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)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Can you walk on fire ?

There is a such a mind-numbing number of psychology books out there: How you can master the craft of happiness, how to grow your trees of success, how to be your own hero, only one problem: they don't work.

Fluff - feel good psychology is a staple feature of the hack-loving society we live in. Most people want the quick fix because that's how they lived their whole lives.  The comfortable, easy way is the default setting for the human mind.

Psychology Today: "folks freely gorge on oversize portions of mental anguish, what Stanford neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky calls "adventitious suffering—the pain of what was, what will be, what could be or what someone else is experiencing." Sapolsky has shown that over time such extra helpings of mental suffering can damage the parts of the brain involved in learning and memory, as well as the immune system.

Decades before Sapolsky's studies, pioneering cognitive psychologist Albert Ellis put forth the then-radical idea that painful emotions spring more from people's beliefs than from reality itself: Thoughts alone could lead to anguish. Today cognitive behavioral therapists, including an aging Ellis, counsel patients to relieve emotional distress by changing the content of their thoughts—challenging their beliefs and testing new possibilities." -PT, Katherine Ellison

People always get in a rut, no matter how wealthy or accomplished they are. What do some rich folk like Paul Tudor Jones do ? They pay, say, Tony Robbins, $1 M a year (since the early '90s) to shore up their spirits. What does a guy like Robbins have to to ? Get people to the basics. When people are off-balance, it almost always is because they're "stuck in their head" with a story line about the past or the future (what if ? scenarios).

Fun Videos: AllPsychOnline

Perception Test Video

A lot of people have walked on hot coals to get it right.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Ray Dalio's Principles

Bridgewater's Ray Dalio has the Principles book coming out this month, and finance folks are eating it out like candy.

You can watch the TED Talk Ray did in April to familiarize yourself with him.

Some people had an outraged reaction to his principles, including those who stamped his name over L. Ron Hubbard's "Dianetics" book, suggesting Ray and his algorithms of collective decision making is a cult. Look, I get, Ray's built up quite a little fiefdom here, and wants to show you the way to investment heaven.

Prior to this year, The Principles (minus Ray's autobiography) were available for free, and many of you may have already read those out of curiosity even if you didn't work at BA. (NY Times article on Bridgewater Associates)

Let's get down to business cause time is short and the water is rising:

1. I don't agree with Ray Dalio. However, I do think many of these principles are sound and useful. Notice the difference here.

2. Ray in his introductory talk mentions the Principles workhorse is not for everybody. In fact he clearly states that they are not for 30 or 35% of people. If we talk about the creative or unstructured folks that work in finance, those numbers are even less likely to favor the Principles workplace. So at least 50% of the finance types are likely to reject it. After all, I write for the 3% alpha-male minority. 97% of the general population out there does not agree with what I write, and accordingly, for their own benefit, they should NOT read me. [How many times do I have to say this !?]

3. I am a firm believer in taking what you need and leaving out the rest. You can accept and apply a principle or law from Dalio, but make it your law not Dalio's. For lack of time, unfortunately, I am unable to discuss all these principles (there are 210 of them).

4. A lot of Ray's Principles are common sense truisms that most people already use. It is "GOOD" to face harsh realities, and "BAD" to avoid it." Hey man, thanks a lot.

5. "'GOOD' worry about achieving the goal, 'BAD' -worry about appearing good".

I think Dalio is trying to kill office politics. Unfortunately, politics is life. You can't kill life. His idea meritocracy doesn't account for human nature. Ray wants you to be a computer, and he does put the "GOOD" of the whole organization above your own if your own is not the organization's already.

His critics say: that's why you have a "Circle of Trust" ,buddy [for making decisions], and that's why you have high turnover.

6. Are human beings "machines" like Ray seems to think ? Machines that split decisions between rational and emotional ?

7. "Avoid setting goals based on what you think you can achieve."

8. "Most problems are improvements screaming at you." There you go.

9. "How good is your ability to visualize ?" -Ok, good question to ask

10. Principle number 15: Don't depersonalize mistakes. Hello, Honest Abe, I thought it was all about improving processes here.  Onward and forward into the process of making you more average than you already are

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Way of the Warrior: Subduing the world

"There is no witchcraft, no evil, no devil. There is only perception." -Don Juan

It always strikes me when I see people selling knowledge that is essentially available free to students. The case in point is The Robbins Model of Organizational Behavior, a popular guide book for managers that deals with concepts such as Integrating Contemporary Theories of Motivation and other stuff. Stephen P. Robbins says that "fear is a powerful motivator", short term. and talks about some boss bullying cases, but not enough. Who's selling that, is not important at the moment. Professor Robbins is not the subject of this post, New Age luminary Carlos Castaneda is.

"Carlos Castaneda has become one of the Godfathers of the New Age movement." (Los Angeles Times Book Review, 1987). This is my Part 3 on the subject, Part One being If you Can't fight and you can't Harvest, You're Useless. and Part Two : Old Age delusion.

Castaneda epic journey is applicable in more ways than one. People say: Max, how can you be in two places at once ? That doesn't make sense." Yes, it doesn't make sense...unless you have moved your assemblage point [consciousness] in the "place of no pity."

In The Power of Silence, CC tells us: "A moment of elation would suffice to move our assemblage points and break our conventions. So, too, a moment of fright, ill health, anger, or grief. But, ordinarily, whenever we had our chance to move our assemblage points we became frightened." -p. 210 

But Max, I don't know how to handle fear. Can't I just become fearless ?

You fucking idiot [excuse my French] , you don't get from fearful to fearless just like that. It's not as simple as changing your clothes.

Castaneda tells us, and this 30 and 40 years ago when he wrote: "Naguals make decisions. With no regard for the consequences they take action OR choose not to. Impostors ponder and become paralyzed." Impostors is maybe a harsh word, what he means is dumb-ass, pussy-wipped, Iphone-holding clowns.  People that are reading me scared of looking unkempt on Instagram. Maybe your hair style is wrong for your square face and your pic isn't that good. I can understand why girls do that, they live and die by their looks. And when their looks fade with age, they go on berating other women, saying that "looks are not important".  But men ?

Further from Castaneda: "Once doubts are banished, anything is possible." But how ?

By moving the "assemblage point" to the place of no pity. "The place of no pity is the site of ruthlessness".  Don Juan: "Our assemblage points are constantly shifting...imperceptible shifts. Sorcerers believe that in order to make their assemblage points shift to precise points we must engage intent [=will]." 

Max Cantor suggested exercise:

For everything that happens to you today (good or bad), say: Fantastic. I am good with it.

Friday, September 1, 2017

What it means to be an alpha male

There's such a distorted perception on the subject of "alpha" from the people I talked to, from the users of this site, that the confusion thermometer is way past "high". If you had a fever this high, the thermometer would explode. This is your daily dose of redpill reality (check this out, too)

So what does it mean to be "alpha"? Let's start with what it is NOT in the first two pointers below.

1. People that want to "Save the World". Saving the world is one of the dumbest thing I've ever heard. People that say or believe that are idiots. The world needs no saving. The world was here before you. The world will be here in some shape or form after you're gone. The World doesn't care about you. Stop saying that PC non-sense.

2. People that want to "change the world." The world will not change, no matter how much you puke out your guts. Your boss will not change. Stop wasting your energy. Stop trying to be Batman or Superman. Want a better way ?

3. Change yourself-that's the better way.  A lot of my readers are into daily mantras. Instead of reciting the Scorpion King in Sanskrit or Egyptian, here's better one:

"Never in a Hurry,

Never Worried,

Never Desperate,

Never Stopping Short"

This comes from Ryan Holiday, The Ego is the Enemy. The four line, 10 word mantra works wonders. In fact, stoicism provides many more maxims that go well. I've seen a repository of over 600 of them, but I'll need to curate them and select post them. If anyone's got some time and wants to work with me on that over the weekend, let me know.

4. Stop playing Captain Save-a-Hoe. Beta males always come to the rescue of women. Alpha males don't. A woman, like a cat, lands on her feet even when thrown out of the 7th floor balcony. [Ok, that's a figure of speech, but you get the draft]. White knights are weak, pathetic.
"Captain Save A Hoe often waste time on these hoes in an attempt at love, even though the whole block done run through her. Captain Save A Hoe often end up in the friendzone, if they do a good enough job."-Hipwiki
5. Couple of years ago, somebody posted a picture of a pack of wolves asserting the "peck order" of the pack. A photo showed 25 wolves walking in a single file line through a snow-covered wilderness with this explanation:

Monday, August 28, 2017

Dedicated to the Game of Thrones

I've watched last night's Game of Thrones Season 7 finale. In it there were two developments that caught my eyes:

1. The death of Lord Baelish. Littlefinger had been a master schemer and power mover for so long acing his way it was hard to believe he was executed. The mistake of this power manipulator ? Read in this tweet. There's a lesson in there.

2. Cersei ready to kill her lover and father of her child Jaime Lannister, Commander of her army. Wait. Did she do it ? She hasn't done it yet, has she ? After the episode ended, the Internet erupted with the real Game of Thrones is the "White House of Thrones" and King Cersei getting dumber and dumber.

Nothing else was really a surprise for me, including:

The Fall of the Great Wall. All Walls are meant to fall. There a lesson in there.

Or the revelation that Jon Stark is a Targaryen.

Or Jon Stark making out with the silver haired queen.
"Not even Frank Ocean's new song, Taylor Swift's new video, or Katy Perry's unfunny MTV VMAs circus could compare with Sunday night's biggest cultural event. "-Esquire
After the show ended, people start going nuts CAN'T WAIT UNTIL 2018 or 2019 FOR THE LAST AND FINAL SEASON !"   People were hyped up, people screaming they don't want to wait another year or two to see what happens next.

I am asking, however, don't you have a quite similar show to watch ? I think you do. That show is your life. You don't have to wait until 2018 or 2019 for that show to air.

You do have a little Game of Thrones going on in your life right now, don't you ?  

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Best Alpha Male Site for Techies

Silicon Valley does have a fetish with Wall Street.

This blog was named the "best alpha male site for techies" at a large symposium -which makes me proud. It's all about pushing the limits here. "Techies" can mean anything from programmers, web and app developers, entrepreneurs and VCs.  Being the leader of the geek squadron means I can teach technology workers things that Tim Ferriss doesn't. And I am a Ferriss follower, I listen to his podcasts and bought all of his books. What I write about is a little different.

I teach "Heartless of Gold". It's a concept never talked about before. It's having the heart to put yourself first before the world.

With the "Best of " of course, comes great responsibility. If I'm at SVOD Vator LA or PreMoney SF I have to set an example of best practices, integrity and reliability.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

How to Survive an Office Jerk notes

Last Monday WSJ published an article "How to Survive an Office Jerk" by Dr. Robert Sutton, a professor of management science at Stanford University.

These are the suggestions Dr. Sutton offers:

Keeping the distance from those office jerks -he cited a study that showed "employees who sat within 25 feet of a toxic co-worker were twice as likely to leave the company as employees who sat further away.

Slowing down the interaction (delaying response to the solicitation of the toxic person) by days, weeks or months (?!)

Having early-warning systems ("the jerk is in a bad mood today" relay).

The aforementioned coping mechanisms are probably used everywhere, but they have serious drawbacks. How far can you get from someone in a cubicle environment ? Not very far I'd guess.

Slowing down the response is hard to do in real life if you have a deadline. If you can find a surrogate for your nemesis and work with them (work by proxy ?)  the third party will notice your unease. Will they be for, or against you ? Now you have a third party's loyalty to manage.

Dr. Sutton's further methods of coping:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

How to grow your readership, tips for my fellow bloggers

"You'll have far more better luck toughening yourself up than you will ever will trying to take the teeth out of a world that is-at best-indifferent- to your existence." Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle is the Way.

 I have never made a statement before. I will make a statement here today, a clarification of sorts. (These are not the terms of use, which you can find in fine print at the bottom).

"I write my blog for the alpha male audience. This is an alpha male blog. The tone of it is decisive and incisive. Those that benefit most are those hungry for achievement, those that are not happy with the status quo. If you are a dad swimming in money who is nursing three kids and is proud of it, you're better off staying away. I reckon my writings are wasted on you. But you already know that. There is nothing inherently wrong with what you do, you've got your fill already and you're not looking to climb another mountaintop. Keep hugging that money bag of yours, Harvard dad. Keep munching on your mucus, Harvard son.

Beta males aren't going to find something for them in these pages. I don't serve up easy traits. If you're looking for the silver platter and don't want to put up the hard work, you are wasting your time here. Anyway, reading doesn't make an alpha male, doing is. Occasionally, I will use the F word here and other real life language. If you are offended in any way, drop out. I don't write for women, either (although I've placed pictures of food). Other than the nosy reporter, I have very few female readers. But those females, they are not your average female. They are far and between. They are the ninjas who will deck your cock in the middle of the night demanding that you punch their starfish. They are the go-getters who fly like majestic eagles across the prairie. They are the cream of the crop, the Danaerys Targaryens of the world. There is no limit to what a woman can achieve if she sets her mind to it."

That is what I had to say. 


Monday, August 14, 2017

Body Language Video, more gold[en] Max maxims

User Dina uploaded a video on one of my posts and she sent me an email suggesting I upload this full-length video on Body Language.  I agree to the value of the material and I suggest you watch it when you have 1:30 hrs. to do so.

Edit and update: the original Documentary was removed from public record and I had it replaced with a complete different short video:

Meanwhile, at your requests, here are more maxims:

"If you're going to hire a charlatan, don't make it an expensive charlatan." -Max Cantor maxim #40

"Self-deprecating jerks are just jerks that lower their standards." -Max Cantor maxim #41

"Nobody shoots at Santa Claus, even if he doesn't exist". -Max Cantor maxim #42
(variation of the Samuel Butler quote)

"When people say 'I wasn't born yesterday', they mean what they say". -Max Cantor maxim #43

"Golf is the closest game to the game we call life:You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots-but you have to play the ball where it lies"- Max's favorite Bobby Jones quote

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Who's pulling your strings ?

A friend of mine is going through a long-drawn divorce. I feel sorry for him because he has more sleepless nights and aching pains that you could imagine. I saw him yesterday, he has big bags under his eyes, slumped shoulders and has a barky, raspy cough. Looking unkept and insecure, he needed my help in moving stuff into a storage facility, because in a few days he needs to move and give up his house. It is not his house anymore.

Thinking of him I can't help but see what years of indoctrination and submissiveness have done.

Who's framing you right now ? Let's see if we can get to the bottom of it.

I define as framing [you] anyone that creates a strong dependency. The frame they impose may be self-evident or may be less visible, subconscious. Who can you name, now, that is framing you ? Is it your boss, is it your wife or husband, is it your preferred elected official ? Who do you defer to -like an automaton, without even knowing ?  Some people call this framing "persuasion" - a silly term if you consider you haven't even given consent. Perhaps a better term for it is manipulation, because the results are the same: you become utterly dependent on them, their life choices become your life ingredients, their cause becomes your own.

Let's talk politics for a moment. If you are a strong supporter or detractor of, say, President Trump, then Trump -is pulling your strings. It does not matter whether you like or dislike him, as long as you fall "hook, line, and sinker" you're there buddy, you're sucking on that popsicle.

The list expands from elected officials to anyone who is an "influencer" in your life. Anyone with a "myth" of glory, virtue, whatever. Any outsized influencer.

I could have easily titled this "Who's framing you ?" 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Be your "authentic" self...or not ?

Celebrity COO Sheryl Sandberg was on Bloomberg TV yesterday commenting on the popular topic of the Google Memo, the memo that went viral couple of days ago.

“I think it’s great when people lose their jobs when it [sexual harassment] happens, because I think that is what will get people to not do it in the future,” Sandberg said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Emily Chang. “And I think this is a leadership challenge. As a leader of a company, there needs to be no tolerance for it.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Onto Uber's next leader: “People respond to what’s tolerated and what’s encouraged,” Sandberg said when asked what advice she had for Uber's next leader. “And I think a great leader can change the culture of I think almost any company in almost any situation. You put in new policies, you have new procedures, your language is different; I’m always optimistic.” (Fortune)

I'm not going to discuss the Google Memo, but Sheryl comments make sense. Hey, Sheryl, I'll trade you my job for yours [maybe].

What we do on this blog is power analysis. I won't debate the Memo. I don't work for Google, and frankly, it's NOMB.

What a leader needs to do:

1. Make sense of the news if it is newsworthy.
2. Set an appropriate course

On the power level, the executive needs to meet the audience at their level. Notice the Google Memo did not debate or implied sexual harassment. Nevertheless, Sheryl addressed it straight point. Why ? Because that issue was in [most] people's minds presumably drawing "the red line". By talking about sexual harassment, Sheryl met the audience at its needs.

2. Sheryl diluted the argument diplomatically. Notice the generalities employed in those comments, and how well they are reframed to the leader. Sheryl spoke from the leader's framework, as it should be. Notice there's no flimsy wasting of breath on any bullshit. A leader does not waste her words on arguments that she/he is not part of.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

What do women want ?

I thought I should humanize today this great leader that I am, and write on an overly used subject we have 10,000 experts on: attraction.

I just had my lunch, which consisted of a one pound raw piece of ocean fish. Those that have been following my blog consistently know that raw meat of all kinds (fish, white, and red meat) is part of my diet. Note: Don't try this at home. I'm a tough act to follow.

It's past 3 o'clock now and what I've had all day so far it's tea, coffee, 8 ounces of berries in the morning and the fish now. [If you throw up with the fish, it's on you]. I'm also drinking a Bone Broth protein shake from Ancient Nutrition [link]. Its' aftertaste is kind of spicy to me. I've cooked my own broth soup before and ate it, but that takes 12 hours to cook properly. Industrialized kitchens cook hard beef bones between 12 and 24 hours. Tough act to follow. I'm not trying to be the next Tim Ferriss to tell you what to eat and how to sleep (although I agree with a lot of his views particularly on stoicism).

Back to the subject, what is it that women want ? Well, why should brilliant mouthpiece Max Cantor tell you, since you dimwits still don't get.

We'll let the ladies speak this time. We'll give them the podium. I'll just seat on the sidelines and munch on my happy bones of fish.

Question: which is the best selling book in recent history ? 

If you ask that question, you'll find out that Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James have sold 150 million copies worldwide. 150 Million ! That's more than I have in the bank. It's safe to say that the largest majority of those readers are women, therefore they are into it.

Now, if you are The Atlantic you will say "Fifty Shades of Grey Gets BDSM Dangerously Wrong", but...125 Million plus women can't be wrong. You may say that I'm a hopelessly romantic,  but... E L James’s New York Times #1 bestselling trilogy has been hailed by Entertainment Weekly as being “in a class by itself.” This is more than a book, this is a cultural phenomena. 150 million copies translated into 52 languages sold. E.L., if you're reading this, I've got dizzy from so many love scenes ! After reading this stuff I need headache pill. I have enough self-respect not to drink like a sailor.

So, what do women want ? 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Fired for "Not Being a Team Player"

This email from a reader is quite a common situation in the workplace. Let's hear it from him now:

"Hello Max,

My name is Josh. I am a banker working in a Tier 1 firm and had been at my former job for almost three years. I was fired unexpectedly about a month ago from my VP Asset Pricing position. I was good at what I was doing, stuff like pricing for institutional and retirement investment plans; pricing for Hedge Fund Services and Prime Brokerage client positions and pricing trader position via the End of Day process.

I stress out unexpectedly, because I had very good reviews, had an optimal performance. How did it happen ? I'm not so sure. I had a new boss come in couple of months ago who, from the beginning, said he wanted to clear house. He was telling me "people are riding on coattails here", "clear the deck", then he was "I feel you're the one I can trust here", "You're safe". With the blessings of his supervisors, he actually introduced a concept in our management meetings, that of the "Team Clock". According to him, every team in the department had to have at least three team sanctioned project going on or else they would not be "functioning well".

"Teamwork goes beyond asking for input on what you need for what you are currently doing. You need to show you've included three inputs from your mates on everything you do. That's teamwork." -[Quoted him]

After failing to include that many inputs because there just weren't any to include in there, he fired me unceremoniously. Monday morning, 10 o'clock, and...I was done.

I've done nothing to upset this man except doing my job to the highest level of integrity and professionalism. I did not botch anything he made me do.
However, I did no put up any resistance to this guy.

Yet he let me go WITH THE BIGGEST SMILE ON HIS FACE that day."

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Do we have a BSD in office ?

Since the recent behavior of Anthony Scaramouch made it to the front lines of NY Times and The Wall Street Journal, I might as well talk about it.

I started thinking we have a BSD working in the House of Cards. For those nitwits that don't know what that means, BSD doesn't mean Berkeley Software Development. It means Big Swinging Dick. Big Singing Dick has nothing to do with the size of the dick. Dick size is important to women. Women care about cock size. [Although admitting "that's not important", women often make dick size a favorite conversation among themselves.] So for the BSD, it is the size of his balls, not dick, that makes the difference.

I've often been questioned if there's a correlation between wealth and alpha male status. There is a weak positive correlation between the two, not as much as you might think.

First, we'll debunk a misconception. It is commonly assumed alpha males make up perhaps 20% of the male population. The real number is close to 3% or less. So 3% (higher in the wealthy crowd) are alphas, and the rest 97% are betas and worse. In the high stakes investment industry, it is excruciatingly painful to be an alpha male. The movies Wall Street and the Wolf of Wall Street glorify an outlier, a minor set of people. Most people working in finance are lackeys in fear of their jobs who tiptoe in life with great caution not to upset the boss, not to talk, not to stand out the wrong way. If they don't fall the line of the establishment they know they will lose their jobs. And when they lose there jobs, there are 1000 linchpins ready for it.

One of the worst things I've seen is women rising to the top in Wall Street jobs adopting attitudes and maneuvers of men in an ill- balanced fashion.

Nobody talks about that.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Got Fired ! Unexpectedly

I was reading Dealbreaker's (via Bloomberg)  account of a firing episode at Hampton Creek and ruminating if there any grounds to sue the boss in that case. I don't know the firm or its boss, Josh Tetrick, but in brief, allegedly three people were fired while they were told they were going to meet a potential investor. That didn't turn out to be an investor but an agent for the boss who handed them termination papers while the boss was patched through on video call to give them the happy news. The boss did that without an apparent needed approval of the Board.
"The dismissal of these three executives came while the employees were on a business trip in Majorca, Spain. During their weekend break, Tetrick created a ruse, said one of the people. Tetrick told the three to cancel their flights to a meeting in Germany. Instead, Tetrick instructed, they would pitch a wealthy venture capitalist who happened to be in Majorca on Monday afternoon, the person said.
Tetrick asked the executives to book a conference room at a Majorcan hotel and video conference him into the investor pitch. But when the three executives patched Tetrick into the meeting, they were surprised to see him sitting with a member of Hampton Creek’s human resources department. Moments later the supposed potential investor arrived. The man introduced himself as an agent who had been hired by Tetrick, the person said. He was there to serve the executives their termination documents and take their company laptops, the person said." [Dealbreaker]
 At least they are on a Spanish beach /near one. They're not in their office with hired guns looking them over, told to pack up and hand over the keys in three hours or be thrown out in the street should they not comply.

I've had friends who were evicted from the building not before the boss had a "friendly" talk with them:

"You are collateral nonsense."

"I've seen all good people come and go" To me that sounds like saying night follows day.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Book review: Superbosses

I read the book Superbosses: How exceptional people master the flow of talent to see what other people write about bosses. Superbosses is written by Sydney Finkelstein, a Professor of Management at the Tuck School of Business at Dart­mouth College. If you haven't read the book, a summary is available at HBR.

The book is an ode to these CEOs. Accordingly, Finkelstein has conducted more than 200 interviews to identify 18 primary study subjects ("definite superbosses") and a few dozen secondary ones ("likely superbosses"). Amongst his favs and cited are Ralph Lauren, Larry Ellison, Julian Robertson, Jay Chiat, Bill Walsh, George Lucas, Bob Noyce, Lorne Michaels, and Mary Kay Ash.

For me "superstars" is not even a thing, the only stars I know are those you see in the sky at night. Superbosses ? I'm even more skeptical of such a thing. If dozens of ex-Robertson disciplines left after few years to start their own funds (Finkelstein talks about Chase Coleman who after three years of working for Robertson was given $25 MM to start his own fund) that wasn't goodwill towards them but profit in store, free money flowing to Julian Robertson from seeder funds. Robertson doing it for some altruistic reason ? Not a chance.

Is this too deep for you now ?

For Finkelstein, superbosses are those amazing "talent spawners" who are out there looking to fill peoples hopes and dreams. I don't believe it for a minute. Yes, they may find "unlikely winners" but that's only (in my opinion) because they're skilled at reading human psychology. Pure selfish reason.
Finkelstein: "At health care giant HCA, Tommy Frist sometimes set even physical therapists on a path to the C-suite, simply because he spotted something in them."

Superbosses "focus on intelligence, creativity, and flexibility." Yes, does everybody else. If I was a candidate looking to get the attention of those "superbosses" so far Finkelstein has given me nothing.

The author talks about the unusual "interview" where "Sanders would invite prospects to hike a 7,000-foot peak on his New Mexico ranch with him and other managers." (HBR) That would be part of the unconventional hiring characteristic. Forgive me, Mr. Finkelstein, but such a proposition is not even remotely available to 99% of job candidates out there. The greatest majority get cut off by HR from ever coming close to a first interview. You talk about eating steak with my boss, while the HR (HR should really be called the Human Waste Department) cut me off early on. You're not helping, Prof. Finkelstein.

"Even if people leave the organization, superbosses continue to offer them advice."
Not happening, bro. When you leave, you might have a non-compete agreement and can't even work for the next few years. At least that has been my experience.

"Oracle's CEO Ellison was very good at "continuously throwing new responsibility at people." At least that statement is accurate. What Prof. Finkelstein overlooked or perhaps, obscured, is that's done with the intent to make people fall. For real bosses [thr greatest majority of them out there} people are like pins on a bowling lane: let's hit them and see which one is still standing. Hopefully none. That's the best analogy for you, Prof. Finkelstein.

The author makes an interesting categorization of bosses into three:

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


Getty Images, TMZ Media, 07/2017


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.

Updated Aug. 23, 2017

Reader Alli is asking: Who is the alpha in this scene from Poolhard Junkies. Is it Christopher Walken ("Uncle Mike") or Chaz Palminteri ("Joe") ?

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 ?




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.


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 ?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

You wouldn't have this job...if it wasn't for me

It's the time for another one of my readers to shine:


I am a [redacted] industry analyst for one of the largest investment firms. Sometime ago while doing a visit at a large company we cover, I was the leading analyst conducting our due diligence visit. As I started peppering a C-suite executive there, I went beyond your typical what's the outlook for your company, and asked him why was he doing [what he was doing, redacted] to which he replied: 

"Listen, fucker, you wouldn't have this job if it wasn't for us." 

What is it that I should have done ? Also, please write some more maxims, I like them. They reflect my workplace reality.



Max: Alex, you are saying this is a client, he's not your existing boss or supervisor. He is lashing out presumably unhappy with the fact Wall Street firms exist to cover firms like his. So if there were no firms doing [whatever industry] there wouldn't be the need to cover them. Guy is obviously an assho*e and you irked him.

His complaining is weak. I mean, if there were no WS firms, he'd have no investors and no business to be working at and his lavish lifestyle. I'd like my readers to take a look at the relocation packages below, for illustration purposes only, and to think for a moment, how does that compare with what they make. How close are you...or how remote.

There are two responses to what you were told:

1. Ignore and continue, Take it in, not react, I imagine eventually you'd excuse yourself and leave at some point. If you were alone with him, you'd not share this with someone else. This is the base case of NOT responding to verbal aggression.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Fallacies: what's in my boss' toolbox ?

Do you know your fallacies [list of informal fallacies] ?

People are often lead by irrational mind tricks and trips employed by high charging individuals.

Heuristics, faking social proofs, high flying stories backed by other stories, mocking people, and so forth are tactics used to win and gain support.

Bernard Madoff has never taken a penny from anyone ! People gave that money to him ! [Educated] people [of sound body and mind] WILLINGLY gave him their money ! Madoff has NEVER taking any money from someone who wasn't going to give it to him.

Fallacies are tools of endearment. Watch this video below on Donald Trump's campaign speech where he is using 15 fallacies in three minutes.

Your mind is not even aware of what he's doing to you. Red herring fallacy, bandwagon, false cause, black or white fallacy, loaded question fallacy, strawman fallacy, slippery slope fallacy, personal incredulity fallacy, ad homini fallacy, and they just keep on coming.

What are some of the fallacies your boss is using on you ? Can you now see better through his (or hers) bulls*it ?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

3 ways to lose your FEAR

A publisher (let's call them ramdomly) asked me to write a CEO Bluebook on the blueprint for CEO ascension. The problem with that is CEO ascension is not something like writing a cooking recipe formula. Also, CEO biographies are all over the place, from Steve Jobs to Travis Kalanick, you can cull and pick as many as you want to. Most people will never be a CEO because either they're not interested or not cut out to be one. So I see a limited market for such a title. I also see a small advance. The result: not happening ! I'm not doing boring stuff and I am not doing stuff that'll just be pleasing to the oligarchy. Get yourself another henchman, butthead ! I have no lost love for you !

After writing the last post, you want more of the truisms I call Max's maxims. I can spill those out faster than a speeding ticket.

When God spoke to me, He said: I am the God of no mercy. -Max Cantor maxim #11 [redacted]

The way out is following through. -Max Cantor maxim #12

Think of yourself as a company or going concern business, not an individual. For everyone you encounter, boss included, ask yourself: How does this person help out my growth and development ? Are they here to help me or STUNT me ? -Max Cantor maxim #13

Think of your boss as medicine. All medicine outgrows its usefulness. -Max Cantor maxim #14

If a patient keeps on taking cancer medicine and does not stop, that person will die from the side effects. When you have a cold, you won't keep on taking cold medicine after you got well. Once cured, there's no need for the medicine. If you keep taking medicine past the prescribed period, the good effects will end and you will have sickened yourself.

Every boss' wish is to linger in your life past office hours. They think that's what phones are for.

Make yourself unavailable during your private time. Do NOT answer that phone, do NOT answer that text. -Max Cantor maxim #15

We live in a workplace where, for some ungodly reason, bosses think you must be available 24 hours a day. Unhealthy ! Unwise ! Flip the script ! (one of my favorite words).

Beware, boss love can easily, perhaps overnight, turn into hate. Max Cantor maxim #16

As I said before, boss-subaltern relations are not unlike amorous relationships. Love turns into hate and sometimes hate turns into love.

If you sing praise to your boss, you'll have to escalate it more and more. -Max Cantor maxim #17
I said it before, bosses are "drug addicts" addicted to the drug of praise. Once you are on that trip, they need a higher dose of the thing every time.

Boss love is tough love. -Max Cantor maxim #18

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

10 Boss Maxims

I'm speaking out today 10 Max Cantor "maxims". I know I've slipped a few of those gold nuggets in previous posts, will not be repeating those. I'm sure you can find them if you try. To simplify here, we'll start off at number one.

 The World is full of ass*oles and THEY RULE the world. -Max Cantor maxim #1

If you don't know how to bring the fight home to those ass*oles, you're an ass yourself. -Max Cantor maxim #2
You might as well go into a ditch and feel sorry for yourself.

If you knew how to lead you wouldn't have a boss. -Max Cantor maxim #3
The reason you have a boss is because you are inadequate to lead. 

You are ALWAYS replaceable to your boss-Max Cantor maxim #4
Your skillset is. Your portfolio is. Your entire background is. Everything about you is easily, if not practically, reproduced and replaced. But, but I'm a scientist and I won four awards. Doesn't matter !

You should end your "love" relationship with your boss before he does it.- Max Cantor maxim #5
What that means is he/she becomes inadequate in the relationship first.  Even if you like/love your boss understand the liking is only temporary. Boss-underling relationships are not unlike love "amorous" relationships in that they have courtship, honeymoon, plateau and falling out phases.

If you can't fight or you can't harvest, you're useless

If you were born in medieval times, you'd be fighter. But you're not.

There were only two classes in medieval England and elsewhere: peasants (shepherds and farmers) and warriors. And warriors were the backbone. Warriors were the defenders of the villages against invasions from barbarians and warring factions.

So if you didn't know how to seed crops and harvest, and more importantly, fight, you didn't know anything. Shepherds were for the most part recycled warriors, ergo you were either a GOOD WARRIOR or A DEAD ONE.

Fast forward 400 years today and men are a joke. They march to the drum of an idiot they call the boss, and couldn't fight anyone with words let alone with a sword.

Men are the new women in this slacker society. They may look like men but they think like women.

If a man has no balls, no matter how tall, muscular, and hairy he looks, is he still a man ? I doubt it.

I was reading The Warrior Way: Essential knowledge: summary of the teachings of the shamans of ancient Mexico (based on Carlos Castanada's books) of which I'll share some direct quotes. This teachings might instill some wisdom in some those that wish to polish their spirit.

"For a warrior, to be inaccessible means that he touches the world around him sparingly. And above all, he deliberately avoids exhausting himself and others."

"Once a man worries, he clings to anything out of desperation; and once he clings he is bound to get exhausted or to exhaust whomever or whatever he is clinging to. A warrior-hunter, on the other hand, knows he will lure game into his traps over and over again, so he doesn’t worry. To worry is to become accessible, unwittingly accessible."

"A warrior-hunter does not catch game because he sets his traps, or because he knows the routines of his prey, but because he himself has no routines. This is his advantage. He is not at all like the animals he is after, fixed by heavy routines and predictable quirks; he is free, fluid, unpredictable."

"Nobody is doing anything to anybody, much less to a warrior. A warrior acts as if he knows what he is doing, when in effect he knows nothing. A warrior doesn’t know remorse for anything he has done, because to isolate one’s acts as being mean, or ugly, or evil is to place an unwarranted importance on the self".

"We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.

"You must push yourself beyond your limits, all the time. The only possible course that a warrior has is to act consistently and without reservations."

Monday, June 12, 2017

Leadership: When Number Two can step in the leaders shoes

There's a Harvard Business Review writeup "To be Number One, get the Right Number Two" (Rosabeth Moss Kanter, 2012).

The message is that "most leaders benefit from a running-the-company mate. A good number two can back them up, reinforce their message, and handle major responsibilities with the same broad view as the top person."

Rosabeth then gives three guidelines for establishing a successor:

1. Alignment: which messages, values and strengths are clearly reinforced by Number Two ?

2. Differentiation: does Number Two bring up complimentary skills and abilities ?

3. Succession: can the CEO (Number One) hand over power ?

These three things are salient, However, CEOs, bosses in general, do not happily hand over their titles to underlings, except when 1). Jumping ship to a better appointment 2). Retiring and 3). Out of the job on health issues ! Only on one of these three specific situations you see a boss hand over the keys to the castle !

Never seen any of my bosses saying this to me: "Here you go, wonderful, have my job, it comes with a huge desk and my secretary." Rosabeth in fact briefly acknowledges it but only in passing:

"In fact, some CEOs don’t want a strong number two, perhaps finding it threatening that they could be surpassed." (Rosabeth Moss Kanter)

That's a time we can call our own: UlysseNardin Marine 1846.
Max Cantor readers: Which watch tells your time ?

"Bosses love to overstay their welcome." -Max Cantor truth pill #5 

"In Silicon Valley, they do that with Founders stock."-Max Cantor maxim #6

That's happening even when they are no longer needed or work well. More and more CEO's need to be pushed out. It's happening at the largest companies, at Ford with Mark Fields, and it is not just "because the stock declined by 40% under" him" or "he had no clear business vision". We've learned today of Jeffrey Immelt at GE set to be replaced Aug. 1st. [retirement move announcement]. Jeffery Immelt didn't wake up one morning and said to himself: I want John Flannery to have my job. He either planned to retire or was pressured to do so. At such a large of a company it would be safe to say they had a Number Two or a few of them ready to replace Immelt. The company had to nurture a replacement, and Number One had to help [bring that Number Two up to speed.]

Dangerous: When the CEO is readily identified with the company. Where people cannot even see a Number Two.

[Most-N.A.] planets have one Sun, a CEO once told me. He likened himself with the Sun. [Note: I didn't appreciate it one bit.]

"Bosses think they are the best at what they do. Even if they are not." -Max Cantor maxim #6

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Riding on Adversity (What you can learn from Uber's CEO)

Headlining and spearheading (not sorry for my investment banking jargon, folks) the June 1st '17 Fortune magazine portrait is an excerpt from Adam Lashinsky new book, Wild Ride: Inside Uber's Quest for World Domination. The article title is Riding Shotgun and is about Travis Kalanick (TK), Uber's CEO. Adam Lashinsky is a Fortune magazine executive editor. Everybody knows or should know what Uber is, Uber latest valuation is a whopping $ 69 Bn. Uber operates in 496 markets (cities) worldwide -2016.

On this blog I'm giving tips on how to rise above the crowd, how to conquer your limits, your limiting beliefs and those people standing between you and your goals. TK  is shown to be ambitious to a fault and an all around alpha -male. In his article previewing his book, Adam is trying hard to answer the question "Is TK really an 'asshole' ?" Adam Lashinsky did his research on TK, studying him for over a year.

Quoted from the article: "He likes to play it loose, to at least affect an air of spontaneity." -Spontaneity or the illusion of it is very important in the likeness quotient of a leader. We are told TK does not disappoint.

TK has some austere office settings on the 11th floor that houses Uber's hq. that he calls the "cave". This minimalist office setting "is a metaphor, because when you  have hard times you're in the dark literally in some dark place." So TK arguably harmonizes his exterior to his interior environment.
On the 5th floor Uber has sci-fi themes inspired conference rooms and hallways that lead there "being confusing". Adam says in TK's view "disorientation is good".

"Everybody's got their red line." (push-over limit). "You might find you've got more under the hood than you thought." A leader that can push through the limits.

Bradley Tusk (a consultant who has worked for Uber in the past) is quoted about TK: "He understands to achieve really big things, you're going to piss a lot of people off." Let's be clear. That is a truth speller but only stated as a truism. No hard facts there from Bradley Tusk's NY Magazine interview.

"Someone willing to say exactly what he thinks, empathy be damned, will be judged harshly." Welcome to my world, Travis.

After the walk with the Adam, TK summons a ride that understandably concludes in the requisite popularity nod. (TK back and forth with the driver on what were the driver biggest pain points).

Uber nowadays seems busy dealing with the concerns of a big company: presumably unhappy people, people allegedly misbehaving, unwanted media attention.

Reality check

For a company with 12,000 employees, 215 employment claims of harassment [or otherwise ] is a very low rate. Out of these 215 alleged claims some 100 have been investigated resulting in 20 [up to 37 in some reports] layoffs. Is there a snowballing effect coming ? I don't think so.

The real problem with Silicon Valley employment practices

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Krav Maga - best of the Martial Arts ?

I didn't know what Krav Maga was until recently. Monday, June 5th 2017, The Wall Street Journal wrote a piece on it "'Contact Combat' before work" with the story of PayPal CEO Dan Shurman (age 59) being a daily practitioner of it.

I thought Jujitsu was intelligent and robust, but Krav Maga goes further. Translated as "Contact Combat" from Hebrew, it is a technique developed by Israeli Defense Sources. The most interesting piece is that it uses all the elements of the body to strike: hands, feet, legs, knees, elbows. From Wikipedia:

"Developing aggression, with the view that aggression is the most important component in a fight.
Continuing to strike the opponent until they are completely incapacitated.
Attacking preemptively or counterattacking as soon as possible.Using any objects to hand that you can use to hit your opponent, whether this be the buttstock of your rifle or a fire extinguisher.
Targeting attacks to the body's most vulnerable points, such as: the eyes, neck or throat, face, solar plexus, groin, ribs, knee, foot, fingers, liver, etc.
Using simple and easily repeatable strikes.
Simultaneous attack and defense.
Maintaining awareness of surroundings while dealing with the threat in order to look for escape routes, further attackers, objects that could be used to strike an opponent.
Recognizing the importance of and expanding on instinctive response under stress."
This is one martial arts that uses aggression and annihilation at its core.

Watch this

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Women CEOs make more than male CEOs: S&P 500 Study

In an article titled Rankings Defy Usual Gender Gap, WSJ on June 1st, 2017 acknowledged (finally!) that female CEOs earn more money than their male counterparts at some of the largest U. S. companies.

"Last year, 21 female CEOs received a median compensation package of $13.8 MM compared with the median $11.6 MM median for 382 male chiefs, according to a WSJ analysis of S&P 500 leaders who held the job a full year."
"Women in the corner office of the biggest U.S. firms made more money than men in six of the last seven years, through the gap has narrowed since 2014."
"Three of the 10 highest-paid executives in the overall sample are women, a new high in the Journal study's 28 -year history They are Meg Whitman at HP Enterprises paid $35.6 MM (pay change from previous year +107.5%, one-year shareholder return +54.5%, Virginia Rommety, IBM $32.7 MM up from $19.8 MM previous year, and Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo."

These findings were intuitively known to industry analysts, but have been kept from the public until recently. Why ? Because they run against the common gender pay gap myth.

Is women performance that strong ? In some cases performance is at least partially due to headwinds and macro factors independent of their leadership. Who wouldn't like to get double pay every time the sunshine is out !

Now you know who has been "reaping the rich rewards" all while talking of gender inequality in the workplace.

From the Wall Street Journal:
"Many IBM shareholders consider Ms. Rometty overpaid. About 46% of votes cast at this spring's annual meeting opposed the firm's executive pay practices. Directors will review results of the 2017 shareholder votes 'as they do every year', an IBM spokesman said"
I know of at least one shareholder that's not so proud of IBM's latest performance, Warren Buffet.

Are women doing better than men as CEOs ? That's hard to say, harder to prove or disprove. What's loud and clear is the gender victim card is non-existent and women chase and secure the corner office like a hawk kills its prey.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Motivation is not for the weak

In my post on wire tapping I had a motivational video. A reader wrote me about it : "Why do you have that video on your site ? Motivation is for the weak." I have removed the video, but not because of what this reader said, but because it was out of context.

I'll answer that reader. Motivation is NOT for the weak. Motivation is for the strong. Motivation is what you get when your life partner cheers you up when you come home tired and spent from work. Motivation is what you get from your kid- assuming you have one- when you wake up in the morning and need to get ready to take on the world. The world is not your friend, and you need motivation and inspiration constantly. Key word, constantly. Motivation does wear off,  and it needs constant replenishment. If you have an hour and 45 mins, watch Robbins's performance at Dreamforce last October. Props to Benioff for bringing him in.

If I had the money, I'd hire Tony Robbins today to be my life coach . I don't have that kind of money, but somebody else does and pays it: Ray Dalio and Marc Benioff . If the video of Robbins is free and it moves you, then by all means watch it and watch again. I believe you need a life coach just as much as you need a trainer. You do a better workout supervised, don't you ?

So motivation is not for the weak. The markings of the weak are: complaining, blaming, looking for something good into the dumpster called politics, seeking a magic cure for one's ailments.

If you're like me you need a detox and decontamination from all the assholes in your life. Even if I stayed in the shower for two hours straight after work I still have the stench of my boss on me.

The Wall Street Journal (Vanessa Furhmans, "Some Toxic Bosses Manage to Hang On", March 31, 2017):

"Many people have found themselves working for a nightmare boss at some point, according to a 2015 Gallup study...The Life Meets Work survey suggests working for an abusive or dysfunctional supervisor is even more commonplace: Among those polled, 56% described their current manager as toxic."

"Toxic bosses appear very effective" even as they slowly and surely poison our lives. 

If you are living a toxic nightmare, you might as well smell the benzene, arsenic and formaldehyde acids, the stale stench of decay lingering at work. It smells worse than a clogged public toilet in a bus station where 42 people a hour have urinated on top of unwashed feces.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Art of the Deal

A reader says "I learned more from this blog than from Mark Zuckerberg's speech at Harvard, Dale Carnegie's books and G100 counsel combined. Don't get me wrong, Zuck's not a bad guy, but I don't need him to tell me about the ecosystem and planetary welfare from his pedestal." Thanks, pal. I appreciate it when smart readers take time to write. My readers are the smartest of the pack. They know what they want, and they get it.

Nothing good comes in life by chance. However, when you are a CEO, after you get it, you can tell people it was luck. And they will believe you. That's the prerogative of a CEO, people will believe anything you say.

"The first thing you have to do as a chief executive is to learn to lie. Or if not actually to lie, never to give voice to four basic truths... Any sign of non-enjoyment, or doubt, or lack of faith in the company or individuals is taken as tantamount to admitting that you are unfit for the job." via Lucy Kellaway @FT

The Art of Deal by Donald Trump is a book I read some 20 years ago, didn't read it since. A friend asked me to summarize it in one sentence:

"Give a little, take a lot, and be the center of attention." 

That's it. I'm not referring to Donald Trump, but to younger generation CEOs. The older generation when they lie to you, they'd be dressed up to the nines over dinner at Peter Luger. This generation they cheat you over with their hands into their pants over appletinis and roquefort cheese.
I call the C-suite the trick suite.

"What we’re building here is the biggest tech company in living memory" via FT. Yes, maybe in the memory of a dying fruit fly.

"Companies rarely die from moving too fast." via BI

Sunday, May 28, 2017

At the breaking point with my boss

I'm taking up another reader email today.

"Hello Max, 

I am fortunate to have found your website, the content is niche and glorious like no other site I have seen. You are helping people though their breakpoints and I am stuck between Scylla and Charybdis. I work at a major investment firm in the City of London. I have a successful career, started as a two year IB analyst and now I am an investment director at a credit fund with a $250 MM book. My boss, Paul, is one of the PMs. He's been faltering in the last two years during the time we've shown a 1.6% gain. He's lost the confidence of his investors and partners and there's talk of having him ousted. I am one of the two contenders for his replacement. Since then he's been on my case, has vetoed some of my decisions. He has made me his enemy. What can I do to fight back ? He's lost his mojo, he should just retire and resign. Before we have been getting along well  for almost six years.

Thanks. -Tim

How close is the team to have him replaced ? I assume you're going to buy him out.

Sooner or later when you are successful this is going to happen:

"[Your boss] will make you his enemy."

I look at it cool and dandy, it's simply the price for success. It's natural. Don't fight it. Expect it. So what you are saying is that Paul has made you his enemy since learning you are likely to replace him. This is commonplace not just in financial services but everywhere. Side observation, I don't know the terms of his contract and what terms lead to suspension or dismissal.

Most people go through life with the erroneous belief their bosses love them or something. Until that time comes. Until the time comes when you are named to replace them. They don't have a clear exit option, don't want to leave, and hate to see you in their place.

Tim, you are not stuck between a rock and a hard place ! Your boss, Paul is !

You need to get a hold of yourself buddy. Cheer up ! The Gods of Olympus are smiling on you ! [I am using Greek mythology reference since you were first using it.] This is your time to shine !

"The only way out it through."

Did he mentor or helped your career ? Sometimes the masters hate it when their trainees, "cubs", overtake them.

Here's what can happen,

1. You can have a soft breakup [before a hard one].

Go play gold, cricket, hockey, chess or whatever you and him play, let him first win and then beat him silly. I think of game defeat as a soft breakup. That might bring him to his senses.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Max Cantor on The Way of the Sith, CEOs, and more

I like comics and I am a Star Wars fan. A reader sent me a link to these videos and asked me to comment on what I see fit with the Sith code and compare that with the Jedi order code. Which one is better ? Attached were also some Youtubers comments.

"Peace is a lie. There is only Passion.
Through Passion I gain Strength.
Through Strength I gain Power.
Through Power I gain Victory.
Through Victory my chains are Broken.
The Force shall free me." 
-Code of the Sith from the Book of the Sith

"Through passion, I gain strength". That sounds right. What I see flawed with the Sith is unchecked power. If the Sith are not ruled by reason, they're bound to self destruct.

CEOs act like Sith until they've reach the pinnacle. Once there however, they become Jedis. Once at the top, they turn on the "feel good-do good" spigot. They become concerned with the welfare of others. Once at the top of the food chain, their focus shifts from slicing other people's heads off to maintaining their job. Staying power is achieved with benevolence, service and goodwill. The father or godfather would not wage war on his family, so neither does a CEO that wants his job.

At one time I considered writing a book "The CEO Code" but I don't think it a good idea anymore. Such a book would be earth shattering. The Evan Spiegels, Mark Zuckerbergs would move to ban it. Alas, Donald Trump would buy a dozen and gift them to each of his sons and grandsons ! You can't poke into a pit pf snakes and not expect to be bitten. The CEOs will continue writing their glamorous autobiographies and feed the public "what a wonderful life" tales.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

This salad has no dressing

I try to keep off politics, but people asked me: how about Comey and Trump, where is this going ? What do you think ? What do I think ? I think today we've finally seen the markets moving down-logically- and there's still ways to go.

The problem is there are no tapes or "dressing" on this salad. Trump knows that, and I think tapes is what you need for convincing evidence. I don't know what the admissibility standards are for top law enforcement memos. Of course, it is certainly better to have them than not to have them.

I shall stay on my topic, which is boss-underling relationship, and more specifically, WHAT YOU CAN DO with your own Nero, your boss.

1. Tapping phone conversations and audio/video of critical meetings is a vital tool for the underling. You'll need to check your own state/local statutes for how that is allowed. I understand Trump used to tape some of his phone calls as a businessman. Tapping is a very important tool. If Comey had a wire on him at those meetings, Trump's pants would be soiled by now, assuming there is evidence of impropriety.

Landlines phones have a two beep sound every 20 seconds when the record button is pressed thus warning the parties the conversation is being recorded.

Cellphones, unfortunately, have no "recording" button to tap. Some people download an app (i.e. TapeACall, CallRecorder) or use an external voice recorder.

2. Every email is a record. Treat every email you receive from your boss like potential evidence. Anything that smells of recklessness, malfeasance or any type of wrongdoing should be saved. Despite the controversy with the phone tapping, more CEOs lose their jobs over email missteps than over phone indiscretions. Boeing CEO Harry Stonecypher was forced to resign after an extramarital affair became known out of his emails.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Scaling up your career

As you may have already figured out, I do not write for CEOs. These guys and gals they've got it made. They don't need me to fluff their buttermilk pancakes.

I write for the up-and-coming folk who is rising to the top and is ready to rock the boat. If you don't know how to rock the boat, you'll not only suffer reprisals but will end up worse than you are.

There's one ex-CEO, however, that's inspirational. If you haven't read Carly Fiorina : "From Secretary to CEO" bio you should. It's a powerful life example

Fiorina went to Stanford, got a liberal arts degree, then went to law school and dropped out. "When she broke the news to her father, he responded: “I’m very disappointed. I’m not sure you’ll ever amount to anything,” she wrote. She got a job as a receptionist at Marcus & Millichap." She worked there for a year, she quit, married her college sweetheart and moved to Italy to teach English.

Does that sound familiar, is it a life that many people relate to ? Yes, I thought it is. Keep reading.

After graduating from Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, Fiorina got an AT&T sales rep job. She was promoted several times so that by 1985 she was District Manager, overseeing AT&T’s largest civilian government account, the General Services Administration (GSA).Eventually, AT&T sponsored her for a fellowship at the Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She then became Director of International Strategy and Business Development for Network Systems, and then promoted to Vice President of Strategy and Marketing. Source: From Secretary to CEO.

How many are still hanging on that plot? Not many ! Keeping up with the Joneses suddenly got hard. You got lost somewhere.

Friday, May 12, 2017

He made my life a living hell

We're going to read an e-mail today:


My name is Sam and I am a software program manager. I've been with my company for six years. I manage testing and commercialization of connectivity programs. I do nerdy stuff: establish routine update, update status, schedule trends vs. baseline, risk management, mitigation and recovery actions.

Six months ago, I got a new boss whom I'll call Mr. Stumpt (for you gamers out there, no connection to the characters Ash, Rik, Price, and Jas). He is 6'1", strong built. He looks like an action movie actor, like Tom Hardy.  Now picture me, I am short (5'6") and weight only 140 pounds.

From the week he got started, Mr. Stumpt started taking me apart from the group, with one-on-one "lap talks" (at least that is how I call them). In these talks he would snap his fingers, put his arm around me and tell me: "No, really, did you think I wasn't going to see that ? and "I watched you, and frankly, I was not impressed". As our private talks became more frequent they reached this progression: from annoying to nuisance to dreadful. We had bi-weekly department meetings he started like this:

"We're talking Sam today. Sam and his his little routine update management is the work we need to pay attention to." So he brought me up at every meeting, even though I'm sure he could see I was a little more than uncomfortable with it and there's no apparent reason for doing it.

At another of our lap talks: We need to show a little extra work, Sam. He then gave me the work of three. I started staying late at work, past 9 o'clock. My work became my life, without a life.

I was coming home exhausted and when I fell asleep I had dreams about Mr. Stumpt. "Sam, we're depending on you." We're counting on you, Sam. Does this rhyme with you, Sam ?"

Tell me, Max, is it anything I can do before he fires me ?"


Sam, thanks for writing. As you know, I don't give advice. What I can do is express an opinion, which may or may not work for you. Unfortunately, bad bosses are very much a rule, not an exception.

You have two choices: hand over your resignation or fight. If you don't want to go willingly, you should fight only after you "laid things bare":