Tuesday, December 9, 2008
I can't tell you what an honor it is, to even be mentioned in the same breath with Arthur Ashe. This is something I certainly will treasure forever. But, as it was said on the tape, and I also don't have one of those things going with the cue cards, so I'm going to speak longer than anybody else has spoken tonight. That's the way it goes. Time is very precious to me. I don't know how much I have left and I have some things that I would like to say. Hopefully, at the end, I will have said something that will be important to other people too.
But, I can't help it. Now I'm fighting cancer, everybody knows that. People ask me all the time about how you go through your life and how's your day, and nothing is changed for me. As Dick said, I'm a very emotional and passionate man. I can't help it. That's being the son of Rocco and Angelina Valvano. It comes with the territory. We hug, we kiss, we love. When people say to me how do you get through life or each day, it's the same thing. To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special.I rode on the plane up today with Mike Krzyzewski, my good friend and wonderful coach. People don't realize he's ten times a better person than he is a coach, and we know he's a great coach. He's meant a lot to me in these last five or six months with my battle. But when I look at Mike, I think, we competed against each other as players. I coached against him for fifteen years, and I always have to think about what's important in life to me are these three things. Where you started, where you are and where you're going to be. Those are the three things that I try to do every day. When I think about getting up and giving a speech, I can't help it. I have to remember the first speech I ever gave.
I was coaching at Rutgers University, that was my first job, oh that's wonderful (reaction to applause), and I was the freshman coach. That's when freshmen played on freshman teams, and I was so fired up about my first job. I see Lou Holtz here. Coach Holtz, who doesn't like the very first job you had? The very first time you stood in the locker room to give a pep talk. That's a special place, the locker room, for a coach to give a talk. So my idol as a coach was Vince Lombardi, and I read this book called "Commitment To Excellence" by Vince Lombardi. And in the book, Lombardi talked about the fist time he spoke before his Green Bay Packers team in the locker room, and they were perennial losers. I'm reading this and Lombardi said he was thinking should it be a long talk, or a short talk? But he wanted it to be emotional, so it would be brief. So here's what I did. Normally you get in the locker room, I don't know, twenty-five minutes, a half hour before the team takes the field, you do your little x and o's, and then you give the great Knute Rockne talk. We all do. Speech number eight-four. You pull them right out, you get ready. You get your squad ready. Well, this is the first one I ever gave and I read this thing. Lombardi, what he said was he didn't go in, he waited. His team wondering, where is he? Where is this great coach? He's not there. Ten minutes he's still not there. Three minutes before they could take the field Lombardi comes in, bangs the door open, and I think you all remember what great presence he had, great presence. He walked in and he walked back and forth, like this, just walked, staring at the players. He said, "All eyes on me." I'm reading this in this book. I'm getting this picture of Lombardi before his first game and he said "Gentlemen, we will be successful this year, if you can focus on three things, and three things only. Your family, your religion and the Green Bay Packers." They knocked the walls down and the rest was history. I said, that's beautiful. I'm going to do that. Your family, your religion and Rutgers basketball. That's it. I had it. Listen, I'm twenty-one years old. The kids I'm coaching are nineteen, and I'm going to be the greatest coach in the world, the next Lombardi. I'm practicing outside of the locker room and the managers tell me you got to go in. Not yet, not yet, family, religion, Rutgers Basketball. All eyes on me. I got it, I got it. Then finally he said, three minutes, I said fine. True story. I go to knock the doors open just like Lombardi. Boom! They don't open. I almost broke my arm. Now I was down, the players were looking. Help the coach out, help him out. Now I did like Lombardi, I walked back and forth, and I was going like that with my arm getting the feeling back in it. Finally I said, "Gentlemen, all eyes on me." These kids wanted to play, they're nineteen. "Let's go," I said. "Gentlemen, we'll be successful this year if you can focus on three things, and three things only. Your family, your religion and the Green Bay Packers," I told them. I did that. I remember that. I remember where I came from.
It's so important to know where you are. I know where I am right now. How do you go from where you are to where you want to be? I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal. You have to be willing to work for it.
I talked about my family, my family's so important. People think I have courage. The courage in my family are my wife Pam, my three daughters, here, Nicole, Jamie, LeeAnn, my mom, who's right here too. That screen is flashing up there thirty seconds like I care about that screen right now, huh? I got tumors all over my body. I'm worried about some guy in the back going thirty seconds? You got a lot, hey va fa napoli, buddy. You got a lot.
I just got one last thing, I urge all of you, all of you, to enjoy your life, the precious moments you have. To spend each day with some laughter and some thought, to get you're emotions going. To be enthusiastic every day and as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Nothing great could be accomplished without enthusiasm," to keep your dreams alive in spite of problems whatever you have. The ability to be able to work hard for your dreams to come true, to become a reality.
Now I look at where I am now and I know what I want to do. What I would like to be able to do is spend whatever time I have left and to give, and maybe, some hope to others. Arthur Ashe Foundation is a wonderful thing, and AIDS, the amount of money pouring in for AIDS is not enough, but is significant. But if I told you it's ten times the amount that goes in for cancer research. I also told you that five hundred thousand people will die this year of cancer. I also tell you that one in every four will be afflicted with this disease, and yet somehow, we seem to have put it in a little bit of the background. I want to bring it back on the front table. We need your help. I need your help. We need money for research. It may not save my life. It may save my children's lives. It may save someone you love. And ESPN has been so kind to support me in this endeavor and allow me to announce tonight, that with ESPN's support, which means what? Their money and their dollars and they're helping me-we are starting the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research. And it's motto is "Don't give up, don't ever give up." That's what I'm going to try to do every minute that I have left. I will thank God for the day and the moment I have. If you see me, smile and give me a hug. That's important to me too. But try if you can to support, whether it's AIDS or the cancer foundation, so that someone else might survive, might prosper and might actually be cured of this dreaded disease. I can't thank ESPN enough for allowing this to happen. I'm going to work as hard as I can for cancer research and hopefully, maybe, we'll have some cures and some breakthroughs. I'd like to think, I'm going to fight my brains out to be back here again next year for the Arthur Ashe recipient. I want to give it next year!
I know, I gotta go, I gotta go, and I got one last thing and I said it before, and I want to say it again. Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.
I thank you and God bless you all.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Success is both immeasurable and intangible. This is great news because in that state, we can shape it as we wish and develop the mindset to invite as much of it as possible into our lives.
There is a glass ceiling on abundance, just waiting to be smashed. It represents the limited thinking of the 95% of the world’s population who believes in the power of limitation in their lives. In fact, the only limits on success and happiness in our lives are those we place there ourselves, through our own inadequate vision of who we are and where we’re going.
Success is a state of being – it’s a place we reside when we have moved from a position of wanting (desire) to a more agreeable state of being (having).
‘The difference between success and failure is not just one’s abilities or dreams, but the courage to follow them and take the steps necessary to embrace success’ (KR)
Achievement can be many things, depending upon your lifestyle, passion and vision of the ideal world in which you would like to reside. These include optimum health and longevity; an abundance of joy, love and happiness; a better job; new car; larger sums of money; a more stable relationship; deeper and longer lasting friendships; inner peace and harmony; a clearer vision of ourselves and our lives and the accumulation of more compassion and gratitude in our lives. The list and scope are literally endless.
‘I autograph each and every day of my life with my personal signature of success. Achievement comes because I commit to ownership of my positive, results-driven actions’ (KR)
In fact, success can be all of these things and still, none at all. If we look at Mother Teresa for instance, who could ever suggest she was not successful. She had only to visit a head of state or a business mogul and she was able to raise enormous funds for a new school or hospital. I never remember her living in a New York penthouse or driving around in a Ferrari. I have no doubt she had no money in the bank, nor did she have a holiday house on the Riviera where she could spend her summer holiday. However, she was one of the most successful luminaries who ever lived.
‘Once you allow yourself to go within, believe in yourself as a wonderful and unique being and listen to your inner voice, your subconscious self will surely lead you to personal greatness in your life’ (KR)
The true essence of success and happiness is the inner calm we have, at the life we lead. It cannot be measured in material wealth, though for most of us, it is a big part of the equation. It is not a ‘sin’ to have financial wealth and material goods in your life: Indeed, these are two things to which many of us aspire and they are core to our existence. It is certainly not a crime to surround yourself with trappings such as the houses, cars, artwork, holiday homes and large sums of money.
However, they are called trappings because if these are the aspects of abundance on which you focus, you will fall into the trap and whilst outwardly you may appear to have an incredible and abundant life, inwardly you run the risk of becoming barren and desolate.
Success is the result of your keen vision of the future you want – for yourself, your family and friends – and therefore any pursuit must encompass the elements which make up the whole person. You cannot hope to be fulfilled if you do not have gratitude for what you possess, who you are and where you are going. Opportunity comes out of vision. You fuel it with determination and wrap it in a parcel which is driven by love, compassion and gratitude.
‘There is a wonderful and unique garden within each of us. Many sow wonderful blossoms – dreams, visions, ideas and notions - and nurture the growth with inspiration, faith, courage, gratitude and determination. Others however, allow the garden to become like a desert, because of their failure to care for and respect the inner spirit’
You can never hope to find true happiness if you are unable to link with the ‘inner self’. The essential elements of focus, determination, drive, commitment, compassion, generosity, gratitude and love, give you the power to form the key which will enable you to open the door to stability and opportunity in your world.
Once you have a plan of action – and this is paramount to your blueprint for a wonderful future – and you adopt the key components as part of your everyday routine, you will begin to see success and abundance. You have to be truly grateful for what occurs in life. You must believe above all else that you are worthy of great things.
‘Once you learn to like, love, respect and believe in yourself, the fear you hold inside (of failure, resentment, greed, desolation and poverty) will begin to disappear and the acid remarks of others will have no impact on your thinking’ (KR)
Never be afraid of what you may achieve: Instead, feel apprehension for what you may not. Each of us has the capacity for greatness. We need only respect ourselves and our abilities - no matter how limiting we believe them to be – and hitch them to the wagon of planning and opportunity.
‘Most people fail not because they simply don’t embrace success, but rather, because they most fear it and the responsibilities it brings’ (KR)
I always encourage my clients to begin each day with a quiet prayer of gratitude for the wonders and opportunities in the day ahead and for the obstacles which might be encountered. They are simply guide posts towards a more colourful, clear and all embracing future. This need have no religious basis at all. It is simply a prayer to the power which exists within each of us and in the universe, to which we are inextricably linked.
‘Once you learn to listen to the voice of reason within, the whispers will soon become shouts and your life will lead you on a wonderful and fulfilling journey’ (KR)
Similarly, finish each evening with the same prayer for what you have achieved – and still, for what you have not. Tomorrow is another day; begin to fill it with sunshine, abundance, opportunities and encouragement. If there were no clouds, we could never be grateful for the sunshine which touches our lives. Likewise, without obstacles, we would not feel the warmth of success through achievement. Gratitude is the expression of our thankfulness for ALL those things which make us whole beings.
‘Destiny – fortune or failure - is primarily determined by the balance of success and disappointment in our lives and the way we subsequently respond to challenges’ (KR)
Never underestimate the power of the self to respond to adversity. Whilst ever you hold inside the power of intention, fuelled with the wonderfully empowering tools we all have for setting the course for our incredible destinies, we have the capacity to rise to incredible heights in our lives.
Allow the transformation to begin today. Understand what it is that holds you back and begin the program which will see success and abundance as keep components of a great life. There are no barriers to achievement: Sex, colour, creed, orientation and physical ability can never hold you back if you believe in the path you’re traveling and have total and unswerving belief in yourself. In fact, when you learn to have faith in and respect for yourself – with pride and passion for all things positive which are core components of your very being – you will truly have the power to fuel your journey and bring you incredible success. There is no room for doubt.
Begin to build meaningful relationships across your life and never be afraid to step out of the shadow of mediocrity. The sunshine of opportunity will be a far greater and more profound beacon, which will add further dimensions to your life.
The pursuit of success and happiness should come from inside. You cannot ever hope to embrace success if you do not hold yourself in high self-esteem. You are a wonderful being, with unfathomable abilities, drive, knowledge and wisdom. Tap into that great source today and take the journey of a lifetime.
‘Never rely on the enlightenment of others, to show you the way. Use your personal light within to shine on the path ahead and forge your own strong and successful future, according to your individual hierarchy of values’ (KR)
The future will continue to unfold no matter what you decide. So make the conscious decision - RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW - to shape your destiny according to your own values, dreams, and visions.
‘Keep hold of your dreams and follow them; they surely won’t follow you’ (KR)
Lyrics to Where We Gonna Go From Here :All of your ways and all your thunderGet me in a haze running for coverWhere we gonna go from hereWe we gonna go from hereCar lights in the drivewayI wonder who's going coming my wayTomorrow we're turning down the highwayWith another bright state on a weekdayGreen grass and a radioWatching it fly past and away we goSeven hundred places seven hundred faces more[chorus]All your haze and all your thunderGot me in a haze running for coverWhere we gonna go from hereWhere we gonna go from hereThe back of your eyes look like my mothersWhne we talk your like my brotherWhere we gonna go from hereWhere we gonna go from hereTime is moving on our sideHow could I miss you to another guyPull of the ocean and the roaring tideIs bigger than my eyes or my designFather got a best planSaving his daughter for the best manSeven hundred places seven hundred faces more[chorus]I've waited and I'll wait some moreWon't see me knocking on another doorBut all this is crazy and amazingThere's only one half of us that I'm savingSo I'm praying just to let it goWatch from a distance just to see you glowSeven hundred places seven hundred faces more[chorus]
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I was so confident that a bottom was forming that I even commissioned a graphic showing why. Now, I'm worried about how far much farther the market could fall. The S&P 500 tells me so.
My confidence was built on how the S&P 500 behaved after dropping for no more than a minute on Oct. 10 to 839.80. That was the start of a wild day of trading.
The S&P approached 839.80 one more time on Oct. 10, and, between then and Nov. 12, the market tested that low four times, bouncing up each time.
Technical analysts call repeated bounces off a low level the establishment of a support level, which means that the mere act of approaching that level generates new buying. (There are, of course, millions of ways to identify a market bottom -- which is to say, a market bottom shows up when it shows up. Check this set of criteria.)
I, for one, was hoping that support seemed to be forming between 840 and 850 on the S&P. If it kept holding at roughly those levels, then confidence would start to build among investors and, in time, confidence would beget buying. I wasn't alone in watching the market trend after Oct. 10. Check this post on Seeking Alpha. USA Today noted the chatter as well.
I was under no illusions that the formation of a bottom meant stocks would take off again. If all went well, I thought the market would muddle along for, say, six to nine months. And, once the economy started to show real signs of recovery, then stocks might move slowly higher. That's what happened after bear markets in 1973-74, 1981-82 and 1987. After the dot-com bust and the after-effect of the Sept. 2001 terror attacks, the bottom came in October 2002, followed by a major test in March 2003.
Alas, my hopes were shattered quickly.
On Nov. 13, the S&P dropped to 818.91, which was bad but not horrible.
On Wednesday, the support gave way. The S&P 500 closed at 806.58, just above its low on the day at 806.18.
Thursday, the market just seemed to fall apart. The S&P 500 fell to 752.44, which was below its closing and intraday lows in 2002, in the aftermath of the dot-com bust and the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The index is now down 52% from its October 2007 peak -- the largest percentage decline for the index since it fell 82.4% between March 1930 and June 1932.
Wednesday's was so ugly a fall that Barry Ritholtz, who writes the Big Picture blog, suggested the S&P 500 could drop to, say, 681 before new support formed.
That level is basically where the trend line of the S&P since it peaked in October 2007 intersects with the long-term support line since 1984. That would translate into Dow Jones Industrial Average falling to 7,100 or lower.
"There are deeper levels, but it's too ugly to write now," he added.
Thursday, Ritholtz wrote simply "Ouch!"
These are scary times, really scary times.
What happened? Markets don't operate independently of reality.
Here are the problems.
Bank stocks tanked. Here it looks like Treasury boss Hank Paulson created another problem. He said on Tuesday that the Treasury Department had decided that buying up bad assets from financial institutions was a bad idea -- even though he'd gone to Congress and begged for $700 billion to do just that.
"The sense that policymakers are struggling to get ahead of the markets' woes, and have frequently switched course or backtracked on earlier declarations about what needed to be done, has damaged investor confidence and created even more jitters in the markets," Jane Sasseen wrote on BusinessWeek.com.
She's being polite. So far this week, Citigroup has lost 51% of its value. JPMorgan Chase is down 32%.
The decision of Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to let Lehman Bros. fail in September dried up credit sources for everyone and everything: from General Motors to the young couple looking to take out a mortgage.
Tech stocks have slumped. Concerns have deepened in recent weeks as concerns deepened that business spending on technology will slump. Intel has fallen 8.2% this week; Microsoft is down 12.6%.
Oil and commodity prices are a problem. Slowly, the markets have realized that this will be no ordinary recession. So commodity prices -- and related stocks -- are crumbling. Crude oil fell below $50 for the first time since 2005 and is down 66% from its peaks in July.
Commercial real estate is becoming increasingly stressed. Real estate is throwing us another sucker punch. With retail chains like Linens 'N Things going out of business and cuts coming from other retailers, retail real estate is sagging. General Growth Properties, the nation's second-largest mall operator, is in such trouble that it has hired bankruptcy counsel. Just in case.
A ton of office space will come on the market in New York, Chicago, Seattle and elsewhere following the collapse of Washington Mutual, Bear Stearns and Lehman Bros. and huge layoffs coming from Citigroup and others.
So, when will a bottom show up?
I offer up Carter Worth's list to watch. Worth is the chief market technician at Oppenheimer Asset Management. He and others at Oppenheimer were beginning to think after Oct. 10 that a bottom might well be forming. He has enough visibility that a number of people will pay attention to him.
He also wondered which stocks would signal if he was right -- or wrong. He crunched some numbers and, on Nov. 10, came up with a list of 26 stocks that he believed could be used as a "control mechanism" to signal the market's direction. The idea was that it takes a lot of buying pressure to move a stock to a new high and an equal amount of selling pressure to move a stock to a new low.
The group included Citigroup, Bank of America, Internet retailer Amazon.com, search giant Google, chip maker Intel, leather-good producer Coach, and railroad CSX.
Sadly, the list pretty quickly offered a pretty strong signal of what to expect. By Nov. 14, the group was down an average 11.9% from Nov. 7. By Thursday, the declines had widened to an average 29.8%. The best performer of the group, Polycom, was down 13.6%. The worst was Citigroup down nearly 60.2%. One blogger wrote Thursday that Worth's call was "way to soon."
The S&P 500 dropped 6.2% between Nov. 7 and Nov. 14 and finished on Thursday down 19.2% from Nov. 7.
Let's hope the index can find a bottom soon. Or things, which are scary enough, could get really scary.
20 Fun Things You Can Do with Family on Thanksgiving
We all know some of the favorite things people like to do on Thanksgiving: watch football, watch The Macy's Day Parade, and of course taking a nap after gorging on Turkey.Well the purpose of this article is to inspire everyone who reads it to turn off the TV (web, video games) for part of the day and really spend some quality time with your friends and family. You'll have have fun doing it and you'll create fun, fond memories.
1. Take a Walk. Pick an enjoyable destination. All you need to bring are your sneakers and conversation! Or you could join a Thanksgiving road race or road walk.
2. Play Touch Football. Or soccer, tag, hide-n-seek, etc. Just get outside with the gang and do something that involves running around and taking in some nice fresh air.
3. Boardgames! Get out those games you have in the closet since last Christmas and haven't played yet. Scrabble, Life, Yahtzee, Cranium, Trivial Pursuit, Trouble, Chutes & Ladders, whatever! Have some silly fun!
4. Play Charades. This doesn't take much. Make your own rules as you go. Have fun!
5. Sing-a-Long. Karaoke. Get out the instruments, guitars, piano. Dust off that accordion. Bring out the tambourines, spoons, etc. Put on a holiday radio station and sing along. Make up a contest. You can really have fun with this.
6. Memory Sharing. Share stories. You can pick a theme such as:
The greatest day of my life.
The best thing that happened in my life this year.
My favorite memory from childhood.
The funniest thing that ever happened to me.Have someone scribe the stories or videotape the event.
7. Share Thanks. At dinner have everyone share what they are thankful for before eating dinner.
8. Silly Dance Contest. Just like it says. Be silly. Dance. Make up your own rules.
9. Kids Talent Show. There's usually one grownup at family gatherings who likes to get the kids doing activities. If you're that person maybe you want to have the kids perform for the whole family after dinner. While everyone is watching football you could throw it together. (Of course adults can join the show too!)
10. I Love My Family because.... Gather round as a family and have each person share what they love about the family.
11. Share the Love. Have the family all in one room and have each person tell why they admire the person next to him/her. And then that person says why they admire the person next to him/her, and so on. "I Admire ___________ because..."
12. Treasure Hunt. Create a simple treasure map and "prizes." There can be one prize or multiple prizes, like an egg-hunt. Ideas for prizes: chocolate turkeys (is there such a thing?) or a packet of coins or a gift certificate wrapped up in a box. Share your ideas in the comments please!
13. Name That Tune. Play the humming game where each teams or individuals have to name the tune.
14. The Questions Game. Here is a link to a family game with very few rules. You get to make up the rules. The idea is to spark conversations, have fun, and get to know each other better.
15. The Craziest Thing .... (that I saw or experienced this year). As a family tell stories that can be true or made up. It can be a little bit like "To Tell the Truth." Everyone tells a crazy story that is either true or made up and everyone has to guess if it is true or not. And the story doesn't have to be something that they actually experienced.
16. Our Family Tree. Have everyone imprint a fingerpaint handprint on a big sheet of paper with their name underneath. You can have it framed or take a picture of it to share with everyone.
17. Start a Thanksgiving Day Banner. Starting this year create a banner that can hang in your living room that will have a picture of the whole family from each year. It can become an heirloom for future generations. You could also create a similar item electronically say with a website.
18. Three Legged Races. Link up kids/grownups. You could also try a sack race or create an obstacle course race too. Have some fun silly prizes or simple privilege prizes like the first place team doesn't have to help with clean up or they get first dibs on the turkey.
19. Family Thanksgiving Journal. Grab a blank notebook. It doesn't have to be fancy. Write down everyone's thanks for this year. And then next year do the same so that over time you build a treasured family book of thanks as well as a sort of family history.
20. Make Me Laugh. Tell jokes. You can make it into a game to see if you can get someone to laugh. Can be done as individuals, round-robin, or as teams.Happy Thanksgiving all! Enjoy!(from dumblittleman.com)
Monday, November 17, 2008
The rest of my votes went almost exclusively to Republicans , Libertarians and Independents.
In looking at the Democratic platform, there are a few things I agree with, but on the economic side, other than being ok with him raising my effective tax rate to 40pct, there isn’t a lot of his economic policy that I do agree with him on. So why did I vote for him ?
Its simple. Having an elected black President will do more to energize this country than any economic or social policy ever could. In a single day of voting, our amazing country once again reinvigorated the dream that any child in this country, no matter what circumstances they are born into, can grow up to be anything they want, including President of the United States.
That dream, staying viable, being reinvigorated, will do more for this country than any economic policy or any legislation that could ever be passed.
I have said it before, the power of the American Spirit is what separates our country from every other. We have been able to overcome the stupidity that politicians do every year, and will do for ever more. The election of Barack Obama is a shot of adrenaline for those who felt they could never participate in the American Dream.
How do you stimulate and turn around the economy in this day and age ? Motivate those who in the past couldn’t , wouldn’t or didn’t, into those who can and do. Motivate those who can and do, to continue to innovate and increase productivity.
As any successful CEO will tell you, leadership, vision and motivation has far more impact on results than any tax cut or increase. While I prefer lower taxes, I can tell you that no entrepreneur or CEO worth a damn in this country gives up or works less because of a change in tax policy. In this country you work harder to achieve your dreams and goals.
I can honestly say that I never thought that I would see a black President in my lifetime. I’m incredibly proud and excited to be part of this moment in our history. I believe that the election of President Obama will energize many, many more of our fellow citizens to work harder to achieve our goals.
I’m Bullish on America.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
another great one...
It's funny, I went from loving Obama to not being a fan of his experience, to not liking him because he was the "en vogue" candidate, to hating his lack of experience, then started liking his attitude, charisma, and demeanor, especially in the debates, even though i don't like his socialist healthcare plans, and finally if i would've voted today.... i feel like obama would be a better president because his view on the war vs. mccain's, his diplomatic skills, and finally his aura of something great. He is the next Kennedy. I truly believe that, and I have an eerie feeling he will suffer the same fate.
Let go of the past. Act and apply in the present and shape up the future
Utilize your failures as a guide towards success
Do not try. Just do it.
Make a list of your dreams. No matter how hard they might be to achieve, just sit down and write all your dreams down.
Make a list of your goals and think how you can achieve them
Use negative feedback and criticism to your advantage and better yourself
If you want to be successful in someone else's game (if you have a boss), play by their rules or create your own game.
Make a list of your values. What do you value most and build your success upon them
Keep personal time separate from business time.
Your success depends on your failures as well as your achievements.
If you are in doubt let someone else do it. Doubtfulness is saying I almost believe it. If you don't fully believe it, leave it for someone else who does
Avoid interruptions during your productivity time. Whatever it might be, work or family or some alone time, interruptions can throw you off for whatever it is you are doing.
Determine your peak performance hours. Work at a point in day when you feel like you are most effective.
Breath deeply and let go off any stress.
Rest and relaxation plays as much an important part as exercise itself.
Do not worry. All it does is gets you ready for negative outcomes.
Think happy thoughts and there will be positive outcomes.
Do not step back from the job at hand when fear subsides in you.
Use your brain not only your heart.
Eliminate emotions by letting go off the past and thinking about the present.
What has happened in the past will most probably stay the same; you can't change it. Instead focus on the present and live today instead of yesterday.
Don't let the time control you. You control the time.
Time management is the most effective tool you can utilize and become successful.
Create strategies and build credibility among your peers.
Once again, forget the past and live it up in the present.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Written on 10/15/2008 by David Bohl. David shares the viral message Slow Down FAST and helps people raise the roof on all facets of their lives without risking implosion. Get some must-haves here.
Photo Credit: KSquierThere are no guarantees that life will turn out the way you want. However, you have a better chance of it turning out how you want if you know how to design your own life.I like the image of an architect designing a building by first laying out the blueprints or a writer outlining a book by starting with the table of contents. The ability to create from scratch is a powerful feeling; the house emerges from a sheet of drawings, the book takes shape from the imagination of the writer.Can you really design your own life in much the same way? I don't know if we can design every aspect of our lives because we have certain fixed and certain variable aspects.For example, we cannot change our upbringing: the parents, siblings, education, childhood experiences, and all that went on before you came to this awareness of your ability to design your life. All that happened in the past has shaped who you are today, so you will need to start designing your life from this point forward.Since we can't control the past and we can't control the future, what can we control if we want to design our own life? Well, we can make a plan today, we can work our plan each day, we can modify our plan as necessary, and we can make the best of what shows up even when it's not what we want.I've assembled some tools I think every life architect should have in their toolbox as they take on the lifetime project of designing their life. See if these work for you.
BlueprintThe blueprint for your life can be like the architect's house design, the author's table of contents, or a business plan. You set out certain goals and you map out a plan of actions on how you will get to each one of them. Maybe you start with your ideal career and strategize on how you will get from where you are to where you want to be. Then you can design your personal life, intimate relationships, friendships, children, pets, home, hobbies, and whatever else fits in your plan.
FocusAfter you've created your blueprint, but before you've take action, you need to get into the right mindset. The power of your thoughts, your positive mindset, your committed focus on your goals and your plan will improve your chances of success in each area you take action in. You must believe in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals. You must become aware of your thoughts and maintain the ones that will support your getting what you want. You must eliminate distractions and focus on the end result.
ActionWith your plan in place and your mind set on success, you're ready to take the actions necessary to build your life as you desire it. If you want to change careers, your first action may be to set up interviews with people in that career who you can get guidance from. The next action may be to sign up for classes that will provide you with the skill level necessary for the career move, etc. Just keep following the action steps you outlined in your blueprint.
MaintenanceActions need to be monitored regularly to check on your progress. Did the information interviews provide you with all you needed to know or do you need to schedule some more. Are you finding you have enough time to study for the classes you're taking, or is it a challenge while holding a full time job? Have you taken an internship or entry level position in your new field and now it's time to ask for a promotion? Keep monitoring your progress toward your goals so you can stay motivated. Celebrate the small successes on your way toward your bigger goals. Each success is one step closer to your ultimate life design.
RepairsMake corrections, adjust for change, re-examine your actions and your goals. As you hit obstacles, find a way around them. Make sure they're not showing up often to tell you you're on the wrong course. If that is the case, reassess your goal to make sure it's that you really want. Then establish some new actions that will get you back on the path even if it's a different route.
SupportAll builders have a team. The architect designs the house, then the contractor steps in and hires plumbers, electricians, framers, etc. As you design your life, your team may include coaches, mentors, teachers, associates, partners, interns, contractors, and anyone else can help you achieve your goals. As you start working your plan, review it on a regular basis, adjust for changes, and always reward yourself for your progress. With these tools in your toolbox, you're on your way to designing your own life.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Financial panics, if left alone, rarely cause much damage to the real economy, output, employment or production. Asset values fall sharply and wipe out those who borrowed and lent too much, thereby redistributing wealth from the foolish to the prudent. This process is the topic of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book "Fooled by Randomness."
When markets are free, asset values are supposed to go up and down, and competition opens up opportunities for profits and losses. Profits and stock appreciation are not rights, but rewards for insight mixed with a willingness to take risk. People who buy homes and the banks who give them mortgages are no different, in principle, than investors in the stock market, commodity speculators or shop owners. Good decisions should be rewarded and bad decisions should be punished. The market does just that with its profits and losses.
No one likes to see people lose their homes when housing prices fall and they can't afford to pay their mortgages; nor does any one of us enjoy watching banks go belly-up for making subprime loans without enough equity. But the taxpayers had nothing to do with either side of the mortgage transaction. If the house's value had appreciated, believe you me the overleveraged homeowner and the overly aggressive bank would never have shared their gain with taxpayers. Housing price declines and their consequences are signals to the market to stop building so many houses, pure and simple.
But here's the rub. Now enter the government and the prospects of a kinder and gentler economy. To alleviate the obvious hardships to both homeowners and banks, the government commits to buy mortgages and inject capital into banks, which on the face of it seems like a very nice thing to do. But unfortunately in this world there is no tooth fairy. And the government doesn't create anything; it just redistributes. Whenever the government bails someone out of trouble, they always put someone into trouble, plus of course a toll for the troll. Every $100 billion in bailout requires at least $130 billion in taxes, where the $30 billion extra is the cost of getting government involved.
If you don't believe me, just watch how Congress and Barney Frank run the banks. If you thought they did a bad job running the post office, Amtrak, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the military, just wait till you see what they'll do with Wall Street.
Some 14 months ago, the projected deficit for the 2008 fiscal year was about 0.6% of GDP. With the $170 billion stimulus package last March, the add-ons to housing and agriculture bills, and the slowdown in tax receipts, the deficit for 2008 actually came in at 3.2% of GDP, with the 2009 deficit projected at 3.8% of GDP. And this is just the beginning.
The net national debt in 2001 was at a 20-year low of about 35% of GDP, and today it stands at 50% of GDP. But this 50% number makes no allowance for anything resulting from the over $5.2 trillion guarantee of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac assets, or the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). Nor does the 50% number include any of the asset swaps done by the Federal Reserve when they bailed out Bear Stearns, AIG and others.
But the government isn't finished. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid -- and yes, even Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke -- are preparing for a new $300 billion stimulus package in the next Congress. Each of these actions separately increases the tax burden on the economy and does nothing to encourage economic growth. Giving more money to people when they fail and taking more money away from people when they work doesn't increase work. And the stock market knows it.
The stock market is forward looking, reflecting the current value of future expected after-tax profits. An improving economy carries with it the prospects of enhanced profitability as well as higher employment, higher wages, more productivity and more output. Just look at the era beginning with President Reagan's tax cuts, Paul Volcker's sound money, and all the other pro-growth, supply-side policies.
Bill Clinton and Alan Greenspan added their efforts to strengthen what had begun under President Reagan. President Clinton signed into law welfare reform, so people actually have to look for a job before being eligible for welfare. He ended the "retirement test" for Social Security benefits (a huge tax cut for elderly workers), pushed the North American Free Trade Agreement through Congress against his union supporters and many of his own party members, signed the largest capital gains tax cut ever (which exempted owner-occupied homes from capital gains taxes), and finally reduced government spending as a share of GDP by an amazing three percentage points (more than the next four best presidents combined). The stock market loved Mr. Clinton as it had loved Reagan, and for good reasons.
The stock market is obviously no fan of second-term George W. Bush, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Ben Bernanke, Barack Obama or John McCain, and again for good reasons.
These issues aren't Republican or Democrat, left or right, liberal or conservative. They are simply economics, and wish as you might, bad economics will sink any economy no matter how much they believe this time things are different. They aren't.
I was on the White House staff as George Shultz's economist in the Office of Management and Budget when Richard Nixon imposed wage and price controls, the dollar was taken off gold, import surcharges were implemented, and other similar measures were enacted from a panicked decision made in August of 1971 at Camp David.
I witnessed, like everyone else, the consequences of another panicked decision to cover up the Watergate break-in. I saw up close and personal Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush succumb to panicked decisions to raise taxes, as well as Jimmy Carter's emergency energy plan, which included wellhead price controls, excess profits taxes on oil companies, and gasoline price controls at the pump.
The consequences of these actions were disastrous. Just look at the stock market from the post-Kennedy high in early 1966 to the pre-Reagan low in August of 1982. The average annual real return for U.S. assets compounded annually was -6% per year for 16 years. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a bear market. And it is something that you may well experience again. Yikes!
Then we have this administration's panicked Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, and of course the deer-in-the-headlights Mr. Bernanke in his bungling of monetary policy.
There are many more examples, but none hold a candle to what's happening right now. Twenty-five years down the line, what this administration and Congress have done will be viewed in much the same light as what Herbert Hoover did in the years 1929 through 1932. Whenever people make decisions when they are panicked, the consequences are rarely pretty. We are now witnessing the end of prosperity.
Friday, October 24, 2008
The story begins with Cory Matthews and Shawn Hunter as two Philadelphia students who would rather be anywhere than in Mr. Feeny's sixth grade classroom. Cory’s older brother, Eric, is a very popular tenth-grade student. During the second season, when Cory and Shawn start high school, they meet Mr. Jonathan Turner, a non-conventional English teacher, who is the sometimes-enemy of Mr. Feeny, who is the new principal. Shawn becomes cool and popular at school, but still keeps his friendship with the less popular Cory. Shawn’s mother, Virna, deserts Shawn and his father, Chet, which upsets Shawn greatly. Chet then leaves to find Virna, and Shawn moves in with Mr. Turner. During the third season, Cory begins dating Topanga Lawrence, a girl who, in the first season, was mocked by Cory and Shawn. The two had been close friends as children, but when they were seven, Eric told Cory that girls had cooties, which ended their close friendship. The couple breaks up later in the season but get back together a few months later, when Cory follows her to Disney World to win her back. Eric graduates high school and takes a year off to figure out what he wants to do with his life. Cory and Eric then spend the summer on a road trip. When they return, their father, Alan, decides to quit his job and open a sporting goods store, with Eric as his partner. Topanga’s mother is transferred to Pittsburgh, which is over 300 miles from Philadelphia. The news devastates Cory, but Topanga runs away from her new house and returns to Philadelphia. Topanga’s parents decide that she can live with her Aunt Prudence in Philadelphia until she graduates. Later that school year, Mr. Turner gets into a severe motorcycle accident in which he almost dies. The next year, Eric moves out of his parents’ house and begins college at Pennbrook University. He moves into an apartment with Jack, who turns out to be Shawn’s half-brother. Shawn moves in with them, but he has nothing in common with Jack, which causes a lot of tension. A new student, Angela Moore, moves to Philadelphia and she and Shawn begin dating. Over winter break, the students go skiing on a school trip. Cory breaks his ankle and Lauren, a ski-lodge employee takes care of him. The two kiss, but Cory lies to Topanga, and tells her nothing happened. When Topanga finds out that he lied, they break up. Cory, upset about the breakup gets drunk and is arrested, along with Shawn. The two agree never to drink again, but Shawn breaks the promise and shows up at school drunk. With the help of Angela and Jack, Shawn realizes that alcoholism runs in his family and that he needs to stop drinking when he still can. Cory and Topanga reunite and attend prom together, where they are named King and Queen. On prom night, Cory's mother Amy announces that she is pregnant. Mr. Feeny decides to retire at the end of the school year and decides to move to Wyoming. Topanga gets accepted to Yale, but Cory doesn’t want her to leave him. At Graduation, Topanga tells Cory that she decided not to go to Yale because she wants to be with him – then, she proposes. The couples' parents are upset that they got engaged so young, but Cory and Topanga decide to elope. However, at the last minute, they decide that they want to get married “the right way”, in front of family and friends.
Shawn, Topanga, Cory and Angela join Jack and Eric at Pennbrook. Rachel McGuire, a new student from Texas, moves in with Eric and Jack, causing tension as both boys have crushes on her. Angela and Shawn break up and, despite Cory’s efforts, decide to stay just friends. Mr. Feeny returns to take some classes, but then is offered a teaching job at the university. During their freshman year, Stuart, one of their professors, hits on Topanga, causing Cory to shove him through a window. Cory is almost expelled, until the Dean realizes what the motivation for the shove was. Shawn writes a poem for a contest, but decides not to read it. Cory reads it without his permission, upsetting Shawn because the poem was about how he still has feelings for Angela. Shawn and Jack’s father, Chet, then comes to visit and tells the boys he will stay this time. Shawn doesn’t believe him and, during an argument, Chet has a heart attack and dies. Shawn, devastated about his father, goes on a road trip and decides not to go back to Philadelphia. Cory can’t convince him to come back, but Chet’s ghost helps Shawn to make the decision. Amy gives birth to a son, Joshua, but he is in an intensive care unit due to a lung defect. The family is very nervous, but Joshua makes it through. Mr. Feeny has had a crush on the Dean since he arrived at Pennbrook and decides to ask her out. The couple eventually gets married. Jack and Rachel begin dating, so Eric moves out. Topanga’s parents show up and tell her that they are getting divorced. Topanga, who is devastated, calls off her wedding to Cory because she doesn’t want to end up like her parents. Angela’s father shows up and Shawn tries to impress him so that he will put in a good word with Angela. Angela, however, doesn’t want to get back together with Shawn because she is afraid she will leave him like her mother left her father. The couple, however, reconciles. Cory and Topanga reconcile as well, and begin to re-plan their wedding. The couple finally gets married, after a huge fight between Shawn and Cory in the middle of the wedding. When the couple returns from their honeymoon, they realize they don’t know where they are going to live, because the dorms they had planned on living in are off-limits to married couples. They move into the married dorms, which are disgusting apartments, but Cory fixes up the apartment for them. The friends then get into a friendly war, with two teams – Cory, Shawn and Topanga against Jack, Angela and Rachel. However, when the war is taken too far, the friendships end. Mr. Feeny and Eric attempt to bring the friends back together, and after a flash into the future shows what life would be without each other, the friends reconcile. Topanga and Eric then decide to go on a diet, but Cory and Shawn misinterpret Topanga’s change in behavior and appetite as her being pregnant. Word gets out, and soon everyone thinks she is pregnant. She finally announces, at her surprise baby shower, that she isn’t expecting. She and Cory discuss having children, but decide to wait until they are ready. Angela’s father shows up again, this time to ask Angela to go to Europe with him, where he will be stationed for a year. This news greatly upsets Shawn, but he tells her to go because he wants her to have time with her father, something he never had with Chet. Eric, Rachel and Jack graduate from college. Topanga gets an internship at a prestigious law firm in New York City, but decides not to take it for Cory’s sake. Cory, however, decides to move with her to New York because he wants to be a supportive spouse. Eric and Shawn decide to move with the couple. Jack joins Rachel in the Peace Corps after Jack’s rich stepfather stops sending him money. Before Eric, Cory, Shawn and Topanga leave for New York, they make one last stop in Mr. Feeny’s classroom, where he gives them one last piece of advice for the real world.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Success and Motivation, Part 1
Apr 23rd 2004 9:37AM
Success and Motivation
I did it too. I drove by big houses and would wonder who lived there. What did they do for a living? How did they make their money? Someday, I would tell myself, I would live in a house like that. Every weekend I would do it.
I read books about successful people. In fact, I read every book or magazine I could get my hands on. I would tell myself 1 good idea would pay for the book and could make the difference between me making it or not.
I worked jobs I didn’t like. I worked jobs I loved, but had no chance of being a career. I worked jobs that barely paid the rent. I had so many jobs my parents wondered if I would be stable. Most of them aren’t on my resume anymore because I was there so short a time or they were so stupid I was embarrassed. You don’t want to write about selling powdered milk or selling franchises for TV repair shops. In every job, I would justify it in my mind whether I loved it or hated it that I was getting paid to learn and every experience would be of value when I figured out what I wanted to do when I grew up.
If I ever grew up, I hoped to run my own business some day. It’s exactly what I told myself every day. In reality, I had as much doubt as confidence. I was just hoping the confidence would win over the doubt and it would all work out for the best.
I remember being 24 years old, living in Dallas in a 3-bedroom apartment with 5 other friends. This wasn’t a really nice place we all kicked in to move up for. This place has since been torn down. Probably condemned. I didn’t have my own bedroom. I slept on the couch or floor depending on what time I got home. I had no closet. Instead I had a pile that everyone knew was mine. My car had the usual hole in the floorboard, a ‘77 FIAT X19 that burned a quart of oil that I couldn’t afford every week.
To make matters worse, because I was living on happy hour food, and the 2 beers cover charge, I was gaining weight like a pig. My confidence wasn’t at an all time high. I was having fun. Don’t get me wrong. I truly was having a blast. Great friends, great city, great energy, pretty girls. Ok, the pretty girls had no interest in my fat and growing ass at the time, but that’s another story….
I was motivated to do something I loved. I just wasn’t sure what it was. I made a list of all the different jobs I would love to do. (I still have it.) The problem was that I wasn’t qualified for any of them. But I needed to pay the bills.
I finally got a job working as a bartender at a club. A start, but it wasn’t a career. I had to keep on looking during the day.
About a week later I answered a want ad out of the newspaper for someone to sell PC Software at the first software retail store in Dallas. The ad was actually placed by an employment agency. The fee was to be paid by the company, so I gave it a shot.
I put on my interview face, and of course my interview suit, which just happened to be one of my 2 polyester suits that I had bought for the grand total of 99 dollars. Thank god for 2-fer, 2-fer, 2-fer madness at the local mens clothing store. Grey Pinstripe. Blue Pinstripe. Didn’t matter if it rained, those drops just rolled down the back of those suits. I could crumple them. They bounced right back. Polyester, the miracle fabric.
I wish I could say the blue suit and my interview skills impressed the employment agency enough to set up the interview with the software store. In reality, not many had applied for the job and the agency wanted the fee so they would have sent anyone over to interview. I didn’t care.
I pulled out the grey for my interview at Your Business Software. I was fired up. It was my shot to get into the computer business, one of the industries I had put on my list!
I remember the interview well. Michael Humecki the Prez, and Doug (don’t remember his last name), his partner double-teamed me. Michael did most of the talking to start. He asked me if I had used PC software before. My total PC experience at the time was on the long forgotten TI/99A that had cost me 79 dollars. I used it to try to teach myself Basic while recovering from hangovers and sleeping on the floor while my roommates were at work. They weren’t impressed.
I was trying to pull out every interview trick I knew. I went through the spiel about how I was a good salesperson, you know the part of the interview where you are basically begging for a job, using code phrases like “I care about the customer”, “I promise to work really, really hard” and “I will do whatever it takes to be successful”. Unfortunately, I was getting that “well if no one else applies for the job, maybe” look from Michael.
Finally, Doug spoke up. He asked me. “What do you do if a customer has a question about a software package and you don’t know the answer?” All of the possible answers raced through my mind. I had to ask myself if this was the “honesty test question” you know where they want to see if you will admit to things you don’t know. Is this some trick technology question and there is an answer everyone but me knows? After who knows how long, I blurted out that “I would look it up in the manual and find the answer for them.” Ding, ding, ding…Doug just loved this answer.
Michael wasn’t as convinced, but he then asked me the question I was dying to hear: “Would you not go back to the employment agency at all, so when we hire you we don’t have to pay the fee?” I was in.
What does all this mean? Nothing yet. It was just fun to tell. You have to wait till part 2, if you care, and if there is a part two. Right now, it’s much more important that I go play with my daughter.
Success and Motivation, Part 2
Apr 25th 2004 3:41AM
So my career in Dallas begins. I’m a software salesperson with Your Business Software in Dallas. $18k per year. The first retail software store in Dallas.
I have to sweep the floor and be there to open the store, but that’s not a bad thing. When I tell my future ex-girlfriends that I sell software and am in the computer biz, I’m not going to mention the sweeping the floor part. Plus, I had to wear a suit to work, and the 2-fer madness specials looked good at happy hour after work. Better yet, the store didn’t open till 9:30am, which meant if I had a fun night, I had at least a little time to sleep.
I bet right about now you are questioning where my focus was? Where was my commitment to being the future owner of the Dallas Mavericks? Please. I was stoked I had a good job. I was stoked it was in an industry that could turn into a career. At 24, I was just as stoked that the office was close to where the best happy hours were and that I might finally have more than 20 bucks to spend for a night on the town.
Since I’m talking about partying, I do have to say that my friends and I were very efficient in that area. Beyond living off bar food and happy hours, we literally would agree that none of us would bring more than 20 bucks for a weekend night out. This way we all could pace each other. At least that was the way it was supposed to work, and it did until we figured out the key to having a great night out on the cheap. They key was buying a bottle of cheap, cheap champagne. I can’t even spell the name, but it was a full bottle, and it cost 12 bucks. Tear the label off and as far as anyone knew it was Dom. Each of us would grab one, and sip on it all night. It was far cheaper than buying beers or mixed drinks all night, and we never had to buy a drink for a girl, we just gave them some champagne! Of course the next day was hell, but since when was I responsible enough to care about a hangover…
But I digress. Back to business. As fired up as I was about the job, I was scared. Why? Because I have never worked with an IBM PC in my life. Not a single time, and I’m going to be selling software for it. So what do I do? I do what everyone does: I rationalize. I tell myself that the people walking in the door know as little as I do, so if I just started doing what I told my boss I would do, read the manuals, I would be ahead of the curve. That’s what I did. Every night I would take home a different software manual, and I would read them. Of course the reading was captivating. Peachtree, PFS, DBase, Lotus, Accpac… I couldn’t put them down. Every night I would read some after getting home, no matter how late.
Of course it was easy on the weekends. After drinking that cheap champagne, I wasn’t getting out of bed till about 9pm, so I had tons of time to lie on the floor and read. It worked. Turns out not a lot of people ever bothered to RTFM (read the frickin’ manual), so people started really thinking I knew my stuff. As more people came in, because I knew all the different software packages we offered, I could offer honest comparisons and customers respected that.
Within about 6 months, I was building a clientele and because I had also spent time on the store’s computers learning how to install, configure and run the software, I started having customers ask me to install the software at their offices. That meant I got to charge for consulting help: 25 bucks an hour that I split with the store. That turned into a couple hundred extra bucks per month and growing. I was raking it in, enough that I could move from the Hotel (that was what we called our apartment) where the 6 of us lived, into a 3 bedroom apartment across the street, where instead of 6 of us, there were only 3. Finally, my own bedroom!
I was earning consulting fees. I was getting referrals. I was on the phone cold calling companies to get new business. I even worked out a deal with a local consultant who paid me referral fees, which lead to getting a $1500 check. It was the first time in my adult life that I was able to have more than 1k dollars in the bank.
That was a special moment believe or not, and what did I do to celebrate? Nope…I didn’t buy better champagne. I had these old ratty towels that had holes in them and could stand on their own in the corner, they were so nasty I needed a shower from drying off after a shower…I went out and bought 6 of the fluffiest, plushest towels I could find. I was moving on up in the world. I had the towels. Life was good. Business was good and getting better for me. I was building my customer base, really starting to understand all the technology, and really establishing myself as someone who understood the software. More importantly no, most importantly I realized that I loved working with PCs. I had never done it before. I didn’t know if this was going to be a job that worked for me, or that I would even like and it turns out I was lucky. I loved what I was doing. I was rolling so well, I was even partying less… during the week.
Then one day, about 9 months into my career as a salesperson/consultant, I had a prospect ask if I could come to his office to close a deal. 9am. No problem to me. Problem to my boss, Michael Humecki. Michael didn’t want me to go. I had to open the store. That was my job. We were a retail store, not an outbound sales company. It sounded stupid to me back then too, particularly since I had gone on outbound calls during the day before. I guess he thought I was at lunch.
Decision time. It’s always the little decisions that have the biggest impact. We all have to make that “make or break” call to follow orders or do what you know is right. I followed my first instinct: close the sale. I guess I could have rescheduled the appointment, but I rationalized that you never turn your back on a closed deal. So I called one of my coworkers to come in and open up, and closed the deal. Next day I came in check in hand from a new customer and Michael fired me.
Success and Motivation, Part 3
May 7th 2004 1:48AM
Fired. Not the first time it’s happened, but it reinforced what I already knew; I’m a terrible employee. I just had to face facts and move on. So rather than getting back on that “how the hell am I going to find a job” train, the only right thing to do was to start my own company.
My first act of business? Pile into my buddy’s 1982 Celica, nicknamed Celly, and drive to galveston to party. Of course we stayed in only the best $19.95 a night, plug the hairdryer in the wall and the circuit blows, motel. Nothing but the best as I prepared for my journey into entrepreneurial territory again. I could say I was preocuppied with how to get my new business off the ground. That while my friends got drunk, did stupid tourist tricks and ate at greasy spoons, I sat by the pool on the 1 chaise lounge chair with rust on the clean side and wrote up my businessplan. I didn’t. I got just as drunk and ate the same disgusting food. Then we faced the road trip terror that everyone knows exists, but refuses to admit, the ride home. It wasn’t until we pulled up to the apartment that it hit me. No job. No money. No way to pay the bills. But I had nice towels.
Fortunately the hangover didn’t last too long, and I realized I had to get off my ass and make something happen. First day, first task, come up with a name. This was the start of the microcomputer revolution, and I wanted a name that said what the company was going to do, which was sell personal computers and software and help companies and individuals install them. I was going to offer microcomputer solutions. So after struggling with different names for about 30 minutes, I chose MicroSolutions Inc.
Now came the hard part. I had to call all the people I had done business with at my last company, and let them know that I had been shitcanned and ask them if they would come do business with me at MicroSolutions. I got the expected questions. No I didn’t have an office. No I didn’t have a phone yet other than my home phone. Yes it was just me. No I didn’t have any investors. The only question I dreaded was whether I had a computer to work with. I didn’t. Fortunately, no one asked.
I made a lot of calls, and got some decent response. We love you Mark, we want to give you a chance. A lot of lets stay in touch. I got two real bites. One from a company called Architectual Lighting and the other from a company called Hytec Data Systems.
Architectual Lighting was looking for a time and billing accounting system to allow them to track the work with clients. I don’t remember the name of the software package I told them about, I think it was Peachtree Accounting, but after going out to meet with them it came down to this. I offered to refund 100 pct of their money if the software didn’t work for them, and I wouldn’t charge them for my time for installing and helping them. In return, they would put up the 500 bucks it would take for me to buy the software from the publisher, and I could use them as a reference. This was my “no money down” approach to start a business. They said yes. I had a business.
My 2nd call Hytec Data, was run by Martin Woodall. I met with Martin at the S&D Oyster House on a beautiful June day, and I remember sitting there and him telling me, “I graduated in Computer Science from West Virginia University. I have 50k in the bank and I drive a brand new Cadillac. I know technology better than you. We can work together”. I had a customer, and now with Martin’s help, I had some hope. Hytec Data sold multi user systems. The old kind that used dumb terminals. He bundled it with accounting software and he and a contractor named Kevin, would make modifications to the Cobol source code. They were the hardcore geeks that could help me when I needed it. I was still just 10 months from my first introduction to PCs, and had zero clue about multi user systems. If I came across prospects that could use their system and software, I would get referrals. That was good.
Even better was Martin’s offer of office space. He and Kevin shared office space with the distributor of the computer systems he sold. They had this one office, that when the CEO of the distributors son wasn’t using it to study his spanish, I could use it to make calls, and keep my folders and paperwork. Still no computer, but hey, I had an office and phone. I was bonafide…
At some point I’m going to have to go back and look at my appointment books that I kept from those days to remind myself of who my 2nd, 3rd and on from there customers were. They were small companies that I got to know very well. People that took me under their wing and trusted me, not because I was the most knowledgeable about computers, but because they knew I would do whatever it took to get the job done. People trusted me with keys to their offices. They would find me there when they got in in the morning and I was there when they left. I made 15,000 dollars that first year. I loved every minute of it.
As time went on, my customer base grew. I got my friend and former roommate Scott Susens to help with deliveries. Scott was working as a waiter at a steakhouse at the time. I remember asking him over and over, would you please help me out. I have a customer that had bought a bunch of Epson dot matrix printers from me, and I had to sell Scott on how it wouldn’t be hard to learn how to hook a parallel cable to a pc and printer, and how learning all of this would be a career move compared to working at the steakhouse. Unfortunately, I couldn’t pay him as much as the steakhouse. My good fortune was that Scott worked nights and weekends and decided to take some time in the afternoons to help me out. Not long after that, he was working fulltime installing PCs, learning whatever he had to figure out before an install.
Martin also began to play a larger and larger role. His company was growing, and he was watching my company grow. I would get the PC based stuff, he would get the accounting system stuff. It was a nice split. The better part of the relationship was based on Martin being the most anal retentive person i had ever met in my life. While I covered my mistakes by throwing time and effort at the problem, Martin was so detail oriented, he had to make sure things were perfect so problems could never happen. We could drive each other crazy. He would give me incredible amounts of shit about how sloppy I was. I would give him the same amount back because he was so anal he was missing huge opportunities. We complemented each other perfectly. It would only be a matter of time before we both knew we had to be partners and work together instead of seperately.
That first year in business was incredible. I remember sitting in that little office till 10pm and then still being so pumped up, I would drive over to the gym I belonged to and run 5 to 10 miles on the treadmill going through that day, and the next in my head. Other days I would get so involved with learning a new piece of software that I would forget to eat and look up at the clock thinking it was 6 or 7pm and see that it was 1am or 2am. Time would fly by.
It’s crazy the things that you remember. I remember when my accounts receivable got up to 15k and telling all my friends. I remember reading the PC DOS manual (I really did), and being proud that I could figure out how to set up startup menus for my customers. I remember going to every single retail store in town, BusinessLand, NYNEX, ComputerLand,CompuShop, all those companies that are long gone, and introducing myself to every salesperson to try to get leads. I would call every single big computer company that did anything at all with small businesses, IBM, Wang, Dec, Xerox, Data General, DataPoint (remember them?), setting meetings, asking to come to their offices since I couldn’t afford to take them to lunch. I didn’t need a lot of customers, but my business grew and grew. Not too fast, but fast enough that by the time MicroSolutions had been in business about 2 years, I had 85k dollars in the bank, a receptionist/secretary, Scott helping me out, and a 4 room office that I moved into along with Martin and Hytec Data Systems.
Then I learned a very valuable lesson. Martin had done a great job of setting up our accounting software and systems. I got monthly P&L statements. I got weekly journals of everything coming in and everything going out, payables and receivables. We had a very conservative process where Martin would check the payables, authorize them and then use the software to cut the checks. I would then go through the list, sign the checks and give them to Renee our secretary/receptionist to put in the envelope and mail to our vendors.
One day, Martin comes back from Republic Bank, where we had our account. He had just gone through the drive through and one of the tellers who he would see every day dropping of our deposits asked him to wait a second. She comes back and shows him a check that had the payee of a vendor, WHITED OUT and Renee Hardy, our secretary’s name typed over it. Turns out that in the course of a single week, our secretary had pulled this same trick on 83k of our 85k in the bank. As Martin delived the news, I obviously was pissed. I was pissed at Renee, I was pissed at the bank, I was pissed at myself for letting it happen. I remember going to the bank with copies of the checks, and the manager of the bank basically laughing me out of his office telling me that I “didn’t have a pot to piss in”. That I could sue him, or whatever I wanted, but I was out the money.
I got back to the office, told Martin what happened at the bank, and then I realized what I had to do about all of this. I had to go back to work. That what was done, was done. That worrying about revenge, getting pissed at the bank, all those “I’m going to get even and kick your ass thoughts” were basically just a waste of energy. No one was going to cover my obligations but me. I had to get my ass back to work, and do so quickly. That’s exactly what I did.
Success and Motivation P4
May 25th 2004 11:01AM
You never quite know in business if what you are doing is the right or wrong thing. Unfortunately, by the time you know the answer, someone has beaten you to it and you are out of business. I used to tell myself that it was ok to make little mistakes, just don’t make the big ones. I would continuously search for new ideas. I read every book and magazine I could. Heck, 3 bucks for a magazine, 20 bucks for a book. One good idea that lead to a customer or solution and it paid for itself many times over. Some of the ideas i read were good, some not. In doing all the reading I learned a valuable lesson.
Everything I read was public. Anyone could buy the same books and magazines. The same information was available to anyone who wanted it. Turns out most people didn’t want it.
I remember going into customers or talking to people in the industry and tossing out tidbits about software or hardware. Features that worked, bugs in the software. All things I had read. I expected the ongoing response of “Oh yeah, I read that too in such-and-such.” That’s not what happened. They hadn’t read it then, and they haven’t started reading yet.
Most people won’t put in the time to get a knowledge advantage. Sure, there were folks that worked hard at picking up every bit of information that they could, but we were few and far between. To this day, I feel like if I put in enough time consuming all the information available, particularly with the net making it so readily available, I can get an advantage in any technology business. Of course my wife hates that I read more than 3 hours almost every day, but it gives me a level of comfort and confidence in my businesses. AT MicroSolutions it gave me a huge advantage. A guy with little computer background could compete with far more experienced guys just because I put in the time to learn all I could.
I learned from magazines and books, but I also learned from watching what some of the up and coming technology companies of the day were doing. Its funny how the companies that I thought were brilliant then, are still racking it up today.
Every week a company called PCs Limited used to take a full-page ad in a weekly trade magazine called PC Week. The ad would feature PC peripherals that the company would sell. Hard Drives. Memory. Floppy Drives. Graphics Cards. Whatever could be added to a PC was there. What made the ad so special was that each and every week the prices got lower. If a drive was 2,000 dollars last week, it was $ 1940 this week. For the first time in any industry that I knew of, we were seeing vendors pass on price savings to customers.
The PC Limited ads became the “market price” for peripherals. I looked for the ad every week. In fact, I became a customer. I was in Dallas. They were in Austin.
I remember driving down to pick up some hard drives that I was going to put into my customers PCs. I had no idea up to that point, but it turns out that they had just moved from the owner’s dorm room into a little office/warehouse space. I was so impressed by this young kid (I was a wise old 25 at the time), that I actually wrote a letter thanking him for the great job he was doing, and…I’m embarassed to say now, I told him that if he kept up what he was doing he was destined for far bigger and better things.
I kept on doing business with PCs Limited, and Michael Dell kept on doing what he was doing. I dont think he really needed my encouragement, but i have since told him that I thought his weekly full page ads with ever declining prices, changed the PC industry and were the first of many genius moves on his part.
Michael wasn’t the only smart one in those days.
One of the PC industry’s annual rituals was the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas. Every November, it was the only 3 days I knew I would get away and get a break from the office. It was work during the day. Visiting all the new technology booths. Trying to get better pricing from vendors. Trying to find out where the best parties were. If you could believe it, back in those days, the number one party was the Microsoft party. I sold some Microsoft products, so I could get in.
One particular year, I was on my way to having a memorable night. I had met some very, very attractive women (I swear they were). Got them some tickets to come with me to the big party. All is good. I’m having fun. They are having fun. Then we see him. Bill G. As in Bill Gates dancing up a storm. I’m a Bill Gates fan, so I wont describe his dancing, but he was definitely having fun.
At that point in time, Microsoft had gone public and Bill Gates was Bill Gates. If you were in the business you knew him or knew of him. The girls I was with were in the business. Long story short, I went to the bar to get some drinks for all us, I come back, they aren’t there. Come to find out the next day, Bill stole my girls. As I would learn later in life, money does make you extremely handsome.
Bill G also taught me a few things about business. Put aside how he killed IBM at their own game by licensing PC DOS to anyone that wanted it. What MicroSoft did to knock Lotus 1-2-3 and WordPerfect off their thrones was literally business at its best.
At that point in time, software was expensive. WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3 both sold for $495 and their publishers were proud of that fact. In order to be able to sell Lotus 1-2-3, you had to go to special training to become authorized. How crazy does that sound now going to a special class to be able to sell a spreadsheet. WordPerfect wasn’t quite as bad, but they had their own idiosyncrasies as well. Meanwhile, Microsoft was on the outside looking in. Excel, Word, Powerpoint were all far down the list of top sellers until lightning struck.
Microsoft decided to go against industry protocol and package those 3 programs as a suite and offer them as an upgrade to competitors’ products for the low, low price of 99 dollars. Of course you needed to have and use Windows for it to work, but in a time when people were buying new PCs with every dramatic increase in power and decrease in price, it was a natural move for us at MicroSolutions to sell the bundle. It made the effective price of the PC and software together far, far lower. We loved it. It also taught me several big lessons.
Always ask yourself how someone could preempt your products or service. How can they put you out of business? Is it price? Is it service? Is it ease of use? No product is perfect and if there are good competitors in your market, they will figure out how to abuse you. It’s always better if you are honest with yourself and anticipate where the problems will come from.
The 2nd lesson is to always run your business like you are going to be competing with Microsoft. They may not be your direct competitor. They may be a vendor. They may be a direct competitor and a vendor. Whatever they may be to your business, if you are in the technology business, you have to anticipate that you will in some way have to compete with Microsoft at some point. I ask myself every week what I would do if they entered any of my businesses. If you are ready to compete with Microsoft, you are ready to compete with anyone else.
Watching the best taught me how to run my businesses. Along the way I taught myself a few things those come next blog.
Success and Motivation, almost Part 2
Apr 25th 2004 2:42AM
This isn’t quite a continuation of part 1, but I happened to stumble across an interview I did last year for Young Money Magazine that covers a lot of the things that I probably would have included in part 2.
YOUNG MONEY TALKS TO CUBAN: During an exclusive interview with YOUNG MONEY, billionaire Mark Cuban shared his thoughts on using the fear of failure as a motivator, beating the competition, and why investing in the stock market may not be such a good idea.
YM: What is the key to recognizing a profitable business opportunity?
CUBAN: Knowing the industry very well. Most people think it’s all about the idea. It’s not. EVERYONE has ideas. The hard part is doing the homework to know if the idea could work in an industry, then doing the preparation to be able to execute on the idea.
YM: What personal characteristics should a person possess in order to become a successful entrepreneur?
CUBAN: Willingness to learn, to be able to focus, to absorb information, and to always realize that business is a 24 x 7 job where someone is always out there to kick your ass.
YM: Did you set career goals for yourself while you were in college? If so, what were they?
CUBAN: To retire by the age of 35 was my goal. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get there though. I knew I would end up owning my own business someday, so I figured my challenge was to learn as much as anyone about every and all businesses. [I believed] that every job I took was really me getting paid to learn about a new industry. I spent as much time as I could, learning and reading everything about business I could get my hands on. I used to go into the library for hours and hours reading business books and magazines.
YM: Do you consider yourself an innovator? Why?
CUBAN: No. I don’t really have new ideas, but I manage to combine information in ways most people hadn’t considered. They aren’t new ideas, it’s just that most people don’t do their homework about their businesses and industry, so there is usually a place to sneak in and do something a little different. You just have to make sure what you want to do can sustain a business and make it profitable rather than be a niche that can be crushed [by the competition].
YM: What advice would you give young adults just struggling to move up in the business world?
CUBAN: There are no shortcuts. You have to work hard, and try to put yourself in a position where if luck strikes, you can see the opportunity and take advantage of it. I would also say it’s hard not to fool yourself. Everyone tells you how they are going to be”special,” but few do the work to get there. Do the work.
YM: What types of opportunities would you pursue if you were starting over today? CUBAN: I just started a business called HDNet. There never is one area that has a door open to everyone. Try to find an area with something you love to do and do it. It’s a lot easier to work hard and prepare when you love what you are doing. YM: What would you tell entrepreneur hopefuls who are afraid of failing?
CUBAN: It’s good [for them]. I’m always afraid of failing. It’s great motivation to work harder.
YM: What is the most important piece of advice you could offer someone who’s just starting a business?
CUBAN: Do your homework and know your business better than anyone. Otherwise, someone who knows more and works harder will kick your ass.
YM: Did you have to sacrifice your personal life in order to become a business success?
CUBAN: Sure, ask about five of my former girlfriends that question… I went seven years without a vacation. (from the time I got fired from a job, and started MicroSolutions) I didn’t even read a fiction book in that time. I was pretty focused.
YM: Do you have any general saving and investing advice for young people?
CUBAN: Put it in the bank. The idiots that tell you to put your money in the market because eventually it will go up need to tell you that because they are trying to sell you something. The stock market is probably the worst investment vehicle out there. If you won’t put your money in the bank, NEVER put your money in something where you don’t have an information advantage. Why invest your money in something because a broker told you to? If the broker had a clue, he/she wouldn’t be a broker, they would be on a beach somewhere.
Success and Motivation - You only have to be right once!
May 30th 2005 1:46AM
In basketball you have to shoot 50pct. If you make an extra 10 shots per hundred, you are an All-Star. In baseball you have to get a hit 30 pct of the time. If you get an extra 10 hits per hundred at bats, you are on the cover of every magazine, lead off every SportsCenter and make the Hall of Fame.
In Business, the odds are a little different. You don’t have to break the Mendoza line (hitting .200). In fact, it doesnt matter how many times you strike out. In business, to be a success, you only have to be right once.
One single solitary time and you are set for life. That’s the beauty of the business world.
I like to tell the story of how I started my first business at age 12, selling garbage bags. No one ever has asked if I was any good or made money at it. I was, and I did…enough to buy some tennis shoes :).
I like to tell the story of how I started up a bar, Motley’s Pub when I wasn’t even of legal drinking age the summer before my senior year at Indiana University. No one really asks me how it turned out. It was great until we got busted for letting a 16-year-old win a wet t-shirt contest (I swear I checked her ID, and it was good!).
No one really asks me about my adventures working for Mellon Bank, or Tronics 2000, or trying to start a business selling powdered milk (it was cheaper by the gallon, and I thought it tasted good). They don’t ask me about working as a bartender at night at Elans when I first got to Dallas, or getting fired from my job at Your Business Software for wanting to close a sale rather than sweeping the floor and opening up the store.
No ever asked me about what it was like when I started MicroSolutions and how I used to count the months I was in business, hoping to outlast my previous endeavors and make this one a success.
With every effort, I learned a lot. With every mistake and failure, not only mine, but of those around me, I learned what not to do. I also got to study the success of those I did business with as well. I had more than a healthy dose of fear, and an unlimited amount of hope, and more importantly, no limit on time and effort.
Fortunately, things turned out well for me with MicroSolutions. I sold it after 7 years and made enough money to take time off and have a whole lot of fun.
Back then I can remember vividly people telling me how lucky I was to sell my business at the right time.
Then when I took that money and started trading technology stocks that were in the areas that MIcroSolutions focused on. I remember vividly being told how lucky I was to have expertise in such a hot area, as technology stocks started to trade up.
Of course, no one wanted to comment on how lucky I was to spend time reading software manuals, or Cisco Router manuals, or sitting in my house testing and comparing new technologies, but that’s a topic for another blog post.
The point of all this is that it doesn’t matter how many times you fail. It doesn’t matter how many times you almost get it right. No one is going to know or care about your failures, and either should you. All you have to do is learn from them and those around you because…
All that matters in business is that you get it right once.
Then everyone can tell you how lucky you are.
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