You Get What You Elect

It happens too often.  Discussing something to do with our government…..I ask, which candidate did you vote for last election cycle?  They answer, “Well I did not get a chance…blah, blah, blah”

Voting is one of the few ways ordinary citizens can make change for the better.  If you do not vote, I do not want to hear you complain.  Sure you pay taxes, we all do.  But since you are spending the money, why not help hire the staff?!?!


Beware HIPPO’s

This has nothing to do with massive animals found in Africa.  It has to do with getting things right in an office environment.

HIPPO is an acronym that stands for HIghest Paid Person’s Opinion.  And if your company or team is run via the HIPPO method, you are doing “It” wrong.

And what is, “It”?   In this case, “It” means that either your company leader has hired small talent and purposefully wants a team of people below him who are there to execute his/her orders.  This should tell you how you and your colleagues are perceived by your leader.

Or “It” could mean your HIPPO does not realize that they have hired knowledgable staff, who are paid by the company to solve problems with their domain expertise.  HIPPO is rightly associated with loud-mouthed jerks.

Either way the employees are gonna be unhappy and short-lived.  Talented workers do not want to work under an authoritarian HIPPO.  They want to be asked to solve problems, be given the resources to do so, work with colleagues to finalize solutions, then implement.

As for me, I only want to see HIPPO’s when I go to the zoo.

Building a Perfect Team – NYT

The below are excerpts taken from the first chapter of an extensive article in the New York Times magazine.  I have always been a student of capturing performance in organizations.  Some of the information in this article (I have only yet gone through Chapter One) goes against traditionally-accepted norms for building and managing teams.   My personal highlights are below.  Italicized words are directly copied from the NYT Magazine Article.

  • When building teams, does it matter the personality types involved?  If there were similar interest?  Motivated by similar rewards?  Google’s analysis showed that the team composition did not mater to the performance of the teams.  Differing mixes of personalities, ages, goals did not make a discernible difference to the effectiveness of any team.
  • Group norms, led by a strong leader but agreed to and embraced by all members is a hallmark of successful teams.
  • As the researchers studied the groups, however, they noticed two behaviors that all the good teams generally shared. First, on the good teams, members spoke in roughly the same proportion, a phenomenon the researchers referred to as ‘‘equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.’’ On some teams, everyone spoke during each task; on others, leadership shifted among teammates from assignment to assignment. But in each case, by the end of the day, everyone had spoken roughly the same amount. ‘‘As long as everyone got a chance to talk, the team did well,’’ Woolley said. ‘‘But if only one person or a small group spoke all the time, the collective intelligence declined.’’

    Second, the good teams all had high ‘‘average social sensitivity’’ — a fancy way of saying they were skilled at intuiting how others felt based on their tone of voice, their expressions and other nonverbal cues. One of the easiest ways to gauge social sensitivity is to show someone photos of people’s eyes and ask him or her to describe what the people are thinking or feeling — an exam known as the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test. People on the more successful teams in Woolley’s experiment scored above average on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test. They seemed to know when someone was feeling upset or left out. People on the ineffective teams, in contrast, scored below average. They seemed, as a group, to have less sensitivity toward their colleagues.

    In other words, if you are given a choice between the serious-minded Team A or the free-flowing Team B, you should probably opt for Team B. Team A may be filled with smart people, all optimized for peak individual efficiency. But the group’s norms discourage equal speaking; there are few exchanges of the kind of personal information that lets teammates pick up on what people are feeling or leaving unsaid. There’s a good chance the members of Team A will continue to act like individuals once they come together, and there’s little to suggest that, as a group, they will become more collectively intelligent.

    In contrast, on Team B, people may speak over one another, go on tangents and socialize instead of remaining focused on the agenda. The team may seem inefficient to a casual observer. But all the team members speak as much as they need to. They are sensitive to one another’s moods and share personal stories and emotions. While Team B might not contain as many individual stars, the sum will be greater than its parts.”

  • Psychological safety, a feeling by each member that they were free to speak their mind and to be listened to, is one of the few behaviors found in almost all the successful groups.
  • What Project Aristotle has taught people within Google is that no one wants to put on a ‘‘work face’’ when they get to the office. No one wants to leave part of their personality and inner life at home. But to be fully present at work, to feel ‘‘psychologically safe,’’ we must know that we can be free enough, sometimes, to share the things that scare us without fear of recriminations. We must be able to talk about what is messy or sad, to have hard conversations with colleagues who are driving us crazy. We can’t be focused just on efficiency. Rather, when we start the morning by collaborating with a team of engineers and then send emails to our marketing colleagues and then jump on a conference call, we want to know that those people really hear us. We want to know that work is more than just labor.

Inbound Marketing Certification from HubSpot

Great educational content from Inbound Marketing leader, HubSpot.  Talk about taking a page from your own playbook.  HubSpot offers an Inbound Certification program that is a useful, in-depth education on Inbound Marketing.  Video instruction that you can use on your own, associated, downloadable materials, a community forum, and finally a legitimate test that you take online and must pass to earn their Certificate.

As I look at the sales processes that are in place for many firms in the Margin Trading Products (“MTP”), I see the leaders in the industry using Inbound Marketing techniques, and small sales staffs.  Where as the traditional industry players are still staffing call centers and attempting to sell to prospects and leads by interrupting their day.

Now back to my certification class.

What is Old is New, Again

When searching for some information on how to best utilize the push notifications feature of the MetaQuotes Mobile MT4 platform, I typed the following search into google, “MT4 mobile push notification”.  The search results returned a post I wrote 4 years ago as part of my CMAP start-up.  What is old is new, again.

PS – the blog section of my old company (CMAP) is still live under the oneZero website.  If you are into the Margin Trading Products industry and want a look back, spend 5 minutes checking it out.

Highlights of @TomFreidman’s “Who Are We?” Op-Ed from NYT

As usually happens when I read Tom Freidman’s Op-Ed pieces in the New York Time, I found myself thinking that I want him for President.  His “Who Are We?” piece is a masterpiece, though I note he did not speak poorly of all candidates.  I have highlighted some of my favorite parts of his piece below.  To read the entire piece, click here.

TF: If I were given a blank sheet of paper and told to write down America’s three greatest sources of strength, they would be “a culture of entrepreneurship,” “an ethic of pluralism” and the “quality of our governing institutions.”   Me: Very few nations on Earth have all three of these qualities.  And the few that do generally have much more socialistic societies.

TF: Trump’s famous hat says “Make America great again.” You can’t do that if your message to Hispanics and Muslims is: Get out or stay away. We have an immigration problem.  Me: America was founded on shared ideas and ideals.  Race and religion are not supposed to be reasons for judging “Americans”.  I do wish that there was more focus on assimilation to existing cultural norms by recent immigrants, and less building of sub-cultures.  But banning immigration will not make America great.

TF: I’d take Sanders more seriously if he would stop bleating about breaking up the big banks and instead breathed life into what really matters for jobs: nurturing more entrepreneurs and starter-uppers. I never hear Sanders talk about where employees come from. They come from employers — risk-takers, people ready to take a second mortgage to start a business. If you want more employees, you need more employers, not just government stimulus.  Me: Yep

TF: Unlike Sanders, Ted Cruz does not have a good soul. He brims with hate, and his trashing of Washington, D.C., is despicable. I can’t defend every government regulation. But I know this: As the world gets faster and more interdependent, the quality of your governing institutions will matter more than ever, and ours are still pretty good. I wonder how much the average Russian would pay to have our F.B.I. or Justice Department for a day, or how much a Chinese city dweller would pay for a day of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or Environmental Protection Agency? Cruz wraps himself in an American flag and spits on all the institutions that it represents.  Me: Cruz seems like a truly unhappy person who views the world as filled with Evil.  I believe the world has some Evil, but that Good dominates.

TF: “E Pluribus Unum” — Out of Many, One.  Our forefathers so cherished that motto they didn’t put it on a hat. They put it on coins and then on the dollar bill.  Me: Out of Many, One.  Maybe the best tagline ever.

Google’s Toothbrush Test & Another Thought

Larry Page, co-founder of Google, has a simple question he asks when first thinking about any possible acquisitions.  Is the product/service something users will use at least once per day, and will it make their lives better?

I would also add the following questions: Is the initial experience, from creation to first use, enjoyable?  Is there a benefit to the initial user to recommending the product/service to friends (network effect)?



Opportunity: Oil & CAD Convergence Coming?

Traditionally Oil and the Canadian Dollar (“CAD”, or Loonie) have held a strong correlation. To a trader the causation aspect is not of particular interest. In the last few weeks Oil and the Canadian Dollar have diverged significantly. No matter if there is a change in the longer term trend for one or the other, in the next week to two weeks, we would expect to see the gap seen at the right hand side of the below chart converge.

The trade idea is then to go long Oil and short CAD. This way you are mitigating risk of a change in the longer-term trends, and relying on the expected convergence of the price trajectories.


Scott Galloway on The “Gang of Four”

Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon.  The four technology giants that rule the commercial landscape.  These firms DOMINATE their spaces.  They are not winning, they are crushing.  I did not understand the degree to which they dominate.  They are each multiples, not percentages, ahead of their competition.

This talk by Scott Galloway made me really think about who and what controls my each and every day.