Why Is The Media Perplexed? Because This Is What Business Looks Like – And They Don’t Get It

I was asked by a colleague the other day for my take on what has been roiling out of the mainstream media as it pertained to the now president, from the previous. In particular to the conversation was his questioning on the way in which the executive order process, along with photo ops, are being conducted. Or said differently the questioning was “Why the pomp and circumstance? I thought that was reserved for the signing into law passed by congress, I thought these (meaning executive orders) were done, basically, in private. What do you think is up with that?”

I thought I’d share my response because it seemed to open up a door in which he had never been privy too. And, by my own view of how it’s being treated and reported on via many in the media – neither do they.

(Please remember this is meant to explain via a business viewpoint and acumen as to maybe shed some light to others, not a some political stance or viewpoint.) Here’s how I replied:

“It’s a good question and observation, here’s how I see it…

This is a classic and well honed protocol for anyone who understands, let alone has been in, a turnaround operation.

The first thing you need to do, with immediacy, is let everyone know, understand, and quell any questions as too who is in charge. That’s first and foremost along with – it must be demonstrated publicly, and again – with immediacy.

This action must come from you – not underlings, not spokespeople, not anyone else. Period.

The second thing which is just as important is this: You must be seen (literally and figuratively) in the light that you not only understand, but more importantly, are personally reviewing and signing off on any changes that are to be made. i.e., You’re not just seen talking about nebulous proposals, or simply approving or signing things in bulk form based on recommendations of others. No: You have to be seen: reviewing, talking, answering, signing, etc. in public. And by public I mean just that: in front of your employees, customers, suppliers, et all. That’s step one, and by my observations that’s precisely what he is doing, and here’s why:

People forget that he’s a billionaire or successful businessman today for one reason, and one reason only: He is a proven turnaround specialist.

That point gets lost on a lot of people. They forget he has been not only “on the cliffs edge.” He’s also been over it. Most don’t recall, or never heard about the exchange he revealed in one of his books between him and his daughter when he spotted a homeless person and he pointed out as to make an instructive lesson to her (paraphrasing): “See that homeless person over there? He’s worth a $Billion dollars more than I am right now.”

He wasn’t being coy – he was telling the truth. People forget just much financial trouble he was in during that period. It was a turnaround worthy for entry into the business textbooks. Personally, I’ve taken cues from it over the years.

So with that said here’s what I’ve been intrigued by, and what seems to have caught your eye but don’t quite know why. The signing ritual is just another form of as I implied earlier: It’s part of the turnaround protocols for “buy in.” Example…

He has the document (or documents) formally brought to him, then: he reads it in silence, and in full view. Then, (and that’s the important part) – signs it.

Then he follows with telling onlookers what it was, what it means, why he signed, and then either a “next!” or, “Thanks for coming, now let’s all get back to work for there’s still much more to do.” Why is this important? Here’s why:

In a “turnaround” situation everybody wants to see you intimately involved in everything. And I do mean everything, for instance:

Banks want to see you reading the expense reports. You reading line by line the payroll numbers. They want to see you not just “in your office” but out with customers, suppliers, on the job sites, on your factory floor, etc., etc., etc.

I know it sounds a lot like “it’s all about you.” However, in a turnaround – you are the focal point. People, and yes even business people, can’t take in everything that may be going on, all they can look to is one person. And that person will be you.

That goes for employees, customers, suppliers, and more. If you think this I’m wrong? I’ll give you another example that fits this mold: Alan Mulally (formerly of Boeing™ then Ford™)

Different employment of style, yes, nonetheless, can you think of anything happening at Ford when he was turning it around that he wasn’t visibly involved with, and as I iterated earlier – publicly?

Remember the famous “meetings” where his wife actually baked the muffins for? You’ll remember them because those “private” meeting were meant to be public as a show of how top management, all the way to the top, were meeting even outside of “just working hours” and trying to hash out, or pound out ways in which a true, bona-fide turnaround could in fact begin, and more importantly – hold. They may have not “intentionally” held them for that reason alone, but again, we remember them, right?

Yes, I’ll admit and point out different styles, yet  – there it is. Just in a different form. Although the effects are the same.

In these types of situations optics can mean just as much (sometimes even more) than the actual progress at any given time. Everyone involved wants to know (at least think or have some form of faith) that you were truly in there personally hammering out details with the others.

If you can instill that? They may just give you what you need to get things accomplished. e.g., The benefit of the doubt.

People are nervous and questioning by default to things they don’t understand. That goes double when it comes to customers, employees, creditors, suppliers, right on down the line when the term “turnaround” gets applied to any current business situation.

And when you’re in a turnaround situation? You are the experiment viewed by all under the microscope. It’s not for the timid I’ll ensure you of that.

What you also have to do simultaneously during that process is something the current president is doing and you’ll see it displayed by others, I’ll include Mr. Mulally as example:

You, as the focal point, not only give credit to everyone under you, but around you, near you, and anyone else who helped you draft, implement, conjure, and more any of the necessary new ideas, requests, or recommendations.

You describe them always as “the best, worked diligently, couldn’t be prouder, couldn’t be more happy with… et cetera.” (Starting to sound a little familiar?)

Even those which may be for the cutting or discontinuation of pet projects, or anything else. Especially those which may already be in mid stream of implementation. Stopping, cutting losses, or a reexamination for possible jettisoning of, and or, all future projects as to streamline and focus is just as paramount (sometimes even more so) than pure growth for growths sake. i.e., Stopping the bleeding can mean more than doubling sales if in fact expenses are still seen as out of control.

Also: Nothing is sacrosanct in a business turnaround. Everything is on the table, and maybe more importantly – if it’s found to no longer fit the current circumstances or vision? It gets thrown over the side immediately.

Nothing is, or can be sacred except for the steadfast hold for solvency. Again – cutting is to be implemented immediately, or as quickly as circumstances or laws may permit. Example: The decision to sell off assets is immediate as in “Hanging the for sale sign.” Finding a buyer might take time.

That’s how I see things currently via my eye. And I would presume anyone with my acumen sees the same, albeit it’s a very specialized view. Now as far as the media is concerned?

They don’t even understand business in most cases. That’s why you see so much consternation coming via their channels. After all, if all you’ve been taught, or believed about business, came from the likes of Paul Krugman? Of course all of this would seem confusing. Which is actually comical.

For that’s precisely how business people feel when they listen to Krugman or most other Ivory Towered academics. It’s all gobbledygook.”

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

(Here’s an addendum to this post for more clarification if wanted.)

Adding To The Growing List

Hello all. I just wanted to share that Mark has been asked by the financial website Seeking Alpha if their editorial team could monitor and repost relevant articles for their readers onto their platform. Of course Mark said yes and welcomes the additional readership.

For those wanting a little insight into who Seeking Alpha is, here are a few references from their Wiki page.

“In 2013, WIRED magazine named Seeking Alpha one of its, “…core nutrients of a good data diet.” WIRED: 101 Signals. In 2007, Seeking Alpha was the recipient of Forbes’ Best of the Web Award[14] and was selected by Kiplinger’s as its pick for Best Investment Informant.[15] In 2011 Seeking Alpha was listed as #1 in Inc. magazine’s list of Essential Economic blogs.”

As per SimilarWeb their audience engagement states to be around 20 million views monthly.

Screengrab at SimilarWeb

Screengrab at SimilarWeb

As always, thanks to everyone!

V.V. –StreetCry Media

 

Why A Forced Yellen Resignation Could Move From Possible To Probable

One of the arguments, along with its calculations, have been what many perceive as the inevitable clash broiling on the horizon with the now president Trump and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.

The president has made no-bones about his feelings when it comes to the Fed, and Fed policy during his campaign. While simultaneously it leaves little to one’s imagination that Ms. Yellen (along with most, if not all at the Fed.) probably harbors the same of the now president. The only thing left to argue now is: When does the first clash happen? And will it be (to use Fed-speak) A one and done? Or, A gradual inflation of transitory insults?

This too becomes data dependent, so we’ll just have to wait and see,

Presidents clashing with The Fed. or its members is nothing new. There are even stories of physical intimidation. (e.g., president Lyndon B. Johnson employing his then coined “The Treatment”) And yes, even back further when Andrew Jackson via executive order shut down the Second Bank of the U.S in 1833, yesterday’s precursor of today’s Federal Reserve.

However, with that said, this moment in history is surely setting up to be like no other, with possible repercussions impacting generations to come. Because, at the center of it all, to paraphrase former Fed. president Richard Fisher: “Is a diminutive woman playing Atlas.”

People today worry that Ms. Yellen might “shrug” upsetting the now taken-for-granted monetary order. It’s quite possible (maybe even more towards probable) the now president walks over – and gives the whole thing a “shove.”

I’m figuring the odds to such are more likely than not. And if I’m correct, Ms. Yellen will not remain. I believe she’ll resign before her term expires next year. Here’s my reasoning…

It’s no longer business-as-usual for one’s political survival. It’s now business for business’ survival – political decorum be damned. The latter now front and center to anyone caring to actually pay attention.

Agreeing or disagreeing that it should or shouldn’t be that way is for navel-gazers. It is, what it is – is the only premise one should weigh for calculations going forward. To do otherwise, in my opinion, is a fool’s errand. I’ll use just one example that happened on day one of his taking office:

All references to “Climate Change” and a few others were wiped clean, as in deleted, from the official White House website within moments of being sworn in. If that doesn’t give one any understanding of just how committed, as well as willing, to take off-the-gloves when it comes to demonstrating one means business? You’re not paying attention. Regardless if you agree with the action or not. The demonstrable, unabashed act screams volumes.

Too so forthrightly, and publicly display such an action, with near immediacy, to what can only be perceived as today’s most coveted political “holy of holies” is breathtakingly brazen. It also sets the stage of just how well other “sacred cows” might fare under this new administration, let alone what it has signaled to all the other nations or political leaders that were salivating at just how burdened or shacked U.S. companies were about to be via all the proposed new regulations.

With such an audacious act right-out-of-the-gate, I’m more than expecting monetary policy, and in particular, The Federal Reserve and its current stance or viewpoints to meet similar in-kind. i.e., If the administration is not afraid of making its viewpoints unambiguously clear on those topics? Wait till The Fed. and its Chair become the next focal point. Are you seeing the implications here?

Now here’s a scenario I haven’t seen put forth anywhere else, but is one I can see as far more plausible via my perspective and acumen than anyone now thinks (let alone believes) even possible. To wit:

The U.S., China, and Russia propose to agree (albeit behind closed doors at first) to some form of trilateral monetary cooperative agreement based upon a premise, as too not allow (i.e., harsh public discouragement and condemnation via the “bully pulpit”) The Fed. from raising interest rates.

In exchange for this China, and Russia would agree to publicly make changes to existing trade policies and announce further cooperation in some form of “New Global Trade Deal” which, in reality, just might be good for all concerned. The reasoning? There just might be no other alternative but war.

I’m not trying to be hyperbolic. Things are that precariously poised. They are, and have been, for quite some time standing in full view to anyone willing to pay attention. All one needs to do is look at what happens in China, and Russia every time the Fed. has hiked. China alone might not be able to withstand socially, let alone financially one more rate hike this year. Never-mind the idea of 3 presumed and the implication of possibly more. Russia isn’t that far behind if it has to deal with the same.

So why does Ms. Yellen face such a quandary today more than ever before?

It is not unreasonable to make the argument (an argument I believe will be made forcefully and publicly) that any proposed hike that comes to fruition will be met with the political verbal assault that The Fed., and in particular, Ms. Yellen is either: A:) Hiking purely for political reasons. i.e., Wants the current administration to fail. Or B:) Hasn’t any idea what they (The FOMC committee) are doing, and are just winging-it based purely on anti-capitilstic theories that not only don’t work in the real world. But rather, are detrimental to it. e.g., The entire Keynesian theory.

What will be used as the defense for such calls? Easy: Her own words and prior stances (i.e., Fed. reasoning via her own testimonies) over the last few years, and even those as current as last week at Stanford University. Here’s just an example, to wit:

“The FOMC, for reasons that I have discussed, does not base its decisions on the prescriptions of any specific policy rule. Nevertheless, the three benchmarks I have described–the Taylor rule, the balanced-approach rule, and the change rule, appropriately calibrated–have historically provided useful guidance about appropriate adjustments in the general direction of monetary policy over time. This guidance is illustrated by figure 9, which compares the path of the federal funds rate since 2000 with the prescriptions of the three rules, based on the actual rates of inflation and unemployment observed at each point in time, along with contemporaneous Blue Chip projections of the longer-run unemployment rate and R*.”

It sounds great to a room of academics, but to a business person the next question that races to the front of mind is, “Then why was the Fed. hellbent on raising rates into the ever-growing teeth of the financial crisis only to reverse when it appeared by all accounts it only reversed when the outcry came via the televised literal screaming, and pounding of the table by one James Cramer of CNBC™? You know – if the view was – that the Fed knew what it was doing in the first place. Transcrips showed – they knew anything but.

Both myself and others have argued the Fed. missed its window to raise rates years ago. I have stated more times than not, that every day the Fed. held its grip to the zero bound, along with employing ever the more iterations of one QE program or another once the markets rose 1 point above the previous high before the financial crisis took place (e.g. DJIA™ 14,000 respectively) that the “painting itself into the corner” had begun.

What’s made matters worse is that The Fed. has given reasoning, after reasoning, upon reasoning why it could not move. All of it in the face of higher “market” prices, and ever improving Unemployment numbers. (I know, I laugh too, but the metrics are supposedly what we’re told represent their “touchstones.”)

Every time a metric that was once seen (and actually stated by the Fed. itself) as a useful gauge or barometer as to imply Fed. policy adjustments (remember when 6% became 5%, now a 4 handle is seen as not good enough) was moved more times to ensure inaction over action. It appeared the Fed. was acting more like the famous cartoon scene where Lucy implies, yet never allows Charlie Brown to actually kick the football.

It appeared to anyone trying to makes heads-or-tails of the Fed. that it simply liked to play “kick-the-can” all by itself while the global economy could only sit back in spectator fashion. For the U.S. saver, and small business in particular – they’ve been poor Charlie.

So with the above for context here’s the glaring issue: Now The Fed. has signaled it will forthrightly raise rates.

This will be into what can only be described as a further deteriorating retail economy, continuing sluggish GDP projections, an onslaught of what appears to be ever-increasing bond sell off globally, and on, and on. Combined with: A raising of the burden to U.S. taxpayers via ever-increasing carrying cost associated $10,000,000,000,000.00 respectively (that’s $10 TRILLION) new debt created by the prior administration, and allowed to take place almost solely via current Fed. policies (i.e., The Fed. monetizing or enabling much of that debt via differing proxies or programs)

Again: And now it’s going to raise? Based on a what will surely be a worsening of data points? (i.e., Watch for the a complete reversal by the main stream media reporting such as the 95 million unemployed whom for years were all but invisible to suddenly be front and center, along with every other once glossed over, or made to seem better than it actually implied data point like GDP under 3% will now be seen as “How can something like this keep happening!”)

I’m of the opinion it’s quite possible (However improbable the idea sounds at first blush) China’s leaders propose a meeting (or send covert messages) with the new administration, with the following proposal: Hypothetical to be sure, but it’s also quite plausible…

(This would be coming from the Chinese perspective): “If the U.S., and the president in-particular, decide to label and forcefully make the case on the global stage accusing China of manipulating its currency? We will show you just how much we have been working against that currently – and – will no longer defend its current level, letting it free fall into whatever panicked market forces that may develop. All while simultaneously dumping as much, if not all U.S. debt (e.g., Treasuries) currently held.

And not only will we vociferously blame all of the resulting damage on the U.S. and in-particular “a new administration we’ll argue hadn’t a clue about global monetary infrastructure.” They’ll be an ever-growing chorus and outrage enveloping the globe joining our view within days.

One only needs to only look back to August of 2015 for clues of just how fast things can escalate, and this would make that look like a cakewalk. And what is most important to remember about all the above: Being a communist nation – we’re well accepting, and well equipped to handle what ever political or social uprisings that may occur as a result of this. Are you?”

China might already be in this position already, and just waiting for what it deems as “the right moment.” The possibility of “a deal” in the very near future might be the only thing that avoids it. Remember, even the opening salvo for the possibility of such a deal couldn’t be launched until after the inauguration. Now, China has to also think about Taiwan, Japan, South Sea, let alone trade in ways it never has. Will they deal at all? It’s an open question. Let alone, will Russia?

Ponder the above for a few minutes on its own. Think it’s not possible? Or better yet, probable given what you know today?

It is quite possible that some form of new Brenton Woods (I’m just using the analogy as a coming together and agreement, what it would entail I haven’t the foggiest) where China, Russia, U.S., and possibly even other members agree based on future monetary policy that new and improved trade deals could be hammered out.

However, if The Fed. is hellbent on raising rates as implied at the last FOMC meeting? That same meeting could still be held, the only difference, it’s behind closed doors and the above cautionary scenario I laid out is the only discussion proposed.

I am of the opinion all the above players are quite aware of this. And sitting directly in opposition to any possible resolution that may come about is: The current Chair of the Federal Reserve.

I personally don’t believe she’ll stand, let alone continue to sit, at the Federal Reserve if the new administration feels the Fed. is working against them or their policies. Especially if they’re seen as “the” impediment to making more favorable trade deals.

The barrage of verbal attacks on both the institution, as well as its Chair using the Fed’s own previous words, stances, and implementations as the reasoning will not only tarnish the Fed. in the eyes of the public, but most assuredly just might be the push that Ms. Yellen, as well as others can’t foresee, let alone, are prepared for this year. The Fed. itself is now staring into a “it’s different this time” moment in history.

I believe 2017 will definitely go into the history books with more “never before seen in history” chapters than anyone thought possible. Especially for those in academia, Ivory Towers, and most assuredly – The Federal Reserve.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

Yes, It’s Time To Get Back To Work

And so It begins…

Over the last year or more I’ve been trying to sort out precisely which direction I would endeavor to travel next. It’s been a very complicated, as well as confusing process.

I have lots of projects going on simultaneously such as: I wanted to release another book (e.g., The Business Of I), along with wanting to update my last one. I wanted to do more speaking, offer more seminars, do more impromptu events such as live interviews, and on, and on.

The list became so large, and the options for allotting the proper time to each became so onerous not only in the conceptualize parts, but to then hone them down so that the actual “work” can begin, followed with; completing, pricing, choosing which platform to release them on, and more. It became near exhausting before I even started. So much so, that many of the “ideas” I wanted to pursue actually became too much like “chores.” And we all know what happens once doing something you like/love becomes a chore – you unknowingly procrastinate. With the worst type being “over analyzing everything.”

Finally I decided enough was enough, and the breakthrough happened. That “breakthrough” came about during the summer of last year. The idea is something I thought about years, and years ago. And for years, I had pushed it to the sides because the timing, or platforms never seemed quite right. Then, out of the blue, it re-emerged, and here’s what that idea is…

 

MYTR Broadcast Mast Head Test 1

The MYTR Broadcast Mast Head/Banner

What I wanted was a format, along with a site, which represented not only my views in a more articulated forum, but more importantly, how subscribers could access those views or ideas in one place. What I didn’t want (or at least was trying to avoid) was creating something that’s only a derivative form of what’s already out there. I believe this to be anything but.

This is truly original in nature, content, as well as groundbreaking delivery, pricing, and format.

To my knowledge no one, and I do mean precisely that, no-body is currently offering what I will be doing with MYTR, especially in the manner in which I will. Big statements to make for sure, but as many of you well know – that’s what I do. Will it work? Who knows, but that’s what being at the “tip of the spear” truly means doesn’t it?

In a nutshell MYTR will be a daily one hour based program delivered live, and hosted by yours truly. It will combine a plethora of my assorted ideas or works in a no-holds barred approach, and much more. It will focus on such issues as: The business news of the day, markets, along with my commentary, opinion, as well as pragmatic ideas on how they can, or will affect business. Along with this, I will also delve into subjects such as strategy, sales, motivation, boardroom insights, entrepreneurship. Again, and much, much more.

No politics! Except for how some form of policy may affect businesses e.g., corporate tax, tariffs, monetary policy, etc.

There will also be other video, audio, or articles added along the way with recorded seminars or teleconference type projects, to name just a few, that I would normally sell as stand alone packages. i.e, sales topics, self improvement, motivation, goal setting, etc., as I feel, or see the need fits.

This won’t be for everybody, and no – it won’t be a “free” service. Quite the contrary.

It will also be exclusive, as well as exclusionary by design. i.e., It’ll only appeal to those who want to be on the cutting edge of business, and want to be with others of the same caliber. Or put another way: It’s meant for the movers and the shakers. The one’s who are not only “in” business but rather “get” business. Whether they own one, work for one, run one, or want to start one. I intend to make this their program.

I’m creating this entirely for the person who truly wants information they can not only use, but can’t get anywhere else. Again: This is meant for business people looking for information that gives them an edge. i.e., The entrepreneur, the small business owner, the corporate CEO of the large or small, sales professional, et al.

Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll be releasing samples of precisely what the “MYTR BROADCAST” entails. But for now I wanted to make the announcement on this day.

The reasoning was (just to reiterate – it’s not based in the political) once Mr. Trump under the banner of “Make America Great Again” became the nominee, then was nominated, then won election, I thought what better timing – if – in fact, the “Make America Great Again” campaign truly gets adopted by the nation. For if it does? We’ve got a lot of work to do, And I want to be right in there with anyone else willing. And again – to be perfectly clear: Regardless of one’s political affiliation.

So when it comes to this new endeavor I’m creating many will ask: Why this model?

Because I believe in leading by example, while also believe – this will be the future model going forward for others. i.e., I can’t give advice why a business should charge for their wares – and never charge for mine. It doesn’t make sense or better still – stand up to the smell test.

I also believe in the “buy in” principle because I know it works via my own experience And, there’s no sense in giving away “million dollar” advice or insights for free – for it to only fall on deaf ears with idle hands.

Again just to make clear: MYTR will be a separate, stand alone site, and entity from this blog. As of today and going forward in the foreseeable future: Nothing changes here on MarkStCyr dot-com, both in content, postings, articles, and more.

As for MYTR, I truly believe, and will endeavor to produce a broadcast unlike anything else currently available. Both in price, as well as product.

To some it might seem expensive. To others “sticker shock” might be more appropriate. However, to those who know and understand true value? It will be seen as a bargain unavailable anywhere else. That’s the goal, only time will tell, but that’s “the bar” as they say, I’m setting, or shooting for. More details on that also as we work through the roll out.

 

There’s a lot too say and they’ll be more over the coming weeks, but I wanted to make this announcement, on this day, because of the U.S. presidential inauguration. Again: For if we are indeed going to “get back to work?” I wanted to be right there at the forefront because – it is business that needs to lead the way. Regardless of political leanings.

I am all about business, not politics, and what I believe is missing is precisely that: true, real, pragmatic insights, focused squarely on business. In my opinion today’s “business” shows are anything but.

Business, and more precisely: capitalism, true capitalism, is what has fueled the American Dream since its beginning. If there’s no business – there’s no jobs, no economy, no dreams, no nothing. Period. Again – regardless of your political leanings.

Trust me, I’m not the first to ever understand this principle. And for proof, here’s a quote from none other than Napoleon Hill which I keep prominent on my desk. It reads…

“It may well be that the Science of Personal Achievement will become a strong factor in neutralizing the cancerous evil known as communism, which now threatens the liberty of all mankind.” -Napoleon Hill “Grow Rich With Peace Of Mind” 1967.

Think about it.

Once again, to reiterate, the website and more are still in the works, but should be ready within a few weeks or so for roll out. In the meantime StreetCry™ will be posting samples and updates to my blog as deemed appropriate or, as they say, “ready for prime time.”

Before I end, let me also make this one announcement for the “subscribers” to this blog.

As you know I have always stated “there are benefits to being a subscriber.” I’m looking forward to making that statement more concrete over the coming weeks, so please stay tuned and make sure your current subscriber email is up to date.

So to all of you that have been with me since the beginning, or followed this blog over the years (and those who continue to subscribe) let me make very clear: Thank You!  And let’s get back to business shall we? Personally, I’m all too eager and ready. I’m hoping you are too – because this mentality – ain’t gonna get it done.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

Proving Leadership By Doing

For those of you who are still striding to reach or obtain one, or some, of your more audacious goals (and I do hope you have some truly audacious ones) I want to share something that comes from a reflective point of view.

When you’re setting goals, whatever they may be, one thing will be evident if you’re willing too not kid yourself, and understand people first, and it’s this: Most people really don’t care about, or want to hear about your goals. In fact, most will be downright jealous if you begin demonstrating that you’re actually making progress. So keep your head down, and do the work required, look for reward in the achievement – not for the praise you hope follows. Because more often than not? It’s not coming.

It’s a fact of life, so the faster you come to grips and understand it? The better equipped you’ll be in continuing the journey.

Over the course of my career one thing has been constant, more often than not I have been told, advised, warned, et cetera, that the way in which I was approaching a matter, or the way I was doing something, was either “incorrect,” “couldn’t be done that way,” “is against the grain, no chance of succeeding,” blah, blah, blah.

So, bearing that in mind. What I will tell you that’s been most gratifying over the years has been when I’ve been proven right, all, and squarely, in the face of those who were detractors, both in the beginning, as well as during the process.

Trust me, there is nothing more satisfying than being told “You can’t do that!” for whatever the reason, only to then “do it.” Of course, once the goal has been met? As I iterated earlier – don’t look for applause. It-ain’t-gonna-happen. Or, as I like to say, “insert crickets here.” You have to learn to take pleasure in the knowing for yourself. If someone says “Great job!” along the way? Take it as a bonus, not as a first cause.

More often than not I relied solely on heeding my own council. Again, this was usually in direct opposition to the prevailing “success” or “how to get ahead” teachings or mindsets being told (or sold).  Yet, in the end, it’s been yours truly whose been proved right more times than not. e.g., Acquiring some of the more coveted “brass rings” of life as for example, retiring at age 45 along with other notable business or personal achievements.

I have dreamed big dreams, set audacious goals, and met many of them. While there are some which are still “works in progress”, I’m still setting ever more. You can’t slow down or stop in life. For if you do life passes you by far faster than you ever could imagine. Because one day, not that you’ll wake up and see that time is moving by rapidly, rather, quite the opposite – you don’t wake up. And it’s over, end of story.

It’s also the reasoning behind the “why” I instruct people in business, or in personal achievement, far differently that most. e.g., I’ve actually been there, done that, and bear the scars and trophies to prove it. i.e., Retirement, and my outright disdain for the way it’s currently thought of as some panacea, just to name one. (If you think “scars” is dramatic? Let’s just say I have a chapter full of stories and examples I share that happened during my career and lifetime titled “You Think You’ve Been Screwed?”)

So with the above for some context, there was one goal I started years ago that was met with more nay-sayers or detractors than almost all of my previous endeavors combined, and that has been – writing.

There is not enough digital ink to list how many different times I’ve been told “Nobody will read stuff containing that many words.” (The going meme was anything over 400 words was ill-advised. I average 1250+) Or, “You’ll never be seen if you don’t use social media or allow comments.” (I never have and still don’t)

Then there were the times people would try to back-handedly insult me by saying “Well the New York Times™ doesn’t do it that way, shouldn’t you take that as some form of clue?” (i.e., In reference to not using any editor/editors and getting my ideas out quickly siding with content first over editing, to the howls of “serious” writers globally)

Let’s just say – Yep, I did take some clues. And that’s why I didn’t change, or stop.

So what lesson should one take away from all the above? Well, it’s this:

In a stunning self-assesment release by The NYT it revealed one of the most impacted jobs (as in there will be lay-offs) comes from no other department that the “editing vertical.” What do they do you ask? Fair question, here’s how they categorized it in their own words. To wit:

“We must move away from duplicative and often low-value line editing. It slows us down, costs too much, and discourages experiments in storytelling. Backfielders, department heads, News Desk editors and, yes, the masthead spend too much time line editing and copy editing, moving around words with little true impact on a story. Copy editors, meanwhile, spend too much time editing and re-editing stories that should be posted quickly.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying misspelling and/or proper grammar isn’t important. It is, and no one tries harder to improve  than myself. Yet, with that said. I have always held steadfast to the premise I set years ago:

“To the people who want true information, real, pragmatic, relative information, which is actionable in their daily, business, or personal life – the content is paramount. Period. All else is secondary.

People who want this type of content or information are smart enough to overlook flaws whether they be spelling, grammatical, or stylistic in nature – if – the content is worth it. Again, period, full stop.”

The above NYT article proves out it is they who has just moved to my side of the ledger. Or, if I wanted to be so bold: “That’s the way I do it, and now the NYT is taking a cue from me.” (insert editorial screams of horror here)

As fun as the above line was to write (while imagining those screams) there was another revelation which I believe is quite possibly even more important which I’ve touted not only over the years, but even as recently when I talked about how “The old model, is the new model.” Here’s how the NYT is currently re-assessing and readjusting its business view of itself as reported by Zero Hedge™.  To wit:

“We are, in the simplest terms, a subscription-first business. We are not trying to maximize clicks and sell low-margin advertising against them. We are not trying to win a pageviews arms race,” the 2020 report said. “Our focus on subscribers stems from a challenge confronting us: the weakness in the markets for print advertising and traditional forms of digital-display advertising.”

You now what that implies? Can you say – “Eyeballs for ads” chasing in, or supplied by social media is being rejected by the (gasp) NYT?

Now where have I heard (for years) about the “ads for eyeballs” chasing business model being a foolish business model before? Wait, give me a few minutes, I’m sure I’ll come up with someone… (Hint: Here’s just one example)

Today, depending on where my thoughts or ideas are posted, my views share an audience (all verifiable using established and accepted metrics, some developed by the NYT itself) of anywhere from 1 to 10’s of millions respectively. My blog is now routinely visited by over 175 (yes, that’s another increase) countries from across the globe with an average of 10+ differing counties visiting daily. And that’s on any given article, on any given day.

That’s better (and in many ways exponentially better) than what’s claimed by many “main stream media outlets.” Yes, including some on television and radio. And: I don’t use social media, don’t use editors, don’t allow comments, and can barely spell cat without employing spell checker.

That’s not bragging – that’s proving a point.

Things are changing today. Business is moving rapidly from what was “fantasy” (i.e., net profits don’t matter – only eyeballs) back to net profits is all that matters. Otherwise – there is no business. Albeit slowly, nevertheless, it’s swinging back. (i.e., Until the full effects or realization that the Fed. is indeed going to raise rates ever further. Then? Let’s just say, watch for when the term “cash burn” is met by Wall Street like someone openly swearing in a cathedral.)

But there’s one thing that never changes: Care about customers, care about expenses, care about net profits, and know your true metrics for success first – then keep them sacrosanct. If you do that? You’ll be far and away ahead of your competition. And, what might be even more important using the NYT as a prime example…

You won’t have to try as to come back from near bankruptcy first, to realize you’ve been chasing business fables when reality decides to make its presence felt once again. (i.e., Silicon Valley’s unicorn model where 10,000,000 eyeballs of “no sales” trump 1 loyal paying customer.)

Now my only question is…

Does the “Punctuation Police” or “Grammar Gestapo” now become more infuriated at me? Or, passive?

If I were to guess? Let’s just say, “I’m not letting my guard down anytime soon.” For as I’ve said many times, “If these people had their way? Life in prison with no possibility of parole would be seen as a compassionate sentence in their eyes.”

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

The Problem With Kids Today: They’re 26!

(Note: Usually Mark doesn’t “repost” older articles but we were asked for permission on this one in response to a current discussion about millennials and their current work ethics. And after reading it once again we thought it was worth another post. It was originally written in 2012 although it seems to carry just as much relevance today.    -V.V.  StreetCry Media)

 

Every generation as they grow older looks at the ones coming up with a jaundiced eye. They look and say “In my day we walked to school – barefoot – in snow – uphill – both ways!” However there seems to be something quite different today. Everybody’s still in school.

Although many will pile on that kids are different today because of this or that, I’ll contend there is one over arching reason for the problems that plague most of them: Most never had the ability to learn or start adulthood early as many like myself did.

We started becoming self-sufficient at about age 13. For those trying to put the age to a year. I was born in the early 1960’s. So that’s my time frame for this discussion.

When I was a kid we had very little. My father left and child support was something akin to unicorns. I had relatives that helped when possible, but basically money was tight.  So if I wanted something I had to work for it. The difference between then and today is this – I could. By the age of 12 or 13 a kid could find work one way or another. Today that world is as ancient or as mythical as Aesop’s fables.

People of my ilk worked a myriad of jobs growing up. One example not just in my town but nearly everywhere were local grocery stores of one size or another. You would go in and ask the owner if he had anything you could do. This usually came back with a yes. Then you would find yourself doing the most disgusting, gruesome cleaning of some corner or backroom that the owner just never had the time (or guts) to clean themselves. So if you wanted to make money, there you’d go.

But we did it. Why? Because you needed to earn or you went without. There was no alternative. Did they take advantage of us? Well – yes, and no. Some paid better than others. Some you never went back to, and some you could end up working there steady part or full-time. However if you wanted clothes, arcade money, bicycles, or (heaven help you) a car. You did what ever was available. Period.

Those opportunities no longer exist. Today an owner can’t take the chance of hiring a kid for fear of being called before a committee on child labor laws. And God forbid that kid ever received so much as a paper cut. The parents would have a midtown lawyer suing you faster than one can bag groceries. (I believe you have to be 18 today to do that also)

Another way to earn was you could always get a route delivering newspapers. We all had one at one time or another. Some had more than one, and you could earn substantial money for a kid if you were good. All you needed was your feet and back. No barrier with age. If you could do the route, it was yours whether 12, 13, and so on.

Another great difference is this. When we were 16 or 17 most of us wanted nothing more than to be out of school and working so we could run our own lives. Every single person I knew wanted to get a job and move out on their own. Personally I was out of my mother’s home at 17. I was not an outlier. So were most of the people I grew up with.

The effect of starting so early for us was that by the age of 26 we were far away from anything that could ever be called a kid. Today’s generation looks upon their 20’s as a reason to still live at home, stay on mom & dad’s insurance, and continue going to school. The antitheses of everything we were just a short time ago.

Just for context. When I was 16 (and skipping school) I Finagled a job at the local bar to clean. By 17 I was a bartender. (Drinking age was 18 then) At 19 I was the manager, and had an apartment on top of the club. At 23 I made upper management in the meat business, and by 25 conducted my first leveraged buyout and became a CEO. (that’s just a thumbnail sketch)

Today far too many “kids” are living in their parent’s basement or attic. Today those areas are finished with game rooms, bathrooms, separate entrances or more. For us, there wasn’t any of that.

If your parents owned a home in the first place the attic or basement was for storage only. It was used that way because it was either smelly, mildewed, nasty, or all that combined. No place you were going to spend a night let alone live. Yet, a broken down drafty studio apartment of you own with barely any furniture was like paradise because – it was yours!

The take away from all this was our exposure to a work ethic, and we gained early insight into life’s truths that if you wanted something; you had to go out and get it yourself.

However there’s also another side of all this that doesn’t get talked about: The knowing or learning just how hard some jobs were, and how difficult it was for the people who filled them. Many of us that worked in places whether they’d be factories or something else saw just what a real “hard days” work meant.

I remember when I was working in the mills pushing an 1100 pound rolling lunch wagon through the floors of the local textile mills. Right where people were working at their stations making shoes, clothes. leather, and more. You saw up close and personal what the term “work” meant. You also instinctively knew if you didn’t want that for yourself – you had better start getting on the ball with your own life because if you didn’t – life was going to be getting on with you.

That kind of stark reality is not available to today’s youth. I mean truly, what is considered a tough job for today’s “kids?” Flipping burgers? Working at the mall? That would be seen as gravy work compared to some 14-year-old kid cleaning out grease traps in a local grocery store. However you can’t flip a burger till you’re about 18 today because of insurance fears. Which again is the main part of the problem.

The biggest challenge to “kids” today in my opinion is this:

As they continue considering what they want to do with their lives, the adults that are ahead of them with decades of learned experience look and feel healthier than the “kids” that are now half their age.

And coming up behind are the other 26 year old “kids” that skipped the whole school thing and now have nearly a decades worth of real work and life experience while they may have also simultaneously taken night courses.

So whom do you think will be more valuable in today’s turbulent workforce? The ones that went to work 10 years ago now toting a near decades worth of work experience? The healthier adults of this day and age with decades of real experience? Or a “kid” just out of school with some degree at 26 living at home with their parents?

Think about it. Because life doesn’t think – it does.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

The Next Big Thing: The Old Model Becomes The New

First let me start as to supply a little context…

If there’s been one thing that surely meets the definition of “it’s different this time, it is this:

When it comes to business models: If it’s delivered via the “everything social” model – free is not only the starting price for most products or services, it may also be – the only price.

I believe and propose this model; the one that empowered most everything consumed today on the internet via the “everything social” model, is not only about to change; some of the largest purveyors of this model will be crushed into irrelevancy, if not outright oblivion in the not so distant future. So as not to be mincing my words, or accused of being coy, here’s precisely what I’m arguing:

The “everything social model” currently coveted by Silicon Valley and others; and responsible for the likes of Facebook™, Twitter™, et al is in the beginning stages of imploding upon itself.

Big call? Yes. Some will even state (in particular “The Valley” itself) I don’t know what I’m talking about, and even more will say “impossible.” Especially with the likes of Facebook (FB) once again soaring towards the stratosphere. (I’ll argue that’s just an exposure rotation before earnings) However, that’s what I see coming over the horizon in the not so distant future. Here’s my reasoning…

Think what you want about “fake news” and its impact via media reports. What can not be denied is this: Social media (and some media in general) has taken up digital arms as to protest, slur, slander, name call, dehumanize, threaten, and more what can only be interpreted as half the U.S. population.

In other words: If you supported/support the president-elect, or have a differing viewpoint than the now “enraged snowflake culture” in any way, shape, manner, or form? You are now deemed an enemy and will be persecuted by any means possible via social media. This punishment might also be administered via the companies themselves whether it be some form of outright takedown, “denial of service”, or some variation such as simply not allowing content to reach an intended or, even paid-for audience. (see Crowder vs FB for more insight)

And therein lies “the devil in the details” that so many, I believe, are glossing over. For that little detail (e.g., the possibility of dejecting 50% of current users) is the “Achilles heel” of all current, as well as future valuations for the “everything social” model. Disrupt that one metric? And Silicon Valley as it’s now viewed – is gone. Period. Or said differently – “1999 is here – and wants its socket puppet back.”

When it comes to business, one thing is beyond dispute: You can’t insult, or denigrate 50% of the U.S. population which may be consuming your product or service on a consistent basis, and expect them to continue using your product or service. That goes for social media, Hollywood actors/actresses, comedians, rock stars _______ (fill in the blank).

You may remain “relevant” within certain circles, but that’s where you’ll remain. e.g., In certain circles. Not the broader audience that many of these types so vilely crave for.

I make this point not so much for the “tables turning” argument per se. What appears to be more the case is that people are getting up from these “tables” and walking out. And just like many a comedian, or aging diva were outright booed and patrons left when they began their political diatribes from the stage. So too must it be happening on these social platforms. Although the results might not show their full impact until after this current earnings quarter if I’m correct, since this current will encompass the remainder of the election cycle when both sides were heavily engaged.

But as far as the going forward? Let’s just say I’m arguing, “It’s different this time” shall we?

So here’s why I wanted to state the above for context: If I’m correct – priced for perfection metrics (which I believe all these platforms are, and then some) can’t sustain current valuations and will begin imploding upon themselves reminiscent of AOL™.

If that’s the case? So too does the “everything free” model leaving behind the only thing worth purchasing: What’s left in the remnants of technology, patents, or other forms of these companies to be bought up at bargain prices (more like fire sale) and either utilized solely, or licensed out in parts, to then be used, or offered, in subscription based, or advertiser friendly exclusionary based service models. Let me explain it using a hypothetical scenario…

What would be worth more value to both users as well as advertisers?

  1. A platform which allows you plug-ins, or extensions that had the same functionality for all intents and purposes as Twitter, FB, that you controlled with no outside interference, no outside censorship, and is controlled by you, and only you, with no outside worries about whether your content would, or would not, be removed by any outside party? Or…
  2. A platform that basically doesn’t allow you any customizable ability and is self designated itself as an outside overlord that will dictate what can, or may be seen by your customers/audience whether you agree or not?

The first is the tried and true basis of the internet: A website, email, self video or audio hosting, and the allowing (or not) of comments for immediate interactions with users or clients, all accountable to one’s own purview.

The second is Facebook, Twitter, YouTube™ et al.

Remember, this question is for those which pay for – not those consuming for free. A distinction with a very real difference.

I am further implying that those “plug-ins” of the future will be FB-like or Twitter-like extensions in the not so distant future available much in the same way as corporate-email or other proprietary services are now available for purchase to business or content providers, not stand alone companies as they are today. (I can hear the gasps coming through my screens as I type.)

If you’re a business, and you’ve watched with a careful eye what these platforms are doing for (if not too) businesses? I would implore you to rethink your “web presence” and how it currently interacts, if not unknowingly depends, on the “everything social” model for interactions with your customers or brand. For not only is it self-evident you are no longer in control of your message – you might just find your “messaging” in streams or data feeds you never dreamed possible. Here are a few to think about:

For “free” you can view live streaming on FB. Yet, of course this “free” service to end users will at some point be needed to be “paid for” by advertisers. Test live ad insertions are already in the process of being rolled out. And here’s some of the feeds you just might find your brand associated with: “Torture video of disabled man live streamed…” Or: “Girl, 12, livestreams her own suicide…” Or: “Heartbroken man commits suicide live on …” Or: “Woman Facebook live-streams her dying boyfriend…” Those are just the latest in the last 90 days or so. (I didn’t link because the partial headlines say all one needs to know)

If you think advertisers have no reason for concern? Then here’s a link to prove that assumption dead wrong. For the following was happening smack dab in the middle as those above horrific scenarios were playing out live. To wit:

“Facebook Launches a Big Ad Campaign for Facebook Live, With User Videos at the Core”

But not too worry, FB and other providers will always make sure it’s not your ad that’s inserted at the wrong time, right? Oh yeah. and just for those who say: “If they find out they’ll have to take it down immediately!” Lest you be reminded of the following given by a spokesperson for FB in reply to calls of just that from The Guardian™. To wit:

“We do not allow people to celebrate or glorify crimes on Facebook and have removed the original video for this reason. In many instances, though, when people share this type of content, they are doing so to condemn violence or raise awareness about it. In that case, the video would be allowed.”

Now if you’re worried about you ads or service being promoted in the wrong video at precisely the worst time? Maybe you’ll feel better knowing the years you spent cultivating an audience on another “free” platform will infact do the exact opposite and just remove you, and your content all together, without any regard of how it might impact you, or your business. Again, to wit:

YouTube’s without warning termination of the political and law website belonging to Legal Insurrection™.

8 years of content and customer cultivation “poof” as in gone with no regard to how it impacts the provider. Again, this isn’t like they just began throwing content up and were discovered. This is after 8 years!

Personally I’ve had my own run-ins with such early on, and is one of the main reasons for years why I’ve argued (and still do) against building any portion of one’s business reliant on these “free” models. (Personally I use none, both business or socially) And those reasons are coming to fruition and bearing “sour fruit” with an ever-increasing and steady pace. And, in my opinion, it’s just getting started yet, quickly building momentum.

If you want an example of just how inept these platforms are when it comes to being able to make sure the “right things” happen for advertisers whether it be for ads to be placed in the right places, or content not taken down arbitrarily with an almost unforgiving, if not unreachable staff as to fix, or alleviate concerns. (i.e., Trying to reach a person on these platforms is near, if not impossible in any meaningful way) Look no further than the most recent, outright laughable, public debacle of Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey getting his own user feed suspended from the platform he’s in charge of for “rules violation.”

And these are the people supposedly writing the rules for others to follow, yet, either can’t, or won’t follow their own rules to begin with? Or worse – don’t even know them!

(Remember when FB called in all those “conservative” content providers to make sure “they got things right” when calls of “censorship” were being bandied about and FB at first denied even the possibility of it, then gave a contorted apology for it, then stated they were putting in steps to fix the steps that were supposedly not happening (for it was supposedly algorithms were the sole culprit, only to find out later there were actual people involved), then culminating with a meeting where Mark Zuckerberg gave assurances himself with everyone proclaiming “He really cares!” How’s all that looking in today’s light? You know, since he’s openly since proclaimed a reverse of all of that going forward. But I digress.)

Again: And they’re the one’s controlling your brand, your messaging, your audience, and want you (as an advertiser) to pay up for more of this?

Re-read that last line and think it through a few times if you’re a business or brand? Do you feel more “confident” in those platforms today with what you now know, and have witnessed over the last few months? Or? (I’ll just pause here and let you think on your own.)

So, if the above has any merit (and I believe it has) than the question is:

How many current content providers jettison social media and take their “deplorable” users along with them reverting back to using what was once a tried and true business practice and model (i.e., owning your platform or content such as website, email, and other peripherals – with complete utter refusal to give it away for others to decide) And leaves the “free” loaders to view the mountainous remaining cat videos, or latest Kardashian escapades for themselves?

And if “user growth” metrics begin reversing on these priced-for-perfection platforms? The money (as in stock valuation) goes out the door with them.

If you want to see just how quickly this can all happen – need I remind you of LinkedIn™?

That was another “business model” I was told I hadn’t a clue about. That is – until it too went the way of needing to be “bought out” to save it. And just for curiosity…

When was the last time you heard, or were spoken too, about the “dominance” or “relevancy” of LinkedIn?

(Insert crickets here)

If you’re a business, the writing for how one should realign one’s business when it comes to the internet is right there for all to see. Control your content and customer interface – or – have your customers, as well as company, controlled by others.

In business – there’s only one choice. So choose wisely.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

F.T.W.S.I.J.D.G.I.G.T.

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

Today is a two-fer.

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about how I perceived a possible political celebrity “Jump the shark” moment. It seems I wasn’t all that far off in my reasoning than some had protested.

When I first penned the article it was based on the what I presumed to be a one-off event. However, that proved not to be the case when only a week or so later another followed along the same format, albeit with what appears to be a rotating cast of celebrities.

Just a few years ago these types of ads were thought to be “so moving, so believable, so inspiring” that to even question them (particularly by those on the other side of the debate) was seen as blasphemy, punishable by public scorn not only in the media, but with friends, family, or at work. It was for all intents and purposes “taboo” to ever take the opposing side (in public that is) of the venerated celebrity with a cause.

That is, it appears, until now.

Today, not only are these types of celebrity political ads (or what I deemed “casting calls for action”) being met with little to no regard. They have recently produced the exact opposite results as in the case of electors of the electoral college switching their votes away from their “chosen” candidate to another.

Yet, what’s truly different this time (from my viewpoint) is the sudden and vociferous mocking coming from not only the general public, but also from the once timid, if not outright terrified of this once bludgeoning criticizing hammer. i.e., The side or viewpoint being scorned.

Here are just a few of the most recent: There was this mocking from Townhall™

Here’s another titled “dear celebrities

Doesn’t matter what political side of the aisle you stand on, one thing today is different that all times previous: Just a few years ago if a video was made in response it would be something on the idea of bending over backwards to show that they weren’t anything like what the “political celebrity” was portraying them to be. Today? A far different reaction, as well as response.

Not so convinced? Fair enough. So let me use another: Meryl Streep’s award speech. Or should I say – Expressions of disdain?

Whether you agree with her or not – one thing is incontrovertible: Everyone’s got an opinion on it. And the one’s who only a few years ago would just ignore it? Are today far more boisterous about their condemnation of it (and Hollywood in general) than any time in at least my memory, with one of the best examples emanating from the MMA community itself in tweet form. To paraphrase: “With all due respect to Meryl Streep…MMA may not be the arts, but then again, neither was Ricki and the Flash”

Ouch!

If you want to read more of what I’ll argue you would have never read just a few years ago, there’s UFC President Dana White’s thoughts racing across a myriad of not only media sites, but also Hollywood’s own. Again – almost unthinkable just a few years ago. All I’ll say is this: He doesn’t hold back any punches, so you’ve been forewarned.

The second comes to us from no other spot than the “Ivory Tower” itself and one of its most heralded acolytes Paul Krugman.

In an article I opined why “Princeton Math” never ads up, and my reasoning why.

Some have argued to me over the years I only use academia or “Ivory Towers” for the sole purpose as a foil. Some have argued (usually when they found I wasn’t buying what they were selling) that I was just “envious” or “secretly jealous” that I didn’t have some form of alphabet soup after my name. e.g., Ph.D, MBA, LMNOP, et cetera. As I’ve explained to near exhaustion, that’s hardly the case.

So today without further ado I would like to state for the record side by side quotes by one of the main reasons why people are charged extraordinary large sums of money to obtain said degrees from the likes of professors such as Princeton’s former resident Mr. Krugman. And why people with only remedial skills inherently know, and understand why, when they listen to his (or ilk’s) pontificating they are left either totally bewildered, completely confused, or downright stupefied. To wit:

screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-11-07-40-am

( Image Source: and you can read more here)

And that my friends is why not only the Ivory Towers of academia and the economic community at large is finding itself more along the lines of a running joke, rather than anything once beholden to a “sheepskin” stamp of approval.  After all, when academia thinks it’s just dandy to charge well into 6-figures for that sheepskin only to leave taught, and thinking (and worse believing) 2+2=5 ? Maybe that’s why this years yearly gathering of academia was met with its own realization or feelings of, “Wait…What?” To wit:

Via the WSJ™: “Top Economists Grapple With Public Disdain for Initiatives They Championed”

Not to worry I guess, after all, more money is always the solution we’re told by academia. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone tuitions are expected to once again rise. So when that bill arrives? Just apply the same math of 2+2=5 to your checking account. And if the check bounces? Just explain you used their math to balance you checkbook and if there seems to be insufficient funds that they should just forgive the debt, and give you a pass.

