of the fact that Buffett compares Berkshire stock book value to the S+P 500 and it has lagged in the past five years. The question was whether this is a fair comparison. Berkshire stock is so much more than the sum of the parts and the actual performance. It is like waiting for a payout at the end of a career. Charlie said it was crazy that Buffett even considered this as a yardstick and feels it is like climbing a mountain rather than just running a fair race. Buffett quote:  If this is failure, I want more of it.

Obama performance – there was a question stating that they didn’t believe Obama had performed well.  Buffett disagreed and said that his low approval rating isn’t deserved and the proof is that corporate charts are doing well and business is succeeding.

Intrinsic value of stock – Whether to sell or buy their own stock can be a game and intrinsic value is very difficult to measure.

Putting a promise to care for the business and make it prosper is part of the allure of selling to Berkshire – They have only gotten rid of a few businesses and that encourages families to sell to them. Buffett: We made promises to certain businesses based on principle. They may not be doing well, but we will keep running those businesses. Private equity firms won’t be impressed with what is on the back of our annual report, but we have a unique asset at Berkshire and others can’t compete with us. It works well. Munger: We behave the way we do because we like doing it and it works pretty well!

There was a question on the Coca-Cola board compensation issue. Buffett disagreed with the resolution, but ended up abstaining from it despite that. His son, Howard, voted for it. There was much discussion on what that meant and how to behave on boards. Buffett stated that shouting and attempting to change the behavior of others is dangerous and doesn’t always have the intended effect. “Charlie, I offend you more than most people and I’m quite pleased at your level of disapproval [on this issue].” Buffett:  “If you keep belching at the dinner table, you’ll be eating in the kitchen,” essentially saying that if he were to kick up a fuss he wouldn’t be on the board and this is about as active as he would get on this issue. Your social brain needs to be at the board table, not just your intellectual brain. Munger:  Pick your spots of disapproval. Don’t shout disapprovals all day. Pick certain ones.

Cost of capital discussion – Nebraska Furniture Mart was purchased for $60 million in 1983 while it had $4 million in ebidta. It now has $400 million for the main location and I believe he mentioned $600 million (perhaps for all of the units as he has one in Kansas City). Buying Nebraska Furniture Mart wasn’t done at a bargain price, but if you want a bargain price, shop at Nebraska Furniture Mart!

Nebraska Furniture Mart is building a huge site in Dallas. He predicts the Dallas site will be biggest home furnishings in the world by factor of two when it is finished.

Weather-related issues led to railroad problems this winter, which he says was the worst winter ever for the railroads. It is interesting that they simply can’t function well at 0 degrees or lower and that was what it was for much of the winter in the Bakken Oil Fields and north. Buffett will spend $5 billion on railroad this year and there will be a comeback.

There were some questions about their age and who would replace Charlie if he were to die. He said that with Charlie now entering middle age (he is now 90!), he can be like a canary in the gold mine . . . Warren said it was great working with Charlie and wouldn’t have done it any other way. Sadly, Charlie said: The world won’t have to worry . . . most 90-year-old men are gone soon enough. He is not worried about a succession plan, however.

For a company, available cash is like oxygen – you don’t know you need it until it is gone. Shortly after the downturn, they lent money to Harley Davidson at a 15% rate! They never expected to need it and no one else would loan it. They would have liked to have purchased Harley Davidson, but that wasn’t an option. Berkshire will always keep $20 billion on hand so they can sleep at night! Buffett: “In the next 100 years, we will need it at some point.”

He referred to Charlie as “the abominable no man.”

CEO compensation issue and greed among CEOs – He feels that if they publish the salaries of all folks at the company, it will only push up compensation. “I’ve never seen a CEO see a salary of another CEO on a proxy and say, ‘I should make less’. . .” Charlie: “Envy is destroying America. We seek to be envy dampeners.”

Munger: “You need to know how to scramble out of your mistakes. Like when the original textile business of Berkshire Hathaway failed. Imagine what we could have been if we had a better start!”

Every company has more cash than other companies in general at Berkshire and they could do a sweep account for the companies, but they don’t. Perhaps that is a shortcoming on their part, but they feel it is unnecessary because they are not big disciplinarians of companies and don’t want to keep too much control over cash. They likened it to a ‘blood draw’ and felt it could squeeze the life out of the companies. They also said they were somewhat slow to make personnel changes, even when warranted.

By the standards of the world we over trust and some see that as a weakness. That could make us look bad in the future, but it is one of the things they just do. Overtrusting is something that is a cultural issue. My comment: They were burned by it when David Sokol invested in a company they were in talks with and it reflected poorly on them.

Buffett was asked about the candy business in general. He replied that it is stagnant at this time, but has always been a big business, but doesn’t transport well and doesn’t work in some areas of the country. It has lost market share to salted snacks and other items and there is little he can do to increase the size of the market. He said that Pepsi was at one time owned by a candy company. He sees growth stalled now, but not sure what the future will hold. Here is the info on who owned Pepsi from Wikipedia:

Pepsi was first introduced as “Brad’s Drink” in New Bern, North Carolina, United States, in 1893 by Caleb Bradham, who made it at his drugstore where the drink was sold. It was later labeled Pepsi Cola, named after the digestive enzyme pepsin and kola nuts used in the recipe. Bradham sought to create a fountain drink that was appealing and would aid in digestion and boost energy.

