Detail from Ancient Greek black-figured dinos (wine-bowl) with the first chariot in the procession

Detail from Ancient Greek black-figured dinos (wine-bowl) with the first chariot in the procession
“Sophilos Dinos” (wine-bowl) showing guests arriving at the wedding of Thetis and Peleus. In the first car -Zeus and Hera, 2nd-Poseidon and Amphitrite. Source: British Museum (Wikicommons)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Alpha vs. Beta: 20 years

Recently I saw some online comments with side-by-side pictures of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos then (1997) vs. now (2017), then being before alpha male and now on alpha male stats. What a difference aging powerfully makes ! Aging for some CEOs is a blessing, as life turns them from unremarkable, some might say sheep, to powerful men. Bezos is not the only case of  beta-turned-alpha. I also included here pictures of  Muhtar Kent, long standing CEO of Coca-Cola who stepped down last May and is still its Chairman.


Image: Daily Mail U.K.10/10/13, Picture date: 1997

VS.


Getty Images, TMZ Media, 07/2017

AND


Picture: Coca-Cola archives, 1993                                                                                                           From Youtube PwC's 17th Annual Global CEO Survey.2014



What a difference 20 or some years makes in people's lives...If they can take it to the next level.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Most people that work in finance are soft as a cloud blanket. If you're soft, you're never gonna get anywhere.

What will your picture say in twenty years ? Or better yet, what statement do you make with your body now? You don't have to wear an Armani suit, just casual.

Monday, July 17, 2017

How to defeat Trump

It is about one year since I started writing on this blog, and the laurels keep coming. Sweet ! [Previously explained this: although started in 2013, I wrote almost nothing here until last summer.] So I consider this effort to be one year long to date. Happy 1st B-day !


  1. More page views than ever before...between 2,500 to 3,000 a day.
  2. A mailing list quickly approaching 2,000. Those 2,000 folks are my core readership, people who surely know what they want out of life. Core readers are those who place value on the content I bring to the marketplace, people who don't scurry like rats from the difficulties of life.
  3. I've gotten comments,  like "good motivational blog", "you tell it like it is", "the garden place to hang your boss", " not girlfriend friendly". Look, I try to motivate myself every day, so I'll do it here as well [link].  And yes, bosses are my favorite subject. Specifically, dealing with bosses and their efforts to undermine our progress in our careers. I estimate bosses cost our economy $5 Bn in lost productivity, protracted work and unseemly squabbles. I'll write a book on bosses. Bosses are the biggest angst in people lives, together with their mothers-in-law.

A reader says: You say you are the "word's number one strategist". [my note: I am ] We are desperate, after 6 months of Trump turmoil, is it anyway that we can defeat him ?

Thanks,

Lorna


Lorna,

Do you really wanna know the secret to victory ?



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Warren Buffett vs. Paul Singer

Those of you working on Wall Street are aware of upcoming battle of the giants between Berkshire Hathway's Buffet and Elliott Management's Singer over the future of now bankrupt Texas utility company TXU. A iconic buyout era remnant, TXU has since defaulted is is now known as Energy Future. (Reuters)

Elliott is the largest creditor to Energy Future. A subsidiary of Energy Future, Oncor, is the largest public utility in Texas, with 10 million customers. So who gets to own that ?

Warren Buffet is the world's wealthiest and most celebrated investor. An iconic figure, Buffet dislikes hedge funds for wasting client's money (CNBC) yet he operates like a huge long-only hedge fund the only difference is he is using his own money, not investor money. He sounds a lot like a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

It's time for CEOs to "shape up" or give it up

What are you doing this summer ?

I'll tell you what Roland Smith, ex-CEO of Office Depot is doing, According to the WSJ ("For CEOs, High Pay, Higher Anxiety"- Vanessa Fuhrmans, Joann S. Lublin), he is taking a 13,000 mile motorcycle trip with his son from Key West to Alaska and then to Jackson Hole.

CEOs pay is out of control. That's nothing new to those that analyze their investments. CEOs of public firms make today some 300 X what an AFC (Average Frustrated Chump) , I mean average employee makes, up 10 times from the late 1970s and most of the 1980s. Does the average employee produce less now than they did 30 years ? Absolutely not. Do the CEOs produce more now than they did decades ago ? In fluff and fold, maybe.

The CEO is no longer the "protected class". No longer serving the 20-year term. How many of us hold a job for 20 years anymore ?  GE CEO Jeff Immelt is leaving this summer after 16 years, not by happenstance, but because of sub-performing stock and a nudge from activist Trian Fund Management.

According to the WSJ:

"In June 2017 alone, the CEOs of GE, Uber, Buffalo Wild Wings, Perrigo, Pandora Media resigned or announced their departure." Don't be fooled by the word "resignation" which most press releases read, these folks are pushed out. Don't be too concerned for them either, these people land on their feet better than cats do.



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Is sexual advance sexual harassment ? male reader asks

I got this email from a reader with an interesting situation percolating into the current amped up Silicon Valley environment with women screaming sexual harassment left and right.

Max,

My name is Anil, I am 30ish and I am so lucky to have found your blog. I'm pretty sure you're one of the very few writers out there that tackles men being the target of harassment by women. Nobody else talks about it.

I work in the Marketing department of my company, a large tech player in the semiconductors industry. My boss, Heather, is good looker, she looks like Pamela Anderson, and at 48 she's in great shape. She goes to the same gym I do, two miles from my work. This is what happened last week. She had two tickets to a Dodgers game and knowing that I'm a fan she invited me. should give you some background here: I am happily married for 5 years with no kids and Heather is also married (to Tom).

So we've met up after work and she decided to drive me up in her car. I was already tired after a long days work, and my wife was already home waiting for me. My wife, Sylvia, calls me. "I go: 'Honey, I'll be late tonight. Heather is taking me to the ball game.'" 30 minutes into the game, Heather started drinking and started rubbing my thighs. Then she started rubbing my penis. All the time she was keeping looking ahead. I was so embarrassed ! At half time I walked up and she came after me, trying to do it again ! Can you believe it ? I said: "What it wrong with you ? Are you insane ? She was giggling and laughing ! The problem is I know Tom, her husband, who is a nice man, and a good husband !

At the end of the game I left quickly and did not want to go into the car with her. She is an embarrassment to herself and her family. Next day at work it was as if nothing ever happened !

What do I do now ? Should I tel my wife ? My wife and I have an agreement where we don't hold anything back from each other. Was this sexual harassment ? Should I report her to HR ? This is crazier than The Game of Thrones.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Old age delusion

When you hear "old people" talk it sounds like this:

When I was in my 30s  I had so much_______fill in the blanks: ambition, fearlessness, stamina, strength.

But then even guys in their 30s "feel old" when  comparing themselves with how they were in their 20s. WTF ?

"If I had the energy I had 10 years ago...

"Time is wasted on the youth." -You've heard those before...

I used to recommend comparing yourself to your earlier self (one, three. ten years ago) but this is just getting ridiculous.

What exactly separates the old from the young ? Is is the number of years since birth ?  Or is it lamenting ?

People that lament (feel sorry for advancing in age, for the passage of time) are suffering from a delusion: The delusion of the linear time. They are sheep, not master. Being a master warrior means eradicating time. Eradicating your illusions.

One becomes old when he stops learning. Period.

If you consider yourself a worthy man, if you are an alpha male not cattle which most men are, I recommend you read  Carlos Castaneda's summary of writings (I believe there are 12). This is not Lord of the Rings fiction. This is not some psychedelic punch. I'm not looking for the latest nootropic here. I am looking to disassemble the reality I was made to ingest, and, following that, make my own reality, free of delusion, including the delusion of age.
"A warrior cannot complain or regret anything."
 So you have it right upfront that "my 30s were better than my 50s" is nonsense.
So what does it take to be a warrior ?

There are four main things, according to the shamans:

1. Erasing personal history
2. Losing self-importance
3. Assuming responsibility for your decisions: Nothing is more or less important than anything else. There is no time for regrets or doubts. There is only time for decisions.
4. The Four natural enemies that a man must defeat are: fear, clarity, power and our favorite subject of the day, old age. The Shaman view old age, the desire to rest, as mostly a desire "not to be bothered". Don't fall for it.

As far as clarity and power there's more about putting limits on them so they don't  not obscure development.

"Little by little you must create a fog around yourself; you must erase everything around you until nothing can be taken for granted, until nothing is any longer for sure, or real. Your problem now is that you’re too real. Your endeavors are too real; your moods are too real. Don’t take things so for granted."

"The warrior lowers his head to no one, but at the same time, he doesn’t permit anyone to lower his head to him. The beggar, on the other hand, falls to his knees at the drop of a hat and scrapes the floor for anyone he deems to be higher; but at the same time, he demands that someone lower than him scrape the floor for him."

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tools of the trade: pugnaciousness

We know that grit makes all the difference in the world for success (kudos to Angela Duckworth for that) but if you're in a disruptive avant garde industry like activist hedge funds, you better check your pugnaciousness.

I was called the Pitbull of Wall Street like I'm walking around with a picture on my head, but Institutional Investor Magazine this month portrays another "pitbull", Paul Singer of Elliott Management in The Last Hedge Fund Pit Bull (Michelle Celalier).

Getting into proxy fights is not easy, it is cumbersome, expensive and extremely difficult. Elliott's fight with Arconic (last 10-Q ARNC ) is not over yet, but they've won 3 board seats at the company and ousted ex-CEO Kleinfeld in April.

From that fight Elliott had 9 pages of "ethical concerns" about the CEO. "It suggested the ex-CEO had an inpunitive personality and could not take responsibility for his own failures." -II

Drilling down on C-suite personalities is incumbent upon someone that is looking at a level of misdirection or apathy in the leadership of a business.

Of course, Elliott is best-known for is protracted battle with Argentina, and they won 75 cents on the dollar for the bonds. But it took 15 years.

Who can successfully fight for 15 years ?