Founder - CEO's Have Soul

Amen of the Week “…there are certain structural advantages that founders may have that can make their jobs easier than those of non-founder CEOs… The social capital and moral authority that comes from being the founder and having built many of the company’s key products means that on balance people trust you more and give you the benefit of the doubt more when you make tough calls. Fewer people complain and take your time to manage. Fewer people quit and slow your execution. Everything is easier with social capital.” -Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook (from recent comments to a Facebook post) Founders make the best CEO’s. This may sound like common sense to most of y

Ignore Your Grumpy Uncle

My grandfather used to repeatedly say, “I’ve never met a rich pessimist.” I believed him until I moved to New York, where rich pessimists abound. Hence, I’ve modified his adage and will one day badger my future grandkids with: “I’ve never met a happy pessimist.” This week I was visiting with a friend who runs a mass-market financial publisher. His role gives him a unique read on the current psyche of the “man in the street”. (He knows what they’re reading and buying.) What, I asked, was the mood of his readers? Are they becoming more positive as the markets and economy appear to be recovering? He said, “Just the opposite. People are terrified.” It’s easy to see why. No one worries

Artificial Inflation of Growth Stocks?

Most people understand that bond prices rise when interest rates decline - and vice versa. (If this is news to you, we need to talk.) Most people also understand that as interest rates have been artificially depressed, bond prices have been artificially inflated. Too few, however, seem to appreciate that near-zero interest rates have also inflated stock prices. Even fewer recognize that growth stocks have been the most inflated of all. Why? Because growth stocks’ value is primarily tied to expected cash flows generated very far into the future - just like with a very long-term bond. If you raise the interest rate used to discount these far-away cash flows, the value of the asset decline

Greece for Our Engine?

This week I was catching up with a good friend who founded and built a successful lawn care company. He relayed a story that had happened to him earlier that day. While speaking to a customer, he mentioned that he had started his career at Merrill Lynch. This prompted the customer to plead, “My adviser stinks. What advice do you have for how to invest in these crazy markets?” My friend replied, “My advice is don’t ask your lawn guy for investment advice.” With so many “experts” loading up client portfolios with increasingly risky yield assets (just as interest rates hover near historic lows), I’m not so sure that a lawn guy’s advice could be much worse. Chart of the Week The following c

Happy 4th!

Happy 4th! Two of my great-grandparents came over from Ireland and another from Italy. Here's a salute to the outsiders and what they've helped build in this great place that we love. Amen of the Week “Being educated in the United States gave me a good understanding of American culture. I think I got a lot of influence from the entrepreneurial mind in the United States... All human beings are the same. In the United States, people come from all over the world, all races, all backgrounds. And they're all doing what they want, many scoring huge successes. When I saw that, I became more open. It freed my soul.” - Masayoshi Son, founder of SoftBank (now Japan’s wealthiest perso

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