On Steve Jobs… a few thoughts

Today many will wake to the news Mr. Jobs has resigned as CEO. He will most surely be granted another position to stay,and remain part of Apple® as he has asked. It appears his health must be getting the better of him. For many of us who’ve run companies large or small, or tried to start anything from scratch based solely on our vision of what we thought should be, and not accept the status quo regardless of the odds. It was Steve Jobs struggles, and triumphs that was for many of us what we thought about when we too were having our own dark hours.

This is a man who revolutionized everything we now take for granted, computers, music, movies, telephones, and to some degree business itself. But that’s not the important stuff for many. This is a man who at every stage where he could have kicked back and retired with mega bucks refused. He put everything on the line everyday, his money, his reputation, and at times I bet even more, and lost many times. However we’re talking about him today because he turned every loss into a turning point for even greater success. What an amazing story, period.

Although Apple® the company is a wonder of a success in so many ways (It also just became the largest market cap company in the world dethroning Exxon Mobil!) it’s the passion, the vision, the determination of Steve Jobs that I personally hold in reverent respect.

Thank you Mr. Jobs.

Mark

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

Can We Talk?

I love that line from Joan Rivers because of what it really implied. Can we be honest here, and cut with some of the BS?

I hear over, and over again from sources everywhere on how so many college educated people are disenfranchised in the employment market than ever before. I hear source after source of so-called “experts” tout statistics on how people with college educations are disproportionately out of work relative to their peers from years back. Unemployment or underemployment for anyone is a scary world. Real people have real problems. What they need is advice that is, prudent, workable, and reliable. What they don’t need are these statisticians whom glaringly use data points as a talking point to sound like they know something. As far as I’m concerned, the way they phrase their arguments, and reference their back up data, they know crap. A little blunt? Yes, but I’m sick of them, and so should you.

Over the last few decades our education system has been at the forefront of just how far we can lower the bar while letting everyone believe they raised it. You can find real reports done by credible sources that show most college grads today couldn’t pass the required high school tests of just a few decades ago. All this has done for many is to lengthen the time one can stay in school. This never showed as a problem because employment was bountiful, but when work is scarce it’s not the level of education that matters most times, it’s what you can produce. If you don’t have a track record of being a producer, or the only credentials you have are a list of degrees in “Liberal Arts” times are going to get even tougher. That sounds harsh, but it’s the truth. But no one is saying it, so I might as well step to the front and be the one. After all, that’s what I do.

Statistically, there are more college graduates than ever before. To that point you would of course have more graduates having issues than ever before, but really, so what? It’s a meaningless statistic that does nothing but allow some talking head 15 minutes of fame to fill air time while the unemployed college grad probably sits and watches nodding their head in agreement on why their plight is worse than ever. It’s all bunk.

Here’s what you might have heard had  I been on that TV panel….

Let’s go to Mark and get his view…”Well, first let me say in regards to education or degrees. If you are going to be a doctor, lawyer,architect, or some other occupation that requires a certain prerequisite level of education then you need to find a school that not only teaches, but can give you exposure into your chosen vocation while you’re learning. You can not just sit back, study, party, then think about where, or if you want to go to work right away. Those days are now long gone, and if that one point is not realized, no education will help or save you in this economy. If you don’t need a degree for your dream job, either skip the whole college thing, and  try to start working anywhere there is an opening in anything remotely related to your field or if all else fails, think on how you can start the business from scratch if necessary whether part-time or full-time. Anything, do anything, but get started now! You don’t have the luxury of time any longer. And stop listening to the people on TV telling you your plight is different from anyone elses. They’re full of BS! Get going now and take no prisoners.”

All righty then…Lets go to a commercial break!

Mark

© Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

Coming Soon….

We’ve been working on some different projects at MarkStCyr.com. We’re far from finished but we thought you might enjoy the opening video for a new series Mark is experimenting with for the Blog. Enjoy!

Why a Mid-life Crisis today, Might be the Opportunity of a Life Time.

Somethings are worth repeating. I wrote this article over a year ago, however it seems to have even more relevance today. Life is full of opportunities, if you have the courage to look, and then act.

Posted in Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 by Mark

Some of you think I’m kidding. Some are waiting for the punchline. There isn’t one. I’m being quite frank about the opportunity of a life time, but you must have the courage to grab it, and it wont seem easy at first glance, but here’s the kicker…It is, and here’s why…

Look around you at all your competition who is under the age of, let’s say 30. Most have never held a job till at least the age of 18 if not 21. These once considered “Prime Executive Candidates” have more or less been in school, and continue to stay in school to the ripe old age of 24. The government has just confirmed that they can still regard themselves as a child to the ripe old age of 26. The collective general working knowledge of this group has no, and I mean no understanding of working with or during difficult times. The Savings and Loan crisis of the 80′s seems like something out of the history books akin to reading about Homer . Nice reading, but for them, who needs those ancient teachings in their minds. That’s like, so not today. “Like” Homer didn’t even have a GPS back then so who cares. (satire intended)

If you watch TV, or read interviews on this coveted set of new recruits, you’ll find one over arching theme. ” I want a corner office, 4 weeks vacation, 12 days sick time, and a retirement plan that’s just killer! I want to start in about 2 months because I don’t want to miss out on spring break, and it’ll take at least a week after that to sober up from all the partying dude!”

So I’ll say it one more time.If you have the courage to be honest with yourself, forget about the “age thing” you have in your head. Be ready to show a future employer what you can do, will do, and what you have done.  You’re now in the world of writing your own ticket. With a little more gumption forget about looking for a job, create it.

Who’ll  stop you? The competition?

Mark

Fundamentals vs It’s Different This Time

As we wake on this Monday morning there seems to be a growing fervor from finger pointers everywhere. If you watch the financial channels, or other news outlets all you’ll see are the so-called “smart crowd” explaining why this matters, that doesn’t, and vice versa. It’s truly pathetic in my opinion.

As many of you know from listening to either my talks, or reading my articles I have been what has seemed to be a lone voice on why listening to these “wizards of smart” will be detrimental to not only your wallet, but too your sanity as well.

Over the last 18 months I have written many times why people needed to be cautious. Why people needed to understand that correlation, and causation are not synonymous. Almost to a person would a conversation (which usually turned combative on their part) about either financial markets, or business be defended by the other party with some statement of finality to shut me down, and to end the conversation e.g.: “Well, it’s different this time.” followed by.. “Just look at the market today. It’s higher right? So obviously you’re wrong.” I’m wondering how confident they feel about their argument today.

As of this writing every single person whom expressed just how much smarter they were than everyone else because they understood the great wizardry expressed by the so-called  “smart crowd”, and their merry band in the “wizards of smart club” are now proven absolutely wrong. Any, and all gains just in the financial markets since the now infamous “Flash Crash” have been wiped out. All the gains from the coveted arguments of why QE2 was a reason I knew nothing, and didn’t “get it” are wiped out. All the reasons, and rationals they put into why things are different this time over the last 18 months have been wiped away clean with fundamentals in just 10 days. Funny how that works isn’t it?

All my reasons, and arguments on why I believed this was a more than likely outcome are documented in my articles. I don’t need nor have to try to say “Hey..I said that!” It’s all here, documented, and with dates so at least for me I needn’t have to use the statement that’s almost as dreaded as the “It’s different” argument.

What statement is that you ask?

“I told you this could happen!”

Mark

© Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

You Never Know Just Whom You May Be Talking To

I’ve been both humbled, and infuriated at times when speaking with some people. Most times I’ll bet you get just as angry when someone starts talking at you with some superiority complex displayed by every word that seems to dribble from their lips. Usually this gets under ones skin because the person babbling has made no effort in finding out what you might know on any given subject they’re currently filibustering . They display with their attitude, and vernacular that they could care less, because after all, they know everything, or they’re consumed in self-importance.

The complete opposite happens when you’re more interested in what the other party might have to say or know. That is when something interesting or surprising can take place. Not only may you learn something new, you may also learn that the person you thought was just some hired help turns out to have been hired by Presidents, Kings, Queens, and a few other dignitaries that you’ve only seen on television. But that can only happen if you keep your own ego in check.

The other day I was out sight-seeing in my area. There was a building I have seen from the road that is just magnificent. It’s a public building however there are no signs or markers indicating the company or occupants within. As I drove around the lot looking for clues I spotted a man tending to the beautiful gardens at the front of the building. I went over and asked if he could tell me who occupied the building or its purpose. He graciously informed me of the occupants, then he casually pointed out the architecture styling, the reason why it was built to its proportions, and so on. It was a wonderfully explained cliff note of the building. I then commented on how wonderful the gardens looked, and asked if he services other gardens like this, or does this one take up all his time. That’s when I was just about floored. Turns out not only does he maintain this garden, but is responsible for a few others of the most renowned places in this area. Also when royalty, dignitaries, or Presidents come to the area, it is he whom gets the call when anything floral is needed. And at the personal request of some. He was soft-spoken non-braggadocios, just conversationally answering my queries as the exchange went on. On one point when I asked about if dogs can make his work tough because of what they can do to a landscape at times, he laughed and said “Oh no..I love dogs. Besides I also breed a few. Do you know President ________?” I said yes. “Well have you seen his dog _______? That’s one of my dogs.” I was flabbergasted. How interesting this conversation has been I was thinking to myself. (I don’t believe I have the right to state which President, nor the dog in case you’re wondering why the blanks.)

So next time when you think you should pan being polite or cordial to the gardener, maid, or anyone else you profile as being not worth your attention be fore warned.

They might be on a first name basis with the most powerful people on the planet.
Just saying.

Mark

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights reserved

 

Lessons I Learned From Running

As some of you know I’m an avid runner. I’ve been running on a consistent basis for decades now. (I just had to put that decades thing in) I was thinking the other day on how dealing with the act of running relates to life in general. Here are few things I was pondering:

  • The hardest part I’ve found about running was putting on my shoes. After that, the rest just followed.
  • Not being able to have that extra slice of pizza was harder than running.
  • Run outdoors whenever possible. Given a choice hamsters would not choose the treadmill. Keep yourself away from a cage when ever possible.
  • Run in all-weather conditions. If you wait for only perfect days, you’ll rarely ever run. Don’t wait for perfection.
  • If caught in the rain don’t get mad, you’re giving everyone else something to laugh at. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • If you notice you’re the only one running, is it because you’re that disciplined, or maybe you haven’t seen the crowd that runs while you’re in the shower. Don’t just assume it’s only you doing something.
  • Sometimes running too slow will give you more aches, and pains than running faster. Discomfort might be happening because your holding back.
  • Running uphill can be easier on the joints than running downhill because you are more in control going up. Beware allowing gravity to do your work for you. It can be a double-edged sword.
  • Get hydrated before you start a run as well as after. If you try while you’re running it’ll be too late. Preparation helps avoid pain.
  • If your going to be a dedicated runner, forget trying to buy shoes on the cheap. There are times when you have to bite bullets, and buy the best regardless of how much it goes against your wallet.
  • Ask questions of people who run, and are dedicated just like you. Chances are you’ll both learn something you didn’t know before because both of you want to become even better.
  • Always carry protection. You may know every dog in the neighborhood, but you might not know his new friend. You never know who’ll meet.
  • Not all aches, and pains need to be treated the same. Don’t use them as an excuse as to not do something you know you can.
  • One pass time can give way to another, and at the same time. I never liked reading fiction, but I now have listened to more fiction audiobooks than I have read Non-Fiction in the past year. You can always mix things up, and open new doors.
  • The people who beep at you are not saying hi, they’re trying to see if they can startle you and make you trip. Stupid is, as stupid does.

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

Sorry Mr. Immelt, But You are No, and You Don’t Know Jack

Sometimes I read things that make me shake my head. Sometimes I want to scream, and other times I just stand dumbfounded at the sheer stupidity displayed by some CEO’s.

I remember in 2008 when Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis was giving interviews, and speeches during the financial crisis. He displayed over, and over again sheer arrogance on his summations of why BofA under his leadership was the smartest bank ever known to mankind. Within 12 months he was shown the door with a boot mark clearly visible on the back of his pants. The mess left is still so toxic it might rival the cleanup efforts needed at the crippled nuclear plant in Japan.

General Electric has been a fixture of American business as long as anyone can remember. For much of that time it has been a shining star of American capitalism, and innovation. For many the CEO job at GE was the equivalent if not even more coveted a goal than becoming President of the USA. That is saying something. Period.

One of the reasons why GE enjoys some of the success it has today was because of the leadership, and tutelage of Jack Welch. Mr. Welch was all about business. He had an uncanny ability to move a multi-national conglomerate powerhouse of a company with ideas, and business plans that many were written on the back of a napkin, or a discussed over coffee, and a handshake. He understood how to “cut the crap” out of all the “BS” in most business plans, make people accountable, get it implemented, and if it didn’t work jettison the project, and move on. Mr. Immelt seems more akin to the Ken Lewis model than the Welch model, and here’s why….

Mr. Immelt appears more, and more to want to explain or talk, rather than do, and implement. It was noticed early on however it’s now becoming glaringly apparent that he knew the “politics” on how to get the job. Not the politics of “doing” the job. He’s looking, and talking like a politician more, and more, and more. It must be wonderful to be seen on television laughing with the President, and others on some committee that you are chairing while the ideas you’re coming up with have been dismal failures. Another laugh a minute must be the meetings you’re having in the boardroom on how the shares of GE have just been pummeled since you’ve taken over the helm. Is it not out of a SNL skit that you are just silent when everyone within your seemingly new coveted political protegé’s mouths are calling for what will surely decimate one of GE’s most innovative divisions? (remember GE makes Jet engines) How about defending GE’s reputation against the implied “Tax Scandal?” (insert crickets here) Better yet when you do want to speak you’ll go out and do speeches at venues like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and tell everyone that they should basically stop complaining about government, and get out and do more business. Hey Mr. Immelt, want to try to start a new GE from the ground up in today’s economic, and regulatory environment? Think you could do it? I’ll put dollars to doughnuts you couldn’t. So please, enough already.

Jack Welch was a true business leader, and has become an icon with his “Straight from the Gut” approach to doing true business. Every time I see or hear anything that comes from Jeffrey Immelt it seems more, and more like ” A Kick to the N_ts” for business. With CEO’s like Mr. Immelt, who needs politicians.

Mark

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

Your Business Future on Facebook and Others. Just Look to your Local Mall

People have asked me about my viewpoints for doing business on social media platforms in general. The question starts out something like this…“Where do you think it will be in the next 10 years?”  “Who will be #1 in five or ten years?”  or “Should I integrate my business on one?” I believe the only honest answer is “Who knows?” People are looking for answers to something that is almost unquantifiable. We act as if these juggernauts have been around forever. I have to remind people at times to remember they didn’t even exist just 5 years ago. Based on that alone it’s hard to extrapolate where they will be just 6 months from now. But the more I look at the way they are behaving, and setting up their business practices, the more it’s beginning to look like something many of us have seen before…. “The Mall.”

If you think about it coming from this viewpoint, it’s not as far-fetched as it may seem. What a mall did was create a social environment within a shopping experience. It displaced the stand alone retailer or downtown shopper by creating a destination experience. It also created a closed loop system where the mall operator controlled everything all the way down to even extracting a percentage of your sales in the register. If you wanted to be in the mall you paid dearly for that opportunity. Your customers were no longer truly “your” customers any longer, they were in essence “The Malls.” You were just a business paying for the opportunity to have access to “The Malls” shoppers. Want to change the layout or look of your business? You’ll need approval first. Want access to the data or customers that come into the mall so you can mine it? Forgetaboutit! Are you starting to see the similarities?

So what about some of the others? If one looks like a mall what might others resemble in the future? What if we looked at Google’s® attempt into social media the way we view Walmart®. A giant dominant player with vast resources where you can find anything you need 24/7.  A stand alone building (think network) that doesn’t need to be in some pricey borough so it can offer everything to everybody, and do it cheaply. The trick for you will be to get some form of shelf space, But! (and it’s a big but) Will you just be piled in with millions of others that did the same thing because it was “cheap and easy?” How will you be able to differentiate from the others? Or better yet, can you? If you’re a business looking on how you want to incorporate social media to build your business I believe viewing it from this perspective can give you some clarity. If you want to be a mall based company you wouldn’t waste your time trying to look like or sell to Walmart® would you? If you enjoy or you prefer the independence to be your own stand alone business where your customers are “your” customers rather than being at the mall or in some superstore you would also plan differently wouldn’t you?

Just like the malls certain media outlets will be overrun with teenagers, and alike. And would that help or hinder your business?  Or will they be the very customers you need to attract, or the very customer you need to avoid? How about the superstore? Do you want to be just another vendor on a superstore shelf selling whatever to whoever for whatever? Do you want to be in a strip mall, plaza, or your own building? There are different outlets of social media that resemble these also. I believe if you look at social media through this lens you just might get a little more clarity on where, and how you should be developing your business while at the same time clearing out the clutter that can be overwhelming or unquantifiable.

Mark

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr  All Rights Reserved

Thinking Aloud… Episode 5 “It’s Different This Time?”

Thinking Aloud features spontaneous insights (or rants) hosted by Mark on current events. They’re posted here when the inspiration hits, but for those who’ve asked, “I wonder what Mark thinks?” Well..here’s the place to find out. These are short, poignant off the cuff podcasts, or vidcasts that are delivered in typical Mark fashion. No holds barred, no retakes, just …

“Mr. Engineer….Please Hit Record!”

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr  All Rights Reserved