Replace “Productivity” with “Processes”

My version of being productive was interrupted for 6 days when I misplaced (aka: lost) my trusted Moleskin Notebook.

I truly realized that my level of productivity is driven by my use of the processes I have honed over the years.  Use the notebook to set a weekly Goals and daily tasks; block incoming messages when doing project work, delegate and follow up, etc.

Found my notebook today and feel good knowing I am back up to my productivity norms (and always working on improving.)



Trading Regulation Change Happening Quickly & Quietly

I know to expect looser regulations in the world of finance under Trump.  Just look at his cabinet picks and advisors.  Its a murderer’s row of hedge fund guys and senior bankers  (Plus that nutjob Betsy DeVries).

I expected the changes to take a while to go into effect because I was thinking about equity markets and banks.  But banks and equities markets are easy fodder for the media; especially the mainstream media.  And Trump is making this move under the radar of the mainstream media because he is making changes to the CFTC.  (Note: I agree with a NYT piece that stated, “…Trump…is an moral and intelligence midget.”  But he is POTUS and is who I have to deal with for a while)

A few old hands at the CFTC have quickly departed, and Trump is naming “markets” guys like J. Christopher Giancarlo in their place.  And the 23+ year leader of the NFA, Dan Roth who presided over a number of massive scandals costing clients and traders billions of dollars, left last year.  Maybe that entity will get better organized and start acting as the ” industrywide, self-regulatory organization for the U.S. derivatives industry.”

So look for the beneficiaries to be the hedge funds who play in the futures and derivatives markets, and maybe (just maybe) look for the rise of the US retail trading industry to grow by leaps and bounds in the next few years.




Interesting show concept.  It was up on screen as I got down to some Sunday night work after the NE Patriots won their AFT Championship game versus Pittsburgh.

I have thought about it before; when the two prison inmates in upstate NY escaped and evaded for a few days.  Could I do it?  What would the first steps be?  Flee far, or stay close?  Into a city and mix with the homeless and unnamed?  Or head to the woods with a tent and sleeping bag?

Richard Marcinko, the legendary former commander of SEAL Team Six played a game with those in his charge.  On occasion he would drop two guys off in a random town in an Eastern European country (Slovenia, Czeck Republic, Montenegro, etc)….take all their possessions such as passports, money, credit cards, weapons…..and tell them to meet him at a certain pub in London 4 days from now.  What a rush it must have been to be off on an adventure such as that.

But could I do it?  Not for real life, but for a show?  Vanish for 28 days?  In the show it is two people, paired up.  I think going solo it would be achievable.  But pairs stand little chance.




Team, Tools, Processes

Found a good read on “Remote First” company culture here from Wade Foster of Zapier.  I particular liked many of the Processes he uses at Zapier.

The bits and pieces from the third category, Processes are:

1. Everyone does support

The customer is our lifeblood. We strive everyday to solve our customers’ problems and help make their job just a little bit easier. When everyone on the team does support, everyone gets to hear the voice of the customer.

Also, the people who build the product also end up supporting the product. If a customer is angry about a bug, then the person who introduced said bug is going to hear about it and fix it right away.

5. Monthly One-on-Ones

In every job I ever had (even co-located ones), there wasn’t enough feedback between me and my supervisor. So at Zapier, I setup a recurring monthly event with each team member where we both jump on Skype or Google Hangout to chat about four things: what’s one thing you’re excited about, what’s one thing you’re worried about, what’s one thing I can do better to help him with your job, and what’s one thing you can do better to improve at your job.

These questions are consistent so it’s easy to prepare and so that it’s easy to measure changes over time. We specifically limit it to one item per question. One item is easily achievable for a person each month. But over time, being able to fix one issue a month adds up.

The answers to each monthly session are logged in a Google Document so that the next session we can reference the previous month’s information and check on how we did.

The below point is the most challenging question of working with remote teams……

6. A culture of accountability

One question often presented is “how do you know if people are doing work?” Any easy way we know is with Friday updates. Each Friday, every person on the team posts an update to Async about what they shipped that week and what they are working on for the next week.

This makes it easy to keep in the loop on projects and also keeps everyone at Zapier accountable to everyone else to do their part.

8. Automate anything that can be automated

The core of Zapier is automation. There are a couple reasons why we automate things. One, it allows us to keep the team size small since we don’t need people on staff to perform repetitious, mundane and boring tasks. Two, it lets teammates focus on high impact work nearly all of the time rather than figuring out less impactful things, like the proper deploy commands.

Banana-Land in the USA

When the Greek Debt Crisis was unfolding, I would excitedly wake up each day thinking, what stupid statement or tact have the leaders of Greece or their counterparts in negotiations, the European Central Bank made today?  Greece had a recently elected leader who was flip-flopping on his stated goals and plans for the country’s economic future on a weekly basis.   There was little forward progress being made, and the process marked the beginning of the strained European Union we now see.

“I can not believe the Greek people, with as bad an economy as they have had, would elect such a novice to handle such important issues and lead their country”, I thought to myself on many occasions.

Now I go to the front page of the New York Times and think the same thing.


Rural vs Urban

I am not the most cosmopolitan among us, but I am fortunate that I get to travel to a few of the major, global metropolitan areas each year.  London, New York, Shanghai, Dubai, Santiago, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur have all seen the soles of my Cole Haan’s in recent years.  While languages could be a bit of a barrier in a few of those places, the truth is, I could move my family and live in anyone of those places.  My skillsets support jobs that are focused on technology that is used globally, and I am comfortable in new places and spaces.  I like change partially because I believe deep down n my soul that change is both good and inevitable; that life is an adventure.  I am “urban”.

I know that there are some people who are not “urban”.  They are “rural”.  To loosely define “rural” I would think they are less educated, dependent on a higher level of manual skills, have strong religious beliefs, and not comfortable with change.  For a more than one hundred years, since the industrial revolution, the need for rural people in the world had been diminishing.  Their importance to the global economy continues to decline.  That is not to say they are bad people, just that they have less impact on the future.  And those people feel left behind.

Recent votes (Brexit, Trump) have allowed rural voters to show their numbers.  But as much as this NYT opinion piece states the rural voters in the USA believe in self-reliance, the actions of rural people do not show self-reliance.   What their actions show is an inability to accept growth and change.  An unwillingness to promote education as a priority in their communities.

But change and a continued move towards “urban” lifestyles and power in society is seemingly invincible.  The change that started with the industrial revolution has survived world wars, economic depressions, financial crises, and changing demographics.  A short term tariff war, which seems to be the basis of Trump’s plan to bring manufacturing back to the USA, will cause merely a blip on the path towards urbanization of the planet.


4:01 AM.  That is what time my eyes popped open today.  From dead asleep to wide awake.  After a week of half-assing it at work between Christmas and New Year’s, there is much to do.  Today and every day.

I like taking time off from work, but I truly enjoy the harried need to accomplish important objectives.  Visual Trading, Inc. has important deadlines approaching, its budget season for the Sherborn Advisory Committee, and I need to continue to improve myself as a father, husband, manager, and athlete.

My former executive coach, Mitch Harris (who needs an updated website to better showcase the awesome experience of working with him), never understood why people wait to start and do important things.  “Why wait until a specific point on the calendar?”, he would ask?  “If you have decided it is important, start now.”  According to Mitch the failure/dropout rate of people who wait to implement a fitness program “in the New Year” was 3 times greater that those who start any other time.  So though today is Jan 2 on the calendar, it is really just another opportunity to be better than I was yesterday.