Month: September 2013

The Entrepreneurial Craving

The pull of entrepreneurship is very much like a craving. If you’ve ever had the craving for a specific food item such as an Asiago cheese bagel, or slice of smoked salmon, or a Sicilian black olive, or a _________(fill in the blank) you know there’s nothing that will satisfy that craving until you finally get your hands on some.

You can eat the cupboards or refrigerator bare yet, until you partake in what ever that craving is – nothing seems to satisfy. All the worlds most delectable morsels costing exponentially more than anything should will pale in comparison if all you crave is a Twinkie®. Entrepreneurship is not that far removed from this metaphor.

If the craving for conducting your life or business, on your own terms, has found its way into your psyche (like some craving) the only thing that’s going to satisfy it – is to partake in it.

You don’t need to venture off and start your own business (although if that’s your wish that’s your decision to make) however, what you do need to do is venture away from the pack who let life happen to them and induce your entrepreneurial spirit and decide to start making life happen for you. Right where you stand.

Until you decide to break free from the crowd, that craving will always be there, unsatisfied, with a feeling of wanting. The aroma will always seem to be around, allusive. Reminding you.

The beauty is you don’t need any 24 hour marketplace to find it. You have it already, right where you least suspect it. Everything you need is right there – In the mirror.

Now all you need to do is decide if you want it as bad as you craved.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Extrapolating The Ridiculous

If there’s one thing that just bewilders me, it’s when I listen to someone explain why they think or believe a certain outcome is inevitable by way of extrapolating previous data points, then bringing them into the present as if they still have the same meaning.

Today, there is probably no other topic other than employment that is the front and center concern for most families or entrepreneurs – than housing. Can they buy? Can the keep? Can they sell? All of these are kitchen table dramas or sleepless worries for a great many in today’s economy. Even people who seem to have a solid footing are nervous and concerned.

I blame most of this consternation felt by a great majority directly on the very people whom one would think has a clue: People that are paraded across the financial media as “experts” in housing.

I am near flabbergasted by what I hear as “data interpretation and insights” from an unsettling amount of them. The extrapolations, the reasoning, and more just leave my mouth agape. No wonder people are turning away from watching many of these shows for information. (Reports show viewership down 50% or more for a great many. I wonder why?)

Some of the most ludicrous arguments I hear as of late is by none other than the so-called “smart crowd” in the business media today. Although I could probably write a book on differing topics of sheer babel that’s argued as “informative.” I’ll just use housing as my latest reference or example.

I was listening to a program where the subject of housing was being discussed in an “oh so serious” manner and form. The guest was touted as someone whom should be listened to. During the discussion facts, figures, and more were thrown out like deli meat building a sandwich. Slice of this here, slice of that there, little dressing here, you get the picture. All of which in the end was to build this great delectable for our consumption. Problem for me? It was all made with imitation or inferior slices.

One of the arguments for why this person believed he was more correct in his assumptions than most others was (I’m paraphrasing): “Look when I bought a house interest rates were at 11,12, 13% or higher. And that didn’t stop us from buying. So going from 3, 4, or 5% is not really any issue in the bigger picture. We’re still at historically low rates.” Hard to beat the logic in that statement right? Well…

Here’s the issue. Who cares what interest rates were for housing in the late 70’s or 80’s. It’s a data point to be argued by people in love with data for data sake.

Many people who purchased in that time frame have done 1 or 2 things: Took advantage of falling interest rates and lowered their debt or time burden as to the money owed. Or, they took advantage of the lowering of rates by refinancing scaling down their payments but (and it’s a very big but) moved up in debt, duration, and house size. And the great many of those are now over-housed and, upside down in value.

One thing this data slice of humanity is not going to do now or, in the future is anything remotely similar to what they did then. Period. So as far as counting anything from this data point as beneficial to the analysis is foolhardy at best. The vast majority will be downsizing or adding more inventory (whether voluntary or involuntary) for years to come. And that will be a negative for housing – not positive.

Today’s home buyer lives in a world of sub 5% interest rates. And, they are faced with a factor which is the diametric opposite of people purchasing just a few years back.

How many remember when they first purchased a home, sitting across from a realtor or mortgage originator when they said, “If rates go down you can always re-fi!” Easily justifiable in one’s mind when rates are 11% or higher. However, that’s far from today’s reality.

There’s really no room to go down from where we are now. More than likely – this is the best anyone may ever see again. So that little incentive to buy a little more house than one might be able to really afford, where it seemed so justifiable almost yesterday, is gone.

In today’s marketplace one will be lucky to qualify for anything within their range, let alone above. And, I do mean lucky. Just ask anyone trying to qualify today.

Let me ask you this question fair reader. If I used the above’s logic and extrapolation process. Then we should conclude desk top computers are about to surge in price and sales volume because, like many, when I first bought, to get on the internet we had to use dial-up. And, today, internet speeds are now faster than ever before.

Sounds logical but, in reality – you know it’s ludicrous. However, it’s this type of gobbledy goop that is repeated over, and over again across the financial media landscape.

Another lynchpin that was used to further back up the thesis on why housing is about to zoom higher was the oh so beleaguered reference of – house formation. And, if you want to extrapolate data points in one example then, you had better be able to make the same argument using it in another.

Let me use this exact data point these wizards use to back up their theory, as to back mine.

House formation for the people driving markets when interest rates were double digits and falling is different today and meaningless because: They were considered adults in every form of society at age 18 – 21, while behaving and participating in the economy as the term adults infers. Many even before.

That is not the prevalent thought nor the behavior pattern in the economy of today’s society, let alone the very attitudes of today’s 26+ aged adolescents. (You can read an earlier article I penned on this very subject here)

In the time frame used to extrapolate out to what should be taking place in today’s economy people were getting married, working in the beginnings of what would turn out for many into career positions. Having multiple children, buying their first homes, creating what we now know as suburbia, and much more. All while in their early 20’s at this point in time.

Today – that process is as foreign to a 26-year-old as it was to a middle school-er when interest rates were double digits. It’s not a dig at today’s “adults.” Society is telling them such and, backing it up by continuously throwing some lame brained science study as “proof.” (Maybe from the same people organizing today’s economic classes? But I digress.)

If one was to look at the real world data surrounding them, and use their own brains as to extrapolate what they feel or know in their gut. They would instinctively realize things have changed. Why it’s no longer an infrequent sight to see more 50 or 60-year-old men with elementary school children than they do men in their 20′s. Remembering it’s also this very group that made up the data when interest rates were multiples higher.

To this point alone one must ask: Precisely how the data of previous house formations applies in a blanket fashion here as to extrapolate the past into present? Or, how one can extrapolate the prior data in linear fashion as these “experts” do for today’s 20 something when it’s not only not uncommon rather, it’s far more common to see people single – never having been married – or quickly divorced within 2 years (and still single) well into their early 30’s and longer?

This societal factor seems more the norm today than the outlier. Again I ask: Tell me where the house formation coefficient is and works here? It doesn’t. At least not in any way remotely useful in today’s “expert” analyst’s dribble.

Maybe the financial or business media today should try to extrapolate something using this idea…

Has it occurred that possibly the reason for their ratings and viewership falling at a rate that would make a cliff diver blush is for the very reasons that entrepreneurs (you know, the ones that are actually driving this economy) are realizing there’s nothing prescient or cogent worth listening to or, watching on these shows any longer?

Or is the data too corrupted as to extrapolate that one out?

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Knowing The Difference – Makes All The Difference

People are sometimes stuck in a rut themselves or, they may have people they are responsible for in one. Trying to help yourself or another begins first in knowing what needs to be addressed. Just as in medicine: The wrong prescription can do more harm than good. Here’s a quick test I learned years ago.
The question to ask is… (Either of someone or, possibly yourself.)

If the person having difficulties life was in immediate mortal danger, could they do the task?

If the answer is no. Then what needs to be addressed is some sort of skill based training. In other words they need to be taught how to do or perform the task.

If the answer is yes. Then what needs to be addressed is some form of behavior type remediation.

Knowing the right question to ask, then addressing the answer, is paramount to moving one in the proper direction.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Cheap Or Inexpensive Phones: Does It Matter Anymore?

These words are used routinely ad nauseam by many marketers. However, they truly do have different meanings. Especially when being used to describe a brand.

One organization might want potential customers to respond with a knee jerk impression of cheap as in costs little to buy. Another might want the exact opposite response. i.e., Cheaper than it usually sells for.

Inexpensive seems to fill more of a utilitarian or generic usage more than anything else. An example here might be, “Computers today are inexpensive and affordable.”  Again, the actual “cost” isn’t as relevant as compared to how your brand is seen to fit in a customer’s mind.

Apple® this month launched two new phones to very mixed reviews. Some complained there wasn’t all “that much there, there.” Though far and above the criticism was pointedly directed at the new “cheaper” 5C®.

It would seem all the scorn fell pretty much into two camps. One – it wasn’t cheap enough. The other – it seemed to cheapen the iPhone brand itself. Personally I see this playing out the same way iPad® was received when first launched. Different playing field, yes, some different rules and players, again yes.  But, (and it is a very big but) the bigger game is being missed by many in my view.

This is nothing about phones per se. It’s all about iOS7® and ecosystem dominance. The phone launch was a sideshow. The hardware game is last years battle in my view. Hardware improvements now offer only incremental returns or benefits that may be viewed as negligible to both consumer as well as manufacturer. The game has changed and, is also afoot.

For most people the term “mobile” means phones. Phones as in the device. Again that battle has been fought and won by Apple. Every other device both on the market, as well as what’s in the works is battling over the ground left behind by Apple.

You can get just about any other phone on the market for basically “free.” The only difference? It needs to run on either Android® or some other platform. If you have made the switch to an iOS® (Apple’s platform) or iOS has been your only platform by default. One thing you are not going to do is switch. (Save the hate emails of those that have. In the big picture it’s negligible at best.)

Some may think I’m biased or pushing my opinion in an “Apple fan-boy” styled take. Although I now use Apple products to near exclusion of all others it’s for a very good reason – I’ve used all the others. And, just like when everyone snarled, and speared the launch of iPad. I was one of the very few that wrote and spoke publicly, “It was a game changer.” And – it was.

Let me share with you a statement that props up my hypothesis about why I believe people, as well as companies, that are still focused on the hardware race (as in physical phone) rather than the platform (as in operating system) are missing the boat.

This week on the television show Bloomberg West™ they had an open discussion between a few mobile platform App developers. When one was questioned why their iOS version was being developed more intensely than its equivalent Android version, the answer to my ears was Earth shaking. He said, (I’m paraphrasing)
“People who use iOS (iPhones, iPads, etc.) purchase through their devices via ads placed or displayed at a ratio of 9 to 1.”

Again, let me repeat this point only I’ll phase it a little differently so you can get the true implications from this one statement.

  • In the race for ad dollars. The race that ALL valuations, and future valuations of today’s most technologically driven Wall Street darlings such as Facebook® and others. The ad dollars that are being placed in speculation (or hope) that they will someday turn eyeballs into customers. (people who actually buy something they like, not “like” something and never buy) For every 1 they convert on an Android platform – there are 9 times more people parting with actual legal tender through an Apple device.

Do the math. Any way one slices those numbers, along with the implications, they are staggering.
You want to place ads for a $100K market? Or, a near $1 million market?
A $1 million potential customer market? Or $10 million?
These comparisons are not to be trifled with or brushed aside.

A $100 million dollar potential customer conversion is nothing to sneeze at. However, one might just feel the need to cough when the other competitor states their potential conversion rate is closer to $1 Billion dollars.

If you have a few million to spend on an ad campaign – who do you want to listen to? That is where the game is now.

Cheap phones in the hands of the multitudes may now have varying negative implications to advertisers and their ad dollars. Which is exactly the opposite they once touted to get these very same advertisers to spend money with them.

The sales schtick at one time was about, “We’re in just as many if not more hands than them. Think of the potential sales!” That mantra can quickly be morphing into a negative rather than a positive.

In many advertising boardrooms, what was once a selling point may now bring out considerations of: Cheap phones = cheap customers. Or worse: Eyes that don’t buy.

Eyeballs (or device) count mean nothing as compared to their implications just 3 years ago. It’s now 1 to 1. i.e., Conversions. How many saw – then bought. Period.

If it turns out 9 to 1 is applicable across the mobile spectrum. Then Cook and company may just be playing the game more correctly than a lot are giving them credit for. Only time will tell however, that time frame is definitely getting more, and more condensed as advertisers are not just going to keep throwing good money after bad “in hopes” they get conversions. Especially in today’s squeezed ad revenue space.

The first to the punch demonstrating unquestionable data is going to land knock out blows. And, if it’s all about which brand (or platform) delivers, with a verifiable customer loyalty (again brand or platform) equivalent. Loyalty and brand dominance may be taken to an other level we still have yet to see.

This can’t be understated in today’s game of devices such as Apple and the others. There’s a refinement once you are within Apples ecosystem with cross device functionality that is just not present as compared to anything Android or Windows® based.

Things just aren’t as seamless, or responsive, or available. At some point you stop wanting to fool around or, worrying about or, having to think about what you need or want your device to do. You just want it to do it – and do it well. And, by far the biggest point of all is: I (or you) will spend money to fill that need.

I buy value today. And what I value more than anything in my time. And what I don’t have time for is trying to save a few dollars by spending hours looking for a cheaper or free version of something. I buy an App in Apple’s App Store because it works across my devices. Whether it’s .99 cents or. $19.95.

Usually they work, do what I want them to do, and I don’t need to be some sort of binary code aficionado to operate them. If I try (and I have with other family members devices) with the other systems. In all of about 5 minutes I’m reminded why I don’t use them.

The experience 9 times out of 10 has been horrendous. And, I was previously a pretty adept Windows-based user. Yet, once I made the change, I was reminded why I made that change, just by interacting with any former brand.

Again, that point can not be understated. For if my hypothesis has merit, the ramifications will become apparent very shortly. And the reasoning wont be hypothetical. They’ll be quantifiable and empirical.

Ad revenue dollars that will be allocated will need to demonstrate an answer to the question of:
“How many saw – then purchased. And – on what platform?
iOS? Or, Android?”

How many devices sold, distributed, improved, whether cheap, inexpensive, and more will be irrelevant to any future coveted ad sales revenue for mobile dominance. And that changes everything.

Again.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Making The Grade

Far too many entrepreneurs fall victim to either leaving business on the table or, leave business at the door because they run for the exits before asking for the business.

The reason for this type of behavior is they see themselves at some level below their prospects stature or, they don’t believe in themselves enough to actually deliver what they know they can. The fear of failure moves directly past performance anxiety (not passing GO or collecting $200) directly to inferiority complex.

If you don’t look at the person you wish to do business with as a peer – they’ll never look at you any different from anyone else either. You need to drop any feelings of superiority, inferiority, or any other type of “-ority” from your mind-set.

Become resolute in your own opinion, that you, are in a discussion about acquiring business because you can demonstrate value which they can acquire by using you. Period.

The moment you decided to become an entrepreneur you passed the test, made the grade, _______________(fill in the blank). Now it’s all about presenting your value proposition to a potential customer. Whether they be a rocket scientist or, worlds richest. It doesn’t matter. If you offer value and can demonstrate using you is to their benefit. That’s all that matters.

Here’s a test to prove my point. Ready?

You are about to enter a meeting as to explain your value proposition to a conference room full of Ph.D’s, world leaders, brain surgeons, and more. Before you enter the building you find a $100 bill on the ground.

Inside at the meeting you open with the story relating to finding the bill. Suddenly everyone in the room begins asking you to sell it to them for $50, $60. $63, and increments of pennies higher. The rationale they give you is that you found the money, so anything they give you in exchange for it is 100% pure profit. Besides they imply: How can they be wrong? After all you’re surrounded by quite possibly the greatest collection of minds gathered in one meeting, in one room, and they all agree. You should take any of their offers! (Albeit the highest one now at $73.66) So do you?

Of course not. Even if you never graduated H.S. you know the value. And, just because someone has some form of alphabet soup after their name is meaningless to the discussion.

The only thing you must continually remind yourself of after passing this test is:

You, are the hundred dollar bill.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Re-Defining Motivation™

Motivation for many is a lot like grasping at smoke. The reason I believe this to be true is this: As one either tries to get motivated or, stay motivated, under the surface, they really don’t want to be doing what they’re doing in the long-term. Let me explain…

Getting motivated as to overcome procrastination is one thing. Another may be in trying to change a disliked task into something more bearable or pleasant. Both fall into the general category where one sometimes needs to induce some form of motivation.

These are challenges which are conquerable that everyone faces. No one is immune. However, motivating oneself as to “stay motivated” to do something they deplore for the long haul doesn’t work. i.e., Staying in a job, position, business, career, etc.

For true motivation to work for you (rather than against you) in your long-term goals, it needs to be refocused so it engages you into action when needed – without too much forethought. Or, put another way: Your motivation should not be focused in isolation upon the task as to “get you through” so you can continue doing the unpleasant ad infinitum. i.e.,  Chanting to one’s self “I love changing diapers!” before you change your own child’s diaper is one thing. Trying to stay motivated using the same technique because you needed to take a position where it’s now your job at some nursery is quite another.

You may have glossed over that last example however, it’s imperative to truly understand its implications. I believe this is the exact juncture where people do more to frustrate themselves rather, than to help one’s self.

Let me express my point this way:

What good is learning how to motivate oneself to do tasks (as in the changing diapers example) if in the end, doing those very tasks result in you locking yourself into a lifetime career of diaper changing? Something in which may be the furthest thing from your long-range goals.

Focusing solely on the task rather than the long-term implication can produce results in not only a direction one didn’t want to go rather, the damage can multiply exponentially.

If you find ways as to make the most unpleasant of tasks more “pleasant.” Can you also be unknowingly allowing more time to pass before making the necessary changes? You may just be keeping yourself “motivated” to do a lifetimes worth of drudgery you hate.

Sometimes what makes this problem even worse is the fact some may have purchased someone’s so-called “motivational program” as to learn some form of insights or help in how to motivate (and stay motivated) as a way out of this predicament. Only to realize (and sometimes not) they motivated themselves right into something they wanted nothing to do with from the start.

And, it’s right here so many will remain not only stuck but – will give up and let life have its way with them. The reason? Most will say, “Yep, tried that stuff, doesn’t work. Where’s the TV remote?”

Similar to other struggles, self-help or self-improvement is a very personal game. It also means the players, referees, score keepers, press coverage, et al are self-contained in one’s own head. And, just like any other inner games, they can mirror emotional endeavors as in: Once scorned – putting faith or trust back in is daunting.

It’s far easier for one to just quit playing the game rather than trying to realign an entire league or franchise in oneself. And, for my take: There’s no one as distrusting or overly skeptical as a scorned self-improvement or motivational participant.

Not only do they no longer want to play – they want any league or franchise dismantled, never to see the light of day again. As I stated earlier, the resulting indifference to anything “motivational” again can mirror the same results as a “scorned” emotion.

Once again the real issue is not with motivation per se. It’s where the motivation is focused and placed that makes all the difference. Most so-called “motivation gurus” are in love with their methodology. i.e., They see every problem as a nail and motivation as the hammer. No matter what size the nail, they believe only in a different sized mallet.

This is where I break from most. Sometimes you need to remove the nail, not pound it deeper in. This is where true use of motivation in self-mastery comes in. Knowing what tools to use and when is the key. “All In One” tools might help in an emergency however, nothing beats a well stocked toolbox when you need it. Knowing the power and limitations of each is critical in today’s competitive environment.

There is nothing wrong with disliking any task and not seeking “motivational happy talk” as to help get through it, if your motivation is focused on doing the things, or making the changes, necessary to never have to do such a task again. You want your motivation to be focused on the longer term. If done correctly the shorter term many times works itself out.

Let me give you a personal example to express this and how I used “motivation” to work through a very tough undertaking years ago: Smoking.

I was what some might refer to as a heavy smoker for nearly 2 decades. I averaged anywhere from 1 to 2 packs per day with gusts to 3 if I was out for a night on the town with friends. I was one of those people who smoked and yet could still run a 5K event with little to no impairment. I never had any of the effects that cause many to quit. However, one day I just had enough and decided that’s it.

What I did next differs from what most others would advise. i.e., Chew gum, drink this, do that, etc. To me, that is only replacing one habit with another habit. The goal (or the motivation) is to not have any habit at all.

If I used albeit a more acceptable habit or less life threatening one. All I would be doing is using tools as to keep a habit. Rather, than the real underlying goal of deleting a habit from my life. (It’s important to get this point – it can’t be understated.)

When I was going through all the discomforts associated with it, I focused on just how bad it had, and was affecting me. How miserable and dependent I had become. I didn’t look for something “motivational” like CD’s, mantras, whatever to help me. No, I used motivation in the big picture view. What I wanted in the end. In other words; the what and the why I needed to go through, so I could be what I wanted in the end. Free.

Once I surmounted those challenges, I would never allow myself to get back there. I needed to remember and focus on just how bad I felt, how insecure I was not having them within reach and more. I used the disgust in myself that I had allowed it to become part of me as my motivation.
(I have no issue with anyone that smokes. I can sit anywhere, in any room filled with people smoking and have no issues. I am just as repulsed by the proselytizing reformed smoker as anyone else.)

So I’ll ask. Do you think or believe the above would have been suggested by any “motivational” speaker on today’s world stage? My answer is: Hardly.

I’m not saying you should follow my example. That is how I handled something in my life and I offer it here only for context. How you handle circumstances in your own life is of your own choosing. However, be well aware – you are always choosing. And, as the saying goes, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

If you’re looking for guidance or insights in motivational thinking, where you can actually put power behind your true decisions. And, has lasting influence on your greater challenges. Rather than frustrating one’s self in a never-ending parade of tiny moves that seem to be getting one nowhere. Re-focus your intents and motivations on the larger theme at hand. The true underlying theme you want to change – or pursue.

Stop looking for techniques that may only result in finding easier ways to do things you can’t stand doing in the first place.

Focus your motivation and apply workable strategies on where you need to go and why. i.e., “I’m going to build ________ so I can hire someone so that I never have to change diapers again!”

Then doing what needs to be done so you can stop doing the unpleasant tasks in the first place will seemingly take care of themselves.

I’ll leave you with this:

Of all the issues associated with quitting smoking. By far, the hardest of them all, after it has all been said and done. (Which is now going on 20 years) The decision to actually quit and start was by far the hardest. Yet…

It was my focus on the big picture that kept my motivation working for me. It can work for you as well when properly applied or aligned.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Lying, Bragging, Credit Claiming, Pontificating Snake Oil Sellers: AKA …

I’ll bet the first name that popped into your mind didn’t match mine. Although probably 99 out of a hundred’s first inclination was some or all politicians, I believe even they are being outdone by the newest member to climb (or descend) the ladder: The Talking Head Economist.

There’s a reason why I believe this former back room, green eye shaded figure whom at one time served a very meaningful function deserves to be taken to task. Today, far more than ever, what is paraded across the media landscape are not scholars of diligent thought and reason with numbers. Nor, are they people who seem to understand economic data and its empirical meaning in the real world. People that respect where, why, and how.

No, what passes for an economist today (my scorn is primarily directed at the media seeking talking head version) is someone who’s only task seems to be a fixation with some data point where it can be manipulated to mean anything they want it to mean. Or, how can they spin the right story that sounds good. Regardless if it’s proved to be absolutely wrong.

Many of these wizards appear so economically incompetent, I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard one of them tout something akin to, “These figures prove you can write all the checks you want to cover your overdrawn account. I state once more for the record: It shows not only what we are doing is working. It shows if we do even more of it we’ll get even better results!” (Wait, it does seem I just might have heard one say that!)

They point to this data point, then to that metric, then to this chart, followed by this graph. All hail these geniuses and the respect they should command. Then – oh oh! All of it was not only a tad off. It was absolutely wrong.

First off. How do these people claiming to be a serious business economist, host, and more appear in every form of financial media known to man touting one mantra week after week, month after month. Then, with a straight face turn 180 degrees on a dime as if they never said the former? i.e.,  “The financial markets are doing so well, and corporations would do so much better if the Federal Reserve would just get out of its quantitative easing (QE) manipulations. The data show this to be undeniable!” Only to now espouse the exact opposite.

With the markets once again not only nearing yearly highs. These very same markets are within spitting distance of once again break record, never before seen in human history highs. What’s being touted across the financial media landscape now?

Well it seems many of them are now gumming the notion that the Federal Reserve really can’t get out of QE quite so easily or, as hastily as they once murmured. The reason? “Well – the data shows things aren’t as good as they thought.” All I can yell is, “What?!”

It seems the very same so-called “smart crowd” of economists that have been touting ad nauseam all that data which they used as a sword against any nay-sayers proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that everything was moving along according to plan, were just handed the revisions. Once again all I have to say is, “Oh oh!” All with the added insult to injury of it wasn’t just a little off – it was all wrong.

Take employment as of late. Anyone with even half a brain understood at their core level the employment picture has been challenging at best. Also with little to no real world improvement, easily visible if one cared to take an honest look.

The numbers being reported made absolutely no sense to most entrepreneurs or true business professionals. Yet, to the economists, they were just what the doctor ordered. The prescription seemed filled and filled correctly. They pointed to stats that proved their case. Only what case is left when the numbers are cut in half as in last months revisions?
(Last months numbers were nearly cut in half. Did the doctor cut back on the dosage and not tell anyone? Maybe what we need is more pharmacists and less economists? Just sayin’)

They also pointed to “Main St.” getting out there eating, drinking, and spending once again. Good news since the economy is based on consumerism they tout. And, once again, just further evidence the economy is coming back, exactly as they forecast it would. Just wait till one sees how wonderful and confident the average consumer feels. All proven without a shadow of a doubt once the numbers get released to back up their hypothesis. However, once again. Oh, oh!

Yes, another important number to watch for. One they told you was like money in the bank. As with the employment figures it appears they were only half right. They were in the bank – they just couldn’t get approved.

Seems all those rosy consumer numbers they said to watch for as testament to their brilliance came out in such a way they now hope you never see them in the glaring light of day . They not only missed, they missed by so far, and so much, it is now empirical that they were one of the worst misses in financial history! (You can take that data point to the bank.)

How could consumers lose confidence when so many economists gleefully upwardly revised their expectations for a retail sales number? This would be just uncanny. All this great economic activity they see happening in their numbers. It would not make sense. I mean, after all, we’re talking numbers and, these are people who live and breathe the numbers.

Unless the numbers they predicted were wrong. And so it goes, oh oh, once again. Not only did they not reach their upwardly revised numbers. They came in lower than their original benchmark. Damn numbers. Don’t they know these people predicting their values are economists! Didn’t they get the memo? Just wait till the next prediction. They’ll tout numbers so scary decimal points will blush. That’ll teach them for not respecting their slide rules, I mean…calculators.

Yes, I know I’m being a harsh and maybe even more sarcastic. However, there are a great many people in business. Entrepreneurs of all stripes from the solo practitioner of some Mom & Pop operation, all the way to businesses that employ many people. All of them try to find reliable data Data they can use. Data they need as to try and put their best foot forward to not only be in business – but stay in business.

Nothing is guaranteed. Entrepreneurs know this. They take the risks. They put their money, their livelihoods, and many times their families livelihoods out there along with them. I think it’s insulting to entrepreneurs as well as the whole business profession what is being spread or presented as reliable data or insights across the “business” media landscape today.

Is it too much to ask these people who tout they know something and, who offer their interpretations on what is taking place in the financial markets.
(All backed up with some alphabet soup after their name. To which they’ll point to as proof on why one should take them seriously.)
To at least give the people that may be listening, the ones trying to make this economy work, a little more respect with some honest, useable interpretations?  Instead of all the snake-oil they seem to soap box and pass off as “Economic Data?”

It’s near criminal what’s touted across the financial landscape today in my view. Other than that – I have no strong feelings on this matter.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

From My Perspective: 9/11 Life and Death

In remembrance of Peter Hashem, Flight 11, Seat 20A
Struck the North Tower at 8:46:40 am EST.

This column is different for me. This one is a little more personal. Unlike my usual columns, this is to not only give some perspective to myself, in a way it might share some with you also.

The only thing I can say to start is: Life is precious. And, when it ends for what ever the reason, at any time, chances are you will not have any control of the timing or the circumstances. So live to your fullest everyday. Regardless of where you are in life for the unexpected, and the horrific, can happen to you, not just someone else.

When the tragedy on 9/11 happened, it changed many of us, if not all. Like most, I remember exactly where I was. I also remember standing in line at my local bank moments after it happened, watching the televisions while waiting in line in utter disbelief along with everyone else in the bank. For all of us – time had stopped.

The days and months that followed with the stories of heroism and the outpouring of help and support are well documented. For myself, living in New England at the time, one had either gone to Ground Zero personally as to try to offer any help or, someone you knew had.

I owned a local deli at the time. The owner of a company which supplied me with breads went back and forth to Ground Zero nightly to pass out muffins and pastries to the rescue teams working through the night only to drive back to New Hampshire and then start his own deliveries.

No one complained. No one ever mentioned how hard it was. No one was looking for any credit. It was just done. Period. That’s just the way it was and how everyone viewed it.

On that day many of us changed. We viewed life a little differently from that point. Life suddenly hit you with laser focus. You could no longer trivialize the sage of: life is precious. For you now clearly understood the meaning of: death can come at any moment, from anywhere.

No longer was this an esoteric exercise. This was life at its core, and it was playing out in front of our eyes leaving no gray area to ponder. You either got it – or you didn’t. There was no middle ground.

To honor that tragic event, I myself set new rules, new guidelines in how I was going to go forward in life. I decided I would live life – my way, by my rules. And, if I were to die today – so be it.

I could say this because I truly was going ensure I was living.  Not just some bystander in life trying to merely exist or, just get by like so many other do. Those are not the reasons why we’re given life. It’s given to us – to live, to be alive. It’s not to play in some endless game of defense only as to: go along to get along. Rather, it’s to use what ever talents we have or, develop them and push ourselves to not just survive this game but rather to play on offense and thrive! That, is the epitome of living in my world.

September 11, 2001 changed my life forever, Yet, to honor the lives of the people who perished on that tragic day, I decided to use it as a reminder that while on this Earth, I should make sure I was engaged in living.

Live everyday. Take nothing, nor anyone for granted. Live today as to chase the dreams of tomorrow. For if we do that one simple step, whether we reach those dreams or not…

Regardless of when our ticket gets called, it will be known that we had lived.

For you see, Peter was not just someone who tragically died on that day. He was the younger brother of my close friends growing up.
Life doesn’t just happen to someone else. It happens to us all.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Profiting At The Bottom Line ™ AUDIO

(We are working on a variety of different offerings and formats for both the blog and other projects Mark is working on. Currently this will only be available on the blog. We will be adding more iTunes™ content in the near future. As always feel free to share just please don’t spam anyone.) – V.V. StreetCry Media

This month’s focus: PRICE

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

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.

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

It’s Always About Trust

One can’t help feeling uneasy about revelations being reported everywhere. Doesn’t matter if it pertains to politics, religion, business, or family matters. The one aspect more than ever that seems lost is trust. No one trusts the other. Many times with good reason.

People today are bombarded by marketers, spin doctors, and more on not only a daily basis rather, near every moment. Everywhere you look someone or, some company is trying to tell you, “trust them.” Problem is every time you do, they prove why you shouldn’t have.

Today there are issues facing us as a nation where for better or worse, trust is needed. Once again problem is these very same people we are supposed to rely on for trust seemingly have made a mockery of that very word.

This is not something in isolation. It is everywhere. So pervasive is it now within our lives unless it is something so outlandish, so egregious, we basically let them roll down our backs like water on a duck. We act as if lying is acceptable behavior now. It’s in the how much or, to what degree, we gauge when a line crossed. So much so its deplorable.

Trust is one of those emotions that has more in common with love than pretty much any of the others. You can work at gaining it from someone for eternity and, never get it. However, once it has been given, like the other – you can lose it in an instant. And, once you do you’ll never, ever, ever, (did I say ever?) regain it as you once did. Period.

Many throw around the “trust” issue in their business life almost as if trust is a derivative of marketing. Nothing can be further from the truth. Trust is your marketing. Without it, all the marketing in the world won’t help you if trust in you, or your brand, is lost.

Sure, you may stay in business but (and it’s a very big but) you, your brand, whatever, will always be tarnished. Odds depend on how severe the breech for the calculation of how exponential the backlash will be against you. It’s never a 1 for 1 dynamic or equation.

The ramifications for losing trust today are far more immediate and dealt with in an increased tenacity than ever before. One of the very reasons probably propelling this is the very fact people today have very little trust of anyone or, any thing en masse. All with good reasons.

People have been so bombarded with sloganeering, campaigns, marketing, deceptive ads, and more their initial reaction to anything that involves trust is – trust nothing or no one. The problem as a result of this self-preservation tactic is when trust is given, if a reason is shown that it was in error. There’s hell to pay.

Just like a lovers scorn is not to be trifled with so too is the scorn of someone who’s trust has been violated.

Say what you mean, mean what you say. Do what you said you would do. If you can’t, state honestly and clearly why, apologize, then move on. Never draw lines in the sand unless you intend to defend them. Never say something in public that you don’t want heard or repeated. Or, you’ll be regarded as the running joke in one of Robin Williams’ famous sketches:

I dare you to cross this line!
OK, how about this one?
Yeah, Yeah, how about this one?
Alright, surly not this one!
You wouldn’t dare this one!
Well maybe that one but not…….

It’s a funny skit because of the fine line of truth within it. However, trust is no joke nor laughing matter. Once lost you just might never gain any of it again – ever. Whether in politics, business, life, or marriage.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr