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

A few days ago I posted an article titled “If It Ain’t Broke.” The theme of that article inferred that for as long as politicians or central bankers can manipulate the markets with words that’s exactly what they will do. I also stated the following:

“Remember the Wizard of Oz? It’s all the financial education one needs to know in today’s market. Commonsense, business prowess, balance sheets, CEO’s acumen, along with any $200K education in business. All of it, irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what a politician or central banker says over tea or tee time.”

Well that short paragraph had some in a little bit of a huff. So I just thought I would defend my position and argument in real-time.

As of the writing of this post the market that was teetering on the edge of the abyss once again has erased everything bad in the market and gone even higher! How could all this bad be so good for the markets? Is it fundamental analysis of corporate earnings? No, they are actually faltering. Was it the unemployment statistics released today? No, although the headlines at first blush looked promising, they actually appear to be just shy of where a dismal print would be. The more you looked the worse they were. If my math is correct 8.3 is worse than 8.2 but who am I to say anymore. How about stability in markets where you feel safe with your broker? No, actually once again another major broker (Knight Capital Group) used by many large firms and banks teeters on collapse with rumors of “will customers money be safe?” So why would everything be just hunky dory again? And in less than 24hrs? It must be that everything is solved correct? Alas, no. Just like Mr. Draghi of the ECB (European Central Bank) rumored that he had what it takes to solve everything with the Euro only to find out the other day “The Emperor had no clothes.” and reversed any gains, lo and behold all that has been nullified and it’s back to the gravy train mentality. But how you ask? I reply, “Surely you jest?”

Just like clockwork on a Friday before going into the weekend, and before the markets here in the U.S. opened as they were up over 1% even before the so-called “better than expected” jobs numbers were released. The European markets were on fire. Up some 2 then 3 then 4%! Closing on their highest points of the session. What could cause such a move? Without further ado I give you the line that came out right before the European markets closed (Source Bloomberg):

Merkel Coalition Members Show Acceptance of ECB Bond-Buying

“Members of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition parties signaled they won’t stand in the way of European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi’s plan to buy government bonds.” (You can read the entire article by clicking the headline)

Just so we’re all clear, “signaled” is a term that’s used when you want plausible denial. As long as it’s a “signal” it’s no more than a rumor. But for the purposes of getting broken markets where the computers are in control (or out of control as demonstrated by Knight Capital Group) to push higher on innuendo. Rumor mills trump any specialized knowledge of markets. And as long as the markets remain broken, then there will be no shortage of jawboning because what today proves:
Why do anything if just talking about that you’re discussing that maybe you might talk about resolving talks about discussing the talks works just fine.

Till it doesn’t.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

If It Ain’t Broke: Addendum

I was reminded of something I wrote a while back when all this craziness started. It’s probably more relevant today that ever…

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

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

If It Ain’t Broke…Why fix it?

As anyone remembers when working on their own cars before they became computers knows the old sage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” So why are the media channels full with tantalizing teasers to make sure you’re tuned in to hear how once again a problem that has supposedly been solved 375.83 speeches ago is in need of another speech to tell everyone it’s once again solved?

For quite awhile now I have written (some might argue pontificate) that the Euro crisis has never been settled regardless of what has been expressed throughout the financial media outlets. I can not help myself but to break out in sheer laughter when someone argues with either myself or in a discussion with the talking heads on television that the crisis has been averted. Or as one buzzer banging commentator used to say “That issue is off the table!” I say to that...”Really?…Oh Really?”

The markets have gone on an incredible run over the last week. Yet, is this run attributable to anything positive? You hear, “Earnings are coming in once again better than expected!” Although that might be true what were expectations? If you’ve been paying attention the bars were lowered from where they stated originally by many. Also in relation to these lowered bars, the bars being set for next earnings “beats” have been lowered still. Economic numbers whether credible or not have been nothing but lack luster. People whom are honest looking at the data points agree on one theme. They’ve been dismal at best. And here we are with the markets in the same areas set in 2007 when to everyone’s knowledge or thoughts the gravy trains would run forever. But we all remember what happened later don’t we?

According to reports less than 50% of reported companies have actually beat their revenue expectations. To further shed light on that which in my view is the most important of figures, they have also once again lowered the projections going forward. Or to say it differently, not only did they not meet these lowered numbers, but the numbers ahead are going to be even lower. China’s earnings are missing the mark. Greece is still in free fall economically. Spain as of last week seemed to be in free-fall in respect to its interest rates, and yet the market rallies towards new highs for the year. How can all this bad be so good for the markets? Easy…Remember the Wizard of Oz? It’s all the financial education one needs to know in today’s market. Commonsense, business prowess, balance sheets, CEO’s acumen, along with any $200K education in business. All of it, irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what a politician or central banker says over tea or tee time.

Some like myself will argue that the markets are no longer functioning as the bastions of free enterprise they were designed to be. They are broken and need to be repaired. They are currently a modern-day Frankenstein creation waiting to turn on its creator at any moment. Just when that moment is – is anyone’s guess. But what’s just as dangerous as the creation are quite possibly the actual creators themselves because of the one fact that has yet to materialize. Losing control of the abomination.

Why would they do anything different if all they have to do is talk about how they talked about resolving an issue they discussed before to resolve the issue they think might be discussed to make plans in preparation to put in place plans that are to be discussed and finalized at a date that are due any moment that the discussion on whether or not action is needed should be discussed? Because that seems to be working just fine. So I guess “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” continues.

Till it doesn’t.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

Trolling and Phishing: Update

I just thought I would share something that validates my argument on why you need to have a fundamental understanding in today’s world in regards to the issue of “trolling.” If you’re an entrepreneur of any stripe willful ignorance on this issue in my opinion is akin to willful negligence.

I was alerted after my posting of the following litigation taking place right now involving Foursquare. Although I personally have had no dealing with them or ever used their service, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t pay attention to what is taking place.

If you’re serious about entrepreneurship and business in general these are issues you must pay attention to. They might have nothing to do with you now, or it might seem like it’s an issue you would never need to worry about. But that doesn’t mean it gives you absolution that it won’t. As I stated many times ignorance will not be a defense.

There are many sites currently covering this story so I don’t want to link to any particular one. You have your own trusted resources. But if you don’t know where to look just type into any search engine: Trolling Foursquare Patent Suit GPS. That will give you a multitude of sources to pick from.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

Trolling and Phishing in Your Waters

Much has been said lately about a new scourge called “trolling.” For those not familiar the basic premise is someone spends their resources finding legal challenges to anyone’s work where they may or may not have legitimate claims of infringement. Many bring suit in hopes of settlements rather than going to court. For the trolls it’s the equivalent of a lottery ticket. Just how high the jackpot can be is all they care about. And it’s getting worse.

As you create work or art the first thing most will do is immediately get it on the web. You might use a blog, YouTube™, FaceBook®, or the myriad of others. However just as you want to express to the world what you’ve created, there are more than a few just waiting to see if you might be their lottery ticket. And you had better be ready when they come knocking because just like you with your new tools, they now possess better tools in which to find you. And they are always looking.

If you’re creating as to be an entrepreneur you need to have an understanding or working knowledge of copyright, trademark, or patent laws. I’m not saying you need to become a lawyer, but you do need to have a fundamental understanding.

I’ll use an example that happened with myself recently:

In experimenting with different formats. I had put a few videos on YouTube™ so others could view and comment. Out of the blue months later I received a notice that one of my videos was accused of copyright infringement.(Even though there were 4 near identical) I was notified that although they didn’t take down the video, the accuser was now able to place ads on my work, and I had lost the ability to add any new content to the site. But in an effort to make me feel better (it did not) they stated my video was being allowed to stay on with their ads. In other words, I lost all control of my content.

With a shoot first ask questions later policy the accuser had control of my work before I was able to respond. It seems there are algorithms trolling the site looking for similarities. Although I understand this is an attempt in good faith as to protect copyright owners (and for the site itself because of suits they can face) the machines are sensitive resulting in mistakes. But shoot first is the policy.

After viewing the accusation I immediately responded with my statements of why they were wrong and frivolous. Reply came back the accuser didn’t agree therefore the status remained the same. I immediately went through their legal process and petitioned that the accuser relinquish their claim on my material because what they were sighting as infringement was not my words, music, or anything else protected under copyright. They were arguing because I used a background, and transition effects similar to theirs and that was infringement. It’s not.

Theirs was a dance video, mine was a spoken word styled video. However because they both had music, text, and were similar in length, the algorithms tagged it. Think of it as making a home movie using a program you purchased and someone made a monster truck video using the same program. If you titled yours “Baby’s First Moments” using a graphic and background supplied in the program would the monster truck video be able to claim protection if their video started out with “Baby’s First Moments” because they used the same program, graphics, and was similar in length? Of course not, however that doesn’t mean they can’t use a policy to their advantage to put ads on your video while you lose control of your material in the process. For them it’s a lottery ticket. For you it can mean your livelihood. How you respond, and understanding what you’re responding to is imperative today. Also would you have the nerve to respond when what you’re doing has possible significant legal ramifications? You need to know. Ignorance will not be a defense.

A fundamental understanding in this area is a crucial responsibility of anyone who takes entrepreneurship seriously because the trolls are very serious.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

Audio Podcast from Mark’s “Prose Series”

3 Rookie Mistakes That Can Put You Out of Business


This podcast and more available in iTunes®

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

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

American Exceptionalism

I wrote and published this article originally in April of last year. Like wine it might have more flavor today than when first crafted.

American Exceptionalism…It’s the Cure not the Disease

Sorry folks, I’m getting a little tired of all the bashing, hand wringing, or the self loathing I keep hearing surrounding the American Exceptionalism argument. Hopefully many of you haven’t bought into all this trite the so-called “Ivy leaguers” like to espouse. For me, I’ll take a little more talk, and action from people wearing cowboy boots than the wing tips. Have most people in this country forgot that it wasn’t the suits, and ties that forged into the unknown with nothing more than a horse, a wagon, and yes a gun. If that bothers anyone, save the emails, I could care less. The schoolboy crowd could have never taken root in this new unknown until the people who had the courage to go out and do It…Did It! Only after these pioneers settled themselves in, and actually built the infrastructure that would allow this “genius crowd” to actually attend a school could they then look down their noses at them.

The term “Cowboy” was once revered in the lexicon of American culture, and I would argue throughout the world. As of late it seems more, and more that any pain being suffered by the “book smart” elite is instantly shoveled onto the vapid argument that it’s because American exceptionalism never really existed. The problem to me is, it doesn’t exist for them. This “thing” of  A.E. is not about studying, It’s about doing! You don’t look for the “How to build a better world 1.0 manual” you go out and build it. When you need to chart a new course, and there hasn’t been any maps created yet, you venture out into the unknown and make one. You also don’t wait for permission from any self-appointed know it all to give you some made up hog wash that they have sanctified your endeavor.

I would venture to say that the real crisis facing this nation, and our economy is that we who hold dear the underlying principles that created the Greatest Nation this little planet known as Earth has ever seen, is in trouble because the wing tips have somehow snookered the boot wearing crowd with drivel that we need to consult their approval first. Nothing could be further from reality, and I give here an example that fills this chin rubbing set with a fear scarier than not getting their Tee time at 9.

It’s more than likely if you have an MBA, Ph.D, BS, or any other host of so-called wonderful acronyms after your name, even if it’s held from one of the those “greatest institutes of learning” you will likely be presenting yourself to be hired by some company which was founded by a dropout. Sorry to be the one to inform you, but yes, more than likely that latest and greatest company will be because of a “Cowboy.”

I don’t know about you, but I take great pride donning my cowboy boots. And they have points that can be so useful when the wing tip wearer who just tried displaying his superiority bends over to tie his undone laces.

Hi Ho Silver!

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr

I would like to add this footnote in light of what I see transpiring across the spectrum. It seems to me many are forgetting a few things when they’re debating this issue. If memory serves me correctly, no government agency supported or paid for the pilgrims voyage. There were no roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, libraries, universities, and more to help the frontier pioneers. Too many are trying to make a case or debate today’s issues within some form of the “chicken or the egg first?” quandary. Forgetting or intentionally keeping it as some cloudy riddle. However if you truthfully start from the beginning it settles the argument which came first.

Entrepreneurs of all stripes settled, built, and will continue to move this world ahead. Even when every “Ivory league” or so-called “Smart crowd”  know it all tells us we can’t.

Yipee Ky-Yay ____-_____!

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr


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

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Although I agree with that philosophy I thought I’d share some data points and thoughts of my own in regards to “impressions.”

As many of you know I’ll be presenting at the Carnegie Center next month. I was asked to make a presentation on “The Business of Writing.” Personally I’m honored while at the same time humbled because it wasn’t that long ago when I expressed thoughts to peers and family that I wanted to retire at age 45 then possibly write or make speeches. Most just rolled their eyes. Yet here I am. I’m not making this statement to be braggadocios. I’m stating this as to give context for others so that when you decide to make bold statements about what you want to accomplish you’ll not allow the “You can’t do that. What do you know about that?” crowd hinder your aspirations. So on that note I thought I would share some data points compiled by StreetCry Media (yes my media arm) in preparation for the event. Here’s some data points: (Please pardon the repeating My, My, My. It’s only for context.)

My articles or writings on any given subject now produces nearly 1 Million impressions on the web. Although this number is subjective, it’s based on the same repeatable search criteria we used when the results came back with little more than 100 or so when I first started. Are they all in reference to me? Of course not. But when you can go (and we have) some 15 to 20 pages deep using our search criteria with few repeating sources, the rest no matter how many or few becomes irrelevant. These results don’t include people accessing via my App or iTunes® or RSS feeds and more. The number could be greater, but I feel my case and reasoning’s are served better if I left out rather than trying to add anything and everything.

The term”impressions” is clearly subjective. Think of it in terms similar to an Arbitron® way of calculating how far your depth of reach is. If a radio is placed in a town square. It’s not counted as 1. There are formulas based on how many people pass by and so forth. If you’re on the cover of a magazine on newsstands world-wide but only sell 1. It’s about how many people may have seen the cover. That’s why I use the term “impression.” My articles at any given time can and have been referenced by not only literally hundred of independent blogs worldwide, but also by some of the worlds largest media sources today such as USAToday.com, AOL news (that’s also the Huffington Post) and others. Below is an example…

Just to show I’m not blowing smoke.

While the Social media industry will make a case that you need to on the first page of search results to be effective, Google® itself has netted results implying that many are now favoring second page results as a key because the first page more or less feels gamed by SEO tricks. I have results on certain topics where we stopped at 15 pages deep with very few repeating sources. They’ve been referenced in foreign language sources, and I even turned up on a coffeehouse blog in Utah. You never know where your work will turn up.

27 and counting

My blog is now read by visitors from 27 Countries, and counting.
It’s also important not only where you’re being read, but what people whom I personally hold as inspirational might be saying about me on the web.

When I first saw this, you might say I was a little more than humbled.

Although these are milestones along the way the reason why I feel they are important is this; Every so-called social media guru and others will tell you in order to grow your business or anything else you not only have to do it this way, that way, or their way or you just don’t get it. I offer as empirical proof that most of them have no clue except how to repeat what they heard someone else say. As of this writing here’s a short list of what they’ll tell you in order to be taken seriously. You must have or do the following:

  1. You must use Facebook®…..I don’t.
  2. You must use Twitter®………I don’t.
  3. You must use LinkedIn®……I don’t.
  4. You must allow comments….I don’t.
  5. You must write for SEO’s (Search Engine Optimization)………I don’t.
  6. You must comment on others stories and blogs relentlessly……I don’t.
  7. People won’t read more than 100 words..My articles average 500-750 (my most widely read column to date nears 1250!)
  8. If you’re not an English major you need an editor…I’m lucky if I can spell editor half the time.
  9. You need to link to others so they’ll link to you….I only link if I feel my reader needs the reference for more information or context. Not to “game” readers.
  10. I’ll stop here, I think you see my point.

I would just like to close with this statement. I have always valued and hold in the highest regard the intellectual capacity of you the reader. I never have, and never will take for granted or assume that you can’t see, or smell BS from a mile away. Whether I’m right, wrong, close, or way off base. I’ll only write or say what I truly think and let you decide if it’s worth anything. It’s the only thing I know how to do. And once again I thank every one of you for making this post possible.



© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

Aiming High

(My column as it appeared in Upmarket magazine week of July 15th)

For many the term aim high means setting lofty goals. Yet this time it’s more about actually how or what you’re doing to hit those levels, and why many find themselves constantly thinking they’re doing everything right while continually missing the mark.

For anyone who’s taken Drivers Ed. many instructors will tell you to aim high. This wasn’t some form of motivational speech to inspire you to become a driver for NASCAR®. (Although the way many drive maybe I’m mistaken, but I digress.) It was to have you look further down the road rather than right in front or to the side. The reason for this instruction was to help you in keeping the car on a straight path rather than drifting from side to side. When your focus is to close you tend to drift easier and more often resulting in sharper and more forceful corrections. This metaphor can explain why so many feel consternation when navigating the road of entrepreneurship.

You need to look well into the distance and let your peripheral vision awareness keep you from drifting. Your peripheral vision fills in many of the details that you need, and it signals you seemingly without any input on your part to make the small corrections needed to stay on your course. Where ever you focus is where you’ll tend to drift or veer towards. An actual skill taught at race car schools is if you’re sliding towards a wall you’re not to look at it. Rather you must focus on where you want the car to go, not where it’s currently heading. If you focus on the wall chances are you will hit it because your mere focus begins to trump your skill of regaining control. Same lesson applies to hitting the skids in business. Where you focus can trump acumen or skill. Yes, it’s that important.

How many forget to keep focus on their long-term objectives by staring blindly at short-term circumstances. Thinking you can’t lose a stitch of business regardless if it’s good business or not because times are tough is one example. You won’t focus on finding good or better business. Your focus will be directed at how to become better at keeping or not losing bad business. Or maybe you want to grow a business, however your focus is more inline with dodging pot holes (quieting unruly customers) rather than looking for a smoother road (customers that you can wow). Some will watch or listen to news with screeds of doom and gloom rather than steering their goals toward finding ways to increase their business. Many more will focus on not losing rather than gaining. Next thing they know instead of arriving at their destination all they seem to do is hit more detour signs. It’s not the roads that are problem, it’s your focus on how to navigate them. You can’t read signs or warnings to help navigate if all you do is focus on the curbs. Focus squarely on the potholes and that’s where you’ll end up. Put all your attention on not drifting into a ditch and you may just miss the sign that reads “Road Ends, Bridge Out!”

Being aware but not focusing on obstructions that may come along during your travels is what keeps you heading in the right direction. Focusing constantly on the side of the road as a means to stay clear will only land you in that ditch you so clearly wanted to avoid.

Have faith in your driving skill as an entrepreneur, focus on your destination, and the pot holes, detours, and other inevitable hazards you’ll navigate through. Almost as easily as being on autopilot.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

Bitter-Sweet-Laughable-and Everything In Between

Whether you’re a veteran entrepreneur or just making the plunge one thing will remain constant. You’ll have a lifetime filled with moments of reflection in self-analysis. Some will come out of the blue years or even decades later that will make you stop, think, and ask yourself;  “Was that the right decision at the time or not?” A truly informative, and useful self-analysis should also include this question answered honestly; “Would I make the same decision today if all I knew was what I knew then?” Woulda, shoulda, coulda, is for amateurs and parlor game discussions. Shoulda bought shares in Apple® at $60.00 then you coulda sold them at $600.00 and you woulda made a killing is worthless chatter. If something you invested in went to ZERO and you lost a near fortune would you have still made the same decision based on what you knew then is more relevant, and useful. Sometimes knowing that yes you would, or no you wouldn’t and why is the only significant question to be answered regardless of the final outcome. I have done this countless times over my career. It never ends.

Entrepreneurialism is a way of life, a mind-set. You can be employed by someone else yet still be an entrepreneur. In my view it’s the business of you! Regardless of the name on your check. When you take ultimate responsibility of where and how you’re going to work, and under what conditions, in my book you’re an entrepreneur with the proper mind-set. Forget about text-book definitions for the moment because for me most books on business aren’t worth jack.

I had one of these such moments today with something that happened over 20 years ago. In view of the summer doldrums I just thought I’d share it at length.

Years back I had just sold my business and went back to work for a company that groomed me and gave me opportunities to become much of what I am today. It was more than a company to me, they became my adopted family. Yet it was the time of financial crisis with the S&L scandals happening everywhere and banks and business were closing left and right much like we see today. As circumstances emerged that were unknowable or even correctable by us the company was forced to close and I found myself out of work, and unemployed within a year of selling my building and business. I was frustrated, mad, and a few other emotions all rolled in at the same time. So I set my sights on the #1 company in my profession. If I was going to prove to myself I was any good I wanted to be associated with a company so large that it dwarfed anything I had ever been associated with. Safety in size I believed then. I had been working in the equivalent of a grade school play. They were “Broadway” the big time and had just recently been bought out by an even bigger company. I knew nobody that could help me get in so I did the unthinkable. I circumvented everything and anyone whom could have stood in my way (HR to be exact) and directly called the person whom could hire me and nearly demanded that he speak with me about possibly hiring me. (Call it a sales pitch) He reluctantly agreed.

When I walked in for my interview I had to cross a sales floor approximately an acre in size with hundreds of salespeople desk to desk in what looked like an ocean of people. I never seen anything like it and nearly rescinded my appointment out of sheer panic as I was escorted through to his office. My pitch was simple. I would bring in only new business, be paid solely based on commission of 1 cent per pound sold, and only paid on actual dollars collected. If they didn’t get paid for any reason, I didn’t get paid. No one ever made such an offer, (based on the math alone it seemed like inevitable starvation to everyone) yet there I was a nobody making my pitch to someone overseeing his sales staff of this one department of $500 million dollars in annual sales. The other division that handled the produce side also did a little more than $500 million. So the combined area division I was applying to work within was just over a BILLION dollars in yearly sales. And this was only the New England division. They were a national organization. His answer? “OK, let’s see if you can do what you think you can.” I was in, but that’s not the end of this tale.

After 12 weeks I received a call from him stating he needed to speak with me at his office. (They were in Rhode Island I was just outside Boston MA.) As I sat he told me that the accounting department is up in arms because they tallied my expected yearly earnings based on my current sales. I was going to earn more than the President of that division. I was not only producing, I was producing far above what anyone thought was possible, and I was just getting started. He himself was ecstatic for me and applauded me, but accounting would have none of it. They said; “If we do this with him, everyone will want the same deal.” He told them they should. His answer to this was; “Anyone whom wants to give up their salary, start from zero, be commission only, and incur all their own costs we should not only say yes to in a heart beat, but should encourage it company wide.” They wouldn’t listen. They demanded if I wanted to stay on they were willing to make me an employee an offered me a generous salary. If not then everything would be terminated as of now. He was outraged.

The salary was more than I ever made on salary, The alternative was I would once again be unemployed but now with no unemployment benefits available to apply for. My answer? To him I expressed my complete gratitude and thanked him for taking the chance on me to begin with. Then I told him to tell them to “Stick it!” He laughed and agreed with my answer. He also confided to me that this brought to light things that made him question his own situation and if he himself should stay. Within a year of this incident he would also leave to take the helm at a competitor. He crushed them. Within one year this division went from half a Billion dollars in yearly sales to less than half and has never recovered. That company was SuperValu®. What brought all this back are the headlines involving them today. The financial outlets are a buzz for reasons they would rather not see. If a picture tells a thousand words than below is an encyclopedia of what happens when the wrong departments are allowed to make important decisions.

“Been Down so long..Down is looking Up”

So the question stands. After all the headaches and turmoil I went through after my experience there, would I still make that same call and decision to go there based on what I knew then as compared to what I know now?


© 2012 Mark St.Cyr