In Response To My Stance On Social Media

I was queried on whether or not when it comes to social media in general, and Facebook™ in particular, especially in the light of another “fantastic!” earnings report coinciding with a pop into (once again) a record high stock value, if I thought about (implying, maybe I should) reconsidering my prior assertions. My answer?

No.

(For those not familiar with my stance you can read a little more here, and here.)

Here’s three reasons I gave as to why I still stand by my stance in the face of what everyone across the financial media is touting as “should put the naysayers to rest” earnings report via Facebook (FB).

First: As I stated and implied in the above referenced articles: What good is user growth if those “users” have no money, or completely disregard the inserted ads, making the paying for those ads to provide all the “free” too costly to the advertisers themselves?

Second: As I’ve also ruminated on why FB’s stock was rising of late, as opposed to, its falling during the “markets” latest run into never-before-seen-in-human-history-highs: “It’s probably much more to do with “buying” as to get “earnings exposure.” Much like it did this past Nov. when it (once again) hit an all time high, had a “hitting it out of the ball park” earnings report, then did nothing but slide as the “markets” lurched higher. For where is FB currently trading after such (once again) “blowout earnings?” Hint: Look back to last November – once again. So far even the overnight “pop” hasn’t held. That may be a clue, but only time (and money) will tell.

Third: This latest earnings covers one of the most interactive presidential campaigns in history – and it’s now over. Holiday “ad-spree-buys” are now done. So far the results (for retailers that is)? See any retailers latest earnings report for a “canary in a coal mine” type of analysis. e.g., Now even Macy™ is reported to be “shopping itself out.” As I’ve implied many times before: FB will (or now was) probably be the beneficiary this past holiday shopping season as advertisers do one last “throwing everything they’ve got before they go-out.” ad buy. I’ll use Macy’s as just one (and there are more) example to back up that argument.

Here’s a “bonus” for you to also consider: What will be the fallout as I implied before if all the content providers who are insulted (or won’t post because of fear of censorship) leave FB? If one “content creator” decides to leave, what does that do to their 10,000 followers? If 100 leave does traffic slow by 1-million? And what if those “1mm” are the ones buying advertisers messages, literally? Again, only time will tell.

But as I like to make the point that all too few fail to remember: AOL™ was still “crushing it” as late as 2001 when it was obvious to anyone willing to see that the “tech bubble” was indeed bursting. Anyone that is except for the financial press along with “The Valley.”

Today, much like then, when questioning anything about social media and/or FB the first response is “It’s different this time.” To reiterate: Much like it was when questioning AOL’s “ads for eyeballs” model back then. For if I remember correctly, “AOL had really figured out advertising on the web.” Much like FB today is shielded with the blanket response of “They really figured out advertising on mobile.”

Sound familiar?

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

From: You Can’t Make This Stuff Up – Into – Maybe They Actually Do

If one has ever perused most “business” or “investing” centered programs (cough,CNBC™,cough) and wondered why their bulls–t meter keeps going from zero to 11? This is your moment for clarity, provided by none other than one of the leading “investment” commentators paraded across the financial media of television, radio, and print: Dennis Gartman.

Personally, I have no qualms to pick with Mr. Gartman. The only thing I take issue with is: both he, and his insights are trotted out on these programs and given the aura of “thoughtful, actionable, expertise.”

Over the years it has shown to many an observer with a modicum of business acumen, as well as financial insight (heaven forbid your account balances) that “zip, zero, nada” should accompany those three prior descriptors. It’s now become so obvious (and laughable) he’s even had to publicly defend himself against his own record.

Now I am fully aware, as well as sympathetic to making calls, or going out-on-a-limb to voice, or give credence, to thoughts which turn out to be not just wrong, but dead wrong. Trust me, I’ve made enough of them myself.

However, with that said, what I will do different from most others is tell you my reasoning for it, then let the chips fall where they may. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. Nobody is right all the time in business, let alone investing. (And just to be clear, I am in no way, shape, manner, or form, an investment advisor.) It comes with the territory and there are times you just have to “man-up” and say so. Period, end of story, move on.

People are smart enough to know what’s “what.” And one should never think they aren’t. Which is precisely why I wanted to share my thoughts on this because, by all appearances, Mr. Gartman thinks people are the latter, rather than the former. i.e., Must assume people are morons.

In another stunning reversal of “investment” advice Mr. Gartman went from, “Our propensity is to find modest long exposure today” on Monday morning into “No longer bullish after seeing…” Monday evening. You know, after people who might have taken his lead and thought they were “buying in” just like the “pros.” Only to see the largest decline of 2017 happen simultaneously and we’re left in a pool of tears, once again.

So, what did he see? Were they some form of proprietary technical indicators, charting patterns, insider trading report, or some form of other proprietary insight? Hint: Nope.

It appears (by his own words) he saw only too late what every person in the world with a computer, and a desire to find information on their own saw days before (because it was already viral on the web all weekend). e.g., The now infamous “omen of financial doom” cover story when none other than Barron’s™ (once again) insinuatingly proclaims “away we go once again!” with their cover page headline “Next Stop Dow 30,000”

The reason Mr. Gartman gave? He didn’t get the magazine delivered until Monday, when everyone else received it on Saturday.

Imagine that, who could have ever assumed one “edge” to competing with today’s multi-$Billion, HFT, light-speed data-flow world of connectivity was – a faster postman! (never forgetting it was accessible via the web Saturday, and Sunday)

And that my friends is why “investment gurus” like the aforementioned Mr. Gartman make the big bucks (selling this trite in newsletters) and are called on television shows, radio, and more to give their prognostications.

I guess, after all, an excuse like the one given is: daring, bold, and far more clever than “The dog ate my homework” excuse any poor, (presumably much poorer) ignorant 401K holder could ever hope to come up with. You just can’t make this stuff up. Unless you’re them I suppose, then, not only do you make it up – you charge mightily for it!

Is it any wonder why these networks are losing viewers as quickly as the people following the advice from many of these so-called “experts?”

Other than that, I have no strong feelings, or opinions on the matter.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

February’s FOMC Meeting: A Powder Keg In Search Of A Match

On February 1st the Federal Reserve will conclude its scheduled two-day meeting. No one expects any change in policy to be announced, especially since the Fed. has since hiked rates at the preceding meeting. And with there being no press conference scheduled, that’s been a pretty reliable indicator for all to assume it’s steady-as-she-goes.

Although I agree, what I also believe is there’s a wildcard in this one that could send everything into a tizzy. That “wildcard” is: The minutes.

The minutes (e.g., transcripts of the meeting) are released three weeks after the date of the policy decision. More often than not these are looked upon by the “markets” as “already known, knowns.” In other words, a non-market moving event.

However, I believe this meeting followed by its minutes may set up the “markets” as well as the economy for an “Ides of March” we may all soon not want to remember, let alone – never forget.

So why is it I imply these minutes might have more onerous implications than prior? Two words: China, Yuan.

Let’s lay out a few other “known, knowns”, as well as a possible “what if” and what they might portend after this upcoming Fed. meeting shall we?

As we sit here today it’s hard to overstate what is now coined the “Trumpflation” trade happening across the U.S. “markets.” All the major indexes are trading at never-before-seen-in-human-history-highs.

Even the President himself took to social media to put his stamp (or brand) of approval on Dow 20K. And with that action implied credit for it. Something prior presidents usually kept at arm’s length, accepting credit via osmosis. So to say, think, or believe this president isn’t going to insert himself into the dialogue of the “markets” in the future, for whatever the reason, is naive at best, willfully blind as worst. Because now – you have precedent. This is an important point to remember.

Now on the other hand we have China, and the Yuan. And I believe it’s here where things begin to go awry in very short order.

I will argue both the “markets,” and currencies are about to be caught off guard and left flat-footed in much the same fashion as politicians everywhere have been with the U.S. president. i.e., Completely shocked and stupefied as to the reality of what he’s doing – as compared with what they thought (or believed) he’d do. And he’s only been in office a week.

It is a known fact that China is currently throwing everything (including the kitchen sink) trying to stem capital flight from not only within its borders, but also, a depreciating Yuan exacerbated by a rising $Dollar. And it’s not getting better.

The real problem? It may go from worsening condition to catastrophic at any moment. No hyperbole intended.

China’s latest efforts to halt an ever falling Yuan seems to be waning, along with the ever watched USD/CNH cross rate once again inching back toward prior intervention attempts. Or to say it differently: Without constant, unrelenting, massive intervention – the path is down, and maybe, waaay down.

China’s dilemma is not merely worsened by the ramifications of a “hawkish toned” Fed. That’s an understatement. What I want to make clear from my perspective is this:

In its (China’s) current position, I’m of the opinion they’re one rate hike (U.S. hike to be specific) away from the Yuan becoming completely unglued from any sought level by the politburo, regardless of further intervention – and- goes into an uncontrolled free-fall, exacerbated by capital flight which only may be halted or quelled by some form of monetary martial law.

I’m also of the opinion – it’ll be too little, too late, and the global “markets” will go into a near instantaneous heaving with gyrations possibly worse, if not on par, with the beginning chaos seen in early 2008. And that can all happen (“can” because nobody knows) in the coming weeks. Here’s why:

A lot has changed over the last few weeks. First and foremost: president-elect is now Mr. President. And with that has come sweeping changes to the global stage as to how once thought sacrosanct “trade deals” or “trading partners” have been relegated to “it’s different this time” status. Make that – much, much different.

One of the most stunning developments I personally took notice of was the president’s very public cancelling of a scheduled meeting with Mexico’s president. What I found absolutely comical was the reporting of it by the media through the political lens. Every word I continue to hear, or read, is either in the form of unhinged apoplectic, or utterly confused.

I’m here to tell you the way the president treated that circumstance is absolute “Business 101.” To think this president isn’t more concerned with “business optics first” as opposed to “political optics” is journalistic, as well as political malfeasance.

Any person who is, or has, been in business viewed his response (e.g., Mr. Trump’s) as a textbook business negotiation tactic. i.e., “If we can’t agree that it has to be good for the both of us? Fair enough, thanks for letting us know, all the best: ‘click.'” I personally have used that exact negotiating start point countless times throughout my own career.

I’m going to make this point for it is the key to understanding what truly took place. Not from the political, but rather, from the business perspective:

“Click” means just that: Click, the conversation is over.

If you aren’t already prepared, or at the least cognizant of the consequences – whatever they may be – you don’t use it. It’s not something, or a tactic, to be used flippantly. That’s why it can be one of the most forceful negotiating start-points in business for it implies nothing, rather – it states clearly: “If my phone doesn’t ring, I know it’s you – and don’t care.”

This is for those who aren’t interested in “talking” about a deal. It’s only used by those interested in doing a deal. If not? They’re moving on to someone else who either might or does.

It’s not for the faint-of-heart politician, and that’s why most are already seeking oxygen masks. But serious business people? It’s the only way. Period.

China’s politburo has to now assume that this president is far more serious and willing to accept consequences as to renegotiate prior deals or hash out new ones going forward. Calls of “currency manipulator” or for “tariffs” and more are now squarely on the table going forward. China must now look at any and all possibilities through the lens of having actual follow-through. Why?

By all appearances Mr. Trump is showing when it comes to business – he’s deadly serious. But what may be more important is this: He appears personally prepared and willing to accept or deal with any fallout.  And, once again – that’s Business 101.

It is there dear reader, where the rubber-hits-the-road far differently than ever before when it comes to China. For it might be that the next person Mr. Trump decides to “cancel a meeting” or “tell them I’ll get back to them” is none other than China. A position the China of today has never been in.

This must be causing quite the stir, as well as consternation for China’s leaders behind the scenes as they’re enjoying (or at least trying) their New Year. Why? Because you now have provable actions as to compare or postulate by. i.e., The current “Mexican standoff” must be taken as entirely plausible to happen to them. Regardless of how many (enter your “think” tank of choice here) might argue it as “crazy talk.”

And speaking of “crazy talk.” Let’s get to the Fed. and its upcoming meeting shall we?

As convoluted as the current narrative is to follow of whether or not the Fed. will in-fact begin raising rates in earnest this year. One thing is clear: The Fed. appears to now be by openly hostile to the current administration. Why do I make such a claim? Just look to their own public words for clues.

At the last meeting I made the observation for opinion that if you watched, and listened to the retorts given by Ms Yellen. One couldn’t come away with any other conclusion than what appeared to my eye. i.e., A complete reversal for upcoming policy based purely on the current administration. Data be damned. Not only an I still standing by that claim, I feel more confident in it than ever. Here’s why:

As I stated then: About 60 days prior to that meeting and subsequent rate hike Ms. Yellen gave a speech on how the residual effects from the financial crisis of ’08 had yet to be vanquished and were still present adding to much of the malaise still apparent in the economy. Here thoughts on what to do about it? Maybe a “high-pressure” policy stance would be suitable. What’s that in layman’s terms you ask? Basically it’s this: Keep rates low even while the economy shows improvement and inflation rises, even if it’s above any once “mandated” benchmark.

That was when Mrs. Clinton appeared to be the presumptive winner. When it was president-elect Trump? Raise rates, and vociferously imply not only is an increase of rate hike gone from a well-assumed 2 to 3 in 2017. But what was far more instructive was Ms. Yellen’s responses as to imply more are on the table should they see fit. Don’t take my word for it as I like to point out. Watch the press conference for yourself and come to your own conclusions with what you know now. Including the timing for her purple attire. But I digress.

So here we are today a little more than 30 hence that meeting, and what has now been added into the discussion? Hint: The unwinding of The Fed’s balance sheet.

What’s even more incredible about this story is what the main-stream media and financial media missed, or conveniently glossed over, take your pick. e.g., The inferred revelation that Fed. members are thinking of soon. As in real soon. To wit:

Fed. president Mr. Harker (paraphrasing): “When rates are at 1%, we need to look at unwinding the balance sheet.”

Fed. president Mr. Bullard (paraphrasing): “Balance sheet roll off may be better than aggressive hiking.”

Some will say I’m trying to make an argument that really doesn’t exist, because it’ll be implied as “it’s not like they mean it.” This will be the go-to argument or rationalization by most policy wonk talking heads. However, I use as evidence to back up my assertion with none other than “Mr. Courage To Print, and Print more” former Fed. chairman Ben Bernanke’s own “Wait…what?” response with his own near immediate rebuttal, to wit:

“Has the Fed’s approach to balance sheet normalization actually changed? At least until I hear otherwise from the FOMC’s leadership or the Committee as a whole, my guess (and hope) is that it hasn’t.”

If we’ve learned aything over the last few years “hope” is not a strategy. Especially when it comes to serious matters. So let’s take this all at their word, for that’s why they tell us their “communication strategy for forward guidance” is there for, no? Even if the former chairman is as confused to their intent as the rest of us.

First: “When rates are at 1%, we need to look at unwinding the balance sheet.”

Rates are currently at .5% which implies we are either 1 rate (or Fed. meeting where the old norm of raising .5 or 1/2% begins in earnest once again) away from possibly beginning the once unmentionable (let alone inconceivable) unwinding of the balance sheet. If they decide to do 1/4 points (e.g. .25) raises as has been the norm, then we’re possibly just two meetings away. That’s March 15th aka the Ides of March. (Gotta love the coincidence of history, yes?)

Some will say. “That’s crazy talk.” I’ll contend, as well as argue: The open discussion calling for even a hinting of unwinding the “balance sheet” by the Fed. was also once considered crazy. And yet? There it is.

Second: “Balance sheet roll off may be better than aggressive hiking.”

So let’s put this into perspective: If one rate hike a year has been seen as “the norm.” And if we add to that even 1 has been seen as foreboding dependent on the timing. Is it not fair to conclude the possibility of 3 in a year, added with the Fed. Chair herself arguing maybe even more might be forthcoming should the FOMC decide as – “aggressively hiking?” Notwithstanding being in concert this argument began with someone who made financial heads scratch everywhere when he himself aggressively switched just last year from a “hawkish” perspective to near “uber-dove?”

Again, taken at face value the only prudent consideration is for one to position (or at least calculate in earnest) for the possibility that the Fed. may in fact decide to push much, much faster, and in ways once considered unimaginable, not in years to come – but starting as early as February.

Think that through once again, for if that’s not implying “it’s different this time?” Nothing is.

So with the above for context here’s the real issue:

China has to be looking at all the above from behind closed doors – and be absolutely freaking out!

And yes, I mean that precisely, consider it a new “technical term” in response to the current state of affairs and messaging which they can only try to understand, let alone formulate contingency plans for. Remember, they are truly a command and control economy and government. e.g., Communist regime. They don’t have the business savvy for nuance and theatre as we have here.

This is a very dangerous point for the global economy and “markets, let alone for the Chinese politburo. Remember: For all intents and purposes they (the Chinese politburo) view everything via the lens of “a hammer in want of a nail.” And while looking at the above through that prism, they may feel the only thing for them to do is “pound, and pound now.” Remember the line I liked to quote from the movie Margin Call, “It’s not panicking if you’re first.”

Since July of 2016 things have not gotten better for China.

As of today the only thing that has worked as to stem the tide of the Yuan falling ever fast and further into oblivion is utilizing the proceeds via the aggressive selling of currently held U.S. debt. (So far the latest best guess has been well over $1TRILLION)

And here you have multiple Fed. members openly stating it may, in concert, with an aggressive (there’s that word again) raising of rates be looking to, or advising for, purging some of its balance sheet (and by how much is anyones guess although one has to assume it may be more than anyone thinks let alone believes).

All of which if it were to happen (and you have to assume, as well as position that it is a possibility) would be vying for the same buyers for debt as you (e.g., China), and would cause a flooding of the “markets” with purchasable debt into too few buyers with the resources to consume it all, exacerbating what would already be problematic to begin with.

If China feels that it is in a no-win situation (and it’s easily conceivable using the Fed’s latest words, speeches, shift in policy signaling and a whole lot more) They might decide after coming back from their New Year holiday and – act first – question later.

Once the February 1st FOMC meeting concludes – if – the chatter now apparent and public by Fed. members continues during the interlude before the releasing of the minutes, I feel another of the “first to act” will be Mr. Trump in a calling out of epic proportions for hypocrisy using, and pointing to, a very defendable position using the Fed’s own prior testimony, signaling, and more to publicly make his case. Especially if the “markets” begin roiling.

During that time I believe China will wait for the minutes to be released, and if it is made apparent that there was indeed further discussion as to bolster the inferences that the Fed. may be actively considering a path as to embark on a march towards higher rates, along with the thinning of its balance sheet, which would inevitably send the $Dollar rocketing skywards?

They’ll act first and ask (or maybe not) questions later. Sending everything that is now taken for granted in the “markets” (e.g., “It’s good to be long!) into total chaos. All before March 15th’s next meeting. Again, which just so happens to be the exact date originating the “Ides of March” warning.

As I implied in the headline: This “powder keg” may not wait until then. For “then” (March) may be a moment too late. (Just ask Caesar)

Circumstances are now showing this “powder keg” could in fact become – self-combusting. All courtesy of The Fed’s own words whether, stated, implied, written, or imagined.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

An Addendum To “Why The Media Is Perplexed”

It seemed like it wasn’t but for a few minutes after I posted “Why The Media Is Perplexed” when I received a call from a friend asking me (more like challenging my premise) if I forgot that the previous administration also did many a “press or photo-op” in the beginning announcing new plans or directives. It was a fair point, so I thought I’d share for it’s hard to cover every differing nuance or subtlety in one article. Here’s the “just” of how I answered…

“You’re right, and they’re fair points. But there are very distinct differences as I say that can be missed if it’s not your discipline. Let me make this overarching point first: There’s a distinct difference between a political call for action, and a business one.

In the political, what you’ll hear almost without fail are two distinct calls. One:) The action, most times, is purely restrictive in nature. i.e., It will be something business can no longer do. Two:) Or, the call is for others to go out, see what’s possible, draw up conclusions, then deliver proposed recommendations in some stated time frame. e.g., 30 days, 6 months, etc.

If you remember back during the initial stages of the last administration this was the playbook.

The then president would have a press conference and state “I have tasked, and have told _______ (fill in any of the many committees appointed here) to deliver recommendations as to fix _______ (repeat here with ordered task) in the next ______(fill in the many time frames given here).”

And here is the key difference – then either nothing happened, or nothing was said about it any further. The Simpson-Bowles of 2010 aka “The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform” being just one example. But it’s an important example, here’s why:

This was after, as in a follow-up to an already disastrous showing of understanding how business views the political world along with how business responds to anything further stated as to try to get them to “buy in.” As I said in the previous: If you lose the “benefit of the doubt” early? As far as the business community will be concerned? You’ll probably never get that opportunity again. And for proof I use the previous administrations calamitous PR debacle given during a presentation aka  “Jobs Council” aka The Presidents Council On Jobs And Competitiveness.

Remember: In January of 2009 then President Obama called for the passage of an $800 BILLION stimulus package as to fund and immediately begin a myriad of “Shovel ready jobs.” The problem? As you can see in the above linked video those hypothetical shovels never broke ground in reality. But here’s the real distinction with a difference:

All concerned laughed (on camera!) at the result. $800 Billion dollars, again $800,000,000,000.00  as in spent – gone – and basically nothing to show for it. And there’s laughter? I’ll contend it was in that moment – all future business “buy in” going forward was lost. And the numbers proved that out. (Numbers as in you need to sift through, like small business creation, cap-ex and such. Not the manipulated for headline purposed.)

I’ll contend the past administration never recovered  (and that was in early 2009) from that moment on in the eyes of business, and will stick by it.

Want a little more anecdotal evidence as to just how damaging that press conference was? And the reason why I was pointing this all out to begin with in the prior post? Think: Jeff Immelt.

At that time the CEO of GE™ Jeff Immelt was tasked with leading that initiative. After that subsequent press conference and poor showing of “shovel ready jobs” did anyone else notice just how fast and how far he seemed to separate himself from any future involvement with the administration? He was basically “joined at the hip” in the early stages. Yet, after that debacle? You could see the distancing taking place till at the end (the last few years) I contend he’s practicing the habits of “Where’s Waldo®.” Think I’m wrong? Try to remember the last time you seen him? Why?

I’ll contend because he understood just how inept (as some photo oped stoog) he appeared in the eyes of the business community. I believe (again, all my own opinion and conclusions) he realized in the eyes of business leaders everywhere – he tarnished business (giving credence to calls of cronyism) as well as the stature of his position and brand as a CEO of one of the worlds premier corporations, all for resume enhancement he didn’t need but for cocktail parties. And it wasn’t worth it.

Remember, as I stated in the prior post: Banks, customers, suppliers, trade partners et al want to see that you are commandingly in charge during a “turnaround” project. And the U.S. in the early stages of 2009 was in fact needing just that.

And here you had the President along with one of the top CEO’s in the country laughing about how they blew through $BILLIONS of precious resources appearing unconcerned as to the travesty of the results, let alone optics.

Any business leader worth their salt would never allow themselves to be seen in that light. I think in retrospect Mr. Immelt realized it, but only after the fact, for the damage had already, as they say, been done.

Contrast this with the current president acting as I believe any CEO would/should (and have done myself, and watched others do) and begin with cutting, slashing, jettisoning items or regulations first – and with immediacy that have significant bottom line impacts. And by big I mean just that BIG! e.g., Stop funding the U.N.? With near immediacy? I’m not asking whether one agrees with it. What I am pointing out is the $dollar size impact to the bottom line along with its “Pet Project” status everywhere.

Not a “come back to me in X# of days with a proposal.” Rather “It looks like we should do this today, begin drafting the legislation.” That’s a distinction with a difference.

And another distinction: The jobs he’s announced are from meetings with CEO’s, hammered out with him (and his team of course) and then announced “Done!” Again, these are cues the business community look to and say “Hmmm, maybe it finally is time I look at X Y Z and move in this or that direction.”

When the order to halt many of the impending rules, regulations, and cost effects that were going to hammer small business this year by the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare)? Again: that was halted with immediacy.

Stuff like this sends signals many in the political world or media only see as “outrageous!”

However, for the business community? It might just be what the doctor ordered. Only time will tell.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

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