Monthly Archives: January 2015

Why Washington Is Misunderstood: Why Judgment Is Rare

Our elected and political leaders are expected to lead.

 

Most of all, they are expected to use, not merely their intelligence and their loyalty to their mission, but also their best judgment.

 

Public leaders are often misunderstood. That is because the core competency of their “job” revolving around good judgment is one shared by very few people.

 

The average person, even the average employee, rarely exercises what can be called judgment. These people are on a mental auto-pilot. Call them drones, call them zombies, but they are doing predictable, often menial tasks, even if they are “white collar” workers staring at blinking colored pixels on a screen and tapping alphanumeric sequences on a keyboard into a document or database.  Is it realistic, even fair, to expect this majority of the working modern world to recognize, never mind understand and appreciate, the value of judgment?

 

For More: Why Washington Is Misunderstood: Why Judgment Is Rare

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The Value of Reciprocity

Life is a two-way street and anyone successful, whether in a personal relationship or in business, and definitely in politics, learns to execute this principle without fail.

 

There are people who act as if the person who asks them for a favor is committing a grave offense. Such people imagine they are above doing favors — or at the very least, doing favors for you. The problem is that society is about trades, and many relationships are transactional. A non-trader, as it were, will only transaction with you if he “wins” the trade. Recognize this person as the non-reciprocator that he is. You are not and cannot ever build anything with this person. If he is a client prospect, consider whether his business is worth it, for these people are too often far more trouble than they’re worth. If he is an employee, consider finding ways to get rid of him. That’s what Human Resources is for — to get rid of your problem employees! Your relationship with the non-trader will never be respectful, will never be symbiotic. Win your encounters with the non-trader, and then avoid and shun him. Show no more respect than you’re shown, and show neither hesitation nor mercy. Be decisive. Ships last long if they avoid icebergs.

For More: The Value of Reciprocity

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People Do Business with People.

hey say “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.

 
I cannot but (finally and after having ruminated the question for years) wholeheartedly agree.

 
Some of my greatest ideas and projects went nowhere because I didn’t know the right people yet. And some complicated deals went ever so smoothly simply because I knew the “person in charge”.

 
In my 30 years in business, this famous quote that my father kept repeating to me ever since I was a teenager, is probably the single most potent business lesson that I have learnt.

 
At the end of the day and no matter what technological miracles are conceived, people do business with people.

 
The greatest deals in the world are sealed by a simple handshake (as some are broken over simple personal animosity).

 

For More:: The Right People

Cronies: Flying The Friendly Skies And Revealing Insider Secrets To The Rest Of Us

Crony capitalism — the skewed playing field and sometimes the “hidden” second set of rules — is alive and well. Best of all, it’s not even hidden. Thanks to government “sunshine” laws and a lot of other laws mandating public disclosure, a wealth of information is legally required to be disclosed, and you can find it if you know (or hire someone who knows) where to look.

 

As first reported in the website www.snopes.com, a major commercial real estate broker, CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), on whose board sits Richard Blum, has landed the contract to find buyers for up to 56 properties held by the United States Postal Service.

 

Now, if you’re a competitor, maybe you’re wondering how CBRE got that business. Particularly since the seller is a government entity.

 

Maybe…just maybe…here are some facts that will get you to ask some questions.

For More: Crony capitalism

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2015 Blockbuster Business Reading Books

Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift or to catch up on your reading, there are plenty of blockbuster business books I strongly recommend for 2015.

 
I have collected my favorites of the year which I all read and are guaranteed to not only educate but entertain.
They are:
‘Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future’ by Peter Thiel
Billionaire Peter Thiel is as well known for being the cofounder of PayPal and first investor in Facebook as he is for being one of Silicon Valley’s prominent freethinkers. “Zero to One” is a concise, fluff-free treatise on the business philosophy he first taught in a Stanford University class, as collected by his former student Blake Masters

 

For More: 2015 Blockbuster Business Reading Books

This Isn’t Your Father’s Middle East Stupid Wake Up

I am a Lebanese-American, a conservative and a capitalist. I was born in Lebanon, and had one dream and one dream alone – to come to America, and make my fortune as a capitalist. I did just that. I studied at The Wharton School, went to work at the most entrepreneurial firm on Wall Street, Drexel Burnham Lambert, became a global entrepreneur-financier, and made my mark dealing with some of the largest capital pools in the world, orchestrating large scale buyouts and recapitalizations.

 

Today, the Middle East is a very different place than the one I left 25 years ago. “This isn’t your father’s Middle East,” a good friend with whom I do business in the region loves to tell me. And yet he is disappointed that most Americans seem stuck in the 1970s when it comes to how we think and describe the place – as if all Arabs are the same, none worthy of our trust or respect.

 
I naturally embrace a link between business inclinations and personal relations. I was raised with this as a cultural norm. I know from experience that Arabs are not inherently dangerous partners and believe the American media has had a significant impact in promoting the negative ethnic stereotype that has caused U.S. businesspeople to hesitate to truly seek out business opportunities in the Middle East.

 

The most ironic part of it is the total ignorance of economic theory on the part of the journalists who propagate the stereotype of the oil-rich Saudi sitting on stacks of petrodollars and counting out his gold coins. Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

For More: This Isn’t Your Father’s Middle East Stupid Wake Up

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How do you gain attention for your Non-Profit?

This is clearly a question every non-profit Executive Director thinks about every day as funds for non-profits have been steadily declining for the last 2 years given the harsh economic realities we’re all still going through.

 

So these are a few tips I thought I would share with you all.

 

Whether you are an NPO or not, an integral part of any good marketing plan is defining your goals. When you know what it is you want to achieve, creating distinct marketing campaigns and tactics become much more clear.

 

The goals of non-profit organizations can be as diverse as the myriad of organizations themselves. There are, however, a few major goals across the board.

 

5 major goals of a NPO include increasing:

 

For More: How do you gain attention for your Non-Profit?

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How Killer Serial Entrepreneurs Operate

I talk to and meet close to 500 entrepreneurs a year – from the true maverick game changers to the guys as arrogant and dumb as can be –

 
I believe what differentiates a killer serial entrepreneur from the rest of the crowd is frankly how they operate – no matter what product they are offering.

 
With around 30 year experience on Wall Street backing over 125 companies worth in aggregate over 10 billion dollars during the time period, I thought I’d share with you some of my thoughts in this regard.

 

For More: How Killer Serial Entrepreneurs Operate

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Evaluating Crude Oil Prices

Having been in the physical trading of commodities on and off for over a decade now, I am stunned to see how many people – mostly brokers – who claim to trade oil derivatives know so very little if any about how crude oil prices are evaluated.

 
So for the sake of clarifying it all to everyone concerned, I thought of sharing this blog with all our readers in the hope they become more educated brokers and traders alike.
For all of those of you who still don’t know, there have been successive price regimes since the beginnings of the 20th Century.

 

1. Between 1930 and 1970, it was the so called “seven sisters pricing regime”, where the prices where controlled and posted by oil companies.
2. Then, until 1985, the prices were controlled by the producing countries, a period known as the OPEC pricing regime.

 

For More: Evaluating Crude Oil Prices

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Salvaging the US shale boom

Many oil analysts have attributed the recent increase in global oil supply to increased production from US shale producers, which has ramped up sharply in the last couple years.

 

Is the shale boom today on par with the dot-com boom or is it all a power play with OPEC to ensure US energy independence?

 

I believe OPEC’s objective is to “clean up” the US shale market, and that oil prices will eventually rise – in my opinion though not before early 2016 – when OPEC completes its objective of cleaning up the American marginal market.

 

The more obvious losers in the current oil climate are Iran and Russia — the former of course being Saudi Arabia’s archrival in the region, and the latter being no great friend of the Saudis’ either.

 

The pinch to shale may just be “a wonderful byproduct to screwing the Iranians and the Russians. Doing nothing has actually been a really smart move by the Saudis. With every move further down in price, the actions of the Saudis become more closely watched, reinforcing the country’s position as the world’s oil superpower.

 

Thank You,