Month: May 2014

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

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

You can’t be in the public eye without having detractors. It’s just the way things are. There are always people eager (and far more than willing) to point out when I either make a wrong call, or miss the mark. I honestly wish I had the super powers to be 100% correct in everything I do or say yet, I don’t think that would change the ratio of people who would say I’m wrong or I just don’t get it. Actually, if I did have a 100% record I would wager dollars to doughnuts the amount of people telling me I was wrong would increase!

There are always the one’s who love to point out they counted 5 grammatical errors in one of my posts. Usually when I state: “No there were actually 8.” do they leave me alone and start searching for the other 3. The issue I find over and over, and over again is it’s just far too many people don’t bother to look deeper into almost any business headline. I personally started focusing my writings on the financial markets and more out of the sheer lack of understanding I found present it a great many want to be, as well as budding entrepreneurs. Headlines were all they were aware of and focused on. Personally I found this down right dangerous to the entrepreneur mindset at large. Today, far too many believe if they scan enough headlines – they’re informed. Nothing can be further from the truth. It sounds so nonsensical, yet, it is incredible how pervasive it is.

I’m not some stock analyst, nor do I offer advice of any kind. (nor should anyone ever assume I do) What I do on these pages (and from other outlets) is try to bring some sanity thinking back into the entrepreneurial mindset. I do this because I still feel too few entrepreneurs are using their critical thinking skills only to find themselves burnt out or worse – bankrupt for making foolish assumptions. (I originally was going to name this blog: Making Sense Of The Nonsense)

FTWSIJDGIGT started as a half handed joke at a few detractors that one day wanted to rub my nose in a call I had made. Like I say, no one, and I mean – no one – is going to be right 100%, and just remember, if they are right even just a lot more than others and want to help you with your money, remember this name: Bernie Madoff. Need I say more?

This was all brought back to me in vivid detail when I received a message from someone yesterday. It went something like this:
“The markets are at all time lifetime highs, even Twitter™ was up over 10% yesterday. I guess you should stay away from making any market calls.” Well, as I say, I don’t make calls, I’m not a stock market “guru” or whatever they’re called. But I am a business person and I base what I see or say on business and business principles. Knowing what is going on in the financial markets and why is an imperative skill any entrepreneur or serious business person needs to have with more of an understanding than just casual headline knowledge. Especially today, it’s far too important to any business, Large, or small.

So I went and took a look at Twitter’s stock chart. And indeed it was up 10% yesterday. Sounds like a winner to me also, unless you look at the chart in a broader context. i.e., The beginning. To wit I post the following…

We're gonna be so rich! Wait...What?

We’re gonna be so rich! Wait…What?

This is a weekly stock chart for Twitter since it went public. As of this writing today, even with the “glorious” 10% up day yesterday, everyone that bought into this stock from the beggining has LOST not only money, but maybe some feathers to go with it. I have publicly stated this social media darling was probably the canary in the coal mine to which if I am correct, there’s a lot more pain to come for many others. For one has to remember “this” was “the” stock to watch. Now? Did anyone even know the stock was up 10% yesterday? Nope, not a sound, or should I say chirp?

I just thought it was worth mentioning, but I’m sure I’ll hear more about my punctuation mistakes than anything else. Just saying.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

The Echo Chambers Of Commerce

Occasionally I’ll get asked when I’m either speaking to a group or just having conversation over coffee: “Have you any plans to speak in front of the Chamber of Commerce?” (locally and/or nationally) Most are taken back by near immediate response of: “No.”

This is usually followed with a perplexed look then the inevitable: “Why not? You talk about everything I would imagine they not only want to hear, but should hear. I go to (then they’ll name one) and the people are great but many of the speakers I’ve seen are either boring or plain dreadful. I would think they would welcome someone like you with open arms?”

Yes, that would be a logical way to look at it however, it has been my experience from early on as to pursue it, has been a waste of my time. Not for the people who attend, but for the so-called people “making sure members get the most” by being members. i.e., The people running both the chapters as well as at the national level. It has been my experience they are more concerned with the business of “the chamber” not the business of the members.

Let me illustrate my point using myself as an example.

A few years back I thought it would be a win-win for both myself as well as some local chapters (of some prominent national organizations) if I would offer my services by ways of a topically targeted speech to answer or bring to light many concerns facing businesses as well as entrepreneurs.

All successful speakers set aside some form of blocked time as to market themselves on a pro bono basis. Depending on the circumstances, audience, and relative benefits for all I’ll allot X amount of dates during a calendar year, then once they’re filled they’re gone.

I decided to approach the local chamber for commerce in my area. I found the person responsible for the booking a scheduled a meeting. What transpired during and after I have found to be the norm – not the exception – to almost every type of similar organization.

As with any meeting I qualified my initial contact (as any salesperson worth their salt should) and this indeed was the person responsible for scheduling speakers. Then she said something that nearly knocked me off my seat. In order for me to have the “opportunity” to address their members, I needed to join and become one. I asked, “Really? You do this for all speakers?” The reply came back yes and then the yada, yada, ya.

What I had to say after that was of little consequence for I could tell it was falling on deaf ears. When I reminded her that my usual fee for a keynote started at $20,000. and I was offering to do this for free, she was undeterred. (My fee schedule has since increased)

I was told (politely, not with some attitude, this was just the way it was) if I still wanted to go any further she would have the person responsible for membership contact me and I could go from there. (On a side note, everyone I meet in these organizations has some form of title as to sound important. e.g., V.P. of ____________ (fill in the blank), Executive Manager of Shoe Placement, President of International Soda Machine Operation, Global Extraordinaire of Mirror Shining, etc, etc. It’s near ridiculous.)

During the drive home I decided maybe it would be worth while only for the point of supporting the chapter. For if they were worth speaking to then they should be worth supporting, So I decided I would proceed.

I called her back and said to have the person contact me. I knew she had my info because I presented her with all my information as to website, writings, videos, and more so she could see I was who, or what, I was professing to be.

I received the call from their V.P. of Membership (everyone has a title) and near immediately after hearing me say “hello” he went into sales mode.

I tried many times to break his concentration with: “You don’t have to sell me I’m going to join” but none the less – he kept selling.

Finally after interjecting a few more times on the reason why I was doing this in the first place, I became annoyed by the seemingly auto responsive: “Oh yeah? That’s sounds great! So let me tell you more about us…”

It wasn’t until I said, “Listen, forget it, I thought this might be something I was interested in, but I’ve changed my mind. Thanks for your time but I’ve got to run. Have a good day.” Then I calmly hung up the phone. What I realized after all this I found astounding.

No one from this organization looked into who I was. (as in went to my site or anything else.) I have analytics that would show me based on the specific info and links I provided them.

Not one time did any of the people I came in contact with bothered to check as to see if I’d be someone, or would be offering insights or something else that may be valuable for their members, but no one bothered to see if I was the opposite either. They didn’t care. It was about getting a membership fee. Not getting something useful for their members. (I also stated explicitly I was not there to sell any products and would not try like many others do)

Since then I have gone through this same routine with differing organizations and it basically played out the same way. So as of today I still don’t even try as to contact them. It’s only been shown to be a waste of my time to even try. (I’m not saying I’ll never, it’s just that’s the way I still see it today. Things change so who knows what the future brings.)

If I decide I want to do something pro bono I do it in different ways and venues. What I have done is to regularly look at many of these organizations local calendars to see their roster of upcoming speakers. What I have noticed is my first inclinations were not only correct but – they’re still true today.

With all that’s transpiring in business today between the uncertainties of financial markets, globalization, possible trade wars, regulation uncertainties and more. These organizations are doing nothing more than subjecting their members to hear the pains and whoa of their other members with the occasional local politician pitching why the other party is the reason they have these pains and whoa.

One would think during times like these they would want to hear fresh ideas, or ways that can help navigate treacherous waters. Nope, it’s been made abundantly clear to me. If one is willing to pay the dues, they can listen to the sound of their own voice as much as they like with no outside noise or disruptions.

I guess that’s the underlying true privilege for membership.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

 

On This Memorial Day

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

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

Let us never forget that. Ever.

I rarely talk about private matters. However, I think it’s only fitting no matter how old we get to still reflect on loved ones or friends who’ve gone past like ships in the night.

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

As long as we’re alive – We should NEVER forget. Whether it’s someone you know personally or in your own family. Or even someone you’ve never met. As long as we remember what it is to be an American because: someone – somewhere – stands ready to give their life – so we may continue with ours.

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

Mark

Plausible Denial aka The Cancer Of Leadership

No matter the headline, no matter the scandal, no matter how few or how many might be involved, one thing will become crystal clear: nobody that should have known – will have known.

There was a time when this art form of creating circumstances as to protect people of influence had its place and was used sparingly and tactfully. However, as of today both the frequency along with how and where it is used has gone from “useful ruse” to a downright childish alibi. No one seems to be accountable today. And I mean nobody!

The phrase plausible denial used to be a generic term with meaning given almost exclusively to the president for matters of state where an offer or position in a cabinet (or other such actions) if turned down by the recipient wouldn’t (or couldn’t) be used by the press as some bludgeoning tool where headlines might read: “Mr. or Mrs. Hornblower tells president to take the offer and stuff it.” This same inspired headline could be (or would be) used when difficult negotiations were taking place between foreign leaders. No one begrudged such use.

The plausible denial ruse is and continues to be an important tool. There is a time and a place for such a thing and sometimes it is the most prudent depending on circumstances. Yet, what we are currently witnessing is a far cry from what we’ve known before. Now everyone is using it. So much so it might be time to ask if this once tried and true tactic has “jumped the shark?”

Currently there seems to be numerous scandals (whether one agrees or disagrees) involving the political class. No matter the press conference, hearing rooms, and more, one thing has become apparent: No one knows anything, and no one was aware such problems existed. Even if they were directly responsible for the organization.

Anything and everything that may have transpired dubious in nature happened without their knowledge even though many of these same people were hired exclusively to fix said problems. Absolutely amazing.

This phenom is not something exclusive to the political class. No, no, far from it. This also permeates through our corporate culture where CEO’s and more seemingly have no clue that potentially illegal or at the least improper actions are taking place within their own corporate structure.

We watch, hear, or read CEO’s of banks take to the media to express outrage when it’s pointed out that their highly profitable (for some most) department or subsidiary is found to have been “cooking the books” or engaging in highly immoral or in complete disregard of fiduciary responsibilities.

Suddenly they are shocked. Shocked! That such could be taking place under their tutelage. A commanding statement is formulated that heads will roll. Yet, the only thing that seems to roll is what we all know rolls down hill. It never seems to be their fault even though that profit entry on the balance sheet was probably heralded on every conference call as to show why they deserve the millions upon millions of dollars in compensation.

I find it ironic how so many so-called “brilliant” CEO’s had no knowledge how these once “profit centers” were raking in that profit. Because now those very same “profits” are costing share holders Billions upon Billions of dollars for legal fines and penalties. Nobody at the C level cared to ask “How in the world are we able to be making this amount of money?”

Nope, they didn’t want to know it seems. And in days gone by that would be seen as a dereliction of duty by any C level executive worth their salt and worthy of dismissal. Today? It seems to be a badge of honor. i.e., They showed if a scandal breaks their fingers will be nowhere near it. That deserves a raise in compensation for if there’s one thing we want in out bankers is to show not only financial brilliance, but brilliance in skullduggery to boot!

Again this isn’t an isolated indecent to just a few sectors. It’s happening across nearly everything and everyone we come in contact with.

Companies farm out their production to countries where it is obvious to any business person that something is awry with how they can make a product so much cheaper than someone else. Forced labor, child labor, environmental disregards, illegal use of unsafe chemicals (just to name a few) are many times the underlying reasons why something can be produced so much cheaper. Yet, as long as they don’t ask – they didn’t know.

We’ll only know if someone gets sick, hurt, or worse – dies. Then we can go back to: “They didn’t know, but now since we do, they’ll change it.”

When something is known to cost $1.00 to produce even within competitive labor environments such as Asia. When someone states they can do it for not just less, but let’s say: a nickel. It has to set off bells all the way up the chain.

Those bells should be seen for what any business person worth their salt  instinctively recognizes them as: Alarm bells! Not bells signalling an all clear to raid the compensation pool.

Leadership is not something left to what many deem as the “elites” of society. No, leadership is something that starts with us and ends with all of  us. For one must remember the person at the top is only a person. And how that person conducts themself and takes ownership of their decisions and/or actions is no different from you or me. The only difference is the size of the stage.

Just imagine where we would be if the people responsible for giving and carrying out the orders to storm the beaches at Normandy played by the so-called accepted rules or premises shown by a great many today.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

The Hand Off To Irrelevancy Or Worse: Bankruptcy

If there’s one thing that’s becoming increasingly apparent in many businesses both large and small is this idea that when it comes to sales, along with the sales process, that it can be delivered like any other inner departmental process within a company. i.e., Shipping handles all shipping related items, but if you need to know inventory you call warehousing, and if you need a question on your billing you will get transferred to accounts receivable and so on, with each subsequent transfer the unavoidable idiocy of needing to repeat every and all prior information given. (Don’t you just feel like screaming when you’re asked to enter your account number for better service only to be asked by the next person, “What is your account number?”)

Sales does not offer itself seamlessly into this hierarchical corporate structure regardless of corporate balance sheet. Sales is the one position as well as department that must be willing and have the ability to move within all departments, as well as have a working understanding of them all. Anything less and you don’t have a sales department – you have order taking.

Order taking staff as well as departments are notorious for a “that’s not my job or department” thinking. Order takers pick up the phone only if it rings, sales people make phones ring. Any CEO or business person that forgets that is dooming both themselves as well as their business to a dust heap in the coming future.

The issue today seems that far more think just because they can look at numbers on some spread sheet – they understand where they’re gaining, or losing, and why. In reality: most have absolutely no clue. Let me share a glaring example.

I received an email from a fellow speaker detailing his recent interaction with a prominent hotel and conference center which was trying to solicit his business. The initial call came from the supposed “sales director.”

At first he was impressed with the call from the director and the call went smoothly, then, he proposed the possibility of hosting a conference there. (just to give some perspective, his offerings are very high-end with price tags of over $15K per attendee are not uncommon. He’s not some “get rich in real estate” seminar leader.) The response? “Great, I’ll have an associate get back to you.” Right there this person shows the title of “director” let alone “sales” has been given in error. Yet it gets even more stupider. (pun intended)

A followup call does take place. The so-called “associate” gives notice to any discerning ear they are not trained or familiar with any true sales acumen. They are nothing more than someone able to read or parrot some sales script where there must be some checklist that needs to be filled out as to ensure “management” they did as they were instructed or face the wrath.

I state this for it is the only logical explanation to answer what was described as a down right annoyance of being asked mercilessly as to “what was his budget” when he had stated over and over budget was not a concern. His concern was availability. i.e., Budget is of no concern, I have the money – do you have the rooms?!

After repeating that he would be booking over 30 rooms, a conference room, meals and more regardless of the rates for as he expressed multiple times, “Money is not the issue here – availability is the concern!” the response was like a broken record. “I understand but what is your budget?”

Finally he demanded not another question till they could tell him the availability. The response came back, ” I don’t have access to that info, and the person responsible for it is currently out and won’t be back until after the weekend.” You can’t make this stuff up. Imagine, a person responsible for trying to secure bookings not only doesn’t have access to what is available, but is secure in stating that the possible client should both understand and accept their obvious, “not my job/department attitude.”

This speaker now incensed ended the call abruptly and immediately phoned the senior manager of the establishment. He was greeted with the wonderful explanation that his call could not be heard for this person was unavailable till (you guessed it) Monday.

He left a detailed message of what had transpired in a tone of “If I were the manager I would want to know.” The response? Monday has come and gone. So has Tuesday, Wednesday, and so on. One can only surmise that handling customer challenges isn’t handled within their department either.

This type of story I’ve heard more often as of late than ever before with companies cutting back on critical staff with acumen and replacing them with bodies reciting scripts managed by text-book hierarchy. Unfortunately this book is all too familiar, with every one I’ve read ending precisely at the same place.

Chapter 11.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

Profiting At The Bottom Line™

This month’s focus: Building A Business To Stay In Business

Today the new buzzword phrase is known as “The internet of things.” i.e., everything is being transformed or enhanced by something directly related to technology residing on the web or cloud based.

Business after business are finding themselves outmaneuvered by others that have embraced many web-based services that have allowed them to operate and compete with near zero overhead. Brick and mortar replaced by “clouds.” Face to face sales replaced by affiliate programs and much, much, more. Yet, at what price might all this seemingly free overhead cost? And are you ready to pay the price?

Case study: Today many are finding services they relied on for their daily operations can be gone overnight. Partnerships, or affiliate programs can be both changed, cut off, or out right discontinued leaving many not only up a creek without a paddle, but now unable to afford a replacement. Many affiliates that had built viable and substantial businesses were left high and dry when Amazon™ announced a shutdown of one of its affiliate programs in California. Apple™ has dropped very popular podcasts for what they deemed as using Apple logos improperly. Facebook™ has changed policies where all those fans you’ve built up to engage basically don’t get engaged unless you pay up. Popular subscriber channels on Youtube™, Vimeo™, and others have found their accounts closed or videos taken down for seemingly unjust reasons with no real way to plead a case for wrongful actions.

If one relied on traffic to their website or business based on search engine optimization (SEO) near overnight they’ve found their ratings from top front page to back of the bus. Search now considers the once heralded SEO elite as barbarians that need to be shunned. Restaurants and more have found that all the reviews they both asked for as well as deserved have either been removed or cut down because of overnight changes in policies from Yelp™ and others.

The internet has brought about lighting speed changes and efficiencies that greatly enhance as well as propel a great many business forward to increase profits by streamlining and reducing overhead. However, this same technology can change on a dime overnight sometimes without warning to leave many businesses without key features they relied on resulting in not only signs of disruption, but for some – out of business signs.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

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

A Thought For Today’s Entrepreneur

Many times the well-intentioned entrepreneur doesn’t really grasp the larger picture for growth in the vast economy. Often times this is caused by limited thinking. i.e., Not thinking about larger possibilities. Thinking too small, or limiting their market or business possibilities based on self conceived limitations. Or worse, feelings of inferiority based on not having an assumed alphabet soup after one’s name.

When thinking about the opportunities available to you when you’re daydreaming, or just racking your head against the wall trying to contemplate what direction to go next, try using my take on an old axiom you’ve probably heard since childhood:

“Rules are made to be broken – Laws are made to be exploited.”

Here’s a working example of what I mean by that statement.

The general rule (or as I like to call it: devised group think) is that medical facilities are run and owned by other doctors. That’s not always accurate.

The law is that in order to be a doctor one needs to attend the proper classes and pass the required tests, then be certified by the proper authorities to practice medicine to the general public, and you get to have a variant of credentialed letters after your name sanctioned with the weight of law behind them. All pretty straight forward stuff. i.e., You can only put M.D. after your name if you are an accredited doctor with all that entails, it is illegal for you to do the same if one day you decided to give marriage advice calling yourself the “Love doctor” no matter how brilliant your mother thinks you are.

However, there is nothing stopping you from owning or opening some type of medical facility staffed with some of the most accredited doctors from around the world with more alphabets after their names than one finds in a can of soup.

Many would shudder at the thought through the self-imposed intimidation factor. Yet, if you get that self-limiting overhang out of your way – possibilities suddenly become endless in a great many fields you may have never even thought of before.

Business is business. And the medical business has a great many of the same factors that plague it with inefficiencies ripe for innovation that any other business has. And if you understand true business practices, and know how to choose, motivate, and reward talent. No business should be off-limits to you when exploring the possibilities for growth. Again – nothing!

Remember: A doctor can’t open a business and hire unaccredited staff to dispense medicine. That’s the law. However, there’s nothing stopping you regardless of education from opening a business and hiring accredited M.D.’s to practice. In more cases than not there’s no law against that,  just some self-imposed rule perceived as if.

This is just one example of the myriads of others in this $17 TRILLION dollar economy in the U.S. alone.

What others are available if you’ll just open yourself up to the possibilities?

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

An Update In Regards To The App

It was brought to our attention that Mark’s app seems to no longer be available for download. (Thanks to all for the emails!)

And No – we do not think this is some conspiracy, nefarious, nor retaliatory issue.

It seems if one already has it downloaded it’s still working properly.

We’ll post an update later on, and as always thanks to everyone!

V.V. -StreetCry Media

Did Apple Just Become Microsoft?

Let me get this out of the way up front. I have been an Apple® fan from the beginning. I’ve owned their products with my first purchase of a IIc back in the early 80’s. Yes, I have bounced back and forth between PC based brands over the years, but once the revolution at Apple took place with the return of Jobs (where truly everything changed) I began dropping anything PC based and replaced it with Apple.

Since the introduction of the iPhone®, and the improvements via iOS and Mac® based platforms I made the change to everything Apple based and haven’t looked back. I have opined many times that all one has to do to solidify whether or not the switch was worth it was to try to make the change back. For me, 10 minutes trying to do simple things without feeling I need a degree in code writing was all it took. (I know there’s a whole anti-Apple crowd so save the emails)

Just to be clear why I feel so strongly on this subject is, it’s not like I don’t have some standing. As many may remember I was one of the few stating the iPad® was going to be a game changing, revolutionary product when most others were too busy making fun of the name while questioning why someone would buy it when netbooks were so cheap and the product of the future.

I was also one of the first to have a personal app dedicated to my writings along with others like Seth Godin, and Guy Kawasaki in iTunes® when the same cohort of naysayers were telling the world that apps were a passing fad. The buzz was akin to: After all, who would need an app when everything is already sold and packaged for their computers?

Just a few years since, netbooks are as common as the Surface®, and apps are replacing traditional computer software on everything.

However since the passing of Jobs, quite rightly there has been an intense spotlight focused squarely on the Apple tradition going forward. Just what new products or changes to existing lines would be forth coming, and how will they be packaged for sale to an ever-increasing market.

Everyone (and I mean everyone) understood that the new management structure at Apple would both need to pay homage to the ever-present shadow of Jobs while also needing to blaze or create new trails free of the ominous Jobs overhang. i.e., Something Jobs would say, “Wow, I never thought of that!” as compared with nothing more than a refinement to an already Jobs inspired creation.

However, it would seem we not only have the latter taking place, but is veering way off the path Apple has been so skillful in avoiding: Buying an also ran business. e.g., The Beats™ headphone line. Some say it’s for it’s streaming music service or some other thing but if that is the case, not putting the money into a true revamp of iTunes seems even more as an un-Jobs move.

One of the first signs that Cook and company were going to do things very differently was when they announced that Apple which had for years steered clear of donating or giving away resources (as in donations) abruptly reversed Jobs stance and stated very publicly they would now begin contributing to education and other charities.

Whether one agrees with this decision or not is irrelevant. It was the first very public statement showing there was a true sea change transpiring in Cupertino. I myself wrote about this and more that it seemed to be shaping up to look more concerned for public image in the eyes of political groups as well as Wall Street than anything else. It’s beginning to look like both my concerns as well as others might be coming into fruition.

As iOS and the revamping of many of Apples famed products, Garageband®, Keynote®, et al, one thing has become blatantly clear. The decision to give them away for free has resulted in a dumbing down of the features that made them so valuable to heavy users. Out right deletion of key features used by the very people who made the product so popular to begin with. (The best way to explain this would be imagined tomorrow you found after an “update” your space bar not only no longer worked, but was removed all together with no other way to input one. That’s how it feels for many power users of these various programs.)

Personally, I can not see such a decision to release what is now viewed by many as an inferior (and for some out right disgust) flagship products. It’s not like there’s a “pro” type version for a fee. No – they’re gone.

Next is what has been seen by many as a complete and utter cave in to Wall Street.

In what seems like a total collapse to these outside pressures it was announced at the last earnings report the new product line wasn’t consumer product based: it was now products for Wall Street with new improvements and features unfathomable under Jobs tenure.

Dividends, debt, splits, and more. I don’t think the iPhone has added as many new features at once as the new features released in Apple the stock. Yet, just when you think that’s it you’re hit with: Wait – there’s more! Welcome Apple’s newest innovation, I mean, acquisition!

Just where is the strategic thinking in this acquisition? Again, it would be one thing if this were some technological breakout company with a patent or technology systemically important to Apple. But an over $3 Billion dollar use of funds to purchase a headphone brand? A brand that for a great many are an overpriced, over-hyped, inferior product to a great many others? I mean Apple has endorsed Bose® for years, and one thing Beats are not – is Bose. Couldn’t the crew at Cupertino look at the hand writing on the wall and save a few billion to buy some fledgling social darling at a fire sale? (At Twitter®’s current trajectory would it even be worth $3 Billion in a year from now?)

The only way I see this acquisition being a positive for Cook and crew is if it was decided that if Wall Street wants to put an ever-increasing demand for them to spend money, Cook and crews strategy was: Be careful for what you ask for because this is what we’ll do with it. Want some more?

If that was the mindset then so be it, if not, I’m more troubled with the what many see as a cowering to something, (anything!) to please Wall Street.

Let’s not forget Jobs was openly vocal to demand great products from his team but he backed that with just as vocally shielding the company at large with his outright and public statements like (I’m paraphrasing) “I don’t pay attention to the stock price, if we concentrate on the building of great products, the stock price even’s itself out.” That seems far removed from the Apple of today just 3 short years later.

I have been an ardent supporter of Cook and crew knowing full well the monumental task of moving Apple forward with everyone viewing every move through the prism of “what would Jobs do?” However, if the recent actions and purchases are any clue of what we’re to expect from here going forward, then I believe we’ve only seen an act of desperation to sooth the ire of Wall Street.

One needs to look no further than Microsoft for they have been making similar moves for years. And with the now latest news that Office® is going to be available for iPad, I guess it’s more rehashed innovation than true innovation going forward.

I hope I’m wrong, but the actions are beginning to not only speak for themselves – they’re screaming.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

Will History Record The Ending Of QE As An Archduke Moment?

One can’t help but look at the situations transpiring around the globe and hope: things are different this time. The problem is being different puts it right back in line with that other caveat: history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. And so lies the most troubling aspect facing not only the U.S. economy, but quite possibly the world as whole. For if things rhyme anything inline with past events in history: We’re all in a dung heap of QE based minutia, with Geo-political ramifications the “intellectual” crowd never contemplated as possible – let alone probable.

It was just a mere 4 years ago this month in which then Fed. Chair Ben Bernanke announced to the world via his now infamous Jackson Hole speech that QE would basically be adulterating the financial markets indefinitely. i.e., QE1 became QE2 signaling QE4eva. And since that time the Federal Reserve has done just. And as always that decision was heralded by the financial media as “genius.”

And why wouldn’t they since this would now afford them a seemingly never-ending revolving set of happy faced hedge fund managers that could tell the world how they were just making a killing for their investors. Everything once again seemed just ducky. “Don’t fight the Fed.” again became the clarion call. However what most of these “wizards of smart” couldn’t read past their teleprompter is that the world may turn and fight them – literally.

The distortions in financial markets throughout the world have been breathtaking to anyone who’ll look using a thimble full of common sense. As the emerging markets became overheated and searched for ways to deal with hot money inflows wreaking havoc within their own markets. The Fed. and crew kept the pedal down, year, after year seemingly not giving any notion of care that others may retaliate in ways never contemplated by the intellectual crowd. i.e., War.

Just look at recent comments made by now Fed. Chair Janet Yellen in her most recent appearance before Congress as reported by ZeroHedge™: Yellen Warns Of Small Cap Bubble.  I read that headline and thought: Are you F’n kidding me?! I then took to the media channels to see if anyone called out that statement as proof the Fed. has no idea of what they are doing and counting on the media as to not point it out. It seemed I was correct for the silence was in fact – deafening.

If one thinks back to nearly every single testimony given as proof that QE was working you’ll recall Mr. Bernanke state, (I’m paraphrasing) “Just look at the Russell 2K.” Now suddenly a mere 5 months after his departure when the media et al gave his steady hand a sycophantic waving of goodbye, no one reports as to elaborate the glaringly obvious admittance by the new Fed. Chair? No one?

Revelations such as this along with the sheer unwillingness (or worse – incomprehension) of others to question such out right contradictory assessments must also be leaving others as slack-jawed as much as myself. But (and it’s a very big but) there are others that see such ineptitude, rudderless, contradiction in monetary, as well as political: as opportunity.

Nothing rallies a nation faster than the threat of an enemy. And nothing serves a political class born of dictators than using any and every tool at their disposal as to rally the glaring eyes of political unrest and affix it to another as to release their ire. And what better straw-man has the world offered the tyrannical powers of the world at large than the interventionist monetary policies of the Federal Reserve via their QE program.

Attach to this the mighty response as a “show of strength” in unison across the globe that sanctions along with freezing accounts is the openly decided upon tool more powerful than armies, or weapons.

To the multitude of uninformed as well of as misinformed people under these regimes. This is propaganda made to order in ways that even Goebbels would blush.

One can’t help but find the timing hauntingly coincidental that Vladimir Putin decided the window of opportunity to make his move on former parts of the Soviet Union was in near unison with the Fed. revelations that in fact QE was being wound down. i.e., In February when the announcement of the 2nd $10 Billion dollar reduction made manifest that in fact the QE wind down was on schedule. (A schedule many across the financial media said wouldn’t happen.) Now economies such as Russia and others would find themselves once again at the center of any political unrest, while simultaneously being economically hamstrung screamed opportunity to use it to their advantage with Machiavelli inspired actions.

Tag onto this that other land mass with far more people to cast political upheaval than Putin has to contend with: China.

Suddenly the economy touted as “the” economy that will save us all is not only slowing, it’s contracting at a pace far more quickened as a direct result of QE being pulled.

One has to search far and deep to find just how bad and the frightening instability within their financial system that could take down world markets in a free fall under the right circumstances.

The issue here is these circumstances are not a million to one, they could be as high as 1 in 10. The U.S. “intelligentsia” seems absolutely oblivious to these facts or even the notion that such could transpire. Yet, suddenly that trading partner that every one of our so-called “smart crowd” regurgitates “they need us as more than we need them” is publicly taking the side, drawing up trade deals, and standing for photo ops with: Russia. Seems they have something in common suddenly don’t you think?

I marveled the other day when I found myself in a heated argument with others in respects to the events of today and how they’re playing out. Every time a point was brought about on how or why the circumstances along with the possibility for WWIII breaking out in earnest was met with sheer contempt, as if such things were ancient history.

Even when it was pointed out the display this past week by Soviet forces in assorted missile launches coupled with the now seemingly joined at the hip China sending in armed protection provoking retaliation or provocation in both U.S. friendly Japan and Vietnam territories: it was brushed aside.

Used as defense was the ludicrous notion that things like this aren’t as probable any more since economically we’re all dependent on each other as never before. That’s why the monetary policies since WWII has kept that type of balance in check. Personally I was left once again – mouth agape.

Even when the notion was interjected we could see a Bay Of Pigs styled replay at any given time, and that alone could bring on consequences no one has a clue about. Once again it was met as if all the powers that be are in fact “all-powerful” and can handle things with little to no disruption of any significance using , Greece, Spain, and even our own conflicts such as Iraq and more as validation.

I wonder how many besides myself felt quite unnerved when none other Iran was put back into the spotlight openly thumbing their nose in a way that Mussolini could identify with when none other than China publicly endorsed their relationship.

WWI began in earnest just about a month following the Archduke’s demise. Russia invaded Crimea in about the same time-frame. Couple with that the quickness of communist leaders publicly displaying solidarity reminiscent of events that transpired at the beginning of WWII. And the outright visible show of armament and the willingness to display it prominently under the noses of Western alliances suggestive of The Bay Of Pigs, and I guess there’s really no need for concern. After all we’ve got the latest and greatest deterrent the world has ever seen: #hashtags.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr