Great Speech – Admiral McRaven to Univ. Texas

http://www.businessinsider.com/bill-mcraven-commencement-speech-at-ut-2014-5

 

Read the text or watch the video.  Either way, his message is clear.  I will summarize his points below:

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.  
 By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.  If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.  And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.
You can’t change the world alone—you will need some help— and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.

If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.
SEAL training was a great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status.

If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.

Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform you still end up as a sugar cookie.  You will get chewed up and swallowed.    It’s just the way life is sometimes.  Get up, move on.

But if you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.
A circus to a SEAL trainee means that for a single period of time you didn’t measure up. A circus meant more fatigue—and more fatigue meant that the following day would be more difficult—and more circuses were likely.  This ties into Marcus Luttrell’s (“Lone Survivor”) mental attitude of “just get to lunch”.  Do not dwell on the last challenge, and do not think forward to the sum of all the challenges.  Just do what you have to do to get to lunch that day.  And then do what you have to do to get to dinner that day…

But an interesting thing happened to those who were constantly on the circus list. Overtime those students—who did two hours of extra calisthenics—got stronger and stronger.  The pain of the circuses built inner strength-built physical resiliency.  Life is filled with circuses.  You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.

If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.

Instead of swinging his body underneath the rope and inching his way down as all the others had done, the trainee  bravely mounted the TOP of the rope and thrust himself forward.  It was a dangerous move—seemingly foolish, and fraught with risk. Failure could mean injury and being dropped from the training.  Without hesitation—the student slid down the rope—perilously fast, instead of several minutes, it only took him half that time and by the end of the course he had broken the record.

If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.
There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim you will have to deal with them.

If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.
Every SEAL knows that under the keel, at the darkest moment of the mission—is the time when you must be calm, composed—when all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bear.  In business it is the presentation for which your projector fails, or the negotiation when you are in a position of weakness.  The best of the best recognize the situation for what it is, accept that, and continue on.

If you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.
The chattering teeth and shivering moans of the trainees were so loud it was hard to hear anything and then, one voice began to echo through the night—one voice raised in song.  We knew that if one man could rise above the misery then others could as well.
If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person—Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela and even a young girl from Pakistan—Malala—one person can change the world by giving people hope.

If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.

Finally, in SEAL training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see.  All you have to do to quit—is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims.  Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT—and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training.

 

In summary……

Start each day with a task completed.

Find someone to help you through life.

Respect everyone.

Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up—if you do these things, then next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today and—what started here will indeed have changed the world—for the better.

 

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Vanity Metrics vs Real Metrics

Good post by David Jaxon (not surprising) about Eric Schonfield’s, “Don’t Be fooled By Vanity Metrics”:

Vanity metrics are things like registered users, downloads, and raw pageviews. They are easily manipulated, and do not necessarily correlate to the numbers that really matter: active users, engagement, the cost of getting new customers, and ultimately revenues and profits. The latter are more actionable metrics. As First Round Capital’s Josh Kopelman recently advised on Founder Office Hours, “The real data is retention and repeat usage.” Startups that focus on the real metrics can make their products better, attract more customers, and make them happier.

It is important for startups to properly instrument the data they track so that they can get a handle on the true health of their business. If they track only the vanity metrics, they can get a false sense of success. Just because a startup can produce a chart that is up and to the right does not mean it has a great business. A mobile app could have millions of downloads but only a few hundred thousand active users, or a freemium website might see exploding traffic growth but barely any conversions to paying users.

I see this in the Margin trading Products (“MTP”) industry every day.  Firms, especially smaller firms, tend to trumpet their Monthly Volume (meaning the total notional USD of client trading).  It has been this way for a while.  There are a number of problems with this metric.  The first problem is the lack of validation of the number.  They are completely self reported numbers and therefore most observers would read these numbers and discount them significantly.  Also, Monthly Volume is highly correlated to market volatility which no broker has control over.  So the bigger problem is that Monthly Volume is not a great way to track the two valuable metrics of a brokerage; their growth and their profitability.

A single metric that encompasses the performance of the major drivers of growth would actually be “active client assets on deposit“.    That metric, which I do not see publicly noted for any firms, shows the results of the sales and marketing teams efforts.  Note that it is active client accounts as opposed to client accounts.  There are too many client accounts with small deposits that are no longer trading and therefore no longer generating any revenues for the firm.  So lets call an active client account an account that executes at least one trade per week.  Maybe if/when interest rates climb again and those aggregate client deposits are generating interest revenues we should revisit the definition of active client accounts.

Profitability is the next valuable metric.  And this is not a standalone, net income number.  Rather it is a measure of revenues as a percentage of the total assets in the active client accounts.  This percentage shows the effectiveness of the broker in generating revenues.  This metric would help an outsider value a company.  For a large broker with $20 mio in Net Income, but a Profitability Percentage of 5% may not be as valuable as a smaller broker with Net Income of $5 mio but a Profitability Percentage of 10%.

I will post a follow up article on this Profitability Percentage metric in the near future.

Net Neutrality Lessons from the Airline Industry?

Mike Masnick has a great article about Net Neutrality, and the false claims made by the ISP’s about their need to bread the Net Neutrality rules.  Or is it just a good article about the insane and purposefully inefficient way that airlines force us to board commercial airlines?  The article is both actually and uses great and simple concepts from the airline industry, that we can all relate to, to show just how ludicrous the ISP’s claims are regarding their desire to break Net Neutrality.

Its well worth the read.  Original article found on Techdirt, by Mike Masnick, found via Fred Wilson’s AVC.com, which linked me to Nick Grossman’s post on USV.com.  (Note to self, write article on “links”)

http://bit.ly/SeR4aS