Elections Matter More Than Any Predictions

On November 6th, 2012 Americans went to the polls and cast their ballots. This fundamental civil right, and duty of being an American was fulfilled. A President was elected without incident. This alone in such a politically charged, super storm ravaged, divisive campaign is both remarkable, and commendable. However – now comes the real work.

Whether you were an Obama or Romney voter only one thing is clear. Far, far, far, too much had been pushed beyond election day as to deal with it after. That “after” is now here starring every single entrepreneur squarely in the eye. As I related above: We have a lot of work to do – and it begins today.

The manner in which we deal with these issues will be written into the history books. Then later pointed to by historians. However that will be for those historians, many not yet born to pontificate. What we did, how we did it, and whether it worked or not is for time to tell. Our job is to actually do those very things.

Because of the uncertainty or implications in this election, entrepreneurs had the legitimate excuse as to wait on starting, or implementing. Those excuses have now become moot. We now have facts. Interpret what these facts mean to you – how you need to apply them – and move. The time for contemplation is over.

As I have stated many times there comes a point when the talking ceases to be both helpful, or relevant. Now it’s entirely about doing. Regardless what party or political persuasion you align with. The time for entrepreneurs to move is now!

It’s time to start that business, or expand it. There is no other alternative.


© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

Stop Allowing Others To Use You

Although the above headline might seem more at home in a psychologists office. More often than not its equivalent affects more salespeople than they want to admit. Or worse – even know.

A common practice in sales is the supplying of prices (aka quoting) to both current or potential customers. An example of this happens regularly in the repetitive ordering and fulfillment channels such as food, gas, or other commodities. Along with the many others that don’t change as rapidly, yet do change relative to supply and demand.

Two examples might be where the distributor of televisions and such gives price quotes that are taken on a regular basis by their customers as to stock their shelves. i.e., “What’s your pricing on a trailer load of name brand flat panel televisions?” To the time dated variety such as; “We take price quotes on Friday’s for the following weeks deliveries on (fill in the blanks) products.” There are numerous other scenarios, however these will do for expediency.

The problem for many is they’ll give out prices, yet fail to ever get an order. Sometimes out of frustration as in some stab in the dark. They’ll quote a price they know is below their competitors cost. Once again resulting in no order. (or worse – they do!)

Here’s where most just give up citing examples to anyone who’ll listen how they were just being used. Rather than attacking the real issue. It’s not about being used. It’s about how you allow it – while using it to your advantage.

Being “used” in the sales profession comes with the territory. Think I’m off base? How many times have you gone somewhere and asked a salesperson in a store about the feature of this item or that? Had them explain all the differences including price knowing full well you intended to purchase it elsewhere. Have I made my point?

For most salespeople this is frustrating, yet it shouldn’t be. It’s just another aspect of the sales profession that needs to be handled in a way that’s advantageous that’s all. Once you understand how to make it work on your behalf you’ll never be at the mercy of anyone that only wants to “use you.”

Years ago I was sitting across a desk from a colleague. We were both salespeople and became good friends during our tenure as both of us were top producers. At times we would partake in bantering (probably more akin to hurling insults and taunting) about who could out do the other for bragging rights on any given item or such. Then one day I heard him in quite the discussion with a client which for me turned the equivalent of an epiphany.

He stated the following: “Listen, I’m not going to quote you another price. Doesn’t matter how mad you get at me. I don’t care. Just like I don’t care if the only reason you’re taking prices from me is to make sure your favorite guy isn’t taking advantage of you. But I’m not free. To continue getting quotes from me you’ll at minimum need to give me some type of business. Doesn’t need to be a lot, but something that makes it worth my while to continue quoting you. If not, no problem – but don’t call me, and I won’t call you. You don’t work for free, and neither do I.” Then he politely hung up.

I starred in almost disbelief across the desk. In sales one was taught what just took place was near heresy! Why would he say such a thing? So as usual I asked – and I listened.

He went on to say: “Look you and I both know there are people who’ll just use you. Doesn’t matter what you say, they’ll just use what you give them to pound their current supplier. I mean even our buyers do it to our guy’s. It’s the nature of the beast. But I just got tired of calling the ones I knew never would buy. So it was my way of weeding down my call list without being rude. I could always defend my actions with “It’s business.” Then a funny thing happened. Some called back and said, “You know, you’re right.” and gave me orders. A few have grown into my better customers. Some do just that – give me token orders. But that’s OK, that’s the deal. The others – they were never going to buy in the first place, but at least they’re not wasting my time.”

He was right on so many levels. I still shake my head on how many times I was allowing myself to be used. I didn’t fully comprehend that the “allowing” was a decision I was making. I was the one complacent in allowing it. It’s not just some aspect of sales that I had no control of. Nor was it something to just “shake off” as part of the business as so many so-called “Guru’s” instruct. It’s a part of the game that I (and you) control. And if that’s the case, then use it to your advantage.

From that day forward I followed his advice and example. I applied it to not only anything related to sales, but was able to put it to use throughout many other aspects of my business career.

One of the most important aspects of selling is about treating yourself as well as your current or potential customers as peers – rather than adversaries. Once you do, it’s very difficult for anyone to ever “use” you again. Unless it’s with your approval.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

Adventures In Stupidity aka The NYC Marathon

I can’t help but start with a quote I quipped a while ago when I would be either joking with someone or I was trying to politely express my bewilderment to someones statements or actions. However today I don’t say it with tongue in cheek. I truly mean it.

“Some look at things and ask why…I look at some things and say: You have got to be kidding me!” (It was hard not to type the F bomb)

We find up until the last moments the Mayor of New York City was still fixated that the marathon would take place on Tuesday. In some convoluted rationale he tried to make his case to proceed with the marathon as some form of noble gesture. Noble doesn’t come to mind. A sheer act of stupidity along with his indignant demeanor for anyone questioning his actions is what was more on display than anything else.

As disgusting as all that was I feel just as much blame needs to be pointed at The NY Road Runners, ING, and the runners themselves who were going to participate. The blame for this debacle and the channeling of Marie Antoinette rests squarely on them. Only one axiom seems to be fitting: “Have you no shame?”

There are so many issues one could check off or point to as not only improper, but viewed with utter revulsion. So I’ll touch upon only some, otherwise I could fill the pages of a book having enough left for a sequel of this real life version of some Hunger Games movie.

It is near unimaginable the self-absorption any club, person, or business would have to knowingly set up tents, porta-potties, generators, water supplies, and more while right alongside their fellow New Yorker’s are dumpster diving with their children because they have no food, no water, no power, or sanitary facilities to use. All the while hiding behind some ill-gotten cloak of protection in the form of “We’re not taking away from any resources.” Are you really that foolish?

What I don’t understand while at the same time infuriates me is the total disregard for their fellow New Yorker’s by the Road Runner Club itself. If any organization should have been the first to either declare out right cancellation, or at the least postponement. It should have been this group.

The people who run this organization are right there. They know, they see – yet didn’t care. Nope, set up the starting gate nearly on top of where 2 people lost their lives. I can only hope the board of ING squirmed as they seen their logo displayed proudly over what could be regarded as a grave marker. Their silence in this debacle was deafening, yet spoke volumes.

The both of them should have been the first, and most vocal groups advocating the use of tents, generators, supplies, or any other resources available to be used for helping anyone in need. After all they were setting all this up at Staten Island. The hardest hit with the highest death count that is still rising! Oh no, not that. We have a race to run!

Maybe they were going to offer assistance by instructing runners to keep a sharp eye as to point out any location where some family might find their missing, because all the bodies have yet to be recovered or found. After all, it’s the least they can do right?

Then there are the runners who were going to participate. The runners from foreign lands can be exonerated. They don’t know or quite understand. However, Americans who were to partake, let alone any New Yorker’s. Every single one of you know better. If you would have partaken in that race you would be pinning a badge of shame on your chest that would never, ever, be forgotten or removable.

I have seen some news reports where runners are expressing their distress for the amount of money they spent to get to the race, and how inconvenienced  they are, and more. Let me enlighten a few to something that just seems to be eluding them. Some of your fellow Americans have lost their homes, family members, jobs, and are starving without food or fresh water.

Currently as you express your inconvenience there is also no timeline for them on when or where they might get adequate help or at the very least – find shelter for themselves, and their children. Yet you runners are talking to television cameras to express your hardship? Are you that uncaring, and self-absorbed?

On top of all of this is the absurd defense of the marathon still taking place after the tragedy of Sept. 11. 2001. Here is the most pathetic reasoning or rationale put forward by both politicians, and participants alike.

First off what part of the time frame of September to November eludes them? Do they no longer teach the difference of time frame between months or days any longer? Must be all that new math I don’t understand.

By all the reasoning given by politicians and participants one can’t help but think if the marathon were scheduled for Sept. 15th, they would have set the starting gate on top of the rubble. Justifying it as “giving New Yorker’s back a feeling of normalcy.” So unimaginable, yet with what has been currently displayed – is it so far-fetched?

For anyone whom participates in both The Runners Club, or anything else in regards to the NYC Marathon. You should be demanding the resignation of every board member or person involved in the decision making process of allowing, and pushing for the marathon to go forward.

Every single participant that dons a running badge is directly tied to the disgusting display of not only insensitivity to their fellow New Yorker’s; but the sheer arrogance, and stupidity of their decisions and handling of this whole affair.

If you continue, or are to partake in this event. Even at a later date while the current leadership remains. Then that badge you once looked at with pride will be to the rest of us you’re badge of shame. Think about it.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

F.T.W.S.I.J.D.G.I.G.T.- Building Your Business

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

I started this category a while back because I was growing quite tired when far too many people had decided to explain to me why I was wrong – yet wouldn’t (or couldn’t) express why. Only that I was wrong because “I just didn’t get it.” Then more often than any of them cared to admit, it seemed I was closer to being correct.

Trust me, I’m the first to understand or point out calls I’ve made that have not exactly manifest the way I envisioned. Just one look at the levels being reached in the markets would show I was not only incorrect, but the term “incorrect” would be a kind term. However my reasoning wasn’t wrong.

We are currently in an age where government intervention along with the Federal Reserve have us in historic, and uncharted waters. Nobody knows how this will end, and the story is still being written. All one can do is navigate as this ship plods along. However setting your sails as if there are never going to be rogue waves, or gale winds in the future is the equivalent of economic malpractice. Yet far too many are doing exactly this.

To wit I offer another example where far too many were leaving their business structures in a more vulnerable position than they should have. Building their business solely, fundamentally reliable, or inseparable from a specific social media platform based solely because it’s free. Today’s example is again – Facebook®.

All of the sudden near overnight many “businesses” have woke to find all their connectivity with their “fans” has vanished by some reported accounts of 85% and more. Want or need to alert them to what you or your company are doing? It’s gonna cost ya! Free just became a whole lot more expensive to a whole lot of people who for lack of a better term; “Just didn’t get it.” (I just couldn’t resist typing that)

This is the fundamental issue facing so many newly minted entrepreneurs. They don’t realize that the internet tools that enable them to start, open, or for that matter operate daily can be taken away from them at any moment. If you are not paying for a particular service. Then you can’t count on it to be there today, tomorrow, or for that matter – ever again.

Business is business. There are costs to being in business – even if at the time are free. It’s how you look down the road, prepare for disruptions, make plans for expansion, calculate how others would compete, what a competitor needs to invest to offer service at your level. etc, etc. However most just think It’ll never happen. Problem is, in this ever-growing electronic world. It happens just as fast, and just as unannounced as a major storm can shut down brick and mortar establishments also.

You might not be able to prepare for every disruption – that’s normal. What is not acceptable is acting and conducting business as if there aren’t any. Or what’s most foolish of all – thinking it can’t or won’t happen to you. Just someone else.

For those interested in what is taking place with FB I suggest entering into your favorite search engine the term “Facebook to charge for promoting” that will give you many sources. I would suggest this research to anyone as to get a better grasp on what you may or may not be aware of.

And if you wish to read something I’ve written on this subject previously, here’s a link to a previous article.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

Adding Fuel To The Fire: With Water

He we are the day after when the “Storm of Storms” has hit the eastern seaboard of the U.S. with the devastation rivaling the asteroid believed to have hit the Yucatan millions of years ago and wiped out the largest lifeforms of the planet.

At least that’s the way Sandy has been portrayed across the media. She’s causing distress and hardship yes, but as of this morning her trail of destruction seems more inline that she’ll fall more into a nuisance based aftermath rather than the death and destruction equivalent of a Mayan apocalypse.

So here is where things begin to just not add up. When the tragedy of September 11th, 2001 happened one of the first concerns regarding the markets was to ensure in the event of any similar events; the markets could operate, operate correctly, and efficiently.

We were told at great lengths from all the powers that be both past and present not to worry because – contingencies were now in place. Shorthand for: “Don’t worry, be happy. We got this.” It would seem like all of that has had cold water (salty as a matter of fact) thrown all over those reassuring statements.

I understand the need of not having or needlessly placing or putting anyone in harms way. However, what I don’t understand is this: If you had contingency plans in place to handle disasters and keep people safe. You mean to tell me you those plans can’t or won’t be implemented because one would need to put people at risk to implement them? Really? I mean…Really?

Maybe I’m not that smart (but I did stay at a Holiday Inn® once) but it would seem to me that you actually didn’t have a plan. Which is exactly what adds fuel to the fire of the markets are both broken, rigged, and Joe and Jill public are on their own. The very same people the market needs.

It seems every time one turns on the television or radio to see exactly what protections were in place to protect participants in the markets after some event we see exactly the opposite of what we thought we should.

Scandal after scandal shows the protective bodies seemed more concerned on protecting their own derrieres rather than the public they were entrusted with.

We have glaring examples such as Bernie Madoff running a scheme for decades as the bodies to ensure such a thing couldn’t happen run around screaming to anyone who’ll listen (or print); “This was so sophisticated we can’t be to blame. We need better tools.” I think it became apparent there were just maybe a few too many “tools” that caused this debacle.

Just when that seemed behind us we get headlines one after another along the lines of “Rogue trader loses BILLIONS” or “Hedge Fund Illegally Uses and Loses All Their Customers Money” and one of the latest “The Algo’s Turn on Their Creator Nearly Collapsing Firm.” Yet we are supposed to feel safe because a boatload of agencies containing more acronyms than a warehouse of alphabet soup was eying the horizon for any storms. Maybe the scope was fogged. Or worse, someone pulled the prism.

All the above is just touching the surface of problems one has witnessed at far more of an alarming rate than one is comfortable pointing out. Not to mention the scandals within the scandals that you just can’t help shake you head at. i.e.: The MF Global scandal of using customer funds only to find out Mr. Corzine will be exonerated to some extent because of some legal technicality where we seem back to what the definition of “is” is. I bet the poor traders, and others that lost their money and lively hoods don’t have any alternative definition for how they feel where their money was supposed to be.

What part of “Don’t Touch” needed to be clarified exactly? Oh, and by the way in case you haven’t heard. It’s rumored he’s considering starting another hedge fund. I feel safer already.

Which brings us around on a slow row boat to today. The markets in an unprecedented move are closed for a second straight day. While at the same time there are rumblings on whether or not they will be open tomorrow. Here’s where this once again looks and feels down right squishy and fishy.

How could the electronic markets be closed all day Monday when Sandy was off shore not due to reach landfall till near 8pm EST. Closed all day Tuesday when Sandy had passed and the aftermath apparent. Yet the switches are turned on at 6pmEST Monday night while Sandy was actually overhead wreaking havoc, flooding subways, businesses, and more. Only to watch the electronic markets operate what appeared as flawlessly overnight through all that destructive may lay causing massive blackouts and wind damage leaving millions of people without power.

And yet not as much as a blip. The only blips on the screens (or lack there of) seems to be caused by the continued hand wringing of whether or not to open Wednesday. Something just seems wrong with the reasoning given.

So to throw even more water on this smoldering pile I can’t get out of my head an interview that happened Monday morning with Charles Gasparino on Fox Business® channel with one of the heads of the electronic agencies.

As I stated earlier one of the reasons given why they didn’t want to turn on the electronic only systems was out of concern for the people who were needed to man the actual technology centers. OK, but I’ll say it again: You made a backup system that in order to protect people from danger, you have to put people in danger? Something is wrong with that answer, and for me sounded alarm bells.

One of the suggestions why they weren’t opening eluded to by Mr. Gasparino was that he was hearing from his sources that it was the HFT players (High Frequency Traders) that were up in arms about the exchanges opening on some form of emergency backup system. Whether true or not it makes a thinking person ask if it were true: Why? What would be the reason? How would that hurt them, or worse hurt the markets?

Then it hits you like the first wave of a storm surge. Maybe it’s because the emergency system that runs the markets are exactly where the HFT players are not. At an undisclosed location! The problem with this scenario is it fuels conspiracy theories because it makes sense if you like the dark alleys of conspiracy as much as the exchanges love their dark pools.

It’s been well reported and documented elsewhere that these menacing machines have been placed as close as possible to the actual servers the exchange uses to route their order as to enable them to front run or what ever else they do. The closer they are, the more of an advantage these algo’s have over anyone else. Including each other.

Could it be that the markets were actually closed not because they couldn’t operate but rather that the HFT computers couldn’t operate because what they rely on for their advantage would be gone? i.e., Their proximity.

If the algo’s lost their advantage of order execution they would be at the mercy of efficient markets. You know, that thing they always say they’re responsible for. Heaven forbid there would be a Bid and Ask not generated by them with the ability to be pulled in nano seconds. Rather by an actual order placed with someone willing to actually Buy at said price or Sell. Oh the humanity if that is the case.

