The Problem With Kids Today: They’re 26!

(Note: Usually Mark doesn’t “repost” older articles but we were asked for permission on this one in response to a current discussion about millennials and their current work ethics. And after reading it once again we thought it was worth another post. It was originally written in 2012 although it seems to carry just as much relevance today.    -V.V.  StreetCry Media)

 

Every generation as they grow older looks at the ones coming up with a jaundiced eye. They look and say “In my day we walked to school – barefoot – in snow – uphill – both ways!” However there seems to be something quite different today. Everybody’s still in school.

Although many will pile on that kids are different today because of this or that, I’ll contend there is one over arching reason for the problems that plague most of them: Most never had the ability to learn or start adulthood early as many like myself did.

We started becoming self-sufficient at about age 13. For those trying to put the age to a year. I was born in the early 1960’s. So that’s my time frame for this discussion.

When I was a kid we had very little. My father left and child support was something akin to unicorns. I had relatives that helped when possible, but basically money was tight.  So if I wanted something I had to work for it. The difference between then and today is this – I could. By the age of 12 or 13 a kid could find work one way or another. Today that world is as ancient or as mythical as Aesop’s fables.

People of my ilk worked a myriad of jobs growing up. One example not just in my town but nearly everywhere were local grocery stores of one size or another. You would go in and ask the owner if he had anything you could do. This usually came back with a yes. Then you would find yourself doing the most disgusting, gruesome cleaning of some corner or backroom that the owner just never had the time (or guts) to clean themselves. So if you wanted to make money, there you’d go.

But we did it. Why? Because you needed to earn or you went without. There was no alternative. Did they take advantage of us? Well – yes, and no. Some paid better than others. Some you never went back to, and some you could end up working there steady part or full-time. However if you wanted clothes, arcade money, bicycles, or (heaven help you) a car. You did what ever was available. Period.

Those opportunities no longer exist. Today an owner can’t take the chance of hiring a kid for fear of being called before a committee on child labor laws. And God forbid that kid ever received so much as a paper cut. The parents would have a midtown lawyer suing you faster than one can bag groceries. (I believe you have to be 18 today to do that also)

Another way to earn was you could always get a route delivering newspapers. We all had one at one time or another. Some had more than one, and you could earn substantial money for a kid if you were good. All you needed was your feet and back. No barrier with age. If you could do the route, it was yours whether 12, 13, and so on.

Another great difference is this. When we were 16 or 17 most of us wanted nothing more than to be out of school and working so we could run our own lives. Every single person I knew wanted to get a job and move out on their own. Personally I was out of my mother’s home at 17. I was not an outlier. So were most of the people I grew up with.

The effect of starting so early for us was that by the age of 26 we were far away from anything that could ever be called a kid. Today’s generation looks upon their 20’s as a reason to still live at home, stay on mom & dad’s insurance, and continue going to school. The antitheses of everything we were just a short time ago.

Just for context. When I was 16 (and skipping school) I Finagled a job at the local bar to clean. By 17 I was a bartender. (Drinking age was 18 then) At 19 I was the manager, and had an apartment on top of the club. At 23 I made upper management in the meat business, and by 25 conducted my first leveraged buyout and became a CEO. (that’s just a thumbnail sketch)

Today far too many “kids” are living in their parent’s basement or attic. Today those areas are finished with game rooms, bathrooms, separate entrances or more. For us, there wasn’t any of that.

If your parents owned a home in the first place the attic or basement was for storage only. It was used that way because it was either smelly, mildewed, nasty, or all that combined. No place you were going to spend a night let alone live. Yet, a broken down drafty studio apartment of you own with barely any furniture was like paradise because – it was yours!

The take away from all this was our exposure to a work ethic, and we gained early insight into life’s truths that if you wanted something; you had to go out and get it yourself.

However there’s also another side of all this that doesn’t get talked about: The knowing or learning just how hard some jobs were, and how difficult it was for the people who filled them. Many of us that worked in places whether they’d be factories or something else saw just what a real “hard days” work meant.

I remember when I was working in the mills pushing an 1100 pound rolling lunch wagon through the floors of the local textile mills. Right where people were working at their stations making shoes, clothes. leather, and more. You saw up close and personal what the term “work” meant. You also instinctively knew if you didn’t want that for yourself – you had better start getting on the ball with your own life because if you didn’t – life was going to be getting on with you.

That kind of stark reality is not available to today’s youth. I mean truly, what is considered a tough job for today’s “kids?” Flipping burgers? Working at the mall? That would be seen as gravy work compared to some 14-year-old kid cleaning out grease traps in a local grocery store. However you can’t flip a burger till you’re about 18 today because of insurance fears. Which again is the main part of the problem.

The biggest challenge to “kids” today in my opinion is this:

As they continue considering what they want to do with their lives, the adults that are ahead of them with decades of learned experience look and feel healthier than the “kids” that are now half their age.

And coming up behind are the other 26 year old “kids” that skipped the whole school thing and now have nearly a decades worth of real work and life experience while they may have also simultaneously taken night courses.

So whom do you think will be more valuable in today’s turbulent workforce? The ones that went to work 10 years ago now toting a near decades worth of work experience? The healthier adults of this day and age with decades of real experience? Or a “kid” just out of school with some degree at 26 living at home with their parents?

Think about it. Because life doesn’t think – it does.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

The Next Big Thing: The Old Model Becomes The New

First let me start as to supply a little context…

If there’s been one thing that surely meets the definition of “it’s different this time, it is this:

When it comes to business models: If it’s delivered via the “everything social” model – free is not only the starting price for most products or services, it may also be – the only price.

I believe and propose this model; the one that empowered most everything consumed today on the internet via the “everything social” model, is not only about to change; some of the largest purveyors of this model will be crushed into irrelevancy, if not outright oblivion in the not so distant future. So as not to be mincing my words, or accused of being coy, here’s precisely what I’m arguing:

The “everything social model” currently coveted by Silicon Valley and others; and responsible for the likes of Facebook™, Twitter™, et al is in the beginning stages of imploding upon itself.

Big call? Yes. Some will even state (in particular “The Valley” itself) I don’t know what I’m talking about, and even more will say “impossible.” Especially with the likes of Facebook (FB) once again soaring towards the stratosphere. (I’ll argue that’s just an exposure rotation before earnings) However, that’s what I see coming over the horizon in the not so distant future. Here’s my reasoning…

Think what you want about “fake news” and its impact via media reports. What can not be denied is this: Social media (and some media in general) has taken up digital arms as to protest, slur, slander, name call, dehumanize, threaten, and more what can only be interpreted as half the U.S. population.

In other words: If you supported/support the president-elect, or have a differing viewpoint than the now “enraged snowflake culture” in any way, shape, manner, or form? You are now deemed an enemy and will be persecuted by any means possible via social media. This punishment might also be administered via the companies themselves whether it be some form of outright takedown, “denial of service”, or some variation such as simply not allowing content to reach an intended or, even paid-for audience. (see Crowder vs FB for more insight)

And therein lies “the devil in the details” that so many, I believe, are glossing over. For that little detail (e.g., the possibility of dejecting 50% of current users) is the “Achilles heel” of all current, as well as future valuations for the “everything social” model. Disrupt that one metric? And Silicon Valley as it’s now viewed – is gone. Period. Or said differently – “1999 is here – and wants its socket puppet back.”

When it comes to business, one thing is beyond dispute: You can’t insult, or denigrate 50% of the U.S. population which may be consuming your product or service on a consistent basis, and expect them to continue using your product or service. That goes for social media, Hollywood actors/actresses, comedians, rock stars _______ (fill in the blank).

You may remain “relevant” within certain circles, but that’s where you’ll remain. e.g., In certain circles. Not the broader audience that many of these types so vilely crave for.

I make this point not so much for the “tables turning” argument per se. What appears to be more the case is that people are getting up from these “tables” and walking out. And just like many a comedian, or aging diva were outright booed and patrons left when they began their political diatribes from the stage. So too must it be happening on these social platforms. Although the results might not show their full impact until after this current earnings quarter if I’m correct, since this current will encompass the remainder of the election cycle when both sides were heavily engaged.

But as far as the going forward? Let’s just say I’m arguing, “It’s different this time” shall we?

So here’s why I wanted to state the above for context: If I’m correct – priced for perfection metrics (which I believe all these platforms are, and then some) can’t sustain current valuations and will begin imploding upon themselves reminiscent of AOL™.

If that’s the case? So too does the “everything free” model leaving behind the only thing worth purchasing: What’s left in the remnants of technology, patents, or other forms of these companies to be bought up at bargain prices (more like fire sale) and either utilized solely, or licensed out in parts, to then be used, or offered, in subscription based, or advertiser friendly exclusionary based service models. Let me explain it using a hypothetical scenario…

What would be worth more value to both users as well as advertisers?

  1. A platform which allows you plug-ins, or extensions that had the same functionality for all intents and purposes as Twitter, FB, that you controlled with no outside interference, no outside censorship, and is controlled by you, and only you, with no outside worries about whether your content would, or would not, be removed by any outside party? Or…
  2. A platform that basically doesn’t allow you any customizable ability and is self designated itself as an outside overlord that will dictate what can, or may be seen by your customers/audience whether you agree or not?

The first is the tried and true basis of the internet: A website, email, self video or audio hosting, and the allowing (or not) of comments for immediate interactions with users or clients, all accountable to one’s own purview.

The second is Facebook, Twitter, YouTube™ et al.

Remember, this question is for those which pay for – not those consuming for free. A distinction with a very real difference.

I am further implying that those “plug-ins” of the future will be FB-like or Twitter-like extensions in the not so distant future available much in the same way as corporate-email or other proprietary services are now available for purchase to business or content providers, not stand alone companies as they are today. (I can hear the gasps coming through my screens as I type.)

If you’re a business, and you’ve watched with a careful eye what these platforms are doing for (if not too) businesses? I would implore you to rethink your “web presence” and how it currently interacts, if not unknowingly depends, on the “everything social” model for interactions with your customers or brand. For not only is it self-evident you are no longer in control of your message – you might just find your “messaging” in streams or data feeds you never dreamed possible. Here are a few to think about:

For “free” you can view live streaming on FB. Yet, of course this “free” service to end users will at some point be needed to be “paid for” by advertisers. Test live ad insertions are already in the process of being rolled out. And here’s some of the feeds you just might find your brand associated with: “Torture video of disabled man live streamed…” Or: “Girl, 12, livestreams her own suicide…” Or: “Heartbroken man commits suicide live on …” Or: “Woman Facebook live-streams her dying boyfriend…” Those are just the latest in the last 90 days or so. (I didn’t link because the partial headlines say all one needs to know)

If you think advertisers have no reason for concern? Then here’s a link to prove that assumption dead wrong. For the following was happening smack dab in the middle as those above horrific scenarios were playing out live. To wit:

“Facebook Launches a Big Ad Campaign for Facebook Live, With User Videos at the Core”

But not too worry, FB and other providers will always make sure it’s not your ad that’s inserted at the wrong time, right? Oh yeah. and just for those who say: “If they find out they’ll have to take it down immediately!” Lest you be reminded of the following given by a spokesperson for FB in reply to calls of just that from The Guardian™. To wit:

“We do not allow people to celebrate or glorify crimes on Facebook and have removed the original video for this reason. In many instances, though, when people share this type of content, they are doing so to condemn violence or raise awareness about it. In that case, the video would be allowed.”

Now if you’re worried about you ads or service being promoted in the wrong video at precisely the worst time? Maybe you’ll feel better knowing the years you spent cultivating an audience on another “free” platform will infact do the exact opposite and just remove you, and your content all together, without any regard of how it might impact you, or your business. Again, to wit:

YouTube’s without warning termination of the political and law website belonging to Legal Insurrection™.

8 years of content and customer cultivation “poof” as in gone with no regard to how it impacts the provider. Again, this isn’t like they just began throwing content up and were discovered. This is after 8 years!

Personally I’ve had my own run-ins with such early on, and is one of the main reasons for years why I’ve argued (and still do) against building any portion of one’s business reliant on these “free” models. (Personally I use none, both business or socially) And those reasons are coming to fruition and bearing “sour fruit” with an ever-increasing and steady pace. And, in my opinion, it’s just getting started yet, quickly building momentum.

If you want an example of just how inept these platforms are when it comes to being able to make sure the “right things” happen for advertisers whether it be for ads to be placed in the right places, or content not taken down arbitrarily with an almost unforgiving, if not unreachable staff as to fix, or alleviate concerns. (i.e., Trying to reach a person on these platforms is near, if not impossible in any meaningful way) Look no further than the most recent, outright laughable, public debacle of Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey getting his own user feed suspended from the platform he’s in charge of for “rules violation.”

And these are the people supposedly writing the rules for others to follow, yet, either can’t, or won’t follow their own rules to begin with? Or worse – don’t even know them!

(Remember when FB called in all those “conservative” content providers to make sure “they got things right” when calls of “censorship” were being bandied about and FB at first denied even the possibility of it, then gave a contorted apology for it, then stated they were putting in steps to fix the steps that were supposedly not happening (for it was supposedly algorithms were the sole culprit, only to find out later there were actual people involved), then culminating with a meeting where Mark Zuckerberg gave assurances himself with everyone proclaiming “He really cares!” How’s all that looking in today’s light? You know, since he’s openly since proclaimed a reverse of all of that going forward. But I digress.)

Again: And they’re the one’s controlling your brand, your messaging, your audience, and want you (as an advertiser) to pay up for more of this?

Re-read that last line and think it through a few times if you’re a business or brand? Do you feel more “confident” in those platforms today with what you now know, and have witnessed over the last few months? Or? (I’ll just pause here and let you think on your own.)

So, if the above has any merit (and I believe it has) than the question is:

How many current content providers jettison social media and take their “deplorable” users along with them reverting back to using what was once a tried and true business practice and model (i.e., owning your platform or content such as website, email, and other peripherals – with complete utter refusal to give it away for others to decide) And leaves the “free” loaders to view the mountainous remaining cat videos, or latest Kardashian escapades for themselves?

And if “user growth” metrics begin reversing on these priced-for-perfection platforms? The money (as in stock valuation) goes out the door with them.

If you want to see just how quickly this can all happen – need I remind you of LinkedIn™?

That was another “business model” I was told I hadn’t a clue about. That is – until it too went the way of needing to be “bought out” to save it. And just for curiosity…

When was the last time you heard, or were spoken too, about the “dominance” or “relevancy” of LinkedIn?

(Insert crickets here)

If you’re a business, the writing for how one should realign one’s business when it comes to the internet is right there for all to see. Control your content and customer interface – or – have your customers, as well as company, controlled by others.

In business – there’s only one choice. So choose wisely.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

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

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

Today is a two-fer.

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about how I perceived a possible political celebrity “Jump the shark” moment. It seems I wasn’t all that far off in my reasoning than some had protested.

When I first penned the article it was based on the what I presumed to be a one-off event. However, that proved not to be the case when only a week or so later another followed along the same format, albeit with what appears to be a rotating cast of celebrities.

Just a few years ago these types of ads were thought to be “so moving, so believable, so inspiring” that to even question them (particularly by those on the other side of the debate) was seen as blasphemy, punishable by public scorn not only in the media, but with friends, family, or at work. It was for all intents and purposes “taboo” to ever take the opposing side (in public that is) of the venerated celebrity with a cause.

That is, it appears, until now.

Today, not only are these types of celebrity political ads (or what I deemed “casting calls for action”) being met with little to no regard. They have recently produced the exact opposite results as in the case of electors of the electoral college switching their votes away from their “chosen” candidate to another.

Yet, what’s truly different this time (from my viewpoint) is the sudden and vociferous mocking coming from not only the general public, but also from the once timid, if not outright terrified of this once bludgeoning criticizing hammer. i.e., The side or viewpoint being scorned.

Here are just a few of the most recent: There was this mocking from Townhall™

Here’s another titled “dear celebrities

Doesn’t matter what political side of the aisle you stand on, one thing today is different that all times previous: Just a few years ago if a video was made in response it would be something on the idea of bending over backwards to show that they weren’t anything like what the “political celebrity” was portraying them to be. Today? A far different reaction, as well as response.

Not so convinced? Fair enough. So let me use another: Meryl Streep’s award speech. Or should I say – Expressions of disdain?

Whether you agree with her or not – one thing is incontrovertible: Everyone’s got an opinion on it. And the one’s who only a few years ago would just ignore it? Are today far more boisterous about their condemnation of it (and Hollywood in general) than any time in at least my memory, with one of the best examples emanating from the MMA community itself in tweet form. To paraphrase: “With all due respect to Meryl Streep…MMA may not be the arts, but then again, neither was Ricki and the Flash”

Ouch!

If you want to read more of what I’ll argue you would have never read just a few years ago, there’s UFC President Dana White’s thoughts racing across a myriad of not only media sites, but also Hollywood’s own. Again – almost unthinkable just a few years ago. All I’ll say is this: He doesn’t hold back any punches, so you’ve been forewarned.

The second comes to us from no other spot than the “Ivory Tower” itself and one of its most heralded acolytes Paul Krugman.

In an article I opined why “Princeton Math” never ads up, and my reasoning why.

Some have argued to me over the years I only use academia or “Ivory Towers” for the sole purpose as a foil. Some have argued (usually when they found I wasn’t buying what they were selling) that I was just “envious” or “secretly jealous” that I didn’t have some form of alphabet soup after my name. e.g., Ph.D, MBA, LMNOP, et cetera. As I’ve explained to near exhaustion, that’s hardly the case.

So today without further ado I would like to state for the record side by side quotes by one of the main reasons why people are charged extraordinary large sums of money to obtain said degrees from the likes of professors such as Princeton’s former resident Mr. Krugman. And why people with only remedial skills inherently know, and understand why, when they listen to his (or ilk’s) pontificating they are left either totally bewildered, completely confused, or downright stupefied. To wit:

screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-11-07-40-am

( Image Source: and you can read more here)

And that my friends is why not only the Ivory Towers of academia and the economic community at large is finding itself more along the lines of a running joke, rather than anything once beholden to a “sheepskin” stamp of approval.  After all, when academia thinks it’s just dandy to charge well into 6-figures for that sheepskin only to leave taught, and thinking (and worse believing) 2+2=5 ? Maybe that’s why this years yearly gathering of academia was met with its own realization or feelings of, “Wait…What?” To wit:

Via the WSJ™: “Top Economists Grapple With Public Disdain for Initiatives They Championed”

Not to worry I guess, after all, more money is always the solution we’re told by academia. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone tuitions are expected to once again rise. So when that bill arrives? Just apply the same math of 2+2=5 to your checking account. And if the check bounces? Just explain you used their math to balance you checkbook and if there seems to be insufficient funds that they should just forgive the debt, and give you a pass.

See how far you get.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

Footnote: These “FTWSIJDGIGT” articles came into being when many of the topics I had opined on over the years were being openly criticized for “having no clue”. Yet, over the years these insights came back around showing maybe I knew a little bit more than some were giving me credit for. It was my way of tongue-in-cheek as to not use the old “I told you so” analogy. I’m saying this purely for the benefit of those who may be new or reading here for the first time (and there are a great many of you and thank you too all). I never wanted or want to seem like I’m doing the “Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah” type of response to my detractors. I’d rather let the chips fall – good or bad – and let readers decide the credibility of either side. Occasionally however, there are, and have been times they do need to be pointed out which is why these now have taken on a life of their own. (i.e., something of significance per se that may have a direct impact on one’s business etc., etc.) And readers, colleagues, and others have requested their continuance.

A Thought (Or Warning) About Future Advertising On Social Media

Over the last few years social media has been used as a pummeling stone for many an activists tool box. It doesn’t matter the organization or affiliation. All that mattered was whether or not the “activist” could impose their will upon what ever the subject matter was which they deemed as “their” movement of choice. Right, left, middle ______ (fill in the blank) it’s been used by all, granted, some with more frequency and fervor than others.

Usually the number one call (or tool) used are the across-the-board calls for boycotting of the now targeted, bulls-eyed offending person, service, product, or company. Sometimes, the call is for all.

More often than not businesses of all stripes will do “whatever it takes” as to make it stop. Even if they didn’t do anything wrong to begin with. For in business one of the first rules is: Never let your business, yourself, or employees be seen doing anything, or promoting anything, that could cost you business. Period.

It’s what I call the “Rule 1.A”  of business. For if Rule 1 is – don’t lose money, and Rule 2 is – see Rule 1. Failing to understand there is Rule 1.A can lose you more business, or money, faster than Rule 2 can ever be applied.

So here we are today with businesses (or brands) as squeamish as ever when it comes to the possibility that their products or services could be seen, or inadvertently be interpreted, in some form of “bad light” (think of all the pixellated logos you see throughout television programming) now are facing what I believe is the first real-time example showing the potential for harming, or disgracing a company, product, or brand that may have taken years, if not decades to create.

Why? Algorithmic insertion marketing. Social media’s #1 raison d’être for extracting monetary gains via the “ads for eyeballs” model.

So what makes me bring up this contemplation today? Fair question, and it’s this: The “Kidnapping” which took place in Chicago that was broadcast live on Facebook™.

Personally, I now deem this as Facebook’s not so political bias moment for reasons you can judge for yourself.

I make this observation based on the story written in The Guardian™ a few days ago and Facebook’s public statement in response. Too my eye and ear, what was reported had the all the elements for a true “Wait…What?” moment.

I read, and re-read FB’s response so many times I was going cross-eyed, and yet, I still needed to read it again just to make sure I couldn’t interpret it any other way. I’m still shocked.

In this report from The Guardian, Facebook refused to explain (“refused” meaning not sounding like utter nonsense) why the live streaming torture video wasn’t taken down sooner. As I inferred, it isn’t that they refused to answer, it’s what they did state as a reason that was far more alarming. Here is what was given as an explanation by a spokeswoman for the company. To wit:

“We do not allow people to celebrate or glorify crimes on Facebook and have removed the original video for this reason. In many instances, though, when people share this type of content, they are doing so to condemn violence or raise awareness about it. In that case, the video would be allowed.”

Got that? Again, don’t take my interpretation. Re-read it for yourself and try not to think “Wait…What?” for yourself.

And if you’re an advertiser on that platform and you experienced a slight case of indigestion as you read it? Congratulations is all I’ll say, because it proves you may indeed still have some sense of reality about unintended consequences and your business. Here’s why:

In that above statement there’s a defense for letting it be viewed or passed around. e.g., “In many instances, though, when people share this type of content, they are doing so to condemn violence or raise awareness about it. In that case, the video would be allowed.”

So with that reasoning it is also very plausible, as well as highly likely based on what happened, and the reasoning articulated by a spokesperson representing FB, that videos such as this may indeed happen again with FB’s blessing if they deemed it met the aforementioned criteria in their eyes.

Does anyone else see the implications here? For if that is so? Is it too far out to go on-a-limb to rationalize that maybe since everything is becoming more, and more “sponsored” (after-all that’s how “free” is paid for) that a video such as this can (or will) come across a users “news” feed or whatever it’ll be called at the time with some form of promotional advertising associated with it?

Think I’m off base or just making a brouhaha out of nothing? Fair point. So let’s use the visual (since that’s what this was) and I’ll add my own example for instructive purposes only and ask you to see just how far off-base my concerns are. ready?

(Image source from the afore referenced Guardian article)

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-12-10-40-pm

This video brought to you by ______________ (fill in the most politically incorrect phobic corporation of choice here – along with its tagline.) Also: If it’s you? Better hope your tagline doesn’t enhance the offensiveness making matters even worse. Think about it.

See what I mean? Or should I say, “Are you feeling it?” For that’s the reason why you may have had that moment of queasiness earlier. And again, if you did? Congratulations – for it proves you’re thinking.

If I were to put on my consulting hat and was facing a gathering of companies seeking advice for advertising in the coming months here’s how I would open the meeting:

I would show the above picture on the large screen behind me along with the “This video brought to you by _______” then state the following…

“If you’re an advertiser, or brand this should be viewed as a warning sign (adorned with big flashing letters and blinkers) for the potential of outright PR disasters in the not so distant future, although that “future” may-in-fact be already here.”

Then: I wouldn’t make another sound or movement for what would seem as uncomfortably long time. Then I might proceed with the following…

“In the “ads for eyeballs” model it’s inherent that every feature, every note, article, banner, whatever, must be paid for by an advertiser in one form or another. For “Free” to the end-user usually means “paid for” by an advertiser. And advertisers such as yourselves don’t pay for anything unless your names are attached to it in some form or fashion, which only makes sense. So now here’s the quandary:

If targeted ads have now shown their worth (as in not worth it) that even the largest ad buyer on the globe P&G™ has opted out for more saturating coverage as opposed to targeted. (not forgetting this was social media’s touchstone value proposition) That means algorithmic based insertion of ads should now be the de facto model of choice.

And if that’s true? That means based on algorithmic models (how many clicks, age group, et cetera, et cetera) the most politically incorrect phobic of companies may/can/will? find themselves inserted into, or guilty by association in videos such as the above. It’s a very reasonable conclusion. And being so “reasonable” makes it ever the more concerning.

However, concerning as that may be? What should be far more concerning to you as advertisers is FB’s official statement as to its legitimacy of not only not being taken down with immediacy, but rather, why similar incidents may in fact not be taken down at all if FB deems it.

Remember, as per FB’s own spokesperson: “In many instances, though, when people share this type of content, they are doing so to condemn violence or raise awareness about it. In that case, the video would be allowed.”

So with that in mind here’s what you must now comprehend: It may be you, and your ad dollars, touted boldly as the sponsor for bringing such content to millions with said content not being taken down until far after the damage (as in a negative affect about your brand, company, or service) may in fact have already been done.

For you may only find out about it after the fact. And “after” may be well after., remembering the above stayed up some 30 minutes before outrage finally caused it to be taken down. “Outrage” being a fluid term. What if a level of outrage wasn’t hit for an hour? 24? A week? Or, as per FB might deem it “appropriate” and should be allowed to stay up? All being brought to them by your ad dollars and stated as so.

But then again, “social media” activists or causes will always take your explanation that it “Wasn’t your fault!” or “Your company would never stand or support such things!” first, when, or if, it could be shown it was only some stupid “robot” that inserted your ad, correct?”

I leave it there and ask you to ponder the above for your own conclusions.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

Is Social Media’s “Ads for Eyeballs” Valuations About To Be Eviscerated?

There’s a peculiar tone emanating from the social media space. It’s a little hard to hear, but if you listen closely, it’s there none the less. That sound is the sudden gasp of realization that the most dominating reasoning and defense that encompassed the entire social media space may in fact being laid-to-waste right before their screens. That horror?

The eyeballs for ads model doesn’t work. And – it’s being stated by one of their own. (Insert the scary music tones here)

In a blog post the online publishing platform Medium™ stunned what I refer to as “The Valley” (i.e., the everything social and disruption purely for its own sake devotees) when it announced two stunning proclamations. The First: It was jettisoning about one-third of its workforce. Second: The reasoning behind it, Here’s an excerpt, to wit:

“We also saw interest from many big brands and promising results from several content marketing campaigns on the platform.
However, in building out this model, we realized we didn’t yet have the right solution to the big question of driving payment for quality content. We had started scaling up the teams to sell and support products that were, at best, incremental improvements on the ad-driven publishing model, not the transformative model we were aiming for.
To continue on this trajectory put us at risk — even if we were successful, business-wise — of becoming an extension of a broken system.
Upon further reflection, it’s clear that the broken system is ad-driven media on the internet. It simply doesn’t serve people. In fact, it’s not designed to.”

I encourage you to read their entire post for your own conclusions. So, with that said, I’ll now give you my “two cents.”

Is it not funny how the “ads for eyeballs” model which was the be-all, end-all model to $BILLION dollar riches and IPO cash out dreams suddenly finds itself being shunned (i.e., self implied “Needs another model”) by none other than a company whose CEO once founded one of social media’s most coveted “ads for eyeballs” companies? (e.g. Twitter™)

Now to be fair the article does in fact state 2016 was their best year yet, with “readers and published posts up 300% year on year.” Those are impressive statistics. Also, I don’t know anything other than what I read in the aforementioned post. It may be in fact this outlet wishes to transform itself, or its business model, purely for the sake of journalistic integrity. And if that is indeed the case I wholeheartedly commend them. Yet, what falls short via my acumen is the timing. Here’s the reasoning…

Let’s use just one of the said key metrics: “Readers.”

If an “ads for eyeballs” designed platform experiences a 300% year-over-year growth in the sole bedrock, fundamental, metric of the “ads for eyeballs” formulation. Would that not mean, or at least one could rationally infer, the YoY profits realized by supplying ads to a tripling of “eye balls” in one year warrants an explosion of generated profits?

For another sentence caught my eye which doesn’t seem to fit if readership was up 300%. e.g., “Even if we’re successful.”

This is a very critical point to ponder. i.e., If a 300% increase in viewership YoY didn’t move the needle as to not state “even” implying that it is not – than what would?

Again, for It needs to be repeated: The basic core metric that allows the entirety of the “eyeballs for ads” argument to even exist – is – the reasoning behind dismantling, and jettisoning one-third of the company?  Remember, they state, “Our vision, when we started in 2012, was ambitious: To build a platform that defined a new model for media on the internet.”

It can be reasonably assumed it did just that – and in spades! (e.g. 300% growth in “eyeballs” this past year alone.) And for that comes the conclusion to immediately lop off 1/3 of staffing and announce a complete change or overhaul to its business structure?

This is like stating (if we’re to take the reasoning at face value) “We’ve tripled the #1 key metric that supports (and advertisers will pay for) the entire “ads for eyeballs” model, and for that accomplishment – we’re downsizing, and laying off 1/3 of you. Great job, and here’s looking at 2017, cheers!”

Something just doesn’t square here from my perspective, or opinion.

Let me express it this way: What can be rationally inferred by anyone with just a modicum of business acumen in this underlying quandary? Or said differently:

What was the decision-making process that impelled a company to jettison one-third of its personnel along with simultaneously stating a dismantling of its former business model first (and that’s a very key point) not after it tried to change that very model as some form of “work in progress” putting what can only be inferred as an ever-increasing hardship on both authors, or content providers, If, the sole intention is to reward those content creators to begin with?

Is that not as they say “Throwing the baby out with the bath water?” Unless…

A 300% increase in readership didn’t mean squat to paying advertisers because – all they were getting was the bill for more “ad sales” and no sales. So they in-turn are now stating: Thanks, but no thanks. (Think P&G™ and its decision to jettison one of Facebook™ most coveted ad models)

Personally, I feel it’s more of this, than the former, and is becoming so prevalent, it can no longer be ignored. i.e., The writing’s on the balance sheets.

There’s a reason why I make this point. For I once was involved with advertising (albeit years ago) and actually ran and designed a campaign for a multi-national consumer brand which still runs to this day decades later. And it is this:

Advertisers rarely scale down or remove ad dollars from venues that produce sales. And what they surely won’t do, is remove or scale-down ads from a venue that can demonstrate increasing sales. Especially one that has shown a growth in audience of some 300% YoY. For if the audience has grown, surely, that implies any successful prior ad sales during that period should also have been the benefactor of explosive sales results. Maybe not 1 for 1 as in 300%, however, explosive in comparison YoY should be apparent nonetheless.

So in reaction to this – you’re now going to tell not only those advertisers, but also those which benefited by osmosis: Thanks, but we’re not going to take “that” money anymore? And along with it (as implied by how it was generated per the article) will more than assuredly see “readership” drop? Along with asking them to either continue campaigns or start anew?

How does that make sense from a business perspective I ask? Why wouldn’t an attrition model be implemented first? i.e., Make changes as you go, and as the “ad revenue” was still coming in, and scale down on a more favorable time schedule? i.e., Not jettison one-third of its employees onto the unemployment rolls right after the holidays. Unless? Hint: Maybe it wasn’t.

Again, if you take the rationale stated in the above article at face value? It’s very hard to infer anything else but. Sure, it sounds altruist and is absolutely fine if that’s the true driver. However, with that said, here’s another one of those very troubling questions that seem to pop into my mind which I can’t seem to jettison:

How are the remaining advertisers now going to view Medium? i.e., Is the remaining audience for 2017 worth what they were paying in 2016? After all – Medium openly stated or implied “that” prior audience is not what they want, and with it, will reshape into something different. That “different” can rationally be assumed as – smaller. Also: how are advertisers now to view all the other “ads for eyeballs” purveyors after this revelation? Are their sales metrics (i.e., eyeballs) worth paying for?

And it is there which lies-the-rub, for that is diametrically the opposite of everything “The Valley” currently stands on. Or, more importantly – is funded and valued by Wall Street.

And yet, here is Medium, itself a well coveted outlet of “The Valley” openly stating “ads for eyeballs” doesn’t work, even in the face of 300% eyeball growth, which is the metric-of-metrics of everything that is “The Valley.”

If I’m correct in my understanding of advertisers, and advertising? That “new vision” will not be well received in today’s business climate, for that meme was told, and more importantly – sold to them incessantly, fueling and enabling the entire “ads for eyeballs” model that supported multi-$BILLION valuations and IPO cash out dreams at their expense. Literally.

Again: now with Medium itself openly stating it doesn’t work? Or, at the very least, isn’t worth it?

Let’s just say for many of today’s priced for perfection “eyeballs for ads” companies? It may as well be another nail in the proverbial “it’s different this time” coffin. For this time – it may be advertisers themselves that are reading the “news.”

With all the above said let me clarify one point, for I’ve been asked this on multiple occasions whether at a speaking event, or by friends:

I’m not saying there’s no place for the “Ads For Eyeballs” business. That’s a foolish notion. You may in fact be reading this article on one supported by that very model (and if you are I encourage you to support those advertisers should you need of their services). What I am stating unequivocally is this:

The rationale that the “eyeballs for ads” model coupled with “it’s different this time” incantations was the “magic formula” as to engender social media companies, and other unicorns of “totally worth it” valuations for IPOs along with market-cap valuations of not only $BILLIONS of dollars, but $10’s, and for others $100’s of BILLIONS on its face was ludicrous at best – delusional at worse. Period, end of fable.

I used the word “fable” specifically for this purpose: What does “it’s different this time” have in common with “Once upon a time?” Hint: Reread the above paragraph.

I can’t help but to keep remembering back how similar this revelation is to another which I was taken to task by many a Silicon Valley aficionado when the announcement that Jack Dorsey would be CEO of two companies simultaneously. The rationale emanating from “The Valley” once again has that same ring to it. i.e., It is us, as in you or me, which just doesn’t get it. There are others suggesting Medium or others should now do some M&A as a result of this.

That might be possible, however, may I suggest a pause for anyone thinking about M&A in 2017 for this reasoning…

If the “eyeballs for ads” model is indeed broken, or at the least no longer the valued metric to warrant the taking of advertisers ad dollars? There’s a whole lot of “valuations” about to find reality at never-mind “bargain prices” rather, at “fire sale” offerings in the very near future. After all…

We all know what happens when someone yells sell “fire!” In a crowded trade theater.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

Is 2017 The Year Silicon Valley Experiences The Dark Side Of “It’s Different This Time”?

With 2016 now in the rearview mirror. The one thing that was supposed to be included in that vision was the successful resurgence of IPO’s across “The Valley”. 2016 was supposed to be “the year” of the comeback for unicorn cash-out dreams after what can only be described as a “not as advertised” 2015. For if one needs remembering: 2015 was the worst year for tech IPO’s since 2009.

Here’s another problem nobody seems willing to discuss: 2015 may have been the high-water mark going forward when compared to 2016. Yet, not too worry we’re told! For has been reported via many a media source 2017 is shaping up be? Hint: The year it comes back.

Here is a chart from an article just this past August titled “Tech IPO Clog Poised To Burst” To wit:

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-9-11-21-am

The prevailing premise, once again, throughout “The Valley” is that “next year” should be the return of those unicorn dreams. After all, how could 2016 be any worse than 2015 was the premise at the beginning of year. The issue? Look at the above chart for clues. Or, as we like to say here in reality, “A whole lot worse!” For 2016 now makes not only 2008 look good. It makes 2009 look terrific in comparison.

Yet, this hasn’t slowed down one next-in-rotation fund manager to proclaim how “social” or “tech” is just “crushing it”. The real issue is that many who have “invested” based on a lot of this trite have found their portfolios have been the ones getting crushed. Case in point: Twilio™. To wit:

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-9-50-47-am

(Source)

Now I’m not intentionally pointing out this company for any other reason than its IPO was proclaimed across the media and “The Valley” as to be “the” one as to show just how resilient not only the demand for IPO’s would be, but also how “worth it” their heralded valuations were. Once again, the problem? It did just that.

I have read articles emanating from “The Valley” as late as only weeks ago where it’s touted Twillio’s share price is up over 111% since it’s IPO. Sounds great, but it’s not only disingenuous, it’s damn right shameful to use that as the sole metric for validity to the premise that IPO’s or “tech’s” resurgence when looking at the above chart. For if you are one of the unfortunate that bought shares on the open market only a few weeks after the IPO? There’s no “crushing it” gains for you – you got crushed, with probably more pain to come.

There was also another “It’s different this time” proclamation which was supposed to prove 2016 to all the “nay-sayers” just how much people like myself “don’t get” social/tech/The Valley/etc. For it was we who needed to see the brilliance of their decision-making processes. And none was so heralded as to what 2016 was supposed to be than the resurgence of Twitter™, with its now multi-tasking CEO.

How did all that work out? Well, as they say in “The Valley”, let’s look at another “picture” shall we?

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-9-57-52-am

(Source)

Again, all I’ll say to the above is this: If this is what the term “crushing it” now means in “The Valley”? I envision 2017 is going to take crushing up to 11!

So with all the above for some context. No opinion for comparison would be complete without also including the “holy grail” of everything tech/The Valley/IPO’s, and more. Let alone all that it is said to encompass: Facebook™ (FB).

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-10-55-38-am

(Source)

Now one couldn’t be held for lying to state FB stock is indeed up since the end of 2015. However, would that be telling you the “truth” if one was to only state that one metric? Especially if you were trying to get a correct handle of the “health” or “potential profits” still promised in the “everything social” land of riches arguments?

As I highlighted on the chart above: If you purchased shares on Feb 1st of 2016 after what was heralded as an earnings report that “crushed it”, and was touted as (here’s that term again) “the” earnings report to shut all the “doom-and-gloomers” up once and for all. Guess what? Hint: You’re right back where you started.

And for those who decided 2016 was indeed the year where “tech” resurged and was caught up in the whole IPO of the afore-mentioned Twillio in July? It’s more than likely FB in 2016 is now a wash at best, a painful loss at worse. For it fell over 15% lower a mere 45-ish trading days later after those “lifetime highs” to end the year.

However even that doesn’t really encapsulate the whole. For if one can remember (after all it was just these last few weeks) the “markets” have been on an absolute tear to make (once again) never before seen in the history of mankind highs. And what was FB’s valuation doing during all this? Hint: Look at the chart above. e.g., The exact opposite.

Another meme that keeps getting perpetuated is the argument “There’s still so much V.C. capital just looking for investment it must surely mean these companies (i.e., The Unicorns) have legitimate ‘so worth it’ valuations for further cash-out riches. This alone proves the nay-sayers don’t know what they’re talking about.” To which I say: Really? Then let’s argue a few points shall we?

Let me start with this one point: If I said to you, “Hey, want me to show you how to make $1.00 into millions”? You’d probably wouldn’t even dignify the response with a no, you’d just walk away for you knew (at least I hope you would) if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Now, with that said answer this:

How is “investing” some trifle sum (e.g., a few $Million) which instantaneously gives one the ability to claim they’re worth $Billions any different? Couple that with – the metrics for those claims are all based on “because they say so”.

Yes, the accounting for said valuations are based on 1+1= whatever we say it is. Not anything which is based in reality as you or I may understand. Or said differently: It makes Non-GAAP accounting look down right conservative in comparison.

This is the dirty-liitle-secret in the underbelly of all that is “unicorn” in my view. And sooner, rather than later, I believe this spurious type of accounting will someday find its way into the courts and be abolished. However, that’s for another day.

If you want an example? Try to square-the-circle that Theranos™ (remember them?) along with its founder Elizabeth Holmes was not only said to be worth, but was proclaimed throughout the business media that she personally was worth a fortune of $4.5 BILLION dollars. While the company itself was worth some $9 BILLION based on what I found to be one of the best lines (as in the form of a question) I can remember that came back in July from a Fortune™ article. The line?

“How on earth did it [Theranos] manage to raise $400 million in funding at a $9 billion valuation?”

Yes indeed, it was a good question. Problem was people like myself have been asking that of unicorns since 2008. Not after one of its most proclaimed archetype’s crashes and burns where even the likes of Icarus himself might marvel.

And speaking of “unicorns”. As 2016 has now come and gone what are we supposed to infer by the ever-increasing troubles emanating from the prized “decacorn” holding stable? (e.g., The Uber™, AirBnB™ types et al)

It would seem with every passing day (which has now morphed into years) waiting for that “perfect” cash-out point as to IPO seems to only be met with one reglatory hurdle after another. Which could, if found the ruling/rulings go against them, eviscerate their valuation-gone-wild models/metrics that would make even a glue factory blush for efficiency.

Uber is being sued (again) based on workers wages, classification, and more. China is now an after thought which in 2016 was supposed to be its primary goal if I’m not mistaken. And AirBnB still has its regulatory hurdles to be weeded out through the courts. If many of these go against them, then they face an all too, and very real valuation problem do they not?

Oh, yeah, and don’t forget “decacorn” stands for a unicorn worth $10’s of BILLIONS in valuation terms. You know where “The Valley” states reality for making the argument that a so-called “glorified taxi-app” is said to be worth more than the likes of GM™, Ford™, Nissan™, Hyundai™, and others, because “Its disruptive”, so of course “It’s totally worth it” and it must be worth more.

That’s not hyperbole on my part. You can find those exact words and arguments across the media and especially anywhere that’s Silicon Valley centric. Again, truly ponder that last statement. And if in the end you can’t shake an image of a sock-puppet  from entering your mind? Don’t worry, I believe that proves you can still think clearly and understand true reality.

So now why has all the above happened? And why do I believe there’s far more of a “dark side” to all this “it’s different this time” fantasy world that Silicon Valley or “The Valley” as I like to say hasn’t a clue is on the horizon?

Here’s the equation I believe will not only send shock waves, but will bring down many a valuation edifice within “The Valley” in 2017. And here it is:

First: The Fed. And Second: Rate hikes.

Two very short sentences containing nothing more than two words each but their implications could have exponentially explosive results. For what they portend is that “It’s different this time” may indeed be exactly that.

What I hoped you may have noticed during this discussion is the one thing myself and very few others pointed out would happen if the hypothesis we’ve been articulating over the last few years was correct. That hypothesis has always been “Without the Fed. pumping in unlimited funds via the QE programs, and a “death-grip” to the zero bound (aka ZIRP) the first ones to show how much of a facade these “markets” where would be seen directly in the “tech” space.

Notice anything similar in any of the above? Hint: Without QE, everything came to a screeching halt at best, and a complete reversal of fortunes for many at worst. And I believe it’s only just begun. Why?

This past December, much like the one in 2015, the Fed. once again raised rates. However, this one in-particular is the one that may catch a lot of onlookers (especially most of the financial press) by surprise, and it’s for this reason:

If you watched the presser (and I suggest one do just that) following the rate hike given by Ms. Yellen, one thing is very front and center: She vociferously argued, or defended the idea of not only raising, but raising more than many presumed (now the working number of hikes is up to 3 from 2) coupled with her again animated defense of possibly even raising more, and more quickly should the Fed’s assessment to anything “fiscal” coming out of congress warrants it. When only weeks before she was arguing a possible need to run a “high-pressure” economy. That in-and-of-itself is a 180 from her (e.g., The Fed’s) implied stance.

(Just to clarify: “vociferously” and “animated” for Ms. Yellen is my assessment as I compare to her characteristic usually monotone readings or discussions at other events. Your interpretations may differ.)

So now with the 800lb. “It’s different this time” gorilla in the room I’d like to make a hypothesis for you to consider. I’m not saying “prediction” because that’s for fools. Nobody, and mean just that no-body knows what the future holds. All we can do is “look at the charts” (i.e., teas leaves) coupled with our best assumptions of what is correlation and/or causation, filtered through any acumen we might have gained over the years, then hopefully put ourselves in the best position for either possible gain, or to sidestep harm. Nothing more.

If we look only at the above charts to my eye one thing can be rationally inferred: Without the Fed. the “everything social” argument is D.O.A. Period.

What can also be logically asked is this: Why did FB’s valuation begin dropping and has never recovered during which supposedly as we were all being screamed at that “They were crushing it!” in every metric or mobile assumption. Again, it was touted as “You nay-sayers just don’t get it!” And yet, their valuation kept falling? And continued in the face of a rally into year-end that’s now gone into the record books under the classification of “historic”?

Was this in part due to a reasonable assumption that the one buyer who was buying so much stock in FB during 2016 promptly decided if the Fed. was indeed going to raise it couldn’t buy any more out of concerns of future funding costs?

Oh, and just to clarify – that buyer was the Swiss National Bank. Second to none in its FB shareholdings. Yes, even to Mark himself.

And if one can answer “yes” to that question in even a remote possibility, then what does that do to a whole lot of other companies within the “markets”? Hint: Here’s just one article for you to ponder coupled with the above implications. To wit:

“Mystery” Buyer Revealed: Swiss National Bank’s US Stock Holdings Rose 50% In First Half, To Record $62BN”

Once again I can’t make this argument more forcefully than what the “tea leaves” or “charts” imply surrounded with the rationalization that the Fed. may indeed be far more aggressive in hiking with this new administration in power than the previous. And if that has even the remotest possibilities of being true? Based on what one could reasonably infer that took place over 2016 in total?

“It’s different this time” may take on a meaning never dreamed of within Silicon Valley, “The Valley”, and in particular, the “markets” as a whole.

And if I’m wrong, I’ll just leave you with one last point to consider…

If there’s so much more room to go in the “everything social” model as is professed via the media and every next-in-rotation fund manager that can elbow their way onto a television set. As one of my favorite Batman® characters was fond of saying, “Riddle me this!”

If FB, and or the “everything social” model is still in its nascent beginnings with so much more room to grow? Then why was Mark Zuckerberg ready, and seemingly willing in 2016 to sell his shares, and leave FB with the very real possibly of having to give up control to go into politics for two years? You know – if FB is the end all, be all of the “everything social” argument?

All I’ll say is this: “The Valley” had better be hoping – it is a whole lot different this time – than what it may end up being.

We shall see soon enough.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

If Not Now? When?

As we’re about to cross into the new year, one of the most over-rated, foolhardy, near-meaningless acts known as “New Year’s Resolutions” will be embarked on by a countless many. Countless for sure, and by most measures – pointless a near certainty.

Why do I say such a thing? Easy…

I’ve been there, done that. Watched countless others do the same – and watched and listened to excuse after excuse be used as to give rationale to: No it wasn’t my fault I didn’t reach it. It’s because of __________(fill in the blank.) Trust me I know them all. For not only did I use many excuses myself, I probably invented a few you never contemplated.

Yet, with all that said I have reached many goals. And most of those goals are the very one’s people currently buy books looking for the “secret” to attain. The difference between most of the books written and me revolve around one very critical factor: They write about what others have done.

I’ve done, and now write about it.

Today, most “Self Help” or “Personal Achievement” styled books are written by people whom A) have done nothing more than read books authored by people who themselves only wrote about what others accomplished. And B) now have written a book (or have some program) for you to buy and read about what they’ve read. It’s mind-numbing.

And the topic most covered in 99.9% of these is: goal setting. And most of it is nothing more than fluffy, flowery laced, bunk. Yes, even the ones by the so-called “big-time-gurus.” Actually, I’ll say most. I know because I’ve read most of them for myself.

Let me impress this one idea upon you about goal setting…

If the “goal” isn’t worth starting immediately where you stand at the moment you decide – It isn’t a goal – It’s a daydream, a wish, a nice thought to think about later. Nice, yes. But a goal? Hardly.

If you can’t get the meaning of that in your gut – you’ve just identified to yourself why your “goals” never result in actual attainment. Harsh? You bet. True? Absolutely. And could be worth $Millions to you if you just get and apply that one point. Yes, it’s that big.

Same goes for most other “goals.”

If you’re serious about losing weight for example – it starts in that moment of decision. Not after you give yourself the ability to binge over the New Year celebration and wake from a food coma the morning of the 1st to then begin. If that’s the way you “goal set?” Is it any wonder why you can probably use one hand to count the ones that were achieved, and even with your socks off wouldn’t have enough digits to keep track of the ones you didn’t reach? Be honest.

Now that doesn’t mean that you can’t use a new year, new month, new day, etc. to clear the slate and start afresh. i.e., for tax reasons you needed to wait before forming a new company, or lease to expire, et cetera. That’s fine. Just don’t confuse the personal goal (i.e., lose weight, stop doing X, begin doing Y, etc.) with something outside. The personal (as in towards improving yourself) must begin in the moment. Not later, otherwise? It’s nothing more than a daydream.

So let me end with this for you to consider:

If the goal isn’t important enough to begin right now where you stand? How does it gain more importance or meaning by putting it off another day? For if you can? It becomes obvious that goal just isn’t that important then, is it?

For here is the real dirty-little-secret when it comes to goal setting or resolutions…

If not now? When never comes.

Regardless of what day it is on the calendar.

© 2016 Mark St.Cyr

The Political Celebrity Another “Jump The Shark” Moment

If 2016 has done anything which once seemed unthinkable it was this: It has made/turned/exposed many a “political” celebrity into a laughing-stock. And that’s a fate worse than death for a cohort of people who take themselves far, far, far (did I say far?) too seriously.

Over the years I’ve commented to friends and others about this phenom. I would always preface my comments with the usual, “Why does anyone care what _________ (fill in the blank) thinks? Just because it’s __________ I’m suppose to think, well, if _________ says it, it must be true?”

Usually this is where some imaginary bell would ring and it was “Game on!” Although that illusionary sound should be a signal of warning as to “shut up, and shut up now!” Usually, I don’t –  and the once hallowed seal of the verbal apocalypse (i.e., never talk religion, politics) is broken.

Generally this is where that one family member, friend, or total stranger in the gathering not only feels free, but rather, now becomes embolden to not only defend the celebrity, but also defend their position with reasoning just as vapid, and just as convoluted as theirs.

We’ve all been there. And if you haven’t? I’ll just assume you’re a much more disciplined person than myself. Although I have much improved. (If you want a clue as to how I can or have ended up in these types of predicaments? Let’s just say I’m the guy who thought he was being polite one day in conversation and asked a wonderful lady “So? When are you expecting?” Hint: She wasn’t. You can “fill in the blank” as they say for yourselves as to what transpired after. All I’ll say is this: I wouldn’t ask that question again even if I were standing in a maternity room!)

Celebrities have always been used (and I mean just that – used) as to help sway public opinion one way or another. Or, to seemingly give some stamp-of-approval to one candidate over another. It’s been going on forever, and it’s not going to stop anytime soon.

However, with that said I do believe the most recent incarnation of the “political celebrity” may indeed be going way of the Dodo bird. Case in point: Martin Sheen and his leading of the gaggle to influence electors of the electoral college to stand up – and cast their vote for someone else.

In what was supposedly some form of call-to-action video Martin Sheen (did you notice the purple shirt?) and others called for electors to change their votes away from their sworn obligated duties and cast them for someone else. They wouldn’t openly state their desired choice (cough-Hillary-cough) however the intent was clear.

The problem? A few electors did just that. The result? The exact opposite of what they prayed, begged, tantrum’d hoped for, inflicting even further humiliation into what can only be described as – rubbing rock salt into an already mortal wound.

It doesn’t matter which side of the political spectrum you fall on. If you look at this latest episode in the effectiveness of “celebrity” endorsements you can not come away with anything less than it no longer works.

This isn’t to say that a celebrity per se doesn’t have influence. They can, and do. Yet – there’s a catch. And here it is:

The celebrity will have to be willing, as well as able to clearly define their arguments, along with the caveat of demonstrating via their own lifestyle or such that they themselves are abiding by the principles of what they are professing. Not simply “I’m _________ and I want you to vote for X because I’m _________ and that should be enough reason for you.”

That has been the modus operandi of today’s incarnation of the “political celebrity” for the last few decades. It was subtle at first, yet, it has now become an inescapable crescendo. And what else is also becoming quite obvious, that is, obvious to everyone else ‘cept for these celebrities? Their messages are being either: a) Rejected in total. Or, b) Having the exact opposite effect, as well as impact.

Here are a few examples… (Let me just make clear: This has nothing to do with where I might stand on any point, I may or may not have the same viewpoint. However, I can articulate why and I demand others to do the same if they feel the right to question me. As should you. Period.)

Matt Damon strongly says “guns are the problem.” And yet the only movies worth remembering him for are ones where he’s shooting up everything in sight with more guns and bullets held by most small nations.

Leonardo DiCaprio espouses that everyone should change their lifestyles as to reduce their carbon footprint and save the world – as he flies in on his private jet then retreats back to his mansion of choice where the yearly salary of most wouldn’t cover the utility bills, let alone the jet fuel for a month.

The cast of the play “Hamilton” which decided it was their “right” to publicly give a political “schooling” to the Vice President-elect from the stage not realizing the very man who is the namesake of that play is the reason for the election results. Adding insult to injury, it was also learned not only did the actor/actors appear absolutely clueless to both the man, as well as his words and their meaning. They didn’t even vote!

And last, but certainly not least, there was the afore-mentioned debacle of Martin Sheen et al’s call-for-action begging plea to turn the election on its head and help pave the way for the possible coronation of their approved choice.

The problem? Hint: More electors jumped ship who were supposed to endorse their presumed candidate of choice adding further humiliation to an already laughable charade for constitutional insurgency.

All the above are only a few, however they might as well be all for there now seems to the equivalent of a groundswell of “The Emperor is naked” happening to a lot of once “true believers” in the “political celebrity” than I can remember.

How do I know this to be true? Let’s just say by empirical evidence which I myself gathered by my own first hand accounts. What were they you ask? Fair question, so I’ll just end here with this…

That “person” who always is the first to come rushing in to defend the celebrity? Let’s just say when any “hot button topic” came up for discussion?

They were nowhere to be found.

© 2016 Mark St.Cyr

Why “Princeton Math” Never Adds Up

How many times have you watched some talking head from either academia or government and thought “What they’re saying just doesn’t seem to add up?” Yet, you questioned your own gut reaction with far more intensity than you ever questioned the premise or statements made because of one simple factor: They have some form of “Ivy League” credential?

There was a time where this had some (and I use that term very loosely) form of validity. Today? It may prove to be an outright dangerous folly. Here are a just a few examples:

Whether you’re in business, or just trying to keep up with what the economy may, or may not, be doing as to help you in considerations about where you might, or might not, position yourself in business or employment. One of the once generally accepted gauges as to help in that formulation was the Unemployment rate, coupled with not only what type of employment was being created, but also, that which appeared to be resilient.

Doing this today in a cursory fashion might lead you down a path to disaster. Doing this coupled with listening to the once “Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers” (2011 -13) and now residing at Princeton University may lead you to total economic ruin. For if you thought he knew what he was touting? Think again. To wit:

Top Ex-White House Economist Admits 94% Of All New Jobs Under Obama Were Part-Time”

Remember when people like myself argued about the current state of employment and economic health being touted by the so-called “smart crowd” using the “statistics” of-the-day were anything but what was being professed? (I know trick question – they still do!)

All we were told (as well as sold) was this: “According to the statistics, we (we as in you or me) are egregiously either misinformed, or, unwilling to accept facts.” This was usually delivered in a, “Oh these poor uneducated plebes just don’t understand complicated math.” tone of superiority.

No, it wasn’t that we didn’t understand complicated math. It’s that we instinctively knew, without a shadow-of-doubt, when we were being showered with unmitigated bulls__t. And, in my opinion, Alan Krueger has been one of the foremost go-to talking head offenders of this crap touted across the business media. And in particular what I once considered a “serious” business outlet: Bloomberg™.

Let me be clear on one point. There are many hosts, writers, analysts, and shows which I like, and consider well-informed or unbiased there. However, what I am most disappointed in is this: Over the last year or more there has (at least in my opinion) been a distinct turn as to have more academic, government employed, or government centric guests. (e.g. Think-tanks, etc.) Where the tone now seems more government centric than business.

With interventionism of all sorts within the markets and more it’s easy to see why. However, that’s not the main point.

What I have deduced in my watching (and this goes for the other channels as well) is those whom fall into this category of government, academia, or think-tank – their statements, arguments, or perceptions of reality are regarded as if they are holy writ, and are not to be questioned. And the above cited revelations proves my point ipso facto. Period.

Mr Krueger has appeared countless times and both defended, as well as simultaneously minimized any validity to anyone’s questioning of not only the jobs data prior to today, but also, the health or robustness of the U.S. economy itself. That is, until he decided to actually take a little closer look for himself. What’s something like this called in academia? Ooopsy?

It would seem using “Princeton Math” missing the mark by 94% still allows for keeping one’s tenure, paycheck, and speaking fees, along with a calendar full for “on-air” appearances.

In business – it usually ends in just one thing: bankruptcy.

There is no other way to explain how something of this magnitude could have been missed unless (like I iterated above) no one, and I mean just that, no one pushed back hard enough to question his assertions over these last few years. People like myself have, but we’re considered “tin foiled” types, “Doomer-gloomers,” __________(fill in the blank.)

The real problem for the likes of Mr. Krueger and others who have been touting much of this trite is this: You’re proving us right. And that’s gotta sting, yes?

I coined the term “Princeton Math” a while back in response to some of the arguments and conclusions being professed by many of academia’s high “potentates.” i.e., Paul Krugman, Janet Yellen, Ben Bernanke et al.

I’ve argued (more like warning) that taking the assumptions being made using their rationale, as well as their basis for facts to verify those assumptions is not only foolhardy, but more likely to end in ways currently unimaginable to the average business owner or employee. e.g. Unmitigated economic disaster.

And no, I’m not trying to be hyperbolic just for its own sake. I truly believe that. But only the further passage of time will tell. Yet, with that said, with every passing day the uncovering, along with its realization of true economic facts moves unto my side of the argument/ledger, and away from theirs. And, that is no small revelation to be taken lightly.

Remember: The current Chair of the Federal Reserve argued only a few months ago that the economy was far from recovered and may need to run a “high-pressure” economy to mitigate the still reverberating after effects. Then, only to state at the latest press conference that even more rate hikes, rather than the same or less may be needed in the coming year.

Does one need some overpriced, overhyped “sheepskin” to see the possible economic “train wreck” possibilities here?

And as far as that implied fiscal stimulus they’ve been clamoring for? To paraphrase “Fiscal? We don’t need no stinkin’ fiscal help!” Maybe they don’t – but it sure seems like the U.S. economy can.

Add to this Paul Krugman’s tour-de-force that we should all just agree that “aliens” have arrived to conquer the planet and produce “goods” as to defend or entice them to consume I guess. (And no, I’m not making that up.)

Or better yet (only because it doesn’t involve aliens I guess) we should just magically produce (“magically” as in say it’s worth, not that it has any worth but for calling it that) some “Trillion $Dollar Coin” lock it up in some safe and put up the economic equivalent of a banner stating “Mission Accomplished!” Yep, sounds like a sound plan and idea. Not!

And now we have the latest “Ooopsy” from Alan Krueger. So what can we imagine him saying to defend such an egregious error? Maybe: “Yeah, remember all that good I said was created? Yeah, sorry ’bout that. But not too worry, tuitions will only increase twice as fast as to help buffer the economic impact emulating from private sector employment. So, my advice? Just stay in school. After all – it’s rough out there. And my newest thesis proves it!”

Sounds plausible too me. Especially with what we hear and see coming from the so-called “smart crowd” with every passing day.

Not to belittle the serious water issue happening in Flint, Michigan. However, with that said…

Has anyone checked the water at these universities?

© 2016 Mark St.Cyr