Month: May 2009

Educating yourself right out of competition…..

I was reading that the current administration is changing the laws to allow unemployment recipients to attend school so they can further their education, and compete for those ” New Jobs” in the future.

Don’t get me wrong,  I am a big proponent for education. My Lord I wish I  had the chance to attend a university when I was growing up. As some can tell by my writing skills…… it shows  I didn’t . I was a High School drop out, but with some prodding by an uncle. ( Actually it was more of a threat!) I went for, and received my G.E.D. from the University of Southern Maine. ( How’s that for getting a diploma that sounds weighty!) but lets get back to my real point.

In today’s world one of the first things one will find they must do is Look For Work…and Look for Work ..NOW!…I don’t care what age you are, you need to be in the race and running at full pace NOW or you’ll get left behind with all the doors in front of you locked shut. The only reason you should find yourself in school at this moment is either your in the process of finishing a specialized study .e.g. Doctor, Lawyer, Architect, etc. where the degree is a prerequisite to the job, or your finishing your education this year. If you think you have the pleasure of taking the time you now have as a result of being Unemployed as a time to  “Stretch Out…Relax….Contemplate Life.”… I’m sorry to say your being delusional.

Time is of the essence, people who are thirsty and understand how to get ahead will ( and already are!) running full steam at looking for the jobs with what they believe to be valuable companies. People who can do what they say, and say what they will do, are negotiating with employers right now, Some are taking pay cuts ( Yes Pay Cuts!) to get into leadership companies where they believe they can excel in the coming environment. They are looking to show anxious companies that if they hire them, and trim out unproductive employees it can be a win win for them and the company. They will show value, and will demonstrate the “Value Proposition” to these companies. They are not afraid of seeking out these interviews, and they don’t need, nor will they wait for someone to ask them for an interview. They are the movers and the shakers, they are the ones who never listen to  anyone saying…. “The odds are against you….The economy is too rough right now…..Everyone is looking, Why would they be interested in you?”…etc.,etc. you get my point. But that’s exactly why they’ll prosper in this economy when others will not. Why?…because for the true “Movers and Shakers” there’s no time like the present. Opportunities abound for the person who doesn’t need a “Job”….They’re looking for a company who needs the value of their services, and ALL companies need assets that add value, what they can’t afford is expenses. So if your not adding value…your an expense…harsh as that may sound….it’s true.

I know your asking….”Why wouldn’t these people have more competition now than before?”     That’s easy…….Their competitions in school!

Mark

America, Love it or Leave it….But what happens…..

America…Love it or Leave it…but what happens if they do!

Before anyone decides this is a column based on a Right or Left debate to stir up tensions, you would be not only mistaken, but foolish. I want  you to think outside the box because so many are finding themselves stuck inside the box. Such headlines as the above come from every direction that one no longer thinks about whether the questions  are relevant.

I have said before that it’s up to you to decipher and put into context all the information or questions that you come across, and see if you can use it or just file it. Just because the phraseology of a question might now seem politically incorrect, you must still ask yourself is it relevant. So look at the question again and think with this mindset…..As a business owner, entrepreneur, CEO, or multi-national company ( or just fill in your own ) would you still be, or stay Head Quartered in the USA if you could move your business anywhere in the world, and your customers would not know or probably even care? This question is very important if not crucial for where you need to position yourself for the upcoming business future.

For those who think they can wait, might I remind you that over the last 18 months the business future that you believed to exist is now…GONE. The banking system, the financial vehicles, the corporate governance, political meddling, and on and on, are forever changed…Period!. If you haven’t been up at night sleepless at times, or overcome with confusion of where or what you need to do in order to move ahead, I’ll assume your either not in business, or you don’t understand the real depths of what has transpired over the last 18 months.

What happens to your thought process as a business person once you learn your Business Taxes, or other Mandates  could be raised to a point your business might either be hindered, or unable to compete at Any Time! Do you Close your business? Pass on the expenses? (yeah that’ll work….not!) ….OR?………..Move!

Just liked conditions have changed at a breathtaking pace, the technology that allows companies and people to be global in reach and presence has also. So why wouldn’t a company strategically think about utilizing all the tools available to compete? Take myself as an example to qualify my questions. I could be writing this article as I’m sitting in an airport in Singapore half way around the world. I could call you later this evening from my hotel room in Hong Kong…( yes China ) and you wouldn’t know, or most likely not even care because I could conduct business with you in the same manner as if I were in my office in the United States.

So once again it begs the question….If it can be done, and done easily….Why wont it be done, and done quickly if it can mean profits, or could stave off bankruptcy? All questions have answers, it’s up to you if they’re relevant. By the way….How do you say ….I have to leave in Mandrin?

wǒ děi zǒu le

Mark

Stress tests….Is the treadmill going fast enough?….

(Banks speaking to the auditors)…..

Stress…What stress…I feel fine…just give me a minute to catch my breath…get your hand off that start button or I’ll…….

A lot of people seem to be breathing a sigh of relief since the release of the so called  “Stress Test Results” were released. However no one seems more relived than the banks themselves.

It reminds me a lot of the old days when I was in the Food Industry. You are under the inspection of the USDA on a daily basis. Your local inspector kept tabs on what you were doing, and made sure you were following procedures and laws accordingly. But…and here’s the big But…If you had any type of problem that resulted in a recall or equivalent, you would have a detailed inspection from department heads and their bosses, and would be put under a microscope, if not an electron microscope for possible defects in any of your previously approved regulations. This could result in fines of Hundreds of Millions of Dollars for certain violations, if not the complete liquidation of the company. ( Remember Sara Lee approximately 10 years ago?)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing against the regulations or fines ( That’s another column) what I am stating is that they were merciless in looking for flaws or possible breeches in protocol to insure the “Public Safety of the Food Supply”…Agree with them or not, I have been on the record both in public and private meetings stating…” We have the safest, and the best food supply chain that is the model, and currently the envy of the world.” I state that because no matter what challenges arise within the food industry, the so called “Stress Tests” that are put on after, push the industry to higher standards, not just to give a passing grade.  Passing to some  can be C- or worse D+ so passing is a relative term. That’s not so for food. A is truly the only passing grade…if you’re company  is a B-, rest assured you will be prodded to get that B to an A, and soon!

If you look at the data from the banks with a prying eye, you’ll notice it doesn’t appear to look all that stressful. What is truly stressful to the financial system? A test from a body of auditors that want you to pass…Or from the auditors that are trying to see where the true breaking point might be.

Here’s my case in point. Just on this scenario you be the judge…..A bank loans money to a company that builds a Strip Mall…He in turn rent the space to business owners….they in turn sell their wares to the public..which is You…………..You no longer shop there……The store owner doesn’t have money now to pay the rent so he skips the rent….The mall owner doesn’t have anyone to rent the store out to so he lets the business stay without throwing them out because it’s better than being empty…He now can’t make his mortgage payment so he skips his payment…The bank now moves his loan from one page of his books ( Performing loan ) to the other page ( Non performing loan )…but what is the value of the loan?..100%…50%….10%….Zero?

It’s 100% as long as one still has Hope that they will be paid…but as the treadmill starts to get faster..or time passes faster, or longer…the closer Zero becomes more relevant.

Instead of looking at the treadmill, we had better make sure we’re not going to let those running shoes drop before we get off. Then the speed wont be relevant any longer, and we had better hope there’s a dead man switch attached to our clothing!

Mark

Everybody wants it…..but nobody will pay.

When I was first writing the above headline, one of my favorite Van Halen tunes kept coming into my head…” Everybody wants some…I want some too…” That seems to be the best way to describe every new social interaction web do thingy that comes along on almost a daily basis. First came email then Chat, then Instant Messaging, then Web cams, You Tube, Face-book, and now…..Twitter. I know I’ve missed a few others ( probably more like a myriad ) but you get the point.

In talking to business people and others, it seems everyone is now trying to figure out if they should Twit, Tweet, or God knows what else. In discussions the question I pose is this….How much revenue do you think it will generate in 3 to 6 months? Well that’s all I need to get the glazed deer in the headlights look out of them before they search the deep dark crevasses of their mind in search of answer. What happens next is what I call the ” Pie in the Sky diatribe”.  If you’ve ever been in management you’ve seen this for yourself. You’ll ask someone about the great project, program, widget, do thingy they want to turn the company upside down for and be allowed to have an unlimited budget to research their ideas, but have NO clear answer to show how it can make PROFIT.

I used the word profit specifically because making money is easy, making Net Profits is quite another. All the fore mentioned networking or social networking outlets themselves are NOT…let me repeat this NOT generating profits. The very core users of these mediums if anyone would care to notice not only refuses to pay actual dollars for its use, but believes it is their right to have it supplied for FREE, and objects with the fierceness of a junkyard dog when anyone tries to monetize their use of the service.

I will make a statement that some will laugh at, others will shake their heads and say I don’t know what I’m talking about, but that’s par for the course if you ever been in charge. So here goes……..

“Every form of social networking that is currently being used at this present time within 12 to 24 months will either not exist, or they will be consolidated into one or two entities that will be minuscule compared to their current size, and will cost money to use or have access. The other part of the so called FREE social media networking will be absorbed into platforms like Google or Yahoo or some variation, and more likely will be an ineffective way to monetize  products or services for most business owners. It will only be away of trying to create a so called  BUZZ that most will fail in trying.”

Why do I say these things? Have you ever noticed that every time one of these So Called “Social Networks” comes along ( I call them Time Dumps )…and the company tries to monetize it, what happens? The users move on to another one that’s free. And what happens to all that planning you put into figuring it out? Let’s just say Time Dump becomes a relevant term.

Hold on did I hear a Tweet?…Oh wait…It’s just a bird…but I don’t see him carrying his GPS?…How does he ever get around?…I better Google that.

Mark

The deal is done, and so might they….

One would have to be living under a rock to not know the dealings going on in the auto industry in the US. ( Many have their heads in the sand, but that’s a column for another day.)

Chrysler just announced it’s filing for bankruptcy, and they will be merging with that juggernaut of innovators, and market movers of the industry…Fiat. ( Yes…I’m being sarcastic.)

I am being inundated on TV, print, radio,politicians, and anyone else who can speak telling me ” What a Great thing this will be”…”Chrysler will now build a better car with Fiats technology” , and blah, blah, blah.  Am I the only one who remembers that Chrysler was purchased by the current owners when..Daimler-Benz…Yes that’s right, the same people who own and manufacture Mercedes decided to jettison Chrysler when it became obvious that they couldn’t bring Chrysler up to their standards with all the “Legacy costs, and other baggage” that came along with Chrysler. All it did was hurt the image and brand power of Mercedes.

This is what happens when a great company acquires a faltering one and is not able to impose it’s strict vision of quality, and perceived value. It’s a lesson shown time, and time again. The better of the two companies merged will suffer, and fall to the lower standards of the failing one…It rarely, if not ever works the other way. Once Daimler Benz had the chance to scrap Chrysler, even though it took a large financial hit. It did what any well run, well managed company will do….Take it’s Lumps…and Move on! That’s what great companies do, and in the end Mercedes is the better for it. But why take my word for it?….Once your able to afford the car of your choice, I’m sure the first one you want to get on the list for is that new…Chrysler Fiat model. Besides when it’s parked at the curb……Who cares about quality, and style. It’s a bargain,  Right?

Mark