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

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

Thursday, 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:

"Max,

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.

Thanks,

Alex"



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.