“They’re on TV, So They Must be Smart” update

As some of you know, I am constantly amazed on what I see on television in regards to “informative information.” One host after another quotes this resource, or refers to this expert. It’s enough to make ones head spin! What’s even more of an experiment in dizziness survival training, is listening to how many people use this information as if it were handed down from the gods above. Holy Moly!

As I watch the Dow Jones and other benchmark industries once again nearing new yearly highs, I get one person after another telling me…”See…see, the markets getting better. You were obviously wrong in any assumptions of reversals of fortune. What do you have to say now?..Hmmmmmmm!

I let about 15 seconds pass after they finish so that they can regain their composure, ( From either down right giddiness, or just plain antagonism.) and state the following…

It’s possible I’m wrong in any forecast I might make. When you want to be taken seriously, you have to be willing to be wrong at times, but be willing to look at why you forecast what you did, and would you stand by those decisions knowing what you know now. The answer to that question is still yes. ( This is where they start to become indignant, and try to talk over me.) I continue on to say, Just because an event is taking place, doesn’t mean it’s taking place for the reasons one might think. In the world of correlations and you can quote me on this ” All correlations work, until they don’t.”

If  the talking heads on television really understood the correlations they tout, wouldn’t they have to rescind those same correlations that you and others were using as ammo against someone like myself? If anyone cares to remember, just a few months ago when the market was rising, these same wizards were touting that a weak US dollar, cheap oil, low bond yields, and a pro growth China were the keys to economic recovery, so who was I to draw concern. However today with the stock market rising the same ones are touting, strong US dollar, high oil prices, high bond yields, and China pulling back its stimulus programs are what’s saving the day.

All I can say is who knows. But what I do know is this. If you take your cues from television and the talking heads who spouse correlations without understanding televisions agenda to get your eyeballs to look at the screen regardless on how that happens,( the financial channels have lost 20% and more of viewership since the 2007 highs and never regained it.)  you now should have a better understanding why your stomach is getting that queezy feeling, rather than a feeling of confidence. Just let me finish with this I said, If I remember correctly, I was one of the only people on the planet stating when the US dollar was heading into the toilet that I felt not only was the dollar going to rebound, but I believed the Euro was not going to be the new reserve currency as others were toting, also I believed the EU could fall apart because of structural deficiencies that I could see, but no one wanted to report. So far, I’m 50% correct on my forecasts, and the other 50% could still be proven accurate. To my math, that’s better than the television experts, and they’re on TV, so they must be smart, right?

Here, have some Maalox (R) and a seat, It’ll soon pass. Next question Please!

Mark

Get a dictionary!

Sounds like the old days when trying to convince  newly found lovers to leave the bar so we could close, only we didn’t refer to a dictionary, but I digress.

In today’s digital age of course everything is on-line from dictionaries to a thesaurus, and everything in between. However what I’m talking about is the old-fashioned book form. No…not the small paperback type, or the collegiate style you might have on your desk. I mean the 6 inch think, 12X16 style. You know, the type if dropped would register on the Richter Scale!

There is something about the experience of looking up words that you either don’t know, or words you’re not exactly sure of. Of course I use all, but it depends on the need at the time. Electronic equals quick reference, paperback for casual reference, but there is nothing like flipping through India Paper four inches between the leather bindings to get a real sense for the definition of a word. I contend it broadens the understanding just from the experience. (Trust me when I say…No one needs it more than I.)

If you can, give the book a place of honor. Put it out in a hallway on a pedestal, put it on a pedestal in your office, or on your desk if there’s room, but put it out and leave it open. You’ll be amazed how often you use it. I read years ago from Tom Peters suggesting this. It was sage advice then, and still is.

Here's mine at my office.

Mark

Thinking Aloud… Episode 2 “Apples iPad”

Thinking Aloud is a new addition that features spontaneous insights (or rants) hosted by Mark on current events. They’ll be posted here once or twice a week. Maybe more…maybe less, but for those who’ve asked, “I wonder what Mark thinks?” well..here’s the place to find out. These are short, pointed, off the cuff podcasts, or vidcasts that are delivered in typical Mark fashion. No holds barred, no retakes, just … “Mr. Engineer….Please Hit Record!”

 

The coming “Revolution”

It’s coming, and it’s coming fast. No…not of the political, but of the electronic.

Apple’s new iPad will be hitting the shelves soon. They are already in the hands of the test market so any kinks can be vetted before major release. I think this product is a game changer, but I’m not sure if the media that needs it most will adopt or exploit it like they should. My reasoning for this? The iPod.

In a perfect world (business that is)  a breakthrough product or service will be implemented by the company that benefits the most from its creation. Most think there is some type of Skunk Works area residing in the bowels of all corporate companies with people huffing, and fussing. All just trying to implement better products, better service, and so on. Well sorry to say, there isn’t, but deep down you knew that anyway, didn’t you?

The ones that should have been the early adopters, and exploiters of the iPod was of course the music industry. However that was not the case. They did have many secret areas for huffing and puffing, but it was primarily for  complaining and nothing more. Last time I looked, I think they were still arguing about Napster. Go figure.

iPad in my estimation could be the biggest breakthrough for magazines, and newspapers. Yes you read correctly, that’s who I think can benefit the most. I believe the iPad if utilized correctly can be the driving force in reinventing that media, and delivering a better product that’s profitable for the industry as a whole. However, if history is any guide, the industry who could benefit the most will likely be the ones complaining the loudest about how unfair the fight is, and why they need to protect their turf and stand pat.

To sign up and volunteer for this fight…..Just log into iTunes!

Mark

***Look for the podcast edition of “Thinking Aloud” coming soon for more thoughts on this subject.

Will a Historic Vote clarify…or cloud more issues?

Last night was a historic night indeed. No matter what side you’re on, the passing of the Health Care Reform Act changes the game in ways that most think they understand. I firmly believe most don’t.

If you’re an employer, I know you’re nervous about the implications, and your seeking advice before you make a move (as so you should). If you’re an employee, you’re hoping this helps you, but you really can’t tell as of yet. (and that creates more anxiety than you had before its passage). So what is one to do? Right now, the answer might be the worst of all possible outcomes,…nothing! That’s correct, nothing, and here’s why…

If I employ people, I have no idea what that employee will cost me today or in the future. No matter what’s in the press…No One knows! If you’re looking for work and need a job that’s not good news because even if someone needs your services, they are not going to hire quickly, nor hire by chance, period! To make this point clearer think of it this way. If a building was on fire and you needed a fireman, logic dictates you’ll hire the first one who applies so that the fire can be subdued as quickly as possible. Save the building first, worry about the rest second. That’s not what you’ll find as of today. It will be more to the effect of, Do we really need that building after all? Does it make sense to pay for all that equipment to save it, or the man power to contain it? What are our liabilities for letting it burn in comparison to paying personnel that expands the payroll to fight it? All the while, the building continues to burn, maybe to the point where any decision no longer matters. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? However…Is it really that far off from reality? Think about it.

Mark

Thinking Aloud… Episode 1 “Stock Market Highs?”

Thinking Aloud is a new addition that features spontaneous insights (or rants) hosted by Mark on current events. They’ll be posted here once or twice a week. Maybe more…maybe less, but for those who’ve asked, “I wonder what Mark thinks?” well..here’s the place to find out. These are short, poignant off the cuff podcasts, or vidcasts that are delivered in typical Mark fashion. No holds barred, no retakes, just … “Mr. Engineer….Please Hit Record!”

https://markstcyr.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/thinking-aloud-3162010mp3.mp3


Forget about “This Time it’s Different”………..

This time is not only different, but it will be unlike anything anyone has seen never mind remember.

Many have argued that the recovery is now on firm ground. Others are tripping over themselves to point at so-called leading indicators. However what I truly find fascinating is that when I speak to someone about their own circumstances on spending, vacations, investment, or work just to name a few, they seem nervous to down right scared. That is…. if they are over the age of 40. If they’re under the age of let’s say 35…maybe even 30…they have no understanding or frame of reference with economic hard times.

I watched on television the other day where a young woman who had recently graduated from college and was job searching decided after 6 months she was “quitting the job search routine” because in her words … she was worth far more than anyone was offering, and spent much to long acquiring her degree to just get a job. (I’m paraphrasing but you get the point.) She is currently living in her parent’s basement apartment, and she plans taking the summer off to see what happens in the fall. I was speechless! And that’s saying something for me.

We have come to a juncture where not one, but possibly two generations of young adults have no understanding of economic uncertainty. They only have a reference in which parents always have extra money to loan or give them. Parents always have a home they can move back into. Jobs are plentiful, and they don’t have to apply themselves, just show up and you’ll be paid great wages, and get great perks. That is not today’s environment, and it will catch many of these younger adults off guard to say the least.

I believe more than ever, it’s time to sit the kids down and explain what is really going on. If the young adults have no frame of reference, or no true understanding of economic uncertainties, than it’s all of our responsibility to try and explain without sounding like the proverbial adult who shouts “ When I was younger, I walked to work 10 miles barefoot in a blizzard, and uphill both ways, and enjoyed it.”

Mark

Manners?…We don’t need no stinkin’ manners!

My apologies to the characters in the movie “The Three Amigos” for a little word play on their classic spoken line, but it just seemed to put everything into context.

Is it me, or has anyone over the age of let’s say 45 noticed that no one, and I mean no one displays anything that resembles simple manners? Hold the door open for you as your entering a store just 3 feet behind them? Nope, the door just about cracks you in the nose. Someone walks into you while they are texting or fumbling with today’s newest electronic gadget? Nope! They look up at you as if to say ” Why weren’t you watching where I was walking?” I could go on and on, but you get the point. It really has become a forgotten aspect of common decency. It also demonstrates to everyone except the perpetrator, they’re just classless.

Whether your rich or poor, simple manners are a prerequisite in demonstrating to others that your parents might have tried to bring you up properly. My Mother never “hit” me as a child, but the crack across the back of the head to show I was being ignorant doesn’t qualify as “hitting” in my book. It was called “Mind your manners!”….and I’m grateful she did. Having manners are not only a reflection on me, but more important on my Mother.

Thanks for reading,

Mark

10 Billion Downloads…..and they still don’t get it!

Last week iTunes announced it’s 10 Billionth ( yes that’s a B!) music download. The funny thing is, iTunes charges for every single one. That little fact seemingly falls on deaf ears, and those ears belong to the music industry itself. The so-called “Industry” no longer exists as it once did, but listening to them you would think otherwise.

Yes, I understand piracy, I understand protection from thievery, I get all that , and I’m a proponent of artist rights and compensation, again I get it! Whats been the downfall for the “Industry” is while they’ve spent their time complaining, a company unaffiliated with the industry turned it on its head, and found a way to not only charge, but to get customers to pay.

There’s a great lesson there for anyone who will listen.

Mark

(P.S. I thought it was fantastic the download was for a Johnny Cash song!)

Brag what you Can Do..Not what you know!

It’s one thing to attend a highly credited school and learn the disciplines of architecture, medicine, accounting, etc. Having a  fundamental understanding is needed before venturing out and putting people at risk. I think you understand my thoughts on this without delving any deeper. However, a PhD in Liberal Arts with NO work experience is not getting you anywhere in today’s business environment.

Most haven’t noticed the paradigm shift taking place in the working world. Everything from this day forward will be results, and results only, Period! If you can demonstrate you’re a producer, you’ll have the equivalent of writing your own ticket, even in the most challenging of times. You want to be one of the highest paid and most coveted employees in this new world? Be a sales person and produce. Want to move up the ladder of corporate America? Do the work or tasks that no one else will. Never let into your vocabulary the words “That’s not my job.” Keep a running tab on projects you’ve worked on, problems you’ve solved that increased revenues, or decreased expenses. Be a student of learning, and learn anything you can apply to generating revenue. If you find yourself working for an employer that doesn’t appreciate your going above and beyond, fire the employer and find a new one, or create the company yourself. Nothing else is now going to matter except results, results, results! There just wont be any time nor room for anything else, because nearly everything else will mean bankruptcy for most.

Mark