Would the markets themselves also have a stake in making sure the illusion of “deep markets” was perpetuated? Imagine if the markets opened and to what is normally reported 70% of all the markets trading didn’t show up because the HFT computers couldn’t play? Would something like this almost be more frightening to the markets than the chaos currently being dealt with in the aftermath of Sandy?

The longer the markets stay closed, the more fuel this smoldering pile lives on. Just when you think water puts out fires, you find out it just might fuel it more. Or put another way: The emergency system can’t be used because it may cause an emergency.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

The iPad Mini Event: And Why The Experts Are Blind

This week Apple® announced the much-anticipated iPad® Mini. Almost from the get-go grumblings were everywhere. Everyone had some remark why they believe Apple missed the boat on this device. Or why Apple for the first time looked like they were playing catch up offering a “me too” device in the 7″ inch category.

I believe if you focused only on the “Mini” – you along with everyone else missed what was really transpiring. It’s not about that particular device. It’s about the future of everything we interact with that’s technological. And I’m not trying to use hyperbole – I mean it. Let me explain.

Although the event was primarily focused as some form of debutant ball of the iPad family. I believe the coming out party was more of a sideshow to the bigger picture for Apple.

In my mind it was the dichotomy that hit me. The launching of a product Job’s himself was opposed to, while simultaneously you could see in stunning detail the manifestation of Job’s mantra “Dent the Universe.” I could see the world of technology changing once again.

Personally I don’t think it was intentional by Apple. I’m just relating why I believe the roll out was bigger (and more eye-opening) than most others saw – or realized.

First things first. You can’t discuss anything about the new launch without the overhang of “Well, Steve was against such a device.” Well, that’s not entirely true from my view.

If you listened carefully when he discussed such things, it wasn’t really about size. It was about the technology not having the ability to allow use of your finger as the end all-be all interface with such a sized device.

At the time of iPad 1st gen. such a device would require a stylus to fully operate. It’s the stylus that Job’s was adamantly against – not the size. In just 2 years time that hurdle is now gone. And Job’s is well-known for changing his mind on anything if a prior technological barrier was broken.

With that said I believe the implications for the Mini’s is not about you or me.
It’s about kids.

The original iPad is relatively big in a kids hand. The Mini is not. I believe you put this device into an adolescents hands – and you’ll never get it back. None of the other sized devices will come close in my opinion. They’re all made (including interface and programing) with you or me as the user. The Mini is the only one that can serve all generations at this time.

Put every 7″ device made today on a table and give a kid the choice of keeping any one they want, and I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts the Mini gets picked 100 to 1. Besides, what parent isn’t going to buy their 10-year-old a Mini at $329 if it keeps them from asking (or taking) their $500 or $800+ iPad with all the data from work and elsewhere? Let alone realizing for $329 – the child will get more use, be far happier, while less likely to break it than any cheap laptop.

Cheap laptops get expensive when no matter how many times you tell a kid not to use it or leave it on a pillow or bed because the fans can’t work, and will kill the laptop or worse – start a fire. Only to find that’s exactly what they’ll do. Over, and over, and over again.

It doesn’t take long where one changes their opinion from “No. they’re too expensive, and your just not old enough.” into “I am so sick and tired of repeating myself. Wait – $329 an I’m done? Merry Christmas Honey!”

At the event were the products most should have really paid attention to. The new Mac’s®. I personally found the overtones of criticism similar in tone to the snickers when the iPad debuted.

All the jokes about how thin it was were reminiscent on the naming of iPad. Again here is where I believe everyone missed it. The new Mac Pro® is about us.
Us – the ones with the money to spend , and who will spend it.

The teachers, doctors, lawyers, musicians, traders, writers, and more. All of whom currently have an iPad and use one constantly as their primary desktop/laptop alternative.

Anyone that currently has one wishes they did “just a little bit more” in ways more akin to their laptops or desktops with full software capabilities and such. Sometimes I just need the full use of a program, not the iOS abbreviated edition, and or need a real keyboard. But I want the feel and freedom the iPad delivers at the same time. The new Pro is going to fill that void while simultaneously closing the door on any PC based alternative.

If you’re a person that works on the road (or like so many – the couch or bed) and currently has an iPad. You’re already quite aware of the versatility using it while laying in a hotel bed, or behind the wheel of your car. (parked I would hope) I need not remind you that before its debut, doing the same with a laptop su_ked. But there was no alternative.

The new MacPro I believe closes that need for settling or having to go without. It’s the true morphing hybrid for this new evolving tablet – laptop world. More than it’s just a new version or upgraded laptop in my view. I think this is the device that changes the game once again.

If anything will be dropped from the product lines I think it will be the Mac Air®, and the iPad 2. The Air was the laptop bridge between power and convenience, but now the new Pro does both. Again, unattainable in power and design just a few years ago. It’s a true melding of the iPad with a fold down keyboard in shape, scale, and with all the power longed for.

Will it cannibalize iPad as the “smart crowd” warns? Maybe. But it will far more make up for any with new customer integration from the PC world in my opinion. If a PC customer now needs to learn a new operating system such as Windows 8®. What will they get for all that imposed disruption?
Does the PC world offer something viewed as “cool” as anything compared to Apple?

Some will say: ” Yeah, but what about Microsoft’s new Surface®?”
My answer: “Yeah, what about it?”

One glaringly obvious flaw in the design from my view which shows their understanding or use of design is way off base is evident in the very thing they’re heralding as some game changer: The keyboard.

When I want or need a full-sized keyboard I don’t want to move, or feel the need for some table or other flat surface in order to use it if I’m laying in some hotel bed, or behind the wheel of my car, or sitting on my couch or chair, etc, etc.
So exactly how exactly does that keyboard help me? It’s about as flimsy as the rubber cover its intended to replace.

The whole point is not just about having a full keyboard and power. It’s about having it with the ease, and ability to use it anywhere, everywhere, seamlessly. The Surface is the equivalent of the Zune®. I can hear many now saying what’s a Zune? Which is exactly my point. It was Microsoft’s answer to the iPod®.

I have no idea what will happen with Windows 8®. All I can tell you is this. I made the switch away from everything PC 2 years ago out of utter frustration with PC’s. I had it up to my eyeballs with needing a degree in software coding to use programs that were showcased as “User friendly.”

Although many are die-hard PC. I feel there are many more like me, and they are growing in numbers. The new Windows won’t keep them or give them reasons to stay and learn a new operating system if the devices currently offered are still challenged. If they have to learn or start again from new. They’ll be more inclined to go where the better devices currently are also. This point alone should cause the most concern for Microsoft, and the others.

As for the workhorse of any home or office it’s the desktop. And once again the iMac® itself was updated. Was there something special here also? Well, maybe the only way to make this point is with a question:

If you were to hire an interior designer to redecorate your home or office with an unlimited budget. How would you feel when you viewed the finished project and found they chose to put a brand new Dell® or HP® desktop running Windows 8 on your desk. When for the same money they could have put the new iMac?

As to what a share of Apple stock might be worth. I haven’t got a clue.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

Understanding Why Most Delegations Aren’t Working

Today one of the buzz words growing in prominence is – delegation.

The more companies we see downsizing, the more people will express to me they’re delegating this responsibility or that. Then as night follows day complaints begin to emerge as they begin having “issues” in their delegations such as no realized work load improvements.

The problem isn’t in the delegating. The problem usually results from not understanding – they aren’t delegating anything.

Far too many confuse delegation with dealing out some form of unsupervised tasks or assignments. The two are not the same nor equal; however many use one, but call it the other. Below is my description of true delegation.

  • Delegation is to give an assignment or task to an individual or department which is empowered with the tools, or authority necessary to complete the assignments without needing approval or oversight from the executive.

The key word of that statement is – empowered. And empowered means just that. Let me repeat: “with the tools, or authority necessary to complete the assignments without needing approval or oversight from the executive.” Period.

The only communication that should be required between the executive and the delegated should fall along the lines of a predetermined time or date for updates, and or a debriefing at completion. Within these parameters you have the basis of true delegation.

What happens in most cases is some form of chain linking a multitude of unsupervised task assignments where the delegated needs to ask permission, and or guidance to proceed.

If a subordinate has to ask for permission or guidance every time a decision is needed, or can’t fix simple issues that might arise – that’s not delegation. Below are a few examples:

  • If you delegate the responsibility of running a department within your organization, the delegated party should not need to ask permission if they can hire, fire, or replace personnel within their department as they see fit. If they do – there is no delegation.
  • If you delegate the task of building a new store display, the person or team assigned should have access to the tools, equipment, and personnel to complete the task without any oversight. If the team has to call to get the keys to unlock the tool shed, permission to use the tools, and so forth daily. There is no delegating going on.
  • If you delegate a subordinate to handle the “customer service” counter, and they need to have a manager sign off on every step including using the restroom. You haven’t delegated anything.

What you’ve really done in the examples listed above is no more than assigned people or departments to completing some form of unsupervised tasks – yet called it “delegating.” This is why so many say to themselves: “I’ve delegated responsibilities yet I feel no relief. Why?” This sometimes not only results in frustration, but in some cases actually increased their workload!

Here’s another way to make this point. You didn’t delegate the task of grocery shopping if:

  • For them to get to the grocery store they need to ask to borrow the keys to your car – call you while driving for directions – call you when they get there – call and ask what brands you want as they’re in the aisles – call to ask if they should use cash or credit, paper or plastic. etc, etc.
    Only to find out when they return you tell them they also should have topped off the tank with gas because they passed by 2 stations even though the tank is almost 3/4’s full.

Sounds crazy, however many do the equivalent of this when they express they’ve “delegated” something to someone.

Actually delegating this task would resemble having an initial discussion stating the person was now responsible for groceries, and to get to the store they had use of your car. Were told what brands were preferred, but which had no substitute. (as in go without – or find another store) Were to use a company card, petty cash, or would be reimbursed. And not to allow the gas gauge to get below 3/4’s of a tank. Then you would have delegated.

Misinterpreting the two, or using them interchangeably can not only frustrate. But can lead to the exact opposite of what one is trying to accomplish – which is working more efficiently.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

The Prose Series: Episode 2 (Repost)

I’ve had some people ask what were the videos I removed that I was talking about in one of my posts. So I’ve posted one again since we have many new visitors coming to the blog that haven’t seen one. This blog is now visited and read in over 40 countries and still growing. And I want to take a moment to thank every single one of you for making this possible. Thank you, and there’s more surprises to come.

Below is part of a series of ideas we were working on a while back. I only did a couple.

An enhanced Audio Podcast presented in Video format.

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

This episode features Mark’s column:
Team Building 101, Dump the Committees

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

(Can’t see the player in your Mobile device? Click here)

Two Falls of Grace: One Into – One Out Of

I can’t think of a time in recent history where falling could be used as both an inspiring metaphor while at the same time describe a spiraling ride to shame, and dishonor. Both have been stunning.

Of course I’m talking about Felix Baumgartner, and Lance Armstrong. Both of these men achieving stunningly detailed, and witnessed falls. Yet, one is the absolute polar opposite from the other. Once again I can’t think of such ever happening like this before.

Heroes and the need for them is part of the human experience. Sometimes in our own trying hours we’ll look for guidance or inspiration where one can say; “Yeah, you did and so will I.” Sometimes we find it spiritually. Sometimes from a fictional character in movies or books. However most times it’s an actual person in pursuit of some quest. Whether they ever achieve it or not isn’t always the end all be all. Sometimes it’s the effort that matters more.

The problem that arose in the case of Mr. Armstrong is not so much in the results that we found out he actually did the things that were accused. It’s in the case that for so long, after all the denials, the court cases, and more. They were never able to prove it. So many like myself and others rooted for him.

We discussed at water coolers how it was just the jealousy of nationalistic judges just wanting to dishonor the accomplishments. After all it has been nearly 10 years, and never so much as a misdemeanor type charge ever stuck. The more he fought, and accused all comers as players of an inquisition; the more people stood beside him.

The difference with this case as opposed to the baseball steroid fiasco was this: Once the show trials started you pretty much knew from the get go what transpired. With Armstrong it had all the signs he was in the cross hairs of jealous inquisitors hell-bent on damaging his repute for spite’s sake. The more they accused with no proof, the harder we defended him. Most were “all in” only to find 10 years of defense crushed in a near week.

It wasn’t as if after years they finally proved say in 2001 he used some borderline substance that could be argued legal or illegal at the time and lost his argument. That would be inconsequential for most. The issue is that we learned in near stunning detail collaborated with team mates, eye witnesses, doctors, emails, financial records, and more. It was all a lie. Not them, but from Lance himself. That is what turns a hero into a pariah. No more hero-worship to be bestowed. Now just scorn, and branded as a disgrace to sporting itself. My my how the mighty can indeed fall.

On the other hand we have Felix. His fall into grace was captured live on both the web, and television with breathtaking results. The details that are emerging on what this man had to do, and the unknowns he faced, is nothing more than what heroes are truly made of. Simply amazing.

Just two facts that in of themselves are bewildering. One: They had no idea what would happen to him or his suit once he broke the sound barrier. Two: In order to reach the altitude of 128K plus feet he would need to endure nearly 3 hours strapped into a capsule the size of a dog house. All the while wearing an all enclosing suit, and helmet. Why so impressive? He’s claustrophobic! The only thing more impressive would be: Oh yeah, and he’s afraid of heights.

Today we look at two heroes. One we’ll scorn and lost everything in which it seemed he would do anything for. And did. The other we’ll look, cheer, and hold in our highest regards as challenging the unknown and being brave enough to risk it.

However in the case of Felix Baumgartner, many will only be further impressed if we find he stood on that platform 24 miles above the Earth ready to jump, and wasn’t on any drugs.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

Google and the Algo’s: Welcome To Our World

The headline sounds like it should be said by some aging disc jockey on a classic hits station. However it’s probably the newest phenom that Google® itself never envisioned happening to them. After all, if you’re the crowned ruler of the algorithm machine (some might call it more of a monster) then you never think the robots can turn on you.

But these bots don’t belong to the Google kingdom, nor do they answer to their servers. Just like Google, they can’t be reached by phone or seemingly anything else if you disagree with what they’re doing – or what they’ve done. Regardless if it cost you money, time, reputation, or business disruption.

I do want to say Google has been a fantastic enabler, and disruptor for both people and companies. We all take for granted what we can do today for free with Google of what previously cost us exorbitant amounts of money. But now Google faces a beast just as powerful, disruptive, ruthless, or enabling of the algorithm world as itself: High Frequency Trading aka HFT.

Many have had issues with the heavy hand of some platforms. For many like myself, I have had issues and felt the impersonal hand (and hammer) of Google’s algorithmic side. Dealing with any issues is more akin to talking to a wall or worse.

A while back I had an issue with YouTube™. Personally I never liked the YouTube format for my own content. Then there came a time I was experimenting with some different ideas, and I thought; “Hey why not?” So I put a few things up.

A few weeks went by when out of no where I received a notice stating someone had accused me of copyright infringement. Yet not to worry. They were going to allow me to leave my material up with one caveat: The accuser was now allowed to put commercials on my material, and there was basically nothing I could do about it.

I can’t tell you how taken back I was about this accusation. Reason being I actually instruct people how to be aware and respectful of copyright, trademarks, and others. The insult to injury was: “Who were they (Google) to give anyone the right to make money using my copyright material without my permission? For what ever the reason!”

Immediately as instructed (you get a hyperlink to click on) I emailed to state this as a mistake and stated my case. I received an email a day later that the accuser didn’t agree. (No kidding?) The problem was they had no idea of what they were claiming infringement for. However the “algo’s” flagged my material as a possible infringement so they assumed they must be right. After all the algo’s must always be correct. That’s why they’re algo’s!  Which is what many misinformed people think.

It’s a long story, and you can read it here if you wish. But the issue and accusation was frivolous. Yet, there was nothing I could do except try to resolve it using the impersonal “reference” sections within the Google machine. All the while someone else has control of my material.

I even went as far as filling out the so-called “legal” form that by all intent and purpose alerts everyone involved that you are taking this serious and willing to push this into court if needed. The response? I still haven’t received one to this day. (I closed and pulled all my material within 48 hours of no response.)

The algorithms don’t care what you say, what you think, if you’re right, if you’re wrong. They don’t care – and seemingly neither do their owners. And they have made it near impossible to not deal with anything other than – the machine. Even if the machine is at fault. Remember, there is no phone number. Just send an email and wait-and wait-and wait-and wait-and…

On Thursday of this week Google by way of someone elses algo’s lost nearly 10% of its total market cap. (about $25 BILLION) in mere minutes. Why? Because of an earlier than scheduled release of their earnings. The algo’s saw the info – flagged the info – and executed on that info. Regardless if it is correct, wrong, mistaken, or anything else one can conjure up.

And just like Google itself there are no phone numbers to call that a mistake was made. No one to complain to that the information was not handled properly. No one to plead their case to that something erroneous happened. No, just the same helplessness one faces if mistakenly wronged by the algo’s.

Later this same day Google released its earnings at the originally scheduled time. We heard Mr. Page himself make claims, and assertions that everything was great and will only get better. Yet the algo’s don’t seem to care. As of this writing the stock is not only falling farther – it seems the algo’s don’t care for the reasoning why they shouldn’t continue. After all, they are in control now of Google’s material (stock) and they can do with it what they wish. In their world, they are judge and jury. Google is just another user like us.

Maybe Google should look on the HFT sites as for the proper forms (or F.A.Q.’s page) to fill out if they feel wronged. After all, that’s what you do on their site if you have an issue, or you’ve been harmed by a possible mistake by the algo’s.

I wonder if they’ll be a question to answer on the form like: “Did this answer help you?” Because if it’s anything like mine. I’m still waiting for an answer.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr