Author: Mark St.Cyr

Mark is a globally recognized expert in entrepreneurship, motivation, business, sales and financial markets. He writes from a first hand perspective. His insights can be both cutting edge, or just a cutting through the clutter. Either way they come from first hand knowledge, and experience that is classic Mark. Visit www.MarkStCyr.com "Pragmatic Insights For Today's Business World™"

Just A Note Of Fact With A Note Of Thanks

Over the years I have advocated why knowing your own metrics, and what they mean to you, is not only imperative in business, but paramount to those looking to climb the ladder of success in their field, or quest of their choosing.

The reason, as it would appear to be self-evident, is that you don’t want to be fooled by the worst trickster in the world. That trickster of course, would be – yourself.

Vanity metrics are one of the most lethal game chasing endeavors you’ll ever embark on. (e.g., “likes” and such) The reason is pretty simple: Once you obtain them (that is if you can at all) you’ll find more often than not they’re worth less than the digital paper they’re printed on.

Recognition for your actual trials, tribulations, or contributions is one thing. Recognition via ways of gaming the system, any system, may lead to accolades in the short-term. But, more often than not it leads to nothing more than that sinking feeling of non-fulfillment when there’s no one around and you’re sitting alone, by yourself, trying to admire that so-called “trophy” you were once so proud of to tell everyone about. History is rife with such cautionary tales and examples. (Remember: “Followers” or “likes” or “subscribers” and more can be purchased for coffee change per thousand.)

So it was in this light I wanted to share the following for two reasons. 1) I’m quite proud of it. (You may feel different, but that’s your prerogative.) And, 2) It factually puts to bed any calls for those out there who have questioned my metrics, examples, or just never believed anything I’ve said over the years as its pertained to audience size and more.

As I’ve always said and done over the years, since I first began writing, you can’t kid yourself with vanity metrics if your goal is to actually put out ideas on leadership, business, and more that others may actually find value in. And social media, I have argued, is the worst place to try to do that. Why?

Because it’s far too easy to kid yourself with “Likes” and “Tweets” and “Followers” et al. The reason being is because more often than not – most are all fake to begin with. And far more fake than the “fake news” they complain about within it. That’s the real scandal.

This is the reason, from the start, (to be honest, I did try for a bit, but jettisoned the entire idea a few months later) I’ve never gone the social media route, to the jeers and scorn of social media aficionados, business experts/gurus, writers, and more everywhere.

The examples of which I’ve documented and shared are all within the archives. I’ve always used myself as the example (unlike most others) to show what I’ve done and the results from it. Good, bad, or indifferent.

So with that all said for context here’s the reason for all the above…

I was notified on Tuesday morning one of my articles made it onto the front page of The Drudge Report™.

Some of you may be shrugging your shoulders thinking, “So what.” Others may have never visited it, and even a few others would never. And that’s fine. However, the reason for this, on my end, is for this reason: You can’t petition, or beg, or send money and have your article put up on Drudge. Trust me, some of the most highly profiled reporters, writers, news organization, websites, and more try just that, too no avail. The audience size is that big of a deal. In other words: Drudge finds you, not the other way around.

There are professional writers, organizations, and more that may work their entire career and never get a Drudge posting.

Yet, the guy who can’t spell cat without spell checker, and has more violations with the Grammar Gestapo and Punctuation Police that if they could lock me up? Throwing away the key would be considered too light of a sentence. Now has one.

Now to address the nagging issue of many when I have described audience sizes and more that have said to me when I’ve met them or via any other communication, “C’mon…millions? What are you collectively counting every post you’ve ever done and where it could possibly have ever shown up, and trying to make it sound real?” Fair point – so here’s a fact to absolve any prior, as well as future doubts. To wit:

That’s the Drudge Report’s stated, quantifiable, and verifiable statistical report for the day my article appeared.

As I’ve stated over the years when it was applicable: One of my articles, at any time, can be in front of millions, and over the course of a month that audience size can be in the 10’s of millions.”

So, for those over the years that thought that was all smoke-and-mirrors (and you know who you are) the above puts that all to rest. Because being on Drudge moved that “millions” to the “10’s” category, and the “10’s” to the near BILLION category.

Remember, by all the so-called “experts” opinions: I’m not suppose to be there – and there I am. Why?

Well, I have to give a lot of that credit for this one to Seth Godin who opened my thought process to it all by pushing the mantra of “pick yourself first” which allowed me to then do the work, and subsequently get picked where it mattered, and not kid myself.

Again, the reason for this post is, in a way, not just to share some news I’m proud of. But to also push back on the many of you who are wasting time either not doing, or not starting, or not fulfilling your heart’s desires because someone else is either telling you “you can’t”, or worse – you’re telling that to yourself.

You can, if you really want to, but you have to start with not kidding yourself as to what constitutes actual work towards the goal, and the fulfillment of not just getting it – but doing it. Even if no one ever comes, which is always the greatest possibility.

You have to be able to take pride in the fulfillment of doing the actual work, first. Then, when the rest comes, if it does at all, you can enjoy it all the more.

I know this to be true, and can impart it too you, because not only do I know it to be true, but I’ve actually done it. Unlike most who have only…

Read a book about what someone else read in another’s book, who has now written their own book, about what they’ve read, so you can buy their book, and read about what they’ve read.

And too all of you who’ve been with me over the years, and to those who may only be reading here for the first time, and all the other news-sites, blogs, media-venues and more: You have my sincerest, and most heartfelt gratitude.

For without you, there would be no reason to have done any of this to begin with.

Once again, thanks too all of you.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

 

A Bit Of Anecdotal Evidence On Why Listening In Business Is Paramount

It would be hard to imagine anyone, no matter the discipline, that hasn’t heard some version of the old adage of: “Listen more than you talk.”

As a person who helps teach business leaders how to hone, or learn new skills. One of the traits I try to instill in anyone that will listen (pun intended) is this…

One of the ways you’ll know that you’re actually improving your skills, no matter what level you are beginning from, is how often and how instinctively you begin realizing, then extrapolating, meanings for its significance – in real-time.

The above may seem a little bit hard to understand for those unfamiliar with the true meaning of this discipline, especially when it comes to trying to explain it in such a limited way as in this post. (e.g., This would be explained in detail, with real examples in one of my 1/2 day or such courses)

So, what I would like to do is offer up two examples, consisting of 3 videos, which have shown up over the past few days and let’s see if you can extrapolate a few pieces of pertinent information which would be very valuable if you were, let’s say, involved in any type of business.

I’ll give you one hint: It pertains to Silicon Valley. I’ll reveal what my take away is at the bottom of this post, let’s see if you hear what I hear. Call it a real-time, real-life example as to illustrate how important it is to truly be able to listen.

This is a necessary skill that has to be both developed, honed, as well as practiced if you’re going to be the consummate professional.

(And remember: No “peeking” If you do, you’ll miss the point entirely.)

Note: I’m using direct links to YouTube™ so there’s no need to worry about if I’m sending you off to some clandestine site within cyberspace. Although in today’s world, people are beginning to feel that way about YouTube. But I digress.

So here we go…

First: Here is a video interview about automation in pizza making and delivery by TechCrunch™ from 2016. It’s only about 3 minutes long, but it’s important to listen from beginning to end. Here’s the direct link to it via YouTube: (Click here)

Next: After you’ve watched the first, I would like you to watch this next one. Same basic report, just a different interview on the same company by Engadget™. Again, only about 3 minutes long, but it’s important to watch from beginning to end. Here’s the direct link, again via YouTube: (Click Here)

Now that you’ve done the above, I want you to do the same with the next one which was posted the other day by James Altucher. This one is a bit different in context, but there’s a reason why it’s germane to the two above. Again, it’s only about 3 minutes long. Same criteria about watching as the above. Here’s the direct link to it again, via YouTube: (Click Here)

So with the above complete (and you’re not cheating, right?) my answer, or interpretations below…


After listening to the first two videos pertaining to pizza. Did you pick up the wording, as well as the descriptions as it pertained to not just the workers, but the robots? Here’s a hint: The people in the video are referred to as “humans” nearly every time they are referenced. The robots on the other hand? All given names. e.g., Pepe, Giorgio, Marta, Leonard, and so on.

This isn’t just some aberration in my view. This is (all opinion of course) scripted, purposeful, focus grouped, language as to try to give the impression that it’s not about replacing people with robots. i.e., It’s about robots “working with” people.

But if you listen closely, it’s the people who are being intentionally morphed from “people” to expendable humans within the chain and replaced with the machines or “robots” which are now personified. e.g., People are referred to via the impersonal wording of “humans” and the impersonal robots have all adopted the personification to delineate them from humans with names.

The people, more often than not, are referred to in the way one used to describe a robot in conversation. Here’s an example.

The old: “Here is where Fred prepares the dough for the robot to dispense the sauce. After the sauce is dispensed it moves onto the next step where we have people like John and Maria here putting on the more intricate toppings that a robot just can’t manipulate well. Then it moves onto the next robot where it’s sliced, etc., etc., etc.

Instead, what you heard was the exact opposite. e.g., “This is the station where the human prepares the dough for our robot, he’s called Bruno. Then it’s on to the next station where Maria our sauce dispensing robot measures out the perfect amount of sauce. Then it’s on to Leonardo our pizza cutter. Our humans have very little interaction etc., etc.”

So why is this important you ask? Well, if you listen you hear two very distinct things going on that can give you insight into the current Silicon Valley culture, along with business in general for upcoming trends and how the verbiage, along with the industry, is setting up for the “worker vs robot” paradigm.

Again, usual conversation, even in business, would use terms like, “And here’s where a/our worker, line tech, or Bill our dough stretcher et cetera would be used. Nobody uses the term “human” to describe workers or people when they are in the presence of people. Using the term “human” to describe people is one of the most dehumanizing ways to describe anyone.