See how far you get.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

Footnote: These “FTWSIJDGIGT” articles came into being when many of the topics I had opined on over the years were being openly criticized for “having no clue”. Yet, over the years these insights came back around showing maybe I knew a little bit more than some were giving me credit for. It was my way of tongue-in-cheek as to not use the old “I told you so” analogy. I’m saying this purely for the benefit of those who may be new or reading here for the first time (and there are a great many of you and thank you too all). I never wanted or want to seem like I’m doing the “Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah” type of response to my detractors. I’d rather let the chips fall – good or bad – and let readers decide the credibility of either side. Occasionally however, there are, and have been times they do need to be pointed out which is why these now have taken on a life of their own. (i.e., something of significance per se that may have a direct impact on one’s business etc., etc.) And readers, colleagues, and others have requested their continuance.

A Thought (Or Warning) About Future Advertising On Social Media

Over the last few years social media has been used as a pummeling stone for many an activists tool box. It doesn’t matter the organization or affiliation. All that mattered was whether or not the “activist” could impose their will upon what ever the subject matter was which they deemed as “their” movement of choice. Right, left, middle ______ (fill in the blank) it’s been used by all, granted, some with more frequency and fervor than others.

Usually the number one call (or tool) used are the across-the-board calls for boycotting of the now targeted, bulls-eyed offending person, service, product, or company. Sometimes, the call is for all.

More often than not businesses of all stripes will do “whatever it takes” as to make it stop. Even if they didn’t do anything wrong to begin with. For in business one of the first rules is: Never let your business, yourself, or employees be seen doing anything, or promoting anything, that could cost you business. Period.

It’s what I call the “Rule 1.A”  of business. For if Rule 1 is – don’t lose money, and Rule 2 is – see Rule 1. Failing to understand there is Rule 1.A can lose you more business, or money, faster than Rule 2 can ever be applied.

So here we are today with businesses (or brands) as squeamish as ever when it comes to the possibility that their products or services could be seen, or inadvertently be interpreted, in some form of “bad light” (think of all the pixellated logos you see throughout television programming) now are facing what I believe is the first real-time example showing the potential for harming, or disgracing a company, product, or brand that may have taken years, if not decades to create.

Why? Algorithmic insertion marketing. Social media’s #1 raison d’être for extracting monetary gains via the “ads for eyeballs” model.

So what makes me bring up this contemplation today? Fair question, and it’s this: The “Kidnapping” which took place in Chicago that was broadcast live on Facebook™.

Personally, I now deem this as Facebook’s not so political bias moment for reasons you can judge for yourself.

I make this observation based on the story written in The Guardian™ a few days ago and Facebook’s public statement in response. Too my eye and ear, what was reported had the all the elements for a true “Wait…What?” moment.

I read, and re-read FB’s response so many times I was going cross-eyed, and yet, I still needed to read it again just to make sure I couldn’t interpret it any other way. I’m still shocked.

In this report from The Guardian, Facebook refused to explain (“refused” meaning not sounding like utter nonsense) why the live streaming torture video wasn’t taken down sooner. As I inferred, it isn’t that they refused to answer, it’s what they did state as a reason that was far more alarming. Here is what was given as an explanation by a spokeswoman for the company. To wit:

“We do not allow people to celebrate or glorify crimes on Facebook and have removed the original video for this reason. In many instances, though, when people share this type of content, they are doing so to condemn violence or raise awareness about it. In that case, the video would be allowed.”

Got that? Again, don’t take my interpretation. Re-read it for yourself and try not to think “Wait…What?” for yourself.

And if you’re an advertiser on that platform and you experienced a slight case of indigestion as you read it? Congratulations is all I’ll say, because it proves you may indeed still have some sense of reality about unintended consequences and your business. Here’s why:

In that above statement there’s a defense for letting it be viewed or passed around. e.g., “In many instances, though, when people share this type of content, they are doing so to condemn violence or raise awareness about it. In that case, the video would be allowed.”

So with that reasoning it is also very plausible, as well as highly likely based on what happened, and the reasoning articulated by a spokesperson representing FB, that videos such as this may indeed happen again with FB’s blessing if they deemed it met the aforementioned criteria in their eyes.

Does anyone else see the implications here? For if that is so? Is it too far out to go on-a-limb to rationalize that maybe since everything is becoming more, and more “sponsored” (after-all that’s how “free” is paid for) that a video such as this can (or will) come across a users “news” feed or whatever it’ll be called at the time with some form of promotional advertising associated with it?

Think I’m off base or just making a brouhaha out of nothing? Fair point. So let’s use the visual (since that’s what this was) and I’ll add my own example for instructive purposes only and ask you to see just how far off-base my concerns are. ready?

(Image source from the afore referenced Guardian article)

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-12-10-40-pm

This video brought to you by ______________ (fill in the most politically incorrect phobic corporation of choice here – along with its tagline.) Also: If it’s you? Better hope your tagline doesn’t enhance the offensiveness making matters even worse. Think about it.

See what I mean? Or should I say, “Are you feeling it?” For that’s the reason why you may have had that moment of queasiness earlier. And again, if you did? Congratulations – for it proves you’re thinking.

If I were to put on my consulting hat and was facing a gathering of companies seeking advice for advertising in the coming months here’s how I would open the meeting:

I would show the above picture on the large screen behind me along with the “This video brought to you by _______” then state the following…

“If you’re an advertiser, or brand this should be viewed as a warning sign (adorned with big flashing letters and blinkers) for the potential of outright PR disasters in the not so distant future, although that “future” may-in-fact be already here.”

Then: I wouldn’t make another sound or movement for what would seem as uncomfortably long time. Then I might proceed with the following…

“In the “ads for eyeballs” model it’s inherent that every feature, every note, article, banner, whatever, must be paid for by an advertiser in one form or another. For “Free” to the end-user usually means “paid for” by an advertiser. And advertisers such as yourselves don’t pay for anything unless your names are attached to it in some form or fashion, which only makes sense. So now here’s the quandary:

If targeted ads have now shown their worth (as in not worth it) that even the largest ad buyer on the globe P&G™ has opted out for more saturating coverage as opposed to targeted. (not forgetting this was social media’s touchstone value proposition) That means algorithmic based insertion of ads should now be the de facto model of choice.

And if that’s true? That means based on algorithmic models (how many clicks, age group, et cetera, et cetera) the most politically incorrect phobic of companies may/can/will? find themselves inserted into, or guilty by association in videos such as the above. It’s a very reasonable conclusion. And being so “reasonable” makes it ever the more concerning.

However, concerning as that may be? What should be far more concerning to you as advertisers is FB’s official statement as to its legitimacy of not only not being taken down with immediacy, but rather, why similar incidents may in fact not be taken down at all if FB deems it.

Remember, as per FB’s own spokesperson: “In many instances, though, when people share this type of content, they are doing so to condemn violence or raise awareness about it. In that case, the video would be allowed.”

So with that in mind here’s what you must now comprehend: It may be you, and your ad dollars, touted boldly as the sponsor for bringing such content to millions with said content not being taken down until far after the damage (as in a negative affect about your brand, company, or service) may in fact have already been done.

For you may only find out about it after the fact. And “after” may be well after., remembering the above stayed up some 30 minutes before outrage finally caused it to be taken down. “Outrage” being a fluid term. What if a level of outrage wasn’t hit for an hour? 24? A week? Or, as per FB might deem it “appropriate” and should be allowed to stay up? All being brought to them by your ad dollars and stated as so.

But then again, “social media” activists or causes will always take your explanation that it “Wasn’t your fault!” or “Your company would never stand or support such things!” first, when, or if, it could be shown it was only some stupid “robot” that inserted your ad, correct?”

I leave it there and ask you to ponder the above for your own conclusions.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

Is Social Media’s “Ads for Eyeballs” Valuations About To Be Eviscerated?

There’s a peculiar tone emanating from the social media space. It’s a little hard to hear, but if you listen closely, it’s there none the less. That sound is the sudden gasp of realization that the most dominating reasoning and defense that encompassed the entire social media space may in fact being laid-to-waste right before their screens. That horror?

The eyeballs for ads model doesn’t work. And – it’s being stated by one of their own. (Insert the scary music tones here)

In a blog post the online publishing platform Medium™ stunned what I refer to as “The Valley” (i.e., the everything social and disruption purely for its own sake devotees) when it announced two stunning proclamations. The First: It was jettisoning about one-third of its workforce. Second: The reasoning behind it, Here’s an excerpt, to wit:

“We also saw interest from many big brands and promising results from several content marketing campaigns on the platform.
However, in building out this model, we realized we didn’t yet have the right solution to the big question of driving payment for quality content. We had started scaling up the teams to sell and support products that were, at best, incremental improvements on the ad-driven publishing model, not the transformative model we were aiming for.
To continue on this trajectory put us at risk — even if we were successful, business-wise — of becoming an extension of a broken system.
Upon further reflection, it’s clear that the broken system is ad-driven media on the internet. It simply doesn’t serve people. In fact, it’s not designed to.”

I encourage you to read their entire post for your own conclusions. So, with that said, I’ll now give you my “two cents.”

Is it not funny how the “ads for eyeballs” model which was the be-all, end-all model to $BILLION dollar riches and IPO cash out dreams suddenly finds itself being shunned (i.e., self implied “Needs another model”) by none other than a company whose CEO once founded one of social media’s most coveted “ads for eyeballs” companies? (e.g. Twitter™)

Now to be fair the article does in fact state 2016 was their best year yet, with “readers and published posts up 300% year on year.” Those are impressive statistics. Also, I don’t know anything other than what I read in the aforementioned post. It may be in fact this outlet wishes to transform itself, or its business model, purely for the sake of journalistic integrity. And if that is indeed the case I wholeheartedly commend them. Yet, what falls short via my acumen is the timing. Here’s the reasoning…

Let’s use just one of the said key metrics: “Readers.”

If an “ads for eyeballs” designed platform experiences a 300% year-over-year growth in the sole bedrock, fundamental, metric of the “ads for eyeballs” formulation. Would that not mean, or at least one could rationally infer, the YoY profits realized by supplying ads to a tripling of “eye balls” in one year warrants an explosion of generated profits?

For another sentence caught my eye which doesn’t seem to fit if readership was up 300%. e.g., “Even if we’re successful.”

This is a very critical point to ponder. i.e., If a 300% increase in viewership YoY didn’t move the needle as to not state “even” implying that it is not – than what would?

Again, for It needs to be repeated: The basic core metric that allows the entirety of the “eyeballs for ads” argument to even exist – is – the reasoning behind dismantling, and jettisoning one-third of the company?  Remember, they state, “Our vision, when we started in 2012, was ambitious: To build a platform that defined a new model for media on the internet.”

It can be reasonably assumed it did just that – and in spades! (e.g. 300% growth in “eyeballs” this past year alone.) And for that comes the conclusion to immediately lop off 1/3 of staffing and announce a complete change or overhaul to its business structure?

This is like stating (if we’re to take the reasoning at face value) “We’ve tripled the #1 key metric that supports (and advertisers will pay for) the entire “ads for eyeballs” model, and for that accomplishment – we’re downsizing, and laying off 1/3 of you. Great job, and here’s looking at 2017, cheers!”

Something just doesn’t square here from my perspective, or opinion.

Let me express it this way: What can be rationally inferred by anyone with just a modicum of business acumen in this underlying quandary? Or said differently:

What was the decision-making process that impelled a company to jettison one-third of its personnel along with simultaneously stating a dismantling of its former business model first (and that’s a very key point) not after it tried to change that very model as some form of “work in progress” putting what can only be inferred as an ever-increasing hardship on both authors, or content providers, If, the sole intention is to reward those content creators to begin with?

Is that not as they say “Throwing the baby out with the bath water?” Unless…

A 300% increase in readership didn’t mean squat to paying advertisers because – all they were getting was the bill for more “ad sales” and no sales. So they in-turn are now stating: Thanks, but no thanks. (Think P&G™ and its decision to jettison one of Facebook™ most coveted ad models)

Personally, I feel it’s more of this, than the former, and is becoming so prevalent, it can no longer be ignored. i.e., The writing’s on the balance sheets.

There’s a reason why I make this point. For I once was involved with advertising (albeit years ago) and actually ran and designed a campaign for a multi-national consumer brand which still runs to this day decades later. And it is this:

Advertisers rarely scale down or remove ad dollars from venues that produce sales. And what they surely won’t do, is remove or scale-down ads from a venue that can demonstrate increasing sales. Especially one that has shown a growth in audience of some 300% YoY. For if the audience has grown, surely, that implies any successful prior ad sales during that period should also have been the benefactor of explosive sales results. Maybe not 1 for 1 as in 300%, however, explosive in comparison YoY should be apparent nonetheless.

So in reaction to this – you’re now going to tell not only those advertisers, but also those which benefited by osmosis: Thanks, but we’re not going to take “that” money anymore? And along with it (as implied by how it was generated per the article) will more than assuredly see “readership” drop? Along with asking them to either continue campaigns or start anew?

How does that make sense from a business perspective I ask? Why wouldn’t an attrition model be implemented first? i.e., Make changes as you go, and as the “ad revenue” was still coming in, and scale down on a more favorable time schedule? i.e., Not jettison one-third of its employees onto the unemployment rolls right after the holidays. Unless? Hint: Maybe it wasn’t.

Again, if you take the rationale stated in the above article at face value? It’s very hard to infer anything else but. Sure, it sounds altruist and is absolutely fine if that’s the true driver. However, with that said, here’s another one of those very troubling questions that seem to pop into my mind which I can’t seem to jettison:

How are the remaining advertisers now going to view Medium? i.e., Is the remaining audience for 2017 worth what they were paying in 2016? After all – Medium openly stated or implied “that” prior audience is not what they want, and with it, will reshape into something different. That “different” can rationally be assumed as – smaller. Also: how are advertisers now to view all the other “ads for eyeballs” purveyors after this revelation? Are their sales metrics (i.e., eyeballs) worth paying for?

And it is there which lies-the-rub, for that is diametrically the opposite of everything “The Valley” currently stands on. Or, more importantly – is funded and valued by Wall Street.

And yet, here is Medium, itself a well coveted outlet of “The Valley” openly stating “ads for eyeballs” doesn’t work, even in the face of 300% eyeball growth, which is the metric-of-metrics of everything that is “The Valley.”

If I’m correct in my understanding of advertisers, and advertising? That “new vision” will not be well received in today’s business climate, for that meme was told, and more importantly – sold to them incessantly, fueling and enabling the entire “ads for eyeballs” model that supported multi-$BILLION valuations and IPO cash out dreams at their expense. Literally.

Again: now with Medium itself openly stating it doesn’t work? Or, at the very least, isn’t worth it?

Let’s just say for many of today’s priced for perfection “eyeballs for ads” companies? It may as well be another nail in the proverbial “it’s different this time” coffin. For this time – it may be advertisers themselves that are reading the “news.”

With all the above said let me clarify one point, for I’ve been asked this on multiple occasions whether at a speaking event, or by friends:

I’m not saying there’s no place for the “Ads For Eyeballs” business. That’s a foolish notion. You may in fact be reading this article on one supported by that very model (and if you are I encourage you to support those advertisers should you need of their services). What I am stating unequivocally is this:

The rationale that the “eyeballs for ads” model coupled with “it’s different this time” incantations was the “magic formula” as to engender social media companies, and other unicorns of “totally worth it” valuations for IPOs along with market-cap valuations of not only $BILLIONS of dollars, but $10’s, and for others $100’s of BILLIONS on its face was ludicrous at best – delusional at worse. Period, end of fable.

I used the word “fable” specifically for this purpose: What does “it’s different this time” have in common with “Once upon a time?” Hint: Reread the above paragraph.

I can’t help but to keep remembering back how similar this revelation is to another which I was taken to task by many a Silicon Valley aficionado when the announcement that Jack Dorsey would be CEO of two companies simultaneously. The rationale emanating from “The Valley” once again has that same ring to it. i.e., It is us, as in you or me, which just doesn’t get it. There are others suggesting Medium or others should now do some M&A as a result of this.

That might be possible, however, may I suggest a pause for anyone thinking about M&A in 2017 for this reasoning…

If the “eyeballs for ads” model is indeed broken, or at the least no longer the valued metric to warrant the taking of advertisers ad dollars? There’s a whole lot of “valuations” about to find reality at never-mind “bargain prices” rather, at “fire sale” offerings in the very near future. After all…

We all know what happens when someone yells sell “fire!” In a crowded trade theater.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr