Month: October 2011

Here’s something I never expected

Yours truly was very pleased to find that I was incorporated into the Always New You family as an Expert Contributor.

Below is a link to the AlwaysNewYou.com web site for health, and beauty section. Although this web site is geared primarily towards the fairer gender, and not exactly where one would think to find my writings, (Hormones/Beauty/ Health should be quite the clue.)  It just goes to show if you can provide others with relevant, useful, actionable information, barriers fall by the way side. Which for me is a true test of whether or not I contribute to the world stage.

http://www.hormones-beauty-health.com/skin-care/how-to-avoid-goal-fatigue/

http://tinyurl.com/3johdu5

I’m honored to be included as one of their Expert Contributors.

My Mother would get such a Kick out of this if she were here!

Mark

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

Promises, Promises, Promises, but Where are the Flowers?

It seems like the never-ending story of the summer has been either Greece defaulting, or some other European full-scale emergency. Over, and over again the so-called “smart crowd” has slathered onto every available camera lens how they understand the issues. How they are fully aware on how these issues are to be resolved. And how the outcome is more likely than not to unfold. What I would like to have others remember is that these are the same gatherings of intelligentsia that spewed their thoughts over the preceding 3 years that the Euro was going to replace the US Dollar, and if you wanted to feel safe, you needed to buy into the concept of the EU experiment, and on, and on. All of it has been rubbish in my opinion, but now my conjecture is moving more towards facts.

When the Euro was skyrocketing as the US Dollar was falling I wrote many articles calling attention that it had nothing to do with the strength of the Euro, but had everything to do with Federal Reserve policies crushing the intrinsic value of the dollar making stocks appear more valuable. (appear is the operative word) I also wrote, and spoke on the subject concerning the Euro. I believed then as I believe now that the unprecedented rise was not due to anything more than a temporary correlated move. I also opined that in fact the Euro was in for deep trouble and would probably not exist in the near future as it is known today. And here we are once again with the same “smart crowd” coating the camera lenses with spittle as they try to contain their excitement for a rally in the stock market as proof of just how much of a collection of genius their brothel of cohorts are. For myself I can ignore and disdain these curmudgeon’s. I hope you can also because they can be dangerous to your wallet in more ways than one.

Just a little over a week ago the markets seemed for many that they were falling once again into the abyss. Now just 10 days later this same crowd is claiming “smooth sailing” because  Europe is coming out with a fix for its crippling problems. This is coming from the same crowd that said previously there weren’t any problems to worry about. Now they’re saying that the newest promise is that the previous promises are going to be enacted and that is what’s causing everything to now be rosy? (yes pun intended) Please, enough already!

Granted the meteoric rise over the last couple weeks has been breath-taking. Historic moves are made nearly every month since the 2008 plunge. (That alone should make you suspect of every move up or down in the financial markets) Just this last move had its first 5 day rally entered into the books because its velocity had only been seen 4 other times since the 1930’s. (and that’s just last weeks entry into the records) I am in the lone camp that most of the subsequent move was powered from the phenom known as Short Covering. But you won’t hear anything to that effect from the brothel of analysts because unless they get you into their house of ill repute they don’t get paid.

It is quite possible that Europe gets its act together over the weekend. (although they changed the drop dead date 11 times since they announced it 14 days ago) If they do there really will be a chance, and I mean a chance for a collective catching of ones breath. However if they come away with just another statement of a promise to do the things that they promised to do earlier, than it’ll take a whole lot more than flowers to fix this romance.

Even worse if the florist decides this time not to accept the checks because ones for the previous flowers have yet to clear.

Mark

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

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

[For those who say I just don’t get it…Get This!]

There are people who just love to tell you that you’re wrong. More often than not when I’m speaking or I’ve written something that doesn’t fall into their own viewpoints they can’t wait to tell me how I’m not getting something. It’s not an honest discussion with most, its more of an argument based on grade school reasoning. ( an example is “well because!” as an answer to a rebuttal) More often than not I’m proven correct because if you’re ahead of the curve, it only makes sense to them when they finally reach the curve! And nothing gets this group hotter than if I follow-up with “That’s why you need me more than you thought.”

So to this point I’ll post this from Bloomberg which ran today. I use it as exhibit A on my comments yesterday on the Occupy Wall St. crowd. (Please save the political emails. This has nothing to do with who’s in the office now or not.)

Here’s an excerpt from the original article on Bloomberg written By Frank Bass and Timothy R. Homan – Oct 19, 2011 12:00 AM ET

Embracing K Street

In recent years Washington has attracted more lobbyists and firms with an interest in the health-care overhaul and financial regulations signed into law by President Barack Obama, according to local business leaders.

“Wall Street has moved to K Street,” said Barbara Lang, president and chief executive officer of the DC Chamber of Commerce, referring to the Washington street that’s home to prominent lobbying firms. “Those two industries clearly have grown in our city.”

You can read the whole original article here: http://tinyurl.com/5vk2tvp

I am starting to think this might be a new category for the site. I would ask for their opinion first, but that would just tick them off even more.

Mark

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

Occupying the Wrong Street?

By now you have to be living under a rock if you haven’t seen the “Occupy Wall Street” phenom on the news. For me, the more I watch or listen to the gripes, and demands from the protesters I have to wonder, is it me, or do they really have no understanding of what they’re really doing?

Let’s cast away who’s right or who’s wrong for a moment. Let’s actually take what seems to be the overlying theme and try to make sense of it. Here’s how I interpret what I see, and hear from this crowd.

  1. Most are in their 20’s and feel burdened from debt. A debt that was created from student loans to attend school. That’s not a Wall St. issue. That’s an issue for the Universities, and the Federal Government. Besides, no loans are made in the private sector any longer. The current administration ended all private companies from loaning for education.
  2. They shout “Banks got bailed out, but they didn’t.” As true as this seems at first blush if capitalism was able to work as it is intended to, none of these banks would have been bailed out. They would have failed, been liquidated, and put out of business. It was the current administration that not only approved of the bailouts, but argued for them.
  3. More shout the injustices of foreclosures on homes by banks. As this is heartbreaking for many, not all foreclosures were unwarranted. Some people were not ever going to be able to pay the mortgage they thought they could once afford. It’s a sad fact. However, refinancing, new home purchases, and alike are either underwritten by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac or they don’t get done..period. All mortgages in the country (last was over 97%) are underwritten by these government agencies. If they’re not, it doesn’t get approved. There currently is no true private lending any longer.
  4. “Wall Street is the home of greed.” Well even I can agree with that to some extent but one has to wonder if they understand without Wall Street there is NO Twitter to mobilize their friends, NO iPhone, Blackberry, Android, or other smart phone to call others in solidarity. I won’t even go into no Google or web. It seems they just have no comprehension.
  5. Others are worried about their 401K’s, so they protest the very spot that if it is disrupted, it hurts their own pocket-book even more.
  6. As we watch in the news we see more and more signs that have nothing to do with the first set of gripes, but now are world philosophies that they want imposed. Philosophies that if they were to get what they wanted, would have them all unable to even demonstrate the way they are currently. I mean forget who’s right or wrong. This whole thing is a mess to anyone who can critically think. And hence lies the question of the day in my opinion. Is critical thought what is truly missing?

There was a time that I thought I might have been at a disadvantage because I didn’t take the time and pursue a higher education. But the more I look at what goes on for what some are calling educated people, I now think it was a blessing I didn’t.

At least I don’t need a GPS to tell me I’m on the wrong street.

Mark

© Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

Gratuity Entitlement aka Adventures In Stupidity!

The latest round of entitlement thinking is coming from not only those who demand services, but now it’s coming from those whom render service. I mean at this point it’s all a joke.

Like many who’ve climbed the ladder of success, I’ve worked such jobs as bartender, waiter, and others in my life. The pay structure for many was our first real entry into the world of pay based on merit. If you want to experience first hand a true example of “the entrepreneurial employee” there is none better. However, it now seems that the “I deserve” mindset is not only creeping into these entrepreneurial laboratories, but are being validated by the very owners of these establishments. This calamity can’t come about unless the attitude of both is “the customer be damned!”

Many establishments in the New York area [and also peppered throughout the country] are including the charge of a 25% tip to your bill. Automatically! Regardless if the server was the equivalent of being a contestant for “Worlds Greatest” or “Worlds Worst.” Not only are you going to be billed, but more than likely you won’t even be told. It’ll just be there as a line item along with your martini, steak, and dessert. The line item will give you a whole new meaning to “finger food” I’ll bet.

Wait staff of any order has always been a low waged salary because of the opportunity for the server to supplement their pay with tips. The word tips is attributed as an acronym for “to insure prompt service” whether or not that’s 100% correct is irrelevant. The underlying definition or meaning is the same. It was a reward for quality service above or beyond what was expected. If someone gets only what they paid for, well then why would a tip ever be necessary?

Over time it has been customary to tip 15% there or about. This was the equivalent of a server living up to expectations. If they were courteous, prompt, and pleasant, the customary gratuity was the reward. Over and above was up to the patron. Horrible service was of course discounted from the average. [I have never deducted from the wait staff for something coming from the kitchen when obviously it was not their fault. A piece of undercooked fish is unknown till served as an example.] Large parties such as multiple tables or family settings of 8 or more were treated differently. Gratuity was added at the customary level, but was stated “before” you ordered whether posted at the bottom of the menu or somewhere else. This was done to ensure not only the wait staff, but the house, and the patrons themselves some level of expected service because you were taking a person away from the ability of making money since they would now be relegated to serving only one party instead of many. This also stopped the party from deciding they wanted to be cheap and stiff the wait staff because they think $10 should be more than enough for 2 people to serve 20.

In tough economic times everything gets discounted. Gratuity based employment seems to get hit hardest first. However, owners can’t raise a salary by forcing or tricking someone else to pay. It is also just as foolish of servers demanding a fixed level of gratuity. If these establishments want to continue trying to force patrons into paying their employee costs than both are going to lose in the end because patrons will not go along regardless how extensive the wine list.

Check Please!

Mark

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

Protests at Home or Abroad and What it Means to Your business (repost)

Originally this post ran in February when Greece was in turmoil. At the time some scoffed at needing to think in this manner. Others gave me the obligatory “Yeah, makes sense.” Then went right on to other subjects as if it was unimportant. With protests now on Wall Street and taking place across the country while seemingly growing. (and yes it’s even taking place in my own city in KY!) I would hope some actually heeded my call for action. Waiting too long can leave not only yourself with no options, but also customers, and employees. I’m used to being ahead of the curve so slings and arrows come with that territory. But once facts prove my prescient warnings, you need to act before verbal slings and arrows turn into more literal sticks, and stones.
Below is the original post:

Protests at Home or Abroad and What it Means to Your Business

This is not about whose right, wrong, or anything else of that nature. This is about your business. Doesn’t matter what you do, whether you’re a CEO of a large global corporation, or an employee with an entrepreneurial mind-set. Either way you have to look at these events in a very different manner than most. No, not to capitalize on them, but how to avoid possible financial ruin or other disruptions because of them.

As we’ve seen over the last few weeks things can change at any time, and for many reasons that seemed near improbable. The problem for many in business, is they can find themselves smack dab in the middle of protests, fighting, looting, and a host of other things that one never dreams of happening, till it does!

Many coveted retail or office locations are right in the heart of any city and that’s usually where any gathering or protests will be. What happens to your business, your employees, your retail stores, your customers if for no reason than just being at the center causes damage to your infrastructure, or people?

We are seeing today like at no other time in history technology has enabled connectivity en mass. If you’ve been following the news as of late, you can’t help but be awed in the speed and power of such demonstrations. But I need you to change your thought process and water cooler subject from, “Have you seen the news?” to “Do we have a contingency plan for our business if disrupted?” Trust me, I’m not trying to be callous. The reason for the events are for others to discuss, I want you to be pragmatic in how you can protect either your people or business. If a protest broke out in front of one of your locations would you or could you shutter it down? Who would be in charge of such an undertaking? Would you be reliant on the cleaning crew to make sure the doors were locked? Would you send senior staff, or a combination there of? I hope you’re getting my point. If you have, or are in business, you can no longer leave such a discussion as, “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.” because what is being demonstrated is there may be No bridge!

As professionals one must always hope for the best, but plan for the worst. That’s not to say you create some committee derived, bullet pointed, and bound code book that must be signed off by top staff and the cook who carries the secret decoder ring. What is far more important is that you have an honest roundtable discussion with either yourself, or some pertinent staff members that can theorize some sort of outline. It needn’t be perfect because situations such as these are always fluid, but it’s far easier to direct the water if you have an understanding where the banks might be.

If technology can demonstrate how fast it can bring about disruptive change, than the same must be viewed on how you can use technology to step aside of that disruption and try your best to protect your people, or your property.

Not only might you be thankful for being ahead of the crowd, but so might everyone else that depends on your products, or services. And that’s smart business.

Mark

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr  All Rights Reserved

Will Air Travel go the way of the Post Office?

It might seem like a ridiculous question, but is it really that flighty? Was it imaginable just 10 years ago that the Post Office as we knew it for decades could actually find itself on the verge of not only bankruptcy, but irrelevancy?

American Airlines is just a breath away for bankruptcy. Although in the business of air travel this seems like a common occurrence. I feel this time however it might be very different from years gone by.

Usually some airline would implode and there would be one or more of the competitors waiting on the sidelines to purchase the assets. It just doesn’t look or feel like that will happen this time. I understand that someone will find a need for some of the assets, but it won’t be because they think the business is a win-win purchase. It’ll be more of an asset purchase to offset minor anticipated market share. And that will be a major deviation from the old model of “growth for growths sake” that the industry has evolved around since its inception. And if I’m correct it may fundamentally change air travel in the future as we now know it.

Let’s look at the Post Office for some possible clues. This is a dominant player in today’s world but not near the monopoly player it once was. With the advent of email, on-line billing, FedEx®, and alike, the Post Office has been pushed far down the chain of choices in what used to be the “only” choice. Currently it keeps open distribution centers, retail locations and others that service either unprofitable routes or products. People act as if the services they are accustomed to are going to go on just like before. It can’t, and it won’t. At some point the whole model has to change. Could be that a stamp goes to $1.00. Maybe deliveries go from 6 days a week down to 3. You get the idea. It will need to become a business that delivers a product that people will pay the price that’s needed. If an item needs to be delivered in an envelope in a physical form the price will reflect what that true cost and value is. If it doesn’t, then you can send it for free in an email. But the choice will be one or the other and the price will correspond. It has to because there is no growth model that’s profitable. Downsizing is the path to profitability growth. Airlines I feel are in the same situation.

If you look at airlines through the same prism as the Post Office you’ll see the similarities are acute. Distribution facilities mirror airports. Retail centers resemble ticket counters, and so on and so forth. Video conferencing is an alternative more and more replacing the need for having to travel by air. Granted that’s just one example, but one passenger less on any given plane can mean the difference between break even or loosing money. If these routes continue to be unprofitable, they’re going to be cut or reduced regardless what people want or think.

You can’t deliver first class mail everyday, everywhere, come rain, sleet, or snow for the near price of an email. (Yes I know email is free but you still have to pay for internet service) And you can’t deliver first class passenger service and seating with on time guarantees nearer to the cost of taking the bus. Something has to give.

Mark

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

The Buffet Rule…Better Known as Adventures In Stupidity

I find it both laughable, and appalling to hear views on the latest slogan known as “The Buffet Rule.” It doesn’t matter who’s pontificating, 99.9% of all the rationalizations are in my view dribble.

First let me state right off the top, sheath your political swords. This rant is not about ideology, it’s about idiocy. Whether you think it’s right or wrong is irrelevant to this conversation. So with that out-of-the-way let us continue…..

I find it absolutely laughable that the person who wants everyone else to pay higher taxes because he thinks they should is himself in arrears! Yes my friends old “Uncle Warren” doesn’t like how much he has to pay so he himself is quarreling, and refusing to yet pay over a BILLION dollars in taxes that were due in 2002. I sure hope he doesn’t have the same occurring issue happen for 03,04,05,06,07,08,09,10,11. That would add up to some serious coin would it not? I mean a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon we’re talking real money as the saying goes. But I digress. What’s just as laughable is the way some are using this verbal diatribe as some sort of moral high ground to assault reasoned thinking. My response to most “Please, Spare me.”

First off, if old “Uncle Warren” wants to be a good example, he can just start by paying his own. He doesn’t need to pay more, just pay what they say he owes, and to stop fighting for that discount  he claims he’s entitled to. Second, I find it hilarious that this same person has the audacity to make sure his net worth of Tens of Billions of dollars won’t go to the government, instead it will go taxed free to the Gates Foundation. A good cause of course, but “Do as I say, not as I do” is obviously once again one of old “Uncle Warrens” sticky points.

Another revelation to this blather of idiocy is how others of wealth have contorted themselves into knots that would make a yoga instructor blush. If I hear one more time from someone stating, “Well I do think I should pay more since I’ve made so much.” I swear I’m going to throw up. It has absolutely no bearing on whether they should or shouldn’t. It’s just an exercise in “Let me tell you how I’m oh so much better than everyone else.” again please spare me. What I’m listening for that I never hear stated is that magical term that puts their money  (and their altruistic overtones) where their mouth is: ” I add x% to the total, and send it along with my return.” Yep, there’s a line on the form for one to do just that, but I’m not holding my breath.

What’s equally comedic is the way people with little wealth are holding up the most iconic hypocrites with wealth as their shining beacons of truth as reasoning why we need to take them seriously. Is it me, or is this not the most revealing case of why they aren’t wealthy themselves? These are more or less the same type of crusaders who lash out at some company for charging them an extra .50 cents on a latte because the price of coffee beans has risen 200%, but in the same breath want everyone else to pay more in percentages of their income because they think they should. I mean really, I guess the best mantra for this crowd was uttered back in the day of that true financial genius Forest Gump.

“Stupid is, as Stupid does.”

Mark

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved