Settle Down or Trade Up

Trade Up.jpeg

So I always hear this question from people…

 

Should I be happy with what I have or should I seek out something better?

It’s the age old question of whether to settle down or trade up.


When it comes to any decision in life…choosing a school, degree, career, place to live, an investment decision, or even your spouse and life partner–how do you know when you are making the right decision?


Maybe you like or love what’s in front of your eyes, but you still don’t know 100% if there’s something better out there for you.


Every choice means you are settling in some way, because let’s face it, nothing is perfect in life!

When is good, good enough for you?


There are trade-offs with every decision.


And it’s a matter of what YOU can live with!


A guy may say, “I like this girl, but I’m not sure whether she’s the one for me or that I really want to settle down with long-term.”


Someone else says, “I’m studying to be an accountant, but you know I really always liked psychology.”


And yet a third person says, “I like working at company ABC, but maybe I can learn something new or do better financially for myself and family if I go somewhere else.”


So when do you settle down and when do you try to trade-up?


The dilemma is fateful because you don’t want to lose what you have, but you also don’t want to potentially miss out on something even better for you.


Listen, we’re not prophets!


No one knows whether your investment in something is going to pay off in spades or land you flat on your butt. 


All you can do is try to weight the pros and cons of every decision. 


If you treat life like a roulette game in Las  Vegas, the one thing that is pretty sure is that at some point, you will lose it all to the house. 


So choose wisely and make sure you are passionate about your choice and that can live with it over time. 


Know that you made the best decision you could by looking at it from all angles. 


And most important of all, be grateful for everything you have–these are blessings from the Almighty Above and you need to have faith that He/She is guiding and helping you all along the way. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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613 Stock Market

613 S&P

Someone challenged today about the number 613 (mystical, holy number of commandments in the Torah).

They said, “I would argue that you can pick any 3 digit number and get the same results.”

They went on asking that it be “No variations in sequence, no breaks between numbers, no mathematics.”

So here is perhaps an answer from Heaven–check out the closing change down in the S&P 500 today: Exactly 6.13!

You’re turn. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal with attribution to CNBC)

What does 600613 Spell?

As per my previous blogs on the mystical number 613 (corresponding to the G-d’s commandments in the Torah), today we have a technological twist.



Recently, Google paid an award to a former employee of $6,006.13.



The amount is special in two ways as you can see:



First of all, Google saw that, if you look closely, this number spells Google. 



Secondly, it has the number mystical number 613 in it. 



613 is a winner and so is Google, which is now the the most valuable company in the U.S. (worth more than Apple) at $554 billion!



If you use simple Gematria, where each letter is a number (A=1, B=2, C=3…Z=26), then Guess what other successful technology companies has the mystical 613 in their names:





















(Also, see which amazing technology company has 613 twice in their name!)


In contrast, some ailing technology companies that do not have 613:


– Yahoo


– Twitter


– LinkedIn


613 is a reminder of G-d’s benevolence to mankind in that he G-d us the commandments as a roadmap to live by.  613 is a symbol of faith in G-d almighty and in his holy Torah (Bible). 


For those that keep His charge, we believe that Hashem will bless them and keep them. 


Indeed, technology used for the good of mankind is a blessing to us all.  😉


(Source Graphics: Andy and Dossy Blumenthal)

Market Watch 2016

Sale.jpeg

I took this photo in the mall on New Years Day–yes, the stores were actually open on the holiday.


And Macy’s was having a blowout sale with racks and racks of “80% Off Original Price[s].”


We were laughing saying what’s next–99% Off and then even 100% off! 


So you think the economy is healthy with fire sales like these on the very first day of the new calendar year–when we still have another 364 days to make our year end sales quotas…


With turbulence around the globe brewing from Iran, Syria, Russia, North Korea, Yemen, Sudan, Nigeria, ISIS, and more…anyone care to say (pending) crisis.


How about commodities–my bet–that are in the toilet (and have been for years now)–do you really think no one needs iron, aluminum, nickel, lead, cooper, potash, oil, gas, coal, diamonds, and gold anymore? 


Then the Wall Street Journal warned again today about the overall investment marketplace, asking “How do you invest when everything is expensive? [at 25 times cyclically adjusted earnings–now that’s a fancy term]?


We’ve been down this road before in the bubble bursts and recessions of 2001 and 2008.


Is now really the time for the Federal Reserve to be raising interest rates (and what a nifty ripple effect that will have in both slowing our economy down and raising our interest payments on our already ballooning $18 trillion national debt)?


Oh, technology to the rescue again and again…it’s possible with everything from virtual reality to robotics and artificial intelligence on the cusp…or maybe not this time around. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Facebook IPO–Love It, But Leave It

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With the Facebook IPO scheduled for this week, valuing the company at as much as $96 billion, many investors according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek (11 May 2012) see this as overvalued.

Facebook will be the largest Internet IPO in history, and would be about 4 times as much as Google was valued at its IPO at $23 billion in 2003.

Further, Facebook could be valued at offering at 99 times earnings.

This is more than the price earnings ratio of 99% of companies in the S&P Index, yet even with some estimating sales of $6.1 billion this year, Facebook would only rank about 400 in the S&P 500.

True Facebook has amassed an incredible 900 million users, but the company’s revenue growth has slowed for the 3rd year in a row.

Another article in BusinessWeek (10 May 2012) describes a new social networking contender called Diaspora.

Unlike Google+ which is predominantly a Facebook copycat, Diaspora is bringing something new and major to the table–they are addressing the privacy issues that Facebook has not.

Diaspora is a distributed (or federated) social network, unlike Facebook which is centralized–in other words, Diaspora allows you to host your own data wherever you want (even in the cloud).

Each of these independently owned Diaspora instances or “pods” (dispersed like in the Diaspora) make up a true social “network”–interconnected and interoperable computing devices.

With Diaspora, you own your own data and can maintain its privacy (share, delete, and do what you want with your information), unlike with Facebook where you essentially give up rights to your data and it can and is used by Facebook for commercial use–for them to make money off of your personal/private information.

When it comes to personal property, we have a strong sense of ownership in our society and are keen on protecting these ownership rights, but somehow with our personal information and privacy, when it comes to social networking, we have sold ourselves out for a mere user account.

As loss of personally identifiable information (PII), intellectual property, identity theft, and other serious computer crimes continues to grow and cost us our money, time, and even our very selves in some respects, alternatives to the Facebook model, like Diaspora, will become more and more appealing.

So with social networks like Facebook–it is a case of love it, but leave it!

Love social networking–especially when privacy is built in–and others don’t have rights to what you post.

But leave it–when they are asking for your investment dollar (i.e. IPO) that could be better spent on a product with a business model that is actually sustainable over the long term.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Allan Cleaver)

 

>Technology Cannot Save Us From Arrogance

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This week we saw firsthand what uncontrolled deficit spending can do to a modern democratic nation, such as Greece.

For all intents and purposes, Greece is bankrupt except for the ~$150 billion bailout they are getting from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union that will keep them afloat.

In return for the funds, Greece has to adopt “austerity measures” that will limit jobs, programs, and social spending.

The result this week was social unrest, rioting in the streets, and civilians killed.

Other European nations with high deficits to GDP spending are at risk, such as Portugal, Spain, and Italy, as well as major Asian countries like Japan.

The uncertainty and fear of this chaotic situation struck the U.S. stock market hard—with the S&P falling almost 800 points this week, during a time of supposed economic recovery.

Last evening, I watched on the news as a professor from Columbia University debated with the newscaster about whether or not the U.S. was susceptible to the same type of debacle that we are witnessing overseas.

The newscaster took the position that our $13 trillion national deficit—much larger than Greece’s—certainly put us at similar risk, even though we have a much larger GDP.

The professor countered that we are not like Greece—we are different and that what is happening there cannot happen here in America.

Why?

The professor said that he thought that we are more innovative, more technologically savvy, and more able to grow our way—economically—out of this. He laughed at the prospect of America running into any sort of grave financial difficulty, because of “who we are.”

As someone who is focused on the importance of technological prowess, innovation, and progressive change to our economic health, competitiveness and national security, I fully appreciate the vital importance of these factors.

Yet at the same time, it seems to me to be stretching credulity to say that technology and innovation alone can save us from the consequences of fiscal unrestraint.

While I believe in our strong political, social, and economic foundation, I question whether we are truly so different from our neighbors overseas.

For IT leaders, the point is that just because we drive investments in new technology—“the art of the possible”—that does not make us invincible.

While technology can help us grow in amazing ways and potentially solve our most complex and challenging problems, it is not a mystical, magical elixir and cannot solve our deficit no matter how large it gets unchallenged.

It seems to me that our greatest challenge is arrogance.

As a nation, we can by proud of our ideology and many achievements, but we cannot rest on our laurels, thinking that we are immune to the consequences of our mistakes. We must accept that our spending will catch up with us, unless we course-correct.

>Gap Analysis and Enterprise Architecture

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There was a terrific keynote at the 1105 Government Information Group enterprise architecture conference this week in Washington, DC by Mr. Armando Ortiz, who presented “An Executive Architect’s View of IT Asset Investment and EA Governance Strategies.”

The highlight for me was Mr. Ortiz, view of EA gap analysis, which goes something like this (i.e. in my words):

Enterprise architects, supported by business and technical subject matter experts across the organization, develop the current and target architectures. The difference between these is what I would call, the architecture gap, from which is developed the transition plan (so far not much new here).

But here comes the rest…

The gap between the current IT assets and the target IT assets results in one of two things, either:

  • New IT assets (i.e. an investment strategy) or
  • Retooling of existing IT assets (i.e. a basic containment strategy);

New IT investments are a strategic, long-term strategy and retooling the existing IT assets is an operational, short-term strategy.

In terms of the corporate actors, you can have either:

  • Business IT (decentralized IT) or
  • Enterprise IT (centralized IT; the CIO) manage the IT asset strategy.

For new IT investments:

  • If they are managed by business IT, then the focus is business innovation (i.e. it is non-standard IT and driven by the need for competitive advantage), and
  • If it is managed by enterprise IT, then it is a growth strategy (i.e. it is rolling out standardized IT—utility computing–for implementing enterprise solutions for systems or infrastructure).

For existing IT assets:

  • If they are managed by business IT, then the focus is improvement (i.e. improving IT for short-term profitability), and
  • If it is managed by enterprise IT, then it is a renewal strategy (i.e. for recapitalizing enterprise IT assets).

What the difference who is managing the IT assets?

  • When IT Assets are managed by business IT units, then the organization is motivated by the core mission or niche IT solutions and the need to remain nimble in the marketplace, and
  • When IT assets are managed by the enterprise IT, then the organizations is motivated by establishing centralized controls, standards, and cost-effectiveness.

Both approaches are important in establishing a solid, holistic, federated IT governance.

Mr. Ortiz went on to describe the EA plans developing three CIO WIFMS (what’s in it for me):

  • Operational excellence (“run IT efficiently)
  • Optimization (“make IT better”)
  • Transformation (“new IT value proposition”)

The link between IT assets, investment/containment strategies, business and enterprise IT actors, and the benefits to the CIO and the enterprise was a well articulated and perceptive examination of enterprise architecture and gap analysis.