1919 newspaper ad for Pepsi-Cola

1919 newspaper ad for Pepsi-Cola

Plaque at 256 Middle Street, New Bern, NC

Plaque at 256 Middle Street, New Bern, NC

In 1903, Bradham moved the bottling of Pepsi-Cola from his drugstore to a rented warehouse. That year, Bradham sold 7,968 gallons of syrup. The next year, Pepsi was sold in six-ounce bottles, and sales increased to 19,848 gallons. In 1909, automobile race pioneer Barney Oldfield was the first celebrity to endorse Pepsi-Cola, describing it as “A bully drink…refreshing, invigorating, a fine bracer before a race.” The advertising theme “Delicious and Healthful” was then used over the next two decades. In 1926, Pepsi received its first logo redesign since the original design of 1905. In 1929, the logo was changed again.

In 1931, at the depth of the Great Depression, the Pepsi-Cola Company entered bankruptcy – in large part due to financial losses incurred by speculating on wildly fluctuating sugar prices as a result of World War I. Assets were sold and Roy C. Megargel bought the Pepsi trademark. Megargel was unsuccessful, and soon Pepsi’s assets were purchased by Charles Guth, the President of Loft, Inc. Loft was a candy manufacturer with retail stores that contained soda fountains. He sought to replace Coca-Cola at his stores’ fountains after Coke refused to give him a discount on syrup. Guth then had Loft’s chemists reformulate the Pepsi-Cola syrup formula.

On three separate occasions between 1922 and 1933, The Coca-Cola Company was offered the opportunity to purchase the Pepsi-Cola company, and it declined on each occasion.

Pepsi’s success under Guth came while the Loft Candy business was faltering. Since he had initially used Loft’s finances and facilities to establish the new Pepsi success, the near-bankrupt Loft Company sued Guth for possession of the Pepsi-Cola company. A long legal battle, Guth v. Loft, then ensued, with the case reaching the Delaware Supreme Court and ultimately ending in a loss for Guth.

When they purchased See’s Candies in 1983, it opened their eyes to the power of brands. Its main contribution was “ignorance removal.” Munger: “We are pretty good at ignorance removal and good news is that there is a lot left. We want to purchase good businesses that are run well with good management in place and a big potential earning power.”

Coal v. green energy – I think there are a lot of folks who like a calamity and want to talk about it, (but it isn’t relevant to their work/investments now). We do see climate change and invest in both coal and other green energy. Because of their investments in green energy in wind and solar in Iowa, they got the contract for a 1 million square foot Google Data Center in Iowa. This allows Google to gain energy tax credits.

He thinks Ben Bernanke was a hero during the crash. Interest rates being this low is something we’ve never seen and don’t know how it will end but it will be an interesting story. He likes Janet Yellen as well.

Munger: If you’re not confused you probably don’t understand it very well. This is not a bubble situation with interest rates being so low but it is unusual and they are unsure when it will end.

There was a question about conglomerates and performance and the fact that Berkshire is one of a very few conglomerates that actually has worked. The question was why they worked, but no others have so far. They feel that moving capital between businesses with business principles is what should be done rather than stock indications and most conglomerates do it the wrong way (do it for stock reasons). They referred to it as a chain letter idea – it works well initially and then it blows up. They are like the Mellon brothers v. Gulf and Western, which he didn’t think succeeded.

They talked about when they invested huge amounts of capital, which they did in 2008, much to shore up the economy and create faith in America when it wasn’t there. They did reflect that investing in 2008 was too early and had they timed it (which is clearly impossible to know), they should have invested in 2009.

While initially, they invested in stocks more than companies, now it is the opposite, but it is more enduring to invest in purchasing entire companies. Buffett: I love it when we buy transmission lines in Alberta. They won’t ever be ‘gone,’ but if they do ‘go away’ we won’t know it (i.e., the world will be over)!

There was a question regarding investing in banks. They said they could have made more money buying marginal banks back in 2009 as they had more room to recover than Wells Fargo, which was a wonderful bank and did well throughout the downturn. Basically, they stated it is best to invest in something that is not the greatest if you want to see a significant return . . .

On Progressive’s Snapshot and insurance rates – they say there are all sorts of ideas for insurance and they stand by Geico not having Snapshot. They did say that if self-driving cars come around, it will be very good for society and very bad for automobile insurers. But they wouldn’t sell Geico yet as they think self-driving cars will not be here five years from now or 10 years from now as well and “30 years from now, I’ll go away peacefully without knowing how it all turns out.”

A person asked how they know their circle of competence – Buffett: “I know of a number of CEOs who don’t know their circle of competence. Mrs. B (the owner of Nebraska Furniture Mart) knew it when she took cash for Nebraska Furniture Mart and invested it in real estate and apartments rather than the offer of Berkshire stock.” Apparently, she didn’t even read the contract but her son did (she couldn’t read English). Competency is a relative concept according to Munger. “What I needed was to compete with idiots and luckily there is a large supply of them.”

When Buffett was young, he went to various CEOs unannounced and asked to talk with them. When he did, he asked them, “If you had to invest in any other company in your space other than your own, which would it be?” He then picked the company that most of them referred to. “You can learn a lot by asking. You will find your spot over time . . .”

Munger: “If you’re outclassed and in a highly competitive field, you should realize it and get out of it.” Buffett: “I had a similar experience in athletics!”

There were several hotels in Omaha that had very expensive rates for the convention and Buffett said that he invited Air BnB to open up in Omaha to alleviate the situation.

Will Geico ever overtake State Farm?  Geico passed Allstate this year. Buffett: “When I turn 100, it will be number one. I’ll do my part” Charlie: “Geico is like Costco. Good product at a low price.” Warren: “People don’t come and go at Geico and stay with the product.” Charlie: “Costco is unbelievable. Most companies talk the game but don’t live the game like Costco does.”

Talking about spending money and how to live frugally –  Warren lives in the same house in Omaha that he has been in since 1958. He called Charlie less frugal as he actually built his house in California and paid an architect. Charlie said he built it in 1960 and paid the architect $1,900 for the house plans!

Buffett: “I have everything I wanted. I don’t think standard of living equals money. I don’t think my life would be better if I had six or eight houses. It just doesn’t correlate. X or 100x doesn’t equate with standard of living or happiness.” That is part of the allure of Berkshire to investors. Munger: “We collect frugal people [at Berkshire].” Buffett: “But forget being frugal this weekend. The more you buy, the more you save at these prices at the Nebraska Furniture Mart and Borsheims!”

They talked about companies going overseas for lower tax rates – “Moving overseas to save money would be crazy. To be as prosperous as we are at Berkshire and try to move to pay less taxes if stupid. We don’t mind paying our taxes, but we don’t give a tip on our taxes either! We follow the rules and don’t begrudge our taxes.”

They talked about the intrinsic value (qualitative) v. financial factors and a stock’s valuation. Charlie’s thoughts are quality, while Warren looks at the financial aspects more.

They talked about why someone hasn’t copied them. They said that Berkshire is too difficult to copy and paid respect to Dr. Edwin Davis, a famous urologist from Omaha who introduced Charlie to Warren and explained that he did his surgeries unlike anyone else and therefore ended up with mortality rates that were unheard of through a complicated, but excellent method that no one else could imitate. Berkshire is slow to do things but does them the right way, to which Munger said, “Berkshire is so slow that you’ll be dead before it is finished.”

On inflation – it will hurt everyone. Can’t keep printing money and it’d be a shame if a bunch of politicians messed it all up.

On companies that acquire multiple companies – The sum total of acquisitions will be dumb and industry isn’t like Berkshire when they invest and therefore doesn’t have the same results.

They talked about some companies that they didn’t get. “When we see that a company we don’t own is going to have an acquisition, we cry but we do well.” Warren on mergers/acquisitions: “Most of these ideas are dumb.” Charlie: “Some are just mediocre.” On the whole, there were all sorts of gains that could have happened if these companies hadn’t made those acquisitions.

Warren: “They try hard not to just do a deal but to do a deal that makes sense.”

On talking about acquisitions – After Buffett expressed his strong disapproval of the current culture of acquisitions, Charlie said, “You know how how much more tactful Warren is.” Warren answered: “The comparison isn’t tough compared to Charlie.”

Prosecuting individuals v. corporations – They favor prosecuting individuals as that is the only way to make sure folks don’t go over the line. “We know there will be individuals who do things wrong in our 300,000 people corporate city but hope [they don’t].” The way to change behavior is to make it hit home with the individual punishments as they did with Salomon Brothers.

They talked about insuring railroads and the risks of another accident like the one in Pennsylvania. They said that transportation of HAZMAT materials is something they have to do and can’t decline and insurance will cover it even if another bad accident occurs. Compared to the Gulf/BP disaster – Charlie: “I would have less enthusiasm of drilling in Gulf of Mexico if I were BP after the spill there. Who would have thought that just one leak could lead to the huge issue and loss? We have to carry chlorine and other materials, but these won’t cause the issues like BP.”

They are now in commercial insurance is a forever play and we plan to play hard in it.

Someone asked if they intended to purchase the Clippers. Buffett: “Sports equipment isn’t a great business and we own some of it, but if we try to buy a sports team you need to look at successors to us!”

Activism looks to get prices up for stocks but not necessarily changes in companies. They said you wouldn’t want an activist to marry into the family, which was funny as Bill Ackman, the activist investor behind the Valeant/Allergan deal was in the audience. They called to mind the quote by Oscar Wilde about fox hunting when asked about activists and their activities: “The English country gentleman galloping after a fox – the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable” from the play, A Woman of No Importance.

Munger: “I think America made a mistake when they let the public schools to go to hell in answer to education crisis. The Asians aren’t making the same mistakes.”

Buffett: “Fannie and Freddie are doing a pretty decent job now and when the private sector was running things it was a race to the bottom. I think that particular experiment in privatization was a total failure and we even made a billion dollars together off of it . . .”

Brazilian partners that bought Heinz with them (3G) – Smart, hard-working, determined, never satisfied and never overpromise. They have a book about him called Dream Big, which is now in English.

