More Big Retails Closing Stores

https://www.foxbusiness.com/features/retail-apocalypse-23-big-retailers-closing-stores

Amazon is buying physical (Whole Foods Market), partnering with physical (Kohl’s), and building physical (AmazonGo) while traditional retailers shrink.

Right-sizing for the changing consumer behavior and adjusting the business to market conditions are part of business. 

There are some great brands on this list. Are they shrinking physical and ramping digital to fight back? Are they thinking about total Customer Experience?

I love American Apparel clothes and used to buy a lot from them. But I haven’t bought anything from them in many years. They’ve done a poor job of nurturing our relationship and I’ve moved on.

Maybe Toys ‘R’ Us should go all digital, create a toys-only marketplace online, and adopt “seasonal store” model, like Spirit Halloween.

Amazon is fantastic and has certainly changed my consumer behaviors. But they are not the end-all-be-all of retail. Companies that invest in the right areas and leverage their existing assets well, still have a great opportunity to thrive.

Starting to Re-Think About Climate Change

Make no mistake, I believe that air quality can have a significant impact on health and quality of life. The smog that hovers over major cities is disgusting. I hate that I cannot see the hills around me when I know they’re there. Seeing glimpses of the smog in Beijing during the olympics was terrible.

Population health. Should that be the primary driver to force environmental change?

Cars drive on an eight lane expressway in Beijing on January 29,2013. Residents across northern China battled through choking pollution on January 29, as air quality levels rose above index limits in Beijing amid warnings that the smog may not clear until January 31. AFP PHOTO / WANG ZHAO

The reason climate change, and mainly, the effects that humans have on climate change has come to mind is because of this recent Bloomberg article: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-09/climate-change-just-got-a-little-less-terrible

In a nutshell, when 97% of scientists agree that global warming is bad and needs to be avoided at all costs, the models they are (often) agreeing to are the worst-case scenarios. And what this article exposes is that the media touts the worst-case scenarios of these scientific papers to hype an alarming message, but the models used to forecast the worst-case scenarios are very, very, very unlikely! (Dare I say, impossible)

For example, in the worst-case scenario of the paper highlighted in the article, the amount of coal burning assumed is that there’s probably not enough extractable coal to make the scenario possible.

Again, let me state for the record: I want clean air!

Other factors that give me pause in the whole global warming debate is that there are a few folks that I follow whose opinions do weigh heavily with me. Most notably, these are Martin Armstrong and Scott Adams.

I encourage you to peruse through these links:

  • https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/tag/climate-change/
  • https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/tag/global-warming/
  • https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/?s=nasa
  • http://blog.dilbert.com/tag/climate-change/

Martin Armstrong actually points to evidence (research by NASA) that suggests we’re actually entering into a Global COOLING cycle.

Scott Adams provides an interesting perspective on when to trust “the experts”.

Last, but not least, there are multiple points in my life where I’ve met university professors and they were adamant about global warming being a hoax.

Everyone has an agenda. I just want clean air.

Wim Hof Method – I’m a Believer!!

#WimHof … MIND BLOWN … I’m a believer!

I just did 30 chin-ups almost effortlessly (I usually struggle to 20).

Almost every day, I try to do 20 chin-ups. I usually struggle to get to that 20. But today, I tried Wim Hof’s breathing method first, then went to do my chin-ups while holding my breathe. 30 … easily!!!

I only stopped because I ran out of breathe. HOLY COW!

(Wim usually has people do pushups, but I had no recent personal benchmark)

Over the break, I heard about Wim Hof. I was fascinated. I’m really interested in anything that uses the human mind to accomplish great feats.

I’m always weary of these method’s pushed by “gurus”. Then I heard about Scott Carney’s book about Wim Hof. Scott is an investigative journalist and he was a skeptic turned believer. That convinced me that I had to look into this myself.

Between Wim Hof and Scott Carney, there is a lot of videos and podcasts with them and I consumed many. Fascinating stuff!

So this morning’s experience was amazing! I was so excited, I then went to take a cold shower. 2 minutes. It was easy as well. In fact, towards the end and getting out — usually when the cold winter air hits your skin — my body actually felt WARM!

The mind is a beautiful thing. YouTube it. Try it!!!

Parable of The Mexican Fisherman and the Investment Banker

By Unknown Author

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while.”

The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”

The American scoffed. “I have an MBA from Harvard, and can help you,” he said. “You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middle-man, you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening up your own cannery. You could control the product, processing, and distribution,” he said. “Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually to New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “Oh, 15 to 20 years or so.”

“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time was right, you would announce an IPO, and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you could retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play guitar with your amigos.”

Better Team Management: Would running teams like Professional Sports franchises work?

In professional sports, the primary role of the team manager (or coach) is to get the highest level of production out of their team. They provide leadership and they set the tactical team strategy. They do not set or negotiate the salaries of their players; that is left to the role of a GM.

Would this structure lead to higher performing teams within companies?

What if team managers didn’t manage salaries for their direct reports? This HBR article on “How to Discuss Pay with your Employees” states it correctly: “The salary conversation is just awkward for everyone”. As a manager, you have to lead and inspire an individual to achieve peak performance and I believe this can be done much more effectively if you didn’t have direct control of the purse strings.

In the sports world, the manager would talk the player up as much as possible to motivate the individual and can be a total advocate for that player. If the manager is the GM him/herself as well, then there is a conflict of interest.

In most companies, the only way to significantly increase your earnings is to move up the corporate ladder: Individual Contributor >> Team Leader >> Manager >> Director > VP >> CxO. Companies will add prefixes like Sr, Principal, Executive, or other to add more pay levels to the ladder.

Because of this, I believe that “Star” players are rushed up to ladder without sufficient training and experience. Individual contributors can make a significant impact to the company, especially in smaller organizations. Some individual contributors are just exceptionally good at their jobs and it is to the benefit of the company to keep them there. Some people actually prefer this role and would be happy to stay there if the compensation was according with their contribution to the company.

This is a key point: The Manager isn’t automatically the highest paid person on the team roster. This is the GM’s decision.

Also, not all players equate to good managers. It’s a different skill set. In sports, you see it, so often the case, that the star players don’t equate to the best coaches. Often the best coaches are those that were mediocre players, if players at all (they could’ve been analysts). Point is that they understand the game and strategy and they have the management skills to motivate and work with people.

I think structure would also ease the idea of bringing in management from the outside. If folks understand that salaries aren’t necessarily dictated by title, then I think you get people to remain in their best positions for longer periods leading to higher productivity.

In a software development team, a SW Manager could manage X number of developers, engineers, and project managers. The GM is a Director who manages Y number of Managers. The Director’s GM is a VP who manages Z number of Directors.

Further up the chain, the CEO is the manager of the C-level staff, but the Board acts as the GM. Essentially, I think the GM should be the skip level manager or perhaps someone from HR or Finance in a smaller organization.

When it comes to salary negotiation, the GM is setting the team budget and handling all the negotiation with the player. Obviously, the manager’s input is important; however, the manager is removed from the discussion. It’s out of their hands. All the manager focuses on is doing the best with the team they’re provided.

Better managers. Better players. Optimal performance.

But don’t forget about team chemistry. 🙂

[Quora] What are some signs that a person will be successful?

https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-signs-that-a-person-will-be-successful/answer/Kerry-Hew

Success is totally subjective.

I think that the vast majority would classify Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffet as “successful”.

Is Bernie Madoff, who lived the vast majority of his life as a 0.1%-er until he got caught, successful?

Is the single mother, who works two jobs and raises her kids to learn respect and hard-work, leading them towards productive middle-class lives, successful?

Is the rich and famous person that commits suicide (take your pick) successful?

I would define success as someone who is generally happy and leading a fulfilling lifestyle for them. And my formula for happiness is the difference between one’s Reality and their Expectations (E.g., low reality Vs. high expectations = negative happiness; high reality Vs. low expectation = very happy).

You can accumulate all the financial wealth in the world, but if you are not happy at the end of the day, you are NOT successful.

All that said, here are the 3 personality attributes common to these “successful” people:

Gratefulness

I think it takes gratitude to best appreciate what you have. Happy people are thankful for all the people/things that helped them achieve what they’ve achieved.

Curious

Successful people are consistently asking: “How can <this> be better?”; “How can I make <x> better?”; “How can I be better?”. They ask. They tinker. They explore. They embrace a growth mentality. They embrace change (but not just for the sake of change).

Dedication

I believe persistence and follow-through, sub-attributes of dedication, are a critical towards the predictor of success. They show a sense of mission and show a passion to complete it.

 

It is absolutely possible to only have 2 of the 3 and find success, as long as the two are intense so that they make up for the lack of the third.

Equifax gets Hacked and Wins?

The Equifax hack is a gross tragedy. The consumer is a big-time loser in this event. If Equifax doesn’t drown in lawsuits, they’ll surely come out of this stronger. And this is a growth catalyst to Experian and Transunion. When an industry causes consumers to lose and that industry benefits from it, that industry is ripe for disruption.

The credit bureau triad of Equifax, Experian, and Transunion have a stranglehold on us. The worst part is that we, as consumers, have no choice in the matter. I’ve never given my information to Equifax. I’ve never chosen to engage with them. Yet, they have this omniscient power over me. Their opinion of me plays a hugely significant role in the quality of my life because we live in a credit-based economy.

“Never let a crisis go to waste”, Rahm Emanuel

The hackers now have all the information they need to steal the identity of almost half of all Americans. And you know this information will be sold on the dark web for years to come.

So everybody is now talking about and thinking about how to protect themselves. We’re all at a much higher risk now. Everyone has to be thinking about adopting a credit monitoring service. From a marketing perspective, this is a dream come true – at least for Experian and Transunion and the smaller credit monitoring services.

Both my wife and I “may have been impacted”. Ugh!

I’ve never purchased a credit monitoring service. Now, I am seriously contemplating if I need to keep a much closer watch on this. I’ve moved from being a cold lead to a warm lead.

I’ve heard horror stories about identity theft. It can takes several years to clean the books. The credit bureaus don’t make it easy on the victims.

Equifax is offering their TrustedID Premier service free for 1-year. BUT, apparently, if you enroll, then you are waiving your right to sue or participate in any class-action lawsuit. Hmmm.

This is how Equifax can come out winners here. If many people take the easy route and sign up for the free year of service, they give up the right to partake in any class action suit that may arise; thereby, protecting Equifax on that front. Equifax also enrolls ALL of those new clients. And everyone knows, it’s much easier (and cheaper) to retain a client than to attract a new one.

Most credit monitoring systems seem to run about $30/mth. This is like an extra $360/yr tax to me. The hackers and their clients have all of our information for life. I now have to watch my credit for life.

This industry is broken. I have to imagine that someone way smarter than me can fix it and make a lot of money. Please do.

Is it Time to Pile into Gold Now?

There are a lot of very well-respected market participants out there that are starting to really toot the Gold horn at this time. I mean, there are always gold bugs out there who will say buy gold at any time because gold is real money.

But the last 6 years have not been too kind to gold investors, since topping out at just over $1900/oz back in mid-2011. In fact, the Fed has since cranked up the printing press into over drive several times since then and gold still found itself stuck in a bear market.

Most are talking about the technical break of a multi-year downtrending line as the set-up.

Martin Armstrong is noting that Gold is pressing higher. He’s not yet calling a technical breakout, but he’s noting significant support at current levels.

Greg Weldon has recommended getting in at these levels so much so that he’s actually recommending using leverage as well through UGL ETF, which is a 2x ETF.

Jesse Felder is starting to ask if the Gold Stars are Aligning.

There are several others as well that have come across my wire but I’m not going to list them all. It’s enough times that it’s very noticeable.

If this is the beginning of the run, there is time. The next big run will certainly take us to previous highs around $1900. And it’s not going to happen overnight.

If one is looking to diversify their portfolio a bit and add some gold, I can see now being a good time to start to average in. Averaging in is certainly how I will go about it. Designate an amount to allocate and split it up to average in over the next few months.

I’ve decided to go in with some leverage using UGL. I’m not in a hurry to get in and I’m going to do this over time. So my strategy is to actually sell a Naked Put on UGL and try to get in on a dip.

UGL closed today at $40.07. I’m going to sell the UGL 06/16/2017 40.00 Put contract for $0.50. That means $50 to me. If UGL closes below $40 next week, then I’ll be assigned 100 share at $40. But remember, I will have collected $50, so it’s as if I’m getting in at $39.5 per share.

I’ll be in the RED on this strategy whenever UGL is below $39.50, but again, the idea is to average in. So this is the first tranche of several…

 

 

An Amazing Creative Tribute

I love this. I am not sure if is the first to do this kind of thing, but I’m certain that it won’t be the last. This will go viral, I’m certain. As of just now, I only see 3M views on YouTube. I just shared it to my FB profile. I imagine several others have as well and several others will from there; that’s the nature of virility.

It’s a classic song and this is not your everyday remix.

 

Parents Should Look at KidPass

As a parent, I’m always looking for new things to do with my kids.

Sure, they’d be perfectly content with going to Chuck’E’Cheese (or equiv) every time, but I need the variety and they need exposure to different activities so they learn to love exploring and trying new things and eventually find their passion.

 

Kidpass is only in New York right now, but they just raised $5.1 million to help expand their business and replicate the model in other major cities, starting with Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington DC.

Here in Orange County, I’m always searching for activities for us to do. But I feel that I’ve exhausted searches on my usual sources. I’m sure there are a lot that I don’t know about. In fact, just this week, we found one called SenderCity. It’s a rock climbing facility. This place was GREAT and it was located almost right next to Rock’n’Jump (trampoline park) that we have been to quite a number of times.

I like how Kidpass has layed out the UI so that I can browse the activities by different criteria. I especially like the ability to browse by day.

The only deterrent could be the cost, but take that with a grain of salt because I really haven’t looked at it in-depth at all. I simply make that comment upon glancing at the plans and seeing the credits needed to do a couple of the activities. That said, if it exposes to new things for 1-time (where you’d normally pay more or have to do a longer commitment), then that could be worth the premium.