Monday, 29 December 2014
10 ways to pursue excellence without negativity:
- Ask teams, who believe in the mission, where they can be better. Don’t point out their failures. Let them point out their aspirations.
- Every time you feel like pointing out a problem, ask, “How can we make that better?”
- Never allow conversations about issues or problems to end without finding some corrective action. At the least, set a “make it better” meeting.
- Choose your battles. Focus on behaviors and issues with high visibility.
- Ask, “What can we do about that,” when someone points out a problem or shortfall.
- Reject the need for big solutions. The need for big solutions is the reason teams end up doing nothing, except complaining.
- When someone says, “That won’t work,” ask, “What might help?”
- Focus more on where you’re going than where you’ve been. Apply Pareto’s 80/20 principle.
- Say, “You have more in you,” when something falls short.
- Think of the pursuit of excellence in terms of people, then systems. How can you maximize talent and passion?
Sunday, 28 December 2014
Tips for turning difficult conversations into easy ones:
- Keep calm. Don’t turn it into Godzilla vs. Rodan.
- Treat’em like a child. You can’t talk them out of emotional outbursts and getting angry over it does nothing good.
- Say “Please speak more slowly. I’d like to help.” Slow it down. Don’t come off like you’re fighting back.
- Ask “What would you like me to do?” You gotta make’em start thinking in order to turn off the rage machine.
- Don’t make statements. Ask questions. Explaining is veiled dominance. Questions get them thinking.
- Start sentences with “I’d like…” not “You are…” If you start with “I” it’s hard to be seen as attacking.
- Let them have the last word. Don’t let your ego blow it at the last minute.
Saturday, 27 December 2014
Friday, 26 December 2014
Monday, 22 December 2014
1. Be jealous or envious
2. Look back
3. Make excuses
4. Stop learning
5. Associate with negative individuals
6. Wake up without a plan
7. Be scared to make changes and adapt
8. Let your bark be bigger than your bite
9. Focus solely on dollar signs and decimal points
10. Let failure stop you
Sunday, 21 December 2014
- Free refills.
- A tipping culture. Tipping is rare, and 10% is generous.
- Guns. Well we have guns in the UK, but nothing like so many. And no real equivalent of the NRA.
- Large numbers of homeless people.
- A constitution that is known about and considered important.
- Free speech. People have been sent to prison for what they've written on Twitter. It's much easier to sue for libel in the UK.
- Megachurches. There are big churches in the UK, but they're mostly considered historical buildings, rather than places of worship.
- Arguments about mixing religion and government. The queen is the head of the church. But she delegates responsibility to the prime minister.
- Extremely long highways. The longest road in the UK is the A1, it's 410 miles long.
- Arctic regions.
- Volcanoes. Extinct ones, but nothing as exciting as Mount St Helens.
- Corn dogs.
- Real Mexican food. There are Mexican restaurants in the UK but they're rare. And they're not very Mexican.
- Cellphone numbers that look like regular numbers. Cell phone numbers in the UK start 07, so you know if you're calling a cellphone.
- Police with guns.
- Huge empty spaces with very little in them.
- (American) football teams. Well, ones you've heard of.
- Baseball teams. Ditto.
- Basketball teams. Ditto.
- A large population of Hispanic people.
- Handball courts.
- 30 year fixed rate mortgages. Mortgages tend to be 25 years and tend to be variable rate. Sometimes they're fixed for a small number of years (10 would be a long time).
- Acetaminophen (well, we have it in the UK, but call it paracetamol). But you can't buy more than 24 in one go, and they come in blister packs, not bottles.
- Earthquakes. Small ones, occasionally caused by mining.
- Rocket scientists.
- Fire hydrants. They're called hydrants, but they look like this:
- Weirdly restrictive alcohol laws. You can give your five year old alcohol, as long as you're at home.
- Medicinal marijuana.
- Hot weather. I only know of one occasion when it reached 100F anywhere in the UK.
- Cold weather. The lowest temperature ever recorded in the UK was -17F.
- Illegal immigrants. Well, there are some in the UK, but not many, and it's not a massive deal.
- Private universities. They exist, but there are very few (one main one).
- Grits. Never seen it in the UK.
- Iced tea. It exists in the UK, but if you ask for it in a restaurant, they'll think you're strange.
- Rabies. It's a big deal. Bringing a dog or cat to the UK from another country is hard work.
- Bankruptcy due to health costs. Bankruptcy is much rarer - I've never heard a story of someone being declared bankrupt in the UK (although it's possible), but no one has ever gone bankrupt because of health problems.
- Cheese whiz.
- Pancakes. Most of the time. (Pancakes in the UK are rarely eaten on days other than Shrove Tuesday, they're also thinner than an American pancake).
- Roof solar panels. (At least, I've never seen them, I suspect they're rare, and unlikely to be cost effective.)
- Ads for prescription only medicines to consumers. (The only countries that allow this are the US and New Zealand.)
- Sourdough bread. (You can probably get it, but it's not common).
- Cheese on sandwiches. In the US (in my experience) every sandwich comes with cheese, almost by default. You want a ham sandwich, that's going to be ham and cheese. A cheese sandwich seems to be a rare thing.
- Borders. America spends a lot of time and money trying to make sure that people on the other side of the line stay on their side of the line. This is our side, that's your side- stay over there.
Being an island it's not such an issue for those in the UK. There are still scares about illegal immigrants coming to England by clinging to the bottom of of trucks or trying to hide in the underpants of cross-channel swimmers or whatever the Daily Mail conjures up as the next big scare, but there isn't a land border that has to be "defended".
- Huge tracts of land
- Cup-holders everywhere!
One man cracked up when he went to visit America and saw cup-holders on baby carseats and on shopping carts:
Saturday, 20 December 2014
- He doesn't give a hoot about money.
- He still wiped the floor with everyone else, and is the most successful investor of his time.
- He runs $50 billion in float and a $200 billion company with only 18 staff. Most startups have more reportable staff than Buffett does.
- Just to rub it in, he will give away 85% of his wealth.
- He still lives in the home he bought way back in the 50s.
- Most people have better offices than he does.
- Most people drive better cars than he does.
- I have a better phone than he does. But then again - he does have a jet - which he jokingly called "The Indefensible".
- He does not suffer from the Halo effect and is unimpressed with wealth, both his and others.
- He is empathetic towards the poor and doesn't suffer from the just-world fallacy that most rich people suffer from.
- He understands how his privileged upbringing made him, and understands why it is important not to attribute success to personal traits but rather environmental factors .
- He is extremely rational.
- He sees through bullshit.
- He constantly looks to the data in making decisions on mega-cat risk and future cash flows of his businesses (actuaries are his favourite friends).
- He saw the GFC driven derivative blow up way back in 2002, and acted more or less accordingly. I think he was one of the few individuals to have ~$30 billion in cash at the height of the crash. Safe to say he bought everything.
- He knows that mark-to-market or mark-to-volatility is bullshit. I think he called it mark-to-imagination or something.
- He has an impressive memory and a savant like knowledge of most of finance, an edge he applies with almost merciless glee to exploit the huge gaping hole that are inefficient capital markets.
- He knows that true risk is the height of the cliff that the drunk man walks along, and not his various second-by-second stumbling.
- He knows that the market doesn't provide useful information and any incremental trade should be of as much import as a comment on a Perez Hilton blog.
- He understands the importance of staying within one's circle of competence, the Dunning-Kruger effect and how easy it is for people to get tricked into thinking that they know something when they don't.
- He understands that whether or not you have made money means nothing - what matters is the rationale behind it - the outcome is irrelevant, the prior probabilities aren't.
- He understands that he is nothing without society and believes that "claim checks" should go to those who can best use them while being alive.
- He finds modern financial theory a grand joke and a mere extension of the anchoring bias.
- He mocks investment bankers, MBAs and many volatility absorbed quants with glee.
- He moves billions of dollars in capital through public markets without moving them and without you knowing what he is entering or exiting.
- He understands the value of the option present in cash.
- He understands that derivatives have nothing to do with derivatives, and everything to do with the fundamental underlying assets. He sees the trees from the forests.
- He understands the power of compounding interest.
- He understands the value of deferred taxes, float, cash, other people's money and having the balls to say that everyone else is wrong during a crisis.
- He doesn't care what you think and he doesn't care what the market thinks.
- He is cool under pressure. How would you feel when you had to run $50 billion in capital during the GFC?
- He has returned a ~20% CAGR over 50 years.
- He has made his early investors into hundred millionaires.
- He understands that at the end of the day all that matters is catastrophic risk and cash in the bank. Everything else is noise
- He is the ultimate contrarian, and changes his mind with ease.
- He is hilarious, humble and nice.
- He finds goldbugs idiotic.
Warren Buffett is the Chuck Norris of investing. This guy is untouchable, he crushes all the competition and he has outclassed everyone for more than half a century.
That is why Buffett is a boss.
Lessons learned: Trust nothing. Everything is quicksand. Maximum catastrophic VAR is always 100% of all capital. All correlations go to one - always assume worst case loss. Everybody lies. Accounting reports cannot be trusted. Fraud is everywhere. Real investors have cojones. Most investors are morons. Leverage is a bitch. Forced liquidation is the root of all evil. Margin should be marginalized. Sell cat insurance after cats. Never take on unnecessary counterparty risk - make deals on your own terms. Uncapped risk is a crime. You're not a real investor until you've lost ~60-100% on a trade and felt nothing. Cash is king (a cheap unlimited term call option on the world), concentration is queen, and real alpha comes from supplying liquidity to lemmings at a ridiculous haircut.
And most importantly of all - markets have no idea what they are doing.
Friday, 19 December 2014
If you look at your professional company — the other coworkers, colleagues, business owners and industry professionals that you most often interact with — who are they, what do they stand for and what do they say about you?
How is your circle influencing you?
Where do you stand among your professional peers? Are you always the leader of the pack or are you making sure to surround yourself with people who will push you to be your best?
When you play tennis, the best way to improve your own game is to play with someone superior to you. This allows you to rise to the challenge of bringing your play up to the other player's level, rather than holding back. Even if you are evenly matched with a competitor, it can be hard for you to improve.
Getting to the next level
Can the people around you provide you with the opportunities you are looking for and get you to the next level? If you are only networking, masterminding and interacting with those at your level who have the same types of contacts, they may not be able to push you to step up to the next level, and they will unlikely be able to refer you to those next level opportunities that you seek.
I see it as a challenge, particularly for women who stick to women's-only networking groups. While these groups have value, sometimes the women are missing the opportunity to connect with those individuals (which include men in higher positions) who can help recommend them for new opportunities.
Paying it forward
You can't always be the student, so when you can, remember that there are others than can benefit from your guidance. As you improve your tennis skills, let a novice play with you from time to time to get exposure. Pay it forward, as there will always be more to learn and more to give.
Thursday, 18 December 2014
Billionaire Peter Thiel, widely known as one of the founders of PayPal, is perhaps most strongly influenced by his experience as a professional chess player.
In his book "Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How To Build the Future,"he outlines his theory on "last mover advantage."
His advice goes against the popular theory that being the first one to enter the market is one of the most important tactics for building a successful company. Instead, he advises startups to view their business model like a game of chess and focus on their long-term vision.
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
- Post to Twitter
- Post to Facebook
- Post to G+
- Comment on a bunch of commentluv blogs so people can see your recent post
- Submit it to blog voting sites like or or
- Deep link to other bloggers posts so they will be sent trackback notifications, getting them to your site might get it mentioned elsewhere - engaging with other bloggers is the best way to get your content promoted.
- Mention other people and products in your post and send out tweets letting them know they were mentioned.
- Get guest bloggers who will often promote the post to their audience (ex / current journalists have a healthy audience)
- Send an email newsletter to your list with a personalised intro and a link to the blog post (I use MailChimp it's great).
- Go into forums that are are active in and look for threads that your post relates to, if rules permit reply with a link to the post.
- Update your forum signature every time you release a new post.
- Use WiseStamp so your email signature always shows your latest post.
Monday, 15 December 2014
Sunday, 14 December 2014
Friday, 12 December 2014
After spending 40 years on Wall Street building Perella Weinberg, a global investment firm, Joe Perella has seen people come and go.
In an interview with financial career site OneWire, he shared what he thinks gives people real staying power — the power to build a successful business and brand in an incredibly competitive industry.
“I think successful people work harder than the average person,” Perella said. “They’re all smart. There are a lot of smart people in this world that aren’t successful. Luck enters into it. I call it serendipity. But you make your luck by really working hard … beyond your maximum level.”
Even more than that, Perella said, successful people don't have a maximum level. That is to say, they're always pushing for more. There is no top. There is no success for successful people.
"They're never satisfied," Perella said. "They know they can do it better than they did it yesterday, and they come to work every day saying, 'How do I do it better? How do I make a better firm? How do we earn a better return for our investors?'"
Perella urged young kids starting out in finance to keep these traits in mind, and when they're heading to interview to remember that everyone is good. In fact, everyone is great. The question is why you want to do the work and what you know about the firm.