Category: Silicon Valley

“When are we going to realize in this country that our wealth is work?” – Comedy Central Jon Stewart assertion to CNBC’s Jim Cramer

Heard one of the talking heads of the chattering class last week on CNBC extol the virtues of “passive investing” in the face of massive volatility and the long-awaited arrival of a Wall Street correction.

Isn’t “passive investing” an oxymoron or a contradiction in terms, if not just plain dumb?

The basic premise is the 54 percent of Americans investing in stocks and stock-based mutual funds should put all of their investments on auto pilot, automatically “investing” a fixed percentage of their pay checks into company 401Ks or brokerage managed IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts).

On more than one occasion, Almost DailyBrett has been critiqued for surfing Charles Schwab, Fidelity, Zillow and Wells Fargo each on a daily basis.

Is your author an unreformed capitalist? Please allow me to plead, guilty.

What’s curious is no one seems to raise an eyebrow to those constantly burying their noses into their smart phones, spending an inordinate amount of time on Facebook or Snapchat or bingeing on video games or streaming video.

As Jon Stewart correctly surmised in his 2009 televised pants-zing of Jim Cramer, far too many times retail investors have been sold this notion that markets inevitably go up, so don’t mind volatility and fluctuations. Forget about it!

And if that is indeed the case, panicking only leads to losses. No argument.

The question that Almost DailyBrett is raising and arguing is very simple: Do we want to manage your wealth accumulation or be managed by others who may not have our best interest at heart?

The Day, The Music Died

“I went down to the sacred store; Where I’d heard the music years before; But the man there said the music wouldn’t play.” – Don McLean, American Pie

Your author contends that portfolio management is not the same as day trading. At the same time, the notion of long-term investing makes absolutely no sense. Back in the 1990s, one would have been advised to invest in IBM, Cisco, Intel and Microsoft and walk away.

With the exception of Microsoft, the music stopped playing for these “DinoTech” stocks.

Worse, the 1990s investor would have missed the massive upsides of newly minted 21st Century rock stars, the likes of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google (FANG).

Since the days of the three Gees – Andy Grove, Bill Gates and Lou Gerstner (all retired or in one case, deceased), a new trove of corporate rock stars has ensued – Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Tim Cook (Apple), Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Elon Musk (Tesla).

Don’t you know, these shooting stars will eventually flame out? And as Don McLean wrote and sang, their music will eventually die.

Who will be the rock stars of the next decade? Should we keep some money on the sidelines, ready to buy low and sell high. If we become “passive investors,” we will blindly throw our hard-earned, discretionary dollars at Wall Street regardless of bull market or bear market.

Shouldn’t we be selling near or at the height of the market and buying near or at the low of the market? Or should we just designate portions or our IRAs or 401Ks to this mutual fund manager or that mutual fund manager because they are the “experts”?

Where Do You Shop? What Products/Services Do You Buy?

“I don’t care about a stock’s past, only its future.” – Jim Cramer of CNBC’s “Mad Money”

Almost DailyBrett has his fair share of mutual funds – domestic/foreign; large cap/mid-cap/small cap – and cash under management. Your author also manages four individual stocks, carefully avoiding the perils associated with all eggs coming from one chicken.

Apple: Let’s see, in the morning your author reaches for his Apple Smart Phone, runs to classic rock sounds on his antiquated iPod, and turns on his Mac at work. You bet ya, Apple is part of the portfolio.

Boeing: Considering that Donald Trump is president and more federal dollars are headed for defense and the economy is strong, regardless of market gyrations, Boeing has been a solid buy. The company sold 700 commercial airliners this year and plans to deliver 800 next year. Has your author been transported by Boeing Aircraft? Is the Pope, Catholic?

Nike: Uncle Phil is the founder of athletic apparel market leader and the über-benefactor of University of Oregon Athletics. Nike shoes/gear are worn for morning runs to complement the Nike+ software program on the Apple iPod. Marc Benioff hails from my undergraduate alma mater, the University of Southern California (May The Horse Be With You). Mark is the founder, chairman and CEO of business software innovator, Let’s face it, many may claim a cloud legacy, but was first to SaaS or Software as a Service.

Apple, Boeing, Nike and Salesforce are the four present individual securities in the portfolio of Almost DailyBrett. Are they examined and managed on a daily basis? You bet ya. Will they be there forever? Forget it.

Should an investor, who rejects passivity, consider these individual stocks?

Only your investment advisor knows for sure.–2




“We have a deep sense of responsibility to give back to our country and the people who help make our success possible.” – Tim Cook, Apple chief executive officer

The largest taxpayer in the world is paying more … $38 billion more … in one lump sum.

Apple is repatriating $200 billion in the world’s largest amount of overseas corporate assets, $252 billion.

The company also announced $350 billion in direct investments in the U.S. economy, not just share buy-backs. Apple will create 20,000 jobs right here in America.

Almost DailyBrett is proud to be an Apple shareholder, for more than the 83 percent in share appreciation since 2015.

Tim Cook and his lieutenants are proving to the world that a great company can be more than the innovator and producer of wonderful products (i.e. iPhone X, iPads, Mac). Apple is more than 123,000 jobs with full benefits and a terrific return for its shareholders

Apple is also redefining the relationship between fiduciary responsibility and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

To a few misguided, well-meaning souls, major corporations are somehow the enemy of the masses. And yet how does one who holds these views explain Apple’s good deeds?

The $38 billion is happening right now. These are additional revenues for the government that would have remained trapped overseas without a reduction in the world’s largest 35 percent corporate rate to 21 percent.

Think of $38 billion in terms of 38 x 1,000 x $1 million. That amount can start to make a quite a dent in fixing our highways, airports, bridges and other major infrastructure needs.

FILE PHOTO: The Apple Campus 2 is seen under construction in Cupertino, California in this aerial photo taken January 13, 2017. REUTERS/Noah Berger/File Photo

So much for those who say that tax reform is not a dynamic scoring stimulus.

These are the same folks who conveniently forgot the nation’s largest peacetime expansion occurred during the Reagan Presidency years in which 19 million jobs were created.

Yes, there will be a $1.75 billion-over-20 years impact to the federal treasury using static scoring.

But how much additional economic stimulus will come from putting more revenues back into the economy and lifting time-consuming, expensive regulations? This is the serendipity of dynamic scoring.

Now that Apple has announced the one-time payment of record taxes, a flood of domestic investment and five-figure increases in hiring, will Microsoft, Cisco, Google and Oracle do the same?

According to Standard & Poors, Microsoft has $132.1 billion in overseas holdings; Cisco, $69.1 billion, Google, $60.5 billion and Oracle, $58.5 billion.

Messrs Satya Nadella (MSFT), Chuck Robbins (CSCO), Larry Page (GOOG) and Mark Hurd (ORCL), it is time for each of your companies to follow Tim Cook’s lead and to give back to America.

Great Time To Be A College Graduate

As a tenure-track assistant professor of public relations, integrated marketing communications, corporate communications and investor relations, the author of Almost DailyBrett could not be more excited for my graduating students.

Please do not dismiss my excitement as Greenspanesque “Irrational Exuberance.” There is little doubt that our 26,000-point Dow is in need of a healthy correction, maybe 10 percent or more.

Nonetheless, when was the last time that our GDP (gross domestic product) was growing at a 3 percent annualized rate?

Our unemployment rate stands at 4.1 percent, very close to full employment.

Wages and salaries are rising, reflecting a labor shortage for skilled employees.

Our inflation rate (e.g., Consumer Price Index) was 2.1 percent in December.

The Federal Reserve’s Fed Funds rate is 1.25 percent.

Hmm … bull market, expanding global economy, low unemployment, labor shortage, low inflation, miniscule interest rates … sounds like a Goldilocks Economy. What’s not to like?

To top it off, we now have tax reform and regulatory relief.

Certainly, all of these factors will not last forever. They can’t and they won’t.

Having said all of the above, this is a great time to start or revive a career. Your author could not be more stoked for his students.

And he has more than once cautioned his students against taking the first offer. Don’t be arrogant. At the same time, don’t be afraid to be confident and maybe a tad bold.

Tim Cook and Apple have the wind in their sails. And to prove it, they are paying record taxes, investing in America and hiring Americans.

We have at least 200 billion repatriated reasons to rejoice.




“I think that coding should be required in every public school in the world.” Tim Cook, Apple CEO

Move over English.

Is coding rapidly becoming the new universal language?

Can coding proficiency be the answer for chronic voluntary male non-employment, and all the societal problems that come from too many idle masculine hands?

Certainly, Tim Cook has obvious motivation in advocating coding widespread proficiency. Apple always needs the best-and-the-brightest when it comes to geeky engineers (redundant).

Nonetheless at least one-third of all in-demand jobs right now require some form of computer coding. Why not make this necessary skill, compulsory in all secondary schools, colleges and universities?

Consider the recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute projecting that 15 percent of the global workforce may be required to change jobs in the next 15 years (or worse, lose them) because of coding-driven automation.

McKinsey projected that 75 million to 375 million workers will be required to change occupation categories while another 400 to 800 million could be displaced by automation and will be required to find new jobs entirely.

Which side of the fence does one want to be standing? Do we want to elect to kick off in the javelin throwing contest (learn coding) or receive (hope for the best)?

Get the point?

More Important Than English?

“If I were a French student and I were 10 years old, I think it would be more important for me to learn coding than English. I’m not telling people not to learn English in some form … this [coding] is a language that you can [use to] express yourself to 7 billion people in the world.” – Cook speaking in Paris

For the longest time the dead-tongue Latin phrase, Lingua Franca, equated to English being the universal language of business and commerce, including the one used by air traffic controllers regardless of the flag being flown below the control tower.

For example, the Georgetown University Law Center reportedly is packing classes in coding for those who aspire to practice before the highest courts in the land, including the Supreme Court.

When it comes to seeking out key words and concepts in Supreme Court rulings, there are times when Google Search just doesn’t cut it … but coding does.

Instead of income redistribution from achievers to others to achieve social justice, it may be more vital for the public and private sectors to encourage the study of computer programming to narrow the income gap or at least to prevent the divide from growing larger.

How’s that for thinking outside the proverbial box?

Getting Idle Men Off Their Collective Derrieres

“It is impossible to imagine any earlier generation in which such a huge swath of prime-age men would voluntarily absent themselves from the workforce, living instead on the largesse of women they knew and taxpayers they did not.” – Nicholas Eberstadt, American Enterprise Institute

Eberstadt in his “Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis” concluded that 32 percent of working age men are voluntarily not working, choosing instead to live off the largesse of working women or some form of government assistance (e.g., three/fifths are on disability).

Their daily modus operandi may consist of 5.5 hours of video games, internet, binge television, eating, drinking and opioids. The bi-products of these idle hands are obesity, alcoholism, crime and drug addiction.

Conversely, the good news emanating from the Bureau of Labor Statistics about an overall unemployment rate of 4.1 percent, points to a coming/already present labor shortage.

There are jobs out there, dudes.

Oh … you don’t want to put on that blue vest and work at the big-box store or the green apron of a barista? The service economy is not for you? Women are better than you when it comes to serving customer?.

What is a realistic answer?

How about coding? If you can work the TV remote and the video-game controller, you obviously have some level of primitive knowledge of the magic of binary code.

Can you imagine the increase of our national competitiveness if we can prod even 1 million idle men off their duffs and into the classroom/training center to learn coding?

Maybe there should be a national public relations campaign to convince idle men that coding is not only cool, but masculine too.









“Donald Trump is like a vampire; he never sleeps.” – Bill O’Reilly

To be accurate he does sleep a tad, and nocturnally he tweets a ton to 40.6 million-plus recipients.

During a late-1980s visit of Almost DailyBrett to Sardine City (a.k.a. The White House Press Briefing Room), there were wire-service reporters, who drew the short straws, and were assigned to Presidential “Death Watch.”

Translated these graveyard-shift members of the Fourth Estate were expected to be poised and ready to report, if the president passed away in his sleep. Fortunately, the media was never required to write/broadcast about a president expiring in the White House living quarters.

It was quite simply one of the most boring jobs on the planet … until 10 months ago.

The “Death Watch” reporter now has to be glued to her/his mobile device/laptop for the next 140-character-or-less epistle(s) from the Tweeter-in Chief @realDonaldTrump. In the last two years, his Twitter handle has generated 36,100 tweets, ranking the president at #22 worldwide, ironically one place in front of … The New York Times.

As it turns out the political class now needs to be aware of what Trump is tweeting at 3:20 am EDT, and there appears to be little if any advance warning for even his allies (e.g., Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders) or objective/non-objective adversaries.

Trump has introduced widespread insomnia to the denizens of the Potomac, and also media/pundit types east of the Hudson. At the same time he has usurped the elite media’s role in setting the agenda for America’s national conversation.

It’s time to state the obvious:

Instead of the elite-media (i.e. NYT, WaPo, Big Three nets) framing national issue discussions under Agenda Setting Theory, Trump has stolen this mantle through his frantic and many times undisciplined tweeting.

For better or worse, Trump is setting or preempting the agenda and the elite media doesn’t like it one little bit.

The First Social Media President?

“Think of Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats or Ronald Reagan’s television addresses. More recently, presidents have used the internet to directly reach the public, making journalists increasingly irrelevant … “– Northeastern Associate Communication Studies Professor Greg Goodale

“Increasingly irrelevant”? Those are fightin’ words.

Considering that Twitter was founded only 11 years ago, it stands to reason that President Barack Obama was the first chief executive to dabble with tweeting. Having said that, did Obama’s tweets ever rise to the level of newsworthy stories, much less threatening elite-media Agenda Setting?

There is a new sheriff in town and part of the reason he is occupying the White House is directly linked to his provocative and disruptive tweets. Not only does Trump set the agenda, he can also shift, preempt and deflect the 24/7 news cycles with subjects of his choosing.

Some contended the elite-media’s cherished role in Agenda Setting would be eroded by widespread public participation in social media (e.g., 10.3 million tweeted during the first Obama vs. Romney debate in 2012).

Instead, research has demonstrated that reporters/correspondents/pundits use Twitter to silently collude with each during a 21st Century presidential debate. Instead of weakening Agenda Setting Theory, the media role in setting the agenda was actually enhanced through second-screen group think.

Whether the elite media should be charged with deciding what issues should be the subject of national conversation is debatable. What is not the subject of dispute is the fact that Twitter has become Trump’s most reliable bully pulpit.

Is Trump provocative in his tweets? Absolutely.

Has he interrupted the elite media setting of the national discussion? With relish.

Has Trump stepped on his own legislative/political agenda with his tweets? No question.

Has Trump in far too many cases to count been undisciplined in his use of Twitter, attacking both friends and foes? The case is closed.

Does the elite media absolutely grind their collective teeth and literally hate Trump’s Twitter use most of all? Is the Pope Catholic?

Will the 46th President of the United States use social media? Did FDR hold radio “Fireside Chats”? Did Kennedy and Reagan excel on television?

Social media tools are here to stay. As Harvard Business Professor Clayton Christensen coined, they are game-changing “destructive technologies.”

And similar to nuclear devices, Twitter is at the fingertips of one Donald John Trump.

I’m in favor of progress; it’s change I don’t like.” – Mark Twain

“ … Personnel. That’s for assholes.” – Clint Eastwood as “Dirty Harry”.

Your company was just acquired.

Your firm “merged” with another company.

Your new boss is an outsider, who knows next to nothing about you.

Consider each-and-every one of these changes to be a flashing-red-light warning or a shot across-the-bow of your career. .

There are always winners and losers when it comes to mergers and acquisitions. Ditto for new bosses, particularly those from outside the organization.

In all of these cases, It’s not only time, but most likely it is past time, to update your resume and enhance your LinkedIn profile.


Think of it this way: Whenever a new male lion enters the picture, the first thing he does is … eat the cubs of the previous King of Beasts. Translating to the work place, this parable means the “old” employees from the acquired, merged or new management companies are immediately vulnerable.

Can’t tell you how many times Almost DailyBrett heard laments from employees, who have been with an organization for 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, (gasp) 25 years. They expect their loyalty and experience to be recognized and rewarded.

Alas more times than naught, their self-perceived loyalty is regarded as stagnation or “dead wood” by new management. Worst of all, these folks are shocked when they are sooner-than-later laid off or simply terminated/let go.

“I wish I could trust you … “

During the course of my three-decade-plus career, the author of Almost DailyBrett quickly came to appreciate that virtually all of these changes serve as a warning, despite the tender contrary for the timing being words uttered by highly trained and incredibly skilled Human Resource professionals.

Keep in mind HR works for the organization not for the worker, especially the long-time employee. When it comes time to terminate/lay-off/let go of employees, the clinical execution will be swiftly carried out by HR.

Maybe Clint Eastwood was right about “Personnel” (What HR was referred to back in the 1970s). Let’s face it HR is not highly respected in any organization, a necessary evil … and in many cases, an evil indeed.

Once your author went eyeball-to-eyeball with a vice president of HR and said, “I wish I could trust you.” There is another less tender way of expressing the same sentiment. The message is still the same.

HR is not your friend. HR never was your friend. HR never will be your friend.

Self-Defense Strategies

Trust in Allah, but tie your camel.” – Arab Proverb

What strategies should you adopt to preclude being one of the cubs voraciously consumed by a new boss lion, mainly because you have been at the old firm for way too long?

  • Most new managers, particularly emanating from the outside, have their own views of how tasks must be done and they have their own ideas about who should be their lieutenants. Don’t even expect to be given the chance to compete for your own job, let alone a higher job in the hierarchy.
  • Don’t confuse loyalty and stagnation. What is one employee’s loyalty is a new manager’s stagnation. If you can count your years with an organization with two hands or more, it’s time or past time to move along on your own terms.
  • Never remind new superior(s) about how long you have been at an organization and the value of your experience. Instead demonstrate what you can do to assist their new future direction. The tried-and-true: “We tried that once and it didn’t work” will result in you being consumed by the new lion.
  • The world has changed. The notion of starting in the mail room, working for decades to become CEO and retiring with a gold watch is dead and buried. You will not be rewarded for your “tenure.”
  • Suing for age discrimination is a sure-fire loser. Who will want to hire you, if you “win” your suit? Most likely, you will be laid-off, requiring you to sign away the company’s liability in exchange for a golden kiss-off check.
  • In Silicon Valley, three years at a given organization signals in many cases a lack of ambition and stagnation. You should always be looking to the horizon. When the recruiter calls stop, consider that as a negative barometer.
  • Keeping “your powder dry” or “tie your camel” in the modern era translates into ensuring your resume, digital portfolio and LinkedIn profile are always up-to-date. It means scanning the horizon for other employment opportunities and applying for them from time-to-time if the fit is right.
  • Be ready to pull-up-stakes, if necessary. The green grass maybe even greener in another venue. Renting maybe a better option than a mortgage. If your mortgage goes underwater that can turn a job loss into an absolute nightmare.
  • In the week between your holiday of choice and New Year’s Day, you should always conduct a personal audit of your career. Recognize the subtle warning signs including not being included to important meetings and not being sought out for input from management. If it is time to move on, then do so on your own terms.

Doesn’t the Declaration of Independence provide for life, liberty and the happiness of pumping our own gas?

There is certain joy that comes from feeling the surging petroleum rocket from the pump directly into my little green chariot. This Freude is kosher in the State of Washington and in California.

But what about that state in between?

Since 1951, it has been Verboten for a mere mortal motorist to pump his or her own gas in the State of Oregon. This antiquated 20th Century law requires petroleum transfer engineers (e.g., popular major at Oregon State University), and only PTEs to exchange fluids in the Beaver State.

What’s that Elon Musk?

Are you saying that EVs could spell doom to the PTEs?

The first affordable Tesla Model 3s are coming off the production lines in Fremont, California (the old NUMMI plant). The initial plans call for 110,000 this year and 500,000 next year.

From $35,000 upwards to $60,000 with all the fixins’, the intrepid all-electric motorist can roar from zero-to- 60 mph in 5.6 seconds with just a tap on the dashboard tablet without omitting one fossil fuel particle into the atmosphere.

Elon Musk, CEO of US automotive and energy storage company Tesla, presents his outlook on climate change at the Paris-Sorbonne University in Paris on December 2, 2015. / AFP / ERIC PIERMONT (Photo credit should read ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)

How’s that sound green Oregonians?

Even a Prius requires a PTE now-and-then. And despite all the hype and owner strutting, the Toyota hybrid still contributes to Climate Change. The proud owner may still be gluten free, but his or her precious Prius is nonetheless putting CO² into the air.

In contrast, the Tesla Model 3 can travel 220-to-310 miles on one charge of electricity. What does that mean to Oregon’s PTEs (same for New Jersey’s legally mandated PTEs)? Are each of you heading for the same crash landing as those who made buggy whips?

Electronic vehicles make PTEs as uncomfortable as a former sales dude or sales dudette at Borders as the imposing Amazon digital shadow hovered over the bricks-and-mortar store. Did you have that out-of-print book, Borders? Do you sell that obscure concerto, Barnes & Noble? Amazon does (Google “Long Tail” Theory”) as there are no physical restraints on its inventory.

Maybe the Oregon PTEs will unionize (if that haven’t already) and march into Salem (not the one where they burned witches) and ask for a new law requiring ETEs (Electricity Transfer Engineers) to recharge EVs in Oregon.

Wait a minute? Oregon could actually mandate that ETEs recharge your Climate Change friendly EV? Don’t bet against it.

Think of it this way, if the state Legislature in its infinite wisdom for 66 years and counting required PTEs to pump gas into each car and expressly forbids the motorist from doing the same, then what’s to prevent them from requiring highly trained electricity transfer engineers (ETEs) to recharge your EV Tesla, Volvo, BMW, Chevy etc.?

What’s next? Will the state mandate an ETE to plug in your toaster or change a light bulb?

Incentives Today; Taxes Tomorrow

Immediately south of Oregon, the Golden State’s one-party Legislature is weighing adopting the California Electric Vehicle Initiative, which would designate $3 billion for larger rebates for those who purchase Tesla and other electric cars.

In April, the same Legislature passed legislation raising California’s gas tax by 12 cents to 30 cents per gallon.

Let’s see the state is considering incentivizing EVs to the tune of $3 billion. And nearly at the same time raising gas taxes to raise $5.2 billion.

What happens if the EV revolution is real and a precipitous decline in fossil-burning vehicles ensues? Does that mean gas revenues will simultaneously decline? Oh dear.

And does that lead to actually taxing EV recharges even though these environmentally friendly cars have been incentivized by the state?

What’s more important in Sacramento and other state capitals? The environment? Tax revenues?

Seems like a silly question to even ask.





“Do I consider myself part of the casino capitalist process by which so few have so much and so many have so little by which Wall Street’s greed and recklessness wrecked this economy? No I don’t.” – Senator Bernie Sanders

Ever wonder why there are so few in the street carrying pitch forks?

Ditto for nocturnal torch-light parades?

Maybe the answer lies in the fact that Wall Street added $3.3 trillion in market capitalization (share prices x number of shares) since November 8. Translated: Investors are more than $3 trillion to the better since the election.

Whatever metric is used, the stock indices are sharply upward to the right: The NASDAQ increased 28 percent since the election, the S&P 500 is up 27 percent, and the Dow advanced 20 percent.According to Gallup, 55 percent of Americans owned individual stocks, stock mutual funds or managed 401(k) portfolios or IRAs in 2016. That figure is understandably down from 65 percent right before the economic crash in 2007, but it has been steadily advancing since then.

Almost DailyBrett will go out on the limb, and will contend the 55 percent number has grown since the historic 2016  election.

Predictably, the Gallup survey revealed that 88 percent of American families making over $75,000 are invested in individual securities, mutual funds and 401(k)s and IRAs. More than half of those (56 percent) making between $30,000 and $75,000 are invested in stocks.

The survey also revealed that 73 percent with bachelor’s degrees own stocks, mutual funds or invest retirement accounts, and 83 percent with master’s degrees or above also are investing in these same U.S. markets.

When one takes a second to ponder that 55 percent of middle-and-upper income Americans are participating in stocks, mutual funds, 401(k) portfolios and IRAs, the conclusion is obvious: America now has an investor class that is growing in numbers and wealth.

What’s the alternative for those investing for their retirement, their children’s education or that dream vacation? Bank interest rates that barely keep up with inflation? Speculative real estate? Stashing gobs of cash under the bedroom mattress?

And yet there was an ill-fated movement to tarnish America’s markets, Occupy Wall Street.

And now there are efforts in a handful of progressive states to impose a 20 percent “privilege tax” on the fees of financial advisors. Hmmm … wonder if this tax will be passed onto investors, the very same people who are trying to fund their retirement or college for their kids?

Attacking The Cash Cow?

“ … You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘Basket of Deplorables’. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.” – Hillary Clinton.

“ … There are 47 percent who are with him (Obama), who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it … And so my job is not to worry about those people.” – Mitt Romney.

What do Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton have in common besides being guilty of lambasting literally millions of people in one unwise campaign utterance?

They both lost the presidency.

Winston Churchill once said: “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

Wall Street will never be perfect. The playing field has never been flat. Having said that, far more win with stocks, mutual funds, 401(k) plans and IRAs than lose. It has been upward to the right on a jagged line since 1929.

Maybe that is the reason why America has a more-than-half of its working age population investing in global markets. And for those investing, the six-plus months since the election has produced a record modern-era, bull market for any new president.

Granted, there will be those in the streets who bode ill for American markets, favor “privilege taxes” to stimulate more compulsory redistribution, and are maybe just a tad nostalgic for the mismanaged Occupy Wall Street debacle.

Do they really want to attack Wall Street and by extension America’s 55 percent and growing, investor class heading into the mid-terms of 2018 and beyond? Are these overheated rhetorical thrusts, smart politics?

If they relish in glorious defeat, they can insult America’s investor class to the content of their bleeding hearts.

They also should consider and ponder that America now has a new quiet majority, who fund their dreams with a simple click of the mouse while watching the tickers on CNBC.







I’d like to warn the best of them, the iconoclasts, the innovators, the rebels, that they will always have a bull’s-eye on their backs. The better they get, the bigger the bull’s-eye. It’s not one man’s opinion; it’s a law of nature.” – Nike founder Phil Knight

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena …” – President Teddy Roosevelt

There are no statues devoted to critics.

Our increasingly complex data-driven society is overloaded with analysts, reviewers, chroniclers, interpreters – creating nothing of meaningful value – but they are always quick to cast stones at those who try to make the world a better place.

As Phil Knight said in his New York Times best seller Shoe Dog, “Entrepreneurs have always been outgunned, outnumbered.”

A perfect example – not the first one and certainly not the last – is the use of a series of infographics to depict an engineering/entrepreneur who tried and tried and succeeded brilliantly, but is portrayed by his failures.

A May 26 MarketWatch piece by Sally French includes a five-part infographic, which catalogs a litany of failures by Tesla co-founder, SpaceX founder, SolarCity co-founder and PayPal co-founder Elon Musk.

When asked to describe himself by Steve Croft of CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Musk responded that he regarded himself simply as an engineer. Almost DailyBrett has worked with engineers for years, attempting to transform their anal exactitude, never-ending acronyms and nomenclature into plain English.

What characterizes engineers is their willingness, their compulsion to throw ideas at the wall. Some will stick, and others … oh well.

Elon Musk is not afraid to fail. He is more scared by the prospect of not even trying.

Alas, Musk is human. Five of his SpaceX rockets blew up. He was ousted from PayPal on his honeymoon. He made $180 million from his stake in PayPal. He invested this money and presumably much more in SpaceX and Tesla, both were hemorrhaging cash. He was not only broke, but in way-over-his-head debt in 2008.

Today, Musk is Forbes’ #80 wealthiest individual on the planet with an estimated worth of $13.9 billion. His Tesla is the pure-play leader in energy-efficient electric cars, ion-Lithium batteries and solar. Is Tesla an electric car company that helps combat climate change? An energy company that shuns fossil fuels? Or is it, Elon Musk’s company?

How about all of the above? To most investors, the answer would be third … Tesla is Elon Musk’s company … and there may lie the reason for the MarketWatch infographics, illustrating Musk’s failures. Schadenfreude has never felt so good or gut.

A similar set of questions can be asked about Musk’s SpaceX, which is transporting materials to the International Space Station and may someday put humans on Mars. Think of it this way, four entities have successfully fired rockets into space: The United States of America, Russia, China and Elon Musk’s privately held, SpaceX.

The Importance of Failure

“I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. Because of it, I’ve never had any fear in my whole life when we’ve been near collapse.” — Walt Disney

Would you rather be Steve Jobs, who was terminated by the company he created, Apple?

Or would you rather be John Sculley, who will go down in history as the man who fired Steve Jobs?



Sculley recently tried to blame the termination of Jobs on the Apple Board of Directors at the time, but the die has already been cast. Sculley will follow Jobs to the grave as the man who sent packing the modern-day equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci.

Nike founder Phil Knight recounted in his memoir how he started his company with a $50 loan from his dad. Today, Nike is the planet’s No. 1 athletic apparel and shoe provider with $33.92 billion in revenues, $86.8 billion in market capitalization and 70,000 employees.

Uncle Phil is the 28th wealthiest homo sapien in the world at $26.2 billion. Keep in mind, this company was literally days, if not hours, away from bankruptcy too many times to count between 1962 and going public in 1980.

For Musk, his tale is a South Africa-to-America story. Today, Tesla is a $8.55 billion company, employing 17,782 with investors pouring $53.4 billion into its market cap.

Almost DailyBrett has been consistent in hailing the risk takers, the entrepreneurs, those who stare failure right in the face and sneer. The results are great companies that employ 10s of thousands and produce the products we want and need.

There will always be those who rage at the “billionaire class” to score political points.

And some with too-much-time-on-their-hands develop infographics to illustrate how the great have fallen here and there.

Wonder if any of these critics, analysts, reviewers etc. would have fired Steve Jobs?

Almost DailyBrett radical transparency: Your author happily owns shares in both Nike (NYSE: NKE) and Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA). The above epistle does not constitute investment advice for either company other than to generically say, Buy Low, Sell High.









“You can’t foment. You can’t create an impression a stock is down. You do it anyway because the SEC doesn’t understand it.” – Former Goldman Sachs hedge fund manager Jim Cramer

“Apple is very important to spread the rumor that both Verizon and AT&T have decided they don’t like the phone (iPhone). It’s very easy to do. It’s also easy to spread the rumor the phone is not ready for Macworld.”  — Cramer explaining how shorting hedge-fund managers drive down a company’s stock price through rumor mongering

“I want the Jim Cramer of CNBC (Mad Money host) to protect me from that Jim Cramer (Goldman Sachs hedge-fund manager) – Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart

Many of us watched Jon Stewart take apart Jim Cramer on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. The legendary 2009 interview went viral, including Cramer’s bragging about short selling, even among those who do not subscribe to the notion of buying low and selling high.

Here’s a predictable sports metaphor that brings into question the morality of short selling.

Every sports fan knows there are teams that far-too-many of us love to hate (i.e. New England Patriots, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Todgers …). We will happily pop open a cold one and sit in front of the Hi-Def and root against these teams and many others. We want them to lose, and lose big.

Having acknowledged this indisputable fact of life, will we spend our hard-earned money to travel to their respective stadia or watch them on our home team fields, courts, ice rinks solely to indulge in an exercise of Schadenfreude, delighting in their misery when they lose? You are rooting against them and not necessarily for your team.

Don’t we have better things to do with our money and time than negative rooting?

Moving from metaphor to reality, should the cunning few take their discretionary investment dollars and place a trade – a short sell – with the intent of cashing-out based not upon a publicly traded company’s stock rising, but instead losing value for the vast majority of investors and their employees?

Before going any further, Almost DailyBrett must acknowledge that short selling is perfectly legal (it shouldn’t be), but the question remains: Is it moral? Yes, some may be wondering how morality and Wall Street work in tandem. Believe it or not, there is synergy when it comes to investing and morality.

For example, each of America’s 5,900 publicly traded companies on the NYSE or NASDAQ is legally required to practice fiduciary responsibility (don’t glaze over). Translated: Every company is obligated to do the best job possible to drive the top line (revenues) and raise the bottom line (net income or loss).

The beneficiaries of fiduciary responsibility are America’s Investor Class, the 55 percent of our nation that invests in mutual funds, bonds or stocks. When “Wall Street” is attacked, the hopes and dreams of literally millions for a comfortable retirement, their children’s college education, their donations to worthy charities, their once-in-a-lifetime vacations, are under siege as well.

The Big Short

“Stormy weather in Shortville … “— Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweet mocking short sellers

The literally millions of short trades fly directly in the face of the aspirations of middle-class and lower-upper class investors, who realize you can’t finance dreams through negligible bank interest rates and ping-ponging real estate. That’s why they turn En-masse to equities, bonds and mutual funds (e.g., IRAs and 401Ks).

For example, there are those (including the author of Almost DailyBrett) who invest in Elon Musk and Tesla. They are supporting the development of electric cars, ion lithium batteries and solar power, all intended to transport millions and provide energy – all without contributing to climate change.

And yet 31 million of Tesla’s (NASDAQ: TSLA) 163.1 million shares are sold short or about $8.46 billion in market capitalization or value that these traders are hoping will simply plunge big time to their greedy benefit.

Alas for them and hooray for the rest of us the Tesla short sellers are taking it in the shorts.

As we saw in the Oscar-nominated for Best Picture, The Big Short, there were cunning and callous short sellers who bet big time – and won – against the U.S. real estate market and thousands of underwater and underperforming mortgages.

They won, while literally hundreds of thousands lost their homes or were trapped in properties they could not afford, thus triggering the Great Recession of 2007-2008.

Almost DailyBrett believes the government regulates enough thank you very much. But should the feds (e.g., SEC, DOJ, FTC) take a long-and-hard look at short selling?

If the goal of the shorts is pure unmitigated greed, while literally hundreds of thousands suffer and see their hopes and dreams dashed, then short selling is not only wrong morally, but it should be frickin’ illegal as well.–2–3

We have come a long way from squeaky chalk or worse – finger nails screeching – on messy blackboards.

Mercifully, we have come nearly just as far from scribbling on overhead projectors (RIP).

Alas, we have not come far enough from wasting literally hours-upon-hours by means of “brain storming” with markers on white boards. Please put me out of my misery.

Now it’s time – way past time — to say goodbye to PowerPoints consisting of nothing more than black words on white backgrounds.

Bore me to the max! Gag me with the clicker!

And yet these mind-numbing presentations still exist. Simply adding more black words on the very same white background doesn’t make the message better, just more dazed and confused.

The author of Almost DailyBrett has sat through more PowerPoint briefings than he would care to even think about, and still he admires Microsoft for creating the ultimate for linear presentations. Bill Gates et al. deserve everlasting credit for developing an enduring tool for presenting ideas, explaining research and making recommendations.

Having said that, one has to ask why are PowerPoints so boring way too many times? They don’t have to be, and yet candidates for major positions, pitch men and women are still using this incredible tool in the most tired, lethargic and desultory ways possible.

Does the candidate really want the job? Do you really want to make the sale? Do you really want to convey an exciting new idea?

If the answer is affirmative, then why are you scratching the surface in what PowerPoint can do for you … and more importantly for the audience?

The Steve Jobs Cult

During Steve Jobs’ way-too-short presence on the planet, he and his company Apple developed a cult following. MacWorld presentations were akin to a spiritual revival. The audience literally gasped when the high priest of global technology held up the iPhone, iPad, iPod for all to see and admire for the first-time.

It was the Kodak Moment on digital steroids.

Steve’s PowerPoints were anything, but complicated … and that works beautifully in a complex world that yearns for simplicity.

There is the iPhone and the Mac. Can there be a new gadget in between? Well yes, there can be. It’s called the iPad. Simple message, well delivered.

The PowerPoint was not bright white with black words, but a black background with images and well-timed words, and most importantly … not too many words.

Venture Capitalist Guy Kawasaki has heard more business-pitch presentations than any human should have to endure. Sure, he gets paid extremely well. Regardless, he is mortal and every minute spent listening to a boring presentation is a minute lost.

He will always have a soft-spot in the heart of the author of Almost DailyBrett for conceiving the 10-20-30 rule: 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30-point font (or above).

The impressive thinking behind the 10-20-30 rule is straight-forward: If you can’t put forward a robust and well-crafter business plan in 10 slides, you don’t have a workable business plan.

The 20-minute rule takes into account the attention span of the average listener, which may be shrinking as you read this missive. People get restless quickly. They want to check their messages on their smart phone. They want to ask questions. They are wondering when is it ‘my turn’?

The 30-point-font or above recommendation is meant to ensure the poor soul in the back of the room can see the presentation. More important is the “tyranny” of the 30-point font because it forces the presentation developer to reduce the number of words. There is just so much PowerPoint real estate.

A Good Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Studies have shown conclusively that we are drawn to pictures, illustrations, pie and bar charts. Who can’t love a bar chart that goes upwards to the right with a CAGR line (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) guiding the way ?

In particular, we can quickly access JPEGs or compressed image files through Google Images to add to our PowerPoints. Every presenter should seriously consider incorporating one image (“Art”) into every slide to maintain audience attention.

An added bonus of a JPEG per page is it forces an economy of words. As Martha would say, “It’s a good thing.”

Our PowerPoint backdrops can be different colors. Almost DailyBrett is a big fan of royal blue and black because the words and images literally explode off these backgrounds.

Maybe we want to incorporate video into our presentations? We can drop the video URL into our presentation, and literally play it from there. Keep in mind for a major presento, you want to ensure your video works the first time, every time.

Let’s see: Incorporating the 10-20-30 Rule. Less words. JPEGs, Dynamic backdrops. Video and absolutely no black words on plain white backdrops. Sounds like a winner to little ole me.

Not everyone can be a Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, but everyone has the potential to hold an audience’s attention for upwards of 20 minutes even in our always-on, digital texting world. We can do all of this if we think of ourselves more like Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and less Albert Einstein at the chalk board.




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