The Net Neutrality Debate Proves The Opinions Are Far From Informed

As many of you know the FCC approved what is now considered the greatest change in the fundamental underpinnings of how the internet will be both used as well as “allowed” to be used. The regulation now known as Net Neutrality will supposedly make the internet more “fair” or “equal” to everyone. All I’ll ask you to ponder is this: How’s your cable bill working out for you?

There’s a lot of known and unknowns still to be had as we sit here today. Why? Regardless of what you’ve heard or seen written in the press about this regulation; no one, and I do mean, no one knows the details to this new and sweeping regulation.

The reported 330-ish paged regulation was held in a way resembling sealed documents from a court case. The only people who read it are those that wrote it, and voted it into law. We now have to wait and see just how much everything changes.

Every future or current business, entrepreneur, as well as individual that accesses the web will be effected. Along with what everyone now takes for granted about the internet will also be changed. How much if any will remain the same, or even possible going forward no one yet knows. And that’s not hyperbole. Everything that one thought they knew or even assumed has now changed. Period.

What took my breath away was just how many bought into the premise that all this was about (as in solely ) was not allowing ISP or cable providers to throttle content. i.e., Not allow a cable provider to charge more to a content provider for faster access to deliver their content and nothing more. And that regulating the internet would now fix this issue.

The discussions and buttressing of arguments based on examples using monopolies and utilities by those pushing for it showed just how ill-informed many of the so-called “experts” were.

Just how little knowledge people have in their fundamental understanding of the differences between a real monopoly and a business impediment was just shocking. Although I shouldn’t have been so surprised. After all, this was Silicon Valley where unicorns and rainbows still are accepted business plans for a round of VC funding. (but that window is closing far faster than many realize)

Let me use an example to help illustrate. It’s meant to be over simplistic however, it’s far more instructive (in my opinion) than anything I’ve heard from those who are so-called “experts.”

Regardless of what you may think about your cable company or internet provider (and trust me I have no love for mine) the real issue in the end is what is known as “the last mile.” In other words the underlying issue of speed controls is in direct proportion to the ability for data to pass through efficiently in about the last mile to your home or computer. In other words the issue is basically from the pole to your house. Not from the provider to “the pole.” Again this is an oversimplification so please spare me the emails.

The issue that was becoming relevant to where both sides of the content providers along with the customers found themselves was the bottleneck effect happening at the customer’s home. i.e., within that last mile.

There’s only one way to resolve that issue. One and only one: You must build out the infrastructure to accommodate. And that requires money. Big money. The only question is who pays? You? The cable or ISP provider? Or the content creator. i.e., Netflix™ and others.

Currently the “individual” paying is irrelevant for this argument. No one would solely pay the exorbitant amount of money it would cost on an individual level. That would come later in a collective form of billing such as “service fees” of some sort down the road. So it’s left between the providers.

Contrary to what many are touting, a resolution (a private one as in a business to business decision and agreement) was being worked out. i.e., Netflix and others were in fact sitting down, working out monetary agreements and other particulars as to help remedy many current issues. The real issue was: It wasn’t what “issue politics” wanted. And wanted – “Right now!”

Think about it this way. The electricity coming into your home works generally the same way. And this was used by many as an underpinning of their argument to express the “utility” equivalency discussion. Personally I thought it was the exact argument to show just how little many understood rather than solidify it.

If you want more power into your home guess what? You have to pay for the infrastructure not only at your home (e.g. update your wiring and more) but you also might need to pay for the build out from the pole. If you want or need 3 phase power? You’re going to need to spend money. A lot of money. The power is there but if you want it, you’re going to need to pay.

The infrastructure to carry what you currently have you paid for when the home was built. The electric company didn’t pay, the home builder paid when the home was first constructed. If you want more power? You are going to pay. And here’s where this issue really strike home to the “utility” issue used by so many.

If you don’t like the power companies fees, service, regulations et al. Tough. Because you can’t go around them. You can’t build your own better, more customer friendly or compliant power company. They have a true monopoly. And no matter what you say or do, you are going to pay if it’s decided by the regulating authorities, that no matter what – you are going to pay.

Think not? You can go “off grid” you say? You’ll find a way to “hack.” Not so fast. There are reports nationwide where it is illegal to disconnect your home from the “power” companies. Many are finding themselves facing both criminal as well as monetary charges for trying to “disconnect.” Your cable bill (or broadband) is going to fall into this category in coming years. After all, if it’s now deemed as “utility” status why not? Think it’s just the electricity? How about another “utility?”

Try telling many city governments that you just spent $25,000 to update your septic system to a new state of the art standard so you don’t need to connect to the cities new and improved or proposed  sewer system. Ask them why you need to pay for some “special assessment” bill of a few thousand dollars payable in 30 days along with receiving a monthly bill for something you don’t need or use?

The response will be: “Sorry, I just work here. Please pay the bill and make sure your property is accessible for the digging crews to connect your property. Have a nice day.” And that’s just the start. Welcome to the world of “utility.” and “monopoly.” Careful what you wish for – you just might get it!

If you think those in the industry as in “Silicon Valley” have more of an understanding that you or I do. All I’ll do is point you to the most recent as well as instructive or insightful understandings on this issue by one of net neutrality’s foremost cheerleaders.

I suggest you watch this short exchange that took place on CNBC™  as to why this must take place and why its necessary for the good of the internet. Then ask yourself this question: The internet just moved from anything you knew it to be, into something no one has any understanding or clue as to what it will morph into from here. All based on a movement propelled on the understandings and insights professed by so-called “experts” as those in this video.

Personally I am stunned on just how little of an understanding of business those in Silicon Valley have. Yet maybe I shouldn’t be. For there is no where else a business can be worth billions in market cap that either can’t turn a profit, or better yet, can’t keep a customer if they so dare as to charge a penny.

But that’s now all about to change too. Because once new “regulation” concerns become part of the mix Wall Street has to think about when deciding who, what, or where will the hot money (if there’s any left) will flow: Silicon Valley is going to find itself with not as much love as they once garnered. For nothing snuffs out the spark of VC free money for “hacking” or lets say “Innovation” like the threat and over arching hand – of regulation. Welcome to the land of utilities. Hope you like the new neighborhood.

Forget about the once “wild west” of hackers. That’s just been handed its death knell by their own hands. For one thing that’s far mightier than a coders hack is a government bodies decree of regulation. There’s no neutrality nor nothing “free” once you allow and call for the interjection and oversight of both the government along with its enforceable hand of law via regulations.

Just wait until all the details become known as well as imposed. I have a feeling net neutrality is going to feel a whole lot more like “net injustice” than anyone dared contemplate. Let alone imagined.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

The Oscars – Nobody Cares

It would seem the Oscars™ are getting a lot of press not for how good they were, but just how excruciatingly difficult they’ve become to now watch. It’s been reported the only thing viewed less than the awards show itself – are the movies it celebrated with awards.

Yes, I know it’s not about attendance or box office receipts that are the deciding factors. But honestly, the Academy now seems hellbent on picking out and bestowing awards to people and movies that leave you saying to yourself more often than not: “Who?” or “Huh?” I mean not for nothing, but I probably watch or see more movies (albeit at home) today than any other time in my life. And the more I’ve watched the Oscars as of late (for my wife watches them every year) the more I find myself having no clue of either the movie, or person nominated.

Forgetting about whether or not I’m “in touch” with what is considered by the Academy to be praise worthy. What really sticks in my craw as of late is the now relentless insertion and dissertation of a political view being barked at me through the screen. Whether or not I agree with the view is irrelevant: I am sick to death of it. (not just here but it’s now everywhere)

Tinsel Town as its been affectionately known in days gone by was loved for just that reason – sparkle and glitter. Where dreams of stars and stage were wrapped in glitz and glamor. It was a world within a world and was a marvel to view from the outside. And when Hollywood opened its doors to the outside world and showed the “stars” it was something to behold. Today? Not so much.

Today everyone’s there to make some form of political statement, to promote some cause, or to just be the most profane as to go “viral.” It seems receiving the “award” is an afterthought. After all if the truth be told, just like many of the once touted so-called “best seller lists” the awards process can and is gamed. (and you can research it for yourself there’s plenty of reports exposing just that)  Just how much does one want to spend to “win” is the real question.

Maybe that’s why the participants themselves seem less interested in attending than the public is now watching. And if the way many of them now dress for the occasion is any indication – I’ve seen people dressed better for morning coffee on a Saturday than what people now where to these shows. I mean honestly, at this level of glitz and glamor the attention to detail is outright pathetic in my opinion.

I’m no fashion expert, nor do I try to be. However, I am tailored enough in my understanding of what both fits, and what is appropriate to at the least comment on what I see. And most of what I see coming both down the runway as well as on the stage fits into neither category let alone on those wearing what should be their absolute “best of the best” attire.

When I look at the men what I see more often than not (so much so my wife shooshes me) are pants absolutely either cut wrong in length or they’ve decided to where the wrong shoes making the pants noticeably crinkle on their sides. The same effect happens when you have a pair of jeans that are 2 inches too long. This is quite acceptable for jeans. But for a suit? Or a tux? Give me a break. That’s not “style” that’s a fashion faux pas. And there’s no excuse (at least in my opinion) for people in that business.

As far as the “women?” Here’s the best way I can describe it. Just like the old adage used to express whether one was watching pornography or not. “I know it when I see it.” Maybe what I’m seeing doesn’t fit into the adult film industry. But what I do know is – it sure doesn’t fit into the glamor section either.

Sure there are some that are absolutely beautiful and stunning (regardless of age) wearing outfits that are just dazzlingly glamorous in both cut and presentation. But (and it’s a very big but) there are far more that look like they’re either going to work at a “gentlemen’s club” straight after the show. Or, they just got off from working at one and came straight to the show. Again – regardless of age.

Now it’s been reported that “the stars” want “real questions” (i.e., as in substantive to a political view et al) when they are on the red carpet. It would seem they (at least in my opinion) want to be “taken seriously” and not be seen as just some “star to be gawked at.” All I can say is really? I mean – really?!

Not for nothing, have you ever noticed when most of these actors or actresses are “off cue’ or without a script? They are near unable or incapable as to express an idea or anything else extemporaneously. Of course there are those that can, but they are far and few. And I’ll contend they stand out because of just that. So few of these actors and actresses today seem to know what to say, or how to act unless they’re in some character relying on someone who can say both “cut” as well as “we’ll edit that out” saving them from embarrassment.

It’s become obvious to more than just myself just how much the Oscars have changed and how they’re losing their appeal to the very people they need to watch their craft. i.e., movie goers themselves. I also listened to a few people (on television and radio) who are quite political in their own viewpoints that stated publicly that they too were a little taken back with “the political” forced viewpoint emanating from the award stage.

Moving forward I think the viewership of this once wonderful display of Hollywood glitz and glamor will be nothing more than another “reality” show based spectacle with the viewership to match. Because the more they want to be taken “seriously” and interject more of the “political” viewpoint. The more, or should I say less – anyone cares.

After all, they proved just how “sensitive” and “snooty” and “out of touch” they really are when they gave their version of “honors” to those in the industry that past away in 2014. For who did they leave out? One of my personal favorites Joan Rivers.

To quote Joan “Can we talk here?” If you were going to celebrate people such as clerks and back room staff; why on Earth, or how could you leave out someone whom by all accounts was associated almost as closely with the Oscars as anyone else? Unless – it was a purposeful, and vindictive intentional swipe. Not an “oh well we couldn’t fit everyone.”

It’s only my opinion, but I truly think it’s because she dared to make fun of them as they tried so desperately to be seen as “serious.” Problem is for them?

Joan was the only reason most of us were watching the red carpet to begin with. It would seem the recent ratings also bear that point.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

Greece: The Facts Remain In A Game Of Theories

Once again the financial markets displayed its utter confidence that no matter what Sword of Damocles may hang over its head, central bankers will thwart the impending peril. It’s beginning to take on such lore one could imagine or extrapolate in times going forward relative to the times passed since Zeus and the Immortals were believed to control the universe, today’s cadre of central bankers will be added to that roster of Olympus.

Scary thought I know, but at today’s pace fiction has far more in common with what people believe to be true. Remember “everything is awesome!”

I’d wager Zeus himself would be envious of such adoration and believability bestowed on central bankers across the globe. And if there’s any doubt of this omnipotence they’d be more than delighted to explain it to you. Of course this must take place at a press conference, for if they just used thunder and lighting as in days past it might scare the natives.

All this brings us right back to the current “sword” that still dangles above the head of the markets: Greece, and the all too real uncertainty of whether they are going to remain dutiful servants bringing offerings and gifts to lay before their current masters of their universe. Or, they are going to stand with straightened backs and declare they are the keepers of their own nations soul and the “gods of Olympus and Banks” be damned.

I find it more than just a little bit ironic that such a confrontation should play out in the very place such epic stories and more once originated. But (and it’s a very big but) Greece had better understand this idea or meme known as “game theory” that is said to be at the heart of their negotiations may turn out in the end to be nothing more than a fact based way to lose rather than some theoretical way to win. For just like their patriarchs of myth and legend, they were not overcome or banished to history via “games of theories.” They were overcome due to the use of straight talk and factual based evidence of intention.

Vanquishing foes whether they be real, or of myth and legend, is done so based with stunningly brutal acts of fact. Period. i.e., If you say you’re going to do something – Do It! Regardless of what “it” is. Anything less shows you never had the backbone to back up your intents.

And no other offering of devotion will equal (or delight) that one admission to your proclaimed over-lords the “Troika.” Nothing. And that’s an unadulterated fact. Pure, as it is simple.

Regardless of the how, why, and other circumstances that led to the impasse of where Greece now finds itself on the monetary world stage. The fact is an elected government along with the outright vociferous display of unity from those very people should embolden the stance of what is to be done; not allow room for clouded discussions and press-ers to be held where one has to think or over analyze at to interpret exactly what’s going on. i.e., “Are the playing cat and mouse?” Or, “Is this some form of brilliant display of game theory that we mere mortals can’t understand?”

If it is borne out to be true that what is being reported throughout many media channels is the fact that Greece has indeed nearly forfeited all its positions in-turn for some changes in language as to appear they have indeed stood up to their nemesis “and won” will not only be disappointing, in my opinion it will embolden central bankers and Keynesian devotes everywhere to view the monetary world with even more self-aggrandized thoughts and actions.

Today Greece stands not only at the crossroads of regaining self-determination as a country via its monetary policies. It also stands quite squarely as well within the cross-hairs of central bankers everywhere. For if Greece does in fact stand true to its demands, and insists on resolutions to once and for all absolve itself from its current dilemma as well as divorce itself from the religious styled worship of central banks and stand on its own two feet consequences be damned: it will indeed show that the edifice of central bankers omnipotence is in fact just that – an edifice of beliefs – not something to be worshiped as “god-like” or “all-powerful.”

Whether or not one agrees with Greece and their interpretation as well as explanation as to why they find themselves buried under this monstrous burden of debt, this fact is clear above all else…

Greece must standup and prove with clear concise action displaying in fact for all to see that it fully intends to reach out and cut the rope releasing the sword. If not it will do as so many others have done before it and shrink into the history books of obscurity. For that is where this current movement will surly end up if they’re shown willing to do anything less. Matter of fact they’ll be lucky if they’ll even be a footnote in the future if they don’t.

Today as we sit that one fact still remains unresolved: Will Greece and all that it proclaimed it was going to show the world follow thru and emulate the triumphs and victories against repression like the stories of old? Or, does it have more in common with the storytelling of myth and legend laced with hyperbole? Rather than the reality of a “promised” backbone.

Just imagine the central bankers gleeful recantation for years to come if it’s borne out their ability to quell such an uprising without the need to even brandish a lightning bolt. The facts will prove once again all one needs to have is a sanctioned printing press – and the power and control to rival Olympus are yours for the taking. Oh how the “lesser-gods” must envy these new power brokers. For that must surely be omnipotence worthy of praise.  And their presumed omnipotence as well as power is proving to be a game winning fact if it plays out as currently reported.

For facts trump a game based in theory every time. And the fact is as I stated in an earlier article: (to paraphrase Mike Tyson) “Everyone’s got a plan – till someone gets punched in the face.”

Well Greece did indeed land the first blow. However, it’s beginning to look more and more that Greece’s first shot was more of an “eyes closed” lucky punch. And everyone knows the cold hard truth or fact that no game theory can trump: If that’s all that it was – the counter punch from their adversary is going to be nothing short of a factual resulting “hay-maker” looking to once, and for all, put the “lights out” on any and all future up-risers.

It would appear not only we but even the “gods” will have to wait till Monday as to know the fate of either. For the sword still hangs.

At least in theory.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

A New Feature: Insight Uprise™

I’m starting a new audio series called Insight Uprise™. Like other projects I’ve done this is in the “No holds barred, quick hitting and to the point genre. Topics and subject matter will vary as it finds its way along.

This episode is the debut. I designed it both in subject matter as well as delivery to be unlike anyone else. It’s not perfect as of yet however, I decided it was close enough for the time being and argued with the editing staff to “release one now!” (The original release was planned for mid Feb.)

The series and production is about 80% complete with final touches or adjustments now in the cue. There are times I believe waiting for that last 20% can be a waste of time. More can be done quicker and faster when everyone understands (and knows) when a time is placed as Seth Godin would say “to ship” then ship it must do. Otherwise more often than not – it will sit in dry dock.

As many of you know I’m quoted as saying, “If you wait for perfection before doing, then perfectly waiting is you’ll ever do.” And I’m a man of my word so today we once again “shipped.”

Love it of hate it one thing will be certain: They’ll be no mistaking me and someone else.

Topic: A Thought On Leadership – Myths

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© 2015 Mark St.Cyr in association with StreetCry Media. All Rights Reserved.

Can’t see the audio player? Click here.

The Danger In Proclaiming Your Brilliance

There’s a fine line between self-confidence – and arrogance. There are many ways to describe the difference. The way I’ve explained the difference that seems to resonate with my audiences is:

“Self-confidence will give you the needed backbone to argue your position when everyone from your peers and more will argue the opposite. Arrogance will produce the same effect. The only difference is as far as you’re concerned – only you could possibly have the answer.”

There may be that rare occasion when it’s true. However, let’s not forget ‘rare’ means just that. Same sort of issue can fall around those wanting to be seen as to take, or receive credit for that “brilliance.” Again, this is where both self-confidence as well as arrogance can show itself.

Everyone wants to be seen in a certain light. Everyone wants to be in on the “good” side of anything being praised. Many want to be seen as having an ability sometimes as little as one step above those they may consider peers. It’s pretty much human nature.

We like the praise and why wouldn’t we? Sure, some will say “Not me!” However, they are few and far between. Most do. For proof just watch for the person that doesn’t get recognized for some award when everyone else seems to be. Hide the sharp utensils till the caterers leave is all I’m saying.

There is a subtle yet very dangerous part of the whole “I’m brilliant because…” issue. Here are two examples although they are hardly the only two:

First: When one rushes in to claim credit yet: they’re not really abreast of all the particulars of what caused the circumstance as to where credit can be taken. i.e., A lucky guess or a coin flip result that worked out yet now is proclaiming as “See, I told you so!” That may work once. However, if you’re now tasked with doing it again? You’re going to find yourself both clearly dumbfounded and on display for all to see.

Second: You may be someone who is considered “brilliant” for you’ve worked diligently on your skills as well as other attributes to help foster, or bolster that opinion. This is where many get into trouble for they move from what I consider a muse of self-confidence to having an aire of arrogance. For they are the very one’s who will declare in dramatic fashion why you need to listen to them and why. Only then to make glaring mistakes in those very declarations that should never been uttered by one so “brilliant.” Let me share an example for context.

I witnessed this in stunning detail a few years back when listening to a speech given by someone I have great respect for and know to be a person at the top of his profession. During a speech at Harvard he opened his presentation with exactly why those in attendance should listen to his offering as well as advice. It was laden with accomplishments and other attributes all worthy of respect. Yet, there just seemed to be an overtone of arrogance as opposed to self-confidence. Yes, it’s a fine line however, there just seemed to be that vibe overhanging his initial address.

Then, in an example as to emphasize exactly why he could do what others might not he expressed it as “his superior command of language.” He then went on to give examples of why his skills were far and away better than others because “he could nuance in ways that others might find difficult.” Then he made a glaring error that was noticeable to even me. (for those who may not know I have not been afraid to express I can barely spell cat without spellchecker)

In a display as to back his claim, he expressed that he read “vociferously.” Personally I wasn’t sure of the exact meaning when I first heard it. And although I had this feeling it wasn’t correct I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Then he went on and used the same word again in the same context so it was obvious is was not a slip of the tongue nor a mistake. It was an intentional use of the word and for the very reason as to help solidify the premise of his implied skill. The problem? Maybe you already know. The word should have been “voraciously” not “vociferously.” (personally I needed a dictionary to find the difference)

I know all too well that we all make mistakes, or can be charged with being “lucky” or “arrogant” in some situations. It’s part of the landscape if you want to be out in front or work at higher levels. We all want the praise when we make a call, or propose an idea and it works out as expected then to reap the rewards of getting credit where credit is due.

But it’s a very fine line that can be crossed if one isn’t self-aware of exactly how they played a part and why. And it can be an even tighter rope to walk when expressing why one should listen to you as opposed to another.

Self confidence is a needed prerequisite, but it can cross into the aire of arrogance just as easily if one isn’t careful. And if you make a glaring error precisely at the time when you’re proclaiming your brilliance; there’s an even greater chance of anything you state going forward will be discounted at best – ignored at worst.

Confidence in your abilities is healthy. Too much confidence can lead to a display of arrogance that can have the worst of unintended consequences where people no longer listen, or just tune out from anything further you might have to say. Whether its brilliant or not.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

Welcome To Eccles Island: Where Tulips Bloom In A Polar Vortex

The week just ended laid bare any pretensions that there is not something wrong (seriously wrong) within the natural world of both the macro underpinnings of business as well as finance. Unimaginable just a short 6 years ago the U.S. equity markets closed at a height once again never before seen in human history highs, (it has more than tippled from the 2008 bottom!) but has done so solely on Keynesian fairy tales. The issue now is: does the fairytale end in a nightmare?

Nearly every recently released metric (consumer sales et al) that should at the very least showing signs of steady improvement helping bolster the argument as to why the markets are continually rising, are not only contracting; rather – they’re falling off a cliff.

This is amplifying the evidence that at the very least the U.S. capital markets are experiencing a bubble dwarfing the dot-com mania of the late 90’s. Quite possibly having more in common with the peak of the tulip mania of the 1600’s than the former. The reason? It’s not just one area of a market any longer. It’s now the entirety of the markets as a whole.

Preposterous you say? Fair enough. So let’s think this through since it’s a long weekend for pondering such hypotheticals via the proverbial 50,000 ft. view from above.

During the dot-com boom you had insane valuations and metrics that perpetuated the narrative of “this time it’s different.” In some ways it was, for as I sit here typing away both the machines I use as well as the delivery channels were truly revolutionary. Yet, as far as the business models that came along as it progressed; anyone with commonsense could see it wasn’t that different. Bubbles are bubbles and are easy to see. The hard part is convincing people they’re in the midst of one. Till they pop.

Currently we are within proximity of surpassing those very lofty dot-com highs. For all intents and purposes based on the recent markets behavior we could eclipse it within a week. (we are less than 5% away via the latest NASDAQ™ close)

Remember, this was a contemporary “mania” high. And should not be viewed in the same context as previous so-called “mania” points that eventually get surpassed via the monetary evolutionary process of inflation or time passed. i.e., The value of the markets in 1929 as compared to today.

No, this high watermark is well within recent memory and applicable to today for statistical comparison. So let’s take this comparison – and compare it shall we?

It is widely accepted the culmination of the bubble bursting dot-com era took place in the early months of 2000. Let’s forget charts as a comparison for they really don’t fit the purpose for analogy. But we can use one that’s simple in terms as well as understandable.

At that time the tech laden index NASDAQ was considered to be a rocket-ship soaring to newer and ever-increasing heights in ways either not equal to, or, as in the acceleration as compared to the other main indexes.

One could use the visual as the NASDAQ embodying the description for a modern glass skyscraper adding floors at a blistering rate while towering above the older more masonry styled counterparts. i.e., As compared to the industrial averages or other aggregates.

Today, not only are we about to either match or surpass that once dizzying height but (and it’s a very big but) we have already done the equivalent in all those other major indexes in resemblance of the NASDAQ of the 90’s. The NASDAQ when it matches or breaks its past mania high will be: the laggard!

And why have we set these new records? Has it been an expanding economy since the Great Recession? Have we expanded businesses and innovations, and industrial output and might that would rival a revolution comparable to the tech of 90’s fame? Nope. Not even close.

The only revolution that has taken place is in the adulteration of the markets DNA (i.e., the business cycle) via Keynesian experiments of money printing and injections creating a newer version or hybrid of tulips. And It would appear as long as there are flowers too be seen from the windows of the hallowed halls; it is assumed by dint whether they are real or plastic: Everything is coming up flowers. So why mess with such Keynesian beauty? Be “patient.”

Problem is this current tulip covered island being created and perpetuated will have less in common with a fantasy island, and more with the one borne by the infamous Dr. Moreau if the current Dr.’s at the Eccles building orchestrating this experiment of monetary policy don’t grasp just how much of an abomination they’ve created.

Just what rationality (unless you’re an “everything is awesome” ostrich) could possibly explain markets inching ever higher into record extremes when economic drivers such as retail sales, household spending, home sales, and more are falling off a cliff?

What’s even more troubling is the only metric rising in comparison are social programs such as increased rolls on food-stamps and others! Tag onto this the possibility of escalation or other unforeseen incidents causing an uncontrollable spiral for, or into conflict whether it be in Ukraine or Middle East.

All this while simultaneously our embassy in Yemen was over-run needing to be abandoned and is now flying the flag of an adversary. And the markets tick higher, and higher relentlessly and irregardless of any possible danger.

Military personnel as well as officials had to be scrambled out as well as evacuated in ways harboring back memories not recalled in decades. And the markets not only don’t retreat or even stall in any fashion, but rather – push once again to even higher highs. Sorry, somethings wrong. Terribly wrong with this picture.

As if the above isn’t enough to make one shake their head in disbelief. It doesn’t even take into account the possible catastrophic overhang currently taking place in Europe. e.g., Greece.

As we sit here in the U.S. during a holiday weekend resulting in an abbreviated session for our equity markets it is quite possible while our markets are closed, we may find that Greece has unequivocally decided to exit the Euro-zone. And in so doing completely repudiate any, if not all, former agreements as to how (or if) loans currently being serviced will be paid.

The contagion risks to such an event are at best market disrupting. And at worst a “Minsky moment” once again in the making reminiscent of 2008. And the markets interpretation of all this as expressed via the VIX™ as well as other fear gauging or protection buying indicators? (insert crickets here)

The silence is so deafening all that one can infer is that many still truly believe “everything is awesome” buy, buy, buy! For the Fed must surely “have their back” as now documented by the once again record high closings.

Who needs to understand economic indicators, profits or losses, and all that old tired drivel once used in days of yesteryear as to gauge the health of an economy or company? Does one any longer need to understand stock picking? Forget-about-it! All one needs to know is which company is currently in the index of choice implied by the Fed. and lo and behold – you too can make a killing in stocks! Can I get a sock-puppet with that?

Want to know how the economy is performing via an indicator such as the Baltic Index? Who cares! Its fallen off a cliff so much so it’s at levels not seen in decades. “Buy. buy, buy!” How about that stalwart of domestic companies with indicative international sales Caterpillar™? A company touted by some as such an insightful indicator it’s “the only conference call you need to listen to” as to show the health of the global economy. Their own assessment via their latest earnings release? Terrible. Again who freakin’ cares! BTFATH!

What does it matter when an indicator such as the most recent 2015 report for consumer spending shows it’s the worst back to back report since 2009! Repeat after me: Who cares! Or, you can do as reportedly was stated by CNBC’s Jim Cramer after reviewing the report: “I am no longer using these aggregate retail sales reports.” Now that’s what I call “insightful analysis.” Only thing more moronic is there was a time moments like that were actually viewed as insightful.

Is it any wonder insights like this are what’s responsible to their cliff diving viewership numbers? For they’ve fallen so much so the entire channel has decided they will no longer report their numbers to Nielsen™ for review or comparison. What an example of tulip induced mania that smells like _________. (insert your choice of animal manure here.)

As far as the political ramifications are concerned, as I’ve stated more often than not this tulip styled mania taking place within our financial markets gives the illusion that reforms in policies across the business sector, as well as others, either have time to be addressed in a laissez-faire attitude, or at worst: needn’t be addressed at all. i.e., tax policies, regulations, trade agreements, social reforms, et al.

For if money has the ability to be created via a keyboard attached to nothing more than the (hope) “promise” that it’s worth its value. Why fix anything? Just print – consequences be damned. Just look at these markets! Buy, buy, buy and buy more! And don’t forget to vote and vote often!

But there are consequences, Serious consequences. And they become manifest when they enter the realm of national solvency as opposed to an arbitrary index in a stock market of record. i.e., The current calamity of debt issues revolving around Greece in particular and the ancillary countries that will follow if Greece does what it has implied it will do. e.g. Leave the Euro-zone. (EU)

Currently the battle lines in the EU and Greece is of course over debt. Without getting into the specificity of the details the underlying issue is what they owe, how much, and how will it be repaid.

However, in this Keynesian “new world order” of implied moral authority as to both the ability, as well as the efficacy to print money via keystrokes. Why should there be any discussion of “irreconcilable” circumstances when for all intents and purposes the ECB could basically buy all of Greece’s debt, put it in an imaginary account, and hold it ad infinitum with nothing more than a series of keystrokes?

Again, if one accepts the premise which began and has been implemented going on in perpetuity by Federal Reserve and currently being emulated by the ECB. If I were one of the Greek heads of state, I know what I would be arguing to the ECB: “How come you’ll print money for, or to help __________ (fill in any expressed reason you wish via Mario Draghi) and not this or, to help us? Why should we live in a form or manner of destitution when you could solve everything by means of keystrokes?”

Exactly what is “debt” currently? It can be argued it is now nothing more than what a current body with the ability to print says it is. i.e., It declares by fiat (both dictum as well as money) who it decides is a “winner” or a “loser.” For if money is now only based via a construct rather than tied to a real thing. e.g., gold, precious metals, commodities, et al. Why should one play by rules based on sound money policies when the actual current policies or exchange rate for debt is fiat? One should not gloss over the intrinsic argument inherent in that last line.

Welcome to a point in the road that has finally arrived where real arguments based in factual constructs meet the fantasy of monetary policy perpetuated via Keynesian interventions. Suddenly the all too real circumstances arrive where someone decides to pick that flower growing in the snow and express to all those watching. “They’re fake. And they’re not paying for them!”  When this happens – All bets are off.

For if it is exposed the tulips are neither fragrant, or real while trying to force Greece to pay as to bask (as in pay) in the faux garden created by central bakers the ending result will be nothing less than outright rebellion and repudiation of all of it. And that’s just the beginning. For once the other peripheral countries realize the same? I’ll state it again: All bets are off.

All of the above should cause great concern within the markets. Yet, we grind ever higher in a way reminiscent of manias past. Nothing seems to deter or phase our markets currently. Not the threat or the potential outbreak of war. Nor, the near cliff dive in economic activity now being expressed since the ending of QE. Not the collapse in the price (as well as plausible breakup) of the Euro. Or the export killing implied move in the rapid strengthening of the U.S. Dollar. None of it has measured so much as a hiccup.

U.S. Treasuries have soared and interest rates plunged within viewing distance of heights or depths not seen since the panic days of the financial crisis in ’08. All are warning signs to anyone with the slightest modicum of financial or business acumen.

And I have yet to even mentioned the current concerns emanating from the one place every “analyst” on the planet would jump on a television desk proclaiming this new economic “super-power” was going to save the economic world in a way mimicking a Tom Cruise interview with Oprah: China.

Nearly every report coming out of China detailing their current economic activity has shown to be troubling as to just how quickly things have slowed. Remember, this is a regime where the reporting of government based economic data are notorious for reporting disingenuous “rosy” figures. And their current reports are reporting ever-increasing contraction.

The figures extrapolated by others relating from key factors outside not controlled by the body politic are showing an even more stunning contraction in economic activity. In just one example; if commodities are still to be used as a basis for an assessment on exactly what is taking place there – proceed with caution with be an understatement. Yet, our own financial markets post ever higher, and higher records.

In my opinion this is a direct causation or “mania” expression and has been brought forth and fueled by what myself and others have been warning about since the inception of quantitative easing aka QE. There is just no other way to justify or quantify the true underlying reason as to why or how the markets could currently be ascending.

Day after day they continue upward to even greater dizzying heights. They now sit at levels with the lack of (or unwillingness) to show any signs of legitimate concern for an out-of-the-blue event especially with everything currently taking place.

Without the overwhelming (actual Trillions!) amount of money printed via the Fed. sloshing around from one potential crisis point or area to another this unsettling calm being displayed within the markets would not be so prominent. Let alone possible. Yet: here we are. For what could produce these recent perilous highs posted in the equities without the economic activity to express it?

Only one thing can – a mania or bubble fueled by free money. Period. Which like many of us said would be its expression.

It has become ipso facto all this money printing never found its way into the economic channels implied by the Fed. (of which we were chastised as “incapable of understanding monetary policy”) It would instead create financial bubbles and misallocation on par with manias of yesteryear. To which it is now self-evident. (that is – to those who truly wish to look)

Now it is the Fed. for all to see that has indeed walled itself off in some secret garden. It is now not only tasked with the daunting provisions of exactly what it will (or can) do next. But Valentines day has now come and past and the need for flowers has also gone with it. So what, or better yet, exactly; how will it deal with what it has produced? And who will buy what they’re selling? Will “words” help or hurt?

Their answer as of late to be “patient” does not quite have the needed gravitas one would think they tried to express when first stated. For around the world patience of all types is running very thin.

Just to give some more color unto this whole idea of having  plenty of time, or one being patient. All the above manias have another historical coincidence. They all culminated their bursting in the month of March.

I would remind one that history waits for no one. Whether ready, or not. History marches regardless. Patience be damned.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

Economists: They Can Add But Can’t Put Two and Two Together

Once again I found myself bewildered while watching financial discussions on television. Normally I would name names or point out which show I was viewing for context. However, this is no longer needed. Now it seems the depth of understanding on the very topics these supposed “experts” are schooled in – is borderline dreadful if not outright deplorable.

As usual following the immediate reporting of released data on economic activity (e.g., jobs report, consumer spending, et al) the prerequisite panel of economists are touted onto the stage to espouse why the “numbers” show or mean what they believe based upon their “expertise and knowledge.” It would seem the makeup and breath of insight on these panels has more in common with what’s typical of a reality show roundtable interview rather than anything that approaches true reality.

Usually there’s one economist from the “outside” which means; doesn’t work directly for the show, yet is a professor at one of the “go-to” producer sanctioned Ivy league alumni. Another will be the “resident” lead economist (i.e., actually does work for the show) followed by the next in rotation “everything is awesome” fund manager to decree after every economic data point (whether good or bad) that stocks are clearly “reasonably priced” and poised to go even higher.

All one needs to do to follow along is forget your rational objective analysis at the door, have another glass of the proverbial “Kool-Aid™, and chant with the congregation panel “everything is just awesome!” Why? Because it’s in the “numbers!”

Over, and over again the “numbers” are touted as if they have the same intrinsic value today as they did previously. Today the most common example to show the lunacy of how numbers are viewed by today’s economists is the now laughable 5.6% unemployment rate when compared in actual intrinsic value terms as a measurement of economic health as a print of 5.6% represented just 5 years ago.

When you listen to most of these debates by economists using today’s “numbers” one can’t help but think any release of data must be taken as holy writ. Again, from what I’ve viewed more often than not has more in common with discussions of religious doctrine more than anything resembling economic insights. For if it’s “in the book” (e.g., a government data release figure) the discussion is over and anyone taking the other side is not viewed as a contrarian. Rather: as a non-believer or heretic that now must be converted or cast away in shame.

The latest example of this occurred when the household spending numbers were released. The data revealed U.S. household spending didn’t just contract – it fell off a cliff. As broken out in a quick detail format by Zero Hedge™ it tumbled the most not in a month over month comparison basis. But dropped the most since the so-called “financial recovery” began in 2009!

How could such a statistic even be possible since the markets are at lifetime, never before seen in human history highs, job creation that allows for an unemployment rate of 5.6%, and a recent GDP print of 5%? How can this happen when “everything is awesome!?”

I listened to many discussions by economists enthralled in the minutia of the details of both the consumer spending reports, and GDP figures and was left astounded on just how they added and viewed both the “numbers” along with what they should, or should not have produced.

The most perplexing meme enveloping most of these discussions were not just their initial reaction to the data points. But rather in the way they seemed to be aghast as well as dumbfounded at the conceivability such a print could even occur within the all-encompassing ritualized mantra “the drop in crude oil is a massive tax cut to the consumer allowing them to “spend more, and spend more often.”

They all espoused how they added this, that, and the other thing. Divided for this, subtracted for that, carried the 1, adjusted for “the weather” then “seasonally adjusted” and what did they come up with for an answer as per known economic doctrine?

It was obvious this report (from their view) seems to not capture what they “know” must be taking place. And wagered this anomaly or noise laced figure will smooth itself out in the next report. For it must be assumed as fact: The consumer must have more money in their wallets if the same purchase of gasoline in now basically cut in half. And that half equals real money.

Sure sounds reasonable and bulletproof as far as economics would have one think. For 2+2 must =4. Unless of course you need it to equal 10; then you either “seasonally adjust” or state non-GAAP metrics. But I digress.

The true issue is the numbers did show exactly what the math does show. It’s in the putting of two and two together where the reasonable assumptions of objective analysis can show where that money has materialized as well as where it’s been spent.

All of that so-called new-found “savings at the pump” money that’s supposed to be burning a hole in consumers pockets to by more goodies has indeed resulted in more spending. Just not where the economists believe it should.

As added proof to this hypothesis that It is indeed being spent into the economy, the personal savings rate showed once again: It ain’t going into their bank accounts. As a matter of fact the data revealed not only was personal savings down. It was to the lowest it’s been in months. “So where’s all the money?” ask the economists perplexed and bemused. For surely if their math is correct it must be somewhere? Right?

Yes, it is right. And it’s also right there – under their noses. But either they’re blind to the observation as to make a calculus. Or, just like the gospels of yesteryear that were denied canonization, they must be neither recognized – nor spoken as to have ever existed in today’s version of economic theology. For admission of such an observation would be blasphemy, possibly punishable with banishment, as well as excommunication from the televised “financial” media.

So again, where ‘s the proof for my claim? Simple: Healthcare spending. i.e., required new out-of-pocket expenses relating to that tax (which should not be spoken) “ObamaCare.”

Household spending is down in direct proportions (if one really wants to look at correlations) to the increased out-of-pocket outlays now mandated for households as well as individuals, and businesses in accordance to the now never-ending rollout of new payments and penalties required to stay in compliance with the effects mandated by the new healthcare laws. And these new mandates for one to spend their “gas savings” on – are just getting started.

Remember it is this same choir of economists relentlessly chanting the homily of “Everything Is Awesome” when GDP prints miracle numbers such as 5% with such zealousness – it would make a backwoods styled congregation leader envious. For it would seem if the numbers appear in the “canonized” report: It’s to be viewed as gospel and free from question. For one must have “faith” the numbers are real. Period.

For those that may question the reason I state: they can add, but can’t come to a conclusion based in reality. May I remind you once again where that “everything is awesome” meme stems from? i,e., A print of 5% GDP. To wit:

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 12.28.56 PM

 

It would appear that “gas savings” that put money back into consumers pockets came about just in time to make it into the collection plate. So for my money, when it comes to this new theology of economics. I’d rather be with the heretics. Maybe we don’t understand how they can believe the numbers they recite. But we do know one thing above all else.

We won’t partake in the Kool-Aid.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

A Thought For Today’s Entrepreneur

Specificity. There are times you need to be both specific as well as controlling as to the amount of choices you provide to a potential client.

There are a myriad of reasons for why a potential sale can fall thru. Yet, one of the most prevailing reasons that is overlooked is the overburdening amount of choices given to a prospective client.

The overwhelming need as to show, “See, we have everything, in every color, at every price known to exist.” usually leaves a general impression not of “impressed” but more along the lines of “oppressive.” i.e. Choice fatigue.

Nine times out of ten the response you’ll receive will be exactly what you didn’t want to hear. But it will be a response precisely in accordance with all of your own doing. e.g., The client states, “That’s great! Let me think about it.” As they ponder in the back of their mind “Holy smokes what if I pick the wrong one? I’ll just have wasted my time and money!”

You can relate during your presentations that you do in fact have a myriad of choices to fit the clients need. However, you should not – repeat – not ever – present your potential client with all the possibilities then ask them – to pick.

That’s for you to do. Your presentation, research, fact-finding, et al while asking pointed questions looking for real solutions should be rendered down by you to approximately three choices for the client to then pick from.

Remember, you know your product (or at least should) better than the client. If they tell you during an honest needs, analysis based discussion that they need an X to fix a Y, and you have an Xa, Xa.1, Xab.2, etc. that would do the job. It’s up to you to distinguish which would be best and present it. Not, “Well, we have these 7 to pick from so just choose the one that suits your needs.” That is a surefire way to close a door quicker and harder than a swift kick in the pants.

There should be in theory a choice of 3 when submitting a proposal whether in written or verbal form. i.e., Three choices ranging from lowest price, median priced, to a “soup to nuts.”

An example of this might be: “To fix this issue you may go with option A which is the XYZ self-administered program feature for $3000.00. Or you could go with option B which combines the XYZ package but also includes the ABC private client network for $6500.00. Then there’s always option C which includes all of both option A and B yet also includes LMNOP which eliminates all of the worries previous with constant support for $14000.00.

Then you allow the client to choose which option fits their budget and helps alleviate the issue. You may have 75 differing products or procedures at different price points. Regardless, the client is only concerned on fixing the issue. Not on how it was arrived at. For that’s what your job should be: Making the complex simple as to help them improve their condition.

Whether it’s a product or a service the formula above is the same. When a client says “I like option A but I also like some of C can you do that?” You just say “That’s why we have option B.” They like B but want to pay less? That’s why you have option A. Never reducing or commingling the options or the price.

I’m far from the first to say it, and I won’t be the last. A buyer hates to pay extra, but they hate to give up value even more. So if your options are truly value priced, sticking to those options is much easier. It helps both you as well as the client from price negotiating to death the process and focus on at what price point, as well as what level, both parties want to engage as to remediate a fix, or accelerate potential growth opportunities.

Here’s an example based on the multitude of choices for just the simple choice of ice-cream as to push the point home into your gut…
How long does one think it takes the average patron as to decide which ice cream flavor they’ll have when confronted with 300 choices? You would be surprised, the one’s that will take the longest will more than likely in the end pick just plain ole vanilla or chocolate. It’s referred to as “choice overload.”

If you wanted to induce an answer with near immediacy one might ask something along the lines of, “What is your favorite Ice cream?” When they say, “Oh I love strawberry!” You might say, “That’s great! Would you like to try a cone of our newest flavor strawberry/peach? Or, how about a float made with strawberry/banana? Or maybe you’d like to try a sundae made with our ‘strawberry too die for’ imported from the Antarctic? It’s more expensive than the rest, but well worth the price for a strawberry adventure.”

If it can be done for ice cream rest assured, it can be applied to whatever you’re selling also.

Even if it’s an M&A restructuring proposal worth billions in sales, and millions in potential profits.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

Brian Williams: When Smart People Do Dumb Things

The current controversy enveloping the news anchor for NBC® Brian Williams is both growing in furor as well as out right shock. As many of you have probably heard he has come under direct fire that is quite real as opposed to the fictional accounts he’s been extolling about a helicopter incident he had in Iraq a few years ago.

Basically the narrative revolved around the central premise that Mr. Williams himself was aboard a military helicopter that received hostile fire and was not only hit by an RPG, but consequently put down in the desert where they then remained for days. Pretty hair-raising stuff for seasoned military personnel to be part off let alone for a civilian news anchor.

One would think the details of such an event would be chiseled in stone within one’s memory of exactly what took place and more. Especially for a person with the credentials of Mr. Williams. After all: reporting and describing the details so that an audience would (or could) imagine the incident as seen through his eyes via television is after all what he has been paid to do for most of his career.

The real issue here that has been brought forth is not that he embellished the story. For if that were what had happened many (including myself) would cut him some slack. After all, no matter how much we want as Jack Webb would state : “Please, give us the facts, and only the facts.” television news has been and always will have, an element of “embellishment” somewhere as to get you to watch. Whether it be in the title of a story, or the way a sound clip as a promo is produced, etc.

It’s part of the game and always has been. Adults with any semblance of critical thought can discern when it’s taking place. However: Outright lying or fiction made up from whole cloth is quite another. There should be no room for discussion on the consequences. Personally I believe he should resign immediately or be fired forthright. Period. Harsh? Yes, however I’m not alone.

It has just been reported that Tom Brokaw the very person Mr. Williams replaced after his retirement has publicly insinuated the same. Usually when situations like these happen to media figures (regardless of the media venue) the old guard as well as others circle the wagons first as to try to help give the beleaguered brethren a bit of breathing room to possibly recant, or in some cases, to even double down if need be as to defend themselves.

Media people understand what their own “media” can do to a person quickly. So in a show of solidarity, many will just try to help one catch some arrows till one can catch their breath. Yet, this time there is no way to defend. It’s prima facie. Mr. Williams account of the incident was a total fabrication.

Not only is that real news – is allows for one heck of a headline that can’t be embellished any other way but for what it is. “Top TV News Anchor: EXPOSED AS A LIAR!” Details at 6. The only people who still think (or believe) they can withstand the public disgust of such a revelation is Mr. Williams and the current management at NBC.

The real issue that came to light is not that this was a case where embellishment took on a life of its own. Where the subject suddenly found themselves riding a tiger and couldn’t get off. Things like that happen all the time. All of us at one time or another have had our own version of this happening to us in one form or another at some point in our lives albeit on a smaller scale. e.g., You’re mistakenly credited with doing a good deed for someone as a kid or adult when in reality it was out of happenstance and nothing more. Where you may have found it was easier to just say “It was no big thing” and shrug off any further discussion as to possibly quell the entire issue. We’ve all experienced our own version or circumstance of this in one form or another.

The difference here is: this was not an embellishment. Not a “taken out of context” styled incident. This is a case of outright lying. For it has now been both exposed as well as reported that Mr. Williams recant of him being aboard a military helicopter, taking live fire including being downed by an RPG, crashing, and being stranded in the desert for days has more in common with outright fiction and make-believe than anything resembling the truth.

What could possibly make this hoax of valor worse? It was made up, reported, and perpetually recanted on numerous other television and radio shows in greater and greater details of fiction by the one in the same top “news” anchors in all of media today. This is just astounding in both the scope as well as just how deeply Mr. Williams immersed and plunged himself within this fabrication.

When one listens to his public apology that was aired a few nights ago during his television report where he tried to explain how he bumbled his effort as to “thank” or “honor” a veteran, if that was all one had listened to, or knew about, one may think at first blush “OK, no real big deal, sh** happens.” However, it’s when you remember or listen to him recant the story as well as the details as he did when appearing with David Letterman does one fully grasp just how far down the rabbit hole he went.

There is no other way to view using just this one example of how the storyline was portrayed by Mr. Williams himself; and not come away with he was intentionally fabricating, and taking credit for surviving something that never happened. (at least to him)

In today’s world one would think the very people at the top echelon of media would not only know but understand (for it at one time was their job to know and expose) there’s no way stuff like this won’t be exposed. Yet, what’s just mind-boggling is not only was there no pretense as to squelch or tone it down, but rather he “Turned it up to 11″ This was not only stupid – it’s idiotic.

The main stream media (especially that of television) is currently in the death throes of any semblance of credibility, let alone believability. As more and more incidents resembling the likes of these continue, the quicker as well as scope of their ratings failures will persist. For this is no longer a symptom – it’s now a full-blown metastasized cancer plaguing the main stream media as a whole.

If the main stream television needs any form of second opinion to understand just how far their standards for credibility have fallen they need look no further than to who is coming out publicly swinging as to help defend Brian Williams during this controversy: Dan Rather.

Need I say more?

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

Profiting At The Bottom Line™

This month’s focus: A customer’s perspective of your “market cap.” is a double-edged sword.

All businesses want to appeal to as broad of a customer base as possible. Solo practitioners want to appear as if they’re a global conglomerate. Global conglomerates want to appear as if they are nibble enough to compete with the solo practitioner. And so it goes back and forth.

The issue many times is neither side truly understands how they are viewed in their customers eyes. All they can visualize is what “they believe” instead of what is actually true via the customers eyes and perspective. The opinion held by most Boards, CEO’s, entrepreneurs, etc. many times is diametrically opposed to what the customer actually believes. So much so, that the consequences resulting between the two can have consequences far more reaching than just a “market impression.”

Case Study: Early in my career I purchased for all intents and purposes would be considered a small business. After the initial purpose I began to seek other ventures to incorporate into the fold. With this I decided to create an umbrella styled entity or company where I would keep the original trademarked names and list or treat it as a subsidiary of my overall corporate structure. i.e., My Newest Acquisition™: A subsidiary of My Corporation Inc. All pretty basic stuff.

Then during the savings and loan crisis of the 90’s like everyone else I found myself in the middle of the financial morass. Businesses were closing left and right. Getting customers to pay within terms (or at least adhere to some semblance of terms) was becoming more and more problematic with every passing day. So much so that one of the business I had leased out which I owned went belly up; leaving me stuck with back rent, utility bills and more right at the worst of times. I was scrambling trying to make ends meet. It wasn’t until I needed to visit a customer who was in the rears as to try to collect did I get an eye-opening about perception vs reality via the customers eyes.

As I sat in this customers office and explained the need to resolve the issue (at least to where it was workable) the customer abruptly cut me off during the talks in mid-sentence and stated, “Look, I’m just a small guy, with a small business. This company you work for “My Corporation Inc. Obviously they’re large enough to handle this loss. I’m probably not even a speck on their balance sheet in respect to their size. Do me a favor, go back and tell them: I just don’t have the money and they’ll have to wait! Trust me – it won’t really matter to them.” I was dumb founded.

You see what I didn’t tell you at the outset was on my business cards it stated “My Newest Acquisition™ – a subsidiary of My Corporation Inc. That was on my business card with my name – no title. (I eschew titles or the need for alphabet soup after a name) All this customer ever knew was “My Newest Acquisition™.” I never professed I was the actual owner, in my own dire straights, trying to collect what I now knew to be “blood from a stone.” It was a lesson in “how you’re really viewed” that was worth the money lost in retrospect. For I was never able to collect from this person in the end.

To this day I still eschew the whole “Title” or “alphabet soup” on business cards and stationery. Usually these suffixes or “ego badges”  do nothing more than just cloud discussions. Sometimes it’s far easier, as well as instructive to be nothing more than an employee. (which technically is true) Because understanding what your customer really believes about who you are, and what your company truly represents maybe a costly undertaking. But the insight you’ll garner for all future endeavors – is priceless.

© 2015 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.

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