Sunday, December 30, 2012

A True Christmas Story

This the last post of the year and a great way to close the year 2012. During the first week of January I will write about some 2013 Year´s Resolutions that could be accomplished. Meanwhile Let´s all enjoy the end of the Year with the last of our Christmas tales series.
Here is a fairly well known tale. I think it is worth re-telling. It conveys a valuable message; No matter how tough things are, don't give up. You just don't know what lies around the corner.....!


Robert May was a short man, barely five feet in height. He was born in the early part of the last century, that is to say, the nineteen hundreds.

Bullied at school, he was ridiculed and humiliated by other children because he was smaller than other boys of the same age. Even as he grew up, he was often mistaken for someone’s little brother.

When he left college he became employed as a copywriter with Montgomery Ward, the big Chicago mail order house. He married and in due course, his wife presented him with a daughter. Then when his little daughter was two years old, tragedy struck; his wife was diagnosed with a debilitating disease. She became bedridden and remained so until she died. Nearly everything he earned went on medication and doctor’s bills. Money was short and life was hard.

One evening in early December of 1938 and two years into his wife’s illness, his four-year-old daughter climbed onto his knee and asked, “Daddy, why isn’t Mummy like everybody else’s mummy?” It was a simple question, asked with childlike curiosity. But it struck a personal chord with Robert May.

His mind flashed back to his own childhood. He had often posed a similar question, “Why can’t I be tall, like the other kids?” The stigma attached to those who are different is hard to bear. Groping for something to say to give comfort to his daughter, he began to tell her a story. It was about someone else who was different, ridiculed, humiliated and excluded because of the difference.

Bob told the story in a humorous way, making it up as he went along; in the way that many fathers often do. His daughter laughed, giggled and clapped her hands as the misfit finally triumphed at the end. She then made him start all over again from the beginning and every night after that he had to repeat the story before she would go to sleep.

Because he had no money for fancy presents, Robert decided that he would put the story into book form. He had some artistic talent and he created illustrations. This was to be his daughter’s Christmas present. The book of the story that she loved so much. He converted the story into a poem.

On the night before Christmas Eve, he was persuaded to attend his office Christmas Party. He took the poem along and showed it to a colleague. The colleague was impressed and insisted that Robert read his poem aloud to everyone else at the party. Somewhat embarrassed by the attention, he took the small hand written volume from his pocket and began to read. At first the noisy group listened in laughter and amusement. But then became silent and after he finished, they broke into spontaneous applause.

Later, and feeling quite pleased with himself, he went home, wrapped the book in Christmas wrapping and placed it under the modest Christmas tree. To say that his daughter was pleased with her present would be an understatement. She loved it!

When Robert returned to work after the Holiday, he was summoned to the office of his head of department. He wanted to talk to Bob about his poem. It seemed that word had got out about his reading at the Christmas party. The Head of Marketing was looking for a promotional tool and wondered if Robert would be interested in having his poem published.

The following year, 1939, printed copies of the book were given to every child who visited the department stores of Montgomery Ward and it eventually became an international best seller, making Robert a rich man. His wife had unfortunately died during this time, but he was able to move from the small apartment and buy a big house. He was at last able to provide handsomely for his growing daughter.

The story is not quite over. In 1947, songwriter Johnny Marks used the theme of Robert’s poem for a song. He showed the song to a famous film star of the day, Gene Autry, ‘The Singing Cowboy’. Autry recorded the song and it became a world-wide number one hit. You may just remember it. The first line goes....”Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer had a very shiny nose.....!”

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Gold Wrapping Paper worth Millions

Let it snow let it snow let it snow let the snowball grow until we fulfill our dreams, after the traditional Christmas eve celebration I feel that the search of one Million Euros in less than 5 years is coming to an end, just like this 2012 which gave us great pleasures.

 Here it is… the second of our 3 Christmas tales just to keep the Spirit up and Thank for all that we already have. Enjoy!!!
Once upon a time, there was a man who worked very hard just to keep food on the table for his family. This particular year a few days before Christmas, he punished his little five-year-old daughter after learning that she had used up the family's only roll of expensive gold wrapping paper.

As money was tight, he became even more upset when on Christmas Eve he saw that the child had used all of the expensive gold paper to decorate one shoebox she had put under the Christmas tree. He also was concerned about where she had gotten money to buy what was in the shoebox.

Nevertheless, the next morning the little girl, filled with excitement, brought the gift box to her father and said, "This is for you, Daddy!"

As he opened the box, the father was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, now regretting how he had punished her.

But when he opened the shoebox, he found it was empty and again his anger flared. "Don't you know, young lady," he said harshly, "when you give someone a present, there's supposed to be something inside the package!"

The little girl looked up at him with sad tears rolling from her eyes and whispered: "Daddy, it's not empty. I blew kisses into it until it was all full."

The father was crushed. He fell on his knees and put his arms around his precious little girl. He begged her to forgive him for his unnecessary anger.

An accident took the life of the child only a short time later. It is told that the father kept this little gold box by his bed for all the years of his life. Whenever he was discouraged or faced difficult problems, he would open the box, take out an imaginary kiss, and remember the love of this beautiful child who had put it there. 

In a very real sense, each of us has been given an invisible golden box filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, family, friends and God. There is no more precious possession anyone could hold. Enjoy these two versions of JOY!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

From homeless to Millionaire

Now that we are all experiencing the quiet calm of December, with all the Christmas spirits flowing all around, and with the ideal of 1 Million euros in less than 5 years, I have decided to write 3 Inspiring Christmas tales to end the year 2012 a year that increased our Investments in about 17% that gave me 17 more business partners and allowed my family to drive a nice new car... and this is just the beginning 2013 will be a Magical year I can already feel it. 

So the first of my Christmas tales is related to Chris Gardner  a former homeless man turned millionaire — Gardner often remembers the train station bathroom where he once slept a quarter century ago. 
Often he is overcome with memories of teaching his 2-year-old son to never, ever open the locked bathroom door, no matter how hard someone pounded on the other side. 

It didn't matter that he now had three homes — one a condo in New York's Trump Tower — or that he'd gone from selling his own blood to buying Michael Jordan's car.

"He had to get out of there," 

The story of how the 52-year-old Gardner did just that, climbed out of homelessness and became a Millionaire stockbroker with his own 15-employee Chicago firm, was turned into a motion picture, a few years ago. It’s also the subject of Gardner’s own book, “The Pursuit of Happyness.” The unique spelling of “happiness” is intentional.

Even in the realm of rags-to-riches tales, Gardner's story is unique. Take, for example, the events that led to his descent into homelessness.

A medical supplies salesman barely making enough money to support his girlfriend and baby, Gardner had one of those Hollywood moments in a San Francisco parking lot in 1981 when he spotted a man looking for a place to park his red Ferrari.

"He said to him, 'You can have my (parking) place but I've got to ask you two questions. What do you do and how do you do it?'" recalled Gardner.

The man was a stockbroker. Gardner didn't know a single stockbroker or even what one did. But the man said he made $80,000 a month — $50,000 more than Gardner made a year.

Gardner found a brokerage firm willing to hire him and quit his job. But when he showed up for work he learned the guy who'd hired him had been fired. Gardner's job was gone.

Then, days before a scheduled interview with Dean Witter, a loud fight with his girlfriend brought the police to his door. The next thing Gardner knew they were asking him for $1,200 to clear up some unpaid parking tickets.

They may as well have asked for $12 million. Gardner spent 10 days in jail.

When he was released, his girlfriend and son were gone. He had no money, no home and the only clothes he had for his job interview the next day were the ones he wore to jail.

How was he going to explain showing up wearing jeans and paint-splattered Adidas shoes?

"I couldn't think of nothing that could top the truth," he said. He went with that and got the job.

A few months later came a knock on the door of the boarding house where he was staying.

"It's my ex and, guess what, she doesn't want the baby any more, here." he said. "The boarding house does not allow children. That's how we became homeless."

Some nights they stayed in a $25-a-night hotel, a park or under his desk at work. And a few nights were spent in an Oakland Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station.

"I had to teach my little boy how to play a game and the game is called SHHHH," he said. "That means no matter what anybody says on the other side of that door, no matter how much noise they make or what they threaten, we ain't here, OK?"

Finally, they moved into a homeless hotel in San Francisco, run by Glide Memorial United Methodist Church.

"There were no keys, so every day you take everything with you," said Gardner. "For a year, I'd take my son, his stroller, a big duffel bag with all his clothes in it, my briefcase, an umbrella, the biggest bag of Pampers in the world, one suit on my back and one suit in a hanging bag and we'd hit it every day."
When it rained, he covered the stroller with plastic sheets he'd picked up from dry cleaners.
Gardner told his co-workers nothing.

He also distinguished himself from others who turned to Glide for food and shelter.

"If you saw a man with a child, that was rare, incredibly rare," said the Rev. Cecil Williams, Glide's pastor. "I remember discussions about him, about how that man really loves that boy because he won't let him get away from him, he won't push him aside."

Starting from scratch 

Day care took a huge chunk of his meager stockbroker trainee salary, and it took Gardner about a year to save enough to move himself and his son into their own home. From there, his his career blossomed, and in 1987 he opened his own firm in Chicago.

Today, signs of his success are everywhere, starting with an office that includes a gleaming desk made of a DC-10 tail wing, African art work, boxing gloves and photographs autographed by Muhammad Ali. Sharing space with pictures of his adult son and daughter are photographs of Gardner with Nelson Mandela, and a vase full of dirt that Gardner brought from Mandela's yard after visiting the former South Africa president.
He no longer has the Ferrari he bought from Jordan.

Making a difference 

Gardner, who never went to college, has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to education, writing checks for as much as $25,000 to teachers, janitors, bus drivers and others who work at schools.
Gardner is focusing much of his attention now on South Africa, trying to persuade major investors to invest $1 billion there — an effort praised by South African officials.
"In the current state of our economy, creating an investment fund is critical," said Yusuf Omar, South African Consul General in Chicago, who recently stopped by Gardner's office.

For Gardner, helping South Africans pull themselves up makes perfect sense.
"Everything I've learned working on Wall Street, 25 years, to be able to make a difference in the lives of a lot of people and we all make money, it (doesn't) get any better than that," he said.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Zackariya: Travel Is Key to Growth & The billions on the travel Industry

Now that Christmas is just around the corner and on the intense search of 1 Million Euros in less than 5 years, welcome to my journey,  I find myself packing for a weekend retreat on the Finnish forest. I ´m  pleased to announce a guest post article By: Sacha Zackariya, CEO, ChangeGroup and CNBC-YPO Chief Executive Network Member.
The United States of America – which has the world's biggest economy with a GDP of about $15 trillion - is now showing tentative signs of a turnaround. This is reflected in the growth of the labor market with stabilizing house prices and increasing consumer confidence. Hopefully, the green shoots of recovery are finally sprouting. 
Not surprisingly, overseas investment bodies are moving back after retreating during the financial crisis. A large proportion of U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) comes from European countries - which can partially be attributed to the flight of capital from the debt ridden, shaky economies of Europe. Despite competition from rising emerging economies such as China, there is a strong belief among investors that the worsening Eurozone crisis could make the U.S. a safe haven, thus adding further fuel to U.S. recovery.
One of the sectors showing remarkable growth in the U.S. is the tourism industry. My company, ChangeGroup, is a provider of financial services to the international traveler and is thus strongly linked to the growth of the travel and tourism industry. During recent years, we have supported a big success factor in the U.S. economy: International inward tourism. We have opened a range of new ultra-prime, currency exchange shops in Manhattan, committing several million dollars and recruiting many new employees. Most importantly, our branches allow international tourists and visitors to change their holiday money, worth tens of millions U.S. dollars, into currency to be spent in local stores.
Our U.K based travel money online service has seen a dramatic surge in the demand to exchange pounds to dollars. In order to cater to the increased number of tourists, the hotel industry is rapidly expanding with 50 new hotels set to open in New York City alone by 2013. The Australian mall operator, Westfield, has signed a $ 1.25 billion deal to lease retail space at the new World Trade Center in 2015. The U.S. government has also taken many initiatives to promote tourism, creating "Brand USA" – a public-private partnership - to market the U.S. as a leading global tourist destination.
Brand USA reports travel to the U.S. from emerging economies, such as Brazil, China and India, is up 110% during the 10-year period leading up to 2010, resulting in nearly $15 billion in export revenue. Initiatives proposed by the U.S. government to relax visa rules and streamline the process for tourists would further positively impact this growth.
According to the U.S. Travel Association, the United States travel and tourism industry was one of the largest employers in 2011, supporting 14.4 million jobs and generating $194.6 billion in payroll. Job growth in the travel industry was 84% faster than in the rest of the economy between March 2010 and July 2011. One out of every eight jobs depends on this sector. And it has been estimated that each U.S. household would need to pay $1,055 more in taxes without the tax revenue generated by tourism and travel.
If fully exploited, the travel sector could efficiently power the economic recovery of the United States and