How to get folks to partner with them – “The way to get a good spouse is to deserve one.”  The same thing goes with corporate partners.

Talking about the fact that they haven’t done as well lately and eventually companies don’t have huge growth – Munger: “It’s not a tragedy to succeed so much that future returns go down.”

Talking about how to teach children financial literacy – Many parents are committing financial lunacy, but they have a board game that teaches it called the Secret Millionaires Club. The best is to learn at the dinner table. Adult financial literacy is important too! Charlie: “Most of the fault is with the parents. It is hard to fix people who have the wrong parents and teach the wrong things.”

Buffett and Munger on business schools and business education – Buffet: “I’m good at raising the top higher in my field, but a lot of asinine stuff being taught in colleges for finance. The net utility was negative.” Munger:  “It was asinine.” Extraordinary universities were teaching dumb things. But they think that they are doing a little better now.

Joel Schlessinger MD and his son, Daniel, awarded a patent for FixMySkin Healing Balm

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Joel Schlessinger MD and his son, Daniel, awarded a patent for FixMySkin Healing Balm                                                                                                                                                                                         Joel Schlessinger MD and his son, Daniel, were recently awarded the patent for their FixMySkin Healing Balm with 1% Hydrocortisone. This unique formula was developed with hydrocortisone to not only moisturize, but also treat and heal the skin. A quick swipe will relieve itching and heal dry skin, chapped lips, psoriasis, eczema, insect bites, poison ivy, seborrheic dermatitis and allergic skin reactions to cosmetics and other products.

This unique balm was created to soothe chapped fingers, Joel Schlessinger MD explains.

FixMySkin Healing Balm was invented seven years ago when young Daniel Schlessinger struggled with dry, chapped skin on his hands in the middle of winter. Daniel put lip balm on his chapped fingers and wondered if there was a balm made specifically for this concern that really worked. His father, board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon Joel Schlessinger MD, and he were made it their mission to find out.

After thousands of hours of research, product development and testing, FixMySkin was born. Joel Schlessinger MD and Daniel worked to find a cosmetically elegant formula that delivered hydrocortisone deep into the skin. Additionally, they formulated the balm with a special combination of waxes that allows the product to remain solid even when warm so it won’t melt in a purse or pocket.

Joel Schlessinger MD says the creation of FixMySkin has been a great learning experience for Daniel.

“The best part of the process was seeing my son, Daniel, progress to learn so much from start to finish,” Joel Schlessinger MD said. “He worked as the go-between with the FDA approval process, oversaw the packaging and claims, and worked with the patent attorney on the trials, ingredients, and application process. No one knew he was a high school student at the time.”

FixMySkin Healing Balms with 1% Hydrocortisone come in vanilla or unscented varieties and they are available in three convenient sizes for the face, lips and body.

Do you have a question for Joel Schlessinger MD? Share with us in the comments.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger weighs in on the antibacterial soap debate

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Dr. Joel Schlessinger weighs in on the antibacterial soap debateIn recent studies performed by the Food and Drug Administration, it is suggested that antibacterial soap may not be more effective than regular soap and water. In addition, many antibacterial soaps could potentially contain harmful ingredients that could outweigh any of the benefits of antibacterial soap.

Board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon Dr. Joel Schlessinger is wary of antibacterial soaps.

“The problem is that many soaps actually contain antibiotics, which can lead to bacterial resistance,” Dr. Schlessinger said. “This is a very big deal.”

Some studies have found that antibacterial soaps may be contributing to antibiotic resistance, creating a much more powerful and dangerous strain of bacteria.

“This leaves us in a difficult position,” Dr. Schlessinger said. “We have a limited palate of products and germs that aren’t even coming close to being conquered. “

Other cleaning options also have their downfalls, Dr. Joel Schlessinger explains.

“While soap and water remain a reasonable option, the problem with them is the amount of time it takes to result in a thorough cleanse,” said Dr. Joel Schlessinger. “Generally, the rule of thumb is to sing the song ‘Happy Birthday’ twice, but how many individuals will sing that once, let alone twice?”

Other options include alcohol-based gels and sanitizers, but Dr. Joel Schlessinger is hesitant with using only these options for cleansing.

“These products aren’t as broad spectrum as other products,” said Dr. Schlessinger. “They can be very harsh on the skin due to the necessary alcohol content of 70% and they don’t provide coverage against the very important C difficile bacteria.”

Dr. Joel Schlessinger recommends regular soap, water and the CLn family of products.

CLn is a gentle and soothing family of products designed for skin prone to infection.

“CLN, which contains bleach, is one of the few antibacterial agents that doesn’t lead to the worsening of our antibiotic crisis in America,” Dr. Joel Schlessinger explains. “Bleach is a natural antibacterial that leads to eradication of germs and bacteria without the worsening of antibiotic resistance.”

“I am sticking with regular soap and water and CLn for my patients and myself!”

