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]
MikloŇ° 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.