Archive for the ‘Random’ Category

How Social Media Has Enhanced our Social Lives

11/14/2011

A friend asked my to help her with a paper of social media and it’s effect on our social lives. I said how I believed social media has come to improve, not degrade our personal relationships. Today everything is becoming more social, thus many things we used to do as individuals, can now be done together. After all, Facebook and twitter are now linked to everything from blogs, to websites, to game apps, to dining room table seating!

Here are some examples:

1) This past week I was studying the personality types of some famous celerities (namely Abraham Lincoln and Bill Gates). I came across a blog written by David Keirsey, the son of the famed psychologist by the same name, and left a comment on my confusion with regard to types. (If you care, I was wondering what made Lincoln an extravert). I also clicked on the feature to notify me if a follow up comment was left. Within 48 hours I received an email notifying me that Keirsey had responded to my comment. (Turns out, Lincoln was far more expressive than he was attentive).

2) We have all heard of Twitter, but few of us truly understand the profundit of this explosion into the world of social interaction, of the highest order. Once upon a time, kings and nobles sat in royal chambers light years from the simplest layman. When one sociologist confirmed a study where he proved a mere 6 degrees of separation between any random person to another, it was received with fanfare. Today though that study is insignificant. Chat up any famous celebrity or personality and if you’re interesting enough you might just get a response! (Me and President Obama by the way: 2 degrees of separation).

The other day I attended a TEDx event here in Orlando and I was talking to a coordinator who does game design. The conversation turned to Twitter and he was saying how he wasn’t too familiar with mini-blogging but decided to post a question/problem he was having. After a few days he had found the answer and updated his status, in brief 140 character form. This continued a few times before suddenly he started getting followers. Not just randoms, but avid game designers who were intrigued by his knowwledge and acumen. He has since become an “online expert” in the field of game design.

3) There was recently an app developed that allowed people to reserve seats in restaraunts through a social media platform. One can choose where they would like to sit, near who, or not near who. This was soon advanced to gala dinner arrangements (as we all know how picky honorees can be). And I have heard that a rabbi, who familiar with the app, tweaked it so that members of his community can pre-arrange their seats for Shabbat dinner. So the virtual becomes actual.

4) I have a group of close friends, and we have developed an online mastermind group. Essentially whenever we feel motivated, or the need to be motivated, we share our inspiration, frustration or encouragement with the group. Of course, we can each view these updates and comment in our own time, so it avoids the issue of having to coordinate an exact time of when we can all talk. We are truly moving into a world of “asynergy” where we no longer have to all be present at the same time to engage with others.

I can probably go on and on, but the point is that the telephone didn’t make us less social (as TV did), and as the greatest technological advancement since the radio, the internet has found ways to bring us together, to find common ground where we’d otherwise either fail to notice or lack the means to follow up. An interesting conversation used to end with “You’re interesting, give me your number so I can never call you”. Today it ends with, “Wow! You’re fascinating, I’ll hit u up on Facebook and even if I don’t message too often, we’ll be able to stay in touch”. Today an innocent comment pertaining to dissatisfaction with a product or service on a Facebook discussion Board can send ripples through a company’s quality control rooms.

Some say we are becoming less social. Some say we are learning to breach the barrier and communicate with people in ways we never thought possible. I say, it’s all what we make of it.

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Revisiting Investing

06/02/2011

I originally started blogging in 2006 under the name “Investor Sentiment”‎ (all posts are still available) which recorded  my thoughts and feelings of the general market, long before the financial crisis came on the horizon. The focus was to answer some fundamental questions about success with regard to money: Why do the rich get richer, while the poor get poorer? How is the real money made in a mad world like today? If everyone has all the answers, why isn’t everyone rich?

Pages could probably be written in attempt to answer these questions. But in short: Because it takes money to make money. By understanding the fundamentals of wealth and investing. Because most people fail to act when the time warrants so.

Market Trends

We seem to be at a sudden turning point in what I consider a secular bear market. You see there are two timeframes, which often last years, and sometime decades. When stocks as an asset class rise exponentially, and when stocks don’t really do much.

The 1980s and 90s were much like the first. Rising stocks, good economy, enormous profits. The second scenario is what we’re experiencing since 2001. If you look back, the market is only a few points higher than it was at its January 2000 peak of 11,723. That’s a long time to earn a measly 5% (not including dividends of course, but we won’t even get into adjusting for inflation).

In these large super-cycles however, we do find smaller ups and downs, and this is how most traders make their money. As a matter of fact, some only make money when things get really volatile (wild).

From the beginning of the real estate debacle in 2007 until 2008, we saw a crash in fiscal assets and then a quick rise, sending markets to almost 85% gains, and some stocks (financials) to gains in the 100s of percents.

Passive Style

I consider myself a passive investor, as oppose to an enterprising one. I don’t like sitting in front of double screens all day (6 for some), and I don’t believe that there are many great opportunities in any given time frame. There are times however when there are so many opportunities, that it simply becomes a matter of choosing the best risk reward option.

There are two types when it comes to financial investment. Those who seek opportunities and follow the markets, and those who really don’t care much about what Mr. Market is doing but is able to notice when the bells start a ringin’.

I feel like I used to be part of the first category, but graduated towards the second. Investing is an art of sloth, Warren Buffett once said. It never was my thinking that made the big money for me, it always was my sitting, said the legendary Jesse Livermore.

Pareto’s Principle states that for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. If such is the case, we may infer that 80% of the profits are a result of 20% of the trades. (You may even take this a step further and argue that 99% of the profits result from just 1% of the trades).

I take this opportunity, as an outsider, to offer an objective viewpoint of the financial landscape.

Where We Stand and Opportunities Ahead

Markets fell 2.2% today. Ironic, since the old mantra goes “Sell in May and Go Away!”.

We know that healthy markets climb steadily upward. The more worry or doubt as to a market upward rise, the healthier the rally. The greater the excitement and mayhem, the greater the inevitable disappointment.

300 point moves on the Dow are rarely positive, regardless of whether they are up or down. Corporate profits remain at unsustainable levels, with companies firing on all cylinders trying to stave off any hint of recession. And dividends remain at historical lows. While there were eras (pre-1950) when the average company on the S&P 500 offered a generous 10% yield, today the most generous dividend from a Dow company is 5.45%. Finally, market conditions seem overly ambitious almost completely downplaying the economic condition. Tomorrow’s profits don’t come from yesterday’s market reports.

Let’s hear what Mr. Market had to say about today’s action:

“We need to find real yield and real returns on these assets… The dividend yields on these stocks look awesome relative to all the other investment vehicles out there” – Peter Yastrow, market strategist.

This is the general consensus of the investing community. And that should work out, that is until the Fed starts raising interest rates to catch up with the quantitive easing of capital. (This does not mean that the Dollar will drop, on the contrary, raising rates may be the only thing that the Fed can try that will do so). When this happens, the interest rate, from both the government and banks, will far exceed that of most equity dividends.

Then questions of QE2 (QE3?) and another real estate meltdown come to mind. If you’ve ever jumped from paycheck to paycheck, from interest payment to interest payment, you know how it feels to be in a bind. The money has got to come from somewhere, and where that is, is very important. The American consumer was in bad condition before the rout, so what could we expect now? Usually when you’re on the verge of collapse you’ll reach into the coffers and start liquidating things you never thought you would – old savings accounts, long-term investments, retirement money, childrens’ college funds, family heirlooms – everything and anything in your power to hunker down and not go bust.

That cash may be coming from rising assets, like stocks. But if markets continue to fall, it will turn into a death spiral. Because when that cash flow depletes, it’s all over, and that’s where I think the American consumer is now. They’ve already dug into their essentials. When that’s empty, so is their financial stamina and the greatest consumer-driven anti-recessionary buying binge since WWII.

The Way of Markets

In the event that real rates remain negative (i.e. the rate of inflation continues to rise faster than the rate of return on investment), money will continue to flow to where it is treated best – namely, gold, commodities, unfinanced real estate, and government securities.

You see, the issue with data and financial projections is that they are just that: yesterday’s data and a projection based on yesterday’s data. But when surprises emerge, similar to what happened today, you get a rout. It is obvious then that investment of any kind must be based on more than just data, but a general understanding of the wide dynamic at play (why we use mega-data or history as a guide) and the depth of the perception (much like seeing that the cash on the balance sheet is worth more than the supposed market cap).

The market must be watched closely over the next few days for signs are market irrationality. A recovery from today’s carnage should be expected and then a bumpy ride down. If this does occur (I imagine volatility going nuts with a few daily 250+ point swings) then an equity shorting opportunity may be incumbent.

How To Play This Move

Shorting with Funds: There are a number of funds you can use to short the general market: Ideally are the SDOW (Dow), SQQQ (Nasdaq) and SPXU (S&P) each of which offers you 3x leverage on market losses (and 3x the loss if markets rise). You can find a full list here: http://bit.ly/muwNSn.

Shorting with Options: Another way would be to buy options on market losses for a few months out. These options could be sold once in-the-money. An option is basically insurance against possible events. In this case, a falling market and a tapped out American consumer.

Always remember to cut your losses and let your winners run!

Disclosure: I own no open positions, long or short. I do own some metals which I do not intend on selling at any price.

Why Action Induces Success

05/18/2011

We live in a world of fragmentation. Everything is here in perfection, yet it seems to exist only in forms of randomness. Our job here is to integrate these components into usable and functional frameworks and organization.

Now in English: Work now, money later.

Our world thrives on creativity, not money, fame, or status. The reason we were stuck in the stone age for so long was simply due to out lack of creative application. First there was a wheel, then came DaVince, and sooner or later we got Google. The issue with our ancestors was not their lack of brainpower, but in their ability to apply their ideas into a working model (version 1.0) which then evolved over time into better ideas, projects, businesses and industries that bore even greater ideas, projects, businesses and industries, and hence forth.

An aspiring businessman once asked a wise man for some advice in his upcoming venture. “Start the business.” he said. “You’ll figure the rest out”.

If your truly want to innovate you must first begin. Somewhere. And unbelievably, it doesn’t matter where.

Many innovators think of Mark Zuckerberg as the visionary of Facebook, while in reality its genius was nothing more than a simple process: brainstorm, execute, brainstorm, execute, brainstorm, execute. No pre-launch testing, no monetization models, no major management overhauls. Brainstorm, execute, every once in a while looking at the big picture to put it all in focus. You stop, you die.

There seems to be a strong aversion to execution in today’s world. Ideas are infinite yet great businesses are seldom. Every one of us should have at least one great idea that we have implemented and profited from, which would then enable us to focus our influence to either expand our existing idea or develop new ones.

One of the mind-blowing effects of creative power is that it increases exponentially the smaller the area we are focusing on. We apply this same dynamic in the physical leverage used in screwdrivers, pulleys and doorstops. What we lose in distance we gain in height, or in this case, what we lose in vision, we gain in impact.

Powerful ideas come from powerful questions. But brilliant ideas come from spade questions.

Remember that our impact is only as great as our ideas multiplied by our execution. If we lack the discipline to follow-through we are but dreamers. But when we act, and then brainstorm new avenues to growing and learning through our actions, we become unstoppable! 

Why We Celebrate The Celebrated

03/14/2011

Throughout every niche and industry there are celebrities. Icons who dominate their respective field, be it academia, sports, pop-culture, religion or business.

But then comes some presumably logical thinker who challenges the status quo and asks “Why put them on a pedestal? They’re just like everyone else, or at best, less than worthy of the status their given”.

And there is some validity to their claim. We often attribute value to what other people attribute value. (This is known as the Law of Value Attribution).

Yet the truth that we often forget, or even fail to understand is how and why these people gained their stature and prestige in the first place.

Its not easy competing against 7 Billion people. We must assume that we don’t have all the information. We begin to deny the greats of their innate power and discredit their skill in reeplacement for luck or good fortune.

Is Michael Jordan really the best to ever play the game? Did Warren Buffett just get lucky? How good were the Beatles?

However, it is often the quiet champion who is unknown, rather than the celebrity who is overhyped.

An exception to this would be when we have an ulterior motive, something valuable at stake.

Example: Enron. The reason people failed to view things objectively because they chose not to. The balance sheets didn’t make sense, but their personal banking statements did. And as any student of behavioral psychology knows, when its win-lose we’d rather just win the prize and lose our minds.

Favorite Tweets #8

05/14/2010

Some Tweets worth “ReTweeting”. Enjoy!

  • I once met a Billionaire and made him feel like a million bucks. I didn’t realize I had insulted him.
  • The sweetest words any entrepreneur can hear: “I know a guy…”
  • Ever seen what a trillion dollars looks like? http://ow.ly/1bEKS
  • My father asks me “So when do you plan to settle down”. My response: I’ll only settle up, not down 🙂
  • “The Law of the Alibi: If you tell the boss you were late for work because you had a flat tire, the very next day you will have a flat tire.”
  • If caring for a baby is a “full-time job”, then how do mothers take care of twins? Time is what you make of it.
  • Comic: Life before Google http://bit.ly/a9r0Gy
  • Whether you become famous, drunk, overwhelmed or exhausted, Remember: ABC – Always Be Conscious.
  • I wonder who the genius was to first figure out that it was worth it to accept credit card transactions for less than $10… and why can’t the above mentioned genius figure out a more efficient airport drop-off/pick-up system?
  • How to be Luckier in Life ~ http://bit.ly/a7FsX5
  • “The problem with America is stupidity. I’m not saying there should be a capital punishment for stupidity, but why don’t we just take the safety labels off of everything and let the problem solve itself?”
  • The Hidden Art of Achieving Creative Flow http://bit.ly/9cDRQp
  • Sometimes you’re so into what everyone thinks of you, that you forget what everyone thinks of you.
  • You’ve got to have a million ideas. 100,000 you can try. 10,000 that fail. 1000 that succeed. 100 that inspire many. 10 that can help millions. And ONE that changes the world!
  • Condensed philosophy of the Samurai: “Win beforehand.” Brilliant.
  • Genius in the 21st century is all about knowing how to identify the information that really matters and being creative enough to combine the best ideas.
  • A Great Story About Motivation: http://bit.ly/boBbhw
  • I spent the earlier years of my life trying to become an expert in the things that in the more recent years of my life I realized I could easily pay some other expert to do.
  • There’s what you do for money, what you do with your time, and who you are as a person. Never confuse them.
  • “The only useful banking innovation was the invention of the ATM” ~ Legendary Fed Chairman, Paul Volcker
  • What’s the MOST positive thing you can think of that will enhance your life in every way? Go get it!
  • “The desire to master others is born of a failure to master oneself” (Thanks Yitz)
  • Stress is caused by trying to balance too many things at once. Focus and do the ONE thing that MUST be done, by YOU, right NOW.
  • Words that everyone loves to hear “I think you’re awesome!”

Your Very Best!

04/12/2010

If this doesn’t motivate you, nothing will.

Direct Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSM1mvMypWU

New Facebook Page

04/09/2010

Join us on our new “Sentiment of Success” Facebook Page

This is your place to help us improve and better serve your interests.

Get all the blog updates directly to your Facebook feed, and connect with fans the world over!

Write on our Wall, and let us know YOUR thoughts on success, life, business, family – whatever!

Share your favorite pictures and links with us!

Visit our Discussion Page where you can interact with us and our fans to discuss just about any topic under the sun. Have fun!

~ Levik Dubov

Recent Tweets #7

03/29/2010
  • “If you walk through a rose garden, you’ll walk out smelling like roses, even if you didn’t touch anything. And the same applies to a stable” ~ Chasidic Saying
  • When you love yourself, you can love others. When give yourself, you can give others. When you change yourself, you can change others!
  • From Seth Godin: Random rules for ideas worth spreading http://bit.ly/a3yJbL
  • Empowering your team: “Make everyone the CEO of something” ~ Mark Pinc
  • Dance like you’re photo’s not tagged, love like you’ve never been unfriended, tweet like nobody’s following! (Thanks Rita)
  • “All the world’s indeed a stage and we are merely players. Performers and portrayers. Each another’s audience outside the guilded cage” ~ Rush, Moving Pictures
  • “Holding cash may be painful, but its far less painful than investing in something stupid”. Now apply that lesson to everything in your life!
  • “If you’re going to doubt something, doubt your limits” ~ Don Ward
  • Cash isn’t king. The customer is king. Respect his desires and you’ll get your own.
  • On the issue of privacy: The good person doesn’t care what people find out about him. As it would all be in line with the image they’d like to project of themselves. Become that good person.
  • “Don’t look where you fall, but where you slipped” ~ African proverb
  • “No wonder Apple’s shares are through the roof. The iPod has brought going to the bathroom to a whole new level”
  • True purpose is a self-imposed yet spiritually-validated conviction that you do all that you do, for all the right reasons. Reasons of goodness, of benefit and of making this world the great place that many before us believed it could be.
  • Play is the foundation for all learning. Get inspired, get playful, get ideas!
  • Living Life on Purpose: http://wp.me/pBYCr-ox
  • You’ve got to do your part (which is your 100%) and then G-d does the other 99% 🙂
  • “Work Hard. Play Hard. Change the World!” ~ Amazon (I think)
  • “When someone is on fire, you notice them. Are you on fire?” (Thanks Fitz)
  • Amazing how many children lose out on their childhood because their too afraid to hang out with the crazy kids. (Goes for adults too)
  • There’s a fine line between getting everything you want and grabbing great opportunities as they manifest themselves (something Warren Buffett would say)
  • Success Secrets of Michael Jordan: http://bit.ly/4Og9FO
  • Ever notice that if you say “beer can” with a British accent you are also saying “bacon” with a Jamaican accent?
  • Funny – “How to Overcome Writer’s Block” by Steve Martin: http://www.creativecreativity.com/2007/03/funny_steve_mar.html

10 Tips for Entrepreneurs

02/23/2010

Original article “10 Tips for Entrepreneurs” by Kevin Rose, Founder of Digg

With (blue) additions by me, Levik Dubov

1: Just Build It: You don’t need anyone’s approval and in fact, you probably won’t get it, so don’t even try.

Absolutely! The key to building a great company is having the ability to envision beforehand what it’s supposed to look like. Otherwise you’re just chasing the Dollar.

2: Iterate: Build, release and iterate. Make a list of the features you want to create over the next six months and get going! For small companies, once a week; for larger companies, maybe twice a month.

This should be part of your vision. What exactly do you want to do for your customers? It won’t all happen right away, but as Kevin puts it, make sure it happens overtime.

3: Hire Your Boss: Make sure you hire people that you would want to work for, who challenge you and you can learn from.

I love this thought! You see the typical entrepreneur is a natural dreamer, and it takes a ruthless team to ensure that everything gets done. You feed off of each other.

4: Demand Excellence: Ensure staff are committed to and understand your vision. Passionate, committed staff have a tendency to rub off on people. There is nothing like a new junior developer who runs circles around everyone to get people hyped up and raise the bar! Stay involved in the hiring process as long as you possibly can.

This is the difference between good brands and GREAT brands. If it isn’t good enough, tell them “This isn’t good enough”. Let your people know that you don’t want to be just Good, or Ok. You want to “Wow!”

5: Raising Money: The higher your evaluation is, the more equity you have to work with. Beg, borrow and steal. Be creative about finding ways to cut costs. For example, tell the bar you are having a “birthday party” instead of a corporate event (which they would charge you $5,000 for). Rent servers, don’t buy them. Don’t just take the cash, make sure your investors can add value. Stick with angel investment. Venture capital mean board meetings, which is a huge sap on time and resources.

They say that finding funding is the second hardest part of starting any business. (#1 is finding a customer). Anyone seeking funding knows this part of the game to be full of let-downs and unmet expectations. Keep at it! If you’re good, somebody‘s going to love you.

6: Hack the Press: Hit up the lower-end bloggers at your favorite tech blog. They have just as much opportunity to write about your product as any other blogger on the team. Attend the after-event parties. The same crowd that attends the events also goes to the parties, but the parties are free.

I personally have never gotten this far in the game, but its a definite must!

7: Invest in Advisors: Give away a small amount of stock to advisors (which they can vest after a few years) who you can call on in a pickle or for general advice as issues arise. Set the ground rules so you and the advisor know how much time you have access to.

Henry Ford was known for once replying something along the lines of: “Sir, I do not know the answer to that question, but I can definitely find somebody who does”. Find that somebody.

8: Connect With the Community: Hold a live town hall where you can collect feedback and get advice from your users.

The key to successful communication is the feedback you receive. This is your chance to interact with your end-users. Ask them anything and everything that can enhance your products and the user experience.

9: Leverage Your User Base to Spread the Word: Facebook notifications is a great example of how to do this.

Yes! If you are not on Facebook these days you are missing out on a huge opportunity in brand awareness and client interaction.

10: Analyze Your Traffic: Pay attention to how people are using your site, and then learn and evolve. Use Google Analytics to understand and track traffic sources and entrance and exit paths.

This is primarily useful to online-based companies, but can be just as useful to any organization. Collect data. Find out who uses what, when, where, and most importantly why and how.

Now get out there and change the world!

Living Life on Purpose

01/19/2010

The following is the re-edited pre-2 AM version

I wonder if people feel their lives as a pursuit of but a necessary happiness. A race back to the original finish line. A never-ending loop that seems to go on ad infinitum. Or a maze that seems to have neither a finish or an exit.

What is Purpose other than a pre-determined ideal set by oneself to validate his or her sense of being and doing?

What Drives Us

Viktor Frankl, noted psycho-analyst and Holocaust survivor, used to say that any purpose is a good purpose. Since it at least drives one forward in a direction of anticipation, propelling and strengthening the ability to get to tomorrow.

But many times a personal purpose isn’t enough. Dreams are easily destroyed, like a father returning from the concentration camps hoping to find his family and home, only to find his entire town ransacked and word that his family has passed on. Or an ambitious professional unable to find a proper job after spending many years and much financial debt on gaining their skill set.

Changing Focus

Yet not all set-backs are viewed as such. Many motivational mentors speak of “impersonal” dreams, an idea or aspiration that far surpasses ones personal interest for comfortability or prestige, but rather a vision to make many millions of lives better and to change the world in some way or form.

With this perspective, something phenomenal occurs. The abilities lose their status as being personal and they enter a new social dynamic that, if for the right reasons, is no force to be reckoned with. No financial stress, lost deal, family crisis, or natural disaster can stand in the way of that. The world has now become your alibi, not your contender.

This is the basis all spiritual, entrepreneurial and religious pursuits. A calling to a higher purpose far greater than finding personal wealth, prestige, satisfaction or fulfillment. Happiness becomes what is done for another, what is done for the endurance of an enterprise, what is done for the patriotism of a country, what is done for a better world.

True purpose then is a self-imposed yet spiritually-validated conviction that you do all that you do, for all the right reasons. Reasons of goodness, of benefit and of making this world the great place that many before us believed it could be.

Why 2010 May Be Quite Similar to 2009

01/08/2010

If you did well this past year, I guess that’s a good thing!

Friday is my market day and it seems that with the new year some realignment of the big picture is in order. Note of optimism: When you know what’s going on you can properly position yourself to benefit from its leverage. No condition is ever entirely good or entirely bad. So here’s what’s going on…

“Sentiment Oscillation” or “Paradigm Shift”.
That’s the reason for all this mayhem. As general conditions continue to change (as they have since 2007), so will the general mindset. From growing to sustaining. From net profit to net loss. From Investment to saving. From short-term gains to long-term advantage.

Let’s focus solely on economic facts:

The How:

  1. Internationally Governments have already allocated rescue money that will be spent over the next few years
  2. They have also lowered Interest Rates which spurs a higher inflation of credit
  3. When Rates rise savings gains precedence and production falls decreasing the supply of goods and labor
  4. Less supply causes over-demand and higher prices for real goods and commodities
  5. When commodities prices rise, they tend to cut into expenses thus lowering profits
  6. Lower profits and demand for cash decrease momentum of corporate investment and the stock markets decline
  7. Lower Markets lower the sentiment of the consumer and spending decreases
  8. Less sales means less revenue and retail venues under pressure go under causing a Commercial Real Estate bust
  9. With Investing and Equity down and out people turn to Savings and Cash
  10. With Bond markets already pressured by higher Interest Rates and a debt laden currency people begin to turn to Precious Metals and Tangible Goods

Why:

  1. Someone say Bailout? Trillions have been spent and Trillions more will
  2. With the lowest Interest Rates in decades credit is merely being deferred
  3. Businesses decide to save rather than reinvest profits
  4. This one’s tricky but the former ALWAYS leads to latter
  5. Even if businesses raise prices, profits will fall
  6. Bond yields begin to resemble stock dividends only with less apparent risk
  7. Higher stock prices are always met with consumer exuberance
  8. This has already begun but has been prevented by soon ending rescue funds
  9. With higher Interest rates CD’s and Money Market funds begin to make sense again
  10. This is what happened during the 70’s as Real Interest Rates remained negative

Investing Advice: If you are going to “invest”, you must understand that the next 10 years will be similar to the last. Much higher prices for real goods, much lower valuations for equity and paper. This is because we’re doing the same things over (lower rates, more issuance of credit, more debt to pay off). These are times to seek under-valued out-of-favor securities.

Business Advice: If you are going to do business, I believe you will be better off than many people trying to make ends meet on unemployment checks and the reason for that is the ability to be proactive. Your success is what you make of it, and if you’re determination is deep then no recession or even depression could abstain it. Focus on providing customers with durable and consistent value.

Fundraising Advice: If you are in the legions of the eager financiers trying to keep the lights on in your non-profit, raising for a local charity or even seeking capital for your small business, remember that people are always searching for the best place to put their money. Your job is to provide them with the sense of value that its going to the right place for the right reasons.

Have an awesome weekend!

Simple Things to Make You Safer Online

01/08/2010

By Dr. Steve Sjuggerud, “The Daily Wealth

“You guys really know everything about me…” Maria Bartiromo told Eric Schmidt – the head of Google – on a new CNBC special about Google.

Maria’s basically right…

She said, “If I’m a Google user, you have years of my search terms [saved] – stuff that may contain all kinds of incredibly personal data. If I use other Google services, you can see the contents of my email, my documents, my spreadsheets, my personal photos, my voice mail, even the contacts in my address book…”

Then Maria asked, “People are treating Google like their most trusted friend. Should they be?”

The reply from Google wasn’t as cheery as the company’s name and image… “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place,” Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt told Maria. “We are all subject in the U.S. to the Patriot Act. It is possible that that information could be made available to the authorities.”

(See a 30-second video clip of that here.)

Thanks to the Patriot Act, law enforcement and intelligence agencies are legally able to see your Internet activities without a judge’s oversight. (You SHOULD be protected from this under the Fourth Amendment – unreasonable search and seizure – but the government gets around the Fourth Amendment because it gets the data from Google… Therefore it’s not unreasonably searching YOU.)

Maybe Google won’t do anything bad with your data. (“If we broke our trust with our end users, then they would leave,” Google’s CEO said.) And maybe the government won’t do anything bad either…

But what about the real “bad guys” out there? What about guys like the person who hacked into my family member’s bank account? These guys pose extraordinary danger… trafficking in your stolen data and looking for the right sucker to take advantage of.

It’s nothing personal. It’s like the Mafia… It’s just business – big business. So let me back up and ask you… All things being equal, which house will likely get robbed first?

A) My house, with an alarm company sticker in the window, which says something like, “This House is Secured By ABC Security.”

B) My neighbor’s house, with no alarm company sticker.

Let me make my point another way: If a buddy and I are running from a bear, I don’t have to be faster than the bear to get away… I just have to be faster than my buddy.

In short, predators typically go for the easy prey… the wounded… the low-hanging fruit.

So today, as a very minimal step, I urge you to get yourself some Internet “alarm stickers,” so to speak… You must start now, at the very least, taking a little more precaution than your neighbor.

I have spent more time doing research on this subject than I have on any other DailyWealth. When it comes to investments, I have a background. But I don’t have a background in this stuff, so I had to put in the time.

In the search for a solution, I have signed up for all kinds of services and installed all kinds of crazy things on my computers to see what works. I have gone through hundreds of suggestions from readers and checked each of them out. I have talked with Internet security experts and privacy experts.

I could write a huge report on what I’ve learned (and I might just do that). It is all quite scary.

But today’s DailyWealth is about a few incredibly simple things you can do to dramatically decrease the likelihood of having people snoop on you and your life. Let’s get started…

1) Start by limiting your exposure to Google.

Whenever you use Google, it logs your search terms and your computer’s IP address. And once you log into Gmail from anywhere, Google can log your activity then, too. I have two simple and easy solutions for you.

Instead of Google, you can use 1) www.startpage.com to do your searches. StartPage doesn’t capture your IP address. Solution 2) is to use www.scroogle.org (make sure you type in “.org” on this one). Scroogle is pretty nifty… You request the search at Scroogle, it asks Google for your search, and then it reports those results back to you. One useful feature is you can set Scroogle as your default Internet search engine in your web browser.

Also remember, if you’re a Gmail user, as long as you’re logged in to your e-mail, your actions online are being logged.

I have nothing against Google… It just happens to be the biggest search engine. I just fear “the bad guys” and Big Brother, and what information they might extract to use against you.

2) Improve your passwords!

Using “Fido123” for everything from your Amazon account to your bank account simply isn’t good enough. An exceptional resource you should try for this is RoboForm: www.RoboForm.com.

3) Whenever possible, use more than just one layer of security with your financial accounts.

You usually have to ask for this. But Bank of America, for example, will send you a randomly generated, one-time-use password delivered to your cell phone by text message. Others will send you a credit-card-sized random number generator. Between the randomly generated password and the password in your head, you should be in good shape.

Of course, these three things are above and beyond doing “the usual”… which means updating Windows regularly, using firewalls, anti-virus, etc. But you should absolutely do the above three things – at least.

Seriously consider more drastic measures as well…

I’ll share some of the more drastic measures I’ve tested and found to be useful – including using a more private e-mail service than Gmail or Yahoo and ways to hide your IP address from Google and even your Internet service provider – in tomorrow’s DailyWealth.

Until then… good (and safe) investing,

Steve

Recent Tweets #6

01/05/2010
  • “Never be afraid to try something new; remember amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic.”
  • Visit the “10 Days to Personal Fulfillment” project Facebook Page here: http://bit.ly/4UJspd
  • ”The greatest thing about Twitter, is that you can quote something and totally make up the source.” – George Washington
  • Imagine if you didn’t care what anyone thought, or if you didn’t worry about tomorrow so much. Imagine if you changed the world for good!
  • How To Live Before You Die – by Steve Jobs (15 min video clip) http://bit.ly/8ZbpEB
  • Amazing dragon illusion http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKanr-kNEJs
  • Happy New Year!!! Every year millions of people want a New Year’s Eve they’ll never forget. Then they drink so much they can’t remember it!
  • People think the idea of a “4 Hour Workweek” is hedonistic. I say its just realistic. To be able to focus on what really matters to you.
  • Do we need to actually make all the mistakes in order to learn from them? Why has the world become so anti-emotional? (“Equilibrium” style).
  • In life you’ve got to have the curiosity and courage to do the things you really want. You’ve got to feel safe enough to take your chances.
  • “I didn’t invent the rainy day, i just own the best umbrella” – Almost Famous
  • “We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dreams” – Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory
  • All marriages are made in heaven. (Note that all thunder storms, hurricanes, tornadoes etc also made in heaven).
  • It’s not that people don’t care. It’s just that when you work 40-60 hour weeks there’s just no time to.
  • Some Mac Fun: Hold down… fn+CTRL+ALT+COMMAND and 8, at the same time 🙂
  • Runners: When you want to break records go off route. Rest, psyche up and just run. Calculate what you’ve done later at http://bit.ly/2G9sHt
  • We become what we love. Obsession leads to orientation which leads to familiarity which breeds success” – my1ambition
  • Once upon a time, a guy would quit smoking because he found out his girl didn’t like it. Today we’re too judgmental.
  • Action IS the most important. But to have the right Action you need the best Attitude, a direct Approach and the most passionate goals
  • Just smashed through one of my goals: to run 6 miles. Ran 8 instead. Was awesome! (Ok no bragging). Choose a goal and focus till completed.
  • Poster I saw today: “Teamwork: Inspired by vision, Fueled by enthusiasm, Powered by purpose, Driven to succeed!”
  • For those of you missing “Community” (NBC). Here’s a good laugh: http://bit.ly/BxH3j
  • Great Pics, No Photoshop, great depth perception, and a little creativity. http://bit.ly/3a3qCG
  • Starting a business? I’ve found Paul Graham’s essays quite resourceful (though lengthy). You can find them here http://bit.ly/lzutd
  • Everyone grows up only to realize they really want to be kids again. Act like what you are now!
  • Just got off the phone with a friend at NeuroFocus. They’re changing the world of marketing. Great stuff! Check it out http://bit.ly/8CQ9w3

6 Steps to Writing Effective Affirmations

01/04/2010

Special Thanks to Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul – Living Your Dreams) and Colin VanderMeulen (www.positive-attitude-tips.com)

What Are Your Dreams?

If you want to accomplish anything in life, you’ve got to commit to wanting that success in your life. The fascinating power of the subconscious enables you to get there much faster once you place that wish into vivid powerful focus. Here are some ideas for aspects of your life you may wish to improve:

•    Finances
•    Relationships (with yourself and others)
•    Health
•    Career or business
•    Emotions and Attitude
•    Spirituality

Done? Excellent!

Now you’re ready to tweak that wish list into effective affirmation statements. Take each of the items from your list and reword each one according to the steps below.

6 Easy Steps

1.    Begin with the words “I am”. They are extremely powerful. Your subconscious brain takes those words as a command to begin working on whatever follows those two words.

2.    Stay positive. Remember we’re talking about positive affirmations here. To create an effective affirmation, state what you want. Your subconscious mind thinks in pictures, so you want to avoid thinking about what you don’t want. For example, if you state that you are no longer sick, you probably still get a picture in your mind of you being sick. Rephrase it to say what you want instead. If you want to be healthy, say so. Try something like “I am healthy and energetic. My body is in perfect working order.”

3.    Keep it in the present. You want your subconscious mind to see your goal as existing. If you phrase it in the future tense, you’re training your subconscious to keep you in a state of waiting for something to come. Here’s an example: “I am energetic and alive at my ideal weight of 175.”

4.    Keep it short. Just because it’s easier to remember that way.

5.    Be specific. It’s hard for your brain to work on making something real if the goal is fuzzy. It’s also hard for you to measure how far you’ve come in achieving your goal if you’re not specific about what you desire. Specifying 175 in your weight goal, for example, is better than simply saying you want to be slimmer.

6.    Put some emotion into it. What would it feel like to achieve your goal? Try to come up with one or two key emotions and include those in your affirmation. If you look again at the weight example above, you’ll notice it included the feelings energetic and alive. If you’re having trouble figuring out exactly what it would feel like, just use the words happy and grateful. Example: “I am so happy and grateful now that I’ve reached my goal of weighing 175.”

Once you’ve done this you’re finally ready to make a list of all your dreams in the form of personal affirmations.

Here are some examples:

“I am calmly and enthusiastically answering all the questions during my job interview”
“I am successfully and happily earning $60,000 working as an executive assistant at Google”
“I am joyfully looking at my trim and fit 135-pound body in the mirror”
“I am so excited and refreshed to be completing the 25-mile NYC Marathon”
“I am happily and peacefully married to the woman of my dreams who is charming, beautiful, smart and loving”

Getting Things Done vs Planning

01/03/2010

One things that has constantly been pervasive in my life on my road to success (and it is a road), is that I have so many people suddenly telling me that “talk is cheap” and that action is the only thing that counts. Now I don’t disagree. Yet I don’t agree either. And here’s why.

Action is the main thing. And if all your thoughts, dreams, ambitions, desires, speeches and motivational seminars don’t lead to something real and concrete, then they’re nothing more than just that dreams and mere thoughts.

My problem though is when people tell me that plans are useless. For instance, if you wanted to go on a road trip, there are two ways to go. The first, is to sit at home for weeks on end, making plan after painstaking plan of what you’ll do, who you’ll see, how you’ll pack and so on. OR you could just get in the car and drive. No plans. No destination. No worries. Just drive!

Obviously the above are styles. Some people need the sense of security knowing who, what when, where, how. Others just need a why and let everything else fall into its place.

But these are all plans. What about rules? Rules don’t change much. There are rules of the road, how to pack, what to bring where, vechulu (as we say in Aramaic). Now I’m not saying you have to follow those rules to the T… but you better not veer to far away.

Planning on a road trip with someone else’s car, with no cash and no drivers license just isn’t going to end that well.

So now say you have a dream. You can spend all the time you want planning how to get there, but chances are that life will require you to take an alternative route, with maybe an extra detour.

But then there are rules. The rules don’t change often and when they do make sure you pay attention. There are principles in how we deal with people, how we should do business, how to do almost anything.

So when someone tells me “Stop planning and just get out there and do something!” I have two reposnses:

#1) I want to make sure I know all the rules. It’s true that trial and error is the best teacher but its not the fastest and its definitely not the cheapest. I’ve seen too many of my friends fail at enough businesses that I spent the last 2 years learning what those make-it-or-break-it essentials.

#2) There is a difference between Plans and Rules. Plans change, all the time! But rules, or laws as they are sometimes called, are tried and tested. They may be broken but at your own discretion.

People must always be treated a certain way. Money must always be treated a certain way. And if you want to succeed at anything, it is imperative that you study the edge by which those fail or succeed by. Action is the main thing but it must be powered in the right direction.