And that’s precisely the point. Why?

You’re not putting Bill, or Bob, Joan, or Sally out of work by replacing them with a robot. No, you’re just making the manufacturing process more streamlined by removing any necessary human interactions with one of those fancy new robots we like to call “Leonardo.”

This makes cutting divisions, or moving factories, or displacing employees much easier to digest from the boardroom. i.e., “It’s much easier to replace or expel “humans” and replace them with machines as long as you don’t need to remember any of those human names. And if you do need a human toucch? Just label the machine as a person, like “Roberto” or something else that has a ring to it.

Do not let this point to be lost on you, it’s an important psychological understanding of human nature. i.e., If you are a mid-level manager, and you hear coming from the executive meetings words like “humans” and such. You can just about guarantee one of those “humans” being discussed for replacement or exile probably has a name that curiously sounds or begins like yours.

You can also foresee something similar to this if you’re one of the managers of an entire department, as in: “He’s a great asset to any company, doesn’t take time off, doesn’t need supervision, and doesn’t file work grievances, or ask for pay raises in ‘Human Resources.’ Matter of fact, how much more money can we save if we’re able to downsize and no longer need the ‘Human Resources’ department? After all, with less humans as the underlying scenario implies…”

Are you seeing my point?

So why is the above important a few might be asking? Well, it’s for these reasons…

You’re now hearing how “Silicon Valley” thinks about automation and how they will deal with the unpleasant issue of actively putting people out of work. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with what they’re doing. What I’m pointing out is how the genesis for both describing, as well as the psychological dispensation that will be instilled for easily replacing workers with robots will be both told and sold. And how that will become easily palatable not only to businesses or boardrooms, but the public at large, along with the governments services that will have to deal with the aftermath.

You see it’s much easier to replace, or begin the discussion about replacing 100 humans with 6 robots named “Robbie” than it is to fire or lay off Bill, Bob, Suzzie, Janie, Steve, George, and so forth with a machine.

Or, it’s much easier to extol the virtues of machines when you personify them with names like “Pepe”, because it gives the psychological camouflage that what you’re doing is not replacing Billy with a machine, but instead replacing the burdensome tasks humans have to endure with “Marta.”

Oh yes, and they’ve named them with male and female monikers to imply diversity. You might think I’m making too much of this? I would strongly disagree.

It’s not about making too much of anything. What I’m doing is pointing out very specific clues that should jump out at you when you’re listening to someone speak. Especially if you’re in any leadership position, or even sales.

There ae clues everywhere in this one scenario that would give you a leap-frog like ability to see what may pertain over the horizon and how you may position yourself, council, or whatever, to prepare for the inevitable upcoming scenarios. Because they are coming. The above videos show you (if you’re truly listening) just how close to that horizon they already are.

If you still have doubts, try the following…

Re-watch the above with your new-found approach and everywhere you see a “human” involved, as the person is explaining, think or say to yourself: “And as soon as we figure it out, this human task will also be replaced.”

If you do, you can see the next opportunity step this company has in their sights.

Think using this context: If you’re, let’s say, an oven manufacturer. What would you be doing 30 seconds later after watching? If you were building or designing an oven that needed a “human” to work it, would you maybe call a meeting and say, “How can we make this work without any human intervention, because the market is already trying to do that without us?”

See my point?

Or, let’s say you’re a government official. (I know, but stay with me, it’s only for example purposes) “Are we about to see an explosion to our social services budgets as these minimum wage law increases take effect? Maybe we need to rethink the costs of what we’re doing here?” (I know, stop laughing, again, it’s for demonstration purposes only)

Again, I think you can see my point. There are more, but there’s far too many for this post. That’s why this would be during a 1/2 day or more seminar.

So now with the above, let’s move onto the second with Mr. Altucher.

Personally I don’t follow Mr. Altucher. I have nothing against him, I just never cared for him when he was schlepping the market when he was running a hedge fund years back. It seems my initial “bullsh_t meter” was correct, because it is he himself that has both written, and spoken about how miserable, and phony he was while doing it.

He has done a lot as of late in turning his life around (and some would say upside-down) rediscovering himself and his ideas about life and deserves kudos, because no matter what one thinks about what he’s doing. He’s doing one thing that’s commendable: He’s living what he’s preaching or arguing. Which leads to me to this last video and why it is important.

But not for the reasons you’ll think at first blush.

I was talking with a colleague the other day and for some reason Mr. Altucher came up during the conversation where, what at first, appeared as a throw away comment by my friend turned into a very revealing insight.

Again, but one had to be listening in both situations.

The line came up as we were discussing rental pricing and homes when he nonchalantly said “Hey, prices are so affordable I guess even James Altucher is getting an apartment!”

That led to me asking why that was relevant (because I really hadn’t any clue) and where he elaborated that Mr. Altucher has been living with no possessions other than what he carries around in a shoulder bag. e.g., No apartment or home, no nothing, but for the clothes on his back and a few tech items like a laptop and such. Nothing else. If it didn’t fit into his shoulder bag? He didn’t have it. That’s a pretty amazing, thing in-and-of itself.

So like anyone I asked, “So where does he sleep? Hotels? Friends and family?” And the response was, “No, I think he stays at AirBnB™s.” Fair enough I thought, and we left it at that.

So, the next day, out of curiosity, I found his blog and visited it where the above video was located and watched it. That’s when I heard something that truly perked my ears. I wonder if you heard the same. Maybe you did, but did it set off the same “Wait…what?”  moment that I had? Here’s that moment.

Paraphrasing Mr. Altucher: “I used to stay at AirBnB’s, but New York is cracking down on them and they’re getting harder to find.”

Re-read that line one more time.

This is being said by someone who has been living, to the extreme, for years, the AirBnB model. And in New York, one of the biggest markets in the world, again quoting, “They’re getting harder to find” and the reason? “Because New York is cracking down on them.”

Now if you are an “investor” or thinking about “investing” or anything else when it comes to the #2 valued unicorn in the world – do you think that one line gives you more insight over the horizon and what maybe coming over it than what you’re being told (or sold) by the next-in-rotation fund manager crowd, or talking head?

Or, better yet, any one of that crowd?

Remember when Uber™ was set for world domination? Then ______________ (fill in the blank.)

Now, you have the entire Valley, as well as Tech, and VC world pinning all it’s future hopes on the #2 deca-corn (because unicorn is so blasé in “The Valley”) with rationalizations, and expectations for rainbows and lollipop riches – and one of people living, breathing, and followed by many in that Valley openbly states – it’s getting harder to find an AirBnB because New York regulators are cracking down on their legality.

Can you say – “Uh, oh?”

And here’s another thing I’ll wager you: No one else even has a clue, because all they are reporting or listening to is what’s emenating from within it’s own bubble. And in that bubble? Unicorn’s are still worth what the VC’s say they are. (insert laugh track here.)

That’s fine, unless – you happen to be a prospective investor and you’re sitting across from those trying to sell you into any latest funding round where the calls for “world domination” are more boisterous than the parade of fund mangers waiting to spread the news.

That’s because unlike like most you would probably be the only one to ask…

“So tell me how the New York market is currently playing out? I would like to see the details and growth patterns over the last 3 years on that market specifically.”

Trust me – the room would suddenly go silent. All because you were listening when everyone else was just talking. Why? Like I’ve stated prior in the article “Silicon Valley Snake Oil: It’s Passed ‘It’s Sell By Date'” To wit:

Just like Uber – the longer it remains private – the more time is allotted for any, and all lawsuits either resting, or being drawn, to ferment ever further.

Uber has its driver issues and such. AirBnB has its own regulatory hurdles to still fight. And those fights just may get hit with an accelerant if the latest proposals being bandied about for increasing its presence draw it closer into the spotlight.

I believe a regulatory crack down, in one of the largest and most premier markets, which forces even one of its most frequent users to suddenly decide and rent an apartment because even he admits that crackdown is underway with its repercussions states volumes about just what you’re not hearing anywhere else. That is, except here I guess.

What you do with what you hear, as always, is up for you to decide.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

Are Tim Cook’s Days As CEO Numbered?

Why I posit the above is for this reason:

Back in May of 2014 I penned the article: “Did Apple Just Become Microsoft?” In it I made the following points. To wit:

“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.”

And here we are nearly 4 years later (or 4 product cycles, if you will) and what has been the result of this once “fantastic” partnership? When was the last time you heard anything or any buzz about Beats®? ____________ (insert crickets here.)

Oh, but wait you say, “What about iTunes? It was updated as to allow easier downloading of apps and such for mobile.”

Yes, yes it was. An update that most users will only encounter when they go to update or purchase something, then, find out they can’t do it the way they’ve been doing for-e-ver. i.e., “Oh, wait, I have to do this on my phone now, and not my computer? Wait, how do I…? Wait…what…I mean…WTF!”

I believe this to be a blatant design faux pa. Why? Because if you look at the iTunes of today, it looks no different that it did years, and years ago. The only difference? The “Apps” option is no longer there. This is to “reduce clutter” via Apple’s thinking.

But the same old, tired, antiquated looking and seemingly lifeless iTunes of old? It’s still there, but now with less clutter – so you can see more clearly how lame it has become due to design atrophy.

Most will only notice the “redesign” when they go to use it the way they’ve been using it habitually, only to find it no longer is possible. And the design cues that would intuitively make someone take notice immediately, that maybe there’s something new going on? That too is completely absent. Along with the old way of doing it.

In my opinion, that’s such a design faux pa it’s unconscionable, especially, for any company where “design” is so front and center. (Please don’t tell me about the little pop up to tell you somethings “new.” Again, please! If that’s the extent for “design?” I’ll just leave it at that.)

It (meaning iTunes) looks, feels, and performs (as in it’s completely outdated and still clunky to the point of frustrating) as the same old, same old, old iTunes it’s been since Jobs passed.

Sorry, but I still can not get over just how pathetic this all so important portal to one of the most important selling points Apple has to both consumers, developers, and Wall Street has become. Hint: Ecosystem is (or was) for all intents and purposes the iTunes portal to everything Apple. Period.

Yet, that doesn’t mean that Apple (aka “Cook and company”) didn’t make sweeping changes and innovations to many of Apple’s once empirical red lines. Again, from the same article To wit

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.”

Here’s a little more from the same article, for a bit more context, because it’s germane to this discussion. Again, to wit:

“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.

And here we are, again, nearly 4 years later and what has been the empirical evidence that my assumptions were correct? Once again, to wit:

(Chart Source)

And how about that “political” argument I brought forth? Surely no CEO worth-their-salt would ever be seen throwing not only himself, but his company, along with its employees into the political fray intentionally. Especially when the evidence for it clearly showed the accusations were a bit more than specious.

Again, what prudent CEO would ever willingly set up an “us vs them” to be played out within its customer base? I mean that’s Business 101, correct? Well, it is, but it’s now also Silicon Valley 2.0, which has become anything but a fundamental business ethos. And this is Cook and Co., not Jobs and crew. Here are a few headlines to ponder. To wit:

“Apple gives $1M to liberal group labeling pro-lifers as ‘hate groups’”

Don’t like that headline? Fair enough, you can see it, as well as be asked for it in, da, da, da, dahhhh: iTunes itself. To wit:

“Apple is now taking donations for the Southern Poverty Law Center through iTunes”

(Screenshot from above noted source)

Some are thinking right now, “I thought it was about Nazi’s, not pro-life?” Yes, that’s what was touted, but that’s the problem when one decides to do anything via the political, for sometimes, more often than not, you don’t know whom – is in bed – with whom.

That’s why the business default is always to not involve yourself, at least publicly. (Remember: the accusations, along with the evidence for it was iffy to begin with, and proved to be completely untrue when examined rationally away from the political eye.)

To be clear: what one does in private is another matter entirely. But the cardinal rule of business is, has, and should remain: Never, ever, ever (did I say never?) openly involve your company, employees, and their collective coffers into the political. Period. Full stop.

Once you add the political to business – you’re not only asking for troubling, but your courting it. And what’s worse is this: Just like the old saying of “The camel’s nose under the tent.” Once it sticks its nose in, more of it, and in greater quantity, will follow till eventually there’s nothing left inside but the camel.

If you believe there’s any doubt to that scenario just look to the current debacle within not only the NFL®, but ESPN™ and sports in general. Ratings, ticket sales, and more are being boycotted in one form or another, in droves. (something I stated in 2015 would result when everyone else said otherwise)

And the worst is far from over, because these entities are doubling down on the political even further. i.e., They’re confusing the political uproar as some form of “roar from the field,” and playing too it. The issue is, that “roar” could very well spell “The End” of what had been a near magical run.

No comparison for Apple you say, as in, apples-and-oranges? Fair enough, so explain this, again, to wit:

The above screenshot image was taken from the Zero Hedge™ article, “It’s Not Just China: No Lines For New iPhone 8 Virtually Anywhere”

And just to put the above into further context. Here’s a pull quote from the afore-mentioned article, again, to wit:

“According to CBS LA, the Pasadena store was also missing a line of eager fans. Previous releases of the iPhone attracted hundreds of Apple fans waiting in the early morning hours at several stores across Southern California. The Apple Store has a ticketing system, but that never stopped eager iPhone fans from camping out overnight. But on Friday morning, all was quiet on Colorado Boulevard, except for employees inside the store handing out tickets.”

I know it’s possibly a little bit of a stretch, but it has to be asked: Do you think that maybe there were a few people who were just a little bit ticked off at Apple’s new-found political stance, and maybe decided they would take a stand and not show up for Apple’s newest “shiny thing?”

If it was just one, that’s infinitely more than what did show up since Mr. Cook’s new declaration for Apple’s political involvement. (i.e., as in 1 paying customer is infinitely better than none.)

People (especially the next-in-rotation fund-manger crowd) are attributing that it’s because they’re all waiting for the “X.” Fair point, but that doesn’t mean some customers aren’t unhappy. And let’s remember: no one knows at this point, it has to all be speculated.

But here’s the real issue: the only thing to use as evidence to build any theory – is this latest roll out. And so far disaster seems to be an understatement. And the proximity of Mr. Cook’s political stance, along with call for action, combined with the empirical results showing up in other venues of business elsewhere? Are you beginning to see my point?

Apple the stock is currently teetering in “priced for perfection” territory. Any damage to its “perfection” thesis gets multiplied exponentially. Multiplied as in “profit takers” show up in droves at the sell window, not the sales counter at first sign that the thesis is indeed hindered.

Should this take place with Apple’s continuous lack of innovations, dumbing down of existing products (see any forum of Apple power users) and continuing focus on both Tim Cook, his political stances, along with his pushing the involvement of Apple the company, its employees, and coffers into the political fray, simultaneously against a backdrop of uninspiring (think Pencil®), clichéd (think: any Apple presentation), openly mocked, (think: when demos were conducted on stage via Microsoft employees) laughed at, (think: CNET™ live coverage of any event) as well as live product demos gone wrong, (think: face recognition) displays on the world stage. This is a string of “hits” no one any wants, especially current share holders.

Should the stock now falter, along with any iPhone rumblings confirming sales numbers will look like what the latest roll out last month foretold? Watch how fast things not only change from the narrative of “great stewardship,” but calls for management change begin to bubble to the surface in unison.

In my opinion, Tim Cook really doesn’t have a lot things to hang-his-hat on, along with hold-his-chair, but for Apple’s stock price under his tutelage.

Everything else since the passing of Jobs has been nothing more than a derivative of what Jobs had already begun or envisioned for the near future. And some will say that derivative has been more of a dumbing down of the original products, rather than a raising the bar. See “How Apple Is Giving Design A Bad Name” for clues.

These are not the types of things one wants to think of when thinking about Apple, yet, it’s coming more front-and-center, and front-of-mind daily.

Using myself as an example, for I am still an Apple user: I just replaced and upgraded two of my Macs. That upgrade consisted of upgrading two older models – to two 2012 models. Spending 3 times the price to only get only a negligible, or rather, imperceptible performance difference seemed ludicrous. The issue? I can afford the newest, and didn’t even bother. How many are like me I have to wonder. I’ll garner there are more than even I think.

The only thing that has helped hold up, or bolster, Apple’s mythical overhang of design excellence instilled under Jobs these years since he passed has been its current share price.

Lose the share price plateau? The mythical overhang falls way with it. Why? Because it’s just not there.

Again, for this is far too important of a point: it’s been the CEO, Tim Cook himself, that has not just allowed, but pushed all of this front-and-center as to now be included into any, and all, calculations of sales and valuations.

Think about that very carefully, it’s that important, as well as a mind-boggling foolish CEO misstep from a business viewpoint.

It could very well be Mr. Cook made a political calculation which may result in not just bad timing, but also, a step too far. And one that leads him himself out the very door he entered, unable to fill the shoes for innovation which are sorely missed.

Sometimes, nothing focuses the mind like a crisis – and maybe what Apple desperately needs is something to focus on besides its management resting on its laurels, and stock options, all while looking out upon vistas from within its own big new “shiny thing” they now call home to contemplate what politically calculated move is to be made next.

Maybe it’s time to focus on the product, rather than the political. Or maybe better yet…

Hoist out a pirate flag, plant it, and actually do something under it other than contemplate which new superlative will be used to describe a stylus.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

For Those Wondering What I’m Thinking

It is inevitable if you indulge in commentary on the “markets”, whether good, bad, or indifferent, along with provide any reasoning that X, Y, or Z might occur, and A, B, or C takes place instead?  You’re going to hear about it.

So far, this week has been no different.

It seems the more calls for caution that I (or anyone else) expresses – the higher, and faster the “markets” vault. Maybe what I should do is proclaim at the top of my lungs “All is clear! Buy, Buy, Buy!! Worry, is for losers!!! After all, isn’t that what most are doing right about now?

Oh, wait, I’m sorry, what they do now (since many the reputation is still tarnished from 2008) is they throw the caveat of “This will end badly.” as some form of disclaimer should it all fall apart. You know, like it did in 2008 when they said it wouldn’t. Hint: Need I remind anyone of Jim Cramers’ famous Bear Sterns endorsement?

Nobody knows what these “markets” are going to do next. And I mean just that: no body. That is, unless you were one of the very few “friends of the Fed” which did know precisely that since 2012 when no one else did. Don’t remember? Hint: This was the period of time that no one believed the Fed. would continue the path of QE for years forward. That is – unless you were fortunate enough to be on one of former Fed. president Lacker’s conference calls back then where you would have learned precisely that. The issue was no one else knew until 2017 – that’s when everyone else found out – and he resigned.

Now, with that behind us, what we can at least surmise is this: If the Federal Reserve’s largess has been the responsible factor for most, if not all, of this so-called “bull market.” Then by reasonable assumptions, along with a little bit of common sense, it’s not hard to surmise what will happen when that largess is withdrawn. e.g., Things are about to get “jiggy.”

Trying to predict precisely when, as for week, day, time, and second, is a fool’s errand. All one can do is be prepared the best they believe themselves to be, then work with what comes before them. That’s it. The only known factor currently is that process (e.g., normalization) begins this month, at a pace of $10Billion per month, increasing in subsequent months as the schedule unfolds.

As far as the “markets” propelling ever higher as of this week? Well, there are two factors to remember. 1) As I said last week: “end of month, and quarter window dressing is more likely at play. 2) Earnings begins, and exposure to it begins in earnest also.

I believe what you’re seeing now is relative to that conclusion. Can we go higher? Sure, probably will. Can we drop like a stone out of nowhere? Yep, that’s certainly possible. And no, I’m not trying to have it both ways, for here’s how I answered a collegue when I was asked my thoughts earlier today. To wit:

He: “What do think?”

Me: “I don’t think anymore, I stopped trying to reason or rationalize what these “markets” do from day-to-day anymore. Nothing makes sense, it’s just a battle of algos vs algos at this point.”

He: “Do you still think this market is set up for a fall?”

Me: “More so today than ever.”

He: “You know, you’ve been saying that for a long time and it hasn’t happened. What if you continue to be wrong for even longer?”

Me: “Fair point. But let me ask you this. If you get a 5% sell off, will you be a seller or buyer? If you’re a buyer and it falls another 5%, will you buy more, or begin selling what you have? If it falls another 5% what then?”

He: “I haven’t thought that far through, yet. I’ll just have to wait and see I guess.”

Me: “That’s the problem. And will be your biggest problem going forward. You’ve never even had to think about that in years. And the scenario I just gave you used to be common, but now, it’s considered an outlier. Yet, that’s an easy scenario. What would you do if it went down 15% in one fell swoop, what then? Buy? Sell? Hold? You don’t even have a plan for the easiest scenario, and what was once deemed ‘normal’ market behavior. How do you think you’ll react if it’s the latter? Or, better yet: What do you think will be the reaction of those who presumably know even less about the ‘markets’ than you do?”

He: “You s-ck.”

Me: “Thanks. I love you too. But that’s why I’m saying it. Again, it’s up too you to decide what aspects, or degree of caution, works for you, But at least you need to truly give it that thoroughness of thought, because the stakes as of this month have changed. Not by someone like myself trying to access what may, or may not happen via Fed. innuendo. The Fed. itself has now dictated precisely what is coming due. The issue for the ‘market’ now, is trying to figure out if it can afford it or not. My assumption? It’s going to be surprised just how much this final bill due may be. Much like how no one cares how much those bottles of champagne ordered in the V.I.P. lounge costs, until suddenly, the ‘credit card’ gets rejected and you have to come with cash immediately – or else. That’s what I think these ‘markets’ are set up for.”

As always, what you do with the above is entirely up to you. But at least you know what I’m thinking. And again, as always…

If anyone tells you they know precisely? Don’t just walk, but run, and fast.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

 

 

Janet X Course, Trajectory Confirmed For Octotober

Being a prognosticator of any type is a dangerous occupation, openly stating that events will happen with any remote assurance of certainty raise those stakes immensely. Giving dates, times, and outcomes turns that “dangerous” aspect up to 11.

This is why it’s far easier, and less problematic, for people to declare “The end of the world is nigh!” rather, than “The end of the bull run is upon us.”

You can predict, and say, what you want about the world ending tomorrow, and people will shrug. Say (or even imply) that the “top’s in” in regards to the markets? And people begin sharpening not only their tongues, but long knives, pitchforks, plowshares, and more.

A perfect example of this was the impending “end of days” predicted by the self-proclaimed “numerologist” David Meade that was to transpire on Sept. 23rd when the celestial body known as Planet X was to pass by Earth, so close, it would basically wipe out everything. Problem? It’s October, and you’re reading this.

But that doesn’t mean he was wrong per se, for just like most Ph.D’d economists, he just changed the date. Now it’s October 21st. I guess all that “data” tracking of trajectory, speed, and timing must have hit a “transitory” gravitational wave. I guess we’ll all have to just wait and see if we’re here in November. Who knows, maybe even “inflation” will finally show by then. Personally, I’m not cancelling my order for turkey, just saying.

It would be a fair assessment that some reading this will argue, “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, just look at your own calls for impending financial mayhem.” And in some regards it’s a very fair point. But that doesn’t mean I (or people like myself) have been wrong, for the wrong reasons. As I’ve argued ad nauseam, “I’ve been wrong, for all the right reasons.”

I stand by that statement more fervently today than ever before. The reason? You don’t need a telescope to see what’s heading directly at the “markets.” e.g., “Janet X” aka Balance Sheet Normalization, begins this month. Or said differently, channeling REM, “It’s the end of the world as we know it.”

Here’s the real heart of the issue, for all of those still clinging to the absurd notion that, “stocks are fairly valued, and are poised to run further.” Hint: They never have been fairly valued since Mr. “Courage To Print, and Print More” Bernanke perverted the entire process of price discovery, adulterating the capital markets, allowing the fostering and subverting of capitalism itself to the point where crony-capitalism is now an accepted form of business. (Hint: see any TBTF bank for clues.)

Just 7 years ago such a notion was seen, taught, and openly defended as patently absurd. Even within the Ivory Tower’d class. Today? Central banks openly buying government debt, corporate debt, and equities is now not only an accepted “tool” of monetary policy – it’s encouraged, celebrated, and now being taught at those same Ivory Towers. It’s beyond pornographic.

On an aside: If you think the above was just a one time “experiment” as the so-called “smart crowd” is clamoring, then answer this one point: Then why did the Chair in her latest presser after the deliberations inform a questioner that the Fed. stands ready to reverse its reinvestment policy should they deem it necessary? You think Wall Street isn’t going to test that assertion? Hint: Bet on it.

No one would have guessed prior, let alone predicted, that they (meaning central banks) would travel such a road – and yet here we are.

The only issue that has held off the resulting, or impending chaos that is sure to follow this trajectory of lunacy, as day follows night, was just how much, and for how long these monetary “wizards” would bear down on that “print button.”

We now know – for the Fed. at least – it’s October. (cue REM music, once again, here)

Unlike the planet Nibiru (aka Planet X) there are quite a few tell-tale signs that are visible with even the naked eye, although most next-in-rotation fund managers act as if they don’t exist.

These are what are known as charts, aka technicals. And it is here you don’t have to be a rocket-scientist to see, or garner, any respect to what they may imply, as in: the impending trajectory of what may happen since the “fuel source” aka QE, and its reinvestment, has now been all but extinguished. To wit:

(Chart Source)

The above chart contains the current daily price action of the most coveted, along with most responsible, for much of the “markets” gains since November 2016. aka FAANG, with a bonus chart representing the cross rate of the $Dollar vs the Swiss Franc. Why is that chart germane? Hint: See “Swiss National Bank” holdings for clues. The pattern is the same only inverted.

As you can see I’ve highlighted these charts with a box. What that box represents is what’s known in technical analysis as “a topping pattern.” i.e., Basically an inflection point for either a leveling off period, (aka as going sideways to nowhere) or  signaling an impending retracement may be imminent. I’m siding with the latter, here’s why:

What most people (especially 401K holders) don’t understand is just how much the Fed, along with other central banks have been responsible for the “markets” to continue ever higher, with no memorable pull back of even 5% (at one time a normal occurrence) for years. Again, repeat: years.

This was not only due to interest rates being pegged to the zero bound, allowing companies near free carry cost to repurchase their own shares. But more important (in my opinion) to this whole mix was not just the fact that the Fed. printed to begin with, but (and it’s a very big but) in conjunction with printing ever-the-more – reinvested any and all proceeds of that printing.

To understand this in layman terms think of it this way: Much like one would do with a stock which yields a dividend, the common investing thesis is, you reinvest that dividend. e.g., buy more of the same stock using that payment, increasing your holding ever-the-more. Rinse, repeat.

Basically that’s what has been transpiring in the “markets” for about the last 7 years. Now – it’s over, as in, there will not only be no more printing (i.e., buying) along with, there will also be no more “reinvestment.” And that my friends is the key.

What “normalization” truly means is this: all the money that the Fed. allowed to be used will not only be withdrawn, but will be destroyed, as in “poof” it’s gone.

What that implies is: all the money that was used to buy the stocks, along with the profits that were used to buy more – suddenly, and abruptly vanishes. i.e., There’s no money there to buy at any price. And that begins at $10Billion a pop (or month) beginning right now. It’s no longer a hypothetical exercise to contemplate. The Fed. has now declared it. (Think: If there’s no “buyers” because they can’t buy unless they sell something else – what’s the market price of any stock? Truly ponder that.)

On Friday of last week the “markets” collectively (once again) posted record highs. Some are using that as a confidence argument that stocks are just setting up to punch higher. I’m of the view that argument is more inline with a “con game.”

Yes, the “markets” did reach new highs, but it should have come as no surprise. For it was right on cue for two events. 1) End of month, end of quarter window dressing. 2) It’s the last chance to do so with full knowledge of Fed. intentions, and its largesse.

Planet X may be a mythological argument much like the book of Revelations, Myan predictions, and others. But “Janet X” has not only appeared on the monetary horizon, but stated forcefully on camera, audio, computer screens and more, in her own words (paraphrasing) “Winter is coming.”

No numerologists, economists, next-in-rotation fund managers, telescopes, rocket scientists or rose-colored glasses needed for translation.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

The Blog’s Milestone Marker 0f: 1,000 – 1,000,000

This is a post I never thought I’d write when I first began this blog in 2009. And yet – here we are. What the numbers in the title represent are the two milestones of: 1000 published posts, consisting of over 1,000,000 words. (actually, it’s closer to 1,250,000+)

There are some of you reading right now that will shrug and think, “So what.” And that’s perfectly fine.

However, to those that have not actually tried expressing their thoughts or opinions to be put into the public arena, especially by one who is not experienced, or considered having any of the traits needed to be a “writer?” And thinks it’s easy? All I’ll say is this: try writing a basic business book. That’s about 18,000 to 30,000 words on average. How long, and about how many do you think you can do if you start today? Most may give a reply, but in reality, most will never even try.

I say the above not to be braggadocios, or anything else of that sort. Why I say it is for two distinct reasons, and they are these:

  1. Most of the reasoning you give yourself as to “why” you can’t do X, Y, or Z, regardless of what that may be, more often than not, are nothing more than self-imposed excuses you use as a defensive mechanism to cover up the true reasoning as to not begin. i.e., You might fail, so why try. Or better yet, you will fail (insert excuse reasoning here) so why try.
  2. See above, and re-read.

Why this is important is for another reason: It doesn’t pertain to just “writing.” It’s directly relevant to just about anything.

If you doubt me on this fact, just insert your own “goal” that you often think about, but never seem to get around to pursuing in earnest in replacement of “writing.” e.g., Start a business, et cetera. It all fits into the same criteria for not starting that I referenced above. It’s not that you can’t, it’s probably more inline with: you won’t. (Insert self-imposed reasoning here.)

When I first began expressing my thoughts about business I did it for one reason, and one reason only, and it was this:

During both the initial, as well as the ensuing fallout that developed as what is now deemed the “Great Financial Crisis” I ascertained that nearly all (and I mean just that all!) of the so-called “experts” when it came to not only Wall Street, but finance, economics, business and more were clueless of what was happening, and what to maybe do about it.

I argued they were not only clueless, but were blowing smoke so thick as to try to cover that fact, I deemed it was not only disingenuous, but dangerous to those who may just follow based upon their former credentials. i.e., I was one of the few openly stating in 2009 that Jim Cramer of CNBC™ fame was one of the most dangerous elements to 401K holders portfolio bar none, and still feel the same today. I’ll explain and give an example as to why later.

Many expressed to me during the early days that this was “all going to be for not”, or “it would never go anywhere.” And those are the polite ones. But, I decided to keep on. And here we are 1000 posts later, consistently read around globe, appearing on some of the foremost media venues and more.

Again, for it needs to be repeated, “All from someone who has a hard time spelling cat without using spell checker.” Every single “writer” (and most people in general) I’ve ever talked to about my idea of writing in the early days had told me “You’re crazy”, “It won’t work”, “No one will ever read it”, _____________(fill in the blank.) And for a while that was true, but I didn’t listen, and as Seth Godin has said many times “I did the work even when no one was looking.”

As a matter of fact, I took that statement to heart and raised it too 11, as in: the more no one looked – the more I wrote. The exact opposite of everyone else.

Is it any wonder that so many blogs or sites or “writers” abandoned their sites after only a year or so? The web is littered with them. And not just by aspiring writers, but by many well-known, recognized names. Again – the web is littered with them. That’s why the 1000 – 1,000,000 milestone is quite the “brass-ring” achievement for me. Remember: I’m not supposed to be here – and yet – here I am.

I hear a lot about (and from) business people with books. I hear accolades (usually self-professed) to their writing “a book” that took them only 2 years to write, then a year to finalize and edit, then another 6 to 9 months to get into print, then another 3 months to get onto a shelf and so forth.

When the conversation inevitably turns toward me, and the question arrises to the tune of “How many books have you written?” I say, “Just one, and it was back in 2012 and was only a collection of 26 articles I had written prior.”

I can then feel the superiority for condescension beginning to fill their lungs in a “can’t wait to tell me X” type manner.

At one time it might have bothered me, but that was oh so long ago. Why? Fair point, and it is this:

To put the 1000 – 1,000,000 into context I use the following example. To wit:

I have written over the last 8 years the equivalent of 42 hardcover books (e.g. 1,250,000 / 30,000.) That’s the equivalent of publishing over 5 books consistently every year for 8 years. Again, all published, read, most around the globe, and many across some of the most visible media and news sites. Again, around or across the globe. Here’s what that looks like using the “a picture’s worth a thousand words” example. Again, to wit:

That stack of books represents the equivalent of those 1000 posts. Again, most business books (I used the hardcover biography of David Ogilvy out front as example for equivalent size comparisons.) fall into the 18,000 to 30,000 word category. There are those of the 50,000 variety but those tend to be of the academic versions rather than the general. (Hint: Think the difference between say a Jim Collins “Good To Great” and a Seth Godin “Icarus Deception” as examples.) The stack pictured represent using the 30K variety. e.g. 42 books.

That’s what’s contained on this blog. No exaggeration, no made up numbers, no spin, it’s all there in the archives. 1000 posts averaging 1250 words each. But here’s the best part. All published, and all read. Even if the first few were only by my mother. (Thanks Ma!)

Some may be snickering “It’s a million words too many!” and that’s perfectly fine. However, I can now say I’ve not only done it, but I’ve fared pretty well with the results of all the work, while surpassing all of my own once lofty expectations. And compared to most “writers?” I’ll stack it up against theirs any day of the week. Literally, and figuratively.

Another few points that needs to be stated and are germane: All of those posts contain pragmatic applications to be used in business  or personal life. There are very few (I think there are less than 5) repeats or reposts. And none are about what I had for dinner, or if I decided to bathe that day or not, like most others.

Where we go from here? All I know is this: It’s onward. That’s all I know.

Yet, with that said I feel I’m not going to lack for any material to parse over as to extrapolate the utter nonsense which emanates via the so-called “smart crowd.” And once again, it’s CNBC and in-particular (once again) its marquis player Jim Cramer that fits this example. To wit:

“Cramer: Rocket-Ship Stocks Look Better When They Return to Earth”

Premise? When it comes to the “FANG” family of stocks – By The F’n Dips. Don’t question why, your job is to Buy, Buy, BUY!

What has the above “genius” of stock investing, and insight netted CNBC over the same period that I’ve been writing and growing? Fair question. To wit:

“CNBC Viewership Drops To 22 Year Low”

For those counting – the above is about 1300 words. I guess we can start anew from here.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

Silicon Valley Snake Oil: It’s Passed Its Sell By Date

“It’s different this time!” One of the greatest examples of Silicon Valley “snake oil” ever devised, embraced, and consumed en masse.

The problem with “snake oil?” It’s never different. And today’s newest and improved version has passed its expiration date – and is beginning to turn rancid.

Remember when “unicorns” were the thing? I know, they still are in a sense. But they are far from the once mythical enablers of turning $Millions into $Billions via IPO’s. As a matter of fact, that process has become so tainted, the only way to keep attention focused that a company may still be worth what investors declare? Is to keep it under the cloak-of-darkness, also known as “private.”

One has to marvel at how rapidly ineffectual the “It’s different this time” elixir argument is becoming with every passing day.

Why? Ask yourself this: Why is it, not only have the most highly valued unicorns yet gone public, but also, at the same time, the stock “market” is at never before seen in human history highs?

Yet, that isn’t even the main issue, there’s another even more telling one. And it is this: There’s not even been a set date or road show scheduled, (except vague innuendo) when basically this same condition has applied for months, if not years!

What, market conditions at “all time highs” aren’t suitable? No money to be made in “tech?”

Well, there is money to be made in tech, but only if your sticker symbol has the right marking such as the coveted “bulls-eye” of the central banks. (Hint: FAANG)

If you’ve any misgivings about that. Just pull up a chart of any “disruptor” IPO darling of choice from 2015 onward. If you were one of the so-called “lucky ones” to get in on opening day? I’ll garner you no longer need, or look, at any of those charts. And, you have my condolences. (Hint: try TWLO, SNAP, or APRN for clues.)

The issue for Silicon Valley today is this: It’s going to get worse, much worse. And the only ones not getting it is the entire tech complex.

Sorry, but, once again, hint: It’s over. As in dot-com mania over.

The only thing left to happen is the inevitable crash. But make no mistake – it’s a matter of when, not if. And “when” is soon. Soon as in months, maybe a few earnings cycles, not years. For the seismic, tectonic shift, once known as Fed. largesse that has enabled all of it, has now not only been halted, but reversed, as in money from the Fed. will be withdrawn, and destroyed.

That’s what “balance sheet normalization” truly means. And the first to feel “the burn” as they say will be what was once the hottest, of hot sectors. i.e., Tech, especially, no earnings to sub-par earnings tech. Hello unicorns, and ads-for-eyeballs disruptor models aka known as social-media.

This all begins in earnest this coming October, just a week or so from now. And with it everything changes, especially, any and all past assumptions of “It’s different this time” accolades or defenses from traditional business metrics. i.e., making a net profit.

The reason? It’s going to be precisely that: different, this time.

Let’s use today’s deca-corns (yes, that’s an actual term because “uni” is just so blasé) for a little context shall we?

I posited back in April that Uber™ was in far greater trouble than anyone (especially the mainstream business/financial media) not only dared say, but rather, was able to intellectually extrapolate. I also contended, that this had major implications for “The Valley” at large.

Not only has that premise further crystalized. It’s crumbling even faster by the day. To wit:

Market Watch™: “Uber stripped of right to operate in London in latest blow to ride-sharing app”

Can you say: “Uh Oh?”

So let’s see: From a claimed $68Billion, to an assumed $40’ish (or less) on rumored buy outs, and now London says “…not fit and proper to hold” a license in the city. You know, a city that’s basically a mecca for taxi cabs and service.

What’s the valuation assumptions from here? Half of $40? Or, even less? Why? Easy…because who’s next? New York? Chicago? It’s an open question, just like its valuation. For nothing is yet truly settled.

Oh, but wait, there’s AirBnB™ that’ll save the apocalypse from venturing any further I’m told. Well, in my opinion, that’s a maybe, to a flat out no. “Why,” you ask? Again, fair question, and it is this:

Just like Uber – the longer it remains private – the more time is allotted for any, and all lawsuits either resting, or being drawn, to ferment ever further.

Uber has its driver issues and such. AirBnB has its own regulatory hurdles to still fight. And those fights just may get hit with an accelerant if the latest proposals being bandied about for increasing its presence draw it closer into the spotlight. Case in point:

A new start-up called Loftium™ has been launched to help prospective home buyers with up to $50K for a down-payment, but there’s a catch: You have to list a bedroom for three years on AirBnB and share the revenue.

Sounds great right? Here’s how I view it…

Much like Uber, this will have (and encourage) lawsuits, and more because of this one factor: Much like the “independent contractor” issue has yet to be fully resolved for Uber (let alone all the other suits.) AirBnB rentals in many cases break the social contract of not only knowing who is your neighbor, or tenant. But also: what business is allowed to openly operate within a residential neighborhood.

Say what you want about, “Renting out a room in my house is no different that letting a friend or family member stay the same period.” I’ll respond with, “Au contraire mon ami, it sure is.”

It is also very different in the eyes of both business law, as well as zoning. And this latest example of “disruption” is going to bring all of that, and more, to the forefront for AirBnB, in my estimation.

Hint: You think the hotel associations and such alone are going to just stand by and allow (as well as pay) all the taxes and restrictions for code enforcement while a neighborhood of homes around it gets to do it all without zoning, OSHA, mandated handicap access and egress, fire and safety requirements, and more?

Tack all of the above onto where now, there is a vocal, and concerted push (with incentives and more) by AirBnB to make “business traveler deals” available. If you believe the industry alone (let alone people in neighborhoods just sitting back as transients come too-and-fro into their neighborhood where their children are), I have some wonderful oceanfront property in Kentucky you can lease out, on the cheap. “Trust me.”

I used the unicorns above for examples because these are/were used as the touchstones against any, and all calls of criticism against the “It’s different this time” mantra. And now? (In my opinion) They are well past their sell by date, especially since now the Federal Reserve has indeed made it official and declared “”normalization” will begin in October.

And if you still believe in: “this time it’s different?” Here’s something to remind you, that it is – exactly that. To wit:

“Spiking Silicon Valley Unemployment Dragging down California’s Economy”

Just as a reminder of how fast the whole “It’s different this time” meme can go awry. Here’s what I said back in October of 2015. to ridicule from many of the Valley’s aficionado set and business media cheerleaders.. To wit:

“However, you know what changes everything? When the meme of “Gonna stay here till I cash-in and then I’ll buy me a McMansion!” turns into the underlying realization that quite possibly – you’re going to end up living in a shipping container! Possibly forever if things don’t change.”

But it’s different this time. right? Or, maybe, it’s not. Better check that “bottle” for an expiration date. I think it may be well passed.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

Janet Has Spoken, So Now What?

The Federal Reserve concluded at its latest conclave that it would indeed begin reducing its massive multi-$Trillion balance sheet within weeks. e.g., October, to the tune of $10Billion per month to start, ratcheting up that amount as time progresses.

I stated in a prior article that I believed there was indeed a chance for another rate hike. The consensus, this time, proved correct and they punted until December. I gave it a 70/30 probability for this reason: I believed holding off on the reduction of balance sheet (i.e., kicking “that particular” proverbial can) was far more relevant to the “markets” than a hike. And they needed to do something from a “credibility” standpoint. My thinking was, a “hike” was the lesser of two evils, allowing for maybe, a little, much-needed shock value to once again enter into the fray.

Yes, I’m fully aware that raising rates when the “markets” put odds of it at near zero was an outlier call. I get that. However, as myself and a few others have been pounding the proverbial table (or very-real keyboards) “It’s the balance sheet, stupid!” as to where the real impactful “market” realizations for repositioning will manifest.

And with yesterday’s announcement that indeed the Fed. will begin just that – so too has the “market” repositioning begun. i.e., It appears someone overheard a whispered, “Sell!” order. But no need to panic, at least just yet.

Whether or not there is any follow-through today, I believe is not the point. What I am of the opinion, and believe the real issue to be, is that there will be follow through on a consistent basis – for long periods to come. All to the down side. For as I’ve implied recently, I believe the markets path is already been cast, and it is down – not up.

These latest surges, or inconsequential pops higher to allow one more headline of “All time record highs!” is just the now regularly witnessed phenom from the bots (aka HFT parasites) running their hunt-and-seek stop-order, algorithmic programs.

Or said differently: We’re just poking our heads out of the water, just a little higher every once and awhile as we tread-water. The issue to remember is we’re currently only treading, and we don’t know just how deep the water is. And the “markets” are beginning to show exhaustion.

Yet, that doesn’t mean that the financial media bull-parade has lost any of its zeal for clamoring on about its resilience. Case in point was an interview I watched the other day between David Stockman and Stuart Varney on his show Varney & Co.

Mr. Varney is the consummate bull, or market cheerleader. And there’s nothing wrong with that, (and I mean just that) for that is what the job entails and demands. Yet, with that said, what strikes me is when these hosts, or interviewers demand answers (which he did of Mr. Stockman) for warnings, like (paraphrasing) “It’s time to get out of the casino!” As if the premise has no merit.

As Mr. Stockman gave his reasoning he (Mr. Varney) rebutted those warnings with arguments such as (again, paraphrasing) “Look at this market. You’ve been calling this for quite sometime and have been wrong. Had I listened to you I would have missed out on all this move.”

Hence lies the problem.

Whether or not you agree with Mr. Stockman (and for the record, I do) or not based solely on this “markets” current price would be to miss the underlying craziness of precisely what the central banks have done to not just the markets, but also to any intellectual debate, or honesty, in regards to not only the markets: but capital formation, as well as free market capitalism in general. i.e, If results are the only point? Then why stop here? Let the Fed. print $20Trillion, $100Trillion. Or, let’s all just jump on the Krugman crazy-train and mint $Trillion coins! And don’t stop at one or two – let’s hammer out thousands! Crisis solved.

Here’s why I’m making this case, and why I believe it’s all very germane.

As Mr. Varney demanded ever-the-more answers, what he invariably never realized was that he himself never gave a coherent (let alone substantive) argument as to why these “markets” were at this zenith to begin with!

Was it for improving GDP? Great earnings? Vastly improved, as well as ever improving macro data? __________ ?( fill in the blank.) No, it’s all a result of central bank largess, and a last bout of “hopium” inflation that the Trump agenda was to be enacted into law, this year.

There is no other reason for these “markets” to be here. End of story. Period. Full stop.

Another issue I heard professed across the media landscape was this, in regards to the Fed’s intention for balance sheet reduction: “This is the most televised move out of the Fed, so the markets are basically prepared for it. And, will be more akin to a non-event.”

Here’s (once again) where I mused, Really? Most expected? Ready for it?

I’m sorry, but I don’t agree. And I’ll use both some observation made by very well paid “Fed watchers” along with members of the Fed. itself, as opined via Zero Hedge™ back in August of just last year. To wit:

“…Credit Suisse’s Zoltan Pozsar wrote a note titled “What Excess Reserves”, in which the former NY Fed analyst made a very clear case for why the Fed’s balance sheet will never shrink again (particularly in the context of the broken Fed Funds market). Some of the note’s highlights:

Instead of asking when the Fed will shrink its balance sheet, it’s about time the market gets used to the idea that we are witnessing a structural shift in the amount of reserves the U.S. banks will be required to hold, where reserves replace bonds as the primary source of banks’ liquidity. And that this shift will underwrite demand for a large Fed balance sheet.”

And here’s the Fed. itself, again, to wit:

“Central banking is in a brave new world,” Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said in an interview on the sidelines of the conference.

While policymakers have maintained the Fed should eventually reduce its bond holdings, Lockhart said some officials were closer to accepting that they needed to learn to live with them.  “I suspect there are colleagues who are contemplating at least maybe a statically large balance sheet is just going to be a fact of life and be central to the toolkit,” he said.

So why is the above relevant? Fair point, so one more quote, again, from the aforementioned article. Ready?

“You are seeing an exploration of how are we going to operate in a quite different world than before the crisis,” Lockhart said.

And the relevancy for the above is? Da, da, da, daahhh…..: The election had yet to happen. (of course, in my humble opinion)

The above was the working assumption inferred, and perpetuated by Fed. watchers, as well as the Fed. itself all the way and up until the election results on November 8th. Need I remind you about Ms. Yellen herself in mid October stating what the economy may need is for the Fed. to run what is termed a “high pressure” policy?

For those who’ve forgotten, here’s the money quote. To wit:

The Federal Reserve may need to run a “high-pressure economy” to reverse damage from the 2008-2009 crisis that depressed output, sidelined workers, and risks becoming a permanent scar, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said on Friday in a broad review of where the recovery may still fall short.

Now, it’s a concerted gaggle of “Hawks’ Are Us” with 4 rate hikes, balance sheet reduction to proceed, and another hike signaled for December. Remember: It’s no longer a question of if, but now – it’s when, with dates, and amounts. And that’s what truly matters. Why? Fair point, and it is this:

(chart source)

The section above that’s highlighted via the box represents both the timing, as well as the results when the Fed. was still holding the “markets” wallet via their reinvestment, and holdings. e.g. The balance sheet, and reinvestment roll-overs.

Once QE ended at the end of 2014 the “markets” gyrate wildly with near death experiences needing the requisite “on-duty life-guard” of the day St. Louis Fed. president James Bullard to dive into the “water” and save it. Hence why the “Bullard Bottom” moniker was born.

What I expect from here on in is a gradual realization (along with repositioning) that the highs have been made, now it’s time to move any and all profits aside, and out of danger, as much as possible. Because, until any part of the Trump agenda gets passed – there’s nothing under this market. And you can still hear the daily hissing-of-hopium deflating. But you have to listen.

I also believe much like Mike Shedlock has expressed that we’re going to get a significant sell-down, maybe of the 40 -50% variety, but not in a “one shot” type event. It’ll happen in a hypothetical scenario like 10% here, a spike back up, but not a full recovery, then maybe another 15% sell down, then the same type of bounce, then another, and another, till all of a sudden people realize the “markets” are down some 40-50% from the high. i.e., Much like Japan’s markets.

On the same token, I am also of the opinion (much like David Stockman) that the “markets” are primed for existential type event. And all it would take is just one exogenous event (e.g., a Yuan shock or similar) and the entire market complex would be sent roiling in ways that would make the 2008 crisis look tame in comparison. The reasoning being, as noted above, the only reason why we’re up here is Fed. largess, and Trump hopium.

And now Ms. Yellen has stated – they’re out. And the Trump agenda (so far) is still nothing more than a “past its expiration date” hopium dream. Remember – this (e.g., Trump agenda) was all to take place (as in signed into law or at least in its final ratification processes) this year, not anything such as “You just wait, next year is the year!”

The question that show hosts should be asking themselves, rather than their guests is this. Forget about examples of those who might have “missed out” on the rally because of caution. A better question would be:

Give the reason why the markets can remain resilient and stay at these levels? That’s the question that needs to be asked and answered. Just don’t ask Janet.

And as far as that “treading water” example I gave earlier? Think of it this way…

From the November election till now can be considered treading water in a “swimming pool.” Where every once and awhile if you tire from “treading” you can sink, but then bounce yourself off the bottom. But that’s when the Fed. held up that bottom via balce sheet roll over largess. But, beware, for now, that no longer lies below. But what does?

Is the giant sucking sound known as the “drain” aka balance sheet reduction – which leads to the “bottomless sea.”

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

Is Cook Fulfilling Jobs Vision Of “Thermonuclear War?”

I know, the theme regarding “nuke” seems to be playing out everywhere, from military channels to cooking shows. I get it, for I’ve also used it.

The reason why (using a defensive argument, pun intended): It is a little bit hard to push back from the front-of-mind the whole idea of “nuke” when we have a rogue nation threatening just that, while detonating and testing H-Bombs. All while simultaneously launching missiles over the heads of Japan and menacing, “The U.S. is next!”

The only ones paying absolutely no heed are the “markets.” But that’s for another column.

However, this time the “thermonuclear” moniker is relevant, because it was the actual term used by the late Steve Jobs when he declared he would use all of Apple™ resources to wage it against Google™, in-particular Android®.

Here are a few quotes from his biography as to demonstrate recounted by Walter Isaacson. To wit:

“I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this…”

“Our lawsuit is saying, ‘Google you f***ing ripped off the iPhone, wholesale ripped us off…”

“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product.”

“…outside of Search, Google’s products—Android, Google Docs—are shit.”

So with the above for context this is the reason why I’m going to both ask, as well as state, that maybe, just maybe, Tim Cook is following up on one of Jobs last wishes. Whether intentional, or not.

The reasoning for this becomes self-evident when one looks at the newest release coming from Apple. Hint: It’s not the iPhone® that caught my attention. Rather, it’s the new OS named High Sierra® and a few newer built-in functions. Although seemingly inconsequential at first glance, they may have a very, very, very (did I say very?) big effect on the aforementioned company aka Google. Here’s why:

(Let me state first, although I am an admitted Apple-fanboy. I also have been critical (and still am) when it comes to much of what Apple has been doing over the years. This is commentary based on how I view this scenario via the business prism, and/or its potential consequences. This is not an endorsement, or hit job, of any of the offerings, of any company.)

In light of what has been transpiring over the last few months there is one thing that seems to be consistent: People are now, more than ever: cognizant, worried, and willing to take actions, even if inconvenient at first, to either protect their identity, or stop the inexhaustible, relentless tracking of their viewing or search habits, across all platforms.

That is a tectonic shift in attitude from just a few years ago. Hint: and it’s moving faster, and showing ever-the-more seismographic warnings.

The latest Equifax™ debacle, although different in terms as in: illegal. Is just another shudder in the ever-growing rifts between “I don’t care who sees my browsing history, or buys my data.” To, “I don’t want anyone, or any platform looking over my screens, and more – any more! And I’m willing to change my habits if need be, to do just that.”

That is an amazing transformation in public opinion. Although the above is not via some scientific study. (yet) This was the responses in-kind that I received from my own personal questioning of friends and colleagues.

Let me add this qualifier, for it is relevant since I infused the word “scientific” into the discussion): This is from people with money to spend, and lose. And personal data and credit worthiness that matter. Not 13-year-olds, or people still living in mom-and-dad’s basement.

I also believe they are not outliers, and this will only grow as more and more people realize just what they are giving away on these “free” platforms that make their $Billions based on them as “the product.”

Here’s what the new operating system coming out later this month from Apple does that may be a game changer for the likes of Google in ways that are truly meaningful:

One: ICloud Drive® may in-fact challenge Google Docs® in ways never before meaningful for a very simple reason: Privacy.

If “Drive” lives up to being a seamless way to transfer files across all devices and allows easy sharing, across other platforms or devices? Google is in the direct crosshairs for an advertising hit to its bottom line. Why?

Because Google not only collects all your data, it does a little bit more. Like sell it. After all, that’s what their in business for, correct?

Remember: You’re the product when the service is “free.” This (e.g. search) is the quintessential ads-for-eyeballs model. And Google Docs® and more helps solidify further data collection.

Second: The browser Safari® will automatically “stop auto-play videos.” Why is this important? Hint: Auto play is recorded as a hit an advertiser must now pay for enabling Google to collect a fee. No auto-play? No fee.

Third: Tracking prevention. A pet-peeve of mine, and a plague of the web. Here’s how Apple itself summed it up. To wit:

“Remember when you looked at that green mountain bike online? And then saw annoying green mountain bike ads everywhere you browsed? Safari now uses machine learning to identify advertisers and others who track your online behavior, and removes the cross‑site tracking data they leave behind. So your browsing stays your business.”

Am I the only one who thought “That’s gonna peel off some Chrome® users alone, I’m sure.” But they took it one step further, and it is here where you can see the “cross-hairs” come into full view in this fourth point, once again, to wit:

Fourth: Private browsing, as in possibly: truly private.

Here’s Apple’s description once again:

“When you use Private Browsing, Safari doesn’t remember the pages you visit, your search history, or your AutoFill information. You can also use DuckDuckGo, a built-in search engine that doesn’t track you, to make your web searches private, too.”

Fairly innocuous at first glance, but that’s where the true intention shows itself from my perspective.

First: If your “search” truly is private? That’s going to effect Google’s data collection model because people will (I know I will) use Safari when ever possible if the claims pan out. I’ve already shifted to Bing® some months back just to get out from under the whole “Google” thing. And I’m in the process of closing everything else affiliated with me such as Gmail® and more.

But Apple followed up with this, and it was here that I found it quite interesting. As it states above: “You can also use DuckDuckGo, a built-in search engine that doesn’t track you, to make your web searches private, too.”

Really? A search engine built into Safari that easily, and quickly enables me to enter a search query free of the “Don’t Be Evil” empire? Hmmmm…

So who (or what) is DuckDuckGo?

Personally, I’ve only heard of them from people like Seth Godin and others that use them. But for myself, never. And that can be said for most people I know. That is, until as of late.

I was asked the other day if I seen that new “search thingy” Apple is putting in Safari? So, as usual, I started digging to find out what they were talking about and I what I found was interesting in a few ways. And they are these:

  • They now can appear as an “add-on extension” if you enable it right next to your search bar in Safari. The ease to click on, and use is basically frictionless.
  • Although far from as “deep” as Google appears to be, it does seem to give (at least for myself anyways) enough results for that “quick hit” when needed. Google of late (again, my opinion) has been near pitiful in comparison to what it was just a few years ago. If it isn’t a “recommended” its “we’ve cut your inquiries from 500,000 pages to just the 3 we think are most relevant.” Then when you try bypassing it (because page 146,429 might be the page I’m willing to scroll through to get what I need.) All you get is the same thing over, and over, and over again till you jettison the query altogether in frustration.
  • And don’t get me started on how you can be “alerted” should you want to know if your name or a specific issue makes the news or web. It has devolved into something beyond useless and more into pathetic territory.

But here is where things get truly interesting which I found when looking into their traffic history. To wit:

(screenshot source)

What the above chart shows is relevant for this reason: As one can see there are the letters A,B,C, et cetera. Those represent news stories relevant to the traffic patters. (much like Google does) The letter of note is “B.” Why? Because that is when Google announced its first real policy change basically stating they were combining and consuming all your data. And there was no way for you to “opt out” unless you opted out of Google entirely.

It’s here that traffic begins the much touted “hockey stick” effect and has gone nearly straight up ever since. The other letters on the above graph are significant for two reasons. One: They relate to privacy concerns. And Second: D, E represents when they were first added to other browsers such as earlier Safari releases, then Mozilla™.

That’s a near 300% increase in search queries per day in just 2 years, but a near 6-fold increase since the Google revelation just 5 years ago when basically, all this privacy thinking was looked upon as “So what?” territory.

Now? It’s all front-of-mind, and people are ready to make changes. Using myself as the example – I already have. And I can tell you this: I’ve cut my own usage of Google services such as: Search. Gmail, and such by at the least 75%. All proactively, as in, I made myself do it even though at first it was a bit irritating breaking my prior habits.

Trust me, if I’m doing it, you can rest assured others are too. And that’s a very big problem for Google. Why?

If there’s just a 5% shift in negative ad revenue for Google – it would probably take the equivalent of far, far greater miss in iPhone sales to hurt Apple in the same manner. Apple can have diminishing numbers when it comes to its hardware, including he iPhone. Especially if it can show (better yet, prove) that its ecosystem is growing ever stronger.

Google can not afford the same. Because just the slightest downdraft in ads-for-eyeballs income will signal Wall Street it’s time to start taking their profits elsewhere.

If I’m correct, the next thing to go “ballistic” just might be the aforementioned line on the graph above.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

MYTR™ (Not N. Korea!) Is In Its Final Stages For Launch

I’ve wanted to do this post for quite a while, but needed to wait until a few further items fell into place as to where I felt comfortable with their implications. And they just have.

So with that I’m here to make two announcements, which I believe, are very out-of-the-usual when it comes to business in today’s interconnected world, and its so-called internet-of-things business models.

With that said – here they are…

First: MYTR™ i.e., the new initiative that I’ve been developing, is within 90 days of full launch. Maybe even sooner. (albeit “developing” has been more like starting, stopping, changing, tinkering, trashing, reinventing, jettisoning, rearranging, destroying, rebuilding, destroying again, etc., etc. But I digress.)

It will be unlike anything I have ever done, as well as unlike anything else on the web today, bar none. Both in content, delivery, as well as its direction and business model.

As I’ve instructed others over the years: “When 80% ready or so – launch. The remaining 20% can, or should be done on the fly.” We’ve come within spitting distance of the 80 mark, so that means we’re at least close enough to announce which by itself helps cement follow through. (The rest is basically legal tidying ups, but we all know how that can go.)

As it grows, we’ll add additional items to its inventory such as specialized, pragmatic business content, whether video or audio, and more. As always – more details to follow when applicable.

So, to be clear, it will be the “MYTR Broadcast” that will launch first. And the rest, as it develops, as we go along. I’ll roll out some further “sample” content I’m sure in the not-so-distant future. I believe, and it is my intention, to deliver a product in a manner and form unlike what is available on the web today. Again – bar none.

I know, that’s a pretty big claim. But at least you know what I’m striving towards. So “stay tuned” as they say.

Before I move onto the second point, or points. I need to state the following:

To Be Clear: I’m not speaking about MarkStCyr(.)com.

In other words: MarkStCyr(.)com will remain exactly the same as it is today, with free access to my articles or anything else I deem appropriate. Here is where I allow sharing for readers, and allow news sites, blogs, and other media sites to reprint, quote, or reference my material in matters they see fit. Again – that is not changing. MYTR will have its own website, as well as address. It’s a stand alone offering.

I wanted/needed to make sure the above was written, highlighted, with explicit wording, for today’s skim-over viewing habits as to leave no doubt.

“So, what does that all mean precisely?” you may be asking? Or, “Big deal, so what?” And those are fair questions. So here’s, as they say, “the money quote.” To wit:

All my other intellectual property, and by that I mean just that – all of it. Will no-longer be found anywhere else on the web except for my own-owned websites. And I mean just that. Anywhere. I am removing and closing all accounts or venues such as on-line retailers, et cetera.

Again – all of them. And for those looking for me to be a little more specific (as in thinking I might intentionally be trying to be a little coy): That includes the likes such as, iTunes™, Amazon™, Barnes and Noble™, Libsyn™ and more. And – that process has already begun whether it be in audio form, book form, video, etc., etc.

Once again (sorry to keep repeating, but I believe it’s that important): Anything, and I mean just that – anything, and everything – I make available for purchase or subscription will only be available exclusively on my own-owned web addresses.

This is anathema to anything believed, told, or sold when it comes to business in today’s world of the internet. Which is precisely why this is such a daring endeavor to embark on, as I am. But, just like late night television: “But wait…there’s more!”

There’ll also be: No social media links, no social sharing buttons, no Youtube™, no Vimeo™, no podcast, no __________(fill in the blank), no nothing, anywhere else. Period.

So the other pressing question, I imagine, you must be asking is, “Why?” Again, fair point, and it is this…

I believe there’s a coming revolution about to take place within the small business world. i.e., A resurgence unlike one seen in decades. And let’s be clear here, because far too many (even business people) think “small business” means small.

Small business (the backbone of America still, although tired and hurting under current circumstances and direst) begins at the solo-practitioner (i.e., a single person whether it be a self-employed janitor, or Dr.) to a company that employs around 500 with revenues in the $Millions. These make up about 95+ percent of all the businesses in the U.S.

That’s right, nearly all, but you wouldn’t know it when listening to the financial/business media. A damn disgrace on its own. But I digress.

I fervently believe fundamental business practices such as creating value that generates net profits to the bottom line will once again be paramount, as they should be. Things such as: Likes, hits, eyeballs-for-ads models, etc., etc., I believe are already in the death throes of business models. The only ones not aware are those still thriving on central banks largess. But that’s all about to change, and change soon, in my opinion.

And with that (again my opinion, but held with high conviction) will come the greatest opportunity small business has had in decades. Yes, even in this day of “Amazaurus-Rex” If – they’re brave enough to embrace it. But that’s what business is all about it, isn’t it? More details on that later.

I believe subscription models, along with word-of-mouth, peer-to-peer advertising/recommendation will be the model for the future. And what I’m speaking directly to is direct recommendation, not some form of “A.I. recommended” ad model.

I believe we’re going back to basics for the future-models of commerce. Only this time (as opposed to the late 90’s) with far better tools that are actually far more useful and user-friendly. (i.e., remember when it used to cost $10’s if not $100’s of thousands, and a crew of 19 year olds who couldn’t care less about your business goals, just to have a crappy web site with any form of e-commerce capability? Even one that worked 10% of the time!)

Yet, make no mistake. I also believe that future is now! Not tomorrow. Why? That’s another good question, and it’s for this reason…

I have been one of the very few both long ago, as well as consistently since, who has warned entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives that building a business based on the models offered upon, or heavily reliant of Facebook, Google, Amazon, and more – was a potential disaster waiting to happen.

That warning coming true is now self-evident. Just ask the businesses or sites that are suddenly (not counting those prior) finding themselves at the mercy of these platforms where overnight their revenue streams and more have not just been cut. But all their content suddenly “no longer available.” Even to themselves!

Not because they’ve done anything wrong, but because these platforms have deemed it so. Rightly, or wrongly. (Long time readers will remember my own encounter with YouTube and the utter frustration in dealing with a frivolous, baseless, DMCA takedown notice, which compelled me to jettison the platform altogether years ago.)

So it’s off into the wild-blue-yonder as they say, with only a compass. Whether my new endeavor is met with great rewards, or fails miserably – so be it. But that’s what “playing” on the horizons edge is all about, correct?

That’s why that other old maxim is still with us and relevant. And too many like to forget about it, and only complain when things get tough. e.g., “If it were easy – everybody would be doing it.” (and trust me, mine is not some 99¢ per year type model. Let’s just say it’s very similar in price to what a new iPhoneX® is suggested to cost. Again, more details later.)

Some people right now are thinking, “You are out of your mind freakin’ mind!” And that may be. But let me address that assertion with the following…

When it comes to the “written” word. Most (if not all) within the craft first looked upon someone like myself as a punctuation, grammatical abomination, against all that they hold sacred. (and some still do!) After all, I publicly admit I have a hard time spelling cat without a spell checker.

And don’t use an editor?! That alone infuriated many of my detractors. (I have a distinct feeling many of them were unemployed, unread, unpublished, former editors themselves, But that’s just a guess.)

The financial and academic crowd considered someone of my rank (e.g., a high school drop out) to be someone not worth the breath to even acknowledge existed, let alone, have to answer to any of my assertions. And yet, it has been more than hilarious at times (making up for some of the more than frustrating ones) to watch, listen, or read this very same ilk either refer to, or directly answer some of my direct assertions (even better when I’ve heard my headline used!) on television, radio, as well as print. And yes, on some of the major networks or outlets.

My first book (which itself was deemed a punctuation, grammatical offense to all that is “holy” in the business of books) went global and was continually being downloaded in more than 40 countries within days of its launch. And that’s all before it went live on any commercial sites such as Amazon and others.

On an aside, (because I believe it needs mentioning) as I said in that book: I left it with all its flaws within to show, if successful, the argument that most use as “not ready” or fail to “ship” as Seth Godin says, would now be shown de facto most, if not all, of their protests for not moving forward, faster were probably based on invalid reasoning.

I proved that point, again, using myself, not someone else as the example, as so many of today’s “business gurus” do. (I guess one could chalk this latest into that category also.)

I have made news stories across the globe. Been quoted on all media such as television, print, web, and more. And, by the largest media and reputable sources or sites, again, around the globe.

I’ve been quoted and featured in some of the most groundbreaking financial stories of the past decade. I’ve also been quoted, while appearing, in the same news stories featuring the likes of Warren Buffett, and others. Had my articles published routinely appearing to an audience of 10’s (yes, that’s tens) of millions monthly – for years. Had my articles run along side some of the biggest names in finance, sales, business, and more.

And that’s just off the top of my head. All without any social media accounts which you are told/sold – you must have to do even 1/10th of what I’ve alleged. (Again, on an aside: I’ve documented and publicly backed up all these assertions over the years as long time readers know.)

Oh yeah, and to those who say you can’t remove yourself from all those platforms. After all, “You’ll need to offer such things as an app and such, because without an app – “You’ll be seen as not getting it. And not having a book available on Amazon? What are you nuts?!” My answer?

“Been there, done that.”

Just one example, such as, when it comes to an app. I was one of the very first to have one way back in 2010. A time, by the way (which I argued and called correctly) that “apps” were seen as a joke and openly mocked across the business/financial landscape stating they would fall by the wayside, much sooner than later.

My app (which by the way still runs flawlessly – although no longer supported – on my devices to this day) was actively being downloaded for years till it was removed from the store a few years back when we no longer offered support or upgrades. An amazing feat when it’s been reported and documented that nearly all apps (and has been this way for a while) never, repeat, never get downloaded once.

So when I’ve argued or said “I believe most don’t need one.” It’s not as if I haven’t thought it through.

What I’ll also add too that is, “Actually, it maybe the very last thing you need to do in today’s business world.”

But you won’t hear things like that anywhere else coupled with the reasoning behind and pragmatic applications of it. Which is precisely my point. (If you just heard a loud “thud” it’s probably a social media “guru” or app designer reading this elsewhere in close proximity. Just have a brown-bag, and glass of water at the ready – just in case, I believe they’re going to need it.)

So with that for a backdrop. Yes – I’m ready to see where this all goes next, I hope you’ll feel the same. And if anything?

It’s going to be a wild, and interesting ride. That’s for sure.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr