Tag Archive: MarketWatch

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.
















Gladys Kravitz: “Why would anyone wanna bang against a wall?”

Abner Kravitz: “Simple. It feels so good when you stop.”

Can’t tell you how many times I have heard that particular exchange, especially on the rubber-chicken circuit. Was really surprised to learn that the line originated from the 1960s sitcom “Bewitched” with Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York being repeatedly snooped upon by nosy Gladys and her husband, Abner, played by Alice Pearce and George Tobias respectively. http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0025460/quotes

My purpose here is to not once again reveal my age (the program ran on ABC from 1964-1972) or to take a walk down memory lane, but to touch upon my recent connection with a four-letter “F”-word, one that has an “a” for the first vowel and rhymes with amber ale. Let’s face it, when it came to finding a follow-up job when my P&L (profit and loss statement) collapsed at Edelman Public Relations, well I F’d…Yep, I F’d big time.

The fact that many others were in the same boat (pardon the tired cliché) really doesn’t make it any better. Misery may love company, but you were still miserable…To top it off, you make those around you miserable as well.

I was literally pounding my head against the wall and quite frankly it didn’t feel very good. In one case, I interviewed with a company 17 times only to receive in the end a terse two-line, kiss-off e-mail from a staffer in the HR Department. What’s ironic is that this company, which will go nameless, was chosen by Fortune Magazine as one of the top 10 places to work. Really? http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/bestcompanies/2010/

Twice I was the first runner-up to the crown only to be humming Burt Parks music in the back of my head as the flash bulbs fluttered for my competition. Can relate to Jennifer Flowers when she uttered, “Close, but no cigar” recounting the difference in her relationship with a former president compared to Monica Lewinsky.

My pursuit was even the subject of a MarketWatch story earlier this year and while the publicity was good, the result was still the same…that is until I stopped banging my head against the same wall. What did Albert Einstein say about the definition of insanity? “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Instead of continuing my uphill battle in the face of a bleak job market as a white, Anglo male just north of the half-century mark, I made a life changing decision and in doing so, embarked on doing something I wanted to do as opposed to something someone else wanted me to do.

The decision was to sell my Bay Area house in a very difficult real estate market, transfer my equity to a lower-priced region, buy a house outright, drive down my cost structure, commute three miles each way and pursue my master’s degree in “Communication and Society” at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.

Before I go any further, I realize that not everyone can follow-in-my-footsteps, nor would they necessarily want to. Many have family commitments; spouses with jobs; children in school; no desire to ever see an academic setting ever again; or in many cases their place of residence is under water. This latter scenario is just way too common and incredibly sad.

At the same time, student enrollment at Oregon is at a record high of 23,389 or about 1,000 over last year with a freshmen retention rate of 85 percent. No doubt the unprecedented success of the football team playing in the BCS National Championship Game on January 10 is a factor (everyone loves a winner), but the economy weighs in here in a big way as well.http://uonews.uoregon.edu/archive/news-release/2010/11/university-oregon-has-record-enrollment-strongest-freshmen-retention-st

If the economy has decided to take two or three years off, then maybe we should do the same. Why not use this time to improve ourselves, mentally and physically? Read the best and the brightest. Learn a new language. Get in the best shape of your life. Teach the next generation. Help others. Use some of this absorbed knowledge. Be a better person.

Gee, I hope that I can do that.

%d bloggers like this: