Month: July 2013

Re-Invention Or Re-Definition Is The Spice Of Life

The following quote comes from George Orwell’s 1941 essay: England Your England.

What can the England of 1940 have in common with the England of 1840? But then, what have you in common with the child of 5 whose photograph your mother keeps on the mantle piece? Nothing. Except you happen to be the same person.

Although I personally have not read this essay it came to me via the opening lines or prologue in Christopher Hitchens book: Hitch-22, A Memoir. (May 2010 Atlantic Books) which I am immersed in for a second time. (His command of language in both writing as well as speech is just as exhilarating to me as watching a sports figure in any sport performing at the top of their game. I may not know exactly how they’re doing it, however, what I do know is there’s something exceptional taking place that commands attention.)

The reason the quote and observation struck me was far too many forget that re-invention or re-defining ones goals and more is exactly what keeps staleness, boredom, and a whole lot of other useless trite away.

You’re not the same person you were when in grade school, nor probably college for that matter. So why would one think they’re the same when looking at their business and personal life? Sure you may have decided 20 years ago to be an accountant, doctor, lawyer, teacher, dentist, mechanic, tattoo artist, _____________ fill in the blank. Yet, does that mean that’s exactly what you want or should be now?

I don’t know the answer that fits you. What I do know, is more likely than not, you haven’t given real thought to it much yourself as to answer it. (True sit down alone time thought.) Most likely you’re doing what you’re doing because – you’ve been doing what you’ve been doing. Not giving it a second thought as to if it’s – what you should be doing.

I’m not saying you need to switch careers, throw 20 years of schooling and 10 years of experience out the window to become an alligator wrestler on a whim because it looked exciting on television. What I am saying is this: “Have you possibly ever given thought to moving in a different direction in your career? Something that possibly lends itself to building on skills you already acquired but aren’t capitalizing on? Or, moving in a totally different direction, location, and lifestyle all together. (I picked and moved to Lexington, KY from New England by basically throwing a dart at a map. But, that’s me.)

An example could be a pediatric doctor deciding to change from seeing patients themselves to teaching pediatrics at some school or giving specialized classes. Or the accountant that stops taking on clients for tax season to begin specializing in helping other tax specialist train in newer accounting methods. Or the former race mechanic that decides to head a race crew in a different motor sport. As I stated before, fill in your own blank.

The mundane becomes mundane for many of us because we build the mundane castle brick by brick, year by year ourselves. Only to one day realize we never left places for windows. Cracking holes in stone walls is a much more laborious task and many will shrug thinking, “Oh well, too late now. Better just invest in more candles.” Which leaves one feeling trapped within a fortified castle of their own making.

The same goes for hobbies, or personal activities. Maybe at one time you went to every concert that came to town. Now? You only watch reruns of those groups when they hit the “Oldies But Goodies Late Night Marathon Parade Of Stars.” Don’t get in that rut.

It’s easy to fall into the familiar only to have the familiar leaving you more with feelings of flat. Try something new. Just don’t be one of those people that tries something new 1 time only to say, “Yep, tried that, and that didn’t work. Back to the couch I guess.” Try something else, and something else, and…. You get the point.

Changing careers, changing habits, and changing pretty much of anything takes a little self-reflection then a little action. You don’t need to start building a Saturn V-5 rocket tomorrow in your backyard because you always thought about going to the moon. You can easily start by going to the museum first. (And hey, If you can build it? Who am I too say no?)

Just as you aren’t the person you were at 5 years old. You’re probably not the person you were 5 years ago. Re-invention of one’s life is the spice of life. Don’t take it for granted.

P.S. Then remember to clear it with your spouse, doctor, lawyer, accountant, whomever, and or NASA first. Just say’n!

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Why It’s Always About Individual Responsibility

If one wants to see a trait that has swept the globe with a ferocity rivaled only by some super virus. Look no further than the headlines of today’s media outlets. The theme: “It’s not my fault.”

It would seem that within a generation or less the developed world has moved into further developing the most repugnant of excuses for oneself when caught doing something even a three-year old would find wrong. The blatant, ” It wasn’t my fault.” Or, ” They told me (or didn’t tell me) to do it.” All in a tone and delivery as if it absolves them. This would be laughable if not for the deficiency of character/morals on display so often.

We are once again “shocked” to find a disgraced politician would not only be caught with his pants down but, took the pictures himself to prove it. The only thing more despicable than the actions themselves were the press conferences that followed each incident. The first, where an act of contrition was supposedly being made. The second, when thinking more public photos (only this time with the spouse) would help. As if giving another press conference to say, “Oooopsy!” would somehow defuse the outrage. Both were disgusting in my view.

It seems as if the warning signs we all get in that little inner voice where poor (or lack there of) judgement could be present never enters the mind of the person committing the offense. Don’t be fooled. It does, they just don’t care. (please spare me from sending emails of psycho-babble why they aren’t responsible. I really don’t care.)

Another glaring example of this happened in the same week. We had none other than Geraldo Rivera taking photos of himself half nude proclaiming “70 is the new 50!” then posting it to Twitter® for all to see.

The problem with the photo is this: That towel is just a little too low, or strategically placed to “cover” the alibi of, “It wasn’t intended to be that!” My reaction? Please, spare me.

If you have a wife and children (let alone you’re 70!) you know exactly what you should and should not be doing. Along with exactly how it will be “viewed” by them.

If you can use the excuse, “I didn’t know better!” in this type of situation, then you’re either a fool – or, you knew exactly and didn’t care because you had your excuse planned in advance. I mean really – C’mon!

Then we had the most ludicrous statement I’ve heard in quite some time. An NFL® player threw away $2 MILLION dollars in a contracted salary bonus. The reason? It seems if he had attended some form of early training camp “requested” by the coaches, it would fill his obligation on his end thus requiring the team to fulfill their end. i.e., Pay him $2,000,000.00

(I’m paraphrasing as to what’s been reported across the media landscape) He didn’t go to the “requested” training camp because he argues it was voluntary. Then blamed and fired his agent under the guise of, “He didn’t tell me it could cost me millions!”  Really? I mean…Really?

At what point does one surrender knowing what’s right or what’s wrong – what’s their responsibility to know or not know? Along with looking in the mirror as to look one’s self in the eye to see the naked truth – not to take a naked picture.

Individual responsibility means just that: Individual (as in You) Responsibility (as in You and only You are responsible. Period)

The conjured up excuses where others or circumstances are the reason for these transgressions has now become painful to hear for anyone with a shred of decency or intelligence.

Just as sickening is the undertone I see (or read) from those touting “Who are you/we too judge?” Well maybe they can’t, but I can. Which is exactly my point.

Far too many people both young as well as older are using excuses so convoluted, or bent in more precarious ways they would make a yoga instructor blush.

Posting photos of yourself on the internet (or anywhere for that matter) that would be considered embarrassing then chalking it up to, “Well I was young, or drinking, or ____________ (fill in the blank) are not excuses. You were dumb, foolish, stupid, what ever. What you weren’t was thinking responsibly.

Thinking: You’ve made the big leagues now you’ll pay someone to handle your money/affairs, whatever isn’t smart – it’s stupid.

It’s been proved over, and over, and over again that no one will look after your money/affairs, whatever, like you will. (Just ask or read about Wesley Snipes, Nicholas Cage, and the myriad of others just on the subject of taking tax advise blindly.)

Only you can think for yourself. No one else will or can do it for you as well as you will. Regardless of how much money you have, or how much you’ll pay someone else. It’s your burden to bear.

The quest for fame or notoriety whether it be within ones close-knit circle of friends, or the world at large, has made people rely more on perfecting their “excuse system” rather than focusing on their “individual responsibility system.” It’s easy to think up excuses. It’s easy to lay blame anywhere and everywhere except at ones own feet.

You can rationalize your actions or demonize the assumptions of others as they ponder your transgressions. What you can’t do is take them back. The only way to not be in these situations starts and ends with having the cognitive discipline as to not allow one’s self to be in that situation in the first place.

Again, the issue here is this:
It’s become far too easy to say (or shout) “It wasn’t my fault.” instead of what should have been said in the very beginning to one’s own self:
“I’m not only responsible for me and what I do. It’s my also my responsibility to be in control of me and what I do.”

The only way to move forward or higher in life is to accept every action is your responsibility. Good, bad, or indifferent. More not only need to start acting like it in their own life, they also need to stop accepting the excuses given by others for their tribulations.

If you have a responsibility – so do they. This notion of, “Who are we to judge?” is misplaced far too often and causes undue consternation trying to blur the lines where there is clearly a demarcation for right or wrong.

Individual responsibility means just what it states: You are responsible.
No one should need more clarification to understand this central point of life. Those that say they do are just looking for another loophole or excuse. Nothing more.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Profiting At The Bottom Line™

(I decided to change the name of this monthly memo to the above header. The former “How to make sales that influence the bottom line” just never fit right with me. It just sounded too remedial in nature. Although the memo is designed to be easily understood or implemented for anyone at any level, it just sounded to “how to-ee” if there is such a word. So here’s the newest version. As always feel free to share.)

 

This month’s focus: The sale isn’t made till the check clears.

Far too many believe their part in the transaction process of a sale is complete once a client or potential client signs or says “yes” to a purchase. It’s not.

Contract law allows people time to rescind transactions within a given time frame depending on both the type as well as the geographic location. Just when you thought it was sign sealed and about to be delivered, it gets cancelled, torn up, and refused on delivery. Don’t take anything for granted – ever.

You might have made a fantastic presentation and feel as if your newest client is now also your new best friend. However, that can change quickly if the delivery driver (yours or someone else) has a run in that ends in a verbal shouting match because of a myriad of unforeseen reasons. (delivered to the wrong door or, at the wrong time)

Or worse – you thought their account was verified for credit terms only to receive a call from an irate new customer wondering why his order came in C.O.D. and was asked for payment or no delivery in front of customers giving an impression he can’t get credit. All because your credit department mistakenly didn’t set him up in the system. (happens far more often than one thinks)

You need to follow through checking for every i do be dotted, and t to be crossed. It’s up to you as a salesperson as well as an entrepreneur to make sure you’ve done all you can and follow it through to its final conclusion.

If you leave things to chance as in, “I did my job.” You just may find you can lose both the sale as well as your job if others don’t do theirs. For what ever the reason, be it by others mistakes or incompetence.

A sale isn’t a sale that considered complete till the product is delivered, the bill is paid (within the specified terms) and the check has cleared the bank.

Till then it’s still only a sale “in progress.” Which means it’s still your responsibility to ensure completion.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Profiting At The Bottom Line™ is a monthly memo, which is pithy, powerful, and to the point. It focuses on innovative techniques and or ideas that you can put to work immediately in your daily or business life.

Getting What You Ask For: Are You Prepared?

Everyone wishes they can get what they ask for. Many will wish, hope, pray, beg, and a whole lot more in trying to convince anyone from people to deity’s. Problem is far more often than anyone wants to ponder, getting exactly what you wanted can have repercussions or other unforeseen issues you may never thought or dreamed of.

Setting goals is one thing however, that’s not exactly what I’m writing about here. What I’m speaking of has to do with large generalizations or “pennies from heaven” type goals that are more in line with winning the lottery.

You hear statements such as this, “If I won the lottery my life would be set!” Yes, one’s life just might. Yet, there are so many multimillion dollar prize winners that went from “Rags to Riches” back to rags there seems an endless supply of material for some reality show of; Lottery Winners boom to bust, with an all new cast.

We laugh to ourselves many times as we watch sad tales on how people with no understanding of significant amounts of money deal with issues. Many snicker thinking, “Why would you do that, or buy that? That’s crazy! I would never do that.” Only to not fully understand many of us are just as unprepared in many of the same ways. And, far too many are not as prepared or have thought through exactly what it means to actually live and deal with “getting everything you hoped for.” (I was once here myself so I speak from experience not just hypothetically.)

Let me go through a couple of scenarios playing out right now that in many ways are going to impact all of us one way or another either now, or in the future. (I’m not picking a side on anything I reference. This is a thought experiment nothing more.)

People on both left and right politically have been shouting warnings about deficits either for the nation as whole or, state, county, city, and so forth. Many of the arguments from both sides threaten the other. Whether ones right or wrong doesn’t matter for in the end it seems they both wanted the same thing to prove their point. If “whatever” collapses, it proves them right. Only issue now is: “Great – Now what?”

As we now see in the once great city known as Detroit. Both sides will say they were right. One will say it was because of this, the other will say it was because of that. However, right or wrong now what? What does one do?

Detroit is a basket case and people have to live there – today. Not tomorrow, not next week, or year, rather now – today. For many I hazard to guess even within the city itself were wishing and hoping for this to happen in order to forge a new path. I’d also bet these same people have no idea what to do now. And, many, many, many (did I say many?) are totally unprepared. Even if this is exactly what they hoped for. Left, right, or in between

This same line of thinking is also prevalent in areas where the participants once again have no idea of what just might happen if they were to get exactly what they hope for. These are the people I both meet as well as speak to that are obsessed with talking about gold.

I can’t tell you how many people want to talk (or force the conversation) about gold. Whether it be owning it, trading, sleeping with it. You name it, they are obsessed with the subject. Fair enough because it is an important subject. However, what I’m reflecting on is when I hear the conversation turn down this road. i.e., “I can’t wait till it’s finally realized fiat money is dead and gold goes to the moon in price. Because, I’ve got mine and could care less what happens. I’ll make a killing!”

When I pipe up with something on the order of, “Sounds great. However, just what type of world do you think you would be living in if gold shot up over night to double or triple in price as you hope for? Do you think or believe the only consequence would be you making money and others losing theirs? You may just be right and get your wish but, (and it’s a very big but) would it be worth it if it resulted from another 2008 styled collapse or worse? Are you and your family ready tomorrow if the banks closed and didn’t open for let’s say a couple of days? Or, maybe even a week or more?” (This is where the room goes silent.)

Another one of these scenarios revolves around the issue of retirement. Probably no other topic gets bandied around more than gold except for – retirement.

Everyone is working for “retirement” and most have no clue of exactly what it means or what they would do tomorrow if it were handed to them on a silver platter. All I hear are generalizations people “think” they would do. Yet, the more you probe – the more smoke like their dreams appear to be.

Retirement is a great sounding term. It conjures up images of being able to do what ever one wants. Answering to no one. Basking on the beach sipping drinks with little umbrellas (if you’re into that sort of thing) and more. I’m here to state like all the above scenarios. The world one, “wishes, dreams, and hopes for.” Is nothing like the reality when one achieves it.

All that “free time” one wished and hoped for turns into, “I’m sick of being by myself.” (Just to name one example.) Why? Because usually all your “friends” are off either working or doing other things.

I can say this from experience since I did it at age 45 when I thought I could enjoy it the most. Upon reflection, I never want to be “retired” as the image everyone is working to obtain ever again. If I’ve made up my mind about anything it’s this: “I retired from being retired.”

When I make these types of statements people roll their eyes or think I’m trying to somehow brag using the indirect undertone of, “Oh, retirements awful yet, someone has to do it.” I’m not. Again, more often than not (unless I’m on a stage speaking and even then it’s a roll of the dice) it falls on deaf ears.

Hoping, wishing, dreaming, and working towards getting to the end of a rainbow to find a pot of gold and retire is a very noble endeavor. One I also encourage you to go for. Although just with what you wish for, you had better have thought through with some real foresight just what you would do if you attained it today because: Things can happen anywhere, anytime, without warning. The financial crisis of 2008 showed us that.

If you retired today, with a pot of gold, what would you do? And, how would you do it? Along with: Are you sure what you “think” is actually true and, could you do it in a crisis? i.e., Get access to your money, gold, pay bills, eat, etc. Could you handle another 2008 styled event right now? What exactly would be your first moves? Would they be possible? How can you test as to be sure? What if your city, state, pension, whatever went belly up overnight? What then?

If you don’t have good answers that you can map out with real unbiased truthful answers, getting what you want might just be the last thing you want happening because you weren’t as prepared as you thought you were.

Keeping and enjoying what you worked for is many times just as hard if not harder as the quest and the work to get it in the first place. Don’t take it for granted as in, “I’ll figure that out when I get there.” You want to have most of the “figure” part well in hand before you ever arrive.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

A Re-Defining Thought Of Motivation

I was reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s most recent book Antifragile: Things that gain from disorder. (Random House 2012) and came across a statement that just made a whole lot of sense to my way of thinking. (I’m paraphrasing)

“More benefit may come not from the pursuit of happiness. Rather, from the avoidance of unhappiness.”

How many of us have looked to add something to our lives to make it better only to find it had little to no effect. When all we needed to do was stop doing or begin avoiding things, people, places, or more that make us unhappy or uncomfortable.

There’s a lot of meaning in the above quote if one will only take the time to truly contemplate it.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

The Only Crystal Balls That Work Are Broken Ones

Over the course of my lifetime. I have been through my share of difficult times, extraordinary matters of happen stance, and quite a few others which for the sake of brevity I won’t go into details here. However, I want to share just one of my experiences and how I believe it’s relevant to today more than ever. (I’ll be going into these and others in more detail in my next book.)

Everyone wants and is searching for a crystal ball. Nearly everyone thinks there is some form of “knows all” device where if they could just get a glimpse at it. Just once. They would be able to capitalize on it beyond their wildest dreams and live happily ever after. They wont – ever.

Why? Answers easy, everyone knows it. Because, (say it with me now) “There isn’t one.” Does that stop people from wasting time in a pursuit they claim “they know” better of? Not in the least.

This phenom permeates every social level, business, political corner, as well as age group. Not to forget it also is a quest as old as human kind itself. Traders in financial markets get enamored with all kinds of T/A (technical analysis) where “this” indicator or, that oscillator or, this pattern is “money in the bank.” If that were the case. Then why are there more now than before to choose from and more seemingly added weekly?

Correlation doesn’t equal causation. And, all correlations work – till they don’t. Most things sold with exclusive Nostradamus like powers are junk. (Just ask any former Elliot Wave® subscriber. Gotta love that “alternative count”)

This is not limited to traders or the financial markets. As I said earlier – it’s everywhere. The problem is not so much with any “predictive indicator”  per se. The issue is when people believe, “This is the one, I found it!” Then bet the ranch, their lives, their future, in some all in type bet – and lose everything!

Analysis on what to do with money or life is paramount. Careful thought as in “trying to read the tea leaves” is not the same as crystal ball thinking. Using indicators of any sort whether it be T/A in financial markets. Or, scanning the web for stories and more to adjust your business or life should be done for one thing and one thing only: To give you an edge as – to put you in front of (or clear of) what you think might possibly occur. Nothing more.

The most successful people in life look to put themselves into circumstances where: The possibility of a meaningful payoff is the reward. Also, in that analysis will be the calculation of Risk vs Reward. Then they will act knowing full well – “There aint no guarantees.”

The real difference here is this: Crystal ball type people want to skip the risk vs reward step. That’s why they want a crystal ball and continue to look for one. Risk vs reward type strategies take careful planning, thought, and put decision weight behind analysis.

You can bet the farm and lose it. But (and it’s a very big but) if you knew that going in and that’s your decision, if you lost – you can look at yourself in the mirror. If it was for the result you believed in a crystal ball and bet the ranch. I’ll bet my bridge in Brooklyn the last thing you’ll want to see is anything made of glass.

With all that said, here’s a true life example that I actually lived. Not read in someone’s book, that read someone’s book, that says they read someone’s book yet, never did any of what was in the book. Only now, they wrote a book on what you should do, so buy their book. (Life coaches anyone?)

Years back I was toying with the idea of rock star. For a while it seemed I just might have a chance. I played many years and have quite the list of: “You played with who?” from my playing days. I took music as a serious pursuit right up until the late 90’s. In my area there were a tight-knit group of musicians. Some played and toured with some of the largest names in music. However, no one hit that sustained rock star level. The field itself were all players that were ready and capable if the chance ever came.

While “in between” what to do next. (I was in limbo from yet another business deal gone wrong) both myself and some friends (relevant to this story) would sometimes help out a mutual friend at his restaurant. We didn’t care what we did we were helping a friend and killing time. Nobody knew what the future held for any of us. For all we knew maybe this was “the end.”

Then a few of us made decisions that would be life changing.

I decided right after doing 2 very large local shows to give up music as a pursuit in any shape manner or form. Business would be my only focus. There was no crystal ball to help in the decision. It was all risk vs reward and I would live with the consequences of my decisions, good – or bad.

My friends on the other hand decided to continue the pursuit mirroring my consequence of decision. Good or bad – they were all in. No crystal ball here either. I know this first hand because of discussions we had. One such discussion resulted by way of a favor I was performing.

My friend called and asked me if I would go negotiate the price on an instrument he saw at a certain music store that he really liked but, thought I could cut a better deal for him. (I was viewed as the “talker” I guess. Who’d a thunk it?)

After looking and negotiating I believed it wasn’t worth what they wanted and met him in the parking lot. After talking about the instrument we talked about life things. What was going on and such.

He was playing with a few other mutual friends in a band and success was looking tough. He also just recently auditioned for a very well-known singer from a very famous band (multi-platinum seller) and felt a little dejected in not making the cut. i.e., The thoughts of “Am I really good enough for this?” we all get at times.

I told him he was crazy and more, and to not allow those types of thoughts. He went on to tell me more about the band and that he and the lead singer (another friend from our restaurant crew) were ready to go to NY and throw everything on the line there. If it didn’t work he had a plan on what he could do to go back to work. There was no crystal ball to consult. The decisions were risk vs reward. Put yourself in the best position possible for a meaningful payout and, the chips will fall where they may.

When he asked, “What about you?” I was of a similar mindset. I decided to move in my direction, put myself in the best place I could and let the chips fall where they may. For as I keep repeating: “There is no crystal ball.”

Just 2 years later or so that struggling band, seemingly unable to catch a break, nearly dispirited with record labels not giving them recognition and potential managers telling the “no.” (I remember being 1 of what seemed like 10 people total at their first solo venue) Took matters into their own hands, recorded their own album, sold it, delivered it, and promoted it themselves.

Within about another year not only would they be multi-platinum recording artists but – would be playing venues such as Woodstock®, Ozzfest®, and more. Playing on the worlds largest stages and venues, nominated for 4 Grammy’s®, along with their music used for movie soundtracks, and the music bed for promoting the US ARMY. The band? Godsmack.

For myself? I’ve been asked many times, “Are you sorry you didn’t stay with music yourself?” No, absolutely not. (I can say the same about my thoughts on markets, failed business adventures, and a whole lot more) I didn’t make my decisions based on some crystal ball type thinking. That does nothing but lead to heartache for most in the end. I made my decisions and could look at their success with whole-hearted rooting and cheering for them even though I at the time seemed to have gone in the wrong direction.

I looked at my options. Weighed my risk vs rewards. Made my decision, and as stated earlier: “Could look myself in the mirror if it all fell apart.” All one can do is look for an edge (What ever that may be in your circumstance mine was tenacity I believe.) Then put myself in the best place possible where a meaningful opportunity for a successful payoff was possible. And, let the chips fall where they may. You can’t do any more.

Within about the same time period as they were off to the races, my career took off from not catching a break seemingly for the umpteenth time, to running the #2 largest private meat company in New England with annual sales nearing $100 million, and other ventures allowing me to retire at the age of 45 at the top of my game.

Nobody knows the future. There are no Nostradamus tools or indicators. All one can do is look at what ever indicators, T/A, headlines, and more with an eye to “does this information help in possibility giving me an edge?”  Weigh your risk vs reward. Place the amount (what ever that may be monetary, repute, future or more) then put yourself in the best possible place you believe is where a meaningful payout is to be had. That’s all you can do.

If it doesn’t work as planned at least you can sleep at night then adjust your plans if you change your mind. Crystal ball believers and searchers are usually ruined when things don’t work as planned. Both financially as well as dignity, and for some – much worse.

Life is in control and does what she wants. She doesn’t show her hand (or allow peeking) till she decides. Regardless of how many tricks we think we can come up with to see her cards. Although life will treat your odds with far more “favor” than the people continually looking for crystal balls.

The only crystal ball worth looking at is a crystal ball that’s been smashed to bits. This way when you look at it, you know by virtue of its broken state: Trying to use it is a waste of your time.

Which is exactly the point.

© 2013 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!)

I have reiterated far too many times to count, the markets, no matter what the so-called “smart crowd” says. If The Federal reserve isn’t partaking in the markets through all iterations of QE (quantitative easing) past or present. “There is no market.” Period.

Just to show you the power of one man, I post the newest example below. (I know there’s many that don’t care however, as I keep saying, if you’re an entrepreneur of any stripe. What happens in the markets is not to be taken lightly. Regardless if you have money at work there or not.)

Today's market open July 11th 2013

Today’s market open July 11th 2013

That move is based on nothing such as “market fundamentals” as in profit. It’s a reaction to funny-mentals such as “This isn’t funny – it’s insane!”

However, the reason my interest (pun intended) was tweaked today a little different from other times was what happened at the Federal Reserve itself within the body politic.

Far many more board governors at the reserve have raised both concern as well as dissented in opinion from the chairman as seen with the release of the FOMC (Federal Open Market Commitee) minutes yesterday. Giving some concern to market players that the Fed. just might be serious this time in reducing the size or taking away the a fore mentioned “punch bowl” known as QE.

However in a seemingly surprising turn of events. Last night, in a speech the chairman whom was slated to give a speech not pertaining to current Fed. policy. (That was the general feeling from market players) It seems gave exactly the right off-handed comment in an answer to a question that signaled to the markets: “Don’t worry – The bar is still open!” The result that the Fed. was “going nowhere” has produced the above chart.

Markets, currencies, and commodities around the globe overnight moved – everywhere. It would not be too far of a speculative guess that his words in an after hour’s speech with an off-handed remark moved TRILLIONS..yes, let me repeat – TRILLIONS of dollars.

People believe the stock market for equities is huge but always forget the currency markets dwarf it by exponential numbers. Not percentages.

Again what caught my eye was not the markets. (It’s only the seemingly 10 thousandth time) It was the resignation of one of the actual Fed. board members this morning.

From the Fed itself:

Elizabeth A. Duke submitted her resignation Thursday as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, effective August 31, 2013.  You can read the full text here.

I don’t think you’ll find outright causation as in “That’s it! I’m outta here!” for the sudden departure. I’ll wager it’s all stated as things like: (my words no one else) “Had a great time, want to spend more time with family.” etc., etc.

I must say the timing of such a thing is quite striking in my view and, something one needs to keep an eye on.

People don’t leave presidential appointed, high-ranking seats of power for no reason out of the blue catching all watchers off guard. Something just looks out-of-place here and just might be more than meets the eye.

What it means in the coming day, weeks, or months is anyone’s guess. We’ll just have to wait and see.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

The Business Of Writing: Diligence

As some of you know, once in a while I do a presentation on the “business” of writing at the Carnegie Center. So, I thought I’d share an issue that I personally ran into while simultaneously showing you in a real-time first person example. (I have always believed first person accounts trump most others)

Whether it be writing or any other en devour. It is first and foremost a form of business and must be treated as such.

Sure it can be an act or labor of love however, if you don’t treat it as a business with all that entails.  (i.e., monitoring where it’s showing up, or where it’s being used, etc.) You’re just asking for issues down the road.

It can be stolen, misused, misrepresented, and a myriad of others. If you don’t want these troubles – write in a diary and keep it in a locked drawer. Like it or not once you put it out in the public domain – you had better be ready to protect or defend your work. Period.

Here’s a classic example that everyone dreams of happening yet, can be a nightmare of headaches:

You’re going along writing, posting, whatever. When suddenly your site or blog spikes in traffic. You think “OMG! This is awesome!”

Only trouble? It’s not because of something you’ve hoped for. You realize your material has either been scraped from your site, or hijacked in some manner of form, and someone or some other entity is taking credit or calling the work “theirs.”

They “reference” you in some lame attempt to cover themselves and provide a link to your site. But, (and it’s a very big but) maybe just to your home page – not the actual article or work in hopes no one digs deeper into your site to see the original. (archives of older posts are rarely, if ever, clicked on from the homepage)

The trouble for most is they’ll look at the spike in traffic and try to rationalize that “just maybe” this was a good thing as to do nothing about it. Others will have no clue nor do they care. As long as there are “hits,” they’re OK with anything. I’m here to tell you – it’s not.

If you’re going to put your work into the public domain you have a responsibility to both yourself and your work to protect it from misuse. Period. That protection starts with – diligence.

Just as an owner of a brick and mortar establishment needs to periodically shop their own stores as to look for unseen problems or other assorted hazards such as theft. So too must you if you are putting your intellectual capital in the public domain.

It’s always treated at first as: “If I ever have that problem I’ll worry then. Right now, I need hits!” Till one finds out someone has hijacked their writings, called it theirs, and has been profiting by it. (as in collecting actual legal tender)

All the while – you’re waiting around, checking, and double checking every 3 1/2 minutes for someone to “like” you as if some “like” would help pay your internet bill. Trust me – the banks don’t accept “likes” as legal tender.

This is why diligence is important because – this form of thievery and more are not isolated events. They are rampant across the web. You need to be diligent on where your work is showing up before you waste time diligently checking your “status.”

You don’t need to be a lawyer. However, you do need to have a basic understanding of what copyright law, infringement, fair use, and a few other terms actually mean to both you as well as what others may do with your work. With or without you needing to be notified.

You might find objection to it. Yet, that doesn’t mean it isn’t legal. Remember the old sage: “Just because it’s not right, doesn’t mean it’s not legal.” You have a responsibility to not only take action if needed, but rather, know if you shouldn’t, along with what you would say or state is your claim.

“You POS! You stole my work! I’ll sue you!” means nothing. Articulating your position with the reasons why and proof is all that matters. i.e., “Fair use of this work is available only if the criteria of a link back to the original source along with proper attribution being prominently displayed which you have clearly not done, while simultaneously misrepresenting the articles intention and original authors position…”

If you ever needed to bring legal action (and if money is involved they just might call your bluff on suing) the first line would be meaningless. The second? You be the judge. Because a judge is going to ask specifically “What was said and done?”

So here’s what prompted this dissertation…

As many of you know I’ll post articles occasionally where my work has shown up. (I still get a kick out of it) My writings frequently appear, or are referenced around the globe by some of the largest or well-known publications across the web. (many are crossed referenced from my contributions on SlopeOfHope.com. By the way, one of the best financial trading blogs on the web today by far.)

I do this not to brag. Rather, it comes from diligence on exactly what of mine is being used, referenced, published, or republished. Is it being used properly? Or shared properly? etc. etc.

I have readers that have heard me speak or read something of mine on this subject and sometimes will send me a screenshot with a comment, i.e., “Was searching for an article and you showed up in the results. In an Ireland newspaper!”

I also periodically search, as well as V.V. at StreetCry using criteria that produces results that are meaningful as to use for real analysis. (i.e., I, as well as you, can do a search on oneself and, come up with nearly a billion references or “hits” depending on how “loose” we made the criteria. But, we’d only be fooling ourselves.)

So the other day I noticed some strange traffic to my site which prompted me to initiate a search based on criteria I use. (For this example what I use is irrelevant. It’s the results that matter.) I retrieved the following:

Where normally I would find anywhere from 500K to a million or so search results, (No, I’m not insinuation they’d all be about me. However, as I’ve stated many times, when one can go 8 to 10 pages deep with few repeating links, the rest are near meaningless.) the results came back showing – 5.

No, not 5K or even 500. Just – 5. Below is a screen shot.

Screen shot 2013-07-08 at 6.39.05 PM

This set off alarm bells for me. Google® changes search criteria all the time however, this seemed wrong. It was. Along with the possibility of something nefarious in play was also correct.

A website known as “broken controllers” had seemingly hijacked my article from my WordPress® blog and somehow sucked all the search results out from the search engines as to direct traffic to their site. (How this is done I have no idea. I also know I am not the only one this happens or happened to.)

The issue for many at first blush might be the search results. Although that may be a concern, it might be legal. What I had more concern with was: Exactly what was happening with my material?

What I found seemed at first blush that my article had landed in some form of news aggregate site. The closer I looked the more deceptive things appeared.

Although there seemed to be the requisite link backs, and attribution details one looks for. It seemed as if you needed to “click” as to “download” something to view my work. This is intentional misuse, and misrepresentation of my material. Using my work as to entice someone to “click” on something where the potential of viruses or scams maybe present is unacceptable. I have a duty to both my work as well as readers that may trust my name to defend against such actions. If that means court – so be it. If you write or have intellectual property on the web. You too have the same responsibility.

Immediately V.V. sent out a cease and desist notification. You might not have legal representation at the ready however, you need to know when you need it and, when to use it if warranted. And that comes from diligence in learning what’s yours legally. And, what others can and can not do with what’s yours – legally.

Just like in taxes: “Ignorance is not a defense.” If you put your heart and soul into your writing. Make sure you now how to keep both your heart and soul. The penalty for not knowing how to keep and protect them can be down right costly if far too many ways. Both monetarily as well as repute.

Fortunately (and yes, if you’ve ever dealt with these types of issues, fortunate is exactly how you feel if it’s resolved rather quickly) the site honored our demands and broke all ties with my material. Below is a screen shot after allowing time for the search engines to get back up to speed as in refreshing their cache’s using the exact same criteria used for the previous example.

Screen shot 2013-07-08 at 6.38.23 PM

Diligence is not just some catch word to be thrown around. It’s a state of mind as in a way to move or act when needed. Being diligent in knowing what is yours and how to keep it yours is not something to be taken lightly.

Diligence is just good business. Large or small. For profit or not. Period.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Youth Is No Longer Wasted On The Young

There was a time not all that long ago when I was growing up. I would hear the phrase, “Youth is wasted on the young.” from a variety of adults whether family or others. Today that phrase just doesn’t fit as well as it once did.

“Youth” today is being enjoyed far longer, and by even more adults than ever before. The issue today is far too many are not taking advantage of probably the greatest opportunity for wealth creation, business formation, or just about anything else.

This truly is a “golden age” for adults with a youthful outlook in my view, unlike ever in history. However, with one caveat. Only if you’re brave enough to relinquish any of your old beliefs about your age. You need to jettison that “old baggage” not for “new ones,” rather – for no bags at all.

What I’m arguing here has nothing to do with surgical make overs or, any other procedures that require anesthesia. What I want to express has all to do with what’s between your ears. Controlled only by you and your perceptions. With that said let me give you a few reasons why I believe what I do.

If one were to remove the limiting blinders or preconceived notions of “age” and look at the current state of affairs form an unobstructed view from 50K feet or so. The world is a wash with opportunities. Opportunities that a youthful eye can see. The inexperienced eye of youth? Most wouldn’t see it if it was staring them in the face. (or their smart phone)

Not that long ago, all this new technology seemed as if you had to be a “kid” to use or understand it. Not any more. Today’s technology is getting far more user-friendly than ever before. The resources one has at their disposal to conduct business, influence thoughts or ideas, and the myriad of others is limited only to one’s belief: The belief one is too old as to exploit it and compete. Period.

Let me ask this question: Who exactly is better prepared for today’s economy?
A 26-year-old fresh out of Harvard with no experience in both the business world as well as the real world of life? Or…
A person twice the age or even more with both business as well as life experience under their belts? (If your first thought was the 26-year-old because of a hiring or job related affair – you just proved you have a baggage issue)

As of this writing the world stage is in a state of flux. From the financial to the political. Businesses once thought unshakeable have been shaken to their very core. New technology has disrupted the “old guards” with new innovations and more. (Think NY Times™ and print of any type against today’s web.) Just who should be better suited to understand the complexities and adjust or take advantage of them? (this is about world views or big picture thinking, not about any certain event happening currently so please – save the emails)

Experience, insight, and the willingness to put ideas into motion trump everything. Just think of the prowess or advantage one has in debt related or overhead related decisions as compared to someone with no real-time understanding of such matters.

Whom do you think will tow the line more taught?  Someone that worked and dealt in real-time through the banking crisis of the 80’s along with the melt down of 2008? Or, someone who believes the 80’s are well – “So 80’s?”

As long as your mind is active and acute to the possibility that opportunities abound. The opportunities are multi-fold as well as multifaceted. Better yet the tools available as to exploit those opportunities are here as never before. Along with many being not only affordable rather, in some cases free.

Competing is not a young persons game. It’s a competitors game. Youth is a state of mind. You either want to compete or you don’t. The “age” thing is only an excuse. Nothing more.

Yes, I hear many of you saying to yourselves, “Yeah, but I’m not as healthy as I once was.” Sure, I understand that. I will only say this. The tools as to compete even if you are not in optimum health are here that were absolutely unimaginable just 30 to 40 years ago.

People that were once confined to their homes or bed ridden for what ever the reasons can now conduct business, express their thoughts, have impact and more around the globe. It’s just their frame of mind to take advantage of the opportunities that’s the most limiting factor. It’s the mind – not the body.

One feels “old” or experiences those limiting beliefs that “youth” (as in age) is what they lack when they look at the world through “old eyes.” Springsteen wrote a song “Glory Days” back in ’85.  Although it’s not exact, it does express a point of people just reliving the old and trying to recapture it. If you find yourself doing that more often than you care to remember – Stop it! To reminisce is one thing. To romanticize is quite another.

If you’re long since the age of adulthood, there’s some very simple things you must get out of your mind.

You’re not going to play Varsity football again. Or, hit the stage in some Miss America® pageant anytime soon. Those days are gone. However, while the “youth” are competing for the trophies that now everyone gets just for showing up. You can compete in creating a sports franchise that players want to play for. Or, start a pageant of your own that one day has more credibility than the ones of today. This is where the mind of “youth” competes.

If you think you can’t get a job because of your age – Stop thinking and go out and create it. If you think you’re “too old” to compete – you are. It’s a belief – nothing more.

However, if you think youth is a state of mind that has nothing to do with age. Than you are at the fore front of one of the all time greatest opportunities in human history for your talents, honed by experience and insight. They can be used, exploited and capitalized upon as never before in history. All you need to do is believe it.

With computers, smartphones, mobile devices, apps, and so many others I can’t possibly write them all. You’re only limited by how you limit yourself. Technology once the bastion of only so-called “youths” is now far more exploitable for business, wealth creation, and a whole lot more than ever before.
The only issue is if you’ll see it with “youthful” eyes.

After all: You’re competition is mostly using it to see themselves.

Think about it.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr