It’s Not About What I Would Do

I was asked on how someone like myself can help “guarantee” results with people searching for advice or guidance. Here’s how I responded…

“I can clearly show someone the how’s or why’s something must be done. I can help steer or give the proper training to help facilitate a successful outcome. However, what I can not do, is magically curate all the possible actions for someone, then, telepathically make them do the things they need to do when they are needed too be done as instructed. Instructions by the way in which they agreed, were the things to do, and promised or assured themselves they would indeed: do them.

Without the person on their own accord making themselves do the very things they either know or believe needs to be done – nothing will help. The final condition or application for a successful outcome no matter what relies solely on the individual themselves: to do it. What ever “it” is. Period.”

Some may think the above is a coy way of “covering one’s behind” when the results aren’t produced by an individual. Again, that would be a fair point where I’ll also agree for I’ve seen it used in varying ways by many that I deem as “snake-oil” hawkers. However, that doesn’t mean because some have morphed and used it in duplicitous ways that there isn’t any truth still contained.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

Today’s Markets Are “A Lesson In Willful Ignorance”

Within the last 90 days there has been more convoluted messaging coming from the financial media, the main stream, as well as academia than I can remember. The more one looks or tries to find relevant, useful, actionable insights – the more they get conjecture.

Tag onto this the obligatory covering of arses as one’s told “It’s a great time to buy stocks!” Followed with “It will probably end badly.” Or, that other gem for the legend books “The Fed’s got your back” analogy.

So prevalent are these today it makes a politician marvel in its usage for audacity or speciousness. And that’s saying something in my book.

Let’s take a few examples that really give the tenor and tone of what I’m trying to express. They are far from the only ones, yet they give what I believe are true representations on why people are not only confused, but why they’ve walked away from both the markets as well as other activities in ways that have all the supposed “experts” flummoxed.

These are in no manner of importance, just the most recent. I would love to say egregious – but there isn’t enough paper nor computer memory to list them all. These just stuck out in my head and are in my “front of mind” as I type. Nothing more.

Like many I was listening to a business show when the retail sales figures were announced. As the data came across one pundit commented or implied in his usual snarky “knows more than you” tone that the “numbers” showing a drop of -11% was something that should be disregarded “for its inherently flawed.”

Fair enough. However: How does one square that circle when the so-called “data” which people like himself point to as reasons one should “not go by their feelings and look at the data” (for if you do you’re and “Idiot”) a 5th grader can see doesn’t add up?

The math now used along with the “seasonal adjustments” made to not only hard numbers, but “opinion surveys?” Would make that same 5th grader wonder how they got an “F” on their math tests. Ever! For if one can seasonally adjust an “opinion” – who needs to know math or even school for that matter if the numbers are “what ever you say they are.”

So don’t laugh (or cry) when your kid comes home in the not too distant future proclaiming “But Ma – Really. It does mean fantastic!” Just resolve yourself to the idea that maybe they’re just training for a career on Wall Street.

Then we have what many would proclaim as “market top signals” that not only confuse the average drive-by market participant – but can drive them crazy, as well as insane. For they seem to come precisely at the time the so-called “smart money” is heading for the exits as they “hold the doors open” and “give the bags” to the uniformed.

These are the ones believing “this is a great time to get rich!” as financial books touting memes on how to “invest like a billionaire” from Tony Robbins along with the front page articles parroting Barron’s™ “Crash? This time it’s different” make their appearances expressing how one should perceive treading within these markets as to take hold of one’s financial future.

Speaking of “financial future.” What happens if this bolt-out-of-the-blue styled sell off when everyone (and I do mean everyone) was calling for a “Santa Claus rally” into the year-end; turns into a “Santa came but left with all my profits” type affair?

Who will be to blame for this? Santa, or The Federal Reserve? For if they “had your back” every other time during a sell-off – how could they sit and watch your profits go up the chimney during the holidays?

It seems the markets which were once again atop “never before seen in the history of mankind heights based on fundamentals” crowd are nervously waiting to see if there will be even more reasons for concern (or panic) as the market goes lower, and lower; as the collapse in oil prices seems to be sucking it down faster, and with more vigor, than a saber-toothed cat caught in those very tar sands.

Just a few weeks back in October it appeared the markets fell precariously hard and fast when a Fed official made a public comment that maybe it was time for less Fed. involvement.

Suddenly the markets that were “fundamentally” sound on good economics plummeted. Some wiping out all their gains for the year. And that slide looked as if it was picking up steam until that same Fed. official did what many feel was a mea culpa and reversed his previous statement insinuating that the Fed possibly should do more.

Currently that recovery is identified as the “Bullard bottom” and since we have not only regained all those losses – but have gone even higher! But remember you are told this market is based on “fundamentals” not just Fed. policy.

Well one had better hope that truly is the case, for not only do people who are laughed and scorned as “tin-foil” types think these markets aren’t based on fundamentals, but rather, on the interventionist actions of the Fed.’s monetary policies. So too does the Central Bank of Central Banks. aka The Bank For International Settlements.

As reported by ZH in their article Why James Bullard Won’t Bail Out The Market’s Next Correction. One doesn’t need to take anyone else’s word (or opinion) that something just isn’t right within these markets. The bankers themselves are coming out as publicly as they dare warning other bankers to put a nix on things.

This is a very rare occurrence in both the timing as well as the messaging. Too not pay attention to the implications as well as the inference that the markets are tied far too close to the Fed – is a lesson in willful ignorance in my book.

You can’t mention bankers today without also mentioning politics and what is taking place once again.

Today what many are calling the “bail-out bill re-do” has just passed congress in the form of a budget bill. aka “The CRomnibus.” (This has nothing to do with an R – D – or I. This is just the observation in the obvious and conflicting. Nothing more.)

Suddenly we wake to headlines that congress has finally worked together to pass something both sides wanted to shut down the government in opposition to its passing.

On one side you have the R’s that couldn’t get a budget bill passed that would make it passed the Senate finally doing so with the help of the president who basically stands against the very ideas contained within it. And it was he who helped get members of the D’s to sign on or it would have failed.

Then you have Sen. Elizabeth Warren calling for its defeat because it is said to contain once again “Wall Street bailouts” and if the government is to be shut down – so be it. And the main stream press is singing her praise and tenacity. However, it’s this same “main stream media” that held anyone else that may even hint at the suggestion of a government shut-down as contemptible.

It’s near laughable for any thinking person at the obvious hypocrisy. In actuality – it’s breathlessly stunning rivaled only by Wall Streets claim of the markets “un-rigged” status.

So as we get ready for this joyous holiday season one has to ponder: Is there a chance that maybe – just maybe someone knows what they’re doing in these markets? Or, are we once again, at the cusp of another glaring point where the world wakes to find out once again: the so-called “smart crowd” hadn’t had a clue.

Personally I’ll take my chances with not gambling at all or looking to any of the so-called “experts” for clues. It keeps becoming abundantly more clear by the day: without the “Chair” behind the curtain. OZ is more attainable than following the road to financial freedom these people want to point out.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

It’s Not Easy Being Green

I was standing in the ubiquitous bookstore you’ll find in most airports. As I was waiting for a flight I perused the shelves scanning which books and magazines were getting attention. You can learn a lot if you’ll take the time to look, and in many ways know “how” to look. e.g., Which magazines you can tell have been leafed through yet not bought as opposed to those show they have never been touched, with a generous supply left.

I did the same for books where I saw for the first time Tony Robbins new book. I was surprised by the heft of it. It wasn’t 5 inches thick, yet as far as business books go it was substantial, on par for what one would expect for a novel. It made sense seeing it’s his first in 20 years on an important subject so I picked it up and leafed through it. What surprised me? After skimming through it my original intent as to buy it waned – and I put it back.

As I’ve said many times “I’m a fan” but not of this latest release. (you shouldn’t take my word for it your mileage may vary) As I skimmed through it only reinforced my first blush inclinations that the “think like a billionaire” meme was misplaced for reinforcing the how and why for investing today.

I was surprised on just how often I found myself at odds with what I read. However, that’s me, and like I said, you may think different, but if you’re reading this I must assume you think somewhat like myself. (or think the opposite and use me as a rebuttal board which I feel is totally acceptable)

So now at least you know how I viewed it. Yet, the song from the Muppets® “It’s not easy being green” kept popping up in my head as the week wore on.

I was reading an article from a very well-respected speaker/consultant whom in which I have very high regards for. It the article he described an incident where an audience member stood and stated that they didn’t agree on his view about the nature or description as to the health of the economy.

The speaker then went on to describe how he refuted the answer with a terse one liner (I’m paraphrasing) ” “You can look at the glass as half empty or half full. Some of us simply take the glass.” There was a little more length and a little more color however I feel you get the point.

Although in principle I would agree with that statement or premise at first blush, in relationship to the question posed, and to answer in an almost “flick of the wrist” styled manner shows me just how few understand exactly what is taking place today. (And by few I mean the people who not only claim they know but charge for it)

If a downturn does take hold many I feel are going to find themselves not as prepared for the advantages that will abound. And many more will lose a lot of credibility if it does in the manner I have warned about.

In this business of “motivation” or “business expertise” there is both low hanging fruit ready for the picking as well as fruit that may take years to bear out. Today, many are reaching for that low hanging fruit thinking (or believing) that today’s market highs are borne from the same economics that produced similar highs and basing business, investing, and other “advice” based on it.

I firmly believe that is a grave mistake and will hurt more than it will help. However, only time will tell, but there are once again rumblings showing just how precarious things truly are.

I absolutely believe if I’m correct in my assessment of what is truly happening within the world of both markets as well as business; the opportunities for true entrepreneurs along with those that have put into practice the “entrepreneurial spirit” in their business lives will be rewarded with possibly the most monumental changes, as well as business opportunities – in more than a generation.

One that may just rival what we know as “the industrial revolution.” However, being prepared before hand to make any of the “green” so many others think/dream about will take a concerted effort to understand what is actionable advice as it pertains to the circumstance, as well as what should be avoided. This is the paramount distinction one must be able to discern today. Period.

The issue going forward is whether or not you can “be green” when everyone else is strutting like a peacock taking credit or basing advice on what just might be flawed assumptions.

Because it ain’t easy. But that’s where the credibility comes from – if you’re right.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

Answering a question

Hello all,

I just wanted to put up – that yes, that is, this Mark in the “blurb” section for Seth Godin’s newest book: “What To Do – When It’s Your Turn”

For those that may have no idea I posted a screen shot of it below.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 3.37.14 PM

We know Mr. Godin has his pick of anyone he would like to write a blurb for any of his works. And Mark was more than thrilled that Mr. Godin chose to use his during the release of what might be a real sea change in books. I can tell you straight out that Mark was more than honored.

Best!

V.V. -StreetCry Media

F.T.W.S.I.J.D.G.I.G.T.

(For those who say I just don’t get it…get this)

In my latest post: “We Forget All Too Fast Just How Quickly It Can Hit The Fan” As always there are those that either doubt my premise (and want to express in excruciating detail) or simply ignore it all together. Nothing wrong with it, it’s part of the territory. However…

If you want to see just how fast collectively a meme, or anything else can take hold as well as fall away I point you to none other than this date..today..December 7th.

A great many of you will shrug. Probably just as many will think, “Oh yeah,,what happened, something big right?” and some will know and remember immediately. Today was the “day that will live in infamy” e.g., the day Pearl Harbor was attacked. December 7th, 1941.

As of this morning, I perused what many take as either “papers of record” or “websites of record” and what I found? Zip, zero, nada. Not even a mention on any front page. Absolutely unimaginable just a few years ago, but here we are.

You may find a reference that I overlooked. Yet, to be so glaringly missing, from so many, tells its own story. And should also alert one who pays attention just how fast things can – hit the proverbial fan when one least’s expect it.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

We Forget All Too Fast Just How Quickly It Can Hit The Fan

Currently there is probably no other great divide in opinions than the current state of oil and all it entails. (well maybe gold but that’s for another column)

I believe there’s not only two sides to this story but there is also a very legitimate concern for the two-sided sword that can be wielded – by both sides. And again, in my opinion, both have very valid reasons for optimism as well as concern. I don’t believe they are mutually exclusive.

Today we have what many would call an oil boon in not only the U.S. but Canada as well. Together the current debate falls along two fronts. First: Is there really as much there as they believe there is? And second: If so can it be extracted at a price bearable to both producers as well as consumers?

There seems a real split right down the middle and both sides make very good arguments. Who’s right and who’s wrong is yet to be seen. However, what does not need to be borne out any longer is the fact that the OPEC cartel believes there’s a real cause for concern. And that is a very positive byproduct to come forth from this whole debate.

Currently as oil prices plummet the outcry over whether it’s an immediate “tax break” to consumers is also flaring up with just as much furor. The “they’ll spend it during the holidays” vs “they’ll use it to pay down debt” is just as fiery as well as debatable.

Again, no one truly knows until after the fact, and we’ll see it in the numbers. Yet, just like the scenario above, what one doesn’t need to wait for is the fact that maybe – just maybe – we have a card in our back-pocket for once that we can use within our price tolerances where we aren’t held for ransom or extortionist prices on a whim by others.

However, when I made the claim earlier about a two-sided coin as well as a double-edged sword it was truly intentional as the example. For if there is one outcome based on a two-sided coin, as one side wins while the other means losing. The ability to be cut with both sides of the same blade one should infer, one way or another – you’re going to get cut. It’s just a degree of how bad that needs to be calculated and guarded against.

What we don’t know or can’t see in as far as “what’s there under the sands” we can more than make up for in true clarity what’s on the financial books. i.e., The high yield bonds funding it all.

There one doesn’t need “guesstimates.” We know. And it’s amazingly precarious, if not outright dangerous to the markets as a whole. This just might be an area the term “unforeseen consequences” gets seen all to clearly.

Not only do many not remember the early 80’s when U.S. oil producers went haywire, but they seem to have forgotten just how quickly in the sheer speed of panic, bankruptcies, and more that took place in the southern regions of the U.S. and Texas in-particular.

Personally I had family in Texas. At the time I was like so many trying to find my place in the business world and was living and had grown up in New England. I was about 19 or so. I had been working in clubs and doing other odd jobs (yes I was a manager/bartender at 19. I started cleaning coolers at about 16 for at the time the legal age was 18 and really wasn’t a big thing) and I was really in need of a change. I was desperate for what many would deem “good work at good wages” where I no longer needed to keep the hours of a vampire.

In a casual conversion with family the door was opened to me as to move to Texas and work for my Uncle who owned a business primarily focused on the oil business. i.e., welders, riggers, etc. The promises of a real change and all it entailed finally moved me past the point of inertia to finally saying, “Screw it, Why not.” And I made the arrangement to leave just weeks later. (the operative word there is “weeks.” Keep that in mind)

As I was sorting out my affairs and getting ready to go I had numerous conversions with my Aunt. She was “delighted” I was making the move. Things were going to be “so exciting” for me she would say. They were doing great, they just bought another building, hired more people, and they were expanding so fast I was “coming just at the right time” to get my feet wet and lean the business and move up in it as I progressed. For: “There’s real money to be made down here” was the over-riding meme. And it was sincerely stated as well as thought. So, I packed my things and off I went.

When I arrived it appeared to be everything they expressed it to be. However, within a few weeks of my arriving you could sense a shift in the air. The phones at the office went from ringing almost on cue to near dead silence.

The building which held space for all the service equipment, trailers, welding trucks, work-over rigging et al that I knew he owned (but had never seen for they were out in the fields working) near overnight appeared in the building crowding out most of the once wide open areas of work space. Now one had to squeeze through spaces between trucks and equipment just to get from one side or the other.

Within about 8 weeks of my arrival my Uncle’s business went from all the appearances of wealthy oil business owner to a near solo operation on the brink of bankruptcy daily.

So bad did it get, so fast, that I was asked to find employment elsewhere if I was to stay. They themselves along with everyone else in the “oil business” at that time were in the same straits. And it wasn’t getting better. As a matter of fact, is was growing exponentially worse for many of them by the day, let alone week.

In an effort to find work for the first time in my life I stood outside an oil refinery with hundreds (yes hundreds) of other people in the same straights I was, filling out employment applications about every 1/2 hour as they would call looking for a person to fill a certain position.

Over a loudspeaker you would hear: “Accepting now for 3 welding positions” and anyone who ever seen a welder let alone worked with one would rush to the office trailer and fill out an application listing anything remotely to do with a welder hoping (and some praying) it would be enough to get to the next step – a 10 minute interview for a yay – nay vote.

No applications were reused. Need a welder – fill out an app. Need a janitor – fill out another. Rinse repeat every single time – even for the same position if it came up more than once during the day.

There were husband and wife welding teams, same for electricians, cooks, you name, for everyone suddenly was unemployed and they would take anything. I did this for a week – 8 hours a day, it was one of the most demoralizing times in my life. And just in-case one forgot – less than just 90 days prior, it seemed like Dallas was the new OZ. Now 90 days later I was feeling like I was a pariah both to myself as well as my relatives.

In desperation I took work at a local meat factory. I got lucky (lucky is a relative term) and was hired as a meat cutter and worked on “the line.” It’s pretty much what you see when they role some sort of B footage on a news reel or documentary where people all in white standing on a line abreast pull pieces of beef off the center, cut, trim, and move onto the next. It was by far, too this day, the most grueling, repetitive, strenuous work I have ever done. And I’ve done some very strenuous manual labor for work throughout my career.

So little were the opportunities for anything else in employment (where just weeks prior most businesses couldn’t find any help and would pay “premium” wages) I decided I had enough of “the line” and found a bar-tending job at a local biker bar. (I grew up in biker bars so it was really was more like what I knew)

Finally, within less than 4 months since arriving I was called into a meeting with my Aunt and Uncle and was informed I needed to move out and find my own place to live. (they had a beautiful huge ranch styled home where they gave me for all intents and purposes my own apt.) The reason why I had to leave? They were going to lose it. They were just about to lose their business, and it wasn’t long for the house would be next. There was no way they were going to able to keep themselves afloat if things kept up the way it was going and this was my only “heads up” on just how bad things had turned. I was stunned.

Reluctantly I took the news as best I could and made plans to be gone in a week back to New England. I had nothing to go back to however, there surely was even less for me there.

It was a lesson I never forgot, and it’s why many times I rail against the flippant attitudes of “It’s different this time.” Yes it just might be, but with the precarious ways the Federal Reserve has injected its financial meddling into the markets and the resulting wonton ways  yield chasing has adulterated risk in the high yield space. What we better hope (and possibly pray) is that if it is indeed “different this time”

That “different” doesn’t end up meaning worse.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

A Thought For Today’s Entrepreneur

Many will look at the coming New Year and try in some futile attempt to make plans or set “goals” for the coming year in much the same they’ll decide what they want for dinner the day after. They know they have too eat, but what they are sure of is they want nothing that can be paired with a green bean casserole.

What stems from this going forward is a thinking of “what to cut out” rather than what is needed to replace. i.e., Going on some immediate fad styled diet as opposed to going back to a more moderate, potion controlled intake.

Studies show (as well as our own test I would venture) the “temporary cut out everything” is only met with “I’ve been good so this extra slice of cherry pie ain’t gonna hurt nothing” during that time defeats the whole exercise making the whole thing moot in the end. It’s a great lesson in futile strategy and execution that bears noticing where else one is doing the same producing similar results. Especially in business.

A better question that will bear more fruit to your business as a whole than a decision as to whether you should have that slice of pie as to satisfy your craving is this: If this happens – then I should do this. If that happens – then I’ll do that.

However, exactly what “that” is, followed by what precisely is the “this” you’ll employ is the key. And it’s a key that can open many doors of escape as well as opportunity. But only if you have the keys in hand when needed.

Currently we are at never before heights in the capital markets. We’ve been in these situations before. There have been times the next year has produced even higher heights. There have also been times out of nowhere those heights have been reduced to canyons. Each has their own effects on how not only the customer reacts, but also how the businesses we utilize as suppliers react to us – their customers.

Knowing or at the least contemplating differing scenarios on how that may effect your business, as well as how you would react and deal with either disruptions or the possible increasing of opportunities is a very relative “if this – then that” question to be contemplating over this remaining year.

Remember, business is not only about expansion opportunities in good times. It also includes the opportunities for expansion through prudent risk taking where growth can also come via “remaining solvent strategies” – while your competition is left groping for keys in the dark that you already have in hand.

Having the keys is not enough. It’s in the knowing which one to use on which door is what opens all those opportunities. Maybe even more than what’s behind that refrigerator door the day after Thanks Giving.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

Profiting At The Bottom Line™

This month’s focus: What’s yours is yours until it’s valuable – then it’s ours.

Today the web as we now know it is teeming with content put out by millions of people across what might seem the same number of differing platforms. Nearly all of it is free to both produce as well as consume. Yet, there is a clear, though unstated, delineation within this realm of free that most presume exists. On one side: you have people sharing and expressing simply for the self-fulfilling act of it. On the other: is the free for now in hopes of a pay off later in one form or another.

However, the fundamental commonality shared between the two regardless of intent or amount is this (in concept): If you make a penny directly attributable to their content  – that penny should be theirs first. Then the idea of formal revenue sharing (i.e.,% et al) may take place. The underlying construct going in is that the creator owns and decides. Many are beginning to find not only is this thinking incorrect, it’s they themselves who gave away all their rights to even be paid a penny with no recourse.

The mad dash strategy to be everywhere on every “free” platform to reach as many eyeballs as possible through out the social media world and more backed by the argument “You should because what does it cost you?” are finding out all their “free” looks pretty profitable. Only they’ll not be the one’s seeing a dime.

Case Study: Liz West is a name you probably never heard of unless you’re in the business of creating content and was looking for the “perfect picture” to use on your blog post, or Facebook™ page. etc.

Ms. West currently has some 12,000 photos uploaded on the photo-sharing site Flickr™. She’s been building this archive for over a decade. She routinely is asked permission weekly if one or more of her photos may be used and just as routinely allows it. However, she was just alerted to something she never bargained for, as well as thought possible.

Without asking, the current owner of Flickr, Yahoo™ has informed they will begin selling canvas prints charging $49.00 per print and – keeping all the proceeds. Yes – all.

It would seem as of this writing they have the legal right, for as many never take into account when they sign up for these varying “free” platforms is the very fact that it’s “free” is because: both user as well as content creator – is their product to be sold in one form or another. Whether it’s data info, user info, content, advertising, et al.

Many having little understanding of what they are signing away when they join. And there’s many more “that could care less.” Although everyone takes keen interest and begins reading the “fine print” only when it’s too late. And all that “free” ends up costing them dearly in the end.

Today, more than ever, all these once “free” platforms are going to have to prove their own self-worth to investors going forward. And many will do it in ways never dreamed of just a few years ago. But when money is on the line, and the survival of whether the platform wins or loses. You can be sure the platforms priorities as to “who gets paid” will be them first, if not – only.

Knowing what’s yours and what you have ultimate control of going in first – is the only thing that might allow you to profit from your own work in the end. For if there’s money to be made, the ability to not share any with you – is clearly a chance for profit all these platforms are going to take going forward.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

Profiting At The Bottom Line™ is a monthly memo, which is pithy, powerful, and to the point. It focuses on innovative techniques and or ideas that you can put to work immediately in your daily or business life.

The Increasing Cracks In The Silicon Valley Mirror

There’s probably no other place more enthralled with its own state of being today than Silicon Valley. Now probably more than ever the tech capital just might be believing their own hype more now, than in the “glory days” of the 90’s.

Today the belief is so strong, so internalized that the coding kingdom is where the new rulers of the universe reside, that it would make the Kadashians think about trying to keep up with the “Coders.” (does anyone need anymore proof than the new Kim Kadashian app?)

The problem with mirrors is just that – they’re mirrors. And unless you take your gaze away from it and look around once in a while, what happens more times than not is you miss all that’s happening around you. Till one day you either walked smack dab into a wall, or worse – never left the couch as the city around you fell into chaos.

This is where I believe a great many in the “disruptive” world are going to find themselves. No, not them disrupting – but the world they now inhabit is about to be – disrupted. i.e., The valuations, the deals, the whatever that were once taken for granted as a “never-ending story” is seemingly not only coming to an end. That end – might already have taken place.

Personally I read a lot of tech blogs, tech sites, and more. One reason is I’m just plain interested as well as curious. The other is that I’m in the “entrepreneur/business advice” business. And nothing has fascinated me more than some of the “pie in the sky,” “unicorn and rainbow” type thinking and metric measuring than what I both read and hear from the tech world.

This area is so audacious in its shunning of pure true business models (i.e., making real money via repeatable commerce transactions as opposed to the singularity event of IPO-ing) it would make a Krugman-ite proud. However, as I alluded to earlier: there seems to be cracks appearing in the looking-glass.

There’s an underlying truth when it comes to business. And I do mean – all business: When times are good those at the top are jubilant – when jubilant fades and testiness begins to appear, regardless of how faint – that is the time to begin paying very, very, close attention.

Recently I read an article that is becoming more and more prevalent within both the investing world and in particular the tech arena. The article was titled: “The Thin Skin of the Venture Capital Market”

One of the quotes that caught my eye was this. It was in response to a point on a valuation…

“And then I promptly got Twitter flack from one of the people who works at one of the company’s investors.  They seemed annoyed that I said anything in the first place.

What was said, who’s right, etc., doesn’t much matter.  The fact is, it’s just not cool to criticize the investing side of the venture capital market.”

Remember my assertions – It’s not about making a profit in business, it’s now only about the business in making an “investment” profit. As I’ve reiterated repeatedly, the business per se is irrelevant – it’s all about can the business “story” be sold to Wall Street. Then who gives a rats arse how the story ends, that’s for the poor saps that bought into it, not us. We cha-chinged out!

Increasingly the proverbial “cha-ching” machine is growing more silent. One would think with the markets once again pushing beyond stratospheric levels into black sky territory that the deals would just keep coming. Well, they are yet again there seems to be something a little different in the ways these deals are coming forward than previous.

To the casual observer one might think “they’re doing more deals than ever before!” Yet, what may seem as an uptick might be more of an illusion. More in a shorter time span doesn’t necessarily mean “more.” What it could be signalling is a rush to get as many in as soon as possible because there just might be “no moar.”

Recently a few articles have caught my eye. One showing up on Pandodaily™ as reported by their West Coast Editor Michael Carney. What I found quite telling was the headline along with the timing: Does the shrinking time between early stage rounds signal market bullishness or disaster planning?

Is it not precariously illuminating that suddenly, what some may think as “out-of-the-blue” the investing meme once thought of as “unstoppable” is suddenly causing those within the very industry itself to contemplate?

And why would this meme even be questioned? For are we not in a glorious time for investing? Especially in new and never-ending “disruptive” agents? What would cause any change in this meme?

How about the meme killing realization that QE, the once unthinkable, unstoppable, buying spree fuel additive has been throttled. (for how long is anyone’s guess, but for now – the valve is closed)

That is the (and I do mean “the”) only variable that has changed. And with it, there seems to be an undercurrent of possible disruption coming to the royalty-class aka the “disruptive” class.

Another article that is also quite informative into what maybe transpiring within the VC arena along with its overarching mindset is the Q2 2014 Halo Report.

Highlights of the Q2 2014 Halo Report include:

  • Pre-Money Valuations Climb to $3M.  Median pre-money valuations rose to $3.0 million in Q2 2014 from $2.7 million in Q1, and after several steady quarters at $2.5 million.
  • Angel Round Size Falls.  Median angel financing rounds fall to $600k in Q2 2014 –  down 40% from Q1; remain flat versus Q2 2013 where the median round size was $595k.

Again, at first glance I found it quite interesting that today, when the markets are hitting upward prints of nearly 1% per week that the median financing round would fall 40%.

I can’t stress this point enough: The markets are rising, and investment in median financing rounds are falling by double-digit percentages?

Sorry to repeat ad nauseam but (and it’s a very big but), all that’s changed in this period of time is QE has stopped.

Is this causation or correlation? That’s the call. For my money – it’s causation. However only time will tell for if one thing is clear, I never dreamed we could get up this high based on QE, but here we are. Although too not pay attention to these possible cracks would be ludicrous. Especially when paired with the timing of their appearance.

There are two more glaring signs that things have changed. First is what I warned to watch for in this latest earnings cycle where the once “darlings” of Wall Street might be met with more of a cold shoulder than open wallets with the realization QE was in actuality going to stop. e.g. Facebook™ and the concern about whether or not this new reality of “no QE” will be expressed via investor concerns.

From my article “The Shot Heard Round The Valley World” I opined…

“Let me go on the record here and point out what I believe will prove my point in the coming weeks and months.

Currently Zuck and crew have been lauded over with the prowess in its acquisition choices. You will know everything has changed when the calls to rescind Mark Zuckerberg’s authority in having carte blanche via not needing board approval for acquisitions going forward is demanded by Wall Street.”

What transpired during the most recent earnings call? At first it was heralded as “hitting on all cylinders” then it was revealed – it was also going to spend at just as impressive rate.

Suddenly “woo-hoo” turned into “WTF!” and the shares gapped down and as of yet – with the ever rising, incessant push higher, and higher in the markets, where both the indexes for everything tech as well as the S&P are hitting “never before seen in the history of mankind highs.” Facebook not only hasn’t filled that gap (which by all accounts should be viewed as on sale) it hasn’t basically moved at all.

Again, as everything else is roaring higher. Suddenly it seems that ability to “spend” is coming under far more scrutiny than the once “blind-eye” it was turned just a few months prior. And it’s only the beginning in my view.

For those wanting to see what may be coming and dig a little deeper the article by Todd W. Schneider titled, “The TechCrunch Bubble Index: Parsing Headlines to Quantify Startup Hype” breaks down this idea of growing changes in an easy viewable form.

There’s nothing wrong with pushing the needles when it comes to business, entrepreneurship, and more. However, it’s once you not only start believing your own press, but you look to place mirrors around you as to get an even grander view is when you just might be having more in common with the Kadashians than you do with creating and maintaining your business.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

A Timely Observation

One of the most glaring changes I’ve noticed of late is the absolute lack of adhering to proper time formalities. This was once regarded as a near sacrosanct pledge. “I’ll be there at 8:00AM” meant exactly that 8. Not 15 minutes later, or half hour, or the worst of all; needing the waiting party to call and ask where you are only to be told – “Sorry, I’m on my way, I’ll be there in a few, just wait for me.” If the other person needed to call you, then you’re a dolt in my book.

Today we see people of all stripes with a near disregard if not indifference to being on time. This was once proof positive by many in the business community that if one wasn’t at the very least “timely” then more than likely they were lacking in other key areas that are prerequisites for leaders, and would be passed over or not taken as a serious candidate for higher promotions.

The thinking was (and still should be in my opinion) if you can’t adhere to something as simple as being on time – then maybe it’s time to simply look for someone else.

We all have emergencies, and yes “stuff” happens. However, I’m not talking about the out-of-the-blue type issue. And, most of those can be addressed by calling or notifying the other party when the issue arises as in real-time before the actual scheduled meet as to not leave the other party wondering. e.g., If you’re in traffic and you originally gave yourself plenty of time yet you hit a snag from an accident or some other, you call before – not after the original time to alert. e.g., If a meeting is at 8 and you’re running late, you call at 7:50 or so to alert. Not 8:10.

The term “-ish” as in, “I’ll be there around 8-ish” is commonly accepted as being about 10 or 15 minutes either way, not a 1/2 hour or any time within the hour still possessing an 8 handle. That’s for people who either don’t know, or don’t care about the other party.

“Ish” is a very acceptable time when used in both the proper way, as well as the setting. In business it fits into the “business casual” file. However, it has unstated rules for its usage. Just as a “business casual” luncheon doesn’t mean “feel free to wear shorts, sandals, or whatever you want.” Although today I’ve seen people do it thinking they were being hip-ish. What they really were was looking – foolish.

Probably the worst offending way time is being disregarded today is in the “fashionably late” styled use. This I see becoming so prevalent I’m starting to view it as a crime against humility (yes humility).

I don’t care who you are, if you request my attention or anyone else as to warrant the we/I stop what we are doing and pay attention to what you are to say because you (or whomever) has deemed this to be “important” and the time passes from 5 minutes, 15 minutes, a half hour, an hour, and sometimes even longer? I no longer have any interest, and as a matter of fact, next time you ask for my ear? All I’ll say is “Have a nice day.”

I have never seen more abuses of time considerations in my life as I see today. From the President, to other world leaders, business leaders, local politicians, and even the television and radio stations themselves which just a few years ago the movement of the solar system could be set to their adherence. Today? You can’t set a sundial to them never-mind a watch.

In contrast, today, heaven forbid a retailer not open their doors precisely (as per GMT) at the designated time on Black Friday. If off by a mere nanosecond you’ll not have just an offended party – you’ll have outright, unbridled, chaos and bedlam.

Don’t take for granted or worse believe in the meme “it’s different this time” when it comes to one’s time and scheduling. It mattered then, it matters now, and it will matter in the future.

Being on time is for serious people. People who have true considerations for other people’s time as well as their own. You don’t want your time wasted, and neither should you willy-nilly waste someone else’s.

If you want to stand out from nearly all of those around you regardless of your current position, just the mere recognition as to put in the time to make sure you’re always on-time will move you further up in the chain of business and life than any other singular thing possible, without needing to spend an actual dime to implement it where the potential returns – could be limitless.

Remember, they don’t say “time is money” for nothing. It has far more payoffs than most ever will put in the time to even contemplate.

Hopefully, you’ll take the time that others won’t – and benefit from it.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

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