Saturday, February 23, 2019

Business lessons from Boston's Donald Trump

One of the high-points of the ten years I lived in the US, was going to John Hynes the third's 50th birthday. It was in Chatham, a beautiful New England beach resort, in the summer. So it was a lovely sunny 28 degrees.

The summer on the east coast of the US is one of the three reasons, Catherine and I have decided to move back to the US, to Miami, Florida, in 2022 (also the year my 'Green Card' - US permanent residence card, runs out).

Another is that my dad, loves Florida. He's planning to retire to Naples, Florida, as soon as He's finished up with his work. I moved back to England in 2015 to spend more time with him.

John is an institution in Boston. His father was a famous newscaster and his grandfather, John B Hynes, was a notable mayor of Boston. There are lots of buildings named after him, such as the Hynes Convention Centre, pictured above.

I have listened to John talk many times about business. We were pretty close for a while. John and his beautiful wife, Tracey, even came to our wedding - their presence honoured me since ours was a rather humble affair - I was still a student in the middle of my MBA degree.

The City that Jack built - New Songdo City, South Korea 

One building project he pioneered and completed as CEO of the Gale Corporation was the construction of New Songdo City, billed as ''the Hong Kong of the 21st century," for a cost of $25 Billion.

I was entirely in awe of the fact that here's this family man, with two children, who made this brutal 15 hour trip to South Korea once a month for several years.

The second big project he worked on was the $3.5 Billion Seaport redevelopment in Boston. He talked about how a $200 Million investment, paid off exceptionally well in the end.

However, he was always honest about the fears that a developer goes through. He also talked about the importance of developing relationships, for example with Morgan Stanley, to secure his last big loan for the Seaport development.

 Having important business relationships is something I have found crucial. In addition to my 1900 LinkedIn contacts, I have many close friends in diverse fields of business.

- From finance to technology, from Business to the Law

-  who I go to for advice, help and sometimes for work. You never know how someone you talk to today may one day come in useful in your business, and you in theirs.

If you missed the third reason we're moving to Miami, it's because I lived in Colombia and Venezuela in the 1990s. I have a lot of friends that moved to Miami, particularly from Venezuela, when Chavez seized power - Jeremy Corbyn 'the Poundland Lenin' is trying to do the same thing over in the UK.

- I also have many US-born friends in Florida.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

MBAs are moving from Finance to Startups

When I left business school in 2008, I was planning to go into Finance. I took plenty of Finance classes and started working at Bank of America when I graduated. However, firstly, I was bored in my role there, which was highly specialised.

Secondly, We had a massive financial crash that began in Financial Services, that year. My Bank also acquired Merril Lynch just before finding out that it had had a $19.2 Billion Loss; probably one of the main reasons why Ken Lewis, Bank of America's CEO had to step down shortly after.

Fortunately, there was one industry in Boston, Massachusetts, at this time, that was growing; Technology. My wife, Catherine, had a great job at a Managed internet services provider, called Akamai Technologies.

She had previously worked in the traditional Management Consulting track, with four years at Mckinsey and other stints at Bain, Boston Consulting Group and LEK.

So that's when I took the leap into technology and into the world of startups. If you take the twenty-year challenge and look at the top employers of MBAs in 1999 and today, you'll see there is one company in both lists, Mckinsey.

But generally, the trend is out of Finance and towards Technology.....

1998 2018
1 Mckinsey & Co 1 Google
2 Goldman Sachs 2 McKinsey & Co.
3. JP Morgan 3 Amazon
4. Morgan Stanley 4 Bain & Company
5. Boston Consulting Group 5 Apple

I don't have the numbers for Startups versus corporations, but based on anecdotal experience, I'd say it's just as pronounced. Highly skilled workers are moving away from traditional large organisations and towards smaller tech companies. 

Why is this? Partly, it's the flexibility. For example, the entire work from home movement that has now finally been embraced by large corporations, started in tech companies, as did the relaxation of the tie and suit for work.

Now, even upper crust financial firms accept their employees wearing chinos and button downs, jeans even, on a Friday. This would have been unheard of twenty years ago.

So here's my list of questions to ask yourself to see if you're a fit for a startup?

1. 'Why join the navy if you can be a pirate?' Steve Jobs, Apple Founder. If that statement makes no sense to you, then definitely do not join a startup.

2. Are you a risk taker? If you like safe and stable, 9-5 hours, a steady paycheck, then definitely corporate is for you. If you want to stretch yourself; If you are not afraid to try things and fail; If you can handle being swamped with never-ending tasks, then the startup world is for you

3. Are you a specialist? If you are someone who likes to work intensely at one role and become 'perfect' at it, then a corporate is a better fit for you. Startups are a better fit for those who have a generalised skill set and like working that way

Working at a Startup - 'Jack of All Trades' 

If you work at a startup you better be a Jack of all trades.

I'm going to use the accurate, full version of this quote to show you what I mean;
 'A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one'.