Visit LovelySkin.com today to purchase your CLn products and protect yourself and your family from antibacterial soaps.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger discusses the Pellevé anti-wrinkle treatment on Aesthetic TV

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Dr. Joel Schlessinger recently sat down with Stuart Brazell of Aesthetic TV to share the many benefits of a Pellevé treatment. Pellevé is a revolutionary breakthrough in anti-aging technology. This non-invasive, non-surgical treatment works to reduce the severity of mild to moderate wrinkles on the face and neck. It uses gradual radiofrequency waves to increase collagen production and tighten sagging skin. As a result, you will see an improvement in the overall texture and appearance of your skin.

In this video, Dr. Joel Schlessinger shares what sets Pellevé apart from other wrinkle treatments.

Pellevé is an excellent alternative to more invasive, painful treatments and surgeries and it can be done at your doctor’s office in less than an hour. The treatment diminishes wrinkles by heating the dermal layers of the skin. This heat helps stimulate collagen to smooth and tighten the complexion.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger says one of the benefits of this treatment is that it’s not painful and doesn’t require any down time.

“My patients often say that it feels like a warm facial massage and that they’re comfortable throughout their treatments.”

Patients can see both immediate and long-term results with Pellevé. Dr. Joel Schlessinger explains.

This anti-wrinkle treatment is gaining popularity in doctors’ offices across the country. Each session lasts anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the size and number of areas treated. Plus, Pellevé requires no anesthetics or medication.

After the first treatment, your skin will look more youthful and refreshed. Significant changes to the complexion can be seen in as little as four weeks. For best results, Dr. Joel Schlessinger usually recommends three Pellevé treatments total over a span of three months. Many of his patients also opt to come in for yearly touch-ups.

Do you have a question about the Pellevé treatment? Ask Dr. Joel Schlessinger in the comments.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger’s synopsis of the 2013 Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Dr. Joel Schlessinger's synopsis of the 2013 Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting

This was a terrific opportunity to hear two of the smartest people (possibly the most influential) of the 20th and 21st century answer questions for 5 hours.  Clearly, the contributions that Warren Buffett’s foundation has given to help in world health are incredible.  This wasn’t from the meeting, but he has personally given over $25 billion to various health initiatives via the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is MORE than Bill Gates has given (about $22 Billion).

The mood of the meeting was much happier than last year as there was the specter of the firing of David Sokol, one of his VPs, last year.  In general, both Warren Buffett (WB) and Charlie Munger (CM) were upbeat about the economy.  They always have subtle differences in their thought processes, so it is great to have the point-counterpoint of their repartee during the meeting.

Best quote of the meeting from Charlie Munger:  As far as the current financial situation in the US goes:  “Our current problems are quite confusing and if you aren’t confused, then you don’t understand it well …”

Next best quote from CM: “Knowing the edge of your competence is very important. It works very well in matrimony.”  This, actually, is one of his common discussions and there is a whole article on this here: http://25iq.com/2012/12/22/charlie-munger-on-circle-of-competence-the-second-essential-filter/

Next best was re the Euro and prospects of the EU: CM: “Europe made terrible mistakes, but they have politicians too. Letting Greece into the EU was like using rat poison as whipping cream. “

Re Facebook:  CM: “Memorializing the three dumbest things you did as a 13 year old is a dumb idea.  There’s a time when your ignorance and folly should be hidden.”

Definition of a derivative:  A new kind of asset that is good until you reach for it…

Talking about inheritances and how best to make sure kids turn out well: “More kids are ruined by the behavior of their parents than the inheritance.”  The point was also made by Buffett that an inheritance of $100 million or more is better served to give to society than to figure out how to pass it on to your heirs so they can call the trust fund once a year to get their distribution.

One of the most interesting tidbits of the meeting was a discussion regarding the Bakken Oil Reserve.  As you may know, Berkshire purchased all of the BNSF Railroad a few years ago.  This decision was made during the recession, when railcars were lying unused on the tracks and collecting dust.  There was a bit of a concern as to why they would do this when things didn’t look very good for the entire industry.  This is another one of those prescient moves by Berkshire that are now unfolding…

As it turns out, BNSF has the only rail station close to the Bakken Oil fields in North Dakota, which means they have been super busy with oil deliveries.  This year alone, they had a 3.4% increase in rail car loadings vs .4% for all other railroads, mainly due to the Bakken impact.

When asked if the Keystone Pipeline would impact this business if it is completed, Buffett answered that pipelines are quite slow in the actual delivery of oil and railroads can far outpace them.  Additionally, he quoted a figure of 650,000 to 750,000 barrels of oil a DAY for the Bakken at present and possibly up to a million barrels a day in a year or so.  This compares to 600,000 a day for the entire US prior to the Bakken being drilled.  There is going to be a huge need for transport of oil and BNSF is poised to have a major payday for that!

They were asked about the future chances for the economy and said they don’t care what any economist feels about the future, because nobody knows for sure. “We know that there won’t be a substitute for BNSF railroad because there won’t ever be another opportunity to build one like it in the US and that leaves two important railroads in the east and two in the west, so BNSF is OK.”  They said it is more important to know what is going on now as you can’t make a lot of money if you don’t.  Knowing what is going on now is more important and just as hard as knowing what is going to happen in the future!

But they did say that the new normal is going to be less. Then, they said that if a surgeon is wondering about whether to retire now or work for the next two years, Charlie says to work for the extra two years!

Intrinsic value of Berkshire:  One of the bedrock values of Berkshire is that of intrinsic value.   Basically, what that means is that Berkshire always looks for other potential payoffs for a project.  They feel that the book value of Berkshire Hathaway doesn’t ever relate the total value of the stock and feel there is, at the least, 20% in added ‘intrinsic’ value to Berkshire stock at present.  They have often stated when they feel Berkshire is overpriced, much to the unhappiness of shareholders, so this is a number to be believed.  GEICO is doing well and even though they don’t have Progressive’s Snapshot concept, they are adding 1 million customers a year at over $1500 value per customer or about 1.5 billion dollars a year.  That’s huge.  Almost all of their units are in great shape.

As for the future:  Having capital when markets are in distress will allow their successors to succeed.  They went back to 2008 and 2009 when folks were exiting the market and Berkshire was $75,000 a share, vs $162,900 now.  They invested in Harley Davidson, Goldman Sachs and a host of other companies and returned a huge profit for it.  They live for times of uncertainty as that is the best time to purchase things!

According to CM, his advice to his heirs: “Don’t be so stupid to sell your shares when we die”

They said the reinsurance business is very difficult to run in general, but they have done well with the brilliant help of Ajit Jain.  He is rumored to be the next Warren Buffett, but no formal title has been stated.  They had many good things to say about him, but mainly he has managed to adapt their risk portfolio in ways that no other company could do and avoid writing insurance that was a bad prospect.  When asked about Global Warming and the prospect for decreased profit in this industry, they said they believe it is happening, but are overly pessimistic in their insurance models to take this into account.  Interestingly, Charlie Munger is a Cal Tech trained meteorologist!

Warren: Paying up for an extraordinary business isn’t a mistake.  Charlie: We always pay too much!

There was a question as to whether they are becoming too careful and making Berkshire more of a widows and orphans stock.  They said they do have more challenges, but know a good deal when they see it and go for it, such as Heinz and BNSF.

Will the dollar be the reserve currency in 20 years? Yes, but not forever.  They said there are naturally going to be fluctuations in what is the reserve currency for the world, but when the dollar goes out of favor, that will put it in a somewhat less positive position, but not terrible.  They mentioned that Great Britain had the lead until the dollar and now they are still strong, yet not as strong.

If the rest of the world keeps bringing corporate tax rates down it puts US at a disadvantage as it forces companies out of the US.  This is something they hope is addressed.

Does the variable nature of Berkshire units lead to an unwieldy company eventually? Yes, but that is why they have the diffuse management structure they have.  If they had a top down organization it would be impossible, but this is the beauty of Berkshire and strong managers.

Their lowest entry spot for new businesses: Trying to acquire companies that are $75 million or more in business, but obviously they prefer to take on much larger companies as well.

GDP and inflation. Fed would like to have inflation as it makes their GDP look better, but obviously this has other, not so good, implications!  We may have more inflation sooner than later and it is going to be tough as this period of low interest money has been quite unusual.  Also, having Japan in trouble for so long has been helpful to the US economy as they haven’t been as much of a competitor as they could have been.

There was a question as to whether the Pampered Chef was the same business model as Herbalife?  Their answer was no, as Pampered Chef isn’t dependent upon loading up folks on stuff they can’t sell from the get go.  While it is a franchise, the issue with Herbalife is that they sock folks with large inventories and then many of them fail, predictably.  CM said: “There’s likely to be more flim-flam in selling magic potions than in pots and pans”

They talked about the transition from value investor in the early days to purchaser of large companies and said they enjoyed both, but now it was more intelligent to be into the larger companies and they couldn’t really succeed in the same way as a value investor only at this point.

When asked why they’ve succeeded: We’ve always tried to stay sane in the markets…

When asked about why they can manage so many companies well – We’ve used the golden rule when it comes to subsidiaries and tried to be a good partner to them. CM wished he had thought of the golden rule, but is still happy to use it!

Other competitive advantage they have is that there are virtually no competitors to their model of purchasing businesses and keeping them intact.  Most want to take them over, fire everyone and then reassemble them.  For this reason, they are a great resource for someone who doesn’t want their life’s work destroyed when they sell it.

Energy: Coal isn’t as good an outlook as oil, but still has opportunity.

They said that when Harley Davidson had troubles in 2008 and came to them for a large loan, they never had any concerns.  Paraphrasing quote: Any company that has folks tattooing ads for them on their chest has very little likelihood of becoming worthless.

There was more discussion about Snapshot, a tool by Progressive (a competitor to GEICO) that allows the company to install a camera/computer in the car to follow the driver’s behaviors and potentially save up to 30% and predict better drivers.  When asked why they don’t have it, they said they don’t need it to predict rates of accidents and their business with GEICO remains incredible.

When Buffett was asked if he had indeed made a list of the top 25 projects each year and then pared it down to the top 5 and forget the rest, WB said “I’ve never made a list in my life, but that seems reasonable to do.”

There were a few questions re the newspapers and why they invested in them.  Apparently, the after tax return for papers is 10% and earnings are going to go down over time, yet this was built into the price he paid for them.  Additionally, he just wanted to do it as he regards the newspaper industry fondly.

Biggest looming problem:  Healthcare costs are 17.5% of GDP in the US vs 9.5 – 11.5% in other countries which puts us at a huge disadvantage to others – WB

Biggest problem looming: CM feels securities and derivatives markets are revolting and mismanaged.  Also the fact that graduates from Cal tech and Berkeley are going into finance rather than other jobs like medicine and engineering is concerning.

There was a question as to whether solar would eventually impact their energy companies, as it is now being used in relatively cloudy countries like Germany:  CM: “Put me down as not completely charmed by the concept of rooftop solar units in cloudy areas.”

When asked about how they feel the prospects are for a child born today vs in their time they said that a child born today has much more opportunity, but competition is more acute now for those opportunities.

As for the financial arena, they said that back when they started in the 1960’s, they were drowning in ideas but no money, but now they are drowning in money, but no ideas!

Recurrent theme:  Find things you like to do early in life and you’ll do well.  You have to love something to do well at it. The intensity is part of that. Quote by Mae West:  “The score never interested me – only the game.”  This is what they related to the fact that they look at the game when they do their work and it interests them still.

 

They talked about how many insurance companies have gone off the rails by insuring stupid things or making deals that weren’t sound.  “You get offered many opportunities to do something stupid, but just have to say no.”  They gave the example of when they purchased a gas station in the 60s and there were gas wars immediately that made them sell gas for less than the price they paid for it.  This was a good example of spending money to be in a stupid business.

Paraphrasing CM: Investing in bubbles, such as the housing market is much like the commandment: Don’t covet your neighbor’s ass.  People see other people making money in flipping houses or crazy internet stocks and they say, ‘why shouldn’t I have that’ and invest unwisely.

Opportunity for women vs men:  WB talked about the sadness that his sisters didn’t achieve the same things he did, even though they were as talented.  He said that back then the result of this was that most teachers were women because opportunity wasn’t there for other professions, but that led to great teachers.  He related the story of Katharine Graham of the Washington Post who didn’t believe in herself as much as she should have, even though she was hugely successful.  He related the fact that women see themselves as in funhouse mirrors and suggested to read his article here:

http://money.cnn.com/2013/05/02/leadership/warren-buffett-women.pr.fortune/index.html?iid=F_F500M

Buffett talked about a website, www.Longbets.org, that placed odd or difficult bets.  He has made a $1 million bet that the S&P will outdo a hedge fund portfolio over 10 years.  He feels hedge funds are not a good deal after costs, etc are taken into account:

“Over a ten-year period commencing on January 1, 2008, and ending on December 31, 2017, the S&P 500 will outperform a portfolio of funds of hedge funds, when performance is measured on a basis net of fees, costs and expenses.”

PREDICTOR
Warren Buffett

CHALLENGER
Protege Partners, LLC

STAKES $1,000,000

will go to Girls Incorporated of Omaha if Buffett wins,
or Friends of Absolute Return for Kids, Inc if Protege Partners, LLC wins.

 

What is Berkshire going to look like in 5 or 10 years? BNSF will still have competitive advantage 15 years from now but not sure about Apple, which they don’t invest in. They dismissed, to some degree, math and number crunchers as they can’t always be used to advantage in evaluating companies.  Sometimes it is just a gut feeling and other factors that CPAs can’t evaluate.  Many articles and statements say that they don’t even get into evaluating numbers for risk of investment because they want to make sure there is no risk before they think about it.

From the article on competence: “Munger: Warren talks about these discounted cash flows. I’ve never seen him do one.”  [“It’s true,” replied Buffett. “If (the value of a company) doesn’t just scream out at you, it’s too close.”] 1996 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting http://www.ndir.com/SI/email/q403.shtml

Of course, Buffett and Munger can do more mathematics in their heads that an average person can do on a calculator, but the point remains.  Munger and Buffett want the mentally computable math to be overpoweringly clear and positive.  Bill Gates has said on this point:

“… being good with numbers doesn’t necessarily correlate with being a good investor. Warren doesn’t outperform other investors because he computes odds better. That’s not it at all. Warren never makes an investment where the difference between doing it and not doing it relies on the second digit of computation. He doesn’t invest–take a swing of the bat–unless the opportunity appears unbelievably good.” http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1996/02/05/207334/index.htm

 

WB related how he came to purchase shares of AMEX early on.  He was talking to the owner of Hertz cars in the 1960s, who was complaining that he had to offering to take AMEX for his business and that was going to lose him money in the long run.  He said there was so much of a hue and cry that he had no other choice.  WB said at that time that AMEX was the kind of business he needed to acquire!

Someone asked if they would now invest in airlines due to the industry consolidation and higher earnings. Reply: there are industries where even two competitors can hurt each other and not succeed!

They feel the airline industry has been an ‘investor death trap for over 100 years’, but now may finally be the time to consider it if it weren’t in the ‘too hard’ pile. So basically, still stay away from airlines.  Then, comparing airlines to railroads, there isn’t the opportunity to build another railroad, but there are plenty of opportunities to build another airline and it is a sexy idea that many folks clamor to do, so they are happy to stay with the railroads!

When asked why they still don’t do short selling (and offered an incentive to do it for charity from one of the panelists) they said, “No. We don’t like trading money for agony…but we wish you well.”

Quote by CM: “The game of life is a game of everlasting learning if you want to win…”  They talked about how every business changes and you have to adapt and that is one thing that Ajit Jain has been instrumental in arranging for them in the insurance business.

Talking about the financial crisis and US debt – They said the debt to GDP ratio after WW2 was higher than it is now, so although it is high, it isn’t as high as it was back then in relative values. They BOTH feel the stimulus plan was needed and there was no person who disagreed (Bush or Obama), yet ‘all of our problems are trivial if GDP can just increase 2% a year’. Policies just have to assure that.

They talked about Benjamin Moore paint and its distribution method. They kept their network of dealers despite being asked to be in big box stores many times and declined to purchase several other paint companies.  This has been a good decision and has kept their dealers happy, despite not having the distribution that other paint companies have.  They aim to serve the higher end of the paint market and it works, yet they admit that one company’s strategy can’t be applied to all businesses.

There was a humorous interchange between CM and WB.  One person asked if the gifts to charity that WB is donating now are causing fluctuations in the stock.  WB explained that he only gives away about 5% of his stock each year, so that is about $2 billion and that isn’t so much in comparison to other stocks that trade billions a day!  Charlie quipped: “There’s nothing so insignificant to an old man as an extra 2 billion dollars.”

Railroad car loading data shows improvement in the economy with 3.5% for BNSF and .4% for other railroads, so the economy is coming back as well as the housing market.  It is slow, but should get better.

Howard as non-executive chairman – There was some discussion on this, but basically WB thinks he will be a veto for a CEO that may not be good or turn bad after getting in power.  That is a huge concern as they don’t know how a person will react to being in power.  They have taken quite a bit of pride in not wielding their power in all businesses, such as the newspaper business.  WB said that two of their papers came out for Romney and two came out for Obama and they were proud that they didn’t tell them what to do.  Having a new CEO could have issues that require a veto.  Still, this is a huge issue.

There was discussion of the life insurance industry in general and questionable investments they had made.  WB made the statement that this was like the person who was in a switchblade fight and his opponent swooshed the blade at the neck area.  The one who had possibly been hurt says, “Hey, I’m fine” and the person with the switchblade says, ‘Just don’t shake your head…” The implication is that the life insurance industry is in for a day of reckoning.

When asked if the housing market is once again heading toward a bubble, they said they don’t feel we are remotely near a bubble in it now, but they recommend refinancing now as rates are going to go up significantly soon!

Regarding the housing bubble, they said it was unfortunate because the situation where the Fed induced folks to purchase over their ability was like the government was encouraging folks to get drunk and instead of pulling away the punch bowl they increased the proof in it!

Pack mentality and seeing falling prices in the stock market makes for great purchasing opportunities.

Regarding social media and how pervasive it is – CM:  Young people [in charge of all these companies] operating like crazy in all sorts of areas can’t be doing it very well.

CM: Accounting today is like the postal service in Italy where if you don’t like the mail piling up you can just throw away a few cartloads…

Lastly, there was a brief discussion of wills and how best to arrange them to give your children enough, but not too much. There wasn’t much of an answer to this, but Warren feels it is crazy to read the will for the first time after you’re dead.  He feels it is best to read it while you are alive so they can figure out how to execute it and you are there to give insight into why you have done what you’ve done.  Charlie disagreed with this and said it depends on the circumstances and wouldn’t ever do that.  WB said this is just one way to make sure you have done what you want, but wouldn’t do it until the kids are grown and able to cope with the inheritance and concepts of it.

–Joel Schlessinger

Dr. Joel Schlessinger sheds light on prescription drug prices

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Dr. Joel Schlessinger sheds light on prescription drug pricesIt’s no secret that drug prices are astronomical.  We see prescriptions that range from $150 to $1200 for pills or topically applied medications and there are even more expensive ones for certain psoriasis medications!

Medication prices vary greatly and it is amazing for me to see as a dermatologist the variations between pharmacies.  In my dermatology practice I recommend my patients check prices frequently, especially on expensive medications.  As the article states, Costco is king right now, but we find that Sam’s, Costco and Walmart are typically the least expensive pharmacies in our area, but it may be different where you live.  Generally, Walgreens and CVS are convenient, but you pay a huge price for that convenience.

One other thing to note is that generics, although often less expensive, don’t always perform as well as brand name drugs.  Also, sadly, the savings for generics seem to be evaporating as pharmacies are offering less and less of a discount on them and keeping the difference as profit.

We offer our very own FixMySkin 1% hydrocortisone lip and body balm to our eczema, psoriasis, cracked fingers and chapped lip patients for $8 to $12 and the alternative as a prescription in pharmacies is anywhere from $30 to $120 and no better at all (and sometimes worse)!  You may want to consider that if you have one of these conditions and are tired of expensive creams that don’t work.  You can find it at www.LovelySkin.com/FixMySkin.

Lastly, when you are at your dermatologist’s office, always ask if they are prescribing a generic or brand name drug.  If they are prescribing a brand name drug, ask them if there is a coupon for it as most drug companies offer a coupon of some sort for their medications that will decrease the costs significantly.  It never hurts to ask and it can sometimes save you hundreds of dollars!