Month: July 2012

Trolling and Phishing: Update

I just thought I would share something that validates my argument on why you need to have a fundamental understanding in today’s world in regards to the issue of “trolling.” If you’re an entrepreneur of any stripe willful ignorance on this issue in my opinion is akin to willful negligence.

I was alerted after my posting of the following litigation taking place right now involving Foursquare. Although I personally have had no dealing with them or ever used their service, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t pay attention to what is taking place.

If you’re serious about entrepreneurship and business in general these are issues you must pay attention to. They might have nothing to do with you now, or it might seem like it’s an issue you would never need to worry about. But that doesn’t mean it gives you absolution that it won’t. As I stated many times ignorance will not be a defense.

There are many sites currently covering this story so I don’t want to link to any particular one. You have your own trusted resources. But if you don’t know where to look just type into any search engine: Trolling Foursquare Patent Suit GPS. That will give you a multitude of sources to pick from.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

Trolling and Phishing in Your Waters

Much has been said lately about a new scourge called “trolling.” For those not familiar the basic premise is someone spends their resources finding legal challenges to anyone’s work where they may or may not have legitimate claims of infringement. Many bring suit in hopes of settlements rather than going to court. For the trolls it’s the equivalent of a lottery ticket. Just how high the jackpot can be is all they care about. And it’s getting worse.

As you create work or art the first thing most will do is immediately get it on the web. You might use a blog, YouTube™, FaceBook®, or the myriad of others. However just as you want to express to the world what you’ve created, there are more than a few just waiting to see if you might be their lottery ticket. And you had better be ready when they come knocking because just like you with your new tools, they now possess better tools in which to find you. And they are always looking.

If you’re creating as to be an entrepreneur you need to have an understanding or working knowledge of copyright, trademark, or patent laws. I’m not saying you need to become a lawyer, but you do need to have a fundamental understanding.

I’ll use an example that happened with myself recently:

In experimenting with different formats. I had put a few videos on YouTube™ so others could view and comment. Out of the blue months later I received a notice that one of my videos was accused of copyright infringement.(Even though there were 4 near identical) I was notified that although they didn’t take down the video, the accuser was now able to place ads on my work, and I had lost the ability to add any new content to the site. But in an effort to make me feel better (it did not) they stated my video was being allowed to stay on with their ads. In other words, I lost all control of my content.

With a shoot first ask questions later policy the accuser had control of my work before I was able to respond. It seems there are algorithms trolling the site looking for similarities. Although I understand this is an attempt in good faith as to protect copyright owners (and for the site itself because of suits they can face) the machines are sensitive resulting in mistakes. But shoot first is the policy.

After viewing the accusation I immediately responded with my statements of why they were wrong and frivolous. Reply came back the accuser didn’t agree therefore the status remained the same. I immediately went through their legal process and petitioned that the accuser relinquish their claim on my material because what they were sighting as infringement was not my words, music, or anything else protected under copyright. They were arguing because I used a background, and transition effects similar to theirs and that was infringement. It’s not.

Theirs was a dance video, mine was a spoken word styled video. However because they both had music, text, and were similar in length, the algorithms tagged it. Think of it as making a home movie using a program you purchased and someone made a monster truck video using the same program. If you titled yours “Baby’s First Moments” using a graphic and background supplied in the program would the monster truck video be able to claim protection if their video started out with “Baby’s First Moments” because they used the same program, graphics, and was similar in length? Of course not, however that doesn’t mean they can’t use a policy to their advantage to put ads on your video while you lose control of your material in the process. For them it’s a lottery ticket. For you it can mean your livelihood. How you respond, and understanding what you’re responding to is imperative today. Also would you have the nerve to respond when what you’re doing has possible significant legal ramifications? You need to know. Ignorance will not be a defense.

A fundamental understanding in this area is a crucial responsibility of anyone who takes entrepreneurship seriously because the trolls are very serious.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

Audio Podcast from Mark’s “Prose Series”

3 Rookie Mistakes That Can Put You Out of Business

Available_on_iTunes_Badge_US-UK_110x40_0824

This podcast and more available in iTunes®

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr in association with StreetCry Media. All Rights Reserved

The quick hitting no holds barred series based on “Mr. Engineer, please hit the record button and let’s go!” Designed and delivered to be thought provoking and unique for its forget about edits and retakes format.

American Exceptionalism

I wrote and published this article originally in April of last year. Like wine it might have more flavor today than when first crafted.

American Exceptionalism…It’s the Cure not the Disease

Sorry folks, I’m getting a little tired of all the bashing, hand wringing, or the self loathing I keep hearing surrounding the American Exceptionalism argument. Hopefully many of you haven’t bought into all this trite the so-called “Ivy leaguers” like to espouse. For me, I’ll take a little more talk, and action from people wearing cowboy boots than the wing tips. Have most people in this country forgot that it wasn’t the suits, and ties that forged into the unknown with nothing more than a horse, a wagon, and yes a gun. If that bothers anyone, save the emails, I could care less. The schoolboy crowd could have never taken root in this new unknown until the people who had the courage to go out and do It…Did It! Only after these pioneers settled themselves in, and actually built the infrastructure that would allow this “genius crowd” to actually attend a school could they then look down their noses at them.

The term “Cowboy” was once revered in the lexicon of American culture, and I would argue throughout the world. As of late it seems more, and more that any pain being suffered by the “book smart” elite is instantly shoveled onto the vapid argument that it’s because American exceptionalism never really existed. The problem to me is, it doesn’t exist for them. This “thing” of  A.E. is not about studying, It’s about doing! You don’t look for the “How to build a better world 1.0 manual” you go out and build it. When you need to chart a new course, and there hasn’t been any maps created yet, you venture out into the unknown and make one. You also don’t wait for permission from any self-appointed know it all to give you some made up hog wash that they have sanctified your endeavor.

I would venture to say that the real crisis facing this nation, and our economy is that we who hold dear the underlying principles that created the Greatest Nation this little planet known as Earth has ever seen, is in trouble because the wing tips have somehow snookered the boot wearing crowd with drivel that we need to consult their approval first. Nothing could be further from reality, and I give here an example that fills this chin rubbing set with a fear scarier than not getting their Tee time at 9.

It’s more than likely if you have an MBA, Ph.D, BS, or any other host of so-called wonderful acronyms after your name, even if it’s held from one of the those “greatest institutes of learning” you will likely be presenting yourself to be hired by some company which was founded by a dropout. Sorry to be the one to inform you, but yes, more than likely that latest and greatest company will be because of a “Cowboy.”

I don’t know about you, but I take great pride donning my cowboy boots. And they have points that can be so useful when the wing tip wearer who just tried displaying his superiority bends over to tie his undone laces.

Hi Ho Silver!

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr

I would like to add this footnote in light of what I see transpiring across the spectrum. It seems to me many are forgetting a few things when they’re debating this issue. If memory serves me correctly, no government agency supported or paid for the pilgrims voyage. There were no roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, libraries, universities, and more to help the frontier pioneers. Too many are trying to make a case or debate today’s issues within some form of the “chicken or the egg first?” quandary. Forgetting or intentionally keeping it as some cloudy riddle. However if you truthfully start from the beginning it settles the argument which came first.

Entrepreneurs of all stripes settled, built, and will continue to move this world ahead. Even when every “Ivory league” or so-called “Smart crowd”  know it all tells us we can’t.

Yipee Ky-Yay ____-_____!

© 2012 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!)

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Although I agree with that philosophy I thought I’d share some data points and thoughts of my own in regards to “impressions.”

As many of you know I’ll be presenting at the Carnegie Center next month. I was asked to make a presentation on “The Business of Writing.” Personally I’m honored while at the same time humbled because it wasn’t that long ago when I expressed thoughts to peers and family that I wanted to retire at age 45 then possibly write or make speeches. Most just rolled their eyes. Yet here I am. I’m not making this statement to be braggadocios. I’m stating this as to give context for others so that when you decide to make bold statements about what you want to accomplish you’ll not allow the “You can’t do that. What do you know about that?” crowd hinder your aspirations. So on that note I thought I would share some data points compiled by StreetCry Media (yes my media arm) in preparation for the event. Here’s some data points: (Please pardon the repeating My, My, My. It’s only for context.)

My articles or writings on any given subject now produces nearly 1 Million impressions on the web. Although this number is subjective, it’s based on the same repeatable search criteria we used when the results came back with little more than 100 or so when I first started. Are they all in reference to me? Of course not. But when you can go (and we have) some 15 to 20 pages deep using our search criteria with few repeating sources, the rest no matter how many or few becomes irrelevant. These results don’t include people accessing via my App or iTunes® or RSS feeds and more. The number could be greater, but I feel my case and reasoning’s are served better if I left out rather than trying to add anything and everything.

The term”impressions” is clearly subjective. Think of it in terms similar to an Arbitron® way of calculating how far your depth of reach is. If a radio is placed in a town square. It’s not counted as 1. There are formulas based on how many people pass by and so forth. If you’re on the cover of a magazine on newsstands world-wide but only sell 1. It’s about how many people may have seen the cover. That’s why I use the term “impression.” My articles at any given time can and have been referenced by not only literally hundred of independent blogs worldwide, but also by some of the worlds largest media sources today such as USAToday.com, AOL news (that’s also the Huffington Post) and others. Below is an example…

Just to show I’m not blowing smoke.

While the Social media industry will make a case that you need to on the first page of search results to be effective, Google® itself has netted results implying that many are now favoring second page results as a key because the first page more or less feels gamed by SEO tricks. I have results on certain topics where we stopped at 15 pages deep with very few repeating sources. They’ve been referenced in foreign language sources, and I even turned up on a coffeehouse blog in Utah. You never know where your work will turn up.

27 and counting

My blog is now read by visitors from 27 Countries, and counting.
It’s also important not only where you’re being read, but what people whom I personally hold as inspirational might be saying about me on the web.

When I first saw this, you might say I was a little more than humbled.

Although these are milestones along the way the reason why I feel they are important is this; Every so-called social media guru and others will tell you in order to grow your business or anything else you not only have to do it this way, that way, or their way or you just don’t get it. I offer as empirical proof that most of them have no clue except how to repeat what they heard someone else say. As of this writing here’s a short list of what they’ll tell you in order to be taken seriously. You must have or do the following:

  1. You must use Facebook®…..I don’t.
  2. You must use Twitter®………I don’t.
  3. You must use LinkedIn®……I don’t.
  4. You must allow comments….I don’t.
  5. You must write for SEO’s (Search Engine Optimization)………I don’t.
  6. You must comment on others stories and blogs relentlessly……I don’t.
  7. People won’t read more than 100 words..My articles average 500-750 (my most widely read column to date nears 1250!)
  8. If you’re not an English major you need an editor…I’m lucky if I can spell editor half the time.
  9. You need to link to others so they’ll link to you….I only link if I feel my reader needs the reference for more information or context. Not to “game” readers.
  10. I’ll stop here, I think you see my point.

I would just like to close with this statement. I have always valued and hold in the highest regard the intellectual capacity of you the reader. I never have, and never will take for granted or assume that you can’t see, or smell BS from a mile away. Whether I’m right, wrong, close, or way off base. I’ll only write or say what I truly think and let you decide if it’s worth anything. It’s the only thing I know how to do. And once again I thank every one of you for making this post possible.

Respectfully,

Mark

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

Aiming High

(My column as it appeared in Upmarket magazine week of July 15th)

For many the term aim high means setting lofty goals. Yet this time it’s more about actually how or what you’re doing to hit those levels, and why many find themselves constantly thinking they’re doing everything right while continually missing the mark.

For anyone who’s taken Drivers Ed. many instructors will tell you to aim high. This wasn’t some form of motivational speech to inspire you to become a driver for NASCAR®. (Although the way many drive maybe I’m mistaken, but I digress.) It was to have you look further down the road rather than right in front or to the side. The reason for this instruction was to help you in keeping the car on a straight path rather than drifting from side to side. When your focus is to close you tend to drift easier and more often resulting in sharper and more forceful corrections. This metaphor can explain why so many feel consternation when navigating the road of entrepreneurship.

