Everybody wants it…..but nobody will pay.

When I was first writing the above headline, one of my favorite Van Halen tunes kept coming into my head…” Everybody wants some…I want some too…” That seems to be the best way to describe every new social interaction web do thingy that comes along on almost a daily basis. First came email then Chat, then Instant Messaging, then Web cams, You Tube, Face-book, and now…..Twitter. I know I’ve missed a few others ( probably more like a myriad ) but you get the point.

In talking to business people and others, it seems everyone is now trying to figure out if they should Twit, Tweet, or God knows what else. In discussions the question I pose is this….How much revenue do you think it will generate in 3 to 6 months? Well that’s all I need to get the glazed deer in the headlights look out of them before they search the deep dark crevasses of their mind in search of answer. What happens next is what I call the ” Pie in the Sky diatribe”.  If you’ve ever been in management you’ve seen this for yourself. You’ll ask someone about the great project, program, widget, do thingy they want to turn the company upside down for and be allowed to have an unlimited budget to research their ideas, but have NO clear answer to show how it can make PROFIT.

I used the word profit specifically because making money is easy, making Net Profits is quite another. All the fore mentioned networking or social networking outlets themselves are NOT…let me repeat this NOT generating profits. The very core users of these mediums if anyone would care to notice not only refuses to pay actual dollars for its use, but believes it is their right to have it supplied for FREE, and objects with the fierceness of a junkyard dog when anyone tries to monetize their use of the service.

I will make a statement that some will laugh at, others will shake their heads and say I don’t know what I’m talking about, but that’s par for the course if you ever been in charge. So here goes……..

“Every form of social networking that is currently being used at this present time within 12 to 24 months will either not exist, or they will be consolidated into one or two entities that will be minuscule compared to their current size, and will cost money to use or have access. The other part of the so called FREE social media networking will be absorbed into platforms like Google or Yahoo or some variation, and more likely will be an ineffective way to monetize  products or services for most business owners. It will only be away of trying to create a so called  BUZZ that most will fail in trying.”

Why do I say these things? Have you ever noticed that every time one of these So Called “Social Networks” comes along ( I call them Time Dumps )…and the company tries to monetize it, what happens? The users move on to another one that’s free. And what happens to all that planning you put into figuring it out? Let’s just say Time Dump becomes a relevant term.

Hold on did I hear a Tweet?…Oh wait…It’s just a bird…but I don’t see him carrying his GPS?…How does he ever get around?…I better Google that.

Mark

The deal is done, and so might they….

One would have to be living under a rock to not know the dealings going on in the auto industry in the US. ( Many have their heads in the sand, but that’s a column for another day.)

Chrysler just announced it’s filing for bankruptcy, and they will be merging with that juggernaut of innovators, and market movers of the industry…Fiat. ( Yes…I’m being sarcastic.)

I am being inundated on TV, print, radio,politicians, and anyone else who can speak telling me ” What a Great thing this will be”…”Chrysler will now build a better car with Fiats technology” , and blah, blah, blah.  Am I the only one who remembers that Chrysler was purchased by the current owners when..Daimler-Benz…Yes that’s right, the same people who own and manufacture Mercedes decided to jettison Chrysler when it became obvious that they couldn’t bring Chrysler up to their standards with all the “Legacy costs, and other baggage” that came along with Chrysler. All it did was hurt the image and brand power of Mercedes.

This is what happens when a great company acquires a faltering one and is not able to impose it’s strict vision of quality, and perceived value. It’s a lesson shown time, and time again. The better of the two companies merged will suffer, and fall to the lower standards of the failing one…It rarely, if not ever works the other way. Once Daimler Benz had the chance to scrap Chrysler, even though it took a large financial hit. It did what any well run, well managed company will do….Take it’s Lumps…and Move on! That’s what great companies do, and in the end Mercedes is the better for it. But why take my word for it?….Once your able to afford the car of your choice, I’m sure the first one you want to get on the list for is that new…Chrysler Fiat model. Besides when it’s parked at the curb……Who cares about quality, and style. It’s a bargain,  Right?

Mark

What’s worse than a house of cards?……

The answer is much easier to state than  getting  someone to understand. Here’s an example….

A house built of solid materials,  new technology, great neighborhood, energy saving technology, new paint, etc, etc.  What  could possibly be wrong?…..How about a  weak foundation….. or improperly mixed concrete……..shoddy foundation work…etc, etc.

Most people (and even worse a lot of business people )  today seem only interested in the superficial. You can build a great house with the finest materials and craftsmanship, but if the foundation is not properly constructed, it’s only a matter of time till it All comes crashing down.

Today, yesterday, and tomorrow the foundation of this country, and it’s economy IS, and WILL BE,  for as long as you or I am alive is, JOBS.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs is what an economy is built on. If unemployment is growing at record levels, and no end in sight, I don’t care what your selling, you’ll be hard pressed to find buyers. No buyers, no profits, no profits, no jobs, no jobs, No Economy…..Period! This notion that we are going to create all these jobs when company after company announces layoff after layoff is In my estimation….Fool Hearted.

We are at a point as I’m writing this post over 6 Million unemployed..and at 8.5 percent…with the number continuing to climb with No End In Sight!….Every report this year has been titled as…The worst since 1945, or 37, or 42, or 77…….The current theme is Worse than…Not Better than…and with that you’ll see politicians, business leaders, and talking heads quote this statistic, or that statistic stating why one shouldn’t be  worried.  I gave this statistic at a speech I did at the End of last year and I believe it to be more relevant now than then…….The so called ” Experts ” and ” Analysts” who make their living, and are paid by Fund Managers, and people like the ones who probably control Your IRA…correctly called 2 of the 500 companies earnings on the S&P 500……I did not miss type…..2 as in TWO…out of 500…yes Five Hundred. That’s a winning percentage of let’s see…….Zero….Oh wait ..I’ll move to a floating decimal point….0.004%……I guess that’s better than zero right?

So here’s the rub, and why I’m so indignant on this issue…. I was speaking with someone the other day who was telling me how the      “Government” was in the process of fixing the economic conditions, and will be ” Creating better business conditions”.  Then they went on to tell me how this was going to be, and how that was going to be, and how this projection will put that projection, and all will be profitable in the end. So me being me I asked only 1 question….I said I’ll assume all of your projections are correct if you just simply answer this One Question.

Your projections are based on unemployment not going any higher than 8.2%…and it has to be no higher at any time over the next 10 years to make your projections credible….We’re 3 months into the first year, and we’re currently at 8.5% and it has been rising every month for the last 6 months. All indicators, and all corporate reports are stating more layoffs are coming, and larger, and larger layoffs are announced weekly…( 16,000 more announced from one company just yesterday)…So already your numbers, and projections are suspect are they not?

There was silence for about a minute, then he started telling me how well  the windows were constructed, and what color the house would be, and………..I think you get the picture.

Pinochle anyone?

Mark


They’re on TV so they must be smart. Right?

Over the last several weeks the television, radio, and papers have all been a buzz. I’ve see talking heads, and columnists stating how they predicted the current rise, and now the giving details on why they were correct, and blah blah, blah.

Problem is with most of these so called experts, they seem to think that the only people who listen to them are as vague in memory, and details as they are.  Not so fast Charlie Brown…( My apologies to Charles Schultz ) some of us are listening, and watching, and keeping score on you. We’ re watching because we want to make sure we do the exact opposite of everything you’re saying, and also want to know how the misinformed, and lazy in their analysis gathering are going to view the world. And why would one do this you might ask?….To exploit it!…That’s correct, I didn’t stutter or miss type. I’ll say it again so I’m not misunderstood….To Exploit it!

In business and in life there will always be people or companies that will make bad decisions, wrong decisions, panic decisions, and on and on. It’s up to you to make sure your using the best information available to make the best decisions based on the size and scope of your needs. An example of this would be…If your building a dog house, and you have some basic carpentry skills, you might not need a blueprint. However…If your a master carpenter and your building an office building, you would NEVER even think of picking up your hammer without a seeing a detailed set of plans from what you believed a reputable architect.

So would someone please explain to me why people are putting so much faith and weight into this craziness I’m observing in the media?  I have listened to people who I believed to have a very good handle on their finances, and other things tell me they are doing this and that based on what they saw on TV, or read in the paper, and here’s the kicker, they have not looked up or even tried to find evidence to solidify their position.

I have been pointing this out time and time again.  If you had taken the advice, or followed their predictions over the last 2 years….You would be Broke, Out of Business or both.

Tough times demand pertinent information from credible sources, and yes….It’s going to be expensive. Probably much more expensive than your paying now. However, true actionable, and relevant advice usually does cost more than your cable bill, or the newspaper.

So here’s some free advice,    You’ll  get what you pay for, one way or another.

Mark

Let’s call it….”Problems Solved”

I’m writing to inform everyone that I solved the financial crisis. I also solved “Global Warming”, the “Energy Crisis”, and while I was at it “World Peace”.

Some of you I  imagine are very skeptical as you should be, but take my “word” for it…Yes I did.  I wrote it all right down here on my blog. I gave stellar details on how I did it. I wrote flawlessly with every correct syntax, and punctuation that would make an English Teacher proud. ( That in itself should make you suspect! )

My thoughts were bold…my use of debate skills were extraordinary. Well that’s what I would have liked to write…However the real reason for the post is this…In the process of trying to add some new features to the site…Some of my recent posts were Permanently Deleted and Erased! Since I can’t retrieve them, and don’t remember exactly what I wrote, I figured what better time to tell of accomplishments that I never did, and no way for anyone to prove I didn’t.

I figured why not try the same type of false claims most of the so called ” Speakers” claim they can do, or have done. Seems to work for them.Then I came back to my senses….Making false claims Never Works….Might fool others and yourself for awhile, but in the end your going to have to Prove it!

Mark

Why it’s the same……But different.

Unusual times can demand unusual headlines, which is exactly why I used the above.( Yogi Berra might have been the originator.)

I’ve been writing and speaking on the topics of business and the economy, as well as motivation and other topics  people need to navigate these difficult times. Unlike other speakers, or the so called “Gurus” who pitch these..”Get Rich”..”Invest in This”…”Increase Your Income”…” Jump Start Your Business” schemes..I have at least done in life, and in practice what I preach. If you were to steer your life or your business in the direction of these and  more troubling, the so called “Experts”…and…”Talking Heads” on television, or radio. You would  either be  broke, bankrupt, unemployed, or all three combined.

I’ll limit this post to just focus on what the headline truly pertains to, because I could write a book on this subject. ( Don’t be surprised if I do!)

The parallels with 1929 and 2009 are numerous in deed. However, the difference  now is the media. Back in the day when the depression was taking hold the so called ” Spin factor” from the media was almost non existent by today’s standards.  You received your news by either a dominant local or national newspaper, or you heard a variation of the same headlines on the radio and  again only from a limited amount of sources. The news was the “News” not a lot of conjecture and opinions. You also had the man on the street telling experiences to his neighbors, not a so called ” Man in the Street” poll by an unknown source. Listening to the “Media” of late,  you would wake up in the morning being told” The Great Depression is upon us all is lost”….only to be told the next day..” Greatest Buying Opportunity in Stocks and Real Estate since 1939″…Personally, I never knew macro economic shifts could happen daily ( yes, pun intended!), but if you rely on the “Media” for your information as to how your going to position your business or portfolio, well I would imagine your business, your pocketbook, and your sanity are all in the same place….In the dumpster.

Today I watched the financial channels, and to my amazement I heard one person say in response to  reported plummeting economic indicators  ” Well the figure is right in line with expectations…This number is built into the market..We should go up in value from here.” The problem with this was the pushed aside fact of the previous numbers were revised DOWN..to the worst since 1937!  This is the equivalent of someone telling you they thought they had $100 in their pocket , but only found $50 , but since they thought they could have been broke, they can now go out to dinner. However they will not take into consideration that they just received a bill for $200 that went unpaid which will be due tomorrow.

It ceases to amaze me how people who seemingly understand this dynamic are unwilling to do anything to counteract it. If there is one thing I could point to over my years that’s helped me and protected me from some of the worst mistakes a  person could make, is I pay for my information. Yes I pay, and to some I pay far to much. I have been told that they could buy a new car with the money I spend annually. However my “News and Information” is for the purpose of  useful, usable, actionable, and results based information. What they don’t understand is my information buys me the car. Them just buying a car will only give them large repair bills, and even larger headaches!

You need to pay for information….You’ll go broke paying for opinions!

Mark

I have seen the enemy, and the enemy is us.

Understanding why the current dilemma in Washington happens.I was trying to explain the current problems facing all of us to a colleague the other day. It seemed for some reason I just couldn’t get the point across so I came up with this to make my point.
( You fill in The blank because it fits anyone.)…called their Government the other day because they saw that if others were getting a ( Handout or Bailout, you decide.) they should ask also. It wasn’t like they didn’t have any problems, or needed a lot of money. Just something to get them by till the tough times went by.

The phone was answered by a very monotone voice and asked what they needed. Once they were told the voice said…We need to check for funding Please Hold….As they waited, they heard a vehicle screech to a halt at their neighbors home. A number of government officials forced their way into their home, and left with what appeared to be money. The monotone voice came back on the line and stated funding for the request had been appropriated.

The caller putting what they thought happened into words asked if they just took the money from his neighbor? The voice replied. Of course. The government doesn’t really have money of it’s own. It all comes from tax payers. They used to teach that in school, but for other reasons that had been stopped.

Feeling uncomfortable with what happened they asked if their neighbor would know? The voice replied that if they were uncomfortable with taking from someone so close, they could get the final funding from someone else in another region of the country.

Feeling better that they wouldn’t know the person directly they said …That would be better. The voice said fine and hung up the phone.
Later during the year they heard a screech of tires outside their garage. It was the same men they seen go into their neighbors home, but this time they were going into the callers garage. When they asked what they were doing, they were told they had come for one of their cars. Since they had two, someone needed the other. But the caller yelled ” I just bought that! ” Undeterred the government officials put the car on a truck and informed them, that the car was going to a needy cause, and might only need it for a short time, however just in case, if it’s needed for anytime longer, they had better save up because they would still be liable for any repairs or fuel charges. The caller just hung their head, and said I guess what comes around, really does go around.

The problem is not with the pendulum.

You keep hearing this explanation and that explanation for the trouble with the economy. One says “blame this”…another says “blame that”….all seem to be missing the bigger point.  Let me state right here, right now…”There is ..NO…I repeat NO….single reason for the current economic crisis. The situation was caused by a multitude of problems that accumulated, and once they reached the tipping point it was an all out assault to the downside.

Everyone from TV to Radio to what ever has an opinion they want to share saying theirs is correct. Problem is most of them are. An accumulating total of bad ideas gone wrong is what happened, and that brings us back to the pendulum.

Pendulums swing back and forth. We have just witnessed one side of the swing…The other side is now taking place.

Just as hard and as fast as the former swing went, the return stroke can be just as hard, and fast. What most are unaware of is where they are on the swing. Some got off earlier and thought they were safe. Some continued to ride thinking it would go on for ever. Both are coming to realize they were wrong. The problem inherent in a pendulum swing is once you get knocked down, it’s not the first strike that’s lethal. It’s the strike that happens as your trying to regain your footing, and unprepared for the second swing coming from the opposite direction. In a weakened state, and thinking the worst was behind you most will allow themselves the time of being vulnerable to do what they call” Healing from their wounds” not realizing the next punch can be much more severe than the last.

The only thing one can do to be prudent in these economic times is to realize a pendulum swings..That’s what it does, and that’s what it will do. You can not stop the swings in life, nor in economic terms. Your best defense is to grasp the pendulum in it’s swing knowing you’ll have to release at some point. Or make sure your not vulnerable to the swings, and either move out of the way, or Duck!

Mark

© 2009 Mark St.Cyr All Rights Reserved

Wait a second…I thought you wanted to be rich?

I can hear you now….”But I do..But I do!”

Seems there’s a little bit of a conundrum going on with people recently. All you have to do is turn on the TV, pick up a newspaper, or turn on the radio, and as Emeril Lagasse  would say ” BAM!”…..the headlines read…Those Dirty Rich People…Those Rich Wall Street Bankers…Those Rich money toting…you get the idea I’m sure.

Has anyone of late stopped to ponder that being the so-called ”Rich” is part of what it is to be an American. Our fore fathers, parents, and just about anyone whom was part of your life growing up wanted you to be able to have the opportunity to become rich. The problem happening right now is the people who want to blame someone are scouring over the land looking for anyone to lay blame on. The problem of course with this type of thinking is it’s shallow. Daily drum beats of TV news stories and alike help bolster this train of thought in the minds of people who want quick answers to complex questions.  Sometimes you just need more than a 3 minute news headline.

Yes…..banks and other institutions played fast and loose with shareholders money. Yes…. other types of companies took incredible, and incredulous leveraging of assets without proper risk management. However, at the time almost all of these transactions were legal. They might have been made with poor judgment, but when everyone seems to be making money, no one questions as much as they should and blind eyes become more prevalent the longer it continues.

People are slow to ask themselves the questions that they demand from others in a holier than now demeanor. e.g.: When your 401K was growing by double-digit rates…did you complain? When you were signing on the dotted line for that house that was probably 5000 sq. ft. to big…did you complain? When you used your house as an ATM to purchase items that you now look back on as frivolous…did you complain?  A true answer to these questions even if you didn’t partake in them is No.  And with most why would you? As long as everything kept going up why not be on the ride? Within there lies the answer to all the problems. Rides, all rides at some point come to an end.

We are entering a time in our country where things for at least a while are going to be a little different from what they were just 24 months ago. Saving money, being a frugal shopper, dining more at home will probably be more the norm than it used to. In America unlike other countries we have boons, and we have busts. However unlike most other countries…We have had the greatness, and the opportunities to create more boons than any other country on this planet. We will get out of this morass, and we will come out stronger and better prepared for the times in front of us when we stop trying to pin the tail on the Rich and once again get back to trying to become Rich.

Mark

© 2009 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

The difference between Clarity, and Politics

One would have just crawled from under a rock, or beamed in from another planet to have not noticed what is happening in our financial markets. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has an opinion on the cause, the root cause, the projected cause,  and on and on and on and…….. You get the picture.

What most are witnessing, but have truly never been exposed to, is the truism of the saying…” The markets are looking for clarity.”  Most difficulties in any environment wont come to full fruition until the extremes are met by both sides of the problem.

Politics by it’s very nature surrounds itself in the ( “Grey Area”)  of problem solving, and problem recognition. Financial matters by their nature only resolve themselves with clarity ( “Black and White”) resolutions. The more vague you can be in the political arena, the more you can bend, and twist, or spin answers and ideas to fit your needs. That is not so where  “Real Money” lives, and works.

If the goal of the government is to try and be as vague as it can to support a political party, or ideology……The worse the financial markets will be.  In fact, they’ll  recede from making any decisions to spend, and or will only take positions that  give “Safe Harbor” to their money, and assets.

This in turn is exactly the opposite of what each side wants, and that  creates the negative feedback loop that we all hear about in the media. It’s at this point when the politics of the day, however political in ideology it may be, must have clarity for the markets to understand so that it may resolve itself to move forward, for good, bad, or indifferent.

Mark