Tag Archive: Happy


Investing without research is like playing stud poker and never looking at the cards.” – Über-investor and former Fidelity Magellan Fund manager Peter Lynch

peterlynch1

Couldn’t help but note Lynch’s gambling metaphor when it comes to investing in global markets.

There are many who absolutely contend, and will not be convinced otherwise, that investing in Wall Street is nothing more and nothing less than gambling. They even talk about playing the market.

Are the Manhattan-based NYSE and the NASDAQ stock markets, Las Vegas East?

Or is Las Vegas, Wall Street West?

Can’t say the author of Almost DailyBrett is an expert about either gambling (never been to Lost Wages) or investing, but I do know enough about Wall Street to be dangerous.

And based upon this finite knowledge, let me proclaim IMHO: Investing in Wall Street is not gambling, provided that you do your homework, and as Peter Lynch has stated, “Invest in what you know.”

Strategic Business/Financial Communications

The academic paper for my M.A. project at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication provided the backdrop for the creation of an upper division college course: Strategic Business/Financial Communications. I was privileged to teach the course that I created.

Many students thought that Strategic Business was a math class. Ahh … I flunked geometry in high school. Screw the Pythagorean Theorem. Yours (left-brain challenged) truly cannot and will not ever teach a math class. Instead, communications’ students learned a new language – speaking, writing, hearing, reading – the lexicon of Wall Street.

There is a reason why financial communications/investor relations are easily the highest compensated segments of the public relations profession. According to Salary.com, IR directors received in the range of $97,753 to $201,565 annually in 2013. Corporate PR directors received $86,469 to $167,836 in the same year.

This is serious money, not including stock purchase plans and options. And why is that? Both jobs demand qualitative excellence (e.g., developing relationships with analysts, investors, reporters, employees) and quantitative skills (e.g., reading income statements, balance sheets and cash-flow statements).

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Which brings us back to the point as to why Wall Street is investing and not gambling. The answer lies with responding to a basic question: How does a company make money?

Microsoft sells software and video game consoles. Boeing produces airplanes. Google is the No. 1 search engine. Apple is Macs, iPods, iPhones and iPads. Nike makes athletic shoes. Amazon is the No. 1 digital retailer etc.

And backing up the answer to these questions is a plethora of facts, figures and information. Looking up a stock on Yahoo Finance, CNBC, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, MarketWatch.com, The Street.com and others is the easy part.

There are also the aforementioned income statements (revenues and net income…there is a major top-line and bottom-line difference), balance sheets (assets and liabilities), CEO letters, annual reports, analyst reports and more. The sheer volume of this data can be overwhelming, but it is all there, free of charge.

Leading or Trailing Indicator?

“ … Don’t care where a stock has been, only where it’s going.” – CNBC Mad Money Jim Cramer.

Cramer is fond of stating that he really does not care about a stock’s past, only its future. That answers the leading vs. trailing indicator question. Stock prices are an indicator of the expected/anticipated/projected/forecasted upward or downward direction of a company’s business prospects.

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How do we know whether a company is doing well or not? Certainly there are oodles of information online, maybe even too much data. There is also your personal experience.

Ever observe the perpetual line out the door at Starbucks as people queue to pay $4.00 for that overpriced grande mocha with no whip.

Ever notice that Southwest Airlines only offers peanuts and a soda; you can choose your own seat; the airline only flies Boeing 737s; and the flight attendants are actually Pharrell Williams Happy?

Ever note the high prices, superior quality, commitment to service and high-traffic stores at Nordstrom?

And did you ever wonder about all the hoopla about “The Cloud” or the access of Big Data contained in mega servers and offered in manageable chunks by a company such as Salesforce.com?

When one mentions “Hog,” your mind may conjure a barnyard or you may think about high-performance, big muscle motorcycles. Want to invest in one of the country’s great comeback stories? Just enter NYSE: HOG or Harley Davidson into the search engine.

“The House Always Wins”

When one is mathematically challenged, it is best to stay away from Texas hold-em or the black-jack table. Can’t tell you how many times I have heard the phrase: “The House always wins.”

wallstreetgambling

That’s not to say that there are not legitimate complaints about Wall Street, particularly as it applies to executive compensation for underperforming CEOs. And there are those who contend the market is rigged against the little guy, the retail investor.

There is no doubt that cash is king. And the buy-side (e.g., PERS, Fidelity, Putnam) and the sell-side (e.g., Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan) own the lion’s share of company shares. The respective analysts for these investment houses naturally draw the most attention from publicly traded company execs.

Having said all of the above, there are still opportunities for the retail (e.g. Charles Schwab, eTrade, TD Waterhouse) investors. The time-tested tenets of diversification, doing your homework, know who you are buying and why, still apply.

Sure beats investing in a 0.02 percent passbook account, plunging hundreds of thousands into real estate that could go underwater, stuffing dollars under the mattress or even playing the Roulette wheel in Vegas.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Lynch

http://25iq.com/2013/07/28/a-dozen-things-ive-learned-about-investing-from-peter-lynch/

http://www.cnbc.com/id/15838187

http://www.thedigeratilife.com/blog/jim-cramer-stock-picks-money-tips/

http://www.salary.com/

 

 

 

Dealing with Each Other

“We’ve always taken the view that we have to physically be together from an employee perspective. People don’t work as well remotely … We want employees all in the same physical space to have more collisions. In fact, we’ve done weird things to prioritize collisions over convenience.” – Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.

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“Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings.” – Jackie Reses, Yahoo Human Resources executive vice president

Having worked in Silicon Valley for 15 years, Almost DailyBrett gets it when it comes to the Internet. It’s hard to argue with 2 billion users around the world and growing, sending 2.8 million emails every second…and that was way back in 2011.

The Internet was supposed to free us to work any place, any time in any attire (or non-attire) and contribute just as well to our employer or even obtain a degree online.  The Net spawned a wide variety of new acronyms (e.g., SEO and SEM), even some that are getting outdated (e.g., HTML) and others that are gaining steam including MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses.

We can digitally communicate and self-publish with a few taps with our mobile device or legacy laptops (desk tops are now so 20th Century) to anyone at anyplace at any time. We can send “selfies” of our mugs and other anatomically parts (right, Anthony Weiner?). We can also use the Internet, whether wirelessly or with the remaining wired devices, to NOT communicate with anyone at anyplace at any time.

And there lies the rub.

Back to the Future; Back to the Office?

Tony Hsieh is seen as a pioneer when it comes to delivering a “Wow” experience to Zappos customers The company name is a play off the Spanish word, Zapatos, naturally sells shoes over the web. Sounds a little dull…until you and Harvard Business Review take a deep dive into the $1 billion-plus business.

Tony (last name rhymes with Shay or Shea) follows the mantra of under-promising and over-delivering. Your shoes are supposed to arrive in three days (e.g., piece of cake for Hsieh et al.); Zappos will get your order to you in two days or less. The customer is happy…real happy. Sounds like a Pharrell Williams song. Tony is real happy too as a result of Amazon purchasing Zappos for $1.2 billion.

Zappos, located in Lost Wages, Nevada,  is continuously ranked as a super place to work and has even adopted the management concept of a holacracy or a self-governing operating system; no more imperial edicts from the corner office to the great masses of unwashed employees.

holacracy

And yet when you weigh the coolness factor of Zappos’ “Wow!” customer strategy and its holacracy management system, it still requires the old-fashioned show up for work and deal with your colleagues approach. Sorry no more working remotely.

What does this message say for the future?

Face-to-Face Communications

“Public Relations helps establish and maintain mutual lines of communication, understanding, acceptance and cooperation between an organization and its publics.” – Public Relations Professor and founder of “Public Relations Journal,” Rex Harlow

The threat posed by the University of Phoenix, DeVry University, Kaplan University, Capella University, Ashford University and other online diploma mills to the traditional bricks-and-mortar universities is real. They are not constrained by space and offer an endless “long tail” to their perspective students.

In fact, you can secure your bachelor’s degree or above from these hallowed institutions. It will just be you, your online instructor and conceivably other students typing away and maybe even Skypeing from remote locations around the globe.

A few questions come to mind: What about building, enhancing and solidifying relationships? What about developing qualitative skills or the ability to interview people and describe their experiences as a result of direct interaction? What about effectively working in teams? And what about the “collisions” mentioned by Tony Hsieh?

zappospeople

 

There is no doubt that MOOCs are here to stay, and even the venerable bricks-and-mortar universities are offering their imprimaturs to one-up the University of Phoenix types. And yet neither the online courses offered by the new kids on the block nor the digital courses presented by the old guys can replicate real face-to-face communications.

This need for direct people-to-people interaction is particularly salient to public relations. The whole notion is relating to the public, particularly difficult reporters and editors. At some point, you have to meet people. You can’t just hide behind your monitor.

Some may seriously disagree with the movement to compel folks out of their pajamas, forcing them into business attire and into their vehicles for the dreaded fossil-fuel commute to the office. And waiting for them there will be colleagues, superiors, subordinates, customers, partners, distributors, butchers, bakers and candle-stick makers.

We have to deal with all of them, like it and be adept at this skill. Digital codes have transformed the world, but only to a point. We still have to learn to interact and co-exist with people, preferably in person as opposed to an impersonal email, tweet or text.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_open_online_course

http://techcrunch.com/2009/11/02/amazon-closes-zappos-deal-ends-up-paying-1-2-billion/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtMhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtMhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtMhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtM

http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2014/01/15/making-sense-of-zappos-and-holacracy/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/petercohan/2013/02/26/4-reasons-marissa-mayers-no-at-home-work-policy-is-an-epic-fail/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/curtains-for-bricks-and-mortar-universities/

 

 

 

 

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