You need to look well into the distance and let your peripheral vision awareness keep you from drifting. Your peripheral vision fills in many of the details that you need, and it signals you seemingly without any input on your part to make the small corrections needed to stay on your course. Where ever you focus is where you’ll tend to drift or veer towards. An actual skill taught at race car schools is if you’re sliding towards a wall you’re not to look at it. Rather you must focus on where you want the car to go, not where it’s currently heading. If you focus on the wall chances are you will hit it because your mere focus begins to trump your skill of regaining control. Same lesson applies to hitting the skids in business. Where you focus can trump acumen or skill. Yes, it’s that important.

How many forget to keep focus on their long-term objectives by staring blindly at short-term circumstances. Thinking you can’t lose a stitch of business regardless if it’s good business or not because times are tough is one example. You won’t focus on finding good or better business. Your focus will be directed at how to become better at keeping or not losing bad business. Or maybe you want to grow a business, however your focus is more inline with dodging pot holes (quieting unruly customers) rather than looking for a smoother road (customers that you can wow). Some will watch or listen to news with screeds of doom and gloom rather than steering their goals toward finding ways to increase their business. Many more will focus on not losing rather than gaining. Next thing they know instead of arriving at their destination all they seem to do is hit more detour signs. It’s not the roads that are problem, it’s your focus on how to navigate them. You can’t read signs or warnings to help navigate if all you do is focus on the curbs. Focus squarely on the potholes and that’s where you’ll end up. Put all your attention on not drifting into a ditch and you may just miss the sign that reads “Road Ends, Bridge Out!”

Being aware but not focusing on obstructions that may come along during your travels is what keeps you heading in the right direction. Focusing constantly on the side of the road as a means to stay clear will only land you in that ditch you so clearly wanted to avoid.

Have faith in your driving skill as an entrepreneur, focus on your destination, and the pot holes, detours, and other inevitable hazards you’ll navigate through. Almost as easily as being on autopilot.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

Bitter-Sweet-Laughable-and Everything In Between

Whether you’re a veteran entrepreneur or just making the plunge one thing will remain constant. You’ll have a lifetime filled with moments of reflection in self-analysis. Some will come out of the blue years or even decades later that will make you stop, think, and ask yourself;  “Was that the right decision at the time or not?” A truly informative, and useful self-analysis should also include this question answered honestly; “Would I make the same decision today if all I knew was what I knew then?” Woulda, shoulda, coulda, is for amateurs and parlor game discussions. Shoulda bought shares in Apple® at $60.00 then you coulda sold them at $600.00 and you woulda made a killing is worthless chatter. If something you invested in went to ZERO and you lost a near fortune would you have still made the same decision based on what you knew then is more relevant, and useful. Sometimes knowing that yes you would, or no you wouldn’t and why is the only significant question to be answered regardless of the final outcome. I have done this countless times over my career. It never ends.

Entrepreneurialism is a way of life, a mind-set. You can be employed by someone else yet still be an entrepreneur. In my view it’s the business of you! Regardless of the name on your check. When you take ultimate responsibility of where and how you’re going to work, and under what conditions, in my book you’re an entrepreneur with the proper mind-set. Forget about text-book definitions for the moment because for me most books on business aren’t worth jack.

I had one of these such moments today with something that happened over 20 years ago. In view of the summer doldrums I just thought I’d share it at length.

Years back I had just sold my business and went back to work for a company that groomed me and gave me opportunities to become much of what I am today. It was more than a company to me, they became my adopted family. Yet it was the time of financial crisis with the S&L scandals happening everywhere and banks and business were closing left and right much like we see today. As circumstances emerged that were unknowable or even correctable by us the company was forced to close and I found myself out of work, and unemployed within a year of selling my building and business. I was frustrated, mad, and a few other emotions all rolled in at the same time. So I set my sights on the #1 company in my profession. If I was going to prove to myself I was any good I wanted to be associated with a company so large that it dwarfed anything I had ever been associated with. Safety in size I believed then. I had been working in the equivalent of a grade school play. They were “Broadway” the big time and had just recently been bought out by an even bigger company. I knew nobody that could help me get in so I did the unthinkable. I circumvented everything and anyone whom could have stood in my way (HR to be exact) and directly called the person whom could hire me and nearly demanded that he speak with me about possibly hiring me. (Call it a sales pitch) He reluctantly agreed.

When I walked in for my interview I had to cross a sales floor approximately an acre in size with hundreds of salespeople desk to desk in what looked like an ocean of people. I never seen anything like it and nearly rescinded my appointment out of sheer panic as I was escorted through to his office. My pitch was simple. I would bring in only new business, be paid solely based on commission of 1 cent per pound sold, and only paid on actual dollars collected. If they didn’t get paid for any reason, I didn’t get paid. No one ever made such an offer, (based on the math alone it seemed like inevitable starvation to everyone) yet there I was a nobody making my pitch to someone overseeing his sales staff of this one department of $500 million dollars in annual sales. The other division that handled the produce side also did a little more than $500 million. So the combined area division I was applying to work within was just over a BILLION dollars in yearly sales. And this was only the New England division. They were a national organization. His answer? “OK, let’s see if you can do what you think you can.” I was in, but that’s not the end of this tale.

After 12 weeks I received a call from him stating he needed to speak with me at his office. (They were in Rhode Island I was just outside Boston MA.) As I sat he told me that the accounting department is up in arms because they tallied my expected yearly earnings based on my current sales. I was going to earn more than the President of that division. I was not only producing, I was producing far above what anyone thought was possible, and I was just getting started. He himself was ecstatic for me and applauded me, but accounting would have none of it. They said; “If we do this with him, everyone will want the same deal.” He told them they should. His answer to this was; “Anyone whom wants to give up their salary, start from zero, be commission only, and incur all their own costs we should not only say yes to in a heart beat, but should encourage it company wide.” They wouldn’t listen. They demanded if I wanted to stay on they were willing to make me an employee an offered me a generous salary. If not then everything would be terminated as of now. He was outraged.

The salary was more than I ever made on salary, The alternative was I would once again be unemployed but now with no unemployment benefits available to apply for. My answer? To him I expressed my complete gratitude and thanked him for taking the chance on me to begin with. Then I told him to tell them to “Stick it!” He laughed and agreed with my answer. He also confided to me that this brought to light things that made him question his own situation and if he himself should stay. Within a year of this incident he would also leave to take the helm at a competitor. He crushed them. Within one year this division went from half a Billion dollars in yearly sales to less than half and has never recovered. That company was SuperValu®. What brought all this back are the headlines involving them today. The financial outlets are a buzz for reasons they would rather not see. If a picture tells a thousand words than below is an encyclopedia of what happens when the wrong departments are allowed to make important decisions.

“Been Down so long..Down is looking Up”

So the question stands. After all the headaches and turmoil I went through after my experience there, would I still make that same call and decision to go there based on what I knew then as compared to what I know now?

Absolutely!

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

Mattresses Are About to Get A Lot More Love

It’s been said the older one gets they lose interest in the bedroom. Since there’s as much interest paid on savings these days at some banks, retirees, senior citizens, and just about anyone whom hopes to continue to have two nickles to rub together are now viewing their bedroom as the “Institution of Solvency.” With the mattress becoming their vault.

In as few a weeks separating one scandal after another the latest and greatest taking place across the pond with Barclay’s. We wake to find yet another brokerage firm has collapsed. And what’s missing? You guessed it, the customers money!

Confidence is a very fragile relationship when it comes to money and love. Many things can be forgiven in love, but lose or steal someones money, and no amount of love will save you.

During robust economic times financial losses of any type are taken with a grain of salt because the prospects of earnings or other means lessen the impact. It tough times however, that changes from a forgiving nature to outright damnation. This may be one of those rare moments where the term “This time it’s different” just might apply. What’s different will be trust and confidence. They’ll be none. What’s not different? When this happens the impacts can move from transitory to generational. We may be witnessing this paradigm shift as when people whom lived through the 1920’s and 30’s never trusted a bank again and taught their kids not to either. The industry as a whole has no one but themselves to blame. The way they have handled the public relations front with the ducking, and dodging of accusations with legal ease rather than having the ability to be honest and forthright with empirical evidence in their tone of no wrong doing will now crush all they gained over the decades. Today I would not want my nieces or nephews to become bankers or work on Wall St. Recently I would have advised them against a reality show. Now, what channel and time slot? Because compared to the former, the latter seems to have more integrity.

All one hears or reads from anything related to the financial industry are reams of paperwork and advertisements laced with terms and statements such as: Integrity, trust, clients first, safety, reputation, and on and on. But that’s all turned into; “Sorry, but under advise of counsel I have to invoke my constitutional right under the 5th amendment.”  I don’t know about you, but I didn’t read that line in any fine print I was sent in a sales pitch. Did you? But that sure seems like the line du jour of late.

Once people switch from the mindset of “a return on their money” to “a return OF their money” no amount of PR is going to change it. You’ve lost the trust factor, confidence will not return. With more scandals breaking in what appears to be a daily fashion, many younger eyes might become uncomfortable viewing hidden smiles and winks by their elders as they look at their bedrooms.

Just how old they’ll be before they understand that when their elders were grinning or smiling at the mattress, it had a whole different meaning than theirs.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

Why Your First Words Matter (Part 2)

Public Relations. Implicit in that term are two relationships not just one. The public’s relationship to you, and your relationship to the public. Although the meanings are joined at the hip that doesn’t mean one of them can’t be the antithesis of the other simultaneously. Nor does it mean that if you do X here…Y will result there. It’s not a zero sum game. They’re not locked in any correlated fashion. There can also be exponential adverse or favorable reactions to each other irregardless of making any sense. That’s why what you say, when you say, and how you say it the first time you look into a camera, write an op-ed, or even argue with your spouse matters. Only seizing the moral high ground immediately will help protect you when the pikes and torches are being gathered. It might not be enough, but it’s the only salvo that has the best chance of providing any salvation. Whether it’s for the public itself, or your own dignity, knowing what you said was truth in the end might be all you’ll have.You must to be able to look yourself in the mirror first warts and all and say, “I’m telling the truth” regardless if anyone believes you. If not, no matter how much make up one puts on eventually the truth will see daylight. Or worse you’ll be grilled by so many, for so long, no amount of special effects will be of help. Metaphorically speaking customers leaving you never to return is really not that different from an angry mob picketing your doors. Both produce the same results.

We were treated once again in only a few weeks of the first example that I talked about transpiring at JP Morgan and their CEO to another banking scandal which affects not just losses by clients or share holders, but affects… wait for it…$800 TRILLION dollars in markets linked to LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate.) This time the CEO is Bob Diamond formerly of Barclay’s Bank. Once again another of the worlds largest and highly regarded financial institution is caught in a scandal. Just amazing what we are witnessing today in history. Two scandals of importance, two CEO’s being rocked by what, how, when or if they knew something. Public Relation classes be damned, this real world example is staggering in the lessons being presented. And I suggest any aspiring or current CEO should be paying very close attention.

Over the holiday while we were all grilling, the CEO of Barclay’s was being “grilled” before England’s parliamentary oversight committee which for all intents and purposes functions like our House or Senate committees. What was asked and the responses to them from my point of view showed a CEO that was not only out of touch with the real world, but once again never noticed his hot air was more inline with toxic fumes. I personally watched the entire 3 hours live. My jaw still hasn’t fully recovered from the fall to the floor. So without any further ado let’s examine what transpired while remembering most if not all accusations are just that. Accusations.

To give context to anyone not familiar with the complexities or importance of LIBOR and why this scandal is so egregious is that trillions upon trillions of dollars in markets worldwide even as small a market as you and me are affected by this rate from credit cards to money markets, and willful manipulation of this rate is not just frowned upon but it’s criminal by law.

The questions being fired by the members at Mr. Diamond were truly spectacular in their frankness. There was no place to run for cover. The more Mr. Diamond tried to state how badly he felt, or mad he was, and the myriad of other defenses he tried to use, the more it showed just how foolish his reasoning was and became clearer with every statement in my view.

This is the tone of the questions and statements put forth and how the former CEO answered: (I’m paraphrasing)

It was stated many times that traders whom influenced the rates were shouting openly across the trading room floor where they needed the rate to be set. A clearly illegal request, and not only no attempt of concealing the illegal requests but where the culture regarded it as “business as usual.” So much so that former employees working at other institutions would routinely call looking for favorable manipulations to their rates. The response? “When we were made aware of the activity we took action immediately.” Yes they did, but you mean to tell me or anyone else you never knew about a purely illegal activity operating in full view for years till someone enlightened you by way of legal charges? Sure they did, can I have 2 unicorns with that line also? I mean really. What about the people whom didn’t partake in any of this purely illegal activity. In all the years this was taking place nobody ever once said to management anywhere at any time, “Hey, I’m being asked to do stuff that’s purely illegal, and I don’t want to lose my job because of it.” Ever? The logic in that alone impels one to extrapolate everyone knew that was the culture and must be acceptable to management. If not, someone willfully conspired to conceal illegal activity from management. But if it happened blatantly in the open as reported for years. The latter seems moot.

Another statement was poised to highlight even more holes in the CEO’s defense of “He was unaware.” Many prominent economist were writing time and time again for years in the prominent financial publications throughout the banking industry that it was becoming apparent the LIBOR rates were being manipulated. And the CEO of one of the largest institutions in the world that helps set these rates said “I never read about or heard about it.” That alone makes the argument for one of three possibilities. As the member said “Then you’re either, complacent, negligent, or simply incompetent as CEO.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts anyone at the top of their profession knows what’s being written about and within its own industry. To say they don’t would be foolish at best.

Mr. Diamond was asked along the lines: “Did you ever question why your LIBOR rating was consistently the highest rate? Ever?” The answer: No.
I need you to ask yourself this question. If you sold anything, and I mean anything. Even if you weren’t the CEO or owner of the company. If LIBOR (or anything for that matter) was an integral part of your business model, would you never question why your price was higher than your competitors. Ever? Neither could I. And yet a CEO of one of the world’s premier institutions says he didn’t. All with a straight face. All I’ll say is what I wrote above…”Then you’re either, complacent, negligent, or simply incompetent as CEO.” Need one say more?

So here’s what I would have written for Mr. Diamond’s first public statement. If he couldn’t read it verbatim I would have declined any further involvement, because in this situation a truthful, forceful statement leaving all possible innuendos closed is all that had the possibility of saving face or reputation. Anything short and I would have suggested to say nothing if at all possible. The more he tried to mount a defense, the more he appeared to be defending the indefensible. I believe the following would have had a chance:

Dear Members,

Every trader engaged in LIBOR understands the basics of what is and what is not legal and their duty and relationship to honor it as an employee of Barclay’s. These aren’t legal or moral questions that requires anyone with little more than common sense to figure out regardless of their legal or criminal ramifications. Anyone whom took it upon themselves or conspired with others to circumvent the system of rules held by the government and or Barclay’s should be brought on legal charges if applicable. And if not legally applicable should be fired immediately in disgrace from Barclay’s for willful incredulous actions unacceptable to the standards held at Barclay’s. Any supervisors with knowledge of what was reported as taking place at our LIBOR office and turned their backs in willful denial should also be jettison. I am saddened by my own leadership skills that for any reason someone would interpret my unknowing as some form of passive agreement that such behavior was not only acceptable but part of the structure or culture at Barclay’s. This is appalling to me. To think that anyone working at Barclay’s could ever interpret this as a form of management’s complicity can and only be a failure on my part as CEO, no one else. For that I have nothing but deep regret and sorrow. Stating to the board that I was unaware of these actions although true, never the less is not a defense to stay on as CEO. I have since tendered my resignation with deep apology to the board and Barclay’s as a whole. I have forfeited any further compensation until the board can review this matter and will live by the rulings of the board as they see fit. Barclay’s deserves better. I have made myself available to the CFTC to open any and all doors as to get to the bottom of this matter. The reputation of Barclay’s as one of the world’s premier bank being at risk because of the actions of a few is unforgivable in my eyes. What I am confident of is this; In any and all investigations it will be found I like many others were unaware. Yet that is not an excuse, only a statement for factual record. Any and all those responsible in this activity should be prosecuted if findings prove that is the proper course of action. I’ll be happy to take your questions.

At least from that standpoint the moral arguments are not only answered, but you have the ability to honestly state you’ve addressed the very same questions the pitchfork crowd wants answered. Anything less, and you might as well say nothing.

Best way to not dig a deeper hole, is to stop digging.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr