Sunday, July 26, 2020

Want to invest in High-tech & Cybersecurity?

                        


Start trading on eToro now. Make thousands of pounds a month on a small investment, just like I have. No long hours. No Boss. I can trade whenever & wherever I want.
 
Check out my Cybersecurity investment webinar below 
 

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Cybersecurity investment guide, Gartner report on cool cybervendors, Dummies Guide to Office 365..

You will find my June 2020 investment guide below, along with some other guides that I think will help you understand the cybersecurity and cloud-computing sectors. I also included some information about other investment areas, like Precious metals. There are all valuable guides, worth hundreds of pounds/dollars in total:









Find out how I accomplished a four-hour workweek during the Coronavirus Lock-down, investing in Cyber Security Stocks. Top Cybersecurity companies. For more information go to my website.


Making 40%+ returns in months investing in Cybersecurity & Precious metals.



Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Sir Ronald Cohen, founder of UK's largest Venture Capital Company, at Oxford University.

Apax Venture Capital, $51 Billion in assets.


I was lucky to get an invite to this exclusive teams webinar from my dad, who attended Exeter College, Oxford University in the same year as Sir Ronald Cohen. After leaving Harvard Business School, Cohen worked as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company in the UK and Italy. In 1972, along with two former business school colleagues as partners, he founded Apax Partners, one of Britain's first venture capital firms. 

The company grew slowly at first, but expanded rapidly in the 1990s, becoming Britain's largest venture capital firm, and "one of three truly global venture capital firms". Apax provided startup capital for over 500 companies and provided money for many others, including AOL, Virgin Radio, Waterstone's, and PPL Therapeutics, the company that cloned Dolly the sheep. In 1996 Cohen helped establish Easdaq, a technology-focused stock exchange intended to be the European counterpart to the American NASDAQ,

My favourite part of the discussion was when Sir Ronald Cohen was talking about his career progression. Ronald said that Oxford was the more intellectually challenging of the two institutions he attended. He said that Harvard Business School was more 'like a trade school'. 

Sir Ronald made the world's most prestigious business school sound like a place you go to learn how to become an electrician or a plumber, not a Titan of industry, like him, Steve Schwartzman (below), founder of The Blackstone Group, or my old friend Bela Hatvany.

To be fair, Ronald said later that he wouldn't have achieved the success he did if he hadn't attended Harvard Business School. If you are 18 or 19 at Oxford, studying a subject like PPE, you would have had such a variety of intellectual stimulations. But getting an MBA is a much more focused endeavour. 

Below: Steve Schwartzman, CEO & Founder of The Blackstone Group, who set up scholarships with LSE, and Tsinghua University, in China, creating a Master's degree in Global Affairs in 2018.


This webinar suffered from the same malaise as the Steve Schwartzman of The Blackstone Group interview that my father and I attended at the LSE a few years ago. Just like the LSE student who interviewed the founder of Blackstone two years ago, Sir Ronald Cohen's interviewer as too deferential. 

There was one point when the interviewer made some comment about how 'incredibly illustrious and accomplished' Sir Ronnie was, and I thought the interviewer was going to fall on his knees. 

- Don't you find that these types of talks are more entertaining when the interviewer throws in a few hardball questions along with the softball ones? I know I do.

Also, these pieces with Millionaires and Billionaires talking about how awful inequality is, have been done to death. Many argue that they are part of the problem, not the solution.

I would have loved to hear more about his career and the birth of the VC industry in the UK, which he described in his excellent book 'Second bounce of the ball: Turning risk into Opportunity'

I'm sceptical of how much millionaires and billionaires can do to alleviate inequality. For example, during the Great Depression of the 1930s in the USA, it was government and the leadership of President Roosevelt, not the business community (mainly behind the inept President Hoover), that created a 'New Deal' and provided the population hope in a time of crisis.

On a macro-level how effective will these initiatives be? But I'm still open-minded, and Sir Ronald did make some excellent points, worth considering, on how social investing can benefit society. On the strength of this talk, I do intend to read his book, since I also enjoyed his first book, which covers his career progression in Private Equity.

I don't want to be too critical about such an excellent talk; Sir Ronald Cohen did explain how the importance of responsible investing has grown as an idea; That investors are increasingly considering all aspects of the businesses they back - not just how much money it makes, but also how much the industry contributes to society. 

Is the company a significant polluter, like BP or Shell? Or does it have a vision for a greener future, like Tesla, which has seen its share price grow 265% this year? His points about how millennials and Generation Y and the new generations coming, care more about values. Many of them would not invest in or work for companies that have the values they hold.

Here's Sir Ronald Cohen's new book: Impact: Reshaping Capitalism to drive real change
and his previous one, which I enjoyed reading: The Second Bounce of the Ball: Turning Risk into Opportunity.

Saturday, June 06, 2020

10 Stock Picks in the Covid-19 Crisis



My first experience of investing in the stock market was terrible. Back when I was young and naive, I got a lump sum after my brother decided He wanted to sell a property we owned together. I did not know what to do with my half of the proceeds of that sale.

So, on the advice of an old family friend, who I trusted at the time and who was well versed in business and finance, I invested the money with a broker at a well-known Bank.

Unfortunately, the fund did poorly, and it lost most of the money. Besides, I had to go through an elaborate ritual (sending faxes, etc.) to extract my own money from this Bank. Not only was my broker charging a significant fee, but he was also arrogant and uncooperative whenever I asked him why he was losing my money. 

Has your fund manager lost most of your money?


I learnt one fact then that has stayed with me and now has been absolutely confirmed by one of my own investment gurus, Nassim Nicholas Taleb (of 'Fooled by randomness' and 'Black swan' fame): Be wary trusting people's advice when they have no 'skin in the game'. 

It's easy giving people advice on other people's money. It's even easier managing someone's money when they don't have a lot. A bigwig might ruin your reputation. But if you lose a small-time investors money, 99 times out of a 100, you'll have zero repercussions. 

In the twenty years since that broker lost my money, I put myself through business school, took an internship at a US investment bank in New York City, graduated with an MBA in Finance and worked for several years as a financial analyst.

I trade stocks myself now with my own account. My portfolio is up 50% since the Pandemic, while the S&P is down 10%. The UK FTSE 100 is in even worse shape, down about 16% over the year. Most fund managers have lost money this last year. The UK property market is also underwater, maybe even by as much as 20%, no one knows the exact figures for that yet.

I have used my experience in Cyber Security to select some reasonably safe, but high returning Cyber stocks. I have invested in Gold as a hedge against currency devaluation due to massive government economic interventions.

Please also sign up for my Cyber Security Investments Webinar on Saturday, July 18th at 4pm UK/ 11am EST/ 8am PST talking specifically about my own investment strategies, mainly in the Cyber Security sector. 

This is not a 'snake oil' pitch. I am not claiming that my strategies are a foolproof way to make money. All I am saying is - here's what I'm investing my own money in and here's why I'm doing that, and up until now, it's been successful. 

This webinar is simply my attempt to stimulate a discussion on investments. Maybe, like me, you'll start making some good money from it. I'm keen to hear your views as well as your questions too. Perhaps I will learn more from you than you will learn from me?

Of course, you need to practice discretion and wisdom when investing your own money. You are the best judge of that decision. But why let some broker who doesn't value your money trade with it, especially when most fund managers can't even beat the S&P or FTSE 100 index? Why give them a fat commission for that? 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Five things to think of when you're moving country for work or study

MBA Class of 2008 dinner
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
(that's me second from left).



The first big move I made for my career was in 2005 when I made a decision to take two years out, to study for a full-time MBA in the USA. I hoped to work in the USA for a few years afterwards and get some good experience there.

If you gain a Master's degree in the US, you are allowed to work there for one year afterwards. Often foreign graduates are then 'sponsored' by their employer company to continue working in the USA with an H1B work visa.

I got a scholarship as well as a part-time job in the Marketing Department at Northeastern University - Office of Corporate Programs. So that also helped financially.

Returning from Boston to move back to London, 10 years later (2015), was a far bigger and more complicated affair. I was now married, with a 6-year-old son, with disabilities (ADHD and Dyspraxia) and a 9-year-old daughter.

My wife, Catherine, had always wanted to live in the UK. She was running College recruiting at her company, Akamai, in 2015, when she was offered the chance to go to London, to run EMEA recruiting there, managing a team of twenty-five recruiters.

I found a great job too, setting up Lead generation in the UK and Europe, for a little-known Cybersecurity start-up called Zscaler. It has since had an IPO and is now valued at fourteen billion US dollars on The NASDAQ

This brings me to my next point:

1Paperwork: Other than the usual challenges of getting an MBA; Taking The GMAT, making the applications, writing the application essays, interviewing for the schools, finding the money to go; I'd say getting the Visa sorted out was the hardest part.

It required me completing a lot of complicated paperwork. Further down the road, when I finally got my US Permanent resident card ('Green Card'), it was even harder. There were so many hoops to jump through that I eventually had to hire an Immigration lawyer at considerable expense to expedite it.

Equally important, though not as hard; after two years of living in the country, I had to pass my US driving license - many years after passing my British driving test.


Help, Where's my car? I need to get to work!



2The Weather; My second shock was rather more prosaic; I was just not prepared for the weather in Boston. In the winter, it gets down to -10 C. You also have big snowstorms.

For example, during the last winter, I was in Boston, in 2015, over 14 feet (4 meters) of snow fell in the city. In the summer, you need air conditioning in your apartment. It gets up to 40 degrees centigrade.

3Get help: Make sure you employ all the help you can. For this, we used a corporate relocation company to manage our move. Moreover, we used an army of staff, from childcare professionals to cleaners.

Corporate relocations have experienced a paradigm shift in the last fifty years. In the twentieth century, the husband usually worked, and the wife, who did not, would manage a lot of the move.

Today, more often than not, you are dealing with 2 parents, who both have to manage demanding jobs. Consequently, anything that will save you time is an absolute necessity.

My son, Jack, in our dining room in Boston, Massachusetts, USA 


4.  Make sure you employ technology to your advantage. We live in a digital world for a reason. It's fast and efficient. Everything from using DocuSign to sign all our documents (including the sale of our house in Boston) to Skype for all those international calls, to using video surveying tools to track where all our furniture was.

5. The importance of having flexible work. There is no way We would have managed this move so effectively without remote working.

I had two weeks training in Austen, Texas, and I travelled back to Europe several times to run conferences there. One time, just after the move, I had to go from England to a Sales kick-off in Las Vegas.

During this time, I was partially renovating and selling our house. We were unhappy with our real estate agent, so we had to switch agents mid-way.

Throughout this, Zscaler allowed me to work remotely for the UK office, from Boston, USA, for almost four months. Zscaler's and Akamai's flexibility made a big difference to Catherine and me.

Read my original post on buzzmove.com

Friday, April 10, 2020

Black Swans and the post-coronavirus Economy



"The problem with experts is that they do not know what they do not know."
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

The phrase "black swan" derives from a Latin expression from the 2nd-century Roman poet Juvenal's characterization of something being "rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno" ("a rare bird in the lands and very much like a black swan.").

When Juvenal wrote this, the black swan was presumed not to exist. The importance of the metaphor lies in its analogy to the fragility of any system of thought.  You can undo a set of conclusions once you can disprove any of its fundamental postulates. 

In 1697, Dutch explorers led by Willem de Vlamingh became the first Europeans to see black swans, in Western Australia. The term subsequently metamorphosed to connote the idea that a perceived impossibility might later be disproven.

A few days ago, I was reading the Estate agents Knight Frank's Economic prediction about Coronavirus's impact on the housing market. Knight Frank confidently predict that ‘House sales in the UK will collapse this year as the coronavirus pandemic puts the property market into a deep freeze. But prices will fall by only 3% and will rebound next year.’

My immediate thought was, how can they be this certain? Plus, isn't it a bit like going to a casino and asking the croupier whether playing roulette is a good idea’.

I am as wise as Socrates in only one way, and that is 'that I know that I know nothing'. However, at this juncture, I trust the Economist Nassim Taleb more than I do a bunch of estate agents. Just to get their new evaluation in perspective, this is what Knight Frank predicted in December 2019.

In 2000 Nassim wrote that the problem with the financial markets was that they treated their data and models like it was science. But their financial models always miss vital information that means that their analysis will always lack scientific rigour. Nassim Taleb speculated how the markets would handle a random, entirely unpredictable event and less than a year later we had 9/11. 

Then in 2007 in his classic book Nassim Nicholas Taleb talked about how the financial system was vulnerable to black swan events:

“Consider a turkey that is fed every day. Every single feeding will firm up the bird’s belief that it is the general rule of life to be fed every day by friendly members of the human race “looking out for its best interests,” as a politician would say. On the afternoon of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, something unexpected will happen to the turkey. It will incur a revision of belief.” (extract from the book).

Initially, when he wrote 'Black Swan', he was booed off stage by eminent economists and ostracized by the financial community.
Then in 2008, the entire global financial system collapsed and had to be bailed out to the tune of thirteen trillion US dollars.

Nassim Taleb argued recently in the New Yorker that this current pandemic is not actually a black swan since to use Donald Rumsfeld's terminology this was a 'known unknown' not an 'unknown unknown'. Nevertheless, it's still a risk factor that was hard to predict and certainly, no mainstream analysts were predicting this pandemic or factoring it into their Financial modelling, prior to December 2019.

Therefore, I would be sceptical of any financial analyst writing with confidence about the future. His salary is paid by those who benefit from them putting one view across to us.

Wide-scale negative equity in the UK housing market?




*There is still a fundamental imbalance in the UK housing market, at least in the places where people want to live. The housing stock has always lagged behind growing demand, pushing up prices in the long term well beyond inflation. 

In the short term, a drop looks inevitable, as the lockdown, or lockdowns will hammer incomes and GDP when the cost of housing already claims a much larger share of disposable income than in the past.  

Where the price level will settle, and when it might pick up, is anyone's guess. The real pain will be felt by those going into negative equity, not able through reduced income to pay down the mortgage, and unable to sell without triggering bankruptcy.

This would also apply to heavily geared buy-to-let landlords, facing falling rental income but with fixed debt repayments. Those who have taken on mortgages at large multiples of income or landlords who have relied on substantial capital gains to protect against insolvency will, or ought to be, very worried at the moment.*

*acknowledgement to my father, Sir Kenneth Parker, retired High Court Judge, who is currently working for various government organisations, for this observation.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Can we be happier?


'Did you know the time in the week that the average British worker is most miserable? When He's meeting with his line manager!' As Professor Lord Layard said this, the entire audience erupted into knowing laughter. This is from his research from his latest book 'Can we be happier?'.

I attended a great lecture last night with Professor Lord Layard, who is the happiness expert at the LSE, where I was an undergraduate Law Student.

Below: Dame Minouche Shafik and Professor Lord Layard

          

Lord Layard started off by talking about the foundation of the LSE, by Beatrice and Sydney Webb, Fabians, who believed in the importance of improving society. William Beveridge, who set up the modern welfare state in the UK, was a Director of the LSE and also deeply concerned about the happiness of society.

Then Lord Layard talked about how society seemed to be getting less happy. This is confirmed by looking at life expectancy, which is now going down for the first time in recorded memory in the USA and to some extent in the UK. I believe that Coronavirus will accelerate this trend.

As Society has become more selfish, individualistic and competitive, according to Lord Layard, unfortunately, we have created a happiness 'Zero-sum game'. Each time I 'go up', someone else must inevitably also 'go down'. 

How can that philosophy of one-upmanship that many of us live with create happiness across society? Perhaps that's why, despite all our improvements in material circumstances, we, as a society, are more miserable than ever before.

Professor Lord Layard mentioned that the best way to determine an old persons life expectancy is not their doctor's 'physical' exam, but simply asking the patient 'are you happy?'. 

We put together a stimulating group for drinks and dinner after the event. This included a school teacher, Polly, and her husband, Ben, a software programmer. My old school-friend Lucas, who studied PPE at Oxford University.

Lucas was the smartest pupil at my school - he got the second-highest first-class degree in his year, studying Politics. Philosophy. Economics at Oxford 
(this was back in the days when very few students attained a first-class degree). Then he took a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. He is now a Professor of Philosophy at Bogazici University, in Istanbul, Turkey.

Lucas brought along a close friend of his from Oxford University, Tara, who is a management consultant. I also invited Steve, who studied at Oxford, is a Doctor and Professor of medicine. We had a wide-ranging discussion about happiness. Some of the topics we covered:

Tara and Clive agreed that people with religious faith seemed happier. That is one area that Lord Layard neglected to cover at all. I did notice that clergymen self-reported as the happiest profession (despite having salaries at the low end of the spectrum) in his latest book. However, we all agreed that it's pretty hard to measure happiness objectively. 

Steve said that he preferred this word eudaimonia —Aristotle's concept of flourishing—rather than happiness, which seemed to be more based on luck (Eutuxes) than living a good life.

Tara said that certain people 'Eeyores' are always going to be miserable, and others are usually going to be happy. Then, Lucas, Polly and Steve got into a discussion about how bad the education system had become in the UK.

They all agreed that the institutions' constant monitoring of performance was sucking the life out of any innovation. You can read more about this here - Moonshot thinking to unleash innovation.


Go to my website.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Five reasons why long-term productivity growth has flatlined in the UK .





One business issue that keeps resurfacing here in the UK is that of productivity. The big question is 'why has it flatlined here since 2008?' I noticed that, yet again, the Bank of England has predicted 0% productivity growth for this year in the UK.

I have much experience of living and working in other cultures. I am half Dutch and lived there for a time. I have also lived and worked in Colombia, Venezuela, India, Spain and most recently, in the USA from 2005-2015. Therefore, I would argue that I'm uniquely able to give a good explanation as to what's going on here.

Besides, I have worked as a contractor in the UK for the past two years. So I have quite a bit of experience job hunting in the UK. I have also bought and sold houses in both the US and the UK.

1. Business transactions take too long to carry out here in the UK. For example, when we bought and sold our house in Boston, it took less than a month. In the UK, it takes far longer.

2. Business people can't make decisions. When I was job hunting in the USA, generally it was a fast, efficient process. In the UK, often it is not.

I've noticed a troubling hiring trend here; Company A posts a job. Then many people are interviewed over many months and many stages, with the final result; Company A hires no one!  

This happens regularly in the UK. Imagine the damage to UK productivity of just this one issue alone on a country-wide scale?

3. Training and education. A lot of British businesspeople can't write accurate, grammatical English. They can't do basic maths. 

Lack of education has got to be a key reason for our poor productivity. We need better education - more executive coaching and business education, both online and traditional. 

And the general level of primary education needs to improve here. Spelling, grammar, maths, you name it. Some knowledge of foreign affairs, news and even a foreign language might be good too.

4. Investment has got to come a close second. If you want to be a productivity ninja, you do need the tools. I worked at one company as a contractor where I was managing a six-figure marketing budget, but the company gave me a faulty computer that crashed the entire time. 

Talk about an unproductive false Economy! All the evidence points to us not spending enough on equipment, from essential productivity apps to tools like DocuSign or Microsoft teams, to speed up business interactions. 

5. We in the UK have a fatal weakness for conventional wisdom. I'm paraphrasing Dominic Cummings here. But undoubtedly one of the reasons his Brexit campaign was able to defeat the much better funded and institutionally backed remain campaign was because his team was creative and unorthodox and the other side was neither.

I do agree with him that we need to encourage more of these counter-intuitive thinkers in the UK. Part of that is evolving from the 'culture fit' idea of recruiting which can kill innovation to the 'culture add' concept. Lack of innovation is one of the main causes of poor productivity in the UK.

And just so you don't get too downbeat about it all, the UK economy is actually growing faster than the rest of the European countries as you can see here.




Go to my website.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Bela Hatvany, Harvard MBA, inventor of the touch-screen, talks about keeping his investors and employees happy.

 Successful business founder and investor, inventor of the touch screen, Bela Hatvany, talks about founding your own business.




After selling multiple companies for many hundreds of millions of dollars, Bela founded the world's first charitable giving site in 2000, Just giving.  

Bela talks about his start-up business philosophy: He embraces not only looking after his investors but his employees too.

Image result for justgiving


Monday, November 11, 2019

Four reasons you should be allowed to work from home.



A long time ago, I had a boss who insisted that we always meet up in craft beer pubs even though two of the marketing team were non-drinkers and none of the group enjoyed craft beer.

He also insisted we wore jackets at a retail digital marketing event in July in Chicago when it was baking hot and all the other attendees were in t-shirts and button-downs.

He got mad at me because I took a day off after an exhausting three-day event to go skiing at a mountain resort nearby. 

Well, he also didn't allow our team to work from home on Fridays when the ENTIRE rest of the office (including him) was working from home on Fridays. 

Why do companies, even some nimble tech startups insist that all their workers work in the office EVERY. SINGLE. DAY?

Here are my reasons why you should let your employees work from home

1. Productivity. In the UK this is at an all-time low. And I have to assume part of the problem is created my distrusting management who can't believe that their team is conscientious enough to clock in a full days work while they are at home.

The most productive I've ever been is when I've worked from home one day and in the office for four.  I almost always end up getting more done on that one day I'm working from home.

But I'm a big extravert (100% extravert in Briggs Myers). If even someone like me who thrives on working with others, benefits so much from working from home, imagine how much your talented, hard-working introverts will gain from it.

2. Open-plan offices. The preponderance of open-plan offices is proof that, as the writer, Somerset Maugham put it “The fact that a great many people believe something is no guarantee of its truth.” 

Almost every company has them, and virtually every piece of research on them shows that they are ineffective. They do not create open, warm, friendly, convivial environments. Generally, they create the opposite. 

If you want to have a great, honest conversation with a colleague, your open-plan office is not the place to do it. 

3. People have lives. When I had that boss who refused to let me work from home on Fridays, I had two small children. My wife was also working a demanding job, full time as a recruiting manager for another tech company. 

I also had some health issues which thankfully I don't have anymore. It would have meant the world to me, my wife and family. It would have multiplied my loyalty to the company more than anything, including money. 

4. Commute. Some of the companies I've worked for have been one and a half hours from my house. If I had had to go into the office every day, that would be fifteen hours travelling a week. Some part-time jobs are fifteen hours a week! Not to mention the toll on the environment of all that travelling. And the cost. 

And two of the ways companies still manage to screw up the work from home experience....... 

1. Out of sight. Out of mind. Yes, I'm working from home. No, I'm not happy to be ignored entirely. I've worked in a few roles that were WFH almost wholly, and this happened way too often. When it did, I found it almost impossible to have those tough but necessary conversations like thrashing out the annual budget.

2. Some people don't adapt to it well. HR directors having conversations over the phone that should be done face to face, at the very least on a video call. 

Bosses that keep shifting conference call times, or being late for them, in a way that they would never do for in-person meetings - they'd be too ashamed... You get the picture!


Saturday, November 02, 2019

Social media has turned the world upside down - How have marketers responded?



The Doors is my favourite rock group. Their lead singer, Jim Morrison, graduated with a degree in Film at the prestigious UCLA Film School, where he studied with acclaimed film director Francis Ford Coppola. Jim Morrison was also a poet*.

One important aspect of Marketing is getting attention. Almost fifty years since he died, Morrison still generates a massive following on social media and The Doors still sell a lot of records.

Back in 2005 when I was at Boston University School of Management, pursuing my full-time MBA, I had the idea of writing a paper about organisations like the Doors that had a devoted fan base that was drawn, above all, to their authenticity.


When I wrote my paper about 'realness' in Marketing back then, I was influenced by a Harvard Business School case study** written by the new Dean of Boston University's business school, Susan Fournier. 

The case study she wrote was about the Harley Davidson Owners group or ‘Hogs'. It was HBS's first-ever 'multi-media' case study.

Harley Davidsons do not compete with other motorcycles in any typical way. They are not particularly fast, reliable or eco-friendly.

They are certainly not cheap. BMW’s, Yamahas, Ducattis or Honda’s will outstrip them here in every way. But what Harley Davidsons do have, which the other brands lack, is a unique bond with their customers.

The Harley Davidson Owners Groups ('Hogs')

The Hog club goes on rides, and the riders catalog all of their adventures. A few years ago a marketer suggested that Harley start using dirt and grease-free chrome. 

But the Harley team shot this idea down instantly. They believed that part of the appeal for a Harley owner of having that bike is cleaning the grease off of it after a hard day's ride.


Lululemon (image below) is another top brand that's established an almost cult-like following. Lululemon isn't just a product, it's a lifestyle.




Since I wrote that paper, a celebrity and property developer, Donald Trump, first put himself forward as a candidate as a publicity stunt to increase TV ratings on his show 'The Apprentice'.

The now, US President, Donald Trump made many outrageous statements during this period. Yet every time the political experts said ‘that’s it, he’s crossed the line. He's finished’, he just got more popular. The pundits couldn't believe it.

Similarly, Nike took a decidedly political stand on Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, kneeling during the National Anthem to protest against racism in the USA.


Most marketers at the time said that Nike made a terrible mistake bringing out this ad. 80% of marketers today still say that you shouldn’t take a strong position at risk of alienating your customers.

But just as in the case of Trump, being controversial worked for Nike. Nike has made six billion US dollars since that ad, that was loved and loathed in equal measure. 


*Extract from ‘The Movie’ a poem by Jim Morrison
The auditorium was vast and silent
as we seated and were darkened, the voice continued.
The program for this evening is not new.
You’ve seen this entertainment through and through.
You’ve seen your birth your life and death
you might recall all of the rest.
Did you have a good world when you died?
Enough to base a movie on?
I'm getting out of here.
Where are you going?
To the other side of morning.


Go to my website.

** Harvard Business SchoolBuilding brand community on the Harley-Davidson Posse Ride
https://store.hbr.org/product/building-brand-community-on-the-harley-davidson-posse-ride/501015

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Highest paid Google executive says sponsorship was the key to her success



I've always admired powerful and accomplished women. So I was excited to go along to see Dame Minoche Shafik, Director of the LSE (who herself is the highest-paid University head in the UK) talk to Google's CFO, Ruth Porat, about the future of the school at LSE 2030. Ruth Porat is the highest-paid executive at Google, making $47 Million (£38 Million) a year.


Ruth and her husband, Anthony Paduano (who now runs a law firm), who met as students at LSE, have established  a new endowment scholarship fund for women students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Dame Minoche said that her ambition for the LSE is to be the leading social science institution, with the most significant global impact. It is already ranked 2nd in the world just behind Harvard University.

Ruth began her discussion talking about the importance of AI. She said that they were using it at Google to reduce their energy costs by 30%. AI is also at the heart of its algorithmic search engine technology.

The future of AI impacts every industry. It takes a combination of Social scientists and engineers to build AI systems. Later in her discussion, Ruth talked about the importance of education. She said that much of business life is jargon, but you need to be educated to cut through that. I learned this when I took my degree at the LSE. 

Ruth added that AI is a simple concept and not hard to understand if you break it down right. But that on the face of it, the terminology makes it sound highly complex. The key to understanding AI, as with most topics, is education. 

She went on to talk about her father, who instilled the importance of education in her. Her father got a PhD in physics and then went on to become a professor at Stanford, where Ruth studied as well (Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, LSE).

Ruth talked about how to change culture. She said that this always starts at the top. She gave one of the best examples of how she changed the culture at Morgan Stanley and Google when talking about this subject that has become increasingly 'woke' and out of touch to the majority of ordinary people. 

She asked the room how many women had experienced men talking over them in business meetings. Everyone laughed in acknowledgement.

Ruth then said that when this happens, she always points it out, since, as she put it 'if you don’t want my voice now, then do you even want me here in the room?'.

The most important part of Ruth's talk for me was about how She had transformed her career with the help of great sponsors. Initially, She had worked at Morgan Stanley for an egotistical boss who had taken credit for all her work.

She realised that despite her best efforts, she would get nowhere with this individual. So Ruth began to search around for someone who wanted to take a risk on her.

She did say that often employees think that this person will just appear as if by magic. However, Ruth said that She had to 'earn the right' to have a great sponsor who could provide her with judgment, insight and help open doors for her.

Ruth explained how one sponsor persuaded her to take a job on the trading floor, a notoriously male-dominated environment. It served her in her career, though. Later a sponsor helped her secure a role in Financial Institutions Risk at Morgan Stanley in 2006, which really catapulted her forward in her career. 

One sponsor said to her: ‘I will be your senior air cover. I think you’ll soar, but I will have your back if you run into difficulties.’ Ruth said this is what she now says to those in business that she sponsors. 

Dinner with a fellow LSE alum at The Delaunay, after the talk.

Monday, September 09, 2019

What does it take to become a successful entrepreneur?

The most successful start-up I ever worked for was founded by a guy who was brought up in a village in the Indian Himalayas.

Jay founded the Cyber Security Software company Zscaler, that I worked in Marketing for. He founded it in 2008 and it is now valued at $19 Billion on the NASDAQ.

His house didn’t even have running water. His family was clearly not wealthy. Read about Zscaler, founded by Jay Chaudhry, here.

Jay Chaudry, the CEO of Zscaler, grew up 'dirt' poor, in a village in the Indian Himalayas.



The second most successful startup I worked for was also founded by Indian immigrants to the USA, too. You can read about Visual IQ here.

Most startup founders I’ve worked for, have genius of varying degrees, and an aspect of their personality that psychologists would define as ‘Hypomania’.

Harvard medical school defines Hypomania as 'a mood state or energy level that is elevated above normal, but not so extreme as to cause impairment'. The incidence of hypomanic personality is much higher than the average in immigrants and entrepreneurs (and those living in the USA).

I had a lot of fun working for another founder in the US, again called Jay, who had been a child prodigy. He completed a triple major degree at Carnegie Mellon in Computer Sciences, Russian and Mathematics at 16 years old. 

He went on to become the USA's youngest MBA at eighteen and youngest management consultant, at Bain & co, again at just 18 years old. 

Jay once told me that Carnegie Mellon had told him that at sixteen years of age, he was too young to pursue an MBA at their University. 

He then managed to get an offer for a scholarship and stipend to take a PhD in Finance at Wharton. He threatened Carnegie Mellon that he would pursue his studies at Wharton if he was not accepted into their MBA program. 

That's how he got Carnegie Mellon's MBA program at such a ridiculously young age. I have no doubt whatsoever that Jay Kemp-Smith demonstrated a hypomanic personality.

I became Jay's Vice President of Sales and Marketing and right-hand man at LMTech. It was fun. And it was torture. I made a lot of money. But it nearly killed me! Jay was 'always-on'.

“Following your dreams is dangerous,” a 31-year-old woman who runs in social entrepreneurship circles in New York, and asked not to be named, told Quartz. “This whole bulk of the population is being seduced into thinking that they can just go out and pursue their dream anytime, but it’s not true.” 

But the truth is that founding a company is typically not a purely rational act. A Founder has to have outsized confidence and vision in themselves to put his or her plan into place. This is not the act of a 'normal' person.

These are the characteristics I've seen in most of the entrepreneurs I've worked for. You might want to call it genetics, personality or something else entirely. 
  1. He (or She) is flooded with ideas.
  2. He is driven, restless, and unable to keep still.
  3. He channels his energy into the achievement of wildly grand ambitions.
  4. He often works on little sleep.
  5. He feels brilliant, unique, chosen, perhaps even destined to change the world.
  6. He becomes easily irritated by minor obstacles.
  7. He is a risk-taker.
Does this sound like an entrepreneur or founder that you know? 

Go to my website.

Please check out a great blog I discovered called Feedspot, founded by Anuj Agarwal. It's my favourite tech/business blog right now. 

I'm excited to say that Feedspot has chosen my blog to be on their list of top 200 tech blogs. I'm honoured and humbled - thank you! Here's their list