Tuesday, December 12, 2017

TED Talks; Presentation Mastery Toolkit from Templar Advisors

A friend named Serge called me recently with an idea. Here's the call we had:

Serge: Max, have you ever thought of doing a TED talk ? I think that would be good for you. Do you know about TED and TEDx ?

Me: Of course I do. I feature many of those talks, most recently Ray Dalio. How much do they pay ?

Serge: They don't. This is a non-profit, Max, and in the case of TEDx with local roots. Think of the exposure Max, this conferences get hundreds of thousands, even millions of views. You got to do it.

Me: I see. I'll look into it. What topic should I do, How to Bribe the Chief Bonobos or something.

Serge: The first thing you need to look at are the TED Commandments. That's the first step.

Me: What ? What the fuck is that ?

Anyway, the conversation watered down after that. I did some research on TED and TEDx Talks, and whether I'll do a TED/x presentation I don't know at this point.

I had to get a hold of the 10 Commandments. A writer, Alex Rister, distilled them here. Another writer, Frank Swain, on Why He is Not a TEDx Speaker.

More useful, however, is the Presentation Mastery Toolkit from Templar Advisors, a communications skills firm. ( I have no relation to the firm)

As I told you before, anybody can benefit from improving their presentation skills, no matter what business you are in. Read my previous post on this. I said it before: giving a presentation before 10 persons is the same as giving one before one thousand, or ten thousand.

From Templar:

"If you have to use Powerpoint slides, try the 10:20:30 rule: 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30-point text. Or the Haiku-like PerchaKucha format."

Friday, December 8, 2017

Biggest lies you're told -a list in progress

A statement by Steven Schwarzman to young recruits hopeful to work at BG in a Youtube video via Bloomberg let me think out loud: What a bunch of bullshit. How often do you hear this kind of lies told by top brass to grease your ears ?

How often does your boss butter you up with crap, not just with the innocent pat on the back "I get it. We're on the same page."  ?

What did Schwarzman say ? He said: "Everybody here can be successful." You've heard that many times from many people, so he's not the first and only to say it. The context:

"Landing an analyst position at Blackstone isn’t easy. In 2015, Schwarzman said the firm got more than 15,000 applications for 100 spots, or an acceptance rate of less than 0.7 percent. 'It’s six times harder to get a job as an analyst at Blackstone than getting into Harvard, Yale or Stanford,' the billionaire said in 2015. (Bloomberg)

When I heard that lie, common as it is, I thought: make a list of lies bosses, CEOs, top-of-the-food-chain people say. Some of these lies are so widespread, they've become part of daily life.

-"If you don't do it for yourself, do it for your loved ones." -As much as this makes sense (Does it ?), it is hamster wheeling. This is building a citizenry of servants and misandrists.

"Purpose doesn't only come from work." -Every once in a while an inspiring boss comes up with this one. Last seen: Mark Zuckerberg at the Harvard Commencement Speech earlier this year. This sentence is sort of read-the-fine-print while you're doing shitty work. It's your fault: it's not the crappy job, it's your lack of doing good things outside of it. Be a good donkey and stay at that unsatisfying job. Again, such statements read well on surface but are subterfuge for demolishing your personality.

When somebody says "Start at the bottom.", ask yourself: Is such statement even necessary ? Someone can only start at the bottom. Where else can someone start, if not at the bottom. If they repeat it again four years later what they're really saying is "Stay at the bottom." Can you build an inverted pyramid ? Tell you what: I'll look at your turnover, and based on that, I see what what you mean with the "Start at the bottom" line.



Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Do Binaural Beats Affirmations work ?

A reader send me a link yesterday to a popular video asking me "Does this work ?"

The video must be pretty popular (490K+ views since summer) and there's a whole bunch of them, some of lengths of hours and hours.

As you can see, the video is affirmations of the kind "Confidence comes naturally to me. Everything I do turns into gold, etc.) recited over 432 Hz "binaural beats" sound music.

What are binaural beats ? Binaural beats correspond to the frequency of the so-called "theta" brain waves. There's some mathematics behind them (link). In this particular compilation the writer says that you should listen to it for 21 days.

I have no idea if these binaural beats statements work or not. I think it is best to have those statements written down. Furthermore, the use of "You" is probably stronger than "I" (I know that runs counter-intuitive for most of you.)

As far the pronoun "I", you can tell the difference between "I am energetic" and "I have lots of energy": the "I am" is the stronger statement.  But I have my reservations with these affirmations. If you've been following me, you know I don't believe in wishful thinking. My methods of extracting change are harsh, painful, and border on exerting body and mental exhaustion. I work with the natural, the supernatural, the hyperspace, the Sith, the M-theory, the Godless, the forgotten, the downtrodden. The whole reason of writing here is to give the downtrodden a chance at winning. Winning against the odds. Crushing the odds. I don't just study the "science of achievement" -that's for Tony Robbins- I study the science of "unshackling". I go to God and hold Thy accountable for what Thy did, if Thy wants me accountable at the end of my life, Thy needs to do the same while I'm here.

However, you're welcome to try it...and let me know.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

I beat the lie detector test

We have a reader's email today -Part 1-  along with the video of a fit ex-Wall Street guy age 76, in Part 2- nobody's going to say now that I write for millennials only...

Sam writes:

Max, 
I'm a guy of high standards. Yesterday I took a polygraph test. Guess what ? I beat the polygraph ! The finding: no deception. The question "I beat" was innocuous in my opinion: "Have you ever cheated on your wife ?"  I've been married for 20+ years and a couple of years there was an affair that has since died down. I've reconciled it with my wife who, at the time, wasn't too happy, she went away for a short time and threatened with divorce. In my business, however, being divorce is big no. I can't have that on my record. We've managed to keep it together because our bond was stronger than any discord and moments of infidelity. We worked it through and stayed together. The longer you are together with your partner, the stronger the bonds. People make mistakes but mistakes are part of life. That mistake was corrected, forgiven, and I'll gladly handle it the same today. 

I have taken polygraphs before, and never failed. I wasn't going to fail this one. Did not. Here are my tips:

1. Perform well at the pre-test interview. The pre-test interview is their way of establishing a baseline and get you worked up. Easy drill for a good man !
2. Have good, clean standards.
3. Use only "Yes" or "No" answers. Don't ramble. Don't backtrack.
4. There are three types of questions: irrelevant, control, and relevant.
5. Answer the control Qs with the same integrity and sanity as the relevant ones. No hesitation.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Notes on 100 Deadly Skills, a book by Clint Emerson

Since this is a winners strategy blog -the best strategy blog- with Wall Street roots, it should come as no surprise that many readers want to improve their skills and knowledge of situational, physical warfare.  When I suggested former Navy Seal Clint Emerson's book: 100 Deadly Skills, we got a winner, one reader posted his notes here. I'll follow up on it, but very succinct, you need to have the book to follow the illustrations. Life is haphazard and most people do not have a bodyguard. The good news is, by learning proper techniques we can prevent, unravel, and defeat most threats to our safety.

Emerson breaks apart "skills" into their most critical parts, or Courses of Action (COAs) and sums them up in a Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF).  Here are 24 of those; it does not mean they are more important or effective than the rest. The numbering is the original, 001 through 100.

Skill 002 : Every day Carry Kit: the container kit includes: clamshell, handkerchief, paracord (550 parachute cord), rake pick and tension wrench (part of the credit card size pick lock set), sandals (change in clothes in opposite colors of clothing is recommended), cigs, lighter, cash, in a zero trace messenger bag, zebra pen, blades.

007: Teaches you how to build a rectal concealment kit out of an aluminum cigar tube (hiding inside it money, nail, shim, compass).  Are we getting warm now or what ?

020: If you're in a hotel room, some of the places where you can hide things from intruders are: inside housing of older TVs, inside the shower curtain rod, taped to the bottom of a drawer or heavy piece of furniture, inside landline housing (need screwdriver).

022: Steal a vehicle: yes, it will tell you how to hotwire a car but the fastest way to get a car is to take one that is already running !

024: How to prepare your vehicle for high-speed chases (tip: disengage airbags, practice left-foot braking, then threshold braking).

027: You can make a disposable silencer from a watter bottle, stainless steel scourer and fine wire mesh.

029: A Zebra F-400 or F-700 pen can be a weapon. Some people carry tactical pens. Or knives.

038: Detect tampering with personal effects with discreet alignments to determine tampering while away from the room.

043: You can make lock picks from a paper clip, you need a hook pick and tension wrench.

050: Creating a padlock shim out of an aluminum can.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Optimize your work environment for winning

Folks are writing me wanting to know how I start my workday, how to optimize their own lives. You want heuristics for better living, so I'll suggest how a Wall Street winner -yours truly- structures his work area.

To be clear, optimizing your environment means nothing if you don't have good, predictable habits in place. You should have clean habits and live a healthy life. We are not going to touch on your habits today.

How do you structure a supportive environment ? It's common sense not to leave bad foods at your fingertips, in the fridge, sitting around. If you look at their workstations most people have pictures of their wife, and kids, maybe vacation moments.  That begs the question: What's the girlfriend/wife picture going to get you ? "Missing you" feelings ? A "I wish I wasn't here doing what I'm doing" stamp ? Pictures of your wife scream "I'm a pussy, I'm new, I am wimp."

Have you ever been in a CEO's office ? I can answer yes to that,  because I have, dozens of times. They have their workstation radically different than what you have now. I've talked before about the boss who had a mini-replica of Sisyphus and the boulder made out of clay. Another folk had an original handmade samurai sword that costed $3,000 hanging on the wall behind him.

You need to optimize your work area, whether your company office or home office [don't tell me you work out of Starbucks, you shouldn't work out of of a coffee shop for more than an hour at a time, and only rarely]. You need a space that makes a statement of who you are. Ask yourself: what inspires you ? Suppose you don't have trophies on the wall, you haven't made magazine cover pages,  you don't have a wall art collection: then do as a reader of mine does, he has a canvas portrait of actor Christopher Walker.  If you already have wall art, congratulations. Other suggestion:  Wolf Wall Art by Mark Adligton .  Do you have a hero, a brand, or a symbol that inspires you ? Then put it up as wall art.

Next step: your whiteboard

Most companies have a whiteboard. All people should have a whiteboard. On the whiteboard you write the ideas that drive you, your mission statement, your defining moments, your inspiration. Leaving aside any particular schematics to your office goals, what DO YOU HAVE written on your whiteboard ? "I'm falling backward...Happy Monday [whatever day of the week]  ?  Stop it. Here's what I have written today on my dry erase board:

SMILE ! GET UP ! GET MOVING !

I'M A GIFT TO BE AROUND.

THERE ARE ALWAYS OPTIONS.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Venezuela: no debt restructuring. Lessons from Greece

In 2012 Greece got a haircut of privately-held debt of 59-65%. As a result of restructuring, Greece  inched forward and 5 years later progress had been made. Greece's economy is now growing faster than the UK.

Venezuela seems to be close to a debt debacle and apparently no discussions, not even a hint of plan in works has surfaced. Should Venezuela take a hint from the works of the Greek saga ?

From "Greek Debt Exchange: An Autopsy" from EBRD and CEPR, University of Munich, CESifo, and Duke University authors Jeromin Zettelmeyer, Christoph Trebesch, Mitu Gulati : The Greeks were smart to apply new laws where "votes of 50% of face value and a consent threshold of two-thirds of the face-value of bonds, applied across the totality of all Greek law sovereign bonds outstanding rather than bond-by-bond" were required for the exchange. This paper discusses that despite the large variation in the present value haircuts across the bondholders, you had few "holdouts" with 90% of creditors participation.

Why did so many holders of debt take that deal ? There were three reasons, as numbered by Zettemeyer et. al.

-the 15% EFSF  (now ESM) "as good as cash";

-the new bonds were issued under English law, and included standard creditor protections such as pari passu, negative pledge, and cross-default clauses. Greek-law sovereign bonds contained almost none of these protections;

-the new bonds were issued under a “co-financing agreement” that created an "exact symmetry between Greece’s debt service to the new bondholders and its debt service to the EFSF." Of course, the largest creditor to Greece was the EU – both through the EFSF, and through the “Greek Loan Facility” (GLF)"

Since 2012, Greece defaulted again. In 2015, Greece defaulted on IMF loans, the largest default in IMF's history.