Month: June 2014

Forget Shrugged Atlas Just May Throw Up His Hands

Financial markets do the one thing better than nearly any other form of protest or lauding of government policies: When the financial markets are falling, that’s a tell-tale sign something somewhere is wrong. Same for the lifting: Where the rise lifts all giving policy makers as well as the general public at large explicit feedback of what is, as well as what’s not working.

Yet, once those indicators become an adulterated vehicle with the ability to mask true economic information, the underpinnings of that very same economy at some point will inevitably give; for it allows more and more burdensome tax policies, regulatory initiatives, along with a host of other parasitic fee structures that have the ability to thrive, as they in turn: kill business.

Just how pungent does today’s economic corpse need to stink before everyone understands it hasn’t been resting, or recovering, but has been dead for who knows how long? With a print of nearly 3% negative GDP, sustaining, plodding along, or any other descriptor stating, “recovering” is ludicrous.

These are not just troubling issues, rather, the implications contained going forward are far more frightening. Just take a look at the current economic landscape from the purview of someone trying to start, run, or sustain a business in today’s climate.

Where is a person to go that is both industrious, as well as endowed with the self initiative to take on the world and go out and start their own business? At one time that question had a reflexive answer: Anywhere in America. Today? Not so fast.

Look at the once shining city of New York as just one example. Remember when you would sing with reverence: “If you could make it there, you can make it anywhere?” Now, is it the first choice? Hardly.

Ever more growing regulations are being foisted upon business owners as well as other entrepreneurial minded individuals. The more you make – the more they’ll take seems to be the lyrics of today.

Want to hire, or need to fire? Better check on that for you may be in violation via some code if you do either; regardless if it’s in your best interest or not. But don’t worry for that other mantra that recited at you is: “You’re rich! You can afford it! And you’re going to pay even more!” Makes you feel all warm inside for taking on all that risk doesn’t it? And besides New York has been, and is continuing to experience an outflow of wealth and business. So don’t worry if you’re feeling you can’t pay more; they believe you can. And you will.

Want to skip the harsh northern climate for a little fun in the sun? California is the place to go for a beautiful change in climate. But in regards to a business climate? As fast as they can proclaim the earth is getting warmer the business environment is chilling at an even faster pace.

With the announcement of large employers such as Toyota® moving their entire corporate headquarters out of the state entirely not to mention the outpouring of other small and medium-sized business: Who’ll be left to pay all those great and wonderful benefits allowed the citizenry?

Ask most people and they’ll say: “The government.” As if they can print money from thin air. But wait they can via the Fed. So as long as the wheels on the presses whirr – who needs business!

Then again why should anyone worry? You’ll be able to flip burgers at a, “living wage.” However, if you own that burger joint, restaurant, or the other myriad of establishments that many have now been deemed “evil.” Your payroll is now going to possibly double. Regardless if you can afford it or not.

Have a few too many employees that makes your healthcare costs soar? You can possibly try as to downsize, but it has been expressed you might be in violation of some edict incorporated into the new laws where doing just that for the sole purpose as to reduce your costs (or the necessity as to be able to keep your doors open) may find yourself being fined. Costing you even more!

Just look up the law for clarity on these matters you say? Sorry, they change at the whim of whoever is wielding a pen. You had just better get your own pen at the ready to sign that check payable to ___________(fill in the blank) Better check your ink supply. Just saying.

There isn’t enough space, nor time to list all the other ancillary fines, regulations, and more being hurled at business at such an alarming rate. It’s becoming near impossible to keep up let alone know what the cost of doing business will be next month: let alone next year.

The exacerbating enabler to most of this problem and why no one can put 2+2 together and understand the impact is for the very reason I and others have expressed ad nausea. The intervention of the Federal Reserve and their monetary policies within the capital markets.

The Federal Reserve has absolutely adulterated and is nearly obliterating the one and only mechanism powerful enough to keep many of these business killing interventions in check. i.e., Market forces expressed via the capital markets.

Currently the only force being expressed is the “forcing” of Fed. provided liquidity to levitate stocks to heights never before seen in history; as the GDP plummets to levels in a fashion reminiscent of a lead zeppelin.

How in the world can any so-called “business analyst” state publicly that stocks are “fairly valued” against such a back drop? It’s beyond moronic, and to me: it’s damn near criminal.

Today I also find more people who will proclaim they understand business better than most because they’re sporting a piece of parchment from some Ivy league school. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, many newly minted MBA’s know nothing more than “theory.” e.g. This economy will support jobs plentiful enough, at salaries robust enough, to pay off all that accrued student debt within their lifetime. Best of luck turning that theory into fact in today’s economic climate is all I’ll say.

What many just don’t seem to realize is what’s currently taking place is not capitalism via free market forces, rather, it’s crony capitalism leveraged and maintained by monetizing debt to allow winners and losers to be chosen by some elite body or bureau. This has never been so at this level ever in the history of our nation. Ever.

This form of capitalism is reducing not expanding opportunities. Or said another way: This is a race to the bottom, not the top. But the stock market levels allow the main stream media to keep printing “everything is just dandy” more times while at an even more furious pace than the Federal Reserve can print or digitize the fuel that keeps the hot air in this balloon aloft.

And so in lies the dangerous mindset being propagated throughout the business landscape. However this mindset is not borne out of a vacuum. It’s being institutionalized in principle throughout the country. You get doe eyed responses when you try to explain without the Fed.’s facilitating; there is no market. But alas it once again falls on deaf ears.

At some point reality is going to have to be faced. You can only adulterate the metrics so many times or change the calculations where bad equals good for only so long. Sooner or later far too many will no longer accept the burden of creating businesses; let alone expanding them. And Atlas won’t shrug – He’ll throw his hands up entirely.

And when that happens the turmoil that will result will explain quicker, and with more understanding to today’s “smart crowd” than any Ivy league lecture hall ever produced.

I penned this years ago and I feel it’s more true today than ever…

“Markets right themselves with pain… That’s Capitalism.
Backroom manipulation to avoid that pain only increases the severity to be felt down the road.”

There comes a time when the weight of business regulations and burdens make it far too heavy to continue, or even worth the effort to start. Rather than waiting to prove how much weight Atlas can bear we should be doing everything within our power to ensure he still wants to even try. And at a near -3% historic negative  print in GDP. We had better hope he doesn’t drop the world and decide to fill his spare time with social media or gaming apps.

Just look at how productive they are for business.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

SEO, Social Media, And Why You Shouldn’t Care

I wrote the above headline in March of 2012. Like many ideas that come to mind, this was one I thought about, noted as “get to later”  then forgot about it. Since then I’ve written numerous times on why many of the so-called “guru’s” were espousing ideas on exactly what you shouldn’t be doing. For if you followed most of their proclamations it would divert your attention and resources into doing all the wrong things – for the wrong reasons. i.e., Trick yourself into working for the algorithms rather than working to gain true customers. It seems I was a little more prescient on this than I first thought.

I’ll break this down using a few examples this way you’ll have hard evidence to make judgement calls for yourself and maybe put some of these insights or revelations into practice in your own endeavors.

Let’s start here from this basic premise: Of course the following will include sweeping generalizations. This is not a white paper or a dissertation for a Ph.D. However, my results are from true experience via proven, verifiable results. Not theory or “pie in the sky” hopes and dreams.

For years I have heard nothing but social media this, social media that with one after another so-called “guru” giving speeches, selling programs, and more about how one “must” be schooled in SEO (search engine optimization) social media, and all the rest. The underlying premise was: If you weren’t doing it their way, you were not only wrong, they also insinuated you were stupid. I stated many times: “The only people making money from social media are the people telling you, then selling you, that you need social media.” The same goes for SEO.

Over the last few years I can not only state but rather I can show proof positive: If you would have followed their advise, as of today, all of it, yes – all of it would be absolutely worthless. And -not only that – what’s worse is you would now be looking at all your hard work, all that you built, all you relied on – gone. Want to add insult to injury? If you were relying on it for your income? That too could be gone and you would now need to start over.

Here’s a list as to what has transpired just in that short period of time and in no special order.

Facebook® has changed everything you knew about reaching your fans. What have they changed? Well – you now can’t reach them in a manner you would find conducive to business. All those “likes” you pleaded for? Basically worthless. Why? It seems FB has deemed they know how your fans want to interact with you better than you do. So, they changed it so if you want to reach them for that “organic” growth everyone always throws around as the buzz word de jure. You’ll have to now pay. And yes, FB doesn’t accept their own “likes” as cash either, they like cash. So, all that hard work you did through FB is now FB’s property. But don’t worry, you can always buy “likes” on the cheap, the web is full of deals for pennies per thousand. Just do your own search – you’ll find them.

You can read a good explanation on this and more by pasting the following emboldened headlines into your own search engine. They are from WebPro™ News. Personally I like them, your views may differ.

Facebook Says Your Organic Reach Would Be Worse If It Showed Everything In The News Feed

Building your brand on Linkedin™ you say? That’s far more supportive to business. Well, not so fast. How about all that work one did making sure their “Product & Services” tab was up to date with content and more. Oops, yes, near overnight that was obliterated. But don’t worry, they announced one should now use their “Showcase Page” instead. Sounds great, only problem – double the work, double the effort. I guess they believe you have all the time you need to do that seeing all the “sales” they generate for you. I mean, you’re now able to afford that yacht right?
You can read a good explanation of this here:

Why Some Businesses Are Unsatisfied With LinkedIn Showcase Pages

Just better hope they don’t do that again or you could be looking at needing to write 4 times as much next time. But hey – its paid off exponentially for you in sales so far, you’ll just now be able to afford a captain to free up that time, right?

“You need reviews! You must have reviews or else no one will ever come in your place of business!” And so went the rallying cry or yell, sorry Yelp™. You were both told as well as encouraged by the all the players to make sure you told your customers to go on Yelp and give you a good review. Just now you found out if they did it from inside your business – regardless if you can prove they’re legit – they’re probably history. As in gone. Now what do you do? Explain that you really were deserving of those reviews? As in:” It wasn’t us, they wrongfully did that to us!” I can hear that voice in all those potential customers inner ears: “Of course they did, sorry but we just lost our appetite.”  But don’t worry, they’ll be back. Right?
You can read a good explanation of this here.

Yelp Equates Asking For Reviews To Spam

Let’s talk SEO. Remember when all you heard was: “You must write for SEO, you must allow comments, you must guest blog, you must link to others, you must, you must.” Now? Oh oh. All that kind of winning information has now found its way into the fastest route to the trash heap.  If you followed just that info alone as a way to be found, not only would you not be brought to the front of the search engine results line, you would find yourself not only in the back of the bus, but more likely – running behind it. All of that “winning” information is now the most sure-fire way to be penalized.
You can read a good explanation of this here, here, and here.

Google Has Reputable Sites Afraid To Link Naturally

Matt Cutts Talks About Coming Google Algorithm Changes

Google’s Attack On Guest Blogging Reignites Irrational Link Removal Craze

Think it can’t happen to anyone? Look at the Ebay™ Google™ search war. Suddenly Ebay is finding its search results nearly gone from the visible. Yet, a funny thing seems to have happened. Now since Goog is revamping and moving into more e-commerce, results of the products placed in Google’s marketplace are in the top results. Huh! Imagine that. I guess that’s just…coincidence?

The only thing that is going to help you not only prosper, but remain relevant in this ever-changing world of technology are the fundamental principles that are lacking in most so-called “business models” today.

You must, I repeat, must build your business or brand from a standpoint of winning and satisfying customers you grow organically 1 customer at a time. Period. One satisfied customer that has paid for your service or wares that you delight as to enable them to openly and without fear of recommendation (as in they’ll regret telling a friend because you don’t deliver consistently) can grow your word of mouth referral base exponentially to the point you may have more business than you can handle successfully. All without the need of employing a computer, let alone “social media.”

Build a business…not a facade of business. For the only one’s that will be left standing and prospering are the one’s that understood the difference and have an exponential leap in regards to viability as well as profitability as the one’s that unwittingly built facades crumble.

Think I’m full of hot air on just how fast everything you thought you knew is upside down, and turned around? I wrote this post originally with the above headlines as links. However, the more I thought about it, even though they are relevant to this post as to express more details and insights, instead of them possibly thanking me, or being grateful that I would see their content worthy of linking to, I could be hurting them because the SEO police might interpret this whole post as “link bait” and penalize them for their insights rather than reward them.

And, there are still a myriad of people telling (and selling) people the advice that that’s exactly what they still should be doing. Then doubling down with the fallacy of: If they aren’t getting the desired results – they should do even more! As I’ve stated: The only people making money with social media, are the ones selling you their ideas on social media.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

A Few Thoughts For Today’s Entrepreneur

Forget the so-called “easy way” to do the “hard stuff”: There isn’t.
It’s the learning of new skills, then adapting them through pragmatic application that make the “hard stuff” more enjoyable to deal with.
e.g. Going to the gym and conducting a strenuous workout is never “easy” – its once you make the process enjoyable that everything changes.

It takes a 20% increase in sales volume to make up for a 5% discount.

It is easier to sell 1000 people a product at $1000.00 to make a million dollars than it is to sell 1 million people a product for $1.00
(All of my readers whom play in app or software land should pay particular attention to that statement)

Last but not least:

No net profit = NO BUSINESS.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

And Then There’s This…

I have taken my share of slings and arrows on the topic known today as “social.” In particular I have been one of the very few from the outset to put forth reasoning’s, along with pragmatic advice on why one shouldn’t be swept into the vortex of “you need social or you will never make it” mentality. As I’ve stated over, and over, and over (did I say over?) again. The only people making real money in social are those telling and selling you the idea – you need social media.

Again let me be clear, I am not talking about the power of sharing via social media per se. The idea as well as the facilitation and the ease on which ideas can spread and take hold near seamlessly is awe-inspiring in today’s technological landscape.

Although I personally don’t use any of them (as all the so-called “guru’s will tell you must) I do make it possible for others to share my work with the now accepted traditional “sharing” buttons that have become ubiquitous.

What I have railed about is the business model and all that entails, along with the lure of “quick riches” many entrepreneurs are chasing that I feel will end in tears. Far too many are trying to build their businesses on mounds of shifting sand rather than fundamentally sound business practices.

You can more than easily build a sound business and incorporate social into it if it serves a meaningful purpose, However, chasing 1 Billion “likes, fans, followers” what ever, instead of gaining 1 solitary pleased customer that will pay for your services while working to make them a raving fan and tell their friends or associates is not only foolish – it’s down right stupid. Period.

I expressed this a while back in my article “Beware of the Hitmen.” When I first wrote it you would think I just insulted someone’s mother. Yet, one of the very sites I contributed to back then that decided to focus primarily on “social” carrying the day, as opposed to other more meaningful attributes is now basically “out of business.” To my knowledge, I along with one other that left when the change was made (we both no longer contributed articles at the same time) has increased their share as a thought leader across the web and elsewhere. That other person was just voted as INC®’s #2 person of influence this year. Not bad company I’m in from my standpoint.

Allowing for your ideas and more to be spread is a cornerstone of anything related to social today. Again, just to be clear, I myself fully endorse as well as try to make those rails as slick as possible. That is just good business sense in today’s new technological era. However – trying to game the system with pie in the sky styled metrics as to fool yourself into thinking you’re accomplishing meaningful business by attracting “eye balls” rather than attracting customers is a fool’s errand. 1,000,000 people who look and don’t buy via social media are worthless compared to 1 person you organically generated via your own interactions that did. While more importantly (and I cannot emphasize this enough) making sure that 1 customer is just that: your customer.

People as well as businesses are finding out quickly with new policy changes being implemented on one after another of all these “social” sites that all those “fans” et al they worked so hard to acquire and share a voice with now will have to pay to once again talk to them. Welcome to “free.” I bet even Tony Soprano would give that tactic a thumbs up. And don’t even get me started on SEO!

For a more detailed look here’s an article just posted by The Wall Street Journal® which goes into an easily understood breakdown of what’s currently taking place.

And just a foot note. As I stated in that earlier essay about worrying about the 1 person or customer that comes to your site. When I get asked (and I get all the time!) how many followers, readers, visitors, etc. they still stand perplexed that I wouldn’t know off the top of my head and seem to want to clutch their chest when I say, “And, I don’t care.” You would think I just raised a cross to a vampire.

When the insinuation comes that follows all of these discussions. e.g., “They have X amount of ________(fill in the blank)” as if I should now somehow be impressed, I just follow-up with, “Sounds interesting, although I don’t use any of that myself in the manner you do, my thoughts and ideas are easily verifiable to reach millions in over 95 countries as of last count. But thanks for sharing.”

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

Adapt Is A Tool Many Need To Adopt

If you can get in your gut the understanding: There’s really nothing new under the sun – just different ways of doing it. You’ll find many problems which at first may seem insurmountable, take on the form of mere obstacles to be negated through planning and execution.

Everything that probably scares you about whatever decisions you are to make in business or more has been lived through and acted upon by others. It’s up to you as to seek them out and adapt their views and ways of handling them whether they were met with success or failure.

Adapt what is relevant to you and your situation – and move. Don’t wait. You’ll also find even more insights will come to you while “on the move” for it’s then you’ll adapt even quicker to a changing landscape.

You don’t need to read Plato, or Machiavelli. (although I do recommend you should at least try) However, what they were professing centuries ago is still as useful today as it was back then. If – you’ll adapt them to your circumstances.

After all, if you’re going to discount what was said centuries ago as to have no bearing on anything you might be looking at today. Just how is it you’ll adapt strategies or insights from watching that rerun on the cable channel for the umpteenth time?

People had to deal then adapt from allowing themselves to be caught up in time wasters back then also.

Think about it.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

Bull vs Bear vs Right vs Wrong: And Does it Really Matter

Currently there is a great debate within the financial media on the who’s right – who’s wrong, as both sides stare at a financial market that seems to go ever higher with every morning bell.

In actuality, it’s both, and neither. While I am being somewhat cheeky, I do believe I’m not that far off the mark. However, the consequences of this dilemma is where the broader argument is getting lost on far too many.

Currently the macro economy is being expressed via circumstances resulting from a myopic view of participation. i.e., The financial markets.

If one were to step back and look at the true macro view, one can clearly see they do not support the reasoning’s lauded by so many why stock indices are once again setting all time never before seen in the history of humanity highs.

The issue at hand is many of us are forgetting what drives “economic theory” It’s just that: theory.

We can look at clues within the construct of what one would expect to take place within a given set of parameters based on hard data to support some form of conclusion. e.g., When fewer people have jobs, they have less money to spend, hence the economy will suffer or slow causing a ripple effects within the financial markets where companies sales and profits will be reduced resulting in lower stock prices and valuations.

All simple stuff. Been true as long as the markets have existed. Until now.

All of those fundamental based principles have been annexed to what one solitary person will do – then say. That person was Ben Bernanke. Now it’s been codified via the markets recent reactions to Janet Yellen.

Ms. Yellen equals more of the same: Back up the truck because everything’s on sale when you’re buying it with “free money.” And that my friends is one fact that will lay waste to centuries of market fundamentals let alone theories.

What is a Bull or Bear today? Before the financial collapse of 2008 it was pretty clear. In basic parlance Bulls stampeded their way to ever higher valuations at times turning a blind eye to basic fundamentals (i.e., valuations – shmaluations: let’s run!) as to push higher, to then find themselves running straight into the waiting claws of Bears willing and eager to remind them that fundamentals do matter. i.e., Bring on the bbq!

That scenario has basically been sidestepped. Today, with all the liquidity still sloshing around within the markets, Bulls have had a never before seen ability to negate the inevitable running off a cliff: They can now build ramps and overpasses on the fly. Paid for of course via the QE credit card. (Gives a whole new meaning to what’s in one’s wallet wouldn’t you say?)

Right vs wrong has also been thrown on its proverbial head. With the advent of such monetary manipulation it’s very hard to think rationally about what one believes should take place when fundamental principles are no longer even contemplated – let alone have relevance.

Two names come to mind that clarify why I believe the “right vs wrong” argument is also morphing into something I find rather dangerous, and for the casual observer possibly even more so. James Grant, and Mark Faber.

James Grant founder of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer® has been arguing monetary policies and its effects for decades. There isn’t a more cogent and articulate person professing what implications many of the policies taking place may have on the economy as a whole. Yet, one can make the argument he’s been wrong. However, is he?

Personally I have great respect for his work, views, and insights. I believe the timing of many of the arguments is what has been adulterated by the Federal Reserves actions. Not the eventual outcome. Although, yet again, no one knows, for the fundamentals have been wiped aside.

We could very well find ourselves living through some version of a groundhog day reenactment such as when Nixon took us off the gold standard.

Again, centuries if not millennia of fundamental sound money policies were laid bare. Everything we thought we knew or understood was turned on its head. Arguments based on fundamentals that had more in line with 1+1=2 let alone the 1+1= (whatever you like) we have today never materialized. Again I must ask: Who was right and who was wrong? Answer – we just don’t know. Yet.

We may (for many of us) never know within our lifetimes. It is a very disconcerting premise for anyone thinking about how or where one is to build or expand a business. The implications of making the wrong decision can be devastating to far more than the original risk taker. Although many can’t see past the headline (or teleprompter) of “another new record high!” So of course they all believe: “You should build it, for they will come! Just look at these markets!” I wish it worked that way – but it doesn’t.

As noted above the other person that came to my mind was Marc Faber, editor and publisher of the Gloom Boom & Doom Report™. In what is once again increasingly apparent is the sheer contempt by many of the financial television media as to portray or paint into a box anyone not doe eyed by the siren call of “Don’t fight the Fed!”

As far as they’re concerned, if you suggest anything other than buying equities, you just don’t get it. You’re some type of curmudgeon who just doesn’t understand or “believe” what they do. i.e., “The Fed’s got your back!”

In great form Mr. Faber takes issue with the ever-increasing spin as to shun fundamentally based thinking. You can argue against it if you wish, that’s always fair game. But when the so-called “smart crowd” display publicly their dismissive attitude with underlying tones of mockery: arguing right or wrong seems futile within this environment. Let alone trying to prove it.

Now (in my view) the only way to look at these markets is with an eye towards safety. And the term “safety” is going to mean many things to an even greater amount of people.

In May of 2010 when all this “new reality” took hold in earnest with then Chair Ben Bernanke’s (to some infamous) Jackson Hole speech where he basically signaled a QE4eva styled approach to monetary policies and intervention, the markets never looked back.

The real issue that brought about more reasons for concern than many will admit is both current business owners as well as future entrepreneurs began receiving more than mixed signals. Not only were some mixed but far more were indecipherable.

Indecipherable for all intents and purposes might as well mean “sit on your hands” in the business world. It’s hard to make moves in business when you don’t know or can’t tell what your cost of anything will be. Let alone if your potential customers will have the money to buy it.

Reasoning argued by many paraded across the media point to only one thing as proof why “one shouldn’t be worried” They keep pointing to the ever-increasing higher market print. I sometimes wonder if they look at the debt clock with the same doe eyed reverence, but I digress.

Owning gold as some form of insurance policy is looked upon as foolish. Arguments made that if one was to have 10, 20, 30%, or more in precious metal as compared to today’s stocks: well you’re missing out on all the gains that money could have made. So obviously, you must not be that well-informed and more.

Yet, would one of them do the same in earnest cancelling their own insurance policies of any and all types and “get in the game” with those proceeds? Hardly. They would just brush you off as “nuts” or “just crazy talk.”

However, based on today’s funimentals that’s exactly what one should do. After all, who needs insurance when ObamaCare’s got your back?

The argument is not that far removed or differing in my view. Yet, again, who is to say who’ll be right or wrong in the end in this scenario also.

We think we know, we believe we can see, but so far, arguments parallel the same results as the markets: Some are right, some are wrong.

Those who make brilliant arguments for, or against, have at times been shown correct. Those who have absolutely no understanding and make idiotic assumptions so far they too – have not been disproved. Such is this “new normal” many of us find ourselves within. Again, we’ll just have to take a seat while we wait and see. Only time is going to solve this debate.

Just to show how everything you thought you knew has changed in just these past five years, here’s something I also find a little ironic.

While all this great debating of “equal rights, equal pay” et al is going on. The media are all a buzz and focused on another woman who professes there’s some “glass ceiling,” while at the same time is debating whether or not to run for president.

All the while simultaneously, a rather innocuous looking, seemingly mild-mannered woman is more or less single handily controlling the finances of the world with the ability to lay waste another nations wealth. Or, can bring forth gardens of Eden seemingly upon command just by saying, “for a considerable period of time.”

This is real power, and quite possibly the “true” new leader of the free world.

And I don’t think she even has a book out.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

Profiting At The Bottom Line™

This month’s focus: Your staff many times can save your bottom line from yourself.

At first glance that may seem as some play on words. It’s not. Many times you need to let your staff work out many problems on their own. You’d be surprised how many times they just might save you from yourself. If you’ll allow them.

Case study: During an expansion and total revamp of our original product line unbeknownst to many of us it was decided the main floor of the facility was to be torn up and replaced. The decision came when it was learned a new government regulation was being implemented and time was of the essence as to coordinate construction crews and more to comply in time. It was not a small project. It was nearly half of a daily traveled and working refrigerated warehouse storage facility.

Trying to preempt every contingency for nearly 100 workers with forklifts, pallet storage, refrigeration considerations, along with the construction personnel and all their machinery, as well as logistics was near mind-boggling. Many times there were more arguments planning for what others “thought” was needed, than what probably was going to be needed.

One example was the flow plan of how product was going to be moved from one end of the facility to the other. For reasons ordained via the project the middle room and floor of the facility needed to be torn up first. As the construction company proceeded with their preliminary work as to set up barriers, protective sheeting, and more we lamented and argued exactly where and how a path was to be made and used.

To our surprise the answer came when the first night crew arrived not knowing we were formulating what they were to do because they just went about and formulated their own work around.

Rather than try as to keep a lane or path open which was becoming increasingly frustrating for a new floor was being poured meaning ramps would be necessary and more. They just staged what they needed on one side of the warehouse using a semi trailer on the dock. Then, when full or needed, they drove the trailer to the other side and unloaded it. Rinse, repeat. Never needing any of the painful logistical revelations we were trying to conceive of.

The plan was simple, logistically brilliant, required nothing in the way additional planning, and facilitated an even quicker down time because of not needing to interrupt the construction crew in any manner. All without any input from the very people who “knew” how to get things done. They were just to busy doing what was needed saving us all a whole lot of time, money, and sanity.

© 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.

The Only Fruit Leading From Behind Produces Are Road Apples

When I first heard the term “Leading from behind” (LFB) like many others who’ve based their career on taking the lead or helping others in the understanding of what true leadership entails: I was left a little perplexed.

Suddenly it was racing across media outlets as if this was some tried and tested strategy held in the bowels of some secret refuge where only a privileged few knew of its existence and were capable of implementing it. However, those of us that have made careers in the “leadership business” knew all too well: There is no such thing.

Today we’re witnessing more and more of the fallout that happens when this form of meme takes hold. Not only in politics, but when it also permeates through business, as well as society at large. Whenever the term “leadership” is paired with anything other than “leading.” Rest assured in the end what it will most likely be attached to is – losing.

Currently the Middle East is once again turning into a caldron for the express purpose of creating another deadly brew. Where this latest concoction ends up next is anyone’s guess. And guess is all we’ll have at our disposal for the ones “leading” this debacle are not subject to our interpretations of what we think they’ll do. They’ll lead and show us. Probably with disastrous or horrendous  implications. Yet this isn’t an isolated affair.

Once again Russian forces are not only flexing their muscle in regions many couldn’t find on a map, they’re looking at the world as many have done since the time of Vlad the Impaler never mind Vladimir Putin sizing up the how, where, why, and their ramifications of pushing into an administration that not only is not pushing back, but rather seems intent to double down on the LFB meme.

Whether one agrees or not with the strategy one thing can not be dismissed: Others that consider this as possible weakness of any sort, will move and lead themselves straight into, or against it.

Politics is not that different from business in certain areas. Many times when you see your competition deploying fool-hearty or visibly acting on faulty information: You move, you act, you push, you deploy, you _________(fill in the blank). What you won’t do – is do nothing.

Words matter, stance matters, nearly everything one says or does in a leadership position matters. Sometimes what was once seen as mundane or trivial can be misinterpreted for weakness, or disengagement where once it would be laughed at to even ponder such insinuations. e.g., Stating publicly one needs time to think as ever more aggression breaks out in formerly vanquished territories.

You can not be a leader no matter how large or small the stage part-time. For everything you say or do will be viewed, calculated, with strategies built for – as well as against – by all the other players as to initiate their own actions. Period.

Knowing and navigating this is an art-form within itself. Very few tread these waters successfully, never mind expertly. And so far we are seeing one after another wash up full of holes – unrepairable.

To put this into context there was a great scene in the movie Thirteen Days (200o/01, New Line Cinema) Where Dylan Baker portraying Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara is standing in front of a wall sized map displaying the ship movements surrounding Cuba. A heated discussion flares into an argument where McNamara emphatically argues what the ships and their positions represent (I’m paraphrasing): “Can’t you see! This is language, not just a bunch of ships in the water!”

Agree or disagree with the actions back then, the underlying premise is unequivocal. Both sides were leading – till one didn’t. There was no participation trophy after the fact. One leader pointed the course going forward, the other led theirs away. Did Khrushchev take to the air waves claiming victory for now he was “Leading from behind?” Hardly.

This point can not be understated in its ramifications. Many people who believe they are well-informed, have a good grasp of politics, business, and/or world affairs will be celebrating Fathers Day. Yet, I would venture to say 1 out of 1000 has the slightest clue that earlier in the week the U.S. needed to scramble fighters to ward off two nuclear capable Russian bombers as they flew within 50 miles (yes 50 that’s not a typo) of the coast of California. If planes can be considered language and not just blips on a screen: What message is this trying to convey?

The meme “leading from behind” is a fancy way of saying “playing not to lose.” Intellectually it sounds intriguing. The idea can be made to sound esoteric, while at the same time leaving room for multiple ways of defensive posturing when one begins to be questioned whether or not the strategy is either working, or not. You can see the fallacy of this meme play out in mirror form over, and over again across the world of sports.

How many times has one witnessed their favorite team within spitting distance of winning with commanding leads only to watch in abject dismay as the opposing team rallies back snatching defeat from the jaws of victory?

Many of us that understand winning or leading know all to well exactly what happened. They switched from leading and playing for the win to – playing to win by not losing their lead. It never works. Some of the greatest upsets in sports history result from exactly this type of strategy or philosophy.

The only difference here is that in sports – it’s just a game. This strategy along with its tactics when applied to nations is far different. The visible results along with the myriad of unseen potential consequences are now becoming quite apparent for anyone willing to look.

If there is a bright side to any of this, I believe it’s lodged within the fact that a strategy – any strategy – can be changed. Nothing needs to be adhered to if it’s being bore out as to not be working. Or, producing results that may lead to even a more harmful or tumultuous events down the road.

It’s the willingness to admit what’s working, and what’s not, then adjust that makes leaders worth their salt. Regardless who’s at fault.

Leaders – lead. Not from the rear – but from the front – for all to see exactly what they are saying, what they mean, and what they intend to use as proof they mean what they say.

This is not something new, it has been this way for millennium. When leaders employ the now referenced LFB strategy, it’s just a rehash of ” playing not to lose.” And in the end unless one repels from this line of thinking that’s exactly where one will find themselves – on the losing side.

Leadership is about leading whether it be politics, business, or even within one’s own social network. For one thing has been proven over, and over, and over again.

The view only changes for the lead dog, never the rear. And you won’t find road apples at your favorite grocer. You’ll find them where they belong: In the dung heap of history.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

Just A Heads Up For Some Upcoming Changes

Before I start, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that subscribes, visits, and those of the various news sites or blogs that pull quote, repost, or use my writings in one form of another across the globe. Again this is a sincere, and humble thank you. For without all of you, there would be no reason to write another word. So once again, thanks.

Over the next few weeks you’ll notice a subtle yet noticeable change to the esthetics and features of the blog. I have not changed anything on the site for it has functioned near flawlessly for all intents and purposes moving now into its 6th year. However, since that time many things have changed. We have experienced exponential growth in both where my writings appear as well as visitors from even more countries across the globe. (we just crossed 95!) It is both exhilarating as well as humbling on just how many places around the world my writings show up. With that said it has also been the catalyst for these changes. Here’s a few:

First: With all this growth it has become abundantly clear technically I need to change and revamp how and where the servers that carry my site work and operate together. So with that said MarkStCyr.com will be moving (this is all behind the scenes) and integrated differently than the way it currently stands. The home screen and page will change (as the app link will be dropped etc,) however there will be more features added that many have been asking for such as: audio, and video, subscriber portals, and more.

Second: The overall look of the site and blog will remain however you’ll notice a far more responsive desktop, tablet, phone integration, or as they say “device friendly” feel. Although the current version is responsive as it stands, the newer version is a subtle yet meaningful upgrade.

Third: I like the black with white text look and feel. Having said that there are very few designs I’ve seen (or been shown) that I would have switched the current for. Yes, I could have easily had someone make me a “custom” site but then again like anything I hadn’t seen one worth investing in that made a noticeable worth while difference. Today I believe I found one that satisfied that bar and we’ll roll it out over the next few weeks. Again the changes are subtle and many may not even notice, but the back-end (or stuff that makes it all work) is definitely an upgrade.

With the advent of now reaching millions of readers at any given time I’m using this opportunity to hopefully make the proper improvements to run as seamlessly for the next 5 years as it has for the last.

I’ll write a post detailing more of the milestones in the coming days or weeks. I believe many of you that have been with me a while will find them just as praise worthy as I do. (Personally I’m still in awe of many of them.)

Once again let me finish with stating a sincere thank you, too all of you.

Mark

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

How To Negotiate From Strength When You Feel Weak

Many entrepreneurs get caught up with feelings of anxiety, or inferiority both during or before negotiations where either money or repute is on the table. The amount really doesn’t matter. I’ve had them myself early on when I was negotiating for employment as well as when millions upon millions of dollars were at stake.

Everything changed and I experienced dramatic growth and competence when I finally realized and put into practice the following paragraph. (From my book: A Fist Full Of Mark’ers)

“You must be ready to argue your value proposition to the client. And that proposition must be something that is deliverable, or transferable. Not some pie in the sky no matter what happens you can spin it as a job well done, and collect a check. You should be ready to defend your dignity, reputation, and repute to any mudslinging or any self anointed elite no matter where you are, and more importantly no matter who they are. It is irrelevant that someone holds a Ph.D. in astrophysics, and you may have never graduated high school. If the subject is about selling, and you’re a skilled and competent salesperson with a track record, the smartest person in that room will be You! And you had better get rid of the inferiority complex that allows you to be intimidated if the Ph.D. crowd at the board meeting start demeaning your lack of schooling. You need to argue your value, and demonstrate your skills, or decide that you’re wasting your breath, and politely end the meeting, and leave. If you don’t see yourself as a peer, and an expert in your own field, just as capable, just as competent to argue the good, the bad, and the ugly in your chosen vocation, then no amount of letters after your name will make a damn bit of difference.”

You have to have the confidence in yourself that you know your product, and you know your business. All the, “do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t do that” mumbo jumbo you’ll read, or see professed by so many is absolutely meaningless and irrelevant until you understand and get it into your gut that old adage: “The first sale begins with selling you – you!”

Make that sale first – and every negotiation hence forth is born from strength. Period.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr