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#Business and #Finance ~ FIFO, LIFO, and AVCO

13 Mar

As always, this lesson is not intended to be professional advice. This is simply lesson material for ESL students in an introductory Economics and Finance class. Posted here for their use or for helping other students. 

Although they might sound more like little dog names (“Here, Fifo!) the terms FIFO, LIFO, and AVCO are actually extremely important terms in Accounting, Supply Chain Management, and Business!

Image result for Fifo

The company wants to know, “What is our Profit this year?” “How much Money did we make?”

Hopefully, you already remember this ~

Profit = Revenue – Cost 

This sounds pretty easy!  But actually it isn’t -_- . . . . in fact each company may count their profits in a different way!

Let’s look at how this happens Continue reading

Success ≠ Smart. Success = Effort + Time + Determination

10 Jan

Success 3.jpg

Students often complain to me that they don’t feel “smart” enough to compete against their peers — either in the school system or later in their careers. They worry they don’t have the skills, the knowledge, or the ability to do what they want to do.

Over and over, I hear the same argument in my classroom — “But I’m just not one of the smart kids. I can’t get an A.”

However, success (in my experience) is rarely dependent on intelligence or mental ability. Sure, being smart may make Success easier — but it doesn’t determine if success occurs. Success depends on a willingness to put in the work, the time, theattention, and the heart. I have learned that there are very few things the average person cannot learn to do WELL, if they are willing to really try.

I recently had a conversation with a student who was unhappy with the group she had been assigned to — “None of us are A students. We don’t have a smart team member, and I want a good grade.” I asked and found out her group consists of about 4 team members that I happen to know have really been working hard this semester. It is true, they have gotten D’s and “F’s” on some projects in the past, but these students have been getting Bs on their assignments this semester and were really putting in a lot of work. I mentioned to her that I thought they had a pretty good chance since so many people were interested in working hard on her team. “You just don’t understand. We can’t do it. We don’t have anyone on our team from the smart students. No one can do our work to get a good grade.”


I tried to explain that she was sabotaging her own team with this kind of approach. Her team were invested in this project in a way that many other students were not. She had a team of 5 people who wanted a good score and had proven that they were willing to work for it. Three of them want to go to the west to study and realized they needed the scores to get into the western program. One of them wants to go to Portugal and work for a non-profit he is passionate about, but knows he has to get out of college before his dad will pay for the trip. One of them has already taken the class last semester (a repeat) and is determined not to take it again (too humiliating and he misses his girlfriend). Sure, they may not have gotten As in the past, but that did not mean they could not get an A this time. These students had gone from Ds to Cs to Bs — why couldn’t they be the A student now? They had an interest. They had time (two weeks of no classes). They were willing to put in the effort. There was NO reason why they could not be just as successful as the students who it came easy to. Even though the project might be more difficult for her team and it might take more time and attention, they still had a really good chance.

There are some subjects in school that always came pretty easy for me. We all have those favorite classes, and in general I’m pretty quick to understand some things. English, History. Grammar. International Relations. Psychology. Cultural Studies. Art. Humanities. Computer Skills and Technology. Graphic Design. Those classes, I got. Sure, I studied. But it wasn’t particularly HARD — just interesting.


Math and Science were NOT on that list. I have a not-so-secret hate relationship with science (no love) and a general dislike of certain math. Algebra and geometry are fine, but calculus? It doesn’t come easy to me the way it did to many of my classmates. I was an honors student and landed in a course with students who were math majors (or from Asian nations that I’ve since learned teach math differently, and I think more effectively) and flew through the material. It seemed like they just grasped concepts automatically that totally bewildered me. In fact, there was one question on my mid-term that I couldn’t even start to comprehend how to answer. Afterwards, I talked to the professor, he gave me some tips and said try again. I tried and tried. A week later, I went back to him — it still didn’t make sense to me. He explained some more. I tried again. This went on for almost a month. But at the end of that month, I clearly understood the concept he was sharing. I spent hours in my teachers office that semester and hours more on my own or with my friends (and the very kind guy who often sat and helped me with in-class assignments) working and working and working.


To be honest, economics originally did not come easy for me either. My teacher was really good at math and assumed everyone in the class understood why graphs go certain directions or take certain shapes. He kept throwing around vocabulary I was unfamiliar with and using all of these abstract explanations and drawing connections that seemed to me to be out of thin air. “Thomas buys more apples, so the supply curve goes here.” “This is of course diseconomies of scale.” Why?!? and What?!? -_- I spentweeks studying for those exams. I poured through his textbook and PPTs. I found other economics textbooks online and read them. I read article after article. I used all the online school websites. I went BACK to my calculus teacher and asked for help. I worked with my mom (she has an MBA in economics and business). I worked with friends. I memorized and studied over and over.

Some A’s I got easily, I am not gonna lie. For my A in Calculus and Economics, I worked my butt off. Those As weren’t because I was “smart” or “one of the A students” — I got them because I worked and read and practiced. I did hundreds of practice problems. I talked it through with people. I studied and watched help videos. Most importantly, I figured out my own style of learning and adapted my classes to fit my own needs. I created my own PPTs. Instead of using normal notebooks, I bought an art book and treated economics and math like an art class. I drew the graphs in different colors so I could see the patterns and flows of ideas. If the picture didn’t make sense, I drew it again and worked my way backwards. I created step-by-step patterns to explain the connections, instead of trying to jump from theory to conclusion. I used lots of symbols and arrows and images to help myself. I am a part visual – part kinesthetic learner. So I made it fit my style. Once I found the way that worked for me, I put in the time and started mastering my subjects.

You know the funny thing, of all the classes that came easy to me and that I was “smart” at . . . I am currently teaching Business, Economics, and Law. Now, the law — that’s one of the easier ones for me. But Business and Economics? It’s all back to those dreaded graphs and charts and theories that I struggled with in college. But today — it makes sense. I get it. The theories are logical, the equations come out in a reasonable way. Of course the demand curve slopes downward when the price goes up, no one wants to pay more money for extra products. If I bought the first product for $5, why would I pay you $6 for the second? Oh, you mean that I have a farm, and the more land I use for apples means I have less land for oranges. So apples and oranges form a substitution problem in supply? Sure! It makes sense to me.


I still use my drawing books. I still use colored pens and markers. I still draw picture after picture. I still check and double-check my graphs when I come to them to make sure I understand them correctly before moving on. You can see from my other posts that I like using pictures and emojicons and symbols still today. I often explain things in a very simple manner at first and follow a very step-by-step process to lay things out. I still draw all over the blackboard and my PPTs are full of graphics and examples. Almost every point I make, I add an example so students can see how that would play out in real life. In fact, I think my own struggles at the beginning have made me a BETTER teacher than I would have been if it were easy from the start. When students are confused or look at me with that “0_0” stare, I get it. I know where they are coming from because I too was totally lost and wandering in a theoretical graphing hell once upon a time.

Today, I love economics. It’s one of my favorite classes that I teach. I love the way it combines business with history, psychology, culture, and international relations (four of my great loves). I find it fascinating that we can study what is happening in Venezuela today and see predictions for the future in other nations. To see patterns and trends in the way people behave and act. To know that the Chinese dislike for super sweet treats has impacted demand for Oreos, leading the to creation of many “Chinese” flavors like Green Tea and Mango. The goal being to increase taste and thus quantity demanded instead of focusing on price (which is already fairly high for a treat in China). To be able to basically predict the future. It’s kind of, pretty much, awesome.

My point is, you don’t have to be smart or intuitive at something to succeed at it. You do not have to be the best in the class. It does not have to be easy. In fact, the harder you have to work for it, the more you usually appreciate what you learned in the end. The better you become at explaining it to others. The more you had to study it, I find the better you are at adapting situations and understanding how it works when the fact patterns change. Because you studied it for so long, you understand it thoroughly, like an old friend. Becoming good at something or doing a good job doesn’t always come because your IQ is high or because your “one of the A people.” It’s more about effort and a willing to put in extra time and attention.

If you are willing to put your heart into something — you should be able to succeed. And if it’s harder for you than others, well that is just that much more impressive!

Success 2

*Update: The team got a 91 on their project, and the teacher said they were one of the better ones he’s seen in a while. He was impressed with how they used the textbook material from other chapters to help support the one they were assigned to. See! Success!


Final Exams!

6 Jan

​For the week when you have:

  • 200 📑#ESL Essays to grade
  • 310 📊 #Economics Exams to give & grade
  • 162 🌎 International #Business Exams to give & grade
  • 500 🖥 Final Scores to enter

all before the week is done. ✍💼

We need #Cola,  #Coloring Pens, and #Chocolate!!!  Bringing out the big guns! 


*(means #Fighting! in #Chinese)

Vote Sugar for Participation!

26 Dec
Me: Your assignment is NOT a presentation — you are supposed to lead a class discussion.
Student:  I don’t understand.
Me: You ask the class questions and get them to participate and talk. 😐
Student:  Our grade means the class has to TALK to us? But teacher, this is not the China way. Maybe we do not like to talk in class. Maybe we will all have a very bad grade.
Me (in my mind): Welcome to the life of the laowai laoshi (foreign teacher) and the struggle for participation!
Me (in reality): You can do this. Maybe call on people one by one. Or ask your friends to help you. Or offer the first person to talk candy.
Student: . . . . . . . 😑
WeChat 5 minutes later . . . . “You may use every way to force your classmates to work for you. Teacher Olivia recommends sugar.”
Me: Bwahahahahahahahaha . . . Behold, the power of sugar! 😝😆🤣🍡🍨🍬🍭🍫🍰🎂🍪🍩

China #Book Art

19 Dec

​Awwwww, my #student got me this beautiful bookmark for #Christmas. It looks like the Traditional Chinese cut-out #art – with #bamboo leaves and simple window pane style. Love it!

What is a Noun?

13 Dec

What is a Noun? 什么是名词? When a word tells us the name名称or title for something, it is a noun. 名词是某事的名字。A noun is a word that names a person, place, thing, quality, or idea


  • Person: Mary, mother, child, teacher, doctor, secretary, King Henry
  • Place: forest, country, China, home, racetrack, grocery store
  • Thing: notebook, pot, bottle, calculator, sun, cell phone
  • Quality: kindness, peace, hope, anger, love, passion, loyalty
  • Idea / Theory: socialism, utilitarianism, moral, interest, obligation


Question: What is it?

Answer:  “It is _________.” 它是 _________. The missing word is a noun.

Continue reading

Education SUPPORTS Training

11 Dec

One of the things I wish more college professors focused on  was explaining WHY classes are important.

I have found that my students repeat the same idea:  they expect their jobs to prepare them for their work. They believe that when they start a job, the company will give them training and experience. They will start on the bottom and, as they are trained, work their way up. They end up going to college to get the paper with no interest in actually learning. They feel like they will just get the same material in career training later.

And to an extent this is true. Most companies are willing to offer and may require training after hiring you.  But companies do not want to spend time & $$ training a college graduate in information they were expected to learn in college. If I am going to educate you myself, why would I pay for a more expensive college graduate?  If you say that you have a BA in Finance, companies expect you to at least know what stocks, bonds, derivatives, stockholders, etc. are and how they work.  I may train you in how my company does it specifically, but I expect you to know the general theory and vocabulary BEFORE training.  I pay a college graduate more because I have to train them LESS. College is to give you the foundations so that the company can train you QUICKLY in the specifics and then you hit the ground running. 

Academic Writing Standards (for my Chinese students)

8 Dec

Few reminders for professional or academic writing style of the West.

If you are submitting documents (like graduate school papers, academic papers, professional business documents), there are certain generally expected standards.  For example, 

  • Times New Roman font
  • Size 12
  • Double Spaced (for academic papers)
  • 1″ (2.54cm) margins on ALL sides

The problem is most Chinese writing programs I have seen (including Word and WPS) do not do these methods automatically. I have often had my students complain that their professors marked them down for “formatting” and they aren’t sure why.  The problem is, most programs I’ve worked with here do 3cm margins by default. And they “double space” with a special button checked called “snap to grid” that distorts the spacing.  I highly recommend checking your document ahead of time before submission.  If you fix those two issues, a paper that was supposed to be 8-10 pages is suddenly 6-7 pages.  Go to “Page Layout” -> “Margins” and make SURE it’s 2.54.  Click the spacing button and look at your “options.” Make sure the “snap to grid” button is NOT checked. 

How to Pass an Exam

8 Dec

Student: Teacher! I did it! Every time I read a question, I thought “What was the big point?” And if it was 100% true, I chose it! Even if there was another that maybe was true!

Me: Yayayayayayayayayayay!!!!!!

**My “A” students have had a difficult time with this. They over-think themselves into exceptions and assume there is a trick. “well. . . but, but, but! It COULD have been diseconomies of scale if the moon was on the left and the sun came up in the west and it was exactly 4pm and the revenue was 0!” We had a very long discussion at review that I do NOT try to trick people. I need EVERYONE to pass! 🤣😄 There is ALWAYS an exception, so focus on the main idea. Finally, one of them got it! Hooray!

OFO Bike Sharing Market Research

3 Dec

Image result for OFO

My students in microeconomics were recently studying quantity demand and ways to improve profits. Before we moved onto changing prices, we spent some time discussing ways they can change or alter the other 5 factors of demand (Income, Price of Related Goods, Taste, Future Price, and Number of Buyers in the Market).

This brought us to Consumer Research and how companies gather information about their buyers, products, and demand markets.

I recently noticed that the OFO bicycle system has just started operating on the Northeast Normal University campus this semester. For those of you unfamiliar with the system, OFO is an app that allows users to rent bicycles and drive them around town with no designated pick-up or drop-off site.

It was originally founded in Beijing in 2014, but has since spread to cities around China and more countries besides.

The theory of the system is rather simple.

Users download the application on their cell phones and set up an account. The start-up deposit fee has traditionally been 199RMB in China (about $30) which then goes to your account. Then it costs a small amount (1-2RMB) per hour (about $0.16) that you ride. To get a bicycle you locate the familiar yellow bike and use the Code Scanner on your phone to read the bicycle’s bar code. That registers the bicycle to you, and you then ride around wherever you want to go. When you are finished, you cancel the agreement and leave the bicycle wherever you stopped.

There are many conveniences to the program (handy for local transportation, students enjoy the system). But there are some inconveniences as well (too many bicycles left lying in the way of sidewalks and doors, bicycles can be difficult to find, etc).

So I arranged a small market survey and sent it out to my students. They shared it with the freshman (and a few with their parents / siblings) and we used to analyze our results.

Although it is not official, it was a lot of fun and we did learn some interesting results that I thought I would share.


We started by testing the income level of our respondents. We agreed that 199RMB was a lot for students with less than 1000RMB per month. There were a few students who thought it was too expensive as a start-up deposit. Especially since most of them felt they may not ever use that much money in the long run. Some of the students complained that since Changchun is in the north (with very cold weather very early in the fall and late in the sprint), their time to use it was limited. This much money for something they would only use a few months was a stretch.


To get a feel for our response bias and the real category of people we reached, we also established some demographics.  

Most of the boys agreed they had tried it, but we had a difficult time getting them to take the survey. 🙂

The students also agreed that, although our survey never reached them, their parents and grandparents were a possible market for OFO. Several students said their parents had already tried it as well. The 21 – 25 year olds were mostly our Junior students. The 15-18 year olds were Freshmen.

Reputation of OFO

At this point, most of the students were familiar with the system. Those who did not recognize the same were aware of the “Yellow Bicycle”


The students also agreed that 24% was a high number for a company like OFO. Although it has only been in Changchun this year, it has been operating in China for a while. They recommended that OFO help teach people how to ride bicycles or show people how to set up the account. They felt like there was not enough information about OFO or people introducing them to OFO.

Some students (and me) had trouble setting up the OFO account. Most of the unhappy users felt like the system was clear, but it often didn’t work or was broken. They complained that they would try to put in all the information and then would get an error code. But quite a few thought it went pretty smoothly.

The Bicycle “easy to reserve” part was must less satisfying amongst the students. The majority complained that there weren’t enough bicycles. They paid a high start-up deposit fee, but then could not ever find bicycles in their area. The bicycles were far away or were already being used. They wanted OFO to provide more bicycles in the area. At the same time, we discussed Beijing and Shanghai’s problems where there are TOO many bicycles available. The bicycles are parked on the sidewalks, and with so many taking up the space, people are forced to walk in the busy streets.

Most agreed that they enjoyed the experience overall. Some felt that it was too cold when they tried it (October — people in the far north are already bundling up for winter and heaters are turning on). Perhaps after summer they will have a different impression. Others felt like it was a lot of money and aggravation to get it all going. Many felt like it was a lot of fun for entertainment, but would not replace taxi or DiDi services.


Overall, students seemed to feel that the program had a lot of potential and possibility. They did however think there were areas where it could be improved. It was a fascinating discussion, and the students responded very well!

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