Friday, December 30, 2016

Looking Ahead at 2017 -Mastermind, Power, Guts and Glory

In 2016 I turned a little known blog about private aviation into a serious power blog. This blog. From a few pages with pictures of planes to a power tool. I started analyzing current events, "pain points" in banker's lingo. I held nothing back. Now I get the looks from the various centers of power, who are classifying me as a "wild card". If you play poker, you know that you need a wild card that can stand for any card that the player wants. It is a very important card that can win you the game.

In 2017 I will take it further. I will write on a subject closest to my heart: the mastermind. Composed of two words: mastering + mind the fused word means so much more than just the two parts alone. I believe that if I don't work on improving myself and my situation, I'm sinking, drowning. I want my word to be the bond the universe obeys. Sure, there are lots of materials out there on it but the knowledge is superfluous and borrowed. I want it fresh, first hand, actionable. There have been many influences on my personal development: stoicism, existentialism, Eastern philosophy, self help and self improvement people that right now are doing amazing work. There's a lot to write about.

I shall take a look at the business of Wall Street but in a different, novel way. I will be using the redpill. #redpillWallStreet is the new hashtag for now. I won't be using a study guide from Harvard or Wharton, because it is useless. Wall Street and Washington, behave like women so you need to watch what they're doing, not what they are saying. I call this the red pill, as opposed to the blue pill, which is what most people take and consequently see.

Some time ago, I was asked what I thought about the presidency of Donald Trump. I said: Don't know and don't care. The President should be a blip on your radar, you shouldn't have to think about that. However, Trump is an excellent study, he is a master persuader and we can draw interesting lessons. Yesterday hedge funder and philanthropist George Soros wrote about the prospects of  the Trump Presidency on an optimistic tone but did refer to Trump as a "conman". If that "conman" managed to win the Presidency, he must have done something right ! The reference conman as such is "blue pill", inaccurate. It is not a word to describe reality. Also it appears Soros doesn't know the basic thing that you don't scratch a pimple.

Your boss would love to see your guts spilled all over the floor...

However, since he's got a PnL book to manage and you are his best performer he's got his crab claws into you. Unless you are the founding partner of a business you'll have to work for somebody else who'll box you into your cubicle and squeeze every last drop of life out of you. Your boss is your best friend and your worst enemy at the same time. Look forward to "Upend the top dog", "Sleeping with the frenemy", and more.

If you wish to get better at life, continue coming back to this blog.

If you do a keyword density analysis of my posts on social media, you'll find out the most repeated word is "win". That shows the basis of my message, the fundamental reason for writing it all.

If you are serious about winning, keep reading this blog.

The best is yet to come !

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Power moves in the boardroom

What can we learn from the boardrooms ? I'm not talking about the ordinary meetings of a board of eight, but the crucial meetings that shape the direction of a business.

What goes on behind the close doors ? Boards of Directors meetings are off limits to outsiders. In fact, as recent as 1995, even courtroom procedures were not televised (The O.J. Simpson trial changed all of that with the live feed).

Executive meetings of all kinds allowed me to see the interplay of power among the participants. Of course the dynamics were unique to each meeting, but I can talk about: dysfunctional boards, well functioning boards. I've seen people unable to contain themselves throwing things at people they were in disagreement with. People resigning on the spot (or better said, after five hours of arguing). Boards firing their CEOs.

Here are some observations from the boardroom that I can share with you today:

1. Seating and proximity to the leader (CEO/Pres.) have meaning.

This is self explanatory. Seating at the head of the table is customary. Business Insider picked up on the Trump meeting with tech leaders seating significance. Aides surround the leader who in that case sat at the center of the table.

2. Have a sidekick that keeps on giving.

I've often seen the CEO or the top negotiator working in a two-person team. Why is that ? It is a power move where the second character comes in to spin the case. A less notable individual is needed, not to amplify, but to rephrase the spiel of the CEO. If they didn't buy into the CEO then this second person can try it from another angle, shifting gears. The solution is the same but the delivery is different. The sidekick is usually someone that does not overshadow the main character. Sort of the court jester in the Middle Ages. The court jester in antiquity played a major role in the Kings and Queens negotiations. The court jester wasn't just a clown, but an essential, entrusted, personal sidekick.

3. Some people make up imaginary talks to non-existent people. Distracting ? Annoying, perhaps ?

One interruption too many: At a meeting there was this individual excusing herself to "talk to her adviser". As it turned out, she was going outside the room pretending to talk, there was no one she was consulting with over the phone. Her tactic, designed to bring attention to herself, will backfire if done too often. I thought she was manic depressive.

4. Overheard short power phases CEOs repeat over and over with the highest number of repetitions:

"That's not right."
"At what cost ?"
"We are family."
"It's anything but ordinary."

5. When you speak with authority people will believe almost anything.

To quote one executive: "We've transposed a new record of liquidity after retiring 40% of outstanding debt". Whatever that means...People will often try to "hide in plain sight" and express dismal results in flowery language. It works in deceiving those that don't know how to delve in metrics and numbers.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Max Cantor Q&A

My brand is getting stronger day by day. It's no wonder I spark reader curiosity and one most daring reached out with a mini Q&A interview today. Suffice to say my interviewer's credentials are impeccable: he is a rising star at the second largest bond fund in the world (a shout out to !)

Interviewer: Max, thanks for taking the time to do this.

Max: You're welcome.

I: As a first question, which maybe just came to my mind, if we associate you with any Star Wars character, which one would you be ?

M: Master Yoda, which has been sort of forgotten lately. Yoda is the greatest Jedi, yet I've never seen anybody giving him as much as a kiss, not a medal, not anything. Good guys finish last.

I: I see what you mean. Is Yoda perhaps working in the background ? Last, but not least ?

M: I'm sure Yoda is cooking up something. He is a dealmaker. He knows how to tip the balance.

I: You mean, like a Goldmanite ? Working for Goldman Sachs ?

M: No man, I didn't mean it as an insult. (No pun intended. Goldman is a terrific bank). You need to know that I, like Donald Trump, can say anything I want, even if it's stupid. I meant seeing the market. Selling gold with the strengthening dollar and stuff. If Yoda was in bonds he'd be rowing hard and fast now but still manage to keep afloat.

I: Ok. Let's get back to cooking. I wanted to know what the Great Max eats. What is your diet ? Your daily routine like ? Exercise ? What kind of women do you date ?

M: On the diet thing, mine is closest to the Paleo. Except I am the real paleo. I eat raw meat. I also eat a lot of nuts, of course vegetables, fruit. I divest from the Paleo line though because I still drink milk.

I: You eat raw meat ? Don't you get sick from it ?

M: No. I've been eating raw meat for over 15 years. For people reading this who don't eat raw, and that means 100% of you, raw meat also has a distinct taste than cooked. It's different. It's a different taste buds pleasure. I also eat meat cooked.

I: Wow. How do you ever not rise and fly out the window at night ?! Do you drink, or should I say, ever drunk human blood ?

M : No, I don't like the taste of human blood. I'm not a vampire. I'm like a shark, I spit out human blood. Too salty. I also don't drink ocean saltwater. On the other hand, bllod oozing from a fresh cut of kobe beef it's tasty.

I: What about the bones ?

M: I chew on them. When there's nothing I can chew, I give them to my dog.

I: In a bloodbath.

M: You bet.

I: Do you like your women raw, too ?

M: What do you mean by that ?

I: I don't know, Max. You're full of surprises. What kind of girlfriends do you have ?

Max Cantor's holiday shopping list 2016-Part 2

Part 2 is the fun part of my shopping list. This includes items for your loved ones. Budget: $100 (taxes not included).

1. HOTAPEI Women Turtleneck Long Sleeves/Sleeveless Printed Thai Tribal Jumpsuit

Available at Amazon
Price $19.99

2. Zippo Chrome Lighters

Available at Amazon
Price: between $10.78 and $19

3. Pleaser Women's Blossom-640 Platform Sandal

Available at Amazon
Price : $23.84 Last one avail. in few sizes only ! 5 inches platforms, really a low platform.

4. Women PASHMINA SILK Classic Solid Cashmere Wool SHAWL Scarf 

At Ebay

Price: $5.71 + 1.99 S&H

5. Women's Grey Yoga Gym Sports Shorts

At Ebay E-packet delivery from China

Price: $2.13

Friday, December 16, 2016

Holiday I wish list 2016

It is that time of the year. If you've been looking for some splashy "I had the best 2016: sold my start up" millionaire gift edition, you need only take a look at one page at our friends at @Notey:The Launch.

The New Mercedes Maybach S650

We are told that only 300 are manufactured worldwide.

Bang and Olufsen $80,000 speakers

The BeoLab90 speaker "stands more than 4 feet tall, weights more than 130kg and costs more than a BMW 3series". It bosts a total of 8.200 Watts through 18 speakers. It looks like spaceship probes to or a sculpture. The closest I got to a B&O are the speakers on my computer.

Ulisse Nardin Diver Chronograph Watch

Comes in a limited edition of only 250. Its 45.8 mm diameter case is made from stainless steel coated with rubber and finished with a medallion on the case-back illustrating the catamaran in racing while its rubber strap brings comfort and flexibility." Buying info .

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Can you spot a bad apple [rogue employee] ?

Suppose you are working in an asset management business and there is a bad apple: someone who breaks the rules and diverts your funds for their personal gain. You have compliance folks who are monitoring moves in and out of the market yet this person manages to avoid electronic detection.

What do you do ? Do you do what Bobby Axelrod does here in a show of rage and folly ? Well, no, not unless you make a Hollywood movie.

There's this question of how much an employer can intrude upon an employee's personal life based on how much we mix work with life outside of work. If we work 10 hours a day, need to sleep 5 hours, how much is there left for anything else ? If you have employees working occasionally from home, the question of monitoring their work becomes even more complex. Work is the major part of life.

If the rogue manages to escape workforce enforcement like video, email and messenger surveillance the organization could try to get more personal:

  1. One-on-one meetings and psychological assessments. Such meetings should reveal any sudden changes in the personal life of the employee.
  2. Be on the lookout for sudden expenditures that are above the earnings of the employee. Most people that are stealing will splurge on small and large luxuries = change in behavioral spending.
  3. If there's a "turncoat" like in the Billions movie, the spending wouldn't be triggered. The turncoat would have turned against you on personal reasons, with vengeance as the motive. As the manager of the organization you need to ask yourself: who wants to dig my grave and why ? How many people know this and that ? [A secret is not a secret if it is known by two or more]. Women are natural Machiavellic, deception is harder to detect in women than it is in men. However, there will still be changes as subtle as going rufus for a blond woman (dying her hair red) or just changing the color. That is why it is a good idea to keep tabs on ladies appearances. If a person has a large unexpected, perhaps catastrophic event (illness, death) it can trigger unlawful behavior for personal gain.
  4. Generally speaking, people that are moving up (getting promoted) in their jobs have less reasons to turn rogue. On the other hand, those who are passed by and don't get the necessary recognition could go the bad apple route.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Influence: The Power of Eloquence

How eloquent are you in your speech ? In your presentations ? Interviews ? Client and customer meetings ?

What is your conversion rate ? Not that kind of conversions that we work with in tech-although that matters also- but conveying your message across. Do you capture your audience attention ? It doesn't matter if they agree or disagree with your message if they are engaged.

Speaking skills are essential and unfortunately, poorly developed on Wall Street. I think a lot of people working in finance should take an acting class. Become a world class act. Like Lady Gaga (Lady Maga ?) here. Be the center of attention. It helps if you trained with Mark Burnett.

Image: Gagadaily

To become an eloquent communicator, one should:

  1. Be an very good listener and reader. I have a vocabulary of 100,000 words which is above average, certainly in finance
  2. Utilize metaphors, eulogies.
  3. There are so many things at work: register, cadence, timber and so forth.
  4. Speaking slowly and deep generally works best.
  5. Pause before articulating the message.
  6. When words come alive, that's eloquence.
  7. Use the words that match your audience's vocabulary. Use of powerful verbs convert action. Believe me ! [Lady Gaga]
  8. Speak with authority. You have been asked there to speak, not your audience.
  9. Any speech should finish with a call to action.
  10. Up your persuasion skills.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Crowdfunding: Some considerations

Crowdfunding allows the average consumer to invest in the average [new] company, while before the JOBS Act of 2012 that early participation was open to accredited investors only.

Things for anyone considering investing under Regulation A+ or Regulation CF that came out of CrowdInvest Summit 2016:

  1. Businesses need people who care about what they are selling. Crowdfunding is the ultimate validation of product value to their best customers.
  2. Crowdfunding seeks out the "investomers" and democratizes the investment process.
  3. What is the Pre-Money Valuation ? Where is the business heading ?  Where will the funds be spent and why? Marketing budgets can be around 5% of a crowdfunding campaign.
  4. People invest in what they love, and in what they understand.
  5. What's the exit strategy ? 
  6. Regulation A+ requires an independent GAAP audit, while Regulation CF an independent review of two years of financial statements

Key takeaways For Entrepreneurs

  • Can you be the best evangelist for your product ?
  • Do you have a proven ability to execute ?
  • Can you balance teams in a start up ? (for example don't have three engineers and zero marketing people, but have engineers, marketers, as well as salesmen on your team)
  • What does your business need ? That's where you want your focus.
Real Estate Crowdfunding Considerations

  • There is some idiosyncratic risk at the asset level
  • Lots of opportunities with an asymmetric risk profile
  • What CR funds look for are great assets, but mismanaged

Mistakes [some] entrepreneurs do

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Influence: The Power of Suspense

I write this blog for those who want to win at life, for those who are already winners and want to improve, as well as for those who are building themselves up.

Unpredictability has long been singled out of a source of power: look at both Eastern and Western traditions.

It is worthwhile to notice how Donald Trump has used suspense, surprise and dissimulation to win, I found it uncommon in recent history.

Many will recall the third Debate: ("Will you accept the results on Election Day ?" -"I'll let you know then." -he answered.) Or, more recently, on a day he was scheduled for a press conference at the NYT, he cancelled (gave no reason, to my knowledge). Then same day abruptly, rescheduled and happily showed up. Was it a bluff, the cancellation ? Yes, and it also signaled what I call one of the rules of thumb in [any] negotiation: You need me more than I need you. So, let me restate the two powerful things seen here:

I'll let you know then.

This statement carries more power than if you said, Yes! wholeheartedly. When you use it and how you use makes a big difference, too. It is a great power shifter.

You need me more than I need you.

Negotiations rarely if ever are between equals. If you hear about a merger of equals it isn't: even if the companies in question appear to be the same market-size or otherwise.  Someone is patching up a soft spot, the market dynamics have changed, there are headwinds that a business is facing. In the personal life -marriage, same thing happens. Women look for a higher utility value [than themselves] in men. Men don't know what they are looking for. [They're really looking for company. ]