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The fact is most opportunities are not corollary to the obvious.

Ten years will come-and-go quickly. It already has, and it will do so, again. And, along the way, Apple’s stock could well hit one thousand dollars ($1,000.00). You can take my word for it. But, here is additional insight.

As Galvin makes his case, Apple’s revenues may triple in the next ten years. So, the stock could indeed hit $1000. But, the real play is not so obvious, and will likely be in the form of fiber optics – because that is what is needed to pipe the content. But, Data Centers will have their role as well. And, dudes like Bob Twitchell (big smarty pants genius that he is) will help lead the way with emerging technology that makes relative technology faster, more secure, and less costly.

Reactionary investment strategy like reading news briefs off MSN and Yahoo! will kill you. Whereas proactive research will build wealth. So… read between the lines from cross-referenced information. Think in terms of convergence. For example, “Apple”, “Video Anywhere”, “Fiber Optics”, “Data Centers”, and “Venture Capital”.

Follow the money BEFORE the thundering herds sort it out.

It’s about foundational thinking and strategy – relative technologies that make for great strategic partnerships. One element of the formula building off of another.

Now you owe me.

Soon… More insight into being a physical bad-ass at fifty, and great Margarita tips.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

I was reminded of these facts by Craig Larson…

Apparently Thomas Stanley and William Danko wrote a book entitled: The Millionaire Next Door … The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy. You should read it in order to understand a special breed of business person you are likely not. Do it!

In researching the book and then unleashing it upon the public’s senses, they (the authors, not to be confused, necessarily with that, otherwise, insidious and collective “they”) produced a portrait of who America’s millionaires are, and show that, by and large, these are quiet, understated, self-reliant Americans who are committed to hard work, education, and family.

The portrait shows that eighty percent (80%) of our millionaires are first generation affluent. To be clear, this means that less than half received no inheritance, and only nineteen percent (19%) get any income from a trust fund or estate.

Most Americans … In this case, defined at eighty percent (80%), are not self-employed. And, of those that are, two thirds are our nations millionaires. Think “Daddy Warbucks” (to whom I can often relate – but, you don’t know as much about as you thought you did until now – which also part of my point with this blog post).

Meanwhile, Seventy five percent (75%) of these self-employed millionaires are “entrepreneurs”, and the remaining quarter are self-employed professionals like doctors and accounts.

To be sure, we have high profile billionaires in America… However most of our millionaires are the nation’s bread and butter entrepreneurs and small business owners with annual incomes averaging two hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($250,000) annually.

These are overwhelmingly self-made individuals, by-and-large founders and proprietors of prosaic businesses that might include: welding contractors, auctioneers, rice farmers, owners of mobile-home parks, pest controllers, coin and stamp dealers, paving contractors, etc.

For additional points of reference consider an other post of mine: Entrepreneurs, Intrapreneurs, and them Corporate Fellas.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

The moment was an eye-opener, to be sure, when I realized I was one of  “they”.

“They” (possibly, also known as “others”) say that your income is the average of the five people that you spend the most time with (outside of your family).

This helps make my Grandad’s point when he often said: “If you must judge a man, do it by those around him”.

The thinking around this post is not driven by statistics. And, this is some what unusual for me. I’ll typically make my point with hard data to support them – all of them.

However, here, I’m making a statement that I believe is true. This belief is driven by instinct. And, I trust my instincts. I will be investigating my theory. But, in the meantime, your own gut will follow my position.

Don’t bother attempting to defy or debate me. I’ve reached a higher plane.

This may not make you part of the solution. But, it’s a start. A big part of our job should be making money. It’s okay to do that. Really. I’ll write you a note.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

See yesterdays post: General Motors ON

UPDATE 11/17/2010 @ 1pm: VOILA! – GM Confirms Expanding IPO by 31 percent

I’ll just keep it coming.

Peace be to my Brothers and sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

https://briancork.wordpress.com/2010/11/16/general-motors-on/

It’s no secret that General Motors (“GM”) has it’s Initial Public Offering (“IPO”) this week.

What might be a secret to the masses, however, is it’s truest underlying purpose.

The government lent money to GM. There is some thinking that the government could own as much as sixty-one percent (61%) of GM. And, the big auto-maker, as leading and cutting-edge as it’s vehicles have become, will struggle for decades to pay our thinly stretched United States Treasury back – and, it does not have a prayer of meeting it’s pension obligations.

So, they, that insidious “they” (no doubt led by the pipe-smoking-black-dog), mind you, are going to foist the problem on the American Citizens the very best of the good old fashioned way, certainly time-honored… By manipulating the stock market.

Seriously.

Here is how this particular effort will play-out. You simply need to make the decision if you are going to benefit, or keep getting your collective asses kicked.

The IPO will likely open up around $28.00 a share. Insiders (by many a definition) will pay less. For example, the United States Treasury is going to own shares as will friends of the big brokerage houses. JP Morgan is the syndicate lead and they are making all manner of new friends on Capital Hill with this play. This is not widely publicized for obvious reasons.  In any event, based on the aforementioned loan details, the Treasury will break even when the stock hits approximately $44.00.

So, it’s a good bet the stock will do just that, and then some.

I’m guessing there will likely be close to a $6m billion over subscription of the stock leading up to the IPO. My experience tells me we’ll see about $1 billion in roiling. Then that “over-hang” of back-orders will kick the stock up. After that, it’s all about “management”.

This is not evil. This is simply the way things work. You, why not you, can argue it’s part of the American dream.

I have to say something. It’s one of the many reasons you read this Blog. And, it’s something a Prudent and Optimistic Gentleman finds, required.

Good luck. But, there is little of that actually involved. Fortuna, perhaps, eh Dr. Pappas?

UPDATE 11/17/2010 @ 1pm: VOILA! – GM Confirms Expanding IPO by 31 percent

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters

Brian Patrick Cork

If you started thinking about buying gold back in 2001 when the world started smelling weakness associated with the US dollar, you were in good form. If you actually bought gold, then you are in terrific shape.

Since 2001, the US dollar has dropped in global value approximately forty-one percent (41%). That’s true, by the way… It’s right here, and in writing. Go verify it. Do it!

So, shorting the dollar, and trust me you can do that, might have also been part of an inspiring, if not rather unpatriotic, part of your mid-range investment strategy. Once the dollar begins that type of slide, our global debt is guaranteed to increase. It has certainly done that, almost on cue (damn you Goldman Sachs!). When the dollar weakens, gold strengthens. This thinking is fundamental, and it’s a great example of how economies work on scale.

Other than pontificating, here, one of my points is you’ve likely already begun to hear advertisements and other touting of gold.

That means it’s too late.

Economic-savvy insiders have already made the great run. Now they want to start a different type of diversification (so, you’ll read about how much money they made in about thirty months). They’ve already started buying things you’ll slap your forehead over in another thirty months.  HINT: It’s sure as heck not commercial real estate – especially in Atlanta. That looming disaster is one reason banks are hoarding cash from small businesses. But, more on that later.

So… Don’t buy gold today, or tomorrow. I don’t know that you should start buying the US dollar, yet (and, you can do that as well). It’s hard enough to just plain earn a US dollar, right now – especially with Obama, the ex-social-worker, and the Obamacrats, I mean Democrats, so resentful of wealthy people that have worked hard to get through college and maybe start a business.

My primary point, here, is simply a heads-up around gold. I’ll try and come up with some recommendation on what I think the global financial markets will push sooner than later.

Just standby for the word. Do it!

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

Nicholas Johnson is often found in-and-amongst the companies I’m working with to change the world. I’m not clear what it is he is doing most days. But, some times he’ll haull-off and come up with a pearl worth sharing. For example, in a recent meeting with an uncertain conclusion, he announced the existence of an on-line service called www. billfloat.com. Apparently if you need to pay a utility bill, for example (and entrepreneurs, just like most people, do that) you can convince this shadowy organization to pay your bill up to thirty days in advance for a transaction fee of a mere five dollars. All you need is a viable bank account and the best hopes of the funds being in it by a later, albeit pre-determined, date.

This is different.

Voila!

I feel billfloat is an example of: “being part of the solution, and not the problem”. Five dollars is a reasonable fee for a greater peace of mind. Obviously living paycheck-to-paycheck is living on the veritable edge. But, that is the reality for a growing segment of our national population. Here, someone clearly came up with a solution that is not, in my hardly humble opinion, userous like many of those strip-mall situated paycheck loan (shark) services.

Or, the current banking system, for that matter.

I’m often asked something along the lines of, “If you weren’t running your current business (this is assuming they understand what it is I do), what would you work on, or be doing?”

There’s not a single answer to this question; it can change day-to-day. As I’ve stated on this blog, and through a great deal of public speaking, I could never have planned or anticipated my own career-path. But, in light of our global economic situation, and Johnson’s research, I think if you asked me today, I’d say I would like to start a bank.

There are very few people who really love their bank. I use a private bank and this means I don’t have to suffer the same inconveniences realized by most folk. For example, many are dealing with overage fees that stack up, misleading fine print, and a general malaise born of an apathetic sense of fatalism. However, there’s a unique opportunity in that mainstream contempt for financial institutions. And, concurrent with this is an incredible amount of government backing that essentially makes it a no-risk environment. People are simply hungry for anything different, something contrarian.

A David to the Goliath banking industry. If you will, something heterodoxal. This is where I often realize my best potential and opportunity.

The name of my bank would be something supremely boring, like SmartBank or bank on brian (In my businesses, I typically use small caps for my name because it’s not about me, it’s about what I do). The idea behind it is that bad behaviour in the banking – which is in truth, aligned with Wall Street – world has been largely inevitable because their compensation structures incented people to do overly risky things. the Bank of brian would maintain a reserve level 2-3x higher than Federal requirements, and any other bank. I’ll aspire to World Bank status as well and align myself with European protocols (have you bothered to wonder why the US doesn’t have any World Banks?). Bank of brian would have no bonuses unless goals such as preserving mortgages were met or exceeded and loans made to emerging culture companies based on best practices, carefully monitored milestones and accountability proliferated. I suspect critics would say this would make it impossible to attract top-shelf talent. But, every time the bank gets attacked we’d turn it into an advertising opportunity to emphasize why we’re different.

To wit:

“We can’t attract top-shelf talent? Go on…We take your money and put it in a vault. We don’t need the million-dollar bonus geniuses on Wall Street to do that. SmartBank. Bank, smart.”, would say I.

Bank on brian.

In fact, the first few years of SmartBank would be largely focused on acquisition through every trick in the book. At the very beginning pull a Gmail/WordPress.com strategy ,and make it invitation-only. I’m confident this will create a buzz and also allow you to give amazing white-glove service to the initial customers that want to catch that glassy-fronted wave, who will in turn tell their friends and create a tsunami. That’s called “viral” marketing and that always works when people like what they see and experience. Ironically that would represent a novel experience with banking today where the objective appears to be lining the pockets of bankers while stripping down customers. You can also target certain profitable segments and ultra-safe depositors at first, like Gmail users in San Francisco (using Firefox with an ad-blocker) who make six figures a year. There would be only one style of checks and debit cards and they’d have a distinctive design so if you saw one you’d say, “What’s that?” a-la the American Express Black or Plum card (I have both and everyone’s follow them through every transaction) products which would then start the whole conversation again about how SmartBank is different.

For the first two years you could also do things like not allow accounts larger than the FDIC-insured limit. No one has ever heard of a bank turning away money (unless you, ironically, have poor credit). But, you’d say that although everything SmartBank does is risk-free, it’s still a startup, and if people have more than the insured limit (today it’s 250k for single and 500k for couples) in an account, they should put the extra somewhere else. Again, statistically (and, those types of numbers in the right hands [like my own] never lie) this will impact a very low percentage of customers… And, everyone; everyone, I say, will think it’s naught less than remarkable. This tactical growth can be phased out after a few years; in fact, it would be yet another PR opportunity:

“We’ve been in business now long enough that we feel comfortable with larger accounts.” Boom, free coverage.

I’m not defined as a “tech guy”, but I am more often identified with successful technology, and the associated leadership. So, of course a lot of focus would be on the Bank of brian website. Imagine, if you will, something along the lines of an old-time vintage design aesthetic combined with a Google-like (web 2.0?) simplicity and attention to speed. All logins would be two-factor, with the default being SMS’d  to you with a one-time code to log in when you gave your email address (Just so we’re clear, I’ve given this a lot of thought, for good reason, done my home work, and already using consultants). A significant part of the website would be the blog. It would have a strong Ben Franklin-like common sense voice, with a Thomas Jefferson oriented pragmatic tone with a few cool savings or home management tips each week. And, in-line with my own cultural architectural views, it would cover at least one financial industry story a day that was relevant to historical examples alined with current events for perspective.

For example:

“Bank of America spent forty million dollars on airplanes last year. We spent forty thousand to develop an iPhone application so you can check your balance from anywhere.”  (the average useful iPhone app costs $2.99.). NOTE: Not Android, at first. I say this because quality control is crucial here – and Apple defines that, while Android is working on it.

“Here’s how to block advertising when you browse the web with Firefox; it makes the web faster and less annoying.”

“So-and-so Bank’s website requires you to use Internet Explorer. We insist that you don’t because there are way cooler and faster browsers like Firefox, Opera and Safari. Here are links to those open source browsers you can switch to today.”

“Goldman Sachs just paid out sixteen billion dollars in bonuses to their employees. If we had an extra sixteen billion dollars lying around, we’d put it in the bank for a rainy day. By the way… If Goldman Sachs had never paid out bonuses they never would have needed government intervention.”

Sixty eight Million Reasons Your Bank Sucks. That’s the amount Bank of America collected last quarter in needless ATM fees.” …well, needless to customers, any way.

That’s all made up, for now. The headlines would almost write themselves, and every time a financial institution is in the news it’d be an opportunity to contrast why SmartBank is different, and what the underlying philosophy is behind why it’s different.

I’m a Social Historian. I study and consider why things happen. And, then I do something about it.

As trumpeted above, all of the marketing would be on the web and viral the verbal, or word-of-mouth part would follow (like eBay and Amazon) – because it’d be an online-only bank like ING Direct. No storefronts (brick-and-mortar) where people have to wait in line, or risk a bad interaction with a disinterested teller, or get robbed and need insurance.

To be clear…Basically, a lot of the historical risk of running a bank could be eliminated. When you sign up it would have a: “tell your friends about SmartBank” address book (like LinkedIN) feature that would connect you to them if they signed up for an account, give you both money (I should make the point that Bank of America actually does have something like this, so I have to keep thinking about it because of the karma thing), and also make it easy to send them money, PayPal-style, if they have an account.

I’ll pause here and offer that you might see a trend in my thinking… I’m picking, showcasing and reflecting products and services that appear to be working, and adopting them as my own for your benefit. This can be referred to as “best practices”. And, we need o be all-in on that.

I suspect SmartBank would make money and reward shareholders and customers alike, which just might separate it from the likes of Bank of America, for example. So… How would the Bank of brian make money and also provide terrific customer service, you ask?

I think it wouldn’t touch anything risky on the financial side. However, it would be a data company. As it turns out, data is a hot industry as evidenced by hiring and investment trends (and, I’m a subject matter expert in both areas). The first three years the focus would be entirely on customer acquisition, marketing, PR, and establishing a world-class tech team building a rock-solid infrastructure. SmartBank would likely make less money than non-customer-centric banks currently do, but it would be more than enough to build an amazing product in a sustainable way, like Craigslist did with newspaper classifieds. After a certain milestone, say one-hundred billion in deposits, I would buy or clone Mint. SmartBank would have more (and accurate) data about its customers than almost any other company in the world other than credit card companies, so the online interface would have Mint-like lead generation offers that are based on accurate information. For example, if you spend one hundred and forty dollars a month on electricity, but if you switch to this new solar provider you’d save two hundred dollars a year. Think of it like Gmail (By the way… I’ll admit to referencing Gmail, consistently in this post, to honor Nicholas Johnson and his possibly being a catalyst for much of this) contextual advertising but based on where you spend your money rather than the words in an email. There also might be aggregate data opportunities for economic research or targeting, but I’m not sure if I like, or have a firm understanding of, the privacy implications there.

SmartBank probably couldn’t, and I wouldn’t want to raise Venture Capital, or anything like it, because having any sort of exit expectations, and the predatory influence that would reflect Wall Street, would completely kill the “safety story”. Like most of my businesses today, I would want to bootstrap, and after a few years would be hugely profitable. I understand the irony in this vision coming from a felon. But, there is yet another example of my being Jeffersonian, a heterodox, and the contrarian, eh.

By the way… The existence of bank of brian would also put significant pressure on existing, more traditional, banks and the Federal Reserve,  because depositors would be leaving in droves, putting pressure on their reserve requirements. Existing banks couldn’t compete in a traditional way because they have such a sordid history of customer apathy and bad PR. SmartBank wouldn’t be trying to capture their profits, so-to-speak. However, we would reflexively be unhinging them while driving much more revenue, but in smaller amounts, but a larger end-result.I think this would end up looking something like a credit union, but for the masses.

Thanks Nicholas. And, the rest you readers can thank us both, at some point.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

what’s all this about?

I can’t explain what that damn tree means - or, if it might stand for something.

However, here I do discuss events, people and things in our world - and, my (hardly simplistic, albeit inarticulate) views around them.

So, while I harangue the public in my not so gentle way, you will discover that I am fascinated by all things arcane, curious about those whom appear religious, love music, dabble in politics, loathe the media, value education, still think I am an athlete, and might offer a recipe.

All the while, striving mightily, and daily, to remain a prudent and optimistic gentleman.

brian cork by John Campbell

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"Perhaps victory can be realized best when the heart changes."

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about this particular Theme:

I'll warn you now that Tarski is theme of this blog created by Benedict Eastaugh and Chris Sternal-Johnson. It is named for the logician Alfred Tarski. I'll recommend his papers ‘The Concept of Truth in Formalized Languages’ and ‘On the Concept of Logical Consequence’, both of which can be found in the collection Logic, Semantics, Metamathematics.