Archive for February, 2009
If you’ve followed my musings for any period of time you will recall I often talk about principled living.
I endeavour to live my life by a set of principles that don’t change. I believe in certain things dearly and deeply so my circumstances don’t change those principles. If they were easily changed they would be preferences.
It is both sad and fascinating to see this in operation in the wealth creation industry at the moment.
I was speaking to a well connected US industry professional recently who said he couldn’t believe the alliances people were entering into in the USA because they were “desperate to sell stuff”. Never mind that they may dislike each other of think they are crooks, as long as they had a decent database they were suddenly friends.
In NZ one of my competitors is spamming it’s database almost twice a day.
Another local industry organisation is ruck making over a competitor because of declining memberships.
And as I have mentioned before my inbox is inundated with ‘the greatest thing ever” emails as companies try every trick in the book to make money, never mind how harebrained the idea is.
In other words, they are showing that their preferences are not principles and they can be bought, quite cheaply in my opinion.
I truly don’t understand this world view. As an educator I find myself saying that I’m not sure exactly what people should be doing right now so I’m not going to run an event just to make me money when I don’t know what is the best advice for everybody. My commitment to excellence in terms of quality education constrains me. I would have to be untrue to myself to do that.
Does that make sense?? It is the difference between a principle and a preference.
In my business and in my life I choose to deal with people whose principles I connect with.
Of course people fail, I know I do, but a principled life will remain through difficult times, financial hardship, whatever life throws at us, whilst our preferences are blown away by every adverse wind.
I pray today that you will choose a principled life.
Stay Safe ~ Dean Letfus @ www.MassiveAction.co.nz
I am well known for slamming the media for being negative, with just cause I believe.
However after viewing the news headlines this morning I think for the first time the media is in positive “la-la” land with many of the comments around the economy and property today.
I spent several hours yesterday catching up with the latest US data and scenarios, and they are only at the beginning of their carnage. This means sadly, so are we. We may not be as badly hit, but talk of an early recovery etc. is just plain nonsense I’m afraid.
Not one of us can accurately predict the future because we are in a situation currently that we have never seen before, and will most likely never see this in our lifetimes again.
Now I’m not going all doom and gloom on you, I don’t mean that, I’m simply saying that this is a time for reality. This is a time to be very careful and not predict a recovery until we see some definite evidence of it.
In a normal world we want to try and predict the cycles and take advantage of getting in early with a recovery. But the stakes are too high this time. The risk of an ongoing meltdown is just too great to be aggressive in my opinion.
So there you go, rant over. Ignore some of today’s media comments like Tony Alexander’s
“He believes real estate sales have probably almost reached their weakest level, and activity is likely to fluctuate and start moving up before the end of the year.”
This flies in the face of every leading indicator not just in NZ but globally.
So stay safe, be careful, calculate risks carefully and be conservative for a season. Property rocks as an asset class and wealth creation vehicle but a wooden horse rocks as well and that ain’t goin nowhere!!
Many thanks Lorna for this.
This was originally an email, I have left it exactly as sent.
At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:
“When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection.
Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do.
He cannot understand things as other children do.
Where is the natural order of things in my son?”
The audience was stilled by the query.
The father continued.
I believe that when a child like Shay,who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human
nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.’
Then he told the following story:
Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball.
Shay asked, ‘Do you think they’ll let me play?’
I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.
I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, ‘We’re
losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.’
Shay struggled over to the team’s bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.
In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay’s team scored again.
Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.
At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?
Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.
However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay’s life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.
The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed.
The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay.
As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.
The game would now be over.
The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman.
Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.
Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman’s head, out of reach of all team mates.
Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, ‘Shay, run to first! Run to first!’
Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base.
He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.
Everyone yelled, ‘Run to second, run to second!’
Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base.
By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball . the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the
hero for his team.
He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher’s intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball
high and far over the third-baseman’s head.
Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.
All were screaming, ‘Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay’
Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, ‘Run to third! Shay, run to third!’
As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, ‘Shay, run home! Run home!’
Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team
‘That day’, said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, ‘the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity
into this world’.
Shay didn’t make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home and seeing his
Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!
AND NOW A LITTLE FOOT NOTE TO THIS STORY:
We all send thousands of jokes through the e-mail without a second thought, but when it comes to sending messages about life choices, people hesitate.
The crude, vulgar, and often obscene pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion about decency is too often suppressed in our schools and workplaces.
If you’re thinking about forwarding this message, chances are that you’re probably sorting out the people in your address book who aren’t the ‘appropriate’ ones to receive this type of message Well, the person who sent you this believes that we all can make a difference.
