Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Semi-Good Day

I am long some $TQNT from 6.74. It was a bad entry. I didn't write about it. But I tweeted here. I am trying to tweet more of this stuff. Sorry to those of my friends who are confused as to what is going on. But it gets me more followers, than my witty remarks, much to my chagrin. And that's really why we're all here. Not really.

It's held up way today in a choppy market. I'm happy about it. I took a minor hit on CIEN and still have a minor position. I just want broad semi-conductor exposure. That's why I diversified a little.

I think we end up. But I say all kinds of things. You should not listen to it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Head in the Clouds


I like RAX here. It's at the bottom of it's range. It definitely could get boot stomped. But then I'll buy it again at 12. I like it here and down to 12, so long as the fundamentals don't change.

The writing is on the wall, in terms of cloud-computing taking over the world. While I will only dedicate a standard maximum position size of 10% to RAX, I will use up to 20% of my portfolio to exploit cloud computing (SaaS, IaaS) trends and 10% for 4G flays, as per monsieur Le Fly.


I'm not buying anything here, as I already have an 80% position in and around these levels. I will only add if it goes lower. If I were more risk-averse or believed any less in my thesis I would hold a tight stop in case it got beat the hell down at this support.

I'm not recommending that you buy RAX

Friday, July 16, 2010

Metldeezy

I sold out of 3/4 of my CIEN position for a 1.5% loss. Negligible. It just ran hard though and could sell off further should weakness persist.

I think there is going to be a correction and then blammo upwards for August.

I also bought 1/2 a position of VXX

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Boredom

It's a dangerous thing.

My plan is to accumulate on weakness and that's what I need to do. But then I get bored.

Yesterday I bought a 1/4 position of FAS at the closing bell. It was a gamble on the JPM earnings play, which they destroyed by the way. But it was dumb. I didn't really think about it. I did it because I was bored and undisciplined.

I managed to get out for a small gain that did little more than cover my fees. I was lucky though. The market was obviously flooded with sell orders on the open. I could have got had, badly.

Stick to the plan. Accumulate on weakness.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Add on Weakness

As per my thesis, it's time to buy some shit.

I have an incredibly large cash positions for such shopping opportunities.

Let's be honest for a second, it's RATHER unlikely that the new iPhone will be recalled. The solution of a free case that fixes the signal to everyone is a good play. People will probably buy like 4 cases over the life of their iPhone. Shit, this will probably improve margins. Steve Jobs is one hell of a crafty bastard, after all.

I gotta love AAPL at this price. Target of $330.

Hat tip to @vcutrader for spurring me on a little in this nibble.

NOTE: The bulk of my AAPL position was purchased in and around $187

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Shake-Out.



Here is where I got hosed.

Actually, because of my phenomenal patience, I managed to cover my bases. I will sell this small $SPY position at the open for a tidy, albeit modest profit.

I'm testing this new thing, where I buy when the number gets yellow, as it does in the teens. I bought at 13.5. Assuming, as per the earlier yellow numbers, that it would bounce.

It didn't bounce.

I think there was a tell, that this was a shake-out. That this was not a real bottom. The fact that it was in the middle of our trading range should have been a tell. There was another one too, to do with the next day's score. But I was excited to test out something new so I jumped eagerly at any apparent opportunity.

Luckily, I didn't jump in too deep. I was only testing an idea, after all.

And I was sure to test again when the number got back into the teens, which did prove to be a short-term bottom.

Now I've got a few more days of ammo for my indicator. I'm going to try and work it in with some other things in order to produce a reliable buy signal. 3 out of 4 ain't terrible but I think I can do better. I just need to keep accumulating data. When I start a hedge-fund, I'll let you know (LOL).

On that note, I hate the use of LOLs and such. On another note, I obviously have no clue what I'm doing vis-a-vis the stock market, so don't take this shit for real. Do your due diligence, d'uh.

I'm still going to accumulate stocks I like, with solid fundamentals on weakness. I am just using some of my bountiful cash position to play these swings up and down the trading range.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Going Shopping

There is a karmic storm a-brew. Somehow, the "Amnesty International Crowd" has seemingly transferred the stoning of an allegedly guilty Iranian woman to the RAX stock price.

I still like this bad boy. Cloud Computing is the future. I will buy this piece of trash down to 12. For now, I will nibble accordingly.

PEEP THIS hot track. The 1:30 de-hooding is boss.

UPDATE: July 13 - RAX is up almost 5% this morning. Yesterday's buy was well-timed I believe, indeed.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Yingli Solar (YGE)


Finding this stock has been the best part of my world cup experience so far. Opportunity is everywhere, for those who pay attention.

YGE is gobbling up the solar market in California. The company also boasts robust fundamentals. I took a starter position at 10.97 and the stock is up 14% in the three days since.

I'm holding this bad boy for the longer term though, and happy to accumulate in the 10.50-8.50 range. I think it will eventually break into a higher range.

I also have a further small exposure to solar in the shape of a nascent FSLR position.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Strategic Planning.

As I said, I've been watching copious amounts of Create Capital. If you're into learning about the stock market, I've found in my own internet-based experience that videos go a long way. Don't get me wrong, reading and shit is important. But it's a nice supplementary tool.

Check out www.tickerville.com for timely analysis a few times a week.

I'm playing with an indicator of my own:




It's not perfect, as evidenced by the 13.5 shake-out. My strategy for playing this uncertain market is to accumulate stocks with strong fundamentals on weakness. I basically articulated that yesterday when I was talking about XOM. With a large cash position I will supplement my winship by playing the indices using a combination of indicators, including of course the aforementioned.

Since it's not really MY indicator, per se, I won't tell you what it is, at this point. All thanks and praise to the PPT

Other names that I will "get at" are YGE, RAX, VOD, NLX, NZT, FSLR, TEVA, OII. But only when they are "Petrzalka cheap."

I like technology and I'm willing to entertain eco-plays if the fundamentals are strong. There is probably a lot of money in that shit if people can pull it off profitably. Which remains to be seen in only a short matter of time, in my opinion.

The key to executing the above is to avoid getting caught up in the day to day. I'll nibble on positions as they dip into the lower end of their trading range. I'm also doing it in conjunction with about 437 other indicators including how many mosquito bites I might have gotten the night prior. Actually, you can make that a constant of zero. After I installed a complex system of fans nary a bug could stay airborne in the perpetual twister.

I'll keep you posted on how this goes...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Trading Thoughts

I have refrained from doing much of this, but it's what is taking up my time these days. I've been studying the art of active money management pretty intensely these last few weeks. Ergo, I will write about it. I always write about what I'm doing.

For now, I'll say if you are at all interested in the markets, at all, the best use of time you can get is heading over to www.createcapital.com every weekday morning at 9am. It's WELL worth it, should you have ANY interest in such things.

I was a net seller today, taking profit on the recent runs. I'll come back to this. I want to buy XOM on a pull-back because I think it looks cheap. I mean, take a look at it. And I mean, sorry eco-friends, but we're not getting off the oil-drip any time soon. From what I can tell this has sound fundamentals. If the Gulf tragedy has taught me anything, it's that there is a shit-ton of oil under the sea. These guys will be making money for awhile.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

It's Reality, Bro

I just finished reading a great book, The Big Short, by Michael Lewis. I read a lot of non-fiction. I enjoy it.

This particular piece of prose was about the collapse of the US sub-prime housing market.

One of the take home themes was something that has emerged in my life before, in other books and on more personal levels. In this tale of Wall Street mishap, it goes to show that the whole world, minus a handful of astute individuals, can be completely oblivious to tragedy and even go as far as to delude themselves into thinking that everything is great. But if the numbers underneath don’t support your belief, it’s only a matter of time until your house of cards comes tumbling down.

Embrace your reality, no matter how ugly.

Numbers don’t lie. And they don’t care if you like it or not.

Monday, June 28, 2010

BACK IN ACTION

Forgive the hiatus. I failed to blog much at all when I was at home. I was too busy, having fun and enjoying life in the industrialized world.

It's also summer. Blogging is easier when I'm confined by the cold and overwhelming presence of winter. I'll try to get back into the swing of things.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Later B'lava

"The best day in Bratislava is the one before you leave it." - Sarp Kayalar.

I'm stoked to be going to Toronto tomorrow.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Break it Down.

I've alluded to this before but I'm pretty systematic about my goal setting and agenda use. I like to break everything down. I more than touched on it here.

So anyways, here I am, reviewing a pitch. It's a new one and I've revised it. I think that's why I caught myself doing something I hadn't done in awhile.

A few weeks after I had started selling, I found myself improving, some of the time. I tried to take note of how and when things went well or really took a turn for the worse. With some help from my friends/Raoul I came to realize that there are trigger phrases, both good and bad, that work a lot of the time. There are pivotal questions you can ask. I numbered all of the most important aspects. It was the bare bones of a sales pitch.

I didn't succeed in my sales career, at first. It wasn't until last summer, when I was pitching asshole Fortune 500 American CEO's with dicks' that swung low that I got good. It was time to step up, or step aside. I leaned into my first calls. I pushed. As long as I could get from #1-4 or 5 with hard urgency, I could ensure a fair shot at the sale.

I came up with the steps: I had to make a certain number of calls by lunch. I had to make a certain number of calls by the end of the day. I had to make a certain number of calls after the day. I had to do research to make sure I could make enough calls the next day. I went through the steps. I made 60 calls by lunch. And if someone picked up, I started at number one. Number 4 or 5, depending on the pitch, was my goal. I repeated all the steps, every day. That was the best month of my career.

I realized that I make lists and steps intrinsic to complex tasks. It's not just in the agenda. It's more systematic than I thought. And most importantly, if you do what's on the lists, it works.

A Technological Gamble


I'm taking a full position on TYH. I don't usually just jump in like this. If it goes down, I'll double-down.

The stars have aligned, convincing me the current valuation of $31.14 is FAR from the appropriate valuation. I'll report back in a few days, hopefully/CERTAINLY with a win.

On a related note, I'm compiling the buy-list I mentioned here. I'll get back to you on that one after further review.

*Tips Hat.*

*By stars aligned, I mean this guy said it was a good idea.

Preparation

I'm pumped up about this week. From here on in, it's just preparing to go home. I have a lot to do and it might not be easy, but it will be more than worth it.

The future looks bright. Time to make it so.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Urgency

In sales, you always need people to "Buy Now!"

If you think about it, you see it all the time:

"Limited Time Offer."

"While Supplies Last."

"One Day Only."

And the list goes on.

Here's a subtle example that I stumbled across today. Not only is the conference well-priced, but the buying mechanism compels you to act sooner, lest you miss out.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Stock-Saturated Sunday

I'm awake early, because I was boring yesterday. By that of course I mean I was too hungover to move. Seriously, I was labouring to breathe. I was going to go get groceries but I've downgraded the priority of that. I don't want to accumulate too much in the way of foodstuffs before running home late next week.

I feel more like researching anyways. I'm pretty bearish on the whole macro-economic situation. The Euro doesn't seem like a great option over the longer term. The markets have been volatile and I have been busy, so that means it's time to hide in cash and other low beta names. If things are going to get worse though, it's also an opportunity to go discount shopping. I'm researching stocks that are fundamentally awesome and have had strong earnings growth. I'm trying to get an idea of price history with a little technical analysis on the side. I want good long-term companies, that I can buy for cheap now, across an array of sectors. Maybe I'll share what I come up with.

Most of all, this is just another reflection on how amazing it is to me what we are capable of and privy to. Friday night, I had a conversation with a friend. He said that business as we knew it was dead. I don't think he knew what he was talking about. His lack of optimism and entrenched thinking upset me, to a surprising degree. I mean, I'm still thinking about it.

Fifty years ago I couldn't have acquired this comprehensive an analysis of the price history and fundamental picture of a given security. The internet has allowed me access to almost anything. One hundred and fifty years ago, if I had gone to work at the local factory, as the majority of the people would have, and I didn't like my job, I wouldn't have had any options. Last year, I went to work full-time for the first time. I hated my job. I quit and started my own thing. I stuck it to the man. This democratization of information must continue - it's my business model, after all - because it empowers the individual.

On a COMPLETELY unrelated note, I'm going to start using hashtags in my tweets more. It's because I saw this presentation. It's worth watching if you have some time.

Slovak Gay Pride Parade Goes Awry.

http://spectator.sme.sk/articles/view/38949/2/neo_nazis_attack_slovakias_first_gay_pride_event_cancelling_its_parade.html

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Important Matter of Reflection

I had to do some tap-dancing today, if you know what I mean. But it all went smoothly in the end, despite our desperate flurry of behind the scene action to ensure we keep our approach aimed at perfection.

As I said earlier today, we did all we could to prepare, and then were set to deal with the rest. A lot of the really important things went really smoothly. A lot of other stuff came up that we never could have anticipated, - and I'm glad we didn't waste time trying. But we're wiser for the experience. I guess this is how you learn intricacies of your industry, by experimenting. I guess this is how you become great. Just keep iterating and reflecting.

I know my next big day won't be perfect, but I can give you a long list of concrete reasons as to why it will be better than the last one.

Active reflection is something that has been incredibly helpful to me, in the last two years particularly. Each day I try to take some time to think and write about what's going down at work. I have a running word document that I started in Nov 2009. The next day I read what I wrote during the previous day or two. It's been incredibly helpful in keeping me focused and in touch with my goals and thoughts. If you have a better strategy, I'd love to hear it.

A Big Day

We've been working hard over the last three months, and it all comes down to today.

I feel a little anxious, the kind where you're not sure if you're nervous or excited. Usually it's a bit of both. A lot of my future rides on how today goes.

The key now is to realize what's done is done. All that's left is to mitigate any crisis as it happens. I'm trying to anticipate problems. I'm developing contingencies as best I can. I'm pouring another coffee.

Just like when I coordinated orientation week at Queen's, I keep learning that while it is important to plan and prepare for success, it is equally paramount to flexible and quick to assess and react to any unexpected circumstances.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Value-Added?

It's the question I've been asking myself lately.

Facebook is the latest victim. I have too many friends, and I waste entirely too much time reading noise, while enjoying little in the way of signal. I gave the matter some thought, and my conclusion is such: Given my personal ideas about privacy, but mostly based on how I think Facebook can give me the best user experience, I've decided to cut a significant number of idiots from my all-access Friends list.

I have an egregious number of Facebook friends. I'm not a sleazy dude and I haven't tried very actively to acquire them, save a few choice ladies. I was however, at the perfect age, ideally positioned to ride the wave that would be, when I first joined Facebook. All of my cohort have hundreds of friends, that's not news. In my case though, and that of many others, it was compounded by diverse involvement in extracurricular activities and a generally positive, outgoing demeanor. These extraneous forces conspired to ensure the abundance of acquaintances I now find myself struggling to manage. If you've ever read Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, you should get the concept.

I'm a year out of University and while I will partake in a stalking tangent on the very odd occasion, my circle of friends has tightened in the most-prior twelve months. I just don't see a lot of these people anymore. I haven't seen some of them in a really longtime. By being able to creep on people I don't care about (sounds harsh, but we're being real here) am I really enriching my life? When I do get the impromptu photo-creep-bug it's probably a good thing that I'll now be limited to people I give at least an iota of significance to.

Time saved.

Now, what's next on the chopping block?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Formulaic Trading

I touched on this previously. But I want to elaborate right here, right now.

By no means am I an expert at investing, but I like examining how trading and investing relates to life. I like the trend analogy quite a bit, but I left out one important thing.

Again, as trading, as in life, I think that it's important to be as algorithmic as possible. In my experience, people get into habits of thinking they are awesome or above mistake. This is when they make the most errors.

The great thing about formulae are that they don't discriminate or vary. To trade a trend then, I need to have an objective concept of what a trend is. Seems obvious. For me then, in this instance, an uptrend is 3 higher lows on a daily chart, a downtrend is the opposite. I'll find an example and update this when I have more than two free seconds. But the point is, use formulas to eliminate human error, whenever possible.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Slota Update

I hate to keep ragging on racist Slovak politicians (not really). But in "honour" of Jan Slota, I post some more of his public statements for your viewing "enjoyment"/awe.

(about homosexuals): "I have no problem with them, if they will stay in shadow
and just make their disgusting sexual orgies."

"If the Slovak National Party is extremist, than Hungarians are radioactively
extremists, they radiate more than Chernobyl. The best solution would be
backfill them with beton."


"Slovaks are probably genetically stupid."

"Drug dealers must immediately be shot, [Deputy PM for Economy Ivan]
Mikloš immediately fired, Hungarians forbidden, Gypsies destroyed,
Americans spat on, and the 17 secret service agents sicked on Slota
recalled. Is that enough?"


You can find the quotes in their entirety, here. Read/shake your head at your own risk.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Only in Bratislava

In a few weeks time, Slovakia will host it's first Pride Parade. The mainstream media is celebrating this as a progressive step forward.

The mainstream media however, is at stark odds with some of the most prominent politician's in the country, whose views are boldly espoused here.

It's hard to imagine an elected official in Canada saying such things. It should remind us how far we've come and how there are people and places in the world that know oppression we couldn't fathom. Here are some "highlights" from the linked article:

"We'll show them here, on streets of Slovakia's capital, that they're an undesirable element here. I'll personally come to spit at them," announced Slota.

"It has nothing to do either with morals, Christian traditions or a society based on the family. I'm firmly convinced that it's sick," said Slota.

"... But I don't want my kids to look at those lunatics," added Slota."

Friday, May 7, 2010

YEAR IN REVIEW

Almost a year ago, to the hour, I touched down in Slovakia. I subsequently got black out drunk and made it home, all thanks and praise to divine intervention.

It's almost impossible to believe that I've been here, in Bratislava, for a year. It's gone by relatively quickly, especially the last few months; and yet, there were days, near the beginning in particular, that felt as though they dragged on for at least 7 eternities. That's a lot of eternities, I'll have you know.

I've come a long way, let me declare. Not so long ago, I had nary a clue, how to get anywhere. I didn't even have a concept of where I might need to go. Thank goodness the grocery store has oversized pictures of fruit adorning it. I can now cop oatmeal and Nutella in a number of supermarkets, with impressive efficiency.

I'm a public transport ninja, jumping from bus to tram to streetcar, all the while dodging ticket inspectors with impunity. I use a ticket about 8% of the time, and have yet to be caught by the steroid-jacked, skinhead trolls who patrol the system - I'm crafty as hell, but have now likely jinxed myself.

It's not all firecrackers and sunsets though. I don't know as much Slovak as I would like. But I haven't made learning it a priority. The blame rests solely on my shoulders. Had I known the Slovak word for shoulders, I would have used it right there. After I quit my job, and the two language-lessons a week that were included pro bono, Google Translate became a surprisingly effective teacher. I am able to articulate myself quite well as a result, but often have no idea what the ensuing reply is. I don't get thrown for as many loops in the grocery store. As of now, I can get by pretty well on the day-to-day, but when shit hits the fan, you need to have a native speaker around.

I can spot tourists from a mile away.

Certain smells and songs seem to anchor me to different times. The wafting odor of the nearby Kraft factory reminds me of summer nights. A track from the most recent Dave Matthews band album reminds me of feeling hopeless and alone, as upsetting as that might sound.

I've seen a lot of places, but not enough. Eastern Europe is amazing and the culture is something else entirely. In the last few months I've been fortunate enough to hit up not only rural Slovakia, but Poland, Austria, Czech Republic, and Hungary. The list is due to expand this summer, which I'm excited about. Now that I'm in a position of increased freedom, and as I realize/jump-for-joy that I'm not going to be here forever, I will certainly make further travel around Europe, specifically Eastern Europe and the Balkans, a priority.

I got sold on a job that turned out to be a lot less desirable than I had been led to believe. I felt chained to my desk and enslaved, trading my valuable hours for not nearly enough Euro. So I quit, and started my own firm. It has been immensely challenging, but the rewards, financial and otherwise, have been well worth the risk. I am excited to continue growing my business.

It's been a great time, and I don't regret it whatsoever. But let me make one thing clear, for all you kids who think I'm just hangin' in Europe, without a care in the world: Living alone in a non-English speaking country for a year has been very difficult. It's been unfathomably frustrating, on more than one occasion. I can only imagine how much different my experience would have been, had I been less focussed on work and in a country where I could easily communicate with the locals. French only would have been a positive, even. As I said earlier though, I don't harbor ANY regrets about how I'm doing things. As long as I continue to always hustle harder, I'm bound to do alright.

If I learn half as much in year two, as I did in year one, I'll be well on my way to "certified genius" in no time.

I'm pumped about the idea of going home.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Greece, How Important.

Watch here live as all these hairy bastards destroy my purchasing power with their egregious and unsustainable lifestyle.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Coming Up Next

I'm working on a "Year in Review" post. It's hard to imagine that I've been here for that long (ok, only 363 days, so far).

While you wait for my annual reflection, chew on this old post to provide some perspective of what I was going through at the start.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Don't Time the Top



I see it in stock blogs all the time: Leave your bias at the door, find the trend, ride the trend and eventually get off. It's not worth trying to maximize your gains by picking the bottom or waiting to sell at exactly the right moment. Most of the money is made in the middle. At the extremes, the risks are too high.

I thought of this at work today, I'm not sure exactly what it was that prompted the reflection, but it's irrelevant. What matters is the realization, that not only in stocks, but in life, it's not about timing the top or picking the bottom.

It's about realizing the trends, riding them, and getting off. This means being observant. What trends in society, your customers, your peers, your community and your own personal life can you identify? This is trickier than it sounds, sometimes we find trends we desperately don't want to see. But don't deny yourself reality. This is the world we live in, so accept it for what it is. Check your bias at the door. Your original hypothesis might be wrong, swallow your pride and accept that. Your original hypothesis doesn't matter. Altering your hypothesis given what you observe however, is paramount.

Now that you've identified the trend and are exploiting it for all its worth - whether that be making a neat iPod cord management systems or investing in companies that clean up oil spills - try to stay objective. Don't fall in love with the trend. It's only a trend; as just a little more than a fad, it's destined to change. Set a target ahead of time, of what you're hoping to get out of the trend. Then stick to that target, or at the very least keep reflecting on it, to ensure you don't lose touch. Trends come into being slowly, but can go out of style quick. The important corollary, hidden in there then, is to always be on the lookout for new trends. Your cord management business might be going swell, but if wireless headphones are becoming the norm, you need to start working on a new product, to be ready for the next salvo of potential customers waiting to be served.

Identify, profit, get out. Repeat.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ironing, Zen and a Clear Mind

It was nice not to be hungover today. Enough so that I felt the need to mention it in the title of this blog post, apparently.

I've done my best to get my "Carpe Diem" on and take advantage of my able mind and body. It's been productive.

I am finally getting around to this giant heap of ironing. It's LONG overdue. Ironing has been something that traditionally, I have loathed. It's tedious, boring, and for what?

I'm changing my attitude. Summer is coming. I can't hide under sweaters. I need to be consistently ironing to look and feel my best. Shit.

Rather than procrastinate, feel guilt and look shabby, I'm trying to embrace the chore for what it is. It's about making me look crisp-as-hell. I can take pride in becoming great at ironing, because it will only benefit my image. It's still obviously not a thrill, but I need to do it for the same reasons I shower everyday. By recognizing it's importance the task seems more worthwhile.

I've found that a good ironing soundtrack helps too.

If you're looking for more mind food today, I watched Obama's recent commencement speech this morning, worth checking out.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What Do You REALLY Want?

It's another obvious blog post. But I can't help it, the common sense is just flowing out of me these days.

Today, we'll address the "what do you want?" questions. This seems extra timely because of all my friends who are finally finishing up at University, and don't have a clue what the next step is. I know what my own next step is, and I know where I want to be a few steps after that. This is a recent development though. I've only just taken my future into my own hands by visualizing exactly what I want and planning how to get it.

I want to focus on the first part of that previous sentence: Visualize what you want. This is goal setting 101. This is the fun part. I think people just forget to do it. That or they are afraid to realize what they are capable of. Take a minute, and think. What do you want a year from now? I mean, where exactly do you want to be? Who will be with you? Imagine. What will you be doing? What is making you happy? WHY is that making you happy? Be lavish in your daydreams, and always be sure to answer that "why?" Write down what you're after. We can develop the plans to reach your goal later. Today's lessons is about thinking big and accurately. It's about understanding that success happens by design, and never by default.

It's like this: Imagine you'll be traveling. Pick a destination. Enthrall yourself with a mental model and get delighted about the splendors you'll enjoy after your arrival. We'll plan how to get there soon. Today, I just want you to get infatuated with the destination.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bratislava: A Tourist Perspective



I had an epiphany today. It should have come about 11 months earlier.

There are security cameras everywhere, because everywhere there aren't security cameras, there is a RIDICULOUS amount of graffiti.

Due to an ongoing camera compatibility issue, you'll have to take my word for it, come visit, or go by the stolen picture above.

NOTE:

In finding the above picture, I read this description of someone's stay in Bratislava. Here are some highlights:

"All I can say is wow."

"The first thing you realize about Bratslava is that much much less attractive than any other european city (at least the ones I've been to). Buildings are half completed, trash is everywhere, graffiti is rampant, and the city feels more like an urban wasteland than the glorious capitol city of an independent nation. "

I couldn't have said it better myself.


"The second thing you notice about Bratslava is that every single girl is absolutely, brilliantly exquisite
bar. I have been all around Western Europe and a good deal of Eastern Europe, and never before had I seen a grand quantity of smoking hot girls in one place"

Good to know he has been to many places, to substantiate his earlier claims. All true so far.

The Curious Case of the Name Change

I just wanted a fun title, really.

This is in response to a tweet from @stephaniefusco, who worked with me in the AMS and who I can say many great things about, that linked me to an article, I want to quip.

Now, I quote news paper articles all the time, my friends will tell you. They are constantly bombarded by the shit I'm sending them to substantiate all kinds of legit claims. Really I'm just thinking of them. After reading this article, if I'm going to

I'd like to say two quick things on the subject:

1. The article assumes causality when correlation is likely the case. I would be remiss if I didn't bring this up, and thoughts of my old stats 263 prof, Chuck Molson, - a stand up guy - would haunt me. For example:

"On average, those who had changed their name were older, had lower educational levels, had more children and held more conservative family values. And although they tended to display a stronger work ethic, they also worked fewer hours per week and earned a lower salary than those who did not change their names."

I bet that's true. But it's also worth noting that a lot of young women in today's cohort, have been taught different values than the older women the above paragraph mentions. It seems plausible to me that these values were taught to them at a young age, by their parents who ensured they were educated and exposed them to diverse experiences. I would say that these factors are more likely to predispose a woman to be successful than changing her name. I would go as far to say that to argue to the contrary would be sexist. I am betting that it is these factors, implemented early and consistently throughout life, that helped these women empower themselves to make more money and reach the heights of corporate stardom.

What I'm trying to say is: I'm sure the fact that they changed their name is indicative of who they are as a person - all decisions are. Who they are is the primary factor in why they're so successful and that's something that develops before most women are considering marriage.

Of course that doesn't account for societies' views on women who do change their last name when married and the profound effect it has, as the article clearly demonstrates,

2. As I alluded to at the start. I quote articles constantly. If the proof is evident, I back it. i think a wife with a different last name could be really fun, seriously. You could be like "Hi Ms. Smith" and she would be like "Hey, Mr. Johnson." Hilarious, right?

I mean if I was in your place, I'd probably go for it. I'm too much of a capitalist.

Not that I am thinking about marriage now, or anytime soon.

BREAKING NEWS: TWITTER PROVES USEFUL

It's true! Here's what happened:

I was sitting quietly, enjoying a smoked salmon sandwich, when I was rudely interrupted by obnoxious horn honking and a loud but distorted voice. Oftentimes, gypsies drive around in cars yelling things with megaphones. I shrugged it off as a protest or some cheap fake Lacoste sale.

I landed my browser on Twitter and searched for what was happening in Bratislava. I did this once in Vienna to explain why 10,000 students were protesting outside our hotel. No other english source was available.

Of course there was nothing related to the belligerent street-dwellers and dumpster-diverse below to be found. There was however much talk of conferences. People, business travel folk, were talking real time about conferences they were at.

Now, the aim of my company is to systematically destroy business travel, one market segment at a time. This VERY TIMELY information is deemed HIGHLY pertinent.

Anyways, I've gotten distracted and the voice in the megaphone has subsided.

Willing to be Awesome

So it turns out, your willpower is finite. You need to budget that shit.

But in my quest to be the embodiment of awesome, I need to throw around willpower like I'm Pacman Jones at your favorite gentleman's club.

And so the dilemma steps into the light: How to reconcile my limited ability to make good decisions with my need to always opt for the best option? What is a fledgling entrepreneur and self-development obsessed individual to do?

I think I've got an answer: Put that shit on autopilot.

By this I mean, enslave yourself to good habits, of course. The beauty of habits, are that they are automatic behaviours. They are something of a heroin-addicted, Ukranian whore to put in their place, but once established they will perform dutifully without you having to do much more than flex your pimp hand.

It's not quite that easy though. You really need to look at your behaviours. You need to remind yourself of your goals when you are at the decision making point. You need to deconstruct your goal and focus on small aspects of it. Declaring to lose weight, or get in shape, for example, is too ambiguous. Take a month to put a specific habit in place. Replace your morning donut with an apple. Do this every day until it becomes the natural thing to do; until it becomes easy; until you don't need to exert any willpower to opt for the apple. At this point, you can focus on running every morning, or swimming four times a week.

It's unrealistic to think you can wake up to a changed life. You need to make the change happen by making the right decisions. The right decisions are hard, and require tackling very specific behaviours one at a time. It's not glamorous, it's not fast, but it works and is sustainable over the long term. It always seems to come back to incremental improvement as the best way forward.

AFTERTHOUGHT: Maybe this begins to explain why a teenaged @jiashwu eventually caved to peer-pressure, after a valiant attempt at being responsible. Sorry to drag you down, old pal.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sloppy Sidewalks


I trip a lot when I walk here. The sidewalks look like the surface of the moon.

I used to think everyone I pass on the streets had their eyes fixated on their toes because they were upset about the shitty lives they led. I'm starting to think that in addition to that, if they aren't careful where they step they'll fall and hurt themselves.

When the sidewalks aren't flat, maintained, or coherently connected to one another, it makes the prospect of ending up in hospital, all the more terrifying.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Alignment: An Earth Day Reflection

Let me start by saying, I'm not much of an environmental advocate. I don't REALLY care enough to alter my action, I'll be frank. Carbon footprint, meh?

I'm a biochemist, after all, so my love of science is profound. I don't think the science is settled, when it comes to anthropogenic global warming. But don't take my word for it, I suggest you watch the second best-known, and first best, global climate change documentary. I personally am paranoid enough to consider that Goldman Sachs engineered the whole scheme in order to produce a new market to exploit.

But that's not what this is about. What I am interested in, is what other people are interested in. As a fledgling entrepreneur, this is an important characteristic I must embrace and nurture, if I wish to effectively serve others. And this, is why I have an interest in the environment. Because other people are interested. With all the Earth Day hoopla blowing up my Twitter feed today, I got to thinking about my actions and how they might impact the environment.

ASIDE: I guess that's why things like Earth Day ARE important, to spread awareness and make you think.

Coming from a liberal Canadian university campus just a short year ago, I still have many close friends who harbor environmental sustainability amongst their highest priorities. At this point I want to make it clear that, global warming or no global warming, I think it's incredibly important to develop renewable energy sources. I think it's in our best interest to treat our environment carefully, just not necessarily because the Earth is [allegedly] heating up a little. All that being said, I eventually got to thinking about my own business.

I found a carbon offset calculator and did some quick math. If we had hosted live events in London, instead of webinars, we would have produced an additional 50 tons of carbon dioxide. And we're just getting started! The amount of revenue we drive is literally directly and positively proportional to a decrease in carbon dioxide, in terms of travel, - commercial flights, specifically.

I'm stoked that by running an almost completely cloud based business, we've virtually eliminated all of the significant sources of adverse environmental impact; we've managed to align ourselves with an incredibly important trend, that I believe will continue to gain strength. We need to leverage it more actively, it's literally in the best interest of the Earth, and conveniently my pocket.

UPDATE: I did some research, the average person in the UK has a carbon footprint 10 tons of carbon dioxide a year. So far we have offset five of those tea sippers.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Joys of Winship

My job involves a lot of rejection. A lot. It's pretty exhausting. I could very accurately model my emotional state with a sine wave that oscillates to each extreme of the spectrum, at an incredible frequency. Each day starts filled with promise, and often times it is ripped out of my outstretched arms at the last second.

That's precisely why it feels so good to win. When the periodic function that depicts my temperament, on any given day, moves to the positive extreme, it's a joy like no other. It feels really good to be good at something that's so hard.

And I'm always getting better. Continuous improvement and steps in the right direction eventually, inevitably, reach a tipping point, and I see real progress. Whether or not I made a sale this day, this hour, this call, matters less than knowing that I am doing the right thing. If I keep doing the right thing, I'm bound to find victory around a corner not so far away, if not the next one.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Incremental Improvement

My old friend @jiashwu blogged about it here (and my morning routine has never been the same since). I knew it was important, but I never really knew until recently. By that I mean, I'd never consciously reflected on it.

I'm reminded of a conversation I had with Dean of Student Affairs at Queen's University, Dr. Laker, when I was coordinating the 2008 Orientation week. Queen's boasts the only student-run Orientation week in Canada, which I was at the helm of in 2008 (who's boasting now?). It's also the subject of much scrutiny, year over year. Jason, as I colloquially called him, once told me in the splendor of his gigantic, corner office that he liked the idea of gently improving upon orientations past, rather than a once-every-ten-year draconian review. I agreed, it made sense in practice. It also sounded easier than overseeing such a daunting review.

Over the last few weekends, Sarp and I have been continually improving our living situation. We have been consistently making small purchases, a light fixture here, a shower head there. And in looking back now, at how things have changed in the last month, I can confidently proclaim that our space is a lot better than it used to be. Adjustable lighting levels and massage-able shower heads go a long way, even though they're not particularly glamorous items.

My personal development is probably a lot similar. I'm not going to run a marathon tomorrow. But I will be victorious in my pre-7am 7km conquest. And next week maybe I'll push for 8. It's tedious, it's monotonous, but it's sustainable progress.

I think the same thing goes for business. You can't anticipate every bad thing that's going to happen. And I assure you, with all too much of my own personal experience, things will go awry. Business though, is like golf, in that what's most important is being able to adeptly correct from a poor stroke, rather than consistently hammering out perfect shots every time.

I have a pretty good idea of what my clients want, but I can't know for sure. There is a moment at which the extent of my planning becomes redundant. It is CERTAINLY important to get to that point, and plan properly. But don't dwell on it. I need to launch my product and then listen for feedback. If I've completely missed the mark, I might need to assess and make an executive decision to change direction or choose to stay the course. Or maybe a slight adjustment is all that the Dr. will order (I'm serious, a lot of my clients are doctors). Either way, you can only plan to a point. At some instance you have to just go for it. Then, shut up and listen to what people are saying. Make the appropriate changes as quickly as possible. And then keep listening.

Oh yeah, it probably goes without saying that the faster you can improve the better.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Documenting a Win

I try to tweet my stock market buys and sells, sometimes to the confusion of rogue followers and social media-adept university friends. Most of the time though, I forget. I have very recently made it a priority. I'm sick of sloppy trading. A reliable income stream from hand-selecting winning equities at sublime valuations seems like a delightful complement to any lifestyle. Ergo, it's worth the practice.

Here's a recent example, it's my best recorded call ever, on account of I've always done an atrocious job. I used the methodology I talked about previously. Although this very well could have been a fluke, I will take this opportunity to declare my winship nonetheless. It's my blog, after all.

I have a personal interest in making money off the subject of cloud computing, one way or another. It's fitting then, that the equity in question is RAX.

Here was the first brazen statement I made (click through the twitpick to see the equity at the time of purchase, $19.25). I've never posted a chart on the internet before. I usually just draw them up and erase them. They're not worthy of the eyes of others. The reason being is, it all seems far too simple. It's an arbitrary thing, really. I'm a very visual person, so it's almost hard not for me to play connect the dots. That's why I can't rely only on some lines and shapes. Anyhow, the story goes on...

Then, I bought.


Celebration ensued. Here's the stock now.




Hopefully more to come. Must stay focused.

Oh yeah, I sold 1/3 of the position just shy of $21 for a 10% win. The volume on the breakout was really strong, and the consolidation this afternoon has been relatively low volume. I think that could mean people are holding on to their shares? That means we go higher?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Language Degradation Through Globalization

I grew up in Ottawa, a stone's throw from Quebec, the French speaking province of Canada, for the uneducated readers amongst the audience. I was taught French from a young age, as a result.

The problem was, the French we learned in the classroom was very different from the French spoken by our neighbours just East of us. I remember the first time I boarded an Air France flight, I was amazed at the clarity of the French I heard. It too, was so unlike the "Quebecois" we'd been berated with on ski trips, or when we went to buy liquor as underaged kids.

Today at lunch, I went to the food court at a new mall. As I walked from Taco stand, to Czech food place, I passed Burger King. I heard someone order in Slovak, except for when they stuck the prefix "bacon-cheese" in front of their order. I was immediately reminded of Quebec adolescents yelling in mutilated frenglish. For whatever reason, these English expressions just seem to catch on.

Slovak sounds lovely. I can't speak it, but it sounds nice. The invasion of MTV and multinational corporations have brought me a much needed conduit through which to experience Western society, but what are the effects on the locals? This Tedster has an interesting perspective.

I'm excited about an increased prevalence of English, it makes my life easier. But how it will infiltrate the world, the conduits through which it will spread, and the subtle implications those complications have are of interest to me.

Monday, April 12, 2010

An Unexpected Lesson From Mr. Caufield

I’ve been reading Catcher in the Rye, again. That is to say, I’ve just read Catcher and the Rye again, rather. I have should have been done before today, really.

The problem, and I’ve realized this is a recurring theme, is that I just forget what’s important. I’m easily excited, I forget about the bigger picture, if only momentarily. That’s what happened with this Salinger classic. That’s why I didn’t get it finished earlier. I just forget what’s important. I never forget what’s REALLY important. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I have my shit together. I get distracted easily though when it comes to less important things.

I was eating some toast with Nutella, watching MTV Czech when I was blindsided by the memory of the commitment I’d made myself. I resisted at first. I was having a great time lounging about, after all. But I asked myself why I had written it down. I wanted to finish Catcher because I wanted to start a new book and for urgencies sake that book needed to be read quickly because it was non-fiction and therefore immediately pertinent to my life. When I remembered why I had written down the goal or obligation in the first place, I wanted to do it again. I had to take a mental step back from the “incredibly stimulating” reality I had occupied, before the idle thought.

I’m glad I’ve identified the behaviour, that’s a practical first step. Now I just need to work on remembering things better. Maybe it’s just a matter of writing down everything I deem important, and carrying around said written account. That’s a good second step, at the very least. And I already do it, to a large extent. I just forget sometimes, usually once I’m at home.

Anyways, that’s what I observed today, thanks for stopping by. Any insights appreciated, as per usual.

PS: I’ve been listening to these Zig Ziglar tapes, as I alluded to yesterday. I like it when he said everyone should write a book, or what some less ambitious people might call a journal, because I’m doing that. Not that a book necessarily needs to be published.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Step Back

I'll get right to the point here, I'm sure you're Sunday time is at a premium. At least mine was when I worked in the produce section of my local Loblaws, all thanks and praise to the union for that perk.

In all seriousness though, I think unions are lame sauce.

I often get caught up in the day to day. I'm excited rather easily, I must admit. But this day, hangover free, I am seeing things a little more clearly than yesterday, thank goodness. And that's the point, it's important to see things clearly. It's important to see things from different perspectives and deconstruct them in different ways.

In the last month, business has picked up quite a bit. Things are going well. The challenge is now to keep improving, while showing little patience for complacency. I'm accomplishing this with incremental goals and a clear path forward. I wish I could do it faster. But sometimes I forget why I do these things. I'm reading a GQ, something I rarely do. Not because I don't have any, but because I don't allocate the time to peruse my collection.

It's not that I want to look really fresh. Ok, well I mean, that's part of it. Maybe it's because I'm in a place where people were deprived of an environment in which they could pursue their ambitions, for so long. But looking at ads of fly suits, and reading harrowing human interest stories of brave feats, and hurdles overcome, inspires me a little bit. It reminds me of the kind of person that I want to be. I would hate for you to interpret this post as a simple "Ode to Capitalism and the Pursuit of Material Goods." That would be rather low-brow. All I'm saying, is that inspiration and motivation come on many levels. I'm positively effected by the contents of the pages; but even more so, I find myself identifying with the theme and the promise that the GQ brand exudes. It's the "Men of the Year" issue, for crying out loud (whatever that means). They're celebrating success. That's primarily why this magazine has inspired this post.

Today, this is how I find myself getting pumped up, for the week ahead. You can't control this shit, friends.

I need to always be upping my game. If I'm not, somebody else is. You see kids, it's not about the money, it's about the win. I am learning, quickly mind you, that the art of winning feels better than a pile of cash. The pile of cash is just a convenient bonus to help you get by in this harsh world we inhabit.

I'm downloading some Zig Ziglar audio books. I can always work on my closing skills. It's the most important skill set, after all. If you can't close, what good are you, I wonder?

In other news, I'd like to proclaim, with pride in my voice no less, that my "greening up postulation," summarized in detail here, is coming to fruition. Accuweather.com assured me a weekend of rain. However, it's held out so far, and I've taken advantage with long and frequent strolls around my hood, naturally. Suffice it to say, it's lush as hell outside. The realm visible from my elevated balcony is well on it's way to looking all "Hanging Garden's of Babylon." Once again, playing the bigger angle prevails.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Grooving

I feel like a homeless person, in the grips of a serious withdrawal. I'm hungover, in the extreme. Thanks Sarp. It's mostly that we just didn't get home until incredibly late.

Anyways, it's not all bad. The forecast was for rain and yet sunshine lights up my living room.

This song is also pretty fun, if you ask me.

http://www.thenoisecollective.co.cc/2010/04/the-aptly-named-mos-dub/

Friday, April 9, 2010

What's the Difference?

I'll tell you.

I was taking a leisurely afternoon stroll, you know, to clear my head. "I've almost been here a year; crazy!" I quipped to my business partner, Raoul.
"Imagine how much different it would have been if you were in an English speaking country." He retorted.

I imagined it.

Things would be a lot different. I like to think that overcoming adversity confers some sort of benefit over the longer-term. I'll somehow magically be better for struggling to get by. Maybe that is delusional self-rationalization. Either way, I have less friends than I would otherwise and despite my GPS-like knowledge of local streets and back-alleys, when shit hits the fan, if I don't have a native Slovak speaker around I find myself in shit-creek, again, obviously devoid of any object that might be used to propel me out of such said open sewer.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Binge

Have you seen the movie Casino? I haven’t, but I read this and it got me thinking it might be worth 2 precious hours of my life. It's just that I’ve been on a movie watching bender lately. I find myself continuously looking for suggestions, as a result. I guess the whole thing has to do with that addictive personality of mine. I’d appreciate any feedback though, if you feel the aforementioned film is worth a watch.

It’s funny to joke about such said personality disorder, but it’s more important that I figure out how to live with it. I’ve realized that this strategy of adoption is more likely to help me succeed in the world, than just trying to blatantly ignore my character “flaws.” I know, know, it’s important to do everything in moderation, but that’s just not my style. Unless there is a pressing sense of urgency, or novelty for that matter, I hardly ever partake in anything. And when I do partake, you know I dive right in, very promptly after I dip that first toe. Besides, I would argue that everything in excess, equates to moderation. Can you follow that math?

Whether it is drinking, exercising, work or studying, I tend to get easily excited, and engrossed with, any given activity. I find myself enthralled with a pastime. Then I quickly get bored of it and move on; or, in the case of my brief Internet poker addiction, until it becomes too expensive to justify. Besides, I was always more of a blackjack guy anyways.

On the topic of gambling in Slovakia, aside from the mini-casino at the Hotel Carlton, which for lack of sheer size is unable to accommodate the plethora of games you might find here, there isn’t much in the way of establishments I’d want to invest a Saturday night at.

Don’t get me wrong; there is an array of what I’ll call “gambling shacks,” brightly colored storefronts complete with roulette wheels and flashing jackpot signs, that will happily take your money. It’s just that when you take into account the seedy location of most of these places, coupled with the lack of regulatory compliance and prevalence of organized crime in the country, it seems I would have a better shot at being complicit in a money laundering operation than beating the house. Given my predisposition to binge behavior and risk-taking then, it seems I’d be better served to stay home and virtually attend the Red Casino. As per my own business, I’m obviously a fan of the online way of doing things anyways.

I think most kids at Queen's exhibited this to some extent too. Never have I met so many people who hustle hard during the week, only to find themselves upside-down on top of a keg, come the weekend, -err Thursday.

So this has been the first step, recognizing behavioral patterns. I’ll keep working on strategies to curtail, and maybe even leverage, the way that my brain seems to be wired. Yes, if I could turn a seemingly negative thing into a strength that would be good…

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Quick Take on Contentious Issues

It's easy to get wound-up. Whether it is because of Sumo wrestling costumes, or a lost remote control forcing you to endure an episode of Made on MTVGermany. The reaction is often the same in it's emotional character. This afternoon I wasn't interested in finding the channel-changing instrument, so much as cussing at the incomprehensibility of the follies faced by a young nerd who was just dying to be a hip hop dancer.

I'm not interested in dissecting this particular qualm du jour. I'm sure there will be another one in a week or two. Maybe that's the one I'll choose to get really fussed about. It's just that I'm pretty busy right now, what with Easter and quarterbacking my company to dominate the world of virtual training. As a result, I've sort of missed the boat. So many others have quipped adequately about the story. Ergo, I'll keep this brief.

I hate complacency, don't get me wrong. It's my most worthy adversary. I am an incredibly firm advocate of incremental change. I believe that we can always improve.

That being said, I also think it's important to reflect on how far we've come, if only to use it as inspiration to continue our fight forward. I know this is because I've had a wild perspective change. I'm no longer on a liberal university campus. I'm in a country that has NEVER had a gay pride parade. I'm in a part of the world where I see oppression against minority groups in ways unfathomable to those of you privileged enough to reside in the Western World. I'm in a country that is in the process of passing legislation to become more nationalistic. I live in a country that has a fledgling but powerful neo-nazi movement.

And yet I'm positive, there are places in the world that are much worse than where I now find myself, as far as human rights abuse goes.

I applaud and appreciate your pursuit of an apparently elusive equality. Just please remember, when cooped up in your bubble, that there is a whole world of anguish, hurt, and unjust treatment, out there. A world that knows nothing of the rights you lobby for. Keep marching forward, but every once in a while take a minute to look at how far we've come.


PS - Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. Easter traditions in Slovakia see men whipping women with bows of willow and splashing them with cold water. The women in return, have to provide money and cakes to the men, naturally. I'll report back Easter Monday with an eye-witness account, but I have every reason to believe that a squabble about fat suits will pale in comparison to the absurdities that will be on display.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Live Blogging my 23rd Birthday

4:50PM The afternoon was more of the same. I'm cooking some chicken and off to meet Patrick for some dranks (sic).


2:15PM I showered with the door open.


11:52AM

A lovely facebook post from my flatmate Sarp. I'm geting a little bit of work done, between champagne filled spiked glasses of orange juice.

V. Sarp Kayalar HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAN! All the best, lots of chicks, and alcohol + success for your new age! The new era has started for us in Slovakia! This summer is just gonna be awesome! Just enjoy as much as you can.

PS: You are the best flatmate ever!!!:)

Sarp


UPDATE: Easy listening.

9:50AM
Some breaking news in the form of another hilarious decision by Queen's AMS Exec.

I mean, really??

Brandon Sloan, communications officer for the Alma Mater Society, suggested "white privilege" had blinded the student government, which is largely but not entirely white, to the seriousness of the issue.

Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2740807#ixzz0jdzkHI3y


8:50AM
Well, well, happy birthday to me. My office mates are in Mexico and Poprad respectively. I'll be joining the latter for Easter, which I'm excited about. Easter in Slovakia is a hilarious tradition, if you're a man.

Anyways, off to go mix some champagne with my orange juice. I couldn't find Alize at the grocery store, so this thug will be passionless.

Happy Aging.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Upside

I acknowledge that it is lamer than a llama with a broken leg to keep blogging about the weather; but to be quite frank, this is my blog, and I shall continue to muse as I please - thank you very much. Besides, this blog post isn't really about the weather.

As I was saying, the forecast for the next two weeks is exceptionally positive. The weather looks great. I'm spending a lot of time on my balcony, looking out over my kingdom, taking in the fresh breeze and watching a parade of Slovak MILS dropping their children off at kindergarten try to parallel park in spaces that are far too tight.

But, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. The tentative meteorological predictions indicate that rain will fall. Rather than naively question the half-baked predictions of accuweather.com, I've decided to embrace the prophecies, despite their very nature being contrary to my ideal scenario. It's going to be April after all, in my experience that means rain. I'm not going to delude myself by hoping against hope (whatever that means) for the unlikely. That would be a waste of time.

Instead, I'm going to focus on the positive. I'm going to look for the bigger angle.

I love warm weather, particularly after such a bleak winter. This warm spell has me incredibly excited for summer. I’m grinning all the time and shit. I look forward to sitting on patios and watching the world (read: supermodels) pass by. I realize now then, that the inevitable rainstorms of Apri, are a necessity. Without them, I would never see the luscious green bloom that so delightfully defines Bratislava, through the months of May-September. Seeing this as a step in a larger journey, makes things much more bearable. Besides, who even needs to go outside these days? With X-Box Live and up scale casinos online a guy hardly needs to leave his house. If only I could figure out how to order a pizza in this country.

The same principal applies in sales. You need to understand why people are telling you “no” before you ever hear a “yes.” You need to dig through the shit, to find anything worthwhile. On your way to the yes, you better understand what people are looking for and how to best accommodate them. It seems futile, but it’s not.

When you begin to understand the greater forces at play, and briefly remove yourself from the toil of any given moment, you are able to see things in the proper perspective. You are able to see things for what they are, not just the microcosm that manipulates your current reality.

The rain, and wet socks that will assuredly follow, are a necessary evil then. If I'm interested in ushering in the greater good (summer), which I most definitely am.

Hilarious blogging planned for tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Blog Blog Blog

I've been blogging all irregular-like; as if I were the bowels of a Crohn's patient after a night at the local burrito bar. I'm working to remedy this problem. Things at the office, which generally dominate the VAST majority of my time, have eased up lately as things start to go "smooth-as-ice," whatever that means. As I iterated earlier, the key now is to keep them smooth, all silky and whatnot.

I just had the most domestic of weekends. Spring cleaning, mixed with a trip to Ikea, had me getting my "Betty the Home-Maker" on. I'm amazed at how a few euros spent on pillows, a floor lamp and bedside table add such value to space. I'm trying not to accumulate too much stuff while I'm here, but a few items here and there go a long way.

I don't know if thanks and praise are due to the sparse closets, following the weekend purge of a number of old and unwanted belongings, or the warm breeze, but I'm feeling quite invigorated these days. I would credit the egregious coffee consumption of this morning as fuel for my renewed energy, but this inspiration goes deeper than some magnificent caffeine dosing ploy.

I'm excited. There's a spark in my step. I haven't felt this way in a long time. I haven't felt this way since I first arrived here.

I like to think back to when I first arrived, standing alone at that desolate airport, waiting. Waiting. Completely incapable of improving my situation. I like to think about what's changed and what hasn't. I like to evaluate my routines. I feel as though such activities are a good barometer of how well-put-together my life is, on any given week. I used to go to the casino every Sunday with Sarp. They have free poker tournaments, and 1 euro black jack tables. Whereas, I spent last night in the office, trying to get a head start on the nascent week. Instead of hoping for a good draw, I'm actively working to improve my situation. Examples such as this intrigue me because I can see how my priorities have changed over the course of the last year. I like to think of it as progress, working away at something I value, rather than harboring a false-hope that the supermodel/dealer would slide an ace my way.

When it comes down to it, I realize I only have so much time, and I need to do what's most important. I need to prioritize. It sounds ridiculously simple, when I pen it out like this. But I just don't have time to be making weekly trips to the local gambling house. As per my business, I'm obviously a fan of the online approach. I mean if I do feel like a trip to the casino, I can do it without leaving the warm glow of my laptop screen.

The internet is awesome. And flexible solutions make sense for the busy man, whether it be a big-shooting business executive looking for the best competitive business information (Look at my website if you haven't already!!) or an ambitious twenty-something looking for a quick thrill at an online gambling joint. My number one priority then, is how to best use my time.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mad Resources

Work has been a little bit LESS encompassing, for the first time in 6 months. We're sort of hitting our stride. The focus has shifted to "how to continue hitting our stride. And how to hit it better."

As a result, I've been finding myself checking on my stock portfolio more frequently, as I like to do in the first available iota of spare time.

I've tinkered a little bit: There has been net selling lately. My cash position is outrageous, at a hint higher than 50% cash. I've also invested 20% of my portfolio in US treasuries, via TLT . I bought when such said equity was in the high 80's. I plan to hold, or sell in the mid 90's. I therefore have relatively little equity exposure. The market is starting to tank a little; I decided it was time to do some research.

Using a favourite analytical engine I screened for high market cap companies with good fundamentals that were on the move this week. I researched a few, but the epiphany struck me quickly into my analysis of the first one, TEVA.

The stock immediately grabbed my attention because of it's big jump this week, and the insanely good fundamentals. I also like pharmaceutical companies; it's a personal interest. My mouse shot over to another bookmark. With four keystrokes I pulled up a chart of TEVA and analyzed it in multiple time frames. The recent volume patterns, and the all time highs of XPH are further confirmation that the stock might be a good buy candidate.

Seconds later I had a stream of ideas, and real time action, on the subject, when I searched TEVA at Stocktwits.com. A lot of people are buying the stock because they think it will benefit from a healthcare reform bill, as it turns out.

Apparently then, this stock, with great fundamentals and an impressive technical pattern also has a story behind it. I still believe that the market has a little ways down to go in the shorter and intermediate term. But this big cap stock might be worth looking at further as a potential long.

My real point though, lucky for you, is not my sub-par stock market logic. It is that because of the internet, I was able to get a very legit idea about a very real equity in real time. The relatively minute amount of action required (in part because of my awesome bookmark organization), and the quality of result are amazing to me. I feel empowered, as long as the power doesn't go out.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Refocusing

My behaviour is often punctuated with binges. I think it's just that I'm easily excited. Or maybe I really like getting black-out-drunk. The last week has been one such binge.

It is 6:00 Sunday morning. I'm sitting alone in an upscale Viennese hotel room. My uncle left for the airport about an hour ago. And I wasn't able to fall back asleep. I'm drinking [cup after cup of] coffee and trying [successfully] to get an early start on the day. If this were North America, the clocks would have changed and I would be at an even bigger disadvantage [suckers].

As I mentioned earlier, it was phenomenal to have family visit. When you live in a part of the world that is so different from anything you had been acquainted with prior, it's nice to have your friends and family come see what you are going through; because words so often fail to convey an accurate depiction, to the chagrin of this blog. I'm also not that pumped to leave this here civilized world and return to the err, less-developed, Bratislava, in a few hours.

We had a great time over the course of the last 9 days, touring around Hungary, Czech Republic, Austria, and of course my darling Slovakia. But now, my strýčko (Slovak for uncle, d'uh) had his early morning departure behind him; and I have a mini-bar's worth of amenities beside my laptop. I'm trying to get back in the game.

Owning my own business has allowed me some great flexibility. The age of connectivity that we find ourselves in has allowed me to easily keep a pulse on things, without too much stress. It's still my business though, and I feel bad for having not given it my utmost attention, but maybe I needed the break to realize that. I'm stoked to get to to the office tomorrow and start actively hustling again. I'm hungry to earn.

So as one week of bingeing wraps up, another, entirely different one, begins. And through it all, maybe a twisted form of moderation will emerge, keeping me from self-destructing for at least a little while longer.

Happy Sunday

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Memories Triggered

The gentle encroachment of warm weather has me opening my windows. The mild breeze carries with it a familiar scent.

There is a Kraft Foods factory upwind. It doesn't produce an obnoxious odor, but one that certainly taints the air. I haven't smelt it since summer. It's got me thinking how funny it is, that I'll soon have been here for a year. The same thing happens when I hear this song. The album dropped right before I arrived.

I've come a long way since then, but still have quite a distance to go.

ASIDE: For the record, I'm wicked jealous of all my friends who are making it to DMB in Toronto.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Do What I Want



It's 10:00am on a Sunday. I just made my second pot of coffee. I'm not tired, I just love coffee. Maybe I should consider decaf one of these days. I thought I would blog while my chicken baked in the over. I eat copious amounts of stir- fry. On any given 5-day work week, I consume the contents of a wok at least 4 of those nights. Sure, any idiot can cook stir-fry. But that's not why I eat so much of it.

I live in a world with limited food options, compared to what those of you in North America might be used to. Most of the fresh vegetables here taste like plastic, especially in the winter. I don't trust a landlocked Slovakia to stock any fish that retains an iota of freshness. And don't get me started on the pork and beef, they're just a scratch above slabs of animal fat. So in my faltering attempts to maintain a healthy lifestyle, I am confined to generous portions of chicken and a medley of frozen vegetables. Stir-fry just makes sense.

I live a pretty structured life these days. I hate to be so predictable, but carefully created habits and patterns allow me to make the most of my time. And boy, do I value my time. I usually get groceries on a weekend morning. If I can make it Sunday before the church crowd is relieved from their weekly mass, I consider the day off to a great start. During the course of a typical grocery run, I buy a large number of chicken breasts and then bake them when I get home, as I'm doing now. This saves me the hassle of having to worry about raw chicken going bad and then subsequently cooking it every night in the pan. I feel like baked things might be a little healthier and allow me to use less oil in the pan too. Bonus, or ridiculous justification of my habits?

When these routines of mine are thrown for a loop, I tend to get a little annoyed. I don't think that it's because I'm anti-social, grumpy or overly-obsessive compulsive. It's just that I know I am going to be inconvenienced in a major way during the week if I can't get these auxiliary things, critical to support my highly productive week, done on the weekend. I'm busy as an elf the week before Christmas these days, what with work and all. And that makes me value my time even more.

That's not to say there aren't days where I'm a complete, lazy, piece of trash. You should have seen me yesterday.

Upon reflection, while holding my limited time in high regard allows me to get a lot done, it also has some drawbacks. I very much prefer to do things on my own schedule, - another reason I enjoy working for myself. Working on my own schedule often means opting out of other people's plans. This would perturb me more, if I didn't enjoy working and believe that the rewards at the end would be well worth giving up a few afternoon activities and evening programs. I need to remain conscious of my actions and remember that every once in awhile it would probably do me some good to give in to the whims of one of my peers, because some times I'm surprised at the fun I have or the opportunity my eyes are opened to. As always, it just seems to be about becoming aware of, and striking the right balance.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Bratislava Video Round-Up

When I first arrived I looked for videos about the place I all of a sudden found myself in. Here's a few classics to give you an idea of what I'm living through.

I love to hate this place. And I love it a bit, but don't tell anyone.

For all of those who have been wondering at home, yes, Euro Trip was right, re: Winter. And 18-40sec was filmed in my backyard, I'm pretty sure.

I'd say about 70% of the housing looks something like this.

This is a 3:30 video montage of some dudes driving around my immediate hood. It's a bit redundant, but at least watch the first 1:20 sec to get a good idea of what life is like.

Probably the most legit one from the Washington Post, and why girls are skeptical when they hear my native English.

UPDATE: A little long, - I would advise you skip the nice parts - but the most recent and accurate.

UPDATE II: Just watch the first 15 seconds. They really just go after the place.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Little Things

Sodium-free soy sauce.

English signs to read in idle places.

People that smile and can walk without looking at their feet.

Houses without graffiti on them.

Complete shite weather... Not.


These are the things I miss.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Late Night Patriotism

It's 3:02 am on a Thursday. But this isn't just any Thursday. Second intermission of the Canada vs. Russia Men's Olympic Hockey Quarterfinal is underway. I can't understand this Slovak commentary so I thought the opportunity to do some late night blogging was a worthy one.

Canada is in the midst of trouncing Russia with a 7-3 lead. It would be heartbreaking to see them blow it; and yet I'm too superstitious to outright declare victory at this point. But score aside, there is one thing that is very cool, that finally made me feel that raw Olympic Spirit. You see, I've been incredibly busy with work, and the 8 hour time difference puts a kink in watching live events, so I haven't been AS enthralled with this contest for ultimate winter athletic dominance as I may have been in the past.

But I'm up now. And boy, am I glad. Not only because I am witness to an unreal game but because - and not to sound like too much of a tech nerd - I did it while on Twitter, connected to a number of my friends who all felt pretty much the same as me. My good pal @amitayer said it best.

Keep in mind, it's three in the morning and I suffer from chronic sleep deprivation on a good day, so sorry if this is a little incoherent.

I need to nap before setting new records of caffeine intake work.

UPDATED:

Back to the Balcony


The amount of Nutella I consume is ungodly. But that's not what this is about.

For those readers who operate with the Celsius scale, I'm happy to inform you that I am now consistently enjoying double digit temperatures. As an Ottawa native, the notion of persistent positive temperature readings in the month of February is mind-blowing. To those of you that remain trapped in the confines of the frigid 613, I don't mean this personally but: Suck it. Maybe it's cliche to blog about the weather; but quite frankly good sir, I don't give a damn.

While I concede, there may be a brief relapse and even a flurry or two, I declare with certainty that the worst is most definitely over.

Off to the balcony where I will stand in a "fresh white tee" and watch incompetent drivers try to parallel park in spaces far too tight.

Monday, February 22, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: SLOVAKIA GETS COMPUTERS

Reuters, 19/02/2010, IBM Corporation Signs Three Year, EUR56 Million Agreement With Slovak Ministry Of Finance For Integrated Finance System
Copyright 2010 Reuters. All Rights Reserved.

Date Announced: 20100219

IBM Corporation announced that it has been selected by the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic to provide technical assistance services for the design, development and implementation of an intelligent, integrated finance information system for the country. According to the three year, EUR56 million contract signed, IBM will standardize Slovakia's fiscal system by integrating and streamlining existing processes into a unified collection platform. The project will be funded from European Union structural funds and co-financed from the state budget. The project is part of the Slovak government's program to revamp the tax information system; improve communication between taxpayers and the tax authority; and unify the collection of taxes, customs duties and insurance contributions. IBM will undertake the project in several phases: introducing a 'one-stop service'. Taxpayers will be able to perform a variety of tasks using one platform, eliminating duplicate confirmations and forms, and reducing the administrative burden for citizens and companies related to the collection of taxes, customs duties and insurance contributions; enabling integration and communication between various local authorities; and establishing a centralized taxation information platform.

Significant Development ID Number 1825233

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Quantify It.

Ok seriously, this weather is amazing. The sunshine has certainly instilled some pep in my step, so to speak.

Another productive Sunday is well underway. I'm very smily about the whole thing. Sarp, my flatmate, chastised me about being lazy last night, and not going out. It's nice to know my night in evening last wasn't for nothing then. Furthermore, this morning I've realized that he's equally lazy, if not more. As noon slowly encroaches, he has yet to emerge from his bed. To be lazy then, is in the eye of the beholder? By taking it easy last night I'm now leagues ahead of him, as far as "slothing about" goes.

Not that this is some kind of competition.

But that's not what I want to blog about this morning. As I've systematically optimized the exploitation and use of my time in the last few hours, and the weeks leading up such said hours, I've realized my methods have changed slightly. Things are going relatively well right now. So I want to take note of what I'm doing.

I'm an avid agenda user. Those learning skills they teach in grade 6 have provided me with huge ROI, as it turns out. My planner use varies depending on how I'm feeling. It's consistent, always, but sometimes I put dumb things on lists (like cutting my nails, - seriously, I'm a freak) to make me feel more productive. I just love crossing things off lists. I'm sure there's a surge of dopamine associated with the action that drives this neurotic behaviour of mine. At other times I use numbered lists and every now and then I encircle things with highlighters.

So given my regular fluctuation in agenda use patterns, it's realistic to think that I would stumble upon things that work and those that don't. The difficulty seems to be in realizing the effect of my varying habits - can habits vary? Sounds like an oxymoron - and realizing what to keep and what to take out with the trash.

As of late, I've been very specific with my daily to-do lists. I realized that I was failing to get anything done. I kept delaying things to tomorrow. I just wasn't getting shit done. I looked at all of the items I was putting off: They were lofty, ill-defined tasks.

So I did the exact opposite. I changed things from "read" to "read one chapter of book x." Instead of doing research I would get "25 names and numbers of decision makers." I quantified my daily goals. The prompt realization struck me, that I was finally getting things done again. I struck items off my list with ruthless efficiency.

And the benefits multiplied. Not only was I getting more things done, I was better able to structure my time, as I had a very good idea how much time any one of the well-defined task would take. I also noticed that the work I was producing was of higher quality.

Other things I do regularly that seem to work include numbering my giant lists and allocating times.

If you have your own ways, I'd love to hear them. Seriously.

AFTERTHOUGHT:

On a completely unrelated topic, I'm bouncing around a hypothesis in my brain. I don't think it's ripe yet to take fruition from but it involves starting another blog. I think I would be able to muse successfully about starting a business. Specifically the multitude of trials and tribulations that have come along, all in a tongue and cheek manner of course. The biggest reason I want to do it is because I don't think that this is the appropriate forum, yet I have so much to say on the topic. I'll repurpose this little internet space to focus more on my day to day adventures, as well as general personal development. More to come on the subject...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Turning A Corner

I stepped outside around 3:30pm, Central Eastern European time for a quick walk yesterday. I like to take afternoon breaks to clear my brain from the monotony of being awesome.

I was met with a welcoming glow from the afternoon sun and a balmy breeze. Winter is almost over. If I were to believe the forecast, the temperature is supposed to rise to the double digits next week. Mild weather in late February is something unheard of, for this Canadian. I can't help but feel that I might just be making it through my first winter in this bleak, grey, post-communist world. I'm hesitant to say too much however, lest I jinx myself.

I'm hopeful that this meteorological change foreshadows similar improvements in life and business. With better weather I can't help but feel a spark in my step, and with a better attitude should come better outcomes. I'll keep you updated.

Monday, February 15, 2010

An Open Letter to McDonalds

Below is a complaint I submitted to McDonalds. Please share any of your experiences.


I recently moved to Slovakia from Canada. I am an extremely avid coffee drinker. I was primarily a Starbucks patron, or Tim Hortons' if circumstances necessitated.

In Slovakia though, McDonalds is the only place to get reliable, fast, and quite frankly delicious coffee (seriously, I was impressed with the quality of your brew). I go every day, multiple times a day (as I mentioned, I'm an AVID consumer).

Usually I drink my coffee black. To be honest, it makes me feel more hardcore than most people, and it's quite tasty (rotting stomach and stained teeth not withstanding). Sometimes I use creamers though, just to mix things up. And man, do your creamers scream "sub-par". Struggling to open that creamer is probably the worst part of my morning, now that I think of it.

I'm not sure if the tab you are meant to pull open was designed as a cruel trick by your supplier, or whether it's years of karmic injustice being consistently unleashed on me in a twisted ploy to even my score with the universe at large, one day at a time. Either way, 19 times out of 20 the excessive vacuum seal of the creamer causes small spurts of the white thick liquid to ejaculate all over my clothes, keyboard and desk when I peal back the aforementioned tab. On the worst of days, the body of the creamer itself breaks in half and spills the entirety of its contents all over my lap.

Please, please, please, do something about this. Even if it just means buying the Tesco brand and using those.

Regards,

Jeffrey

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Hallmark Day



Happy V-Day friends.

Earlier I Skyped with my family. My mom made a remark that got me thinking. She asked if people celebrated Valentine's day over in this part of the world. I hadn't seen much in the days leading up, but I had assumed people did.

I can't be sure though. Asking a Slovak would be the easy answer, but taking hints and cues from my surroundings is another option. And speculation is fun, so let's do it.

I spent most of my day doing completely non-valentine related things; primarily chores and other things required to ensure I have an awesome week. I took a walk this afternoon for a little reprieve, to explore and observe. I was somewhat shocked to see nothing in the way of hearts adorning local stores, not an Eros in sight.

My mom was right. Without Hallmark driving mindless consumerism, the optical assault induced by the ubiquity of Valentine's Day related paraphernalia is negligible. Maybe that's a good thing?

Either way, have a great day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Own Your Time

Another productive Saturday. Amazing. Although this time, it's more out of necessity, than anything else. Work is a little (read: hella) hectic right now; so I'm in the office. But at least I'm able to go at my own pace, blogging all the while.

Since this self-employment gig began, my attitude towards work has changed. I'm doing this for me. Sure, I'm trying incredibly hard to serve other people something of value, but I'm only trying so hard to please others because I'm convinced it will translate into more Euros for me. I'm a selfish bastard, at the end of the day. But at least I'm honest about it, unlike you passive-aggressive, conniving, manipulative cretins out there.

Oh how I love the word cretin.

I digress.

At my previous job, I sometimes questioned why I had put myself in such a situation. I mean, it was tedious work, constantly turning tricks for the man. No matter what my monthly salary, hourly wage, or commission structure, I was still enslaved to the 9:00-5:30 routine. If I was hungry at an hour that wasn't lunch time, I was obliged to sneak away from my desk and clandestinely acquire a snack. Or sit unproductively and listen to my stomach growl as I waited out the clock. To overcome the idea that I was making my bosses rich for a measly commission, I scoured my situation for an iota of positive-spin. Even though I was committed to someone else's cause, I found a way to convince myself it was in my own best interest to hustle harder. It has something to do with that 10,000 hour thing.

And now, working for myself, I've realized I can continue to distill value on different levels. While it's mostly about stacking mad scrilla, it can also be about more than that. I know it sounds crazy, but allow me to explain.

A gigantic part of my role at this organization, and at the previous place that was lucky enough to harbor me, is B2B inside sales. That's a fancy way of saying I call people on the phone and sell them my ideas, all neatly packaged into day long events broadcast over the internet. If they think they might like my ides, they purchase the right to listen.

Obviously, I hear the word "no" a lot. Not everyone is THAT enthralled with my INGENIOUS thoughts, believe it or not. "Quel surprise!" The French reader might proclaim, in the most sarcastic of tones. The repetition of that same monosyllabic response can be tiring. Even with the prospect of financial freedom at the end of every conversation it can be tough to self-motivate. Paradoxically, self-motivation is exactly what you need heaps of, if you want to be a boss in this industry.

So I looked for other ways to derive value. Ways that were not to tied to the direct outcome of the call I was making. And now, 9 months or so later, if you give me the name and phone number of just about anyone in the english-speaking world I will have no problem calling them up and pitching them whatever idea or product you might have. I'm getting pretty good at it too. Of course I still have a long way to go, much to learn and more practice ahead of me (and countless rejections), but it's all just a step on developing the extremely transferable, and valuable, skill of being able to close anyone, anywhere, anytime.

So that's my strategy for getting the most out of work. What's yours?

What I'm hearing.