Month: October 2013

Just A Note On Some Updates And/Or Coming Changes

Hello everyone V.V. here,

Just wanted to touch base and tell you about some changes we’re working on for the blog and remind some and inform others on a few features you may not be aware of.

With an ever-increasing readership from around the globe we like to take times like these and remind readers that have been here since the beginning and inform others that may have just recently joined the ever growing readership.

So not in any meaningful order…

Mark’s blog is an “advertising free zone.” Although it does have what appears (or looks hauntingly similar) to advertising widgets on its right side. They are placed by us for what we feel is relevant info or links to Mark’s products or services. Not some ad placed by any agency. What you won’t see any time here is “banner ads” or “pop ups.” So we don’t want you to feel nervous that you might click into some black hole mistakenly or worse. And as we state right at the beginning, if you ever subscribe to the blog: “We won’t sell, rent, or give your email to anyone. Period.”

The look and feel of the blog is reverse type. In other words, black with white text. Although some argue against such ascetics this is what Mark wants and likes. Years ago the arguments (difficult to read) made sense. But that was before the white text was actually lit eliminating the argument of difficulty in low light settings. With that said there is a way for you to view the articles in white – black text format and clutter free. Just use Mark’s app that’s available in iTunes®. It’s FREE and also ad free. It will give you about 10 or so of the latest postings on the blog. Again..both ad and distraction free. (Just to show how far ahead of the pack he is at times. Mark was one of the first people to have a dedicated app to his writings along with Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki when app’s were seen as a fad and the iPad® itself was being laughed at across the media landscape as a colossal naming mistake destined too fail.)

We are looking into making changes in the look or feel of both the blog as well as the main website. How much or how little is in the discussion stages. We don’t plan on anything major. More or less just some updating. (Unless Mark changes everything. As he always seems to do.)

The blog for those not aware is hosted on WordPresss.com (WP). There are many options on how or the way this blog can be made to look on different mobile platforms. We have chosen NOT to go with a mobile theme. In other words not to allow or change the look and feel of the blog itself arbitrarily by some mobile format. Both Mark as well as us prefer the look and feel of the site as it’s shown in full view. We try very hard as to make it as distraction and mobile friendly in its full form as possible. We Do Not freeze the layout. Unlike some others you can just tap your screen on iPad® and the screen will inflate pushing off the right sidebar and hiding our widgets from view. (Some don’t as advertisers don’t want users to have the ability to hide their ads. For some if you can do that, the barrage of “pop up ads” increase near mercilessly. (Which is exactly why Mark’s site is “ad free.”)

A video series is currently in the works. The style and format are coming together. They’ll be short and to the point. A release or trial run should be available before the end of year. We’ll let you know as soon as roll out becomes available.

Don’t forget there is also Mark’s podcast that’s available in iTunes®. Mark is working on another series that we will be adding there also. Again, stay tuned.

This is just the short list. Mark is working on other projects as well due for release early 2014 such as another book announcement, workshops, speaking engagements, and more. As always we’ll post them as soon as there’s something relevant to say.

Although some have asked, Mark, at this time still has no interest to have his own Facebook®, Twitter®, LinkedIn®, YouTube™, or many other pages. (which he’s expressed many times why in writings on the blog) Although many of Mark’s articles have been both posted or referenced across some of the largest media sites around the globe. When it comes to “social networking” he believes, “If you think it’s worth sharing, by all means share it!” The share buttons are located at the bottom of every article. Mark believes there’s far more credibility in you stating you read something and want to share it rather than Mark trying to push it. This mere change in attitude make you the reader…a leader of providing information. Sounds a little corny we know but, it’s closer to the truth and more powerful if you really think on it.

Let me (and of course also Mark) finish with a grateful and heartened thank you to all our subscribers both old as well as new. And to all the readers that routinely visit Mark’s blog from around the globe. (Now well over 60 countries and counting!) Again, thank you!

Sincerely,

V.V. StreetCry Media

P.S. For those wondering… “Audio book?” Yes, as I’ve said many times, it’s close unless Mark changes something…again! Well guess what? Yep…and as always, I’ll keep you posted.

Do Not Do: Don’t

The word “don’t” isn’t realized or actuated by the body. There’s no command of action in it.

Don’t spill the coffee, is heard by the body as, “spill the coffee.” Don’t, is not the same as to give the implicit meaning inherent in the action word spill.

Think its just mumbo jumbo? Just think back to the last time you were doing some minor tasks recently. As you’re making a sandwich, fixing a project, ______________ (fill in the blank). How many times can you remember saying to yourself, “OK, whatever you do just don’t spill anything, or don’t drop it, or…
Then you find yourself suddenly infuriated with yourself because that’s exactly what you just did.

Usually this happens when you’re rushing. And, you’ll more than likely lay the blame at the feet of: “You were rushing!” However, I’ll contend the “rushing” part only helped to up the average of it happening. (As in greasing the wheels of helping to foster its conclusion. Not the sole reason that rushing by itself is conceived to have.)

Just look at the difference in the power of this one example below for clues. Where just maybe the reasons why you’re having any difficulty moving away from, changing or breaking a habit, or a myriad of others (that only you can address) might just be in how you’re asking yourself to move, or deal, with anything. i.e.,

Don’t do that! (As opposed to) I will not do that!

One statement leaves ambiguity and gives no clear commands as to do or not do something. The other is directed far more positively as to achieve the same. After all, if research is showing the mind or body will lean towards then acting as if it heard Don’t do that!”  How is ambiguity not present? Whether it does or doesn’t is up for chance is it not?

Top this off with the normal trait where one tries not to think about something, i.e., “not doing this or that.” Only to then think even more about it. You can then start or run a vicious circle in your mind that would make a black hole blush.

You need to make sure your concentration of efforts are placed on the empowering aspects of self talk. Not on the ambiguous. Even if you disagree with the premise what is not up for question is the “don’t” example does not have the same power of determination contained within as the “will not.”

Why is such a small detail so important? Well, just think about how the above fits in backed with a summation about thoughts from the book, Antifragile: Things that gain from disorder Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Nov. 27. 2012 Random House)

(I’m paraphrasing)

“Like tormenting love. Some thoughts are so antifragile that you feed them by trying to get rid of them. Turning them into obsessions. Physiologists have shown the irony of the process of thought control, The more energy you put into trying to control your ideas and what you think about the more your ideas end up controlling you.”

If the statement of the more we try as to not think about something, only makes us think of it more. Backed with the idea that we may be asking ourselves the wrong way to get a desired result. Is it not logical to use this information for what it shows at face value and just command ourselves to make the desired actions rather, than just leave it up to chance to be run over, and over, and over again giving us exactly what we didn’t want?

Don’t think about it!

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

The Effective Entrepreneur

The above headline is my play on Peter F. Drucker’s landmark writing, The Effective Executive (1967 Harper & Row). Just as Mr. Drucker was ahead of his time in the ideas of management, as well as what the executive of the modern era needed to both know and understand. The times that ushered in those ideas and philosophical dictates are being once again echoed and, it will be the adaptation of these insights that will extend forward the needed cohesion for today’s entrepreneurial successes.

From the solo practitioner, all the way to the boardroom members of the latest trans-continental conglomerates there seems to be not only a gap, rather that gap seems to be growing ever wider as to resemble chasms. And not from some new unknowns. Rather, it’s from both sides digging deeper entrenchments.

It’s as if each side vaguely understands there is something to be gained from the other. Yet, acts as if whatever it may be, it’s either old or irrelevant to their needs. Both are horribly mistaken in my view.

One can not grow or maintain a viable business in today’s ever-changing business climate without having both feet firmly planted in a mound made up of scoops taken from both the entrepreneur side, as well as the executive or management pile. Regardless of size or stature.

One without the other will be worse than trying to build sand castles near the water’s edge at low tide. For a brief time the footing feels solid and the walls feel firm giving confidence as they keep the forces of ruin at bay. However, the forces of the bay will eventually overtake any for-drawn conclusions of confidence right out to sea with a never-ending barrage of new waves.

Just look at any retailer, technology, or media company today. Balance sheets, retail locations, readership/viewership, cost of entry, and more were once heralded as near insurmountable obstacles less than a decade ago. Today? These once intimidating mountains are not even viewed in the same light as a mole hill. Now, they’re no more than speed bumps. And that is being kind.

Navigating within this new framework is not something to take lightly. It’s serious business with serious dollars at stake. Both in the accumulation of sales and profits that can rocket exponentially in a heartbeat, backed with the possibilities of fatal losses of both equity and/or market share just as rapidly. Let alone any personal monetary exposure or damage of repute.

Think of today’s business environment in the light as to what the early explorers of yesteryear would need to relearn, know, or have access at their disposal if venturing off into the unknown today. Just what and how much of an overview and understanding would be needed or required?

If the venture were to search for new lands. Would only the skills and disciplines of let’s say a 1492’s Columbus be anything remotely necessary to strap him into a space capsule and launch to Mars and expect success? Of course not. Yet, many newly minted entrepreneurs as well as their counterparts in established corporate structures are viewing and acting in today’s business climate as if their skills or needs haven’t needed to change or adapt.

The traits needed of the person in my hypothetical venture such as: bravery, willingness to face unknowns, survival instincts, the ability to lead, and more would be needed in spades today, just as they were needed and present yesterday in Columbus. Yet, unless my fictional Columbus had a crash course or was proficient in computer skills and operation, the most likely outcome of the new venture would be – just a crash.

Today the business landscape is very much like the above example. We have in some ways begun to make today’s modern employee or executive rethink the term “work” or “company.” Along with, for some, an understanding of the need to head back full steam into entrepreneurship styled thinking. (Yes it’s an overstatement today but, it is something that will take on ever greater and greater momentum in my opinion.)

The effective entrepreneur of today (as well as tomorrow) will need far more than just the willingness (or the guts) to venture into the uncharted waters of being responsible for their own business lives or enterprises. What they’ll also need are skills along with the understanding of true executive management and effectiveness. Size and scale will be irrelevant. Knowing and learning will be just as important as the ability to read a ledger and understanding expenses, incomes, and net profits.

Just because as an entrepreneur you’ve developed some widget or service that creates so much buzz it’s deafening on your upcoming IPO. (initial public offering) Doesn’t mean you can’t blow that IPO marvel to smithereens in just as little (or even less) time than it took to create it. If you want confirmation to what I’m trying to express. Just look at most of today’s tech juggernauts.

Many entrepreneurs had to be restrained if not cut out all together from running the company they began as to save it from ruin or themselves. For others it was only after years where both the employees, as well as the board, and stock holders were comfortable as to let them once again take the reins. (a classic case of late is Google®)

Just being the creator, founder, and entrepreneur is not enough. Real effective management, as well as executive skills are what is and will be demanded of anyone serious in running a true business. Again, size be damned in my view. From solo-practitioner to the global conglomerate. Business – is business. Period.

Understanding the skills needed to both hire or fire are just as important as understanding a balance sheet and what it means. Knowing whether you should expand, contract, abandon, or acquire are skills that not only take some gut instincts, they also require effective management and/or executive skills as to help implement ones vision, along with articulating strategies and tactics.

Business and entrepreneurship never take a day off. It’s a way of life. Learning and growing is a never-ending constant improvement process also. The previously requisite of just honing ones skills was in many ways enough to hold one’s edge. That is no longer the case.

There is a need, if not outright demand for a deeper understanding of not only entrepreneurship, but rather how it all fits and works together with modern-day management at all levels of business.

A cursory understanding is not only insufficient – its perilous.

Recognizing this new age where modern-day effective management is no longer to be viewed as some dichotomy with entrepreneurship will lead the effective executives and their entrepreneurial brethren to heights far above the malaise we are now engaged in.

It will be the ones that not only recognize the strengths of the other but embrace and commingle those very strengths that will dominate the businesses of not only today – but the foreseeable future as well.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Audio Podcast from Mark’s “Prose Series”

Beware Of “The Hit Men”

This podcast and more available in iTunes®

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

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

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

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

(For those who say I just don’t get it …get this!)

Near moments ago the much anticipated announcement of the Unemployment numbers delayed report was released. Usually this report is due on the last Friday of the month but, with the shutdown which just ended, it was delayed until today.

This report is what is know in the industry as “market moving data.” If it was bad (meaning showing job job losses rather than increases) the markets would act reflexively negative in a proportionate decline and vice versa. Which for decades made sense to anyone or everyone. Yet, not in today’s world.

The report released was “dismal” in many eyes. First: It was well below the estimates of the economy adding 180K jobs in the prior month. The actual number? 148K. (As always the economists just nailed it! But, I digress) However, the UE rate fell to: ( wait for it….) 7.2 good news right? Well…as always – not really. It fell because more people have stopped looking. (you can read a popular explanation I’ve written here.)

And how was all this bad news viewed in today’s financial markets? Below is a chart to show you. The red arrows show you where the market was moments prior to the announcement, and immediately after.

The futures market 10/22/13

The futures market 10/22/13

So how does all this bad not only not cause the markets to not even flinch lower but (and it’s a very big but) propel it once again not only higher but – to a level never before seen in the history of the financial markets? Easy.

The markets no longer care about anything else, other than, if the data will be so bad as to make sure the Federal Reserve will continue pumping the markets with “free money” aka QE. That’s all, nothing more.

If one were to try and continue with the fallacy that the markets are anything more than a casino, I just want to remind you I still have some ocean front property here in Ohio for sale. Although, the bridge in Brooklyn is already under contract. Sorry.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Addendum: I was just sent the following article recently posted at the financial website ZeroHedge.com that shows in charts pretty much what I’ve been saying for quite a while. I’ll attach the link here.

There Will Be No Bell Rung

Watching the latest move in the financial markets reminded me of similar events that seem to be lost when having any discussion about business, finances, and more.

Using the markets as of this past Friday. (that being Oct. 18, 2013) The S&P 500® has reached a level so high, it has never before been seen in the history of financial markets. Ever.

All this with a backdrop of economic data points that point to an economic contraction – not expansion. Yet, “Here we are!” I will once again state for the record, and will use the current market as proof (ipso facto) the markets are nothing more than a place where elaborate “story telling” is the vehicle to enhance the “greater fool theory” for participation. If anything was based on pure 1+1=2 (as what was once taught in business schools) Then we can’t be here unless it’s a bubble. Period.

So on that note let me share with you both my reasoning as well as why I warn against falling into a lull or trap based on what is happening. I’ll use myself as well as the last fiasco that everyone said would never happen. When everyone I came in contact loved to tell me how I “just didn’t understand Real Estate.”

Like many we bought a home right at the beginning of what is now known as, “the great housing boom.” We chose a great town and within a years time the town itself exploded with business, roads, airport expansions, and property values. It just seemed we hit the timing perfectly. There was no bell that rang signalling Go! However, for reasons of our own, things lined up and we jumped in.

After years of living in what many call a picturesque New England town and home, we looked at each other and thought about moving. The reasoning is lengthy (we were contemplating retirement options and more) but, to sum up the over arching theme: We were done with traditional New England winters. aka, “Snow up the ying yang.”

This picture was taken the day I left my hometown in April. Just 2 day later I was in 83 degree weather signing on my new residence.

This picture was taken the day I left my hometown in April. Just 2 days later I was in 82 degree weather signing on my new residence. Snow can beautiful, or a pain, need I say more?

When I decided it was time I contacted a realtor that I had become friendly with via past business experiences. (I owned a business in this town myself) He had recently become one of the prestige brokers in the area. He himself just purchased and renovated a beautiful property in the downtown area and made it his flagship business location. It seemed everything was just perfect for anyone in real estate business. At least that’s how any questions I would ask were answered.

So, after looking and comparing different brokers I decided I might as well do business with someone I not only knew but, for all intents and purposes answered my questions as well as anyone else did. So I signed and put my home on the market.

Right out of the gate we had interest. (I had just renovated everything and the home itself shone like a jewel) I put time into my asking price, looking at comps, etc. I was hands on and he commented many times, “I don’t have anyone ask as many questions as you do.” (I get that a lot. Just sayin’)

In less than 2 weeks we had a solid offer and was right within my acceptable range. (Nearly full asking price) So, I accepted and the house came off the market and was to close in a little over a month. Everything seemed perfect. However, there was trouble in paradise…

At the time contingencies were always a factor. I had one where the buyer was selling their home as a condition. No problem at this point in time for the market was in high gear and homes were selling just as fast everywhere. Their house was already under contract as sold and, they were just waiting out the process of closing. Then they would close on ours.

No problem as anyone thought. Then out of no where the buyers for their home started to ask and need extensions in the closing time frame. The first delay was a week, then another, then out of nowhere I received a call stating they were unable to move forward and wanted out of the sale. All was within the cancellation clauses so I relented. Unhappy but, that’s business.

This was all during the summer and fall of 2006. Real Estate was by far the business that dreams were being made in. You didn’t need to know a thing about business. If you took a class then passed the realtors license exam: You were in business making gobs of money near overnight. It was truly breath-taking. Then the late fall of 2006 started feeling different from that early summer. At least to me. Everyone else seemed oblivious.

I kept my home on the market after the first buyer dropped off. The issue was I was now 3 months deeper or out of the peak selling season of spring/summer. It was now late fall and winter was right around the corner.

The calls for showings on our home dropped to near nil from what we had when we first listed. However, everyone (from professional to friends) told me that was normal. And, I would be better to take my house off the market entirely and wait till spring once again. For I would be just throwing away money if I tried selling in the winter time.

I (like I always do) decided to not heed what others were telling me. From my stand point and rationale I thought it would be best to continue with it on the market and see what the market brought.
(Once you’ve decided to move whether in business or in life there are times where you must keep the momentum behind your decisions going. Or, you’ll just may back off, or out, at exactly the wrong times, for exactly the wrong reasons. i.e., Indecision or fear that you’ve already conquered or dealt with earlier.)

As time went on (I’m now speaking in weeks) I started noticing ominous signs that nobody else seen as important. I read stories about banking or finance companies having issues. (All these were brushed off as outliers from both the financial media or press right down to people in the very business itself.)

Then it seemed out of no where everything changed. All of the sudden I could not get my realtor on the phone. I would go to his office and the only ones there were his staff. When he did finally return my calls it was more along the lines that “He was busy involved with doing some other projects.” (It seemed if you were successful in Real Estate at this time it was a “no-brainer” you should now be into “land development” building your own sub division.)

In less than 8 weeks after this phone call I could no longer get him or anyone from his staff on the phone. The beautiful renovated building that was usually landscaped and manicured to perfection lay a foot in snow with no clear path shoveled to the front door from the latest snow fall. Like a comic action hero, my “spider senses” started tingling. Something was definitely wrong. Not just here but, everywhere.

From this moment on I would never see my former realtor or hear from him. It seemed as if he vanished from the Earth. Problem for me was: He still had the listing bound by contract on my house! Too no avail could I find him. For what ever his own reasons were. He decided to vanish and not face anyone he had on his listings. (People will do foolish things when, or if, they find themselves in moments they never seen coming.)

Everyone I spoke with about this situation (both professionals as well as friends) all chalked it off as a “once in a life time” bad experience. The overwhelming response from most was, “See, he probably did you a favor so you now can just wait till spring to sell your house instead of the winter and get more money for it. That will cure all your headaches.” As so everyone (and I mean everyone) thought.

Undeterred I decided to list my house right there in the dead of winter. It was near February and Feb. in NH is not cold, “It’s “freakin’ cold.” However my rationale was this: Anyone looking for a house in this weather or time of year is serious. Not just some tire kickers. And I owned my house where I could negotiate if a reasonable legitimate offer came. So I listed with another realtor I grilled and felt comfortable listing with and put it on the market. (I had to remove my front door assembly and smash the former realtors lock box with a sledgehammer to get my keys back. I still have never heard from him again.)

Everyone said I was crazy, everyone told me I was leaving money on the table and that I would be sorry. Everyone pointed to the past and rising percentage increase per year of homes as a way of showing me in dollars and cents just how much I was throwing away not waiting  “just a few more months” and list in the spring. However, as I said earlier, “I was undeterred.”

I adjusted my asking price and we put it on the market. (Again, this is February in NE) In 3 days we had appointments for 3 showings that weekend. The first appointment saw the house, offered us full price, no haggling, if we could be closed and out by the end of the following month. My answer? “SOLD!”

As I have said over, and over, again throughout this article. Everyone said I was crazy. I just didn’t understand the Real Estate market. Its seasons, its rhythm, its pricing, blah, blah, blah. Here’s what I knew: I was sold and moving on to where I wanted to go next. Who cares about all the “coulda, woulda, shoulda, everyone was telling me about.

I knew my plans, expectations, needs, and so forth and, all my instincts were telling me. “Now is the time.” Good or bad, I could live with the results. If I was wrong or anything else I would never know till after I went forth. That is when you look back and see if you were thinking correctly then adjust. But, you have to make those decisions first. then once you decide: Move!

Needless to say had we waited those “few months more” to claim all that money we were leaving on the table as everyone within my ear shot loved to harp at me. Not only would we not have claimed that booty – we would probably still be in that house, unsold, and very unhappy. Why? The greatest housing collapse of a magnitude never before seen in the United States housing market began that very spring, with the first major story of a prominent Sub-Prime housing lenders failure then bankruptcy that started the whole housing markets collapse.

There are properties in my former town that are still on the market years later since I’ve left at less than half of what they were when they were “selling like hot cakes” when I first purchased mine. Nobody I have ever talked to since has ever told me “that was good thinking on your part to get out then” no, nobody says a word. It’s like I never had a house there. (Silence is better than accolades more times than not in my book)

As I started out, there was “no bell rung” to signal the great Real Estate boon was over. I’m not saying I was some great Nostradamus with predictive powers. No, what I am saying is there were clues but – nobody wanted to see them. The most outright billboard-esque signal I couldn’t shake was the mere fact that people who had no business, being in business (I mean any form of acumen or business sense nothing more) were raking in gobs of money, and then spending that money like there was no tomorrow.

This sent warning signs I felt and believed I couldn’t nor shouldn’t avert my eyes from. People were throwing around dialogue and conversations where spending a million or, half a million dollars on some property was just nickles and dimes in their now “big picture” view.

There’s nothing wrong with that per se but, something should throw up red flags when you know they’ve never handled more than nickle and dimes just months prior. People think only large amounts ( i.e., tens or hundreds of thousands) are serious money. I’m here to tell you in business: All money is serious.

Act as if there is some duality in just how serious, and money will show you just how serious you should have been, right when you thought you were so smart, as too not think so seriously about her.

When you don’t basically have to know anything about business except to get a few hundred dollars together, take a course, apply for a license, then reap a financial lifestyle worth 6 figures and more. Something is wrong and we’ve seen just how wrong it can end when not only nobody will say so. They’ll tell you you’re wrong for questioning it.

Just like then I see the financial markets poised for the same styled events. What’s more troubling is the history to show just how wrong it can go is only a few years past. Yet, if you did nothing but bought the financial markets via some index funds or ETF’s. You have been rewarded regardless of anything out of economical, financial, or business acumen. And not just rewarded, you are now pushing levels never before seen in the history of the markets. So I guess the only question to be asked is…

Is your now found financial prowess so attuned that you will act like some Pavlov’s dog and rake in on command all those returns you’ve so carefully amassed. Or, will you act as – until there is a bell, there is no reason for alarm?

My ears have been ringing for quite some time is all I can say. Whether right or wrong from here no longer concerns me. I know what and why I am doing what I am doing. And in the end – to each – that is all that should truly matter in the end. That and the ability – to ring your own bell.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

You’re Going To Need To Ask – So Ask Already

You’re in business to do business. Legitimate business where the exchange of goods or services add value to the customers needs and you receive equitable compensation based on the ROI (return on investment) you provided to those customers.

You can make friends in business however, your first goal is to provide your service then get paid. And, without an affirmative “Yes. Let’s begin.” You have nothing more than a friendship. And that doesn’t pay the bills.

There comes a point where you must ask for the business. When the point comes where you’ve supplied everything which basically needs to be known as to make that decision – you must ask. Don’t be afraid.

If you act as if you’re asking an in-law for a loan, that’s exactly the vibe you’ll send. Ask for the business. i.e. “We’ve covered pretty much everything. Is there anything else, or something particular you need answered so we can start?”

Without you taking control of the conversation it will meander in directions that wastes everyone’s time.  There are always moments where you can legitimately ask for the business. When they arise – ask. If you falter, all you’re doing is giving cues that you aren’t as sure of your value as you’re trying to convey.

If you have a value to present and, you can demonstrate that value. Ask, and, ask often. You’re having a discussion to conduct business in a friendly manner. Not just for the sake of being friendly or making friends.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

 

Some Arguments Aren’t That Noble

Here’s a premise I’ve heard a million times. Sounds logical yet, I have heard this pushed down so many throats with no push back, I just want to scream. Derivatives based on the 2002 Nobel Prize® work “Prospect Theory.” One over used part of the research was to show how lousy people are at working out what is statistically best for them. The “coin flip” is the bemoaned example.

It goes like this: Would you rather have $100.00 now, in your hand. Or, flip a coin where you have the chance of winning $250.00? Of course the alternative is if you don’t win – you get Zip, Zero, Nada.

People that choose the $100 are usually cast in some pool of inferior risk takers or, economic morons because, statistically the expected value is $125.00 and is therefore greater than the sure thing. So to choose the sure thing proves humans can’t or don’t make good economical decisions. That is a load of bunk.

This type of thinking only holds up if humans are pulled from the equation, not the reason for it. Life is not that static. Most economic theories are exactly that – theories. And, I would like to throw cold water all over this hypothesis by asking one question: “If the test subjects were starving, (real starvation) where death was near certain within 1 or 2 days if no food was to be had. Offered the same choice where $100.00 would buy an immediate supply of food for 7 days or, flip a coin for a months worth. What is the correct choice?

If you chose the coin flip and lost well…you would just become a statistic. Does that mean you’re now statistically smart? Or just dead? Doesn’t seem like such a noble choice to me. Yet, because this example was part of the research for the Nobel Prize winners, it’s used as a bludgeon against anyone who questions anything “statistical” from academia.

Many entrepreneurs face real issues that must be made sometimes under extraordinary conditions. Whether to hire, fire, expand, contract, invest, divest, take on debt, reduce debt, sell at a discount, pass on the sale, and more.

These are real issues that “statistics” just don’t give clear answers. However, when real world thinking and analysis is needed many make the wrong decisions or assumptions because they are intimidated by the person supplying the “statistical choices” for the only reason there is some collage of letters after their name. Nothing more.

What trumps everything is your demonstrated value. What you can offer potential or current clients. How you can improve their condition whether financially or something other. And getting that argument in front of actual potential clients that can buy your products or services with actual legal tender that clears the bank.

Offering value in your entrepreneurial pursuits is truly the most noble of prizes and assures you the best of probabilities to eat. Leave the theories to the academics. They have their own prizes. However, I don’t think they’re edible.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Addendum: Although I take issue with the above example. It’s not based primarily in the model or theory itself. It’s the way it’s used as a basis or instrument for warding off questioning or reasoning from anyone outside academia. For in actuality, the very people or person that put forth the above example wrote the book, Thinking Fast And Slow – Daniel Kahneman (Penguin Books Limited, Nov. 2011) A book I highly recommend reading. It’s also there, expressed within that very book, their research called “priming” in which I give my reasoning to challenge the above argument. Go figure. Or better yet – “Who’da thunk it?”

A Price To Be Paid Or – Paying A Price?

We look at “price” far too often as having a meaning within meanings. The issue more times than not is people know there is a price, can calculate what that price might be, then – they will do everything to avoid paying it.

Not by careful forethought and planning. No, what most do is hide behind a guise or belief, if they no longer pay any attention too it – they’ll escape paying it. Problem is that doesn’t work in the real world.

There is always a price to be paid. Exactly what one pays because of luck, avoidance, willful ignorance, etc. Is nothing more than living a life based on “lottery ticket” thinking. There is no financial or intellectual prowess involved. No matter how one wants to kid themselves.

This mentality has the propensity to be far more harmful because – people begin to believe they were smart, as opposed to lucky. Then, they become over-confident in their ability to tally exactly what price they might, should, or will pay across the spectrum. This is where things get dangerous for far too many.

There’s nothing wrong – with being wrong. You will never be correct 100% of the time. If you have, it’s only a matter a time. Being wrong because you looked at the differing options, weighed your financial outlays or impact. Then acted, or not, depending on your best interpretation is the way the game is played properly. You can adjust strategy, and tactics based on such to improve your percentage. If you try doing that based on luck alone. At some point – your luck will run out. Usually at the worst of times.

As many of you know I give speeches or lectures, write books, articles, and more on entrepreneurship along with motivation. I’ve been blessed with the abilities to do such things and found a calling for one reason. I’ve actually done what most others only speak or write about. Along with, I have “paid the price” many times which – has nearly ruined me more than once.

Knowing or being considerate of the consequences faced going in. Making the decision as to “go again” is probably one of the hardest decisions anyone striving to raise themselves above mediocrity can make. I know because – I’ve been there. Again, more than once.

I state the above only for the reason to help put context into what follows. Over the last week I have been asked many questions, along with some dismissals of my calls or assumptions on the financial markets. The blog itself added many new subscribers (which goes without saying I’m always honored and humbled) when I stated (I’m paraphrasing you can read the original article here) “There was nothing left to see or watch any longer. The markets are now only a casino. And, that’s giving casinos a bad name.”

The reasoning behind this was borne out of frustration I was having when being asked questions (both publicly and private) about the markets. Budding entrepreneurs were continuously referencing how they should emulate (or imitate) the success stories they were reading, or watching across the financial news media.

All they saw was IPO (Initial public offering) after IPO announcement or rumor heralded as the new brilliance of creating a start-up. Nothing in their line of questioning delved deep into the milieu of starting and running a business. Everything seemingly revolved around starting something to “cash-out” via the bemoaned Series A, or other Wall Street derivatives.

The harder I tried to steer the conversation towards real entrepreneurship and its thinking or work ethics. The more their eyes seemed to gloss over.

I would point to Facebook® (FB) and its horrible IPO and, they would point to FB current stock price as validation. Their view had some legitimacy at a different time, but only for the reasoning where, the free flow of real people, investing their own money in the markets prior to 2008. Not what is taking place today.

Today is more in line with the 1990’s however, this time the speculation capital is not coming from traditional speculators. It’s being fueled with “free money” via the Federal Reserve’s monetary intervention. And this is not your father’s 1990’s market conditions.

Using Facebook as the preeminent bell weather below is a chart since its fateful IPO launch. In less than 90 days people who bought into everything that was FB quickly realized the “Golden goose” laid an egg. And it stunk. Many lost more than half of their initial investment and went from “We gonna be rich!” to “How am I ever going to recover from this?!” in a heartbeat.

Month after month, quarter after quarter, nothing was showing any signs that this once heralded IPO was ever going to turn into what the financial media or the corresponding hedge funds claimed it would be. FB was no longer the book to be read or referenced. Then, 2 things coincided.

First: There was a hint they might actually make a profit. (Albeit if you one actually listened to the earnings call and not the media spin – it was nothing to cheer about)

Second: Fueled by short covering and a rotation for exposure to the next earning cycle FB stock doubled from just over $25 to a high of just over $51.

So now the question must be asked: What has FB done that warranted not only a doubling of its market cap, but (and it’s a very big but) now made it over 10% more valuable than its debut as a publicly traded company? When for all intents and purposes, most couldn’t talk about it without feeling ill. The answer? Nothing.

Without the “free money” sloshing around searching for anywhere there might be the remotest of chances at a favorable earnings report. (favorable as in can be spun, minced, and spit out in such a way that “bad is good, and good is great!”)
There is absolutely no reason this company is now worth double. Period.

To bolster my argument I annotated on the chart below what happens the moment there is even a hint that The Fed. might cease to provide any more “free money.” As in the dreaded “Taper” or reduction in purchases via their quantitative easing policy aka QE.

The moment the rumors start…down you go with gusto. The moment the rumor is proved to be false…Boom, up you go just as fast. You get those types of reaction when you (or the company itself) does something to cause it. Lawsuit, bad earnings report, change of management,_____________(fill in the blank.)
What you shouldn’t get is that type of reaction out of the thin air if you’re doing things correctly and people are investing in you because they believe. When this happens to ALL the speculative stocks across the board regardless of their market segment. Somethings wrong.

Here's Facebook as the markets close Oct. 11, 2013

Here’s Facebook as of the markets close Oct. 11, 2013

I added another favorite LinkedIn® to show the same pattern happening across the spectrum.

I added another favorite LinkedIn® to show the same pattern happening across the spectrum.

Now someone who doesn’t follow the markets might shrug and say. “OK, but so what? Why should it matter? The price is up right?” Well, yes, and no.

The price is up but not for the reasons that make economic sense. These type of price actions are indicative of “bubbles.” And all financial bubbles burst. The issue is understanding, burst means just that. Or to paraphrase David Lee Roth, “Here today – gone later that day.”

Thinking or believing one can anticipate the exact moment where or when is a fool’s errand. All one can do is place their best guess forward, put the necessary actions in place and execute based on those assumptions. Then, let the world have its way with the rest. Would’a, should’a, could’a, thinking after is irrelevant.

If you were wrong, change your strategy or tactics next time. Beating your self afterwards because you left money on the table for reacting too soon, or waited too long is addressable as to fix or change. Blind-fully thinking you know when or where during such times or base your actions to paraphrase Chuck Prince of the former Citi® Bank financial debacle, “While the music is playing you have to keep dancing.” Will lead you down the wonderful road of ruin. (It worked well so for him hmmmmmm?)

Below is a chart of the Russell 2000® index as of the markets closing Oct. 11, 2013. Once again at levels never before seen in the history of financial markets.

Need anymore be said?

Need anymore be said?

This is why I made the proclamation of no longer focusing on the financial markets as I have over the last few years. There is nothing here to extrapolate that makes financial sense any longer. We are at perilous heights fraught with danger and uncertainty that no one (and I mean No one) knows exactly how it will end.

The only thing to do from this moment on is engage your time in true business. True commerce. Where profits are made by making products that people like to buy. (Meaning the exchange of actual legal tender that a bank accepts as a deposit in your account as real money.) Not concerning yourself with things people “like” but never buy.

Reduce debt. Or, only take on debt that has the primary function of proving its validity to actually turn a profit as to pay itself off. Put your time and resources (along with your energy) into the things everyone else seems to find boring. i.e., Constructing real strategies and tactics to take advantage of situations when everyone else is acting out of panic or fear.

This is where your true forth coming profits will be made. Not by chasing business models that harken back to past bubble mentalities. There are plenty of places to make money, plenty of ideas to tried, even more models to be broken as to unlock real value in new ways. Put your time and your efforts into this. Not focusing on what is transpiring daily in the markets as a reason to feel you might be missing out on something. You’re not.

It’s all an illusion that you not need be glue too for your business survival. An understanding of the markets and, their role as to what, or how, certain events can affect you is what you need to know and understand. Nothing more.

Don’t waste your time trying to understand why the so-called “smart crowd” seem confusing when you listen to them. It’s because most, if not all of them are making it up as they go while trying to sound relevant or smart. Don’t be fooled. The reason they make no sense to you most of the time is for that very reason. They’re making no sense.

Concern yourself with your own business. What you can do to improve your customers experience. What value you can add to your services that customers will pay for. That is how you should focus your time and energies. That is where your real profits will be made. Now, and well into the future.

I’ll leave you with one more item to lend credibility to what I’ve been speaking on, and writing both about as well as against these last few years.

Here’s the latest headline that just graced one the papers of record for the business community. The Wall Street Journal®.

In Latest IPOs, Profits Aren’t the Point
Two-Thirds of U.S.-Listed Tech Debuts in 2013 Lost Money

But don’t worry. Twitter®’s IPO will save everything. Right?

Well…If the largest run up of the financial markets in years over the last 2 days holds because, Congress is negotiating and, will find an amicable solution beloved by all. Then I too will believe once again in Unicorns, and Tooth Fairies. Until then, just call me – a skeptic. I’m comfortable with that.

Are you?

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Adventures In Stupidity: Petty Service Charges

My wife rarely travels and is currently out-of-town. She just called me to question or let me know there’s a charge (or access fee) for wi-fi at the hotel. The charge? $9.99 per night. Many of you might think or believe it’s a menial charge since we now seem to live in an al-a-carte world.

However, in my view, this is just a stupid policy left over from when wi-fi was a premium service and all the rage. But, someone, somewhere, in the bowels of the accounting department probably argues this is a perfectly reasonable charge that most others still enforce. And, heaven knows every property needs to “enhance revenues.” Even though you can pretty much have access to free wi-fi in most coffee shops.

For anyone that’s stayed in a hotel above the level of “roadside motel.” What would you think if they charged you an “access fee” to use the supplied room hair dryer, or iron? Maybe you would shrug it off if you paid $19.00 for a one night stay believing “cheap is cheap.” However, if you stayed at an establishment with any repute (let’s say one with a true dedicated, on premises, concierge service) wouldn’t it give you a feeling of cheapening your stay? No matter how wonderful the property?

This type of nickel and dime-ing permeates far too many brands in an effort to squeeze every last cent possible. It’s ludicrous. These fees both cheapen the experience and puts forefront into one’s mind: “What else are they gonna nail me for?” This should be the last thing any brand should want, not to mention – self inflict. Especially when you’re regarded as one (if not The) premier brand in your respected market.

You can tarnish your brand (and a lot more) that you’ve worked so hard to maintain or create by not paying attention to exactly what you’re charging for – and how.

Stop listening to foolish accounting or cost saving department heads that understand dollars and cents but, have no idea of brand value, how to build it or, how to maintain it. There is a much smarter way to make them as well as your customers or guests happy. (especially when the amount is insignificant to your overall charges or pricing structure)

Just include the miscellaneous fee into your price and, if it’s requested by the guest you can just smile and say, “I would be glad to allow you access. And, there’s no charge, thank you for staying with us.” For a miniscule amount you can reap rewards that are well remembered by returning guests.

Alas, that’s not what is taking place where it should. These petty type charges seem to be happening more and more where one would think better. For you see my wife is staying not at some discount motel, she’s spending the week at the Ritz Carlton®.

Now let me be clear, the Ritz is a beautiful, wonderfully appointed and staffed hotel. The experience of staying there as opposed to almost every other brand is miles removed. Yet, what prompted her to call me, and myself to write this article? Not the wonderful amenities. Rather…

The idiotic petty charge.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr