Sunday, May 29, 2005

My Favorite Memento

Believe it or not, it is a watch I bought for my wife on a trip to Libya in 2002, yes a good Jewish boy from Toronto spent some time in the friendly confines of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya ( a rather grand name for a not so grand of a place).

Anyways, long story short, a naive 28 year old Josh thought it was a reasonable idea to start a wireless telemetry service provider in this oasis of the middle east based on a relationship he had developed with a Libyan ex-pat living in Canada. The end result being that after raising some seed capital from friends and family, the situation did not unfold as envisioned and my goal of becoming the wireless king of Libya didn't quite work out.

Well I took it on the nose in this little venture, but I learned a lot about people and gained experience that most people only gain by the time they are 45 or 50.

But I came away with this very rare wrist watch emlazed with the face of THE LEADER (as Col. Gaddafi is referred to). I like to look at it once in a while as it reminds me of my willingness to take big chances and that even if they don't work, the sun will still rise and life will go on.

If you want to waste some more time getting a good view of Libya, take a look here

Friday, May 27, 2005

And people say we are EXPENSIVE!

I've been doing a little research into the world of on line payment processing for another project we are looking at WOW, is it EXPENSIVE!

One of the frequent complaints I hear is that invoice discounting is too expensive at around 3.5% per month..............keeping in mind that I am waiting all of this time to get paid and not charging the account debtor a cent of interest.

Our little meander through the hodge podge of on line payment solutions has revealed to us the following cost of getting your money for a product you sold on line (i.e. setting up a merchant account):

From Godaddy, a well priced and competitive player in the online world, the discount associated with an online, international merchant account is: 5.45%

From World Pay: about 3.25% and $0.40 per transaction

And from the world reknown Paypal: 3.9% + $0.55 CAD per transaction

So who is expensive now?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Don't Call Me.........

at the last minute that is!.

Not a week, or rather a day goes by when I don't get a call from some in need of cash fast.........usually that afternoon.

While we work fast and can typically paper a deal and put up money in less than 5 days, many people seem to be under the ungodly assumption that this is something you can do in an afternoon.

So as a word to the wise, if you are approaching any source of financial "aid", do not expect to have cash in hand within the day. In fact, if anyone can promise to give your company money within 24 hours, it is money that I would probably avoid taking...........if you get the hint.

Merger Synergy..........truth or an oxymoron

An article in today's New York Times (You may have to register and login - its free for you cheapos) sheds some "light" on the world of corporate M&A, and why despite historically horrific returns and absense of cost savings, why CEO's may keep at it.

While the article is the summary of an academic research paper and probably misses a few point here and there about the psychology of greed, it sums up with a classic quote from Warren Buffet:

Many managements apparently were overexposed in impressionable childhood
years to the story in which the imprisoned handsome prince is released from a
toad's body by a kiss from a beautiful princess.Consequently, they are certain their managerial kiss will do wonders for the profitability of the companies they intend to acquire.

We've observed many kisses but very few miracles. Nevertheless, many managerial
princesses remain serenely confident about the future potency of their kisses -
even after their corporate backyards are knee-deep in unresponsive toads.

More Irony from the World of BIGGGGGGGGGGGGG Business?

Standard & Poor's plans new private equity index

In a story from the TimesOnline in the UK, STANDARD & POOR’S is preparing to launch a private equity fund index in an effort to increase transparency in a highly secretive industry.

A credit rating agency calling another industry secretive?

In a related story, a consortium of private equity funds are looking to finance a new credit rating agency that will only rate credit agencies.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Ironic or Fitting?

First we find out that a few Fortune 500 companies may have a nasty habit of "cooking da books". Next we find out that the NYSE may have a few skeletons in its closet...........and now the SEC is missing just a shade under 50 million dollars.

Well I understand where the money went in the first two cases, but where did the SEC forget its pocket change?

I guess it is rather fitting for the temple of capitalism........if the roof is crooked, and the walls are crooked, the floor might as well be crooked too (it makes it all even doesn't it?).

Friday, May 20, 2005

Fractional Reserve Banking.................How banks may cause inflation

For anyone interested in some insight into how banking works, particularly the US banking system, the Mystery of Banking by Dr. Murray Rothbard ( should serve as an interesting read. Dr. Rothbard was one of the driving forces behind the the Austrian School of economics. Click here to learn more about the Austrian School of Economics or here for an abridged summary. My sense is that followers of the Austrian School may be viewed as a "little wacked" by the rest of the economics world............but hey, whatever floats your boat! For those interested in a critique of the Austrian School, take a look here.

Since I am not well versed in the specifics of each school of economic thought and being the simple type who believes that the only way one learns is by doing, I am endeavoring to start my own school of economic thought, The Simple School of Economics. Our central tenents are:

  • Buy for $1, sell for $2
  • Making money is good, losing money is bad
  • He who has the gold makes the rules (a.k.a. - The Golden Rule)

We are currently in the process of endowing a economic research foundation, The Simple School of Economics Research Foundation, and are looking for academics who will publish research that supports our theories and refutes everyone elses. Seeing as how I will be paying all of the researchers salaries, this should not be to hard.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Is blogging the next bubble

I am guilty of engaging in blogging. However, with all the hype about blogging in the corporate world (here's one from Reuters), aren't we getting a tad carried away folks? Here is another one from Vespa looking for evangelist. An evangelist for a scooter.....................have we hit an all time low in our consumerism? Don't evangelists belong in a church or am I just not a hipster anymore?

For more blogging hype, take a look here!

Word of the Day: PEDANTIC

pe·dan·tic (p'-dăn'tĭk) adj.

Characterized by a narrow, often ostentatious concern for book learning and formal rules: a pedantic attention to·dan'ti·cal·ly adv.

SYNONYMS pedantic, academic, bookish, donnish, scholastic. These adjectives mean marked by a narrow, often tiresome focus on or display of learning and especially its trivial aspects: a pedantic writing style; an academic insistence on precision; a bookish vocabulary; donnish refinement of speech; scholastic and excessively subtle reasoning.

USED IN A SENTENCE: Prescott Thackery does not like to deal with pedantic business owners as they tend to focus on the minutiae of a transaction and forget about running their business.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

It Doesn't Get Any Truer

Small companies attract lunatics (click the link to read the article)

I got a lot of A's and B's in school...............does that mean I'm totally screwed? Ya gotta read da' article to know what I mean! And any article that has the following quote is worth your time:

At restaurants and technology companies, the drug-testing policy is: Bring your drugs in on Friday and we'll test them over the weekend.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Canada loves its bureaucrats..........I mean business leaders

Just took a look at a recent edition of Canadian Business and its article titled "Canada's global leaders" and by my count 40 of the 40 seem like highly skilled managers who have moved up the ranks of national and multinational corporations...............Mazel Tov to you.

Where are the entrepreneurs? Is our biggest contribution to the international market someone who knows how to climb the corporate latter? Where are the guys and girls who have struck out on their own and built something in their own name? If this were a list in an American magazine, it would be filled with the like of Dell, Gates, Bloomberg...........people who actually change the way other people do things.

While I am not saying that the people named by Canadian Business are not successful and bright, are there no Canadian entrepreneurs who have left their mark on the international market. According to this article, there isn't one "Power Player" who has done it on their own.

In my limited experience, there are two types of people in the business world, those who take a company from nothing or close to nothing (at the most a few million in sales) and build it into something huge, think RIM, Pattison, Magna, ATI, MDC. They make huge money now, but they didn't start these companies for the pension, perks, benefits and security. The other people are those that say they like taking risk and building businesses, as long as they don't put too much on the line themselves (and I am not talking about the risk of losing a job, as most entrepreneurs have EVERYTHING on the line)...............they talk the talk but when it comes right down to it, being the international marketing director for a multinational company or being parachuted in as the CEO of a 1 billion a year widget maker isn't exactly walking the walk.

Hey look, someone else thinks what I have to say is worth posting

And it isn't my mother.

A few weeks back I respond to a question in ProfitGuide's e-mail news letter. The question was:
"I dream about operating my own business, but I don't have the confidence and courage to step out and do it. Other than platitudes, what can readers suggest from their personal experience about how to overcome the hesitation in order to get out there and do it to see if it will work?"

And surprisingly, they posted my response. My thinking is that they only got 8 responses in all. And to my dismay, I didn't even with the book they were giving away.

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