We all have thousands of opportunities every single day to help realize the ‘natural order of things.’
So many seemingly trivial interactions between two people present us with a choice:
Do we pass along a little spark of love and humanity or do we pass up those opportunities and leave the world a little bit colder in the process?
A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats it’s least fortunate amongst them.
Today may you have a Shay Day
Stay Safe ~ Dean Letfus @ www.MassiveAction.co.nz
My apologies for no blog this morning. My laptop decided that the keyboard would stop working, completely. It has taken me much of the day to resurrect my old laptop and get functioning again.
Whilst this is a pain it has been a reminder for me of the value of quality in business.
I only use IBM, ( now known as Lenovo ) laptops because….
I got ripped off with a laptop on Trademe some time ago and I discovered as part of that exercise that with IBM laptops you can go to their website, plug in the serial number and it will tell you where the machine was made, its exact original specs AND what warranty is left on it.
So when my machine went down today it took one phone call to a 24 hour number to get my machine picked up by courier, repaired and returned in 4 days, at no charge to me!!
I have owned the machine for under a year and my warranty runs till 2011.
I think this is incredible service from a company that is often maligned for being too big to stay current.
I also happen to love IBM think-pads but I would put up with quite a bit to have the level of security of knowing that for 3 years I never have to worry about repairs or failures.
Many of you who read this are in business yourselves so what could you be implementing to create a point of difference for your company so that you can grow your business in these troubled waters.
Trust me, service is going to make the difference between life and death for thousands of companies over the next 3 years, make sure your commitment is to excellence and perseverance!!
Stay Safe ~ Dean Letfus @ www.MassiveAction.co.nz
I have recently been looking at a business that is according to one of my associates “The greatest invention in New Zealand’s history”.
There is no doubt that it is absolutely unique and could potentially save companies billions of dollars in 1 particular global industry.
The interesting part from a business point of view is that even though this product is amazing, there is no guarantee that it can be successfully brought to market and become the world leader it should.
So to me it’s quite fascinating that quality is no guarantee of success. Having the greatest thing since sliced bread is NOT a guarantee of fame and fortune.
This particular business will require enormous amounts of money, cutting edge IT development and very sophisticated high level marketing strategies. So I have to assume the best and plan for the worst, even though the upside is enormous.
In other words having a great idea or product makes no difference to the fundamentals of business.
Property investing is exactly the same of course. We all look for the super strategy that will make us a zillion dollars in one hit,
and I am all for that.
HOWEVER the reality is that we will have a lot of deals that are marginal, some deals will go wrong etc. So we must treat PI as a business like any other. Hope to make a fortune, but assume that things will go wrong 50% of the time and PLAN to make a modest profit, then the big upside is a bonus rather than something you are entirely relying on.
It has been easy in a good market to take big risks, (and the balance is hard to find), but I help too many people who bet the entire farm on their first deal and when it didn’t go exceptionally well they are in deep bovine eschatology.
So now we are in a prolonged weird market you must ensure you keep your brain engaged and take manageable, calculated risks that won’t bury you. I am helping people get into some good quality property in great areas with good yields. They can sleep at night, they are not overly geared and they have minimised their risk and maximised their potential income/equity growth by being in good rental demand locations in Auckland.
Whilst there is definitely a place for niche market stock like rent by the room and flats etc., they are NICHE markets, only for experienced investors and should never be more than 10% of your portfolio.
So like I say everyday STAY SAFE
Dean Letfus @ www.MassiveAction.co.nz
I met today with the owner of a very successful US property publishing company.
It was interesting to hear some facts from the coal face rather than the media hype for a change.
His professional opinion on the US market generally was that, like most markets, the “five star” suburbs are doing pretty well and the lower areas are suffering big drops. Their systems are much more complicated than here and the place is so big there are many markets in play simultaneously, but he was surprised at the media dramatisation of the market as it was portrayed in our media.
Sounds kinda the same as I feel about our media most of the time.
So the bottom line from my US friend was you have to know what you are doing and research, research, research to stay safe in their market.
And that is exactly what you have to do to stay safe in our market too.
Work on upskilling yourself in those areas you already are familiar with so you become an expert. That might mean being an area expert, a finance expert, a negotiation expert, whatever your particular thing is.
Doing nothing and/or panicking is giving control of your life to others, DON’T DO THAT!!
Stay Safe ~ Dean Letfus @ www.MassiveAction.co.nz