What Is Bravery?

  Fortino Samano Household Name Blog


An Oxford University student sits in a grand wood-paneled room waiting for his final year psychology exam to begin.

The don checks his watch then instructs the students to commence. The grad turns the page and reads the question: What is bravery?

He rocks back on his chair for a moment contemplating the question, then leans in to scribble something down, stands, and as his classmates stare in disbelief, walks from the hall.

The don walks over to his desk and picks up the paper. Beneath the question he'd written: "This is."

In sports, coaches train players to avoid paralysis by analysis. When athletes think too much it negatively affects their performance. They think too much, they choke. It's best they just get out there and play the game without thinking themselves into a hole.

Unfortunately paralysis by analysis is widespread among brands and their ad agencies. Demand for consistently favorable quarterly earnings forecasts, focus groups, a heavy-handed FCC, and gun-shy network censors have forced both clients and their agencies to become ever more risk-averse, but therein lies the paradox: at a time when ad-avoidance by consumers is at an all time high, brands need to be buying more breakthrough work, not less.

And just in case we've all forgotten what bravery looks like, it's here in the face of Mexican revolutionary Fortino Samano moments before his death by firing squad in 1917.

His very last word on this planet: "¡fuego!"









New Business Is A Dogfight



Nothing you haven't read in SunTzu's 'Art Of War' but the aerial combat tactics developed by World War I flying ace Oswald Boelcke struck me as similarly useful for winning new business:

– Try to secure advantages before you attack. If possible, keep the sun behind you.
– Always carry through an attack when you have started it.

– Fire only at close range and only when your opponent is properly in your sights.

– Always keep your eye on your opponent, and never let yourself be deceived by ruses.

– In any form of attack, it is essential to assail your opponent from behind.

– If your opponent dives on you, do not try to evade his onslaught, but fly to meet it.

– When over the enemy's lines, never forget your own line of retreat.

Boelcke and his pilots flew only in large well-organized formations dubbed "circuses." Any Allied plane that came within their part of the sky was doomed.

But even as his own kill score grew to 40 Boelcke cared little for his personal record: "Everything depends on sticking together when the staffel (squadron) goes into battle. It does not matter who actually scores the victory as long as the staffel wins."

'The Father Of Air Fighting Tactics' crashed and died after a mid-air collision with one of his own pilots and was buried in the cathedral at Cambrai.

British pilots at the POW camp at Osnabrück sent a condolence card.

Baron Von Richthofen reflected, "I am after all only a combat pilot, but Boelcke, he was a hero."

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How To Make The World's Easiest $1 Billion

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Form a bank.

STEP 2: Round up a bunch of unemployed friends to be "bankers."

STEP 3: Raise $1 billion of equity. (This is the only tricky step. And it's not that tricky. See below.*)

STEP 4: Borrow $9 billion from the Fed at an annual cost of 0.25%.

STEP 5: Buy $10 billion of 30-year Treasuries paying 4.45%

STEP 6: Sit back and watch the cash flow in. At this spread, you should be earning at least 4% per year on your $10 billion of capital, or $400 million. Sure, there's some risk that the Fed will grow a backbone and raise short rates, but there's not much risk. (They have an economy to fix and banks to secretly recapitalize). And in any event, if the Fed raises short rates, making your $1 billion will just take a bit longer. (And if they REALLY raise rates, causing you to actually lose money, it will be someone else's problem.) You'll have made $400 million in a single year! So pay yourself a fat salary for all your hard work.  And pay your "bankers" fat salaries for all their hard work (But don't worry--your bankers won't actually have to do anything. You'll just need one of them to borrow the money from the Fed and buy the Treasuries, which he will be able to do part-time.) At the end of the year, celebrate. It's bonus time! Don't be greedy. Pay yourself and your bankers the industry-standard compensation ratio of 50% of revenue. Your revenue was $400 million, so that creates a $200 million bonus pool.  Pay each of your unemployed friends bankers, say, $1 million. And give yourself the rest for being such a smart entrepreneur and creating all the jobs and value. Now, you've already made at least $150 million, so it doesn't really matter what happens next. But you're in this for the world's easiest $1 billion, right? So proceed to Step 7.

STEP 7: Go public. After bonuses, your bank will be earning about $200 million a year, your capital ratio will be super-strong (10% equity-to-debt!), and your balance sheet will be clean as a whistle (all risk-free Treasuries!). So you ought to be able to persuade investors to pay you at least 20-times earnings, or a valuation of $4 billion. Sell 25% of the company for $1 billion.

STEP 8: Use your $1 billion of new equity to borrow another $9 billion at 0.25% from the Fed. Buy another $9 billion of Treasuries. Collect another $400 million a year. Pay yourself and your team bonuses that are twice as large as last year's. You deserve it! And you're now about $500 million to the good.

STEP 9: Wait for your stock to double or triple, which won't take long given your amazing growth trajectory and clean balance sheet.  When your market cap hits $10 billion, sell another 10% of the company for $1 billion.  Now you're really ready to grow.

STEP 10: If you want to get fancy and get nice profiles written about you in business magazines, start buying branch networks from defunct banks (the FDIC will pay you to take them) and start making actual loans.  Also, start hiring trading desks to gamble on things more exotic than Treasuries.  Yes, all this sounds risky, but just remember--the risk isn't yours, and you're already $500 million to the good. 

STEP 11: Sell $500 million of your stock to a "strategic investor" and let the rest ride.  Don't worry, if your traders and loan officers turn out to be idiots or the Fed suddenly raises rates, the taxpayers will handle it. And you've already made your $1 billion. So, congratulations, you're now a billionaire! Now all there is left to do is celebrate! 

* If you've been paying attention, you will note that the only potentially tricky step in this process is the "raise $1 billion of equity."  Where, exactly, are you going to get $1 billion of equity? Well, you will have to do some selling there. Basically, you'll have to tell a few investors about your awesome new business plan (see above) that will earn them returns of at least 20% on their equity from Day 1. A 20% return on equity is a lot, especially when the return is largely risk free. So you should have no problem raising that $1 billion of equity.Given the government's desperate desire to get banks to start lending again, you might also want to try to hit up the government for some funds. The pitch will be simple: Old banks aren't lending because they're hiding embedded losses and need to protect their balance sheets. You don't have that problem. You'll use the equity to LEND. (And you will use it to lend! You don't have to say that you're going to lend it to the US government. None of the other banks are saying that.)

Via Business Insider

US Debt Clock


View your $117,000 share here. (Roll over figures for explanation.)


To get an idea of what our national debt looks like, this stack above is $1 million. (100 packets of $10,000).

And this...













...is 12 trillion dollars.

Should make it a bit easier to explain to the grandkids.

Eight Habits of Highly Effective People


Yeah, yeah, it came out when Reagan was president, but its insights about time management and accentuating a person's strengths rather than managing their weaknesses are more timely than ever.

Habit 1: Be proactive

Change starts from within. Most people react to external forces. To lead effectively, you have to overcome that natural tendency.

Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind

You cannot lead unless you know where you want to get to.

Habit 3: Put first things first

You need to have a very clear view of what is important, so that you know what to spend time on. Note that this often means leaving your comfort zone by acting on tasks that you don't naturally like or feel competent in performing.

Habit 4: Think win/win

Seek agreement and relationships that are mutually beneficial. In cases in which a win/win deal cannot be achieved, accept that agreeing on "no deal" may be the best alternative. In developing an organizational culture, be sure to reward win/win behavior among employees, and avoid inadvertently rewarding win/lose behavior.

Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood

First seek to understand the other person, and only then try to be understood. Stephen Covey presents this habit as the most important principle of inter-personal relations. Effective listening is not simply echoing what the other person has said through the lens of your own experience. Rather, it is putting yourself in the mindset of the other person, listening empathetically for both feeling and meaning.

Habit 6: Synergize

Through trustful communication, find ways to leverage individual differences to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Through mutual trust and understanding, people can often solve conflicts and find better solutions than would have been obtained through either person's own solution.

Habit 7: Sharpen the saw

Take time out from production to build production capacity through personal renewal of the physical, mental, social/emotional, and spiritual dimensions. Maintain a balance among these dimensions.

Habit 8: Refer to 1 thru 7 with frequency.

Slideshow Of Netflix Core Beliefs

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When Netflix first appeared I thought they were one of the most powerful examples of how the internet could fundamentally and permanently change our lives; no more rushing to the video store to avoid late fees, or discovering Blockbuster don't carry "Saturday Night Fever." (Incredibly, they still don't.)

So it's with interest I read through this 127-page online slideshow of their core beliefs.

Above, 'Nine Behaviors And Skills' they look for in potential––and current––employees.

[Thanks to Michelle Roufa for the post suggestion.]

You Are A Brand


So act like one.

Find your One Simple Thing – The strongest brands in the world own a thought. If you don’t create an OST for yourself, the market will create one for you.

Work the Network – It’s your lifeline.

Breakthrough the clutter – Be original in your outreach, people are overloaded as it is. Make it compelling.

Your resume is your ad – And we all know how much people love to look at ads....so make it stand out.

Your wardrobe matters – Really? Clearly some don’t realize it, so it must be said.

Your questions matter – Ask….care enough to learn about their business.

Follow up…forever – Your network should remain as strong through employment and unemployment