Why I Write

This was written in response to clarify why we were writing Synergasm. Tim mentioned that we were quite different individuals, but did have some overlap. He also mentioned me wanting to try to start figuring out how to fix our education problem in America. This was my response.

Old Synergasm Post

Originally published April 5, 2012

Tim was close, but my life goal is to solve the education problem in America…not just start, but actually solve it! How am I doing this? I’ll talk about that in an upcoming post soon! After the meeting that Tim and I (and his wife) had we all decided that we needed to write more often. I told him that while I had the best of intentions, I didn’t feel that I always had something to say, and I wasn’t going to write just to write…I needed it to be about something. Also, with a busy schedule, sometimes it’s difficult to find the time. This was one problem that I felt confident I could overcome. Tim mentioned polyphasic sleeping, and it’s something I’m going to try: staying awake 22 hours in every 24 hour period by taking 20-30 minute naps every four hours! I’ll start posting more about they why and how behind that in upcoming posts, so stay tuned! It promises to be an interesting journey for us all!

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College Education: Why we Need a New Signaling Mechanism

Old Synergasm Post

Originally published February 21, 2012

Where we’re at:

Take a look at any industry and you’ll notice that all products are on a spectrum that  separates luxury from commodities: Macs are luxury goods, PC’s are commodities. Ivy League schools are luxury goods; state schools are commodities. Craftsman tools are luxury goods. The Wal-Mart version are commodities. You get the picture…

Why is this important? Where they fall on this spectrum determines how much people are willing to pay for that product. This is largely due to how much society in general values the product as a signaling mechanism. Want to appear hip? In tune with the young crowd? Buy yourself a Mac! This works for a while; early adopters to a luxury good are often rewarded with the prestige that surrounds that product. Because others believe that you take on the same traits as the product you’re consuming, you’re willing to pay a bit more for the product…to credibly signal that you do indeed possess those traits. The iPhone was like that for a while, and it worked quite well…until everyone and their uncle bought an iPhone. Now the awkward two-finger typer who doesn’t know the difference between Notepad and a C prompt is just as likely to have an iPhone as the guy who jail-broke iOS 5. Alas such is the way most signaling stories end. Read More →

The Future of 3D Printing

Old Synergasm Post

Originally published January 2, 2012

Imagine that Apple has just released the iPhone 16; instead of the crazies lining up the night before outside of the Apple stores, they instead sit behind a computer waiting for the clock to read 12:00 AM. As soon as it does, they click the link on Apple’s website that downloads the CAD plans to their 3D printers. The 3D printer then begins laying out the different materials (pulled from your personal store of the most commonly used elements from the periodic table) and “prints” the new iPhone in layers. So how far away is this technology?

While 3D printers have been around since the ‘80s; they’ve been known as rapid prototyping machines for sometime and have largely remained in the domain of model shops that could afford their large price tags. What appears to have been happening though, is that with their rise in popularity, they’re beginning to transform from solely being prototyping machines to being considered for use in “additive manufacturing” The Economist contrasts this to the “subtractive manufacturing” that occurs today.

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A Blogs Death and Evolution

Towards the end of 2011 a good friend of mine started a conversation with me about doing a joint blog. We found common ground by focusing on management an education. We spent the first half of 2012 trying to keep up the motivation to write, but it tapered off over time (something I hope doesn’t happen with this blog). Either way, I spent a good amount of time on the articles that I wrote there, and wanted to preserve them. So I’ll be transferring them over to this blog and tagging them “Synergasm”. I think a few are pretty good. You can read our inaugural post below to find out what we originally set out to do.

What is SYNERGASM? Borrowing from the Urban Dictionary, this word is defined as expressing oneself using several business buzzwords in rapid succession. We are all confronted with a lot noise around our jobs, including terrible buzzwords. We want to cut the noise a bit and have an honest talk about management and education. We want to find a way to help future students or employees (and employers) do better and do more.

As confounded young professionals, we found ourselves scribbling notes on things that struck us odd about corporate culture. Together, these notes became stories and these stories became Synergasm, the blog on management and education. Our goal is to begin a dialogue between young professionals, our corporate overlords, and the broader world. It is our hope that through conversation we will be able to create stronger professionals, greater managers, better businesses, and in a very small way, a better world to work and live within.


The Authors


Timothy Schaaf, 28, is a five year veteran and strategic financial analyst for a large asset manager. When not worrying about global financial markets, Tim spends his time reading, exploring, enjoying food or otherwise pretending to be a chef (Chez Timmay) in his own kitchen with generally acceptable results. He lives with his wife, Andrea, and splits his time between Michigan and New York City.


Nathan Biller is a 25 year-old living in the happening town of Grand Rapids, MI. He’s a part-time photographer, a wannabe real estate mogul, and a nerdy Excel-junkie that works for the world’s largest office furniture manufacturer as a financial analyst when not working on articles for synergasm.

He has some diverse hobbies including playing handbells with the Embellish Handbell Ensemble, SCUBA diving, and travelling to new places!

Nathan also has a life goal: to solve the education problem in America, hence his interest in this blog. His goal in writing these articles is to uncover novel ways of dealing with education and to connect with others that have a similar passion!