Sunday, March 18, 2018

On Jordan B. Peterson's new book, 12 Rules for Life: an Antidote for Chaos

The Toga Virilis is the white piece of cloth assumed by the boys of ancient Rome at age 15 as a symbol of manhood.

In episode 10 of the Spartacus series: Blood and Sands: "Party Favors", young Numerius, son of the Magistrate, gets an overview of gladiators training on the ludus (gladiator school) grounds from Spartacus.
"Spartacus walks Numerius through the training grounds. They witness an intense sparring match between Crixus and Duro. Throughout the match, Crixus taunts Spartacus and tries to persuade Spartacus to fight him. However, Duro insists that the fight is only between himself and Crixus, as he relentlessly attempts to overpower Crixus. Crixus easily bests Duro again before leaving. As Duro sits in defeat, the gladiators unexpectedly applaud him for his courage. Agron, too, is proud of his brother for his display of bravery." (Spartacus Wikia)
The youngster is dumbfounded.
Numerius: "The man is defeated yet treated as a victor. Why ?"
Spartacus: "A sign of respect." **There's a lesson right there. The man who rises and fights, although he may have lost, is deserved the respect for doing it.**

The Party Favors episode doesn't end well. Spartacus ends up forced to kill his friend Varo when commanded so by Numerius at the B-day party. Numerius himself being puppet mastered by Ilythia who lays with Numerius in order to manipulate him into giving that order. (If you haven't watched it, the entire episode is narrated at Spartacus.Wikia -link)

Today I'll give you some thoughts on Jordan B. Peterson. This is the post my youngest readers have anxiously been waiting for. If you are over the age of 70, we understand, you can skip this post. I may be doing a Part 2/3 on this, since I'm not covering enough here.

I've watched a few videos and interviews with JBP. He is an erudite and eloquent orator. His speaking skills are remarkable.   The 12 "Rules" are all relevant. They're not "new", however. For example, "clean up your room (Rule 6)" is a banality, yet few people do it.

Quote of the day: "There is no justice in this world." -Spartacus (in agreement with **billionaire** Marcus Crassus)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Do you have a black turtleneck ? Stanford stamp ?

You may have heard of the Theranos company spiral down. Its star founder is Elizabeth Holmes. I don't have prima facie knowledge of this case, but I found a good introduction in an Oct. 2016 Vanity Fair exclusive,  How Elizabeth Holmes House of Cards came down, by Nick Bilton.
" Holmes preferred that the temperature be maintained in the mid-60s, which facilitated her preferred daily uniform of a black turtleneck with a puffy black vest—a homogeneity that she had borrowed from her idol, the late Steve Jobs."
What do I tell you every time ? You either control your environment or you don't.

If you watch the Jim Cramer interview with Holmes from back in 2015, you'll see that Holmes is more alpha than Cramer.
" Cramer generously began the interview by asking Holmes what had happened. Holmes, who talks slowly and deliberately, and blinks with alarming irregularity, replied with a variation of a line from Jobs. **In Silicon Valley, you're either a Jobster or you're a toaster** “This is what happens when you work to change things,” she said, her long blond hair tousled, her smile amplified by red lipstick. “First they think you’re crazy, then they fight you, and then, all of a sudden, you change the world.” When Cramer asked Holmes for a terse true-or-false answer about an accusation in the article, she replied with a meandering 198-word retort." -Nick Bolton
What I am interested is to find out how investors gave money to a 19-year old college dropout (15 years ago is when Holmes started out). She got her first angel money at 19 !

Monday, March 12, 2018

Be glad that you don't work at Goldman Sachs-updated with Brain Quiz

The phones went of the hook today.

"Hey Max, did you hear ?
-Heard what ?
-The next Goldman Sachs Chief is David M. Solomon. Harvey Schwartz, the other co-CEO resigns effective in April.( NYT Dealbook 's Kate Kelly, March 12, 2018)
-What the fuck do I care ? I don't work at Goldman Sachs and I don't want to work there.
-You must have an opinion."

Yes, right. I mean you can have an opinion about anything. (Just a friendly reminder, I only voice opinions here and don't give out any advice).  People have opinions about going to Mars when their real problem is eating too many Mars candy bars.

I have been called the Pitbull of Wall Street, and most recently, Spartacus. (You know why, it's because I've told you Spartacus was history's first and foremost underling). It is a greatest honor to be called Spartacus. It is the most beautiful name to me, music to my ears. In fact I recommend my readers get a plaque at their home workstation (you can't do this at work or they'll crucify you) spelling "I am Spartacus". Those three words are magic to me. I'm actually thinking of changing my legal name to that of the Thracian slave to honor him and myself.

In the Dealbook article (and in others: Bloomberg, etc.) it says this apparent next-in-line Goldman Sachs chief wants to bring up new hire recruiting so women "will gradually be 50% of the workforce." Then I look up my alma mater school recruiting bulletin and they do have GS student sessions that are all "diversity-based", where diversity means women.  They've already started it.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The billionaire who gave it all away

It's often said that God works in mysterious ways. Sometimes you wish God took a break and you filled in His shoes. Because you can do it better, plus everyone needs at least a day off work. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

There's this story in The Irish Times about Chuck Feeney, Founder of Duty Free Shoppers: Chuck Feeney: the billionaire who gave it all away, with the subtitle "philanthropist lives in modest apartment after giving away $8Bn fortune". (Connor O'Clary, March 3, 2018)

In this article, you get an introduction to Mr. Feeney's life and inflection points and how he set up his charitable foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, back in 1984, "even as he continued to manage his businesses and buy and sell properties around the world".

O'Clary believes the reasons CF did what he did "included an innately generous personality, discomfort with the trappings of wealth as a product of an Irish-American neighbourhood in New Jersey where “nobody blows their horn”, and the example set by his mother, a nurse who was always helping others.
He was also influenced by Andrew Carnegie’s essay The Gospel of Wealth, with its famous declaration that 'the millionaire will be but a trustee for the poor'."
So, what do we learn from this story ?

1. First of, exactly what I wrote in the first paragraph,

"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,
 All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy." -quote attributed to Irish novelist Maria Edgeworth

Do not be that person. Don't be Jack, or Homer Simpson here. Have interests outside of work, do not let work absorb 100% of your life.

2. If you wanna give away your wealth, you have to make it first. I'm pretty sure that's the first thing Chuck Feeney would tell you.

3. Here's what Chuck Feeney probably wouldn't tell you: It's way harder to build a fortune today than it was 30, 40, or 50 years ago. On the surface it appears there's a growing market for __[fill in the blanks with whatever products and services you are offering]. Yet, the barriers of entry are way higher. The competition is X1000s what it was for Feeney's generation.

Friday, March 9, 2018

You have all the time in the world

I was thinking recently about the time-age perception differences. It's "Why is it that time is passing by so fast when you're an adult versus the child who feels that days go by slow" kind of thing. Do the days, months, and years "go faster" as you get older ?

Time is not going anywhere. People minds are. As far as I'm concerned, the biggest problem is that we perceive time linearly. What if, rather than a countdown towards death, we're heading towards birth instead ?

For one thing, the child doesn't keep trace of time like we do. From rise and shine until the dead of the night, we don't seem to be having enough time. We are starved of time.

The question is really like iteration math in Excel spreadsheets, since the statement is made by an adult. By making the statement that time is slipping fast, you are also applying an adult construct to what a child might experience. And since experience is subjective...

Let's assume for a moment that you are a child. You have little or no concept of time. What now ? Time won't be "fast" or "slow", you can't really meaningfully measure the child's assessment of time.

Quote of the day: "If you operate out of the straitjacket of logic, you remain a clown in the circus of life."- Sadhguru

Sunday, March 4, 2018

How to land a paid speaking gig

I was reading a HBR post on "How to land your first speaking paid gig" (Dorie Clark, Nov. 14, 2017) when I thought, Hey, lady, get over yourself. Don't you have to pay rent ?

I agree with what's being said in the post in principle. What I don't agree with is where the author, devoid of wisdom, says you should speak for free, without adding any corollary on a timeline or a plan to overcome that obstacle. She must be living rent or mortgage-free. Unfortunately for most of us, we do not. If you don't commission a plan to transition to paid speaking, you're not valuable.

If you market yourself as a free resource, you'll stay free and broke.

Ok, speak for free, but it must come with some objectives that you are able to meet. Things like a minimum audience in attendance: 500 or whatever your target might be. Most people start speaking at schools (in fact some people hook into prestigious schools settings to dangle that on their wall, as seen in Meet the Guy Who Gets Financial Advisers Appearances at Harvard and West Point). FYI, I don't approve of prestige whores.

Rather than schools, I favor more conferences that bring together people in specific industries or interests. For example, if you are a NBAA member see if you can get a spot at that conference. It could be any conference that draws interesting people around subjects that you master or practice. Yesterday a friend of mine suggested that I enroll in Lessons in Leadership, a "masterclass" sponsored by Dow Jones and the Cass Business School. I'm not sure how that is going to help me. The supposition is enrollment gets you some sort of exposure that you don't already have. If you work around your interests, memberships in organizations, even hobbies, you can find a venue that needs speakers at some point.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Get a punchbag, throw some dirt, get made

I've tried to avoid politics like the plague. However, a large percentage of readers come to this blog to learn about the subtle art of leadership. I came across this Trump video today showcasing a passive aggressive front. It's supercharged, a master-level of play favored by many CEOs.

To fully appreciate it, you need to detach from your approval or disapproval of Donald Trump.

Skip the issue, which is gun control. Ignore all your preferences.

Morality is thin as a stick.

And this is how you do it:

1. Have an issue [here:gun control]

2. Throw in some bad guys [NRA]. Remember, when you make up the villain, they must not be present. They're your punchbag, imaginary foe.

3. Stack up your enemies [here: congressmen. If you didn't see that, sorry, you're behind.]

4. You can bash them now:

Trump: "You know why? Because you're afraid of the NRA."

Monday, February 26, 2018

On the latest Broadcom /Qualcomm tech merger proposal

Those that follow the Broadcom buying Qualcomm news know that Qualcomm released a letter today asking Broadcom to assume more of the merger regulatory risk

From that letter:

"We proposed a reverse termination fee of 9% of enterprise value, payable if a potential transaction is terminated other than due to a breach of the agreement by Qualcomm or our failure to obtain stockholder approval. We based this amount on recent precedent transactions, particularly Baker Hughes/Halliburton, which began as a hostile proposal, ended as a negotiated agreement and involved complex regulatory issues that ultimately resulted in termination of the transaction."
Qualcomm also removes the "“hell or high water" commitment on the regulatory front, understanding that presuppositions of the status quo are hardly ever possible.
It's unclear at this point what Broadcom plans for the licensing business in the interim of the transaction. A merger like this, once executed, would take a year or longer to close.

The Baker Hughes and Halliburton mentioned merger failed in 2016 because of the oil prices and antitrust enforcement.

With the Broadcom pursuit of Qualcomm one of the issues is that Qualcomm hasn't yet completed its purchase of NXP International. Once that's completed, analysts see overlap between NXP and Qualcomm businesses.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

It's time for Silicon Valley to adopt its cutest son: Max Cantor

If you have more than one kid, inevitably you're faced with the issue of which one is the darling-est of them. You'll have a favorite, even as you love them all. If even one of them resonates with you more, you will prefer him or her. Did I get you sad saying this stuff ?

Well, cheer up. Silicon Valley doesn't have that problem anymore.

Silicon Valley can adopt me, Max Cantor, as its favorite son !

Because Silicon Valley needs an alpha male.

Let that sink in.

Silicon Valley can benefit tremendously from the son who is a transplant from the buy-side. A son who is a cosmopolitan visionary and who drinks a gallon of gumption-aid a day.

A cute little pitbull would have made the journey from Wall Street out west on foot. Can you imagine a cute puppy treading 3,000 miles on his paws like a champ ?
If that doesn't melt your heart, I don't know what does.

Out with the old [guard], in with the new.

We've got the news that Peter Thiel is planning to leave San Francisco, although his Founders Fund I think it's still in the Presidio. Thiel struck gold with Facebook, Palantir, and other investments.

From Wall Street Journal's Peter MacMillian: "Groupthink and homogeneity is making it a worse place to live and work." -quoting Tom McInerney

Groupthink and homogeneity is exactly what I keep you away from. Safe son, safer parents.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Dealing with a boss that doesn't like you: the meeting

Reader Peter writes:

Hi Max,

I'm having a horrible situation at work. I like my job of 4 years as a Cost Management Analyst at a major corporation, and I am a competent employee. However, my boss of only 3 months, I'll call her Kira, doesn't like anything that I do.

Kira started a few weeks ago complaining about work I did on a recovery project; she lodged more than one complaint since. More recently, she said I missed the targets on our Earned Value Management System with my scheduled opportunity cost analysis. She made up a claim that we could have saved $22K more than what I laid out in my analysis. Before her, my old boss, never had an issue. Before her, we were running on full cylinders. At work Kira eschews me. When we're around, it's like I'm not visible to her. I might as well be an ornament, a plant to her.

So last week I asked to see her in private. It went like this:

Me: Kira, what are you doing ?
Her: I beg your pardon ? You said you needed to talk to me. Make it quick.
Me: You've unreasonably downgraded my work and made me into a pariah. What's your problem ?
Her: I don't have a problem. Do you have a problem ?
Me: Lastly, you've called me before our Management Committee, got me three strikes, and put me on probation. You know damn well what you said is not right.
Her: You're telling me what's right. Spare me your lecture.
Me: What you wrote on your reports, they're not right. I gave a good project on...
Her: This is not what we expected. You're off the targets. You did not deliver, or better yet, delivered sloppy.
Me: What ???
Her: Listen, pal, if you don't like, quit. Now, I need to be on my way. [Left]

Fortunately I don't have to work tomorrow, but I have to go in Tues. What would you suggest ? Thank you in anticipation.

Hi Peter,

You've taken hits you believe are unfair. The mistake you've made is expecting her to treat you fair. Bosses are not out there to protect you. They're out there looking for themselves, not you.