Month: May 2013

FFOM’ers Audio Book Update

We just wanted to let you know the audiobook version of Mark’s “A Fist Full of Mark’ers” is continuing to take shape.

We at StreetCry just wanted to share another track from the upcoming release. It also seems once again Mark is ahead of the curve. We were informed the former founder and CEO of Groupon® stated he was releasing what he described as “motivational business music” because younger people didn’t necessarily read business books. Just for the record, Mark has been doing this for quite some time. Those who’ve been following his work for while know you can find the “Prose” version in iTunes® currently for free. Mark was also one of the first along with Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, and a handful of others to have an app dedicated to their writings.

The interview in which he stated his intentions ended with the statement: “[A]s soon as I figure out how to load music onto iTunes…” Maybe he should call Mark? He might even get a coupon for 50% off the early release. (couldn’t resist…Sorry)

Unlike other books on business or entrepreneurship, this truly is a re-design of the whole idea of just how the message, thoughts, premise, or ideas will be expressed in today’s new world of delivering insights. The style, format, presentation, and more is absolutely unlike anyone else on the world stage of success or business today.

We as well as Mark are fully aware some will love it, some will hate it, and some will shrug. All we know is this: You won’t confuse Mark’s work with anyone else. Which is exactly the point.

So in that light here’s a sample of what it’s shaping up to look or sound like. We hope you enjoy and, if you like it please feel free to share it anywhere you like. (Please don’t spam anyone!)

Sincerely,

V.V. -StreetCry Media

IM000251.JPG

An Opinion On Advice
from – A Fist Full Of Mark’ers

©2013 Mark St.Cyr
in association with
StreetCry™ Media
All Rights Reserved

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Can’t see the audio player on your mobile device? Click here.

Off The Beaten Path

As we get ready for summer we begin with the kick off celebration of Memorial Day.

In our race to ready the grill, chill the libations, and hit the water. Let’s not forget the reason for this celebratory kick off to summer. It’s made possible for us because brave men and women on our behalf stand in harm’s way so that we can relax in peace.

Let us never forget that – ever!

I rarely talk about private matters. However, in light of recent events I’m posting my own remembrance whom I reflect on personally on this holiday. I think it’s only fitting no matter how old we get to still reflect on loved ones or friends who’ve gone past like ships in the night.

Marine Lance Corporal – James A. St.Cyr E/3 Born 2/08/47
KIA – Quang Nam 3/26/66
Vietnam Memorial Wall – Panel 06E – Line 052
(My Uncle aka Uncle Jimmy. To this day still missed terribly by all.)

As long as we’re alive – We should NEVER forget. Whether it’s someone you know personally, or in your own family, or even someone you’ll never meet. As long as we remember what it is to be American, and the possibility to continue to be one because – someone, somewhere, stands ready to give their life so we may continue with ours.

Thank you to all that have served. or continue to serve. This American wishes all of you the best.

…Mark

On a lighter note here’s an essay from my book “A Fist Full Of Markers” It’s a little off the beaten path of the markets, business, and finance. However, on days and weekend like this. Sometimes, we all need to decide, then make those decisions mean something. Whatever they might be.

“Without Conviction Decisions Are Meaningless”

Whether you’re new to world of entrepreneurship, self-improvement, or the seasoned veteran who’s read all the books and been to all the seminars, one point is emphasized over and over again. Decisions.

If you want to reach your goals you must decide. If you want to do this or that you must decide. All relevant points of instruction, all meaningless if all you do is just decide. Granted you’ll be further along than most who’ll never decide to do anything but to go with the flow however that might not protect you from drifting right back next to them.

Decisions or the act of deciding is used by many as if it has the same meaning as choice. That’s not quite correct. To understand decisions you have to look at its roots or definition. Decision literally means to come to a conclusion or resolution after consideration to resolve something. In other words, once you decide you cut off from the other possibilities and move forward discarding all other choices that were possible as now irrelevant. Their only relevance to you from now on are memories to be used later in a self-evaluation process when looking back on whether your decisions were sound based on the choices and information present at the time.

Choice is not quite the same. Let’s say someone has three balloons and asks if you want one. There are three different colors so you choose the green one. If the balloon pops and you want another only to find there’s not another green available you might just go with a blue one. The color was just a choice or a preference to what was available nothing more. Having the joy of the balloon was more important regardless of color. Making a decision that you will only play with a balloon that is green in color is quite different. If your balloon burst and there were no green left you would go without rather than pick from what might be a myriad of different colors available.

You might say the example sounds too simplistic or even childish, but how many play out the same scenario in their work or personal lives. The say they want a different work experience or environment so they’ll choose someplace that fits the criteria. Then the balloon bursts and now they mindlessly go rushing back where they’ll now choose from whatever happens to be left. Might not be as happy with this one, but hey it’s all there was to choose from. And now they’ll live as to not take many chances with this one. There might be even less to choose from next time. And so goes the progression of reducing expectations, risk, enjoyment, and more.

Deciding on what you want and not settling is well worth the price because unlike most you will never be envious when you see someone who may have more than you. Someone might show up at a party touting and bragging they have 75 balloons, but if none of them are green who cares. You made the decision that you are not going to settle for what others have regardless. You want what you want and decided that it was worth the price of pursuit because that’s where the real fun comes from.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

My Two Cents At A Discount

In the early morning, once again the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke will give a speech and the market is awaiting every syllable to be uttered with bated breath. The reason? Because the markets are Ben Bernanke. Period.

At no other time in human history have the markets been so high. Record, after record, after record closes have been reached as of late. The reason? Not because the economy has reached “on fire” levels. No, nothing more than monetary manipulation better known as QE. (quantitative easing)

This is imperative to truly understand for today’s entrepreneur. Maybe there’s nothing one can do about it except as former Citi® Bank CEO Chuck Prince said, (I’m paraphrasing) “As long as the music is playing, you have to dance.” However, I’d follow that with, “OK, but (and it’s a very big but) If the music stops – you had better be able to find a chair – or you’ve got problems. Real problems.” As witnessed by the fall of both Citi Bank and Mr. Prince as they became poster child’s of the financial meltdown of 2008.

For all intents and purposes no other market shows the distortions taking place than the Russell® 2000 Small Cap Index. Once, this index was heralded as the measurement for the state of health of small business. It has since morphed into the index where most of the so-called “hot money” or “speculative money ” goes first in relation to QE money entering the market. Why?

Well, it’s been the main index referenced by the chairman himself as the one to watch. He’s said many times when questioned by congress if what he was doing was working or having a positive effect , (again I’m paraphrasing) “Just look at the Russell!”

So let’s look at it shall we?

Chart Courtesy of SlopeOfHope.com

Chart Courtesy of SlopeOfHope.com

The bottom left of that chart represents October, 2011 when the Russell was struggling to regain its footing from the last fall where QE 1 was supposedly over, and the markets were going to have to stand on their own two feet. Then the Fed decided no more of that and announced QE 4Eva.

The purplish horizontal line represents a level basically in the range where if you had a breath, and pulse (actually only one was needed I believe) you could get a loan.

Currently, we are not only above that. We’ve smashed through and continuing to go even higher – at a faster pace! This Tuesday was the 19th Tuesday in a row we’ve had no down day – just up.

For those not familiar with meteoric rises in stock market index values. Hint: You’re looking at one. Want to know what a “bubble” looks like? Again – you’re looking at one.

The Russell. The heart and soul of small business health is now at never before seen in human history highs breaking the 1000 level. Why? Because small business is doing that much better? Nope. Pure monetary policy cause and affects. And that is why it’s an issue not to be dismissed.

If this was going on because of the craziness caused and endured in the early 2000’s where real estate was being bought and sold hand over fist. Where cars were being bought at record paces, and money was flowing into the markets via 401K’s pushing things in a bubbilicious way as in 2007. That would be scary enough. (Remember how that ended?) However, all this is being levitated by nearly one man, and his word to keep the money flowing with no impediment.

For all the talk you’ll hear on “Money on the sidelines”, or, “Inflows are causing this rise” it’s bunk. To date, approximately $630 BILLION has out-flowed. $30 Billion has so far in-flowed. This type of talk even puzzled Charles Schwab® Chief Investment Strategist Liz Ann Sonders during an interview the other day. Where she stated the above figures.

I feel that with the precarious position the markets are now in. If Mr. Bernanke so much as hi-cups at the wrong time. Or wipes his brow the wrong way using the wrong hand, let alone utter the wrong phrase or word, the markets could react in ways no one expects. It’s all going to be in the hands of the HFT (high frequency trading algo’s) tomorrow.

Again, what one has to remember is this market is on fire for one reason and one reason only. The Fed pouring the fuel till they decide when or if they should pour any more.

What happens from here is anyone’s guess. Lord help me I never thought we’d get this far. Yet, here we are. However, that doesn’t mean one can turn a blind eye, or not pay attention. Being an entrepreneur means watching, thinking, and trying to anticipate moves whether good or bad, and how to deal with them as to find both safety – as well as prosper.

Watching the reaction in the Russel 2000 (aka The RUT) both during and after the chairman’s speech might be the first tell as to what we might expect over the coming months in the markets.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Speed Kills?

Over and over again you’ll hear, “Things are changing so fast!”. Yes, it might be a little annoying at times. i.e., When we purchased a new computer only to have it be obsolete before we figured out how to use it. However, if you think about it. That issue has almost been nullified to a large extent. (unless you’re a pure tech aficionado) Now – speed brings birth to innovation.

In business things are rapidly being replaced. Not just communication rather, business tasks themselves. Today you can turn an iPad® into a cash register, use a smart phone to accept credit cards, and a whole lot more without the hassles or inconveniences one had to endure just a few years ago. You can basically sell cars or real estate from a hotel lobby making all the transactions needed near effortlessly when just 5 years ago accepting credit cards or having a cash register at a flea market was daunting.

The tools becoming available for entrepreneurs is near mind-boggling today. So much so that far too many of us complain we can’t get this or that done first rather, than looking for some form of solution – first.

We should recognize the opportunity that this time frame allows us. Entrepreneurs have opportunities to experiment and break all the rules like never before in history. Like the industrial revolution before us this moment in time I feel will possibly be recorded as the time when near everything was possible for an entrepreneur. From solo practitioner, to creating an empire.  If the tools aren’t here now don’t blink because someones getting ready to bring what you need to market Or, better yet, maybe that someone is you!

“Speed Kills” might be relevant to the highways for which the slogan was created. However today?

Speed is killing off outdated, intrusive, mundane aspects of business. It’s allowing new and improved ideas or ways of doing business while simultaneously giving access to that marketplace at breathtaking speed. If we don’t pay attention – it’ll pass one by in a blur. Everything is on the table. Everything is up for grabs. Opportunity abounds.

Get in the race. Competing – is – winning.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Addendum: Here’s an example that just 3 years ago would not only be laughed at but, would be thought of as crazy. Both my wife and I watched 3 movies, 2 documentaries, approximately 8 episodes of our favorite television series between us, and NEVER turned on the television. The great big flat screen television we like many of you just “had to have” as to watch our programs or else we felt as if we were in the stone age, laid dormant the whole day. Simply amazing if you think just how far and fast we come – never mind going.

Stuck Windows And Squeaky Gates

With all the turmoil surrounding politics and more. A few other spectacles came into sight that also had me shaking my head in both laughter as well as disbelief.

There is the debacle currently taking place in Microsoft’s (MS) newest version of Windows®. It turns out as of this writing users aren’t all that crazy about it. So much so that MS itself has issued an acknowledgement and, are going to do more than an update to fix bugs. They need to make major changes. (Yes – the complaints are getting that bad)  If this isn’t this centuries first “New Coke” moment, nothing is.

At work there’s no-time, or a do over when the boss (customer, etc.) looks at you red-faced as you try to explain it wasn’t you rather – it was the new software as the reason to explain issues. People get ticked off really, really, really fast if made to look stupid. (Did I say really?)

Top this one point of contention off with the most ridiculous statements made in response from none other than Mr. Gates himself. He pointed to sales of the new operating system (OS) as a measure of its acceptance in the market place. Yes, sales are good however, why are they buying? Forced replacement!

Remember New Coke®? It had great sales also when first launched. The only difference here were those customers disdain was quickly shown and measured by their not repurchasing in a sales cycle measured in days if not hours. MS newest debacle with the “New Windows” might not show its true extent or damage to its brand for an extended period. Although I believe that damage is now there in a very big way.

MS basically forced a new OS out the door trying to create a “No need to go anywhere else we have that stuff here also” mode in my view. And it shows. Along with the very intention as to replace all of its other systems where security, updates, and more will no-longer be supported. So basically you need to upgrade. Whether you want to or not.

IT departments along with everyone else want sustainability and relative support for anything to do with business. There’s really not that much of an alternative one can do quickly. Yes there’s Cloud this and Cloud that. However that’s still in its infancy. Real business needs reliable, serviceable, and security rich alternatives today. Just the security issue alone can be a motivating factor for an IT based decision to go with the new Windows. IT departments care about security first – user experience and all the rest second. And – 9 times out of 10 – IT makes the decision. Period.

MS’s thinking and strategy also seems to be ludicrous in its assumptions for acceptance. Let me give you an example.

Just imagine you’re on the business trip of your life. Your chance to score your largest client to date. Everything rides on the outcome. The meetings at 7AM sharp the next morning. You arrive at the hotel late with only 4 hours sleep now available. You enter your room, the bed is grand, the layout superb. Only then do you realize the alarm clock you are now going to depend on doesn’t work like 99.9% of all the others. This is the new “Doors powered Alarm Clock.”

It’s the same brand you’ve used for years however, now there’s no buttons to press, no nothing you’re used to. The interface, the face of the clock itself are all different. Next to the clock is a 1287 page manual in multiple languages stating how easy it is to learn the new OS for this gadget laden marvel. It can now do 4897 simultaneous alarms tones (found on page 603) with one gesture (found on page 286) for 12 different time zones. (found on page 339)

Everything you need to learn as to set this new marvel can be found within the index located in rear of the manual (beginning on page 1098). However, it you feel overwhelmed with the instructions fear not. Just call customer service between the hours 9 to 5, M-F, and remember to listen to the recording fully because – some of the options have changed.

Now how well are you impressed with the new clock? I hope you see my point.

Want to tell your friends how beautiful and complex the clock in your suite was? Or will you need to concoct a story for telling your boss, co-workers, or clients the reason why you missed or were late to the meeting was for an alarm clock you couldn’t figure out how to operate?

Maybe it’s the best selling alarm clock this replacement cycle however. What would be the odds they’ll be repurchased in the same numbers by the hotels next time? Especially if they pay attention or read the guest complaint postings. This analogy sums up what it’s like for many using the “New Windows.”

Add to all this the continuing disastrous sales of The Surface®.

Personally I’ve been on the road this last couple of weeks. Currently I’m in Columbus, OH learning the city as they ready my new residence. Columbus is the 15th largest city in the country. It’s home to “The” Ohio State University where the president gave the commencement the other week. It’s booming here with one of the lowest unemployment figures in the nation.

There is also a vibrant assortment retailers from Walmart®, to Tiffany®. There are all levels of income expressed here. A real cross-section of all income classes. As well as a real diversity of people.

I’ve toured some of the open spaces, museum areas, university campus, and coffee houses where hundreds of students are strolling through consistently regardless of time frames. You know what I have yet to see at any of them, and everywhere else I’ve been? A Microsoft Surface. I mean not one!

Everywhere I see people reading iPads®. Kids (I mean 10 and under) I’ve seen with iPad Mini’s®. Everyone else was on a smart phone of some type. Laptops?  Near nonexistent. However when I did see one, more often than not – it was a Mac®. I personally was surprised just how few anything Windows-based I’d seen. The more I looked – the fewer I found.

MS appears irrelevant in the personal space today more than ever. (if that’s even possible) So for all its enterprise dominance it has continued with an ever slipping stranglehold on what’s left. Because in now seems to be infuriating more of its customer base by delivering a new version of an operating system that no one wanted. While seemingly forcing it down their throats as a “must have” innovation. Regardless if it doesn’t work the way they want it.

I believe someday this will be a text-book case taught in marketing 101-2.0. Before one contemplates launching anything “New” it will be required to read something in line with: Why You Might Be The Next “New Coke or New Windows.” A case study in tone-deaf management.

Think management or the former CEO at MS can’t seem even more tone-deaf? Just think of the absurdity of another statement Mr. Gates gave in response to why people should buy the Surface over the iPad.

He was reported as making claims that iPad users are frustrated with their devices because (wait for it…) the lack of a keyboard, and other such absurdities. Has he removed himself so far from the real world that he’s never seen or heard of Bluetooth® devices either?

It’s one thing to stand up for your company’s product. It’s quite another to appear tone-deaf and out of touch.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

If You Can’t Save Me 10% It’s Not Worth It

Many people when they approach me at an event or write generally are looking for some “quick fix.” A one liner, or something different they can put in the tool box where not only can they put it to use immediately rather, something different that will actually make a difference as to enhance real performance. More than any other topic – sales tips by far is probably the most common.

What I find at issue from the novice to the veteran is this: They’ve heard either the same old lines repeated ad nauseam (as in some speakers version of “New and Improved Left Brain, Right Brain Brain Dead Sales Techniques for the Dummies”) that not only they can’t bear to hear any longer rather, their potential clients have heard them even more. So now the veteran can’t say any of them without feeling ill nor, can the rookie say them without the client getting ill. (The poor novice doesn’t know what’s going on except to experience a note to self moment: “Don’t use that line again – check!”)

Here’s a break the ice – get you in the door line once perfected with practice of delivery, along with having the back story to prove it, gets right at the issue and never goes out of style or usefulness.

“If I can’t save you 10% from what you’re currently doing now consistently – there would be no reason to switch or use me. It wouldn’t be worth it to both you or me. Besides, I wouldn’t want you to leave me for a penny either. However, there’s only one way to find out. Can we set up a few minutes to discuss?”

That’s it. Anyone in business understands the pain of changing vendors and more. People buy for their own reasons. Everyone, and I mean everyone has their own pivot points where it’s worth it – or not. Ten percent is easily calculated in someones mind. “My food bill is $20K a month for a restaurant. That’s $2K savings a month. That’s real money!” Or, “My power consumption for my business is $5K a month. That’s $500 a month. That’s a car payment!” It’s real enough that a potential client can “see” what’s at stake quickly. 9 times out of 10 you’ll get the opportunity to prove you can – or can’t.

The difference here is two-fold: One – You’ll get what you need more than anything else; The chance to prove. Second – You’re building a defensive wall at the same time so that “if” you get the business. Your competition has quite the moat to cross as to even regain access let alone undercut you.

You can use this tactic as both a door buster, as well as a padlock once on the other side. Remember, just like you, as the competition once again wants in. (or back in) Your line turns from offensive to defensive. i.e., “Yes, they’re quoting cheaper today however, can they save you 10% consistently less than me?”

Practicing this example as to make it your own along with figuring out how to apply the math as to prove the 10% point (whether tangibly as well as intangible) makes this one statement a very powerful force that never gets tired, old, or long in the tooth.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

An Interesting Brew Ha Ha

Many whom are familiar with my writings know my take on what is usually referred to as “Guru’s.” Whether they are touting sales, entrepreneurship, social media, and more. One thing I have an absolute disdain for is what we all know and see clearly that I refer to as, “Snake Oil Salespeople.”

Although I myself am immersed in what could also be referred to as the “breeding laboratory” of far too many on the stage today. (The motivation speaking industry) I have tried my best (and continue to do so) as to dispel much of what is being thrown from the stages around the globe as rubbish.

No where do I get more push back than from anyone that sells (or is trying to) the ideas of how to get rich using social media today. I’ve stated this before, and I’ll state it again: “The only people making money with social media are the people selling the idea – that you can make money with social media.”

That’s not too say that social media has no use. Or, that it isn’t a powerful tool that can produce amazing results when used effectively. No, what I am saying is there are more people out there selling social media as some magic wand approach that will cure or transform any toad or dog food into a Prince or gourmet cuisine. It won’t. Regardless if when you bought their program – they doubled the offer – And stated you can return it for a full refund. ( just pay additional processing) Yes, you may (however I doubt it) get your money back however, you’ll never get back the time and sanity you probably wasted.

So I was quite intrigued when a reader alerted me after they read my essay “Beware of the Hit Men” then in turn alerted me to quite an interesting article on PandoDaily.com written by Brandon Mendelson titled, “Social Media May Be Dying, But The BS Around It Hasn’t.”
(Click Here to view the original article.)

I’m not giving an endorsement for what he’s currently arguing for or against. Nor, do I know if he’s right in his conclusions or not. However, what he is saying makes interesting reading and, adds to the discussion for further contemplation when one tries to get more of a handle on what exactly is going on with this new phenom known as “social media.”

Warning- The language is definitely R rated. However, the argument and points are very interesting and should be pondered by anyone whom takes entrepreneurship or its mindset seriously. You needn’t agree with either side. I just believe it’s a side far too many are not exposed to. And, a far greater amount refuse to even acknowledge is even there.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

The High Price Paid For Free

The greatest problem facing many businesses today from the solo practitioner to the multinational conglomerate is the ever-increasing cost of “Free.” This dilemma is not isolated to a certain product offering. Nor, just a shipping issue. It’s far more encompassing.

Since this period now known as the “information age” began. Far too many of us tend to forget if this new “age” were a person, we would still classify it as being young enough to remain as a child on its parents health insurance. For all intents and purposes, it’s still in the development stage though it’s now viewed as been around forever. The iPhone® itself as of this writing would only be old enough to enter the first grade!

Although it seems like I’m being a little tongue in cheek. If true commerce can be considered the matriarch of business. (the actual sale of goods from one to another in which actual legal tender is exchanged. Where the end result is satisfaction to the buyer, and a net profit for the seller) Than in theory today’s IC (Information Commerce) would represent as its newest child.

IC in today’s world pretty much covers all one does both from their desktop, right through to mobile. Whether business or personal. If you interact with an electronic platform to read, listen, watch, or purchase anything electronically today. You’re engaging in IC. From Amazon® to social media. From App’s, to reading this article. All of it is IC. (Remember, the C stands for commerce and, how I define commerce is stated in the preceding paragraph above.)

The troubling factor I see becoming more prevalent comes two-fold. The first: Many users (or non paying customers) have a sense of entitlement believing that all IC should be free – no matter what. And, so far that viewpoint has been rewarded with even more “free” offerings for quite some time. Which, has only hardened that viewpoint making it even stronger.

However, it’s this second factor that is more troubling in my view.

Many of today’s newest entrepreneurs or business leaders creating all this new IC seemingly believe the same. This viewpoint seems to be increasing side by side, day by day, more and more, right in sync as the markets themselves move higher, and higher. The compulsion to disregard traditional business principles such as,”to generate net profits as quickly as possible” (if not sooner) seems lost on them.

No where is this more apparent than in silicon valley today. Although, it is far from being limited to that region. It’s now – once again, the hot bed. We’ve once again returned to a slightly different yet, very recognizable place. It seems as Yogi would say, “It’s Deja Vu, all over again!” It’s all about the Series A. Not about building a true business from scratch in my view.

It’s near comical to me when I’m speaking to a group when I state: “If you start a business from the sole premise as to create a great product, then make it available for free so that it will get users, rave reviews, and more quickly. Yet, don’t care or even disregard if anyone would pay to use or keep it – bankruptcy is where it will end – even faster.” For the room then feels as if I just insulted someones mother.

This glaringly obvious problem stems from a culture now moving at an ever-increasing pace. Where more and more they’re once again operating under the guise; “Build a mediocre product quickly in order to create a great fairytale business model – that can be told – then sold.”

I’m old enough to remember a sock puppet. Let alone today’s increasing laundry pile of disposable “free” user adoption business models that went belly up.

Far too many entrepreneurs are enamored in trying to create a business where success is predicated on how many “likes” or how quickly they can garner the “buzz” of none paying users as some touchstone of success. Rather, than focusing on the only thing that matters: A product that a customer finds useful and is willing to pay for – with legal tender. Disregarding all other monikers of so-called “success” as distractions.

The only reason these flawed models based on “free” are able to last longer than the life of a may fly? VC (venture capital) in all its forms. Without it – there is no more “free” as it’s now known. Many entrepreneurs of today seem to either forget this fact – or willingly disregard it.

Trying to make up for poor sales by adding more free users is just as ridiculous as selling dollar bills for 99 cents but, trying to make it up on volume. (I’ll leave the obvious monetary jokes of today’s Fed. Reserve aside for now)

Reasons such as this are a primary driver for why I have been expressing cautious tones on the antics currently taking place in today’s capital markets. For if the markets were to once again have a hiccup out of nowhere resulting in any meaningful decline as witnessed in 2008. Everything changes. I truly believe that’s not a Captain Obvious statement. I truly believe “free” as it’s currently known and experienced in today’s business world – ceases to exist. Period.

There’s nothing wrong with “free” within a business model. However, let’s not confuse “free” with pro bono. Lawyers and others do a lot of pro bono work as in free “for the public good.” However it’s the paying clients that subsidize it. A lawyer with no paying clients is the equivalent of an actor with no screen time. They’ll both need to wait tables to pay the rent.

I know a great many are shaking their heads. However one doesn’t need to look any further than today’s darlings of Wall Street once again to see they themselves scrambling as to come up with anything as to “get paid.” Even the early adopters and benefactors of the “free” model are tacking port to starboard and back in a race to move from “free” to pay anywhere possible.

Just look today at LinkedIn®. Free, free, free, correct? Well not really. Maybe free to the users currently, but at what price? All your nice personal info on display is just free inventory for them to sell to the highest bidder. Oh, by the way. Their earnings report… Well, not so good in the investors eyes so they expressed their feelings with a 10% or so loss in share pricing within minutes of its release.

Maybe in anticipation of just such a transgression is why they started a new feature known to many as “endorsing.” This is where instead of someone you know giving you a testimonial or endorsement. This new feature systematically adds you to connections with people you’ve never met, know, or done business with. However, what appears to be the key reason why they would do such “connecting.” Is it artificially raises your status or expertise levels within LinkedIn.

Although for you it’s as meaningless as adding ABC after your name to look or feel important. One wonders if it’s a nice way for them to sell “higher profile” data for more money? Just something that makes one think, “Hmmmm.”

Google® is once again changing or proposing new changes. In a recent story it seems they are contemplating the idea of dropping the url commonly displayed in search results. Why?

One could argue to make the results look neater. However, no url makes it a lot easier as to unwittingly force users to click on a site they might have at first instinctively avoided. You’ll now just need to “click” on it (if implemented) to find out if it’s useful, relevant, or as you first thought – from a spammer site.

By the way, that is how Google supplies free search correct? From advertisers paying for “clicks?” Again, just something that makes one go – hmmm.

Even YouTube® is toying with the notion of a subscription based model as announced this week. Just a couple of years ago this would be laughed at from the likes of Goog itself. Not any more. If it were to be successful. Would it allow more free content to be uploaded? Or, less as in now you’ll truly need to “pay to play.”

I stated in an article a while ago. Would people continue to use Twitter® more, less, or even at all, if the model needed to go from free for 140 characters to pay? However, you may type as many characters as you wanted. (If you like here are links to 2 articles that were published which are also in my book relating to this topic of “free.” You might find them useful for more expanded reading on this whole subject. They are here and here)

Currently more, and more there seems to be a never-ending parade of inept new businesses created – just waiting to die. Most are based solely on the “free” business model. (not forgetting the myriad already dead and buried) They’re operating primarily via the use of paying all the bills, as well as salaries – with speculation capital till the “ad revenue” materializes (if ever). That seems the end all be all goal from the start. Failure in my view has morphed from “not an option” to possibly “an intended option” so one can start the process all over again. (aka “Serial Entrepreneurism”)

Far more often than not. It’s when the spec money runs out – and the liquidation signs go up is when the advertisers finally show. To then place banner ads for the “Going Out Of Business Sale.”

That’s not to say that “free” doesn’t work. I myself use “free” in my own business models. However, I’ve thought long and carefully on what I would, or would not do for free, pro bono, or charity. Far too many as I stated earlier go rushing head first into “free” because it seems that’s all that matters. It isn’t.

Business is business. And free can be a part of that business as long as one understands the true costs associated with “free.”

Understanding a business means understanding all costs. Both as a user – as well as provider.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Why Not You?

Life is full of abundance and riches. Regardless of economic times.

It’s all about your decisions.

Life awaits these decisions that are right at your fingertips.

These decisions require no outside approval. Only your own.

The decision to rule your own life. Construct it, as you see fit.

A life with all the excitement, enrichment, and fulfillment you’ve ever dreamed of.

You merely need to have the desire, a purpose, and be resolute in your quest.

Must you go through hardship to claim this new life? Absolutely not!

A commitment to personal responsibility. The desire for achievement. Coupled with the mindset of the Entrepreneur is all you need.

Why don’t you decide today to walk, and work using this truly powerful viewpoint?

Give yourself as well as your family, and loved ones the promise of a better future.

It’s all within your control.

Besides, it’s precisely what the people we most remember throughout history have done.

Why not You?

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Why Entrepreneurs Will Rule

If there’s one club or whatever one wishes to call it I’m most proud of being, as well as helping – are entrepreneurs.

I’ve stated many times throughout my work in writings, speaking, consulting, workshops, and more. It’s the entrepreneurial mindset one needs to move ahead in this world both in business as well as one’s personal life.

It’s getting near impossible in today’s world to find people who don’t believe if they want something – it should be handed to them. More times than not stating their claim or reasons why is because they have some degree, certificate, or alphabet soup after their name. It’s so prevalent today, it’s near laughable.

Cutting right into this fallacy thinking is a very real issue I’m seeing more, and more taking place in hiring practices.

Originally I was going to title this writing under my category of, “Adventures In Stupidity.” However the more I thought about it, the more is seemed abundantly clear this is exactly what true entrepreneurs want to see.

The competition both in singularity as well as the corporations themselves doing things so blatantly foolish. Any person (whether entrepreneur or just with the entrepreneurial mindset) still toying with the idea about going out and getting some job, as opposed to creating it should feel embolden in their decision as to pursue their dreams of self-reliance in the business landscape.

As some of you may be aware I’m currently securing a new residence in Columbus Ohio. (a fantastic city from what I’ve seen so far) During the afternoon I was looking through the Sunday paper. One thing I’ve always done is look through the want-ads. (No I’m not looking for employment thank you.) You can tell a lot about what is going on here, there, and everywhere from what or who is hiring. What skills are needed, required as to even apply, etc.

Today more than ever its become a fool’s errand to look in any newspaper. So I decided I would go look at a so-called “job board.” Here is all I’ll say to what I read. I thought comic strips were only found in the Sunday paper, not in the job-board listings also?

Below are the final requirements verbatim at the end of 8 line items, prioritized and numbered as requirements for “duties, and responsibilities.”

Education: Undergraduate degree required. Graduate degree in business or related areas preferred.

Certifications: (wait for it….) Black Belt certification is desired, but not required.

Let me be very clear. This posting was for a national corporation. (If I said the name you would know it immediately) with BILLIONS in yearly revenues. I read, and re-read this listing 5 times as to see if I missed something where this was for personal protection,or for Karate school consulting or what not. It wasn’t. It was for a pretty direct business posting. It had some sales requirements so quite possibly if they dared not sign a contract one would need to put them into a choke hold as to extract a commitment.

It’s also possible “Black Belt” is some new certification or jargon I’m not aware of. However, even if it is. It’s laughable to put that on a posting. Period. Just how many people who fit the criteria outlined to apply would scratch their heads thinking, “Huh?”

I would wager this company also “employs” resume screening software. No, “Black Belt certification from Joe Jitsu’s school of martial arts?” Into the trash receptacle file it goes. More troubling will be just how many will still apply for this position. Why would one even want to work at such a place? If this is how they look for talent, if they picked you, are you still talent? Just seems crazy in my book.

Then again let them be crazy. Let them be foolish, and all the other epitaphs one can think of for you eschew this type of thinking. As entrepreneurs you notice the death knell of the bloated bureaucratic companies that still believe another “meeting” is what’s needed to fix their ills rather than employing some common sense.

Maybe what they’re afraid of are more, and more entrepreneurs continuing to take away their once perceived “gravy trains.”

Entrepreneurs don’t need some certification as to prove they can kick butt.

They just do it!

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr