Category: Wall Street

“Invariably, when people read the headline about Martin Shkreli, they hate Martin Shkreli. When they get to know Martin Shkreli, they love Martin Shkreli.” – Martin Shkreli on Twitter

“He (Shkreli) needs to be mythical. He needs to be larger than life. He needs to be a rags-to-riches story. That image is his mansion. His Maserati.” – Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis

Martin Shkreli will be celebrating his 35th birthday next Saturday … behind bars.

Earlier, he labeled his federal prosecutors as the “junior varsity.” The JV team won.

His final destination will not be “Club Fed” as Shkreli once boasted on Twitter.

The sentence is seven years in prison with credit for the six months already served, and a $7.4 million fine.

Last month, CNBC dedicated its season debut of “American Greed” to Martin Shkreli. It was a personal branding and reputation management horror show, plain and simple.

There are zero public relations pros — regardless of their years of experience and skill – who could have saved Martin Shkreli from … himself.

No one loves Martin Shkreli – maybe with the exception of Martin Shkreli.

Among his litany of sins – the always smirking, taunting, arrogant Martin Shkreli — violated the cardinal rule of public relations (as if he ever weighed his own PR):

The most important public relations of all … is personal PR.

Former hedge-fund Wunderkind/drug-price fixer Shkreli received a seven year sentence for three counts of securities fraud.


His attorneys fought against a full 15-year sentence recommended by the U.S. Attorney, arguing he reportedly should not receive the maximum simply because he is … Martin Shkreli.

Shkreli long ago lost in the courtrooms of public opinion, where he was convicted for being … as the Brits would say, an arse.

For some reason, he refused to even acknowledge the myriad of societal stop signs, which constrain mere mortals. Even on Capitol Hill when he was taking the 5th (Amendment), he was even taunting Members of Congress with his characteristic smirk, and later insulted them on social media.

And today there is a worldwide breakout of Schadenfreude. We are all happy, including Almost DailyBrett, that Martin Shkreli is so sad.

Bringing The Donald and Hillary Together

“That guy is nothing. He’s zero. He’s nothing. He ought to be ashamed of himself.” – Donald Trump

“He still hasn’t said how much the drug will cost going forward, and in the meantime, sick patients still have to wait and worry and continue to pay $750/pill. So Mr. Shkreli, what’s it going to be?” – Hillary Clinton

“If there was a company that was selling an Aston Martin at the price of a bicycle, and we buy that company and we ask to charge Toyota prices, I don’t think that that should be a crime.” – Martin Shkreli on raising the price of Daraprim by 5,000 percent

Martin Shkreli performed magic during the divisive 2016 presidential campaign; he managed to bring Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton into an one-time agreement.

He defrauded his MSMB Capital investors, and raised the price of AIDS drug, Daraprim, from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

With his indefensible actions Shkreli also indicted the entire American pharmaceutical industry, leaving the impression that every company was gauging patients with unjustifiable drug price increases. Some are guilty. Some are innocent.

Eventually, Shkreli called upon his social media followers to steal a lock of Hillary Clinton’s hair as a bounty. He subsequently lost his $5 million bail, and was remanded to jail in Brooklyn.

Shkreli’s attorneys were hoping for a 12-18 month sentence. Federal prosecutors were asking for 15 years or even more. The judge played the sentence right down the middle: seven years.

The reality of jail and the prospect of more than one decade in prison seemed to make an overdue impression on Shkreli.

“There is no conspiracy to take down Martin Shkreli. I took down Martin Shkreli, with my disgraceful and shameful actions … This is my fault. I am not a victim here.” – Martin Shkreli at his March 9 sentencing.

Did Shkreli finally listen to his lawyers?

Was his statement before the judge, and by extension the world, written by a public relations counselor?

Did he in the end, get religion?

Too little, too late Martin.



“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



“Be sure to put on your own mask before helping others.”  — Flight attendant instructions before take-off.

The author of Almost DailyBrett couldn’t be more excited for his students preparing to graduate on June 9.

He is also charged up for his recent graduates, realizing that they too have the wind in their collective sails. No more taking any job just to survive, but instead actually seeking out a “position” that serves as the stepping stone for a rewarding career.

Think of it this way: Job boards are passé. Today’s graduates have a unique opportunity to seek out positions with their employers of choice through informational interviews and networking. They can create their own positions and forget about taking the first offer.

They have a unique opportunity to build their own wealth, and later give back to those who are less fortunate. They can voluntarily live below their means and become The Millionaire Next Door as reported by Mssrs Thomas Stanley and William Danko in their New York Times bestseller.

There simply has not been a better overall economic climate for competing college graduates in the last two decades.

We are living in a Goldilocks Economy.

Surging Business

Better strike while the irons are hot, red hot. Like all economic moves upwards to the right, the trend which is now their friend will not last forever.

Last week, we learned that America’s $19.41 trillion GDP economy grew at a non-inflationary 2.6 percent pace after two consecutive quarters of 3.0 percent … all of this growth coming before congressional passage/presidential approval of the historic tax reform bill and regulatory relief.

Could we experience 4 percent GDP in 2018, leaving no doubt that we are in a robust growth economy? How’s that sound, graduates?

Unemployment stands at 4.1 percent. The next Department of Labor’s jobs report will be announced on Ground Hog Day. Will it be the same percentage over-and-over again or even lower, coming closer to the 3.5 percent threshold for full-employment?

The benchmark Standard & Poors 500 surged 22.46 percent in 2017, and it has already grown another 7.55 percent since … January 1.

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

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

The Federal Reserve’s Fed Funds rate is 1.25 percent, before expected increases by Jerome Powell’s Federal Reserve.

Americans for Tax Reform is keeping tab of the 263 companies (so far) making new commitments in terms of repatriations of billions overseas, paying more corporate taxes, increasing wages, providing bonuses, investing in the economy and hiring more people.

For example, FedEx announced the spending of $1.5 billion to expand/modernize its Indianapolis and Memphis hubs, $200 million in raises for hourly workers, and $1.5 billion for employee pensions.

The future regardless of economic gyrations revolves around newly professionally educated students graduating, who are ready to the hit the ground running in our digitized service-oriented economy.

We need graduates, who can tell the story and tell it well through the written word, verbal expression and compelling multimedia presentations.

To some, major corporations are somehow the bad guys in any drama. How can one arrive at this misguided conclusion, when these entrepreneurial firms innovate and produce the products we use on a daily basis, hire millions, invest billions, and provide trillions in investment returns for the 54 percent of Americans, who constitute the Investor Class.

This fantabulous story cannot be taken for granted, it needs to be told and retold by skilled communicators, the types we are graduating.

The great irony is American corporations are doing more to combat income inequality by hiring, investing and creating greater shareholder value by means of a reduction in corporate tax rates from 35 to 21 percent.

Portland: Where Young People Go To Retire

Or do they go there to stagnate?

As a former Portland resident for five years, Almost DailyBrett has news for those who voluntarily choose not to work: The recession of 2007-2008 is in the rear view mirror.

As mentioned earlier, the economy is thriving and there are more than McJobs, but positions.

If one is playing video games or binge watching “original content” – the new streaming video Holy Grail – then one obviously has a clue about digital devices.

How about putting that knowledge into the coming new Lingua Franca, coding as suggested by Apple’s Tim Cook?

There is no reason to do as little as possible and selfishly allow someone else to work two or more jobs to support you.

The time to strike is right now in this surging economy, and it won’t last forever.

The record number of working-age men voluntarily not working is estimated at 32 percent according to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

Alas, this is not a question of can’t, but really a question of won’t.

Sad, very sad.




“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.




“Another reason that I’m going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes.” – President Donald Trump interview With the New York Times

Is there a difference between Journalism as a profession, and Journalism as a business?

And when push comes to shove, which side wins?

According to research firm mediaQuant,  Trump received a record advertising equivalent of $4.96 billion in earned media coverage from legacy/digital pubs/networks during the course of his campaign compared to $3.24 billion for Hillary Clinton.

That’s a $1.72 billion delta in favor of Trump-the-entertainer-turned-president for those scoring at home.

Four years earlier, Barack Obama garnered $1.1 billion in advertising equivalent coverage even with the bully pulpit of the White House. His challenger Mitt Romney generated only $700 million in earned media.

Almost DailyBrett must humbly ask: Does the media have a vested interest in Trump’s presidency, even though the vast majority of reporters, editors, pundits and correspondents detest him?


The Journalism as a Profession crowd waxes nostalgic about the Jeffersonian quote: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

And yet Trump is catnip for reporters, editors, pundits and correspondents. They may grind their collective teeth, particularly because of his usurpation of Agenda Setting with his in-your-face comments, immediate rejoinders, and nocturnal tweets.

The Journalism as a Business side reflects the obvious fact that Disney runs ABC News; Comcast operates NBC and MSNBC; Viacom manages CBS; Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox is the patriarch of the Wall Street Journal and Fox News; and CNN is the property of Time Warner.

These elite media are all run by publicly traded companies with corresponding fiduciary obligations to their shareholders: NASDAQ: CMCSA (NBC and MSNBC); NYSE: DIS (ABC), NASDAQ: FOXA (Fox News and Wall Street Journal); NYSE: NYT (New York Times); NYSE: TWX (CNN), and NASDAQ: VIAB (CBS).

Does the Trump outrage du jour feed a greater public interest in news and politics, thus driving up coverage, ratings, impressions and most of all, legal tender?

You bet ya.

Elite Media For Trump in 2020?

“So they (elite media) basically have to let me win. And eventually, probably six months before the election, they’ll be loving me because they’re saying, ‘Please, please, don’t lose Donald Trump.’ O.K.” – Donald Trump in the same New York Times interview

The talking heads on Meet the Depressed, Deface the Nation, This Week, let alone the partisans on CNN and MSNBC, will categorically deny they have a vested financial interest in Donald Trump’s ascendancy.

Deep down they want to bring him down to a crashing end (similar to Nixon in 1974) and provide wall-to-wall interpretive coverage of the carnage.

The result 43 years ago was Gerald Ford. The outcome this year would be Mike Pence. The “Bleeds It Leads” culture can tolerate virtually anything, except boredom.

Donald Trump provides the legacy and digital media outlets with unprecedented 24-7-365 outrage.  They are pontificating, bloviating and expecting only the worst from the Donald. Consider the projection from the “economist” below:

“If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.” – New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, the day after Trump’s victory.

In 2017, the benchmark S&P 500 finished up 22.46 percent; The Dow Jones, increased 25.08 percent and the tech/life sciences NASDAQ advanced, 27.09 percent.

Want to take along Krugman to Vegas?

More to the point” Wanna bet that all publicly traded media companies, owning America’s elite media, also recorded positive years benefitting their shareholders?

To top it off, their respective corporate tax rates were reduced from 35 percent to 21 percent as of yesterday.

And best of all for elite media, there is little doubt that Trump will continue to be “good copy” for months and years to come.

Is Donald Trump the gift that keeps on giving?

“My finger said what I was feeling, I’m angry and I’m frustrated.” – Former Marketing and Communications professional Juli Briskman

TOPSHOT – A woman on a bike gestures with her middle finger as a motorcade with US President Donald Trump departs Trump National Golf Course October 28, 2017 in Sterling, Virginia. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

As we all know: You cannot yell “Theatre!” in a crowded fire station.

There are indeed reasonable limits to our cherished First Amendment Right of Free Speech.

As an employee of any organization, one instinctively knows that not all speech is protected.

When are you on the clock working for the boss?

And when are you on your own time?

Is there a distinction (without a difference?)? Are they one-and-the-same?

Last month, Juli Briskman went out for a Saturday bike ride. During the course of her ride, she encountered a convoy of limousines and secret service protection. It was indeed the caravan of the 45th President of the United States.

Briskman utilized the opportunity from the bike lane to give the occupant the infamous one-finger salute.

As another sign of our digital 21st Century times, the photo of her gesture went viral. After becoming a 15-minute-plus celebrity, Briskman reportedly posted her middle-finger image on her Facebook and Twitter accounts.

As it turns out her employer, a federal contractor by the name of Akima LLC, found her gesture toward POTUS neither funny nor amusing. Briskman claimed she was just a simple bike rider on her own time flipping off the president.

Akima, located in an employment-at-will state (e.g., Virginia), quickly made the decision to fire Briskman for twice-at-least posting her single-digit salute to the nation’s chief executive on social media.

Considering the divisiveness of today’s politics, the coverage of her gesture/firing quickly became big-time news for affirmational journalists. GoFundMe reportedly even raised $30,000 to support Briskman, bringing into question whether subsequent coarsening-of-America actions will become charitable giving opportunities?

Still the basic interrogative needs to be answered: Are you really on your own time and as a result able to express yourself however/whenever you want, when you are employed on an at-will basis?

Pleasure Appointment

Five years ago, the author of Almost DailyBrett wrote about his “No Second Beer Rule,” reflecting on his tenure as a lead media spokesman/Press Secretary for California Governor George Deukmejian.

As a “Pleasure Appointee” of the 35th Governor of the State of California, yours truly never separated my official role in the Office of the Governor from my personal life. They were essentially one-and-the-same for eight years.

Many times media calls came in the middle of the night. Here’s where the no two-beer rule came into play: If I was quoted while under the influence and subsequently uttered a major gaffe, there is little doubt the governor would have relieved me from my duties.

Worse if I was pulled over for DUI, your author would NOT be just another irresponsible sap arrested for drunk driving. Instead, one can easily envision the headlines: “Governor Deukmejian Press Secy Arrested for DUI.”

There is absolutely no distinction in this case between private citizen/government employee in a sensitive job working for the governor of the largest state in the union.

Yours truly would have been immediately terminated with cause by the former attorney general and would understand completely why my foolish actions led to my dismissal. It was truly a privilege to serve the governor, and with that opportunity came a sacred responsibility.

There would not be any $30,000 support payment for me.


I’m an IAC employee and I don’t want @JustineSacco doing any communications on our behalf ever again. Ever.” – Unnamed IAC employee responding Justine Sacco’s tweet

Justine Sacco had it made.

At 30-years-young, she was the senior director of Corporate Communications for InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ: IAC), a $3 billion+ internet and media services company with more than 100 recognizable brands (i.e., The Daily Beast,, Vimeo, Angie’s List …).

During the 2013 holidays, Sacco was flying from JFK with a stop at Heathrow and then continuing on to Cape Town, South Africa. She was firing off acerbic tweets about English teeth and German body odor during her trip. And then she hit the send button on an immediately viral, less-than-140 characters tweet, which changed her life forever.

Sacco was terminated before her plane landed in Cape Town. She slept during the course of her 11-hour flight from London to Cape Town with her phone in “airplane” mode.  She did not understand the consequences of her tweet until she turned on her phone.

As a college professor teaching public relations, advertising, corporate communications and investor relations, my students are simply stunned when Sacco’s PowerPoint slide of her tweet is first presented.

Was she simply not thinking? Was she trying to be cute or clever? Is she, racist?

The answer to the first is certainly, yes. The response to the second is, most likely. The fact the third question is even asked in a serious vain is damning in-and-of itself.

She may have been on a holiday trip to South Africa and may have seen herself as simply exercising her guaranteed First Amendment Rights as a citizen. Nonetheless, she was the senior director of Corporate Public Relations for a major publicly traded company and she fired off an acerbic and insensitive tweet that comes across as racist and not caring about the spread of AIDS in Africa.

InterActiveCorp was well within its rights in terminating Justine. In fact, the company really had no choice.

Maybe if she had just flipped off the President of the United States, she may still be working for IAC today … or maybe not.

Alas, life is just not fair.





“You read Playboy for the articles, right?

“No, I look at the pictures too … ”

He was repeatedly labeled then-and-now as a “sexist pig.”

He was seen as a dangerous cultural rebel.

He was an illusionist. He pedaled fantasies at a desultory time.

He advocated an exciting, edgy new lifestyle for men.

He was regarded by some as a new-age-for-males philosopher.

Hugh Hefner was an editor and publisher, who will go down in the history books.

Some will miss him, many will not … regardless he made a difference.

“Shaken, Not Stirred”

Author Ian Fleming passed away far too early at 56-years young in 1964.

The accounts of his fictional hero James Bond found favor with dashing debonair U.S. President John F. Kennedy, a priceless endorsement for any novelist.

Fleming’s writing/personal interview also found its way onto the pages of Hefner’s Playboy, “Entertainment for Men.”

In reality, Fleming’s secret agent with a license to kill, James Bond (played superbly by Sean Connery) was everything the America male was not, entering the 1960s. Alas, Fleming lived only long enough to see his prose transformed into two movies, Dr. No and From Russia With Love. The first raised many eyebrows with Connery as Bond teamed with bikini clad Ursula Andress, playing Honey Rider.

Honey Rider swam nude in Fleming’s novel, but not for the 1962 movie adaptation.

Seventeen years earlier, Life Magazine captured the iconic Rockwellesque image of the American sailor passionately kissing a nurse in Times Square on VJ Day characterizing the advent of the Baby Boom (1946-1964).

And with the babies came piss, poop, vomit, crying, wailing and screaming. The preoccupation during years of rationing and the G.I Bill was raising children in suburban communities. We liked Ike, but life other than the Korean War/McCarthy-era Red Scare was more than a tad boring with cookie-cutter cars, crew cuts, skinny ties and white shirts.

Enter Hugh Hefner in 1953 with his scandalous Playboy with a scantily clad Marilyn Monroe on the cover. On the inside was a totally unattired horizontally posed Mizz Monroe on red velvet. Asked what was on during her famous pose, Monroe reportedly replied, “the radio.” The collector’s item inaugural issue of Playboy was an immediate sell out.

There was far more than the girl next door in subsequent issues. There were fast cars, exotic global destinations, tasty liquors, perfect suits, gambling, executive jets and a walk on the wild side. Men were shown how their lives could be, and how to rebel against mediocrity instead of merely running out the clock on their boring/mostly forgettable miserable lives.

Ian Fleming’s M16 James Bond epitomized the Playboy lifestyle with his ejector seat equipped Aston Martin, his vodka martinis, sun glasses at the windswept beach, goggles at the Alpine ski resorts, how he defeated the bad dudes and won over the Bond girl.

Sure beats working all day at the office orfactory and returning to the burbs for meat loaf.

“Life Must Have Purpose”

Meryl Streep playing the role of Mrs. Thatcher, and replied to Dennis’ marriage proposal stating that her life must be more than simply raising children. In reality, Margaret Thatcher was more than the first woman PM of the United Kingdom; she made a difference.

Life indeed had a noble purpose for the Iron Lady.

Almost DailyBrett subscribed to both National Geographic and Playboy during the years as they both took you to places you will most likely never visit in your lifetime.

Your author rejects sedentary lifestyles (no binge watching) that emphasize doing and achieving. Hugh Hefner and Ian Fleming through their editing and writing respectively changed the world. Their lives had purpose then and now.

Hefner and to less extent, Fleming, were both accurately accused as being sexists who objectified the fairer gender. Both are guilty as charged.

The real question in the eyes of the author of Almost DailyBrett is whether we are better as a society in that  men were encouraged to do more in their lives than go to work, raise children and watch television at night.

There is a big exciting world out there and we are fortunate to be here for a relatively short period of time. This proposition applies to both genders. Life does not need to be restricted and boring. It can be upwards to the right, and not just on Wall Street.

There needs to be respect and understanding, but that does not mean we can’t go out and have our vodka martini in an exciting foreign locale… shaken of course, but not stirred.

“The president of the United States tweeting negative things about your brand (e.g., ESPN) in an environment where you’re already at risk and you’re already on a downward trend, it’s just not what you want to see happening.” – Stephen Beck, cable TV consultant

“ESPN is about sports … not a political organization.” – ESPN President John Skipper

ESPN proclaims itself as “The Worldwide Leader in Sports.”

If that is true then why are so many labeling the troubled network: MSESPN?

Why is an ESPN anchor (e.g., Jamele Hill) taking to Twitter to call the president of the United States as a “White Supremacist” and a “Bigot”? Sounds like politics, not sports.

With the likes of Stephen Colbert, Rachel Maddow and Bill Maher filling up TV screens at other networks, does the avid sports fan tune into ESPN for affirmational political commentary?

Do you think more than a few of ESPN’s remaining viewers may not necessarily agree? More to the point, don’t they just want to watch their game of choice, and check out the highlights on “Sports Center”?

Predictably, Trump replied via his own customary tweet, reminding the world that ESPN is losing subscribers in a fast-and-furious way (e.g., 100 million in 2011 to 87 million now).

Time to sell the stock, Disney shares in particular?

Almost DailyBrett needs to ask a basic question: Why is the so-called “Worldwide Leader in Sports” becoming embroiled in politics when the nation is the most divided since the days of the Civil War?

Does the Bristol, Ct., network appreciate that contrary opinions may actually exist west of the Hudson? See 2016 Electoral College map for details.

Some have questioned why the network presented the Arthur Ashe Award to Caitlyn Jenner, provided sympathetic coverage of Colin Kaepernick not standing for the national anthem, moved Asian announcer Robert Lee out of the broadcast booth, fired conservative two-time World Series winner Curt Schilling, while not terminating Jamele Hill for her presidential broadsides?.

This commentary is not to suggest that ESPN should not cover provocative sports issues (e.g., O.J. Simpson parole hearing), but one cannot fathom the arbitrary direct shots by a sports network anchor at the commander-in-chief.

Analysts have stated that ESPN’s well-documented troubles are a product of market factors including widespread chord-cutting and the growing acceptance of streaming video. Okay. Then why potentially exacerbate the loss of 13 million viewers by angering millions of viewers, who may just happen to be conservative?

There is a reason why Fox News is the consistent ratings leader in cable news, easily beating MSNBC and CNN in the Nielsen Ratings. Why tick off huge swaths of the public?

“Ballmer and Butthead”

Almost DailyBrett earlier questioned Sun Microsystems founder and chief Scott McNealy’s obsession with Microsoft, who he saw as technology’s evil empire.

Thinking he was so friggin’ clever, McNealy drew laughter when he labeled Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates as “Ballmer and Butthead.”

He also raised eyebrows for making these brash comments while his failing company harbored a $3 per share price. Alas after 28 years, Sun Microsystems went into oblivion having been absorbed by Oracle in 2010.

The connection with ESPN is that a company needs to appreciate its raison d’ etre. What are a corporation’s bread and butter? What is a firm’s brand? What are the meanings of the logo, signage, colors, fonts and style?

Southwest Airlines is “The Low-Fare Airline”; Nike is “Just Do It”; Apple is mainly the iPhone as reaffirmed last week. Sun Microsystems was Java script and servers, but the brand sadly degenerated into becoming synonymous with McNealy’s sophomoric punch lines.

ESPN is the “Worldwide Leader in Sports.” Does it want to be the worldwide leader in left-of-center sports commentary? If so, the network will become a niche player instead of the market-share leader in sports programming.

The adults at Fox Sports will then take over that leadership position, leaving MSESPN to cater to its chosen core of left-of-center “sports” fans.




The BMW Museum and BMW World are located directly across from each other at the headquarters of the luxury auto/motorcycle designer/manufacturer in München.

Bayerische Motoren Werke (e.g., Bavarian Motor Works or BMW) adopted the tag, keeping faith with the “Rule of Three”: The Ultimate Driving Machine.

Based upon the company’s expert use of the English language and conceivably the home German Sprache as well, BMW achieved the much desired marketing goal of less is more.

Translated, BMW was able to deliver a compelling message to its target audiences (i.e., customers, media, shareholders, suppliers) using an economy of words. At the same time, each word has purpose with a powerful amplifying adjective to enhance the corporate brand and to drive sales (no pun intended).

And for the most part there is little repetition of words and no clichés (see “solutions”).

Here is how BMW at its museum describes its legendary design and engineering prowess:


Let’s breakdown BMW’s 101-word statement by sentence with a focus on carefully selected nouns and powerful modifying adjectives. The Almost DailyBrett (ADB) commentary follows each sentence.

“At BMW, designs are created by people for people.

ADB: The brand is immediately identified. Short, punchy attention-grabbing opening.

“In an inspiring culture of dialogue, a wide variety of disciplines, expertise and experience are combined to become an unrivaled creative force.

ADB: Skillful use of the Rule of Three: disciplines, expertise and experience. Powerful adjectives modifying concluding noun – unrivaled creative force.

“The common goal is to achieve the perfect harmonious development process for designing a vehicle.

ADB: BMW designers and engineers work as a team, using “the perfect harmonious development process … .” All organizations seek out skillful team players.

“The unique feature of this process is the internal design competition.

ADB: The “unique” feature is “competition” in internal design. As Martha would say, creative tension is a ‘Good thing.’

“It ensures the power of innovation is always present.

ADB: “Power” and “Innovation” are two of the most vibrant words in any language

“Only a strong team with a professional approach can successfully complete this demanding competitive stage.

ADB: This statement misses no opportunities to present compelling nouns with enhancing adjectives: Strong before team; Successfully before complete; Demanding and competitive before stage.

“Commitment, enthusiasm, perfection and a passion for every single detail are the key elements in producing a successful design.”

ADB: Rule of Three once again – Commitment, enthusiasm, perfection. Pathos or passion for every single detail. Key modifying elements. Strong verb: producing. Successful before design.

Let’s face it. Marketing in the 21st Century is far too many times subject to clichés or lazy combinations of buzz words.

For example, FedEx shamefully took the overused “Sustainable” and the mind-numbing “Solutions” and came up with … you guessed it … “Sustainable Solutions” for its ad about how the package carrying company’s planes and trucks protect the critters in the forest.


How’s that for green washing on steroids?

Less is More

“The way in which information is exchanged so quickly has forever changed the way in which people want to consume information. They demand that things be condensed into 20-second sound bites. With complex problems, this is exceedingly difficult, but to be an effective communicator and leader you need to be able to condense complex items down to the core and be able to do this quickly.” – Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister.

Certainly, BMW is not the only company on the planet that makes the most out of the least number of words. Having said that, BMW is mindful of Prime Minister Blair’s admonition, which is particularly relevant in our microscopic-attention span, texting culture.


Here are the nouns that BMW chronologically chose to tell the story: Designs, Culture, Dialogue, Disciplines, Expertise, Experience, Force, Goal, Development Process, Features, Competition, Power, Innovation, Team, Approach, Commitment, Enthusiasm, Perfection, Passion.

Now let’s examine the adjectives – once again in chronological sequence – to amplify the nouns to present BMW’s engineering culture: Inspiring, Unrivaled. Creative, Perfect, Harmonious, Unique, Internal, Strong, Professional, Demanding, Competitive, Successful.

Almost DailyBrett is fired up after reviewing that list.

As an assistant professor of public relations, investor relations and integrated marketing communications, your author knows the bottom line is to tell the story, and to tell it well.

BMW achieved this worthy goal in just 101 skillfully chosen words and bolstered the legendary, iconic brand as well.


Are the Germans finally – after all these years — happy?

If they are for the most part smiling about life, doesn’t that mean good news for the incumbent-chancellor-running-for-re-election, Angela Merkel?

Doesn’t good government translate into good politics?

And yet there’s so much for her to fear.

The Governor George Deukmejian Laws of Politics are two-fold: Always run as if you are running behind; and never take anything for granted.

Consider that two years ago, a national F-U movement led to Brexit, and the U.K.’s upcoming departure from the strictures of the EU.

Last year America’s fly-over states pointed their collective middle fingers into the sky, and elected Donald Trump as president.

How are Brexit and Donald Trump working out?

During the past three weeks, the author of Almost DailyBrett has been informally sounding out das Volk on trains, in Bier Gartens, in hotel lobbies (all very unscientific and anecdotal) about their views about the state of their country.

When asked if they are truly happy, they seem a little startled by the sophomoric question from a simple blog author. After devoting more than a few brain cells, they come back to the conclusion that Germany is successful (e.g., low unemployment rate of 3.9 percent).

If James Carville was correct in 1992 that “It’s the economy stupid,” then the prospects are good for Frau Merkel on September 24. As The Economist reported last month, Germany has the largest trade balance in the world at $300 billion.

The nation’s budget is not only balanced, it reflects a surplus. Inflation is low at a microscopic 0.4 percent. Personal savings are high. German engineering is legendary. Alles ist in Ordnung.

Has Germany’s Standard of Living Passed America’s?

When the author of Almost DailyBrett visited divided Germany for the first time 30 years ago, the question of German happiness would seem silly. In fact, one would not even imagine, posing that interrogative.

Sitting on the terrace of the Burg Hotel Auf Schönburg in Oberwesel on the Rhine River, one can easily imagine the DAX equivalent of the Dow Transports are easily going upwards to the right. Passenger and freight ships glide northwards on the Rhine or swim similar to salmon against the currents.

Trains emerge and disappear into tunnels. Passenger cars move along the two shores or just miles away race along the no-speed limit autobahns.

German cities including Berlin, Nürnberg and München are bustling with shoppers in the stores. Spaces in the sidewalk cafes are hard to find. The large beer gardens (e.g., München’s Viktualien Markt) are jammed from happy hour into the night.

The smaller tourist towns (i.e., Heidelberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bacharach) are luring visitors seeking out castles, half-timbered houses, gardens and the white wine fruit of the vineyards.

Virtually everywhere are solar panels, modern windmills and soon electric cars from BMW and Tesla. Recycling is the rage, and clear demarcations lead to largely harmonious co-existence between walkers and bike riders.

Many have ruminated about Germany’s angst about Vergangenheitsbewältigung or dealing with the past, namely the Hitler era between 1933-1945. The Germans have addressed these horrific years by acknowledging responsibility, building monuments to the past (e.g., Holocaust Memorial in Berlin) or “Documentation Centers,” such as the one near the former Nazi parade grounds in Nürnberg or a Bunker Museum in Berlin.

Nothing has been forgotten. Everything has been acknowledged. History is all there in broad daylight. The Reichstag dome is transparent to signal a change in the national approach to governance.

Is It Truly Morning in Germany?

Ronald Reagan ran for re-election in 1984 under the banner, “Morning in America.”

The message was patriotism, good times, and a promising tomorrow. Reagan won 49 of 50 states that November.

Merkel is courageously embracing the German flag – the black, red and gold tricolor – as she presents her three-term administration for another four years next month. Germans proudly wave their democratic flag in Deutsche Fussballbund games. The message is love of land, not nationalism. Those unfortunate days for the latter are gone, and for good reason.

Will Angela Merkel win in September embracing the flag, and essentially saying it is indeed “Morning in Germany”? Her latest campaign ad reflects that strategy.

Almost DailyBrett was wrong about Brexit and the same about Trump. These undeniable points need to be acknowledged. And yet, there are no strident middle fingers to be seen in today’s Germany.

The collective mood points to the prospect of a smiling Angela Merkel on September 24. If so, Germany will continue to be in Mutti’s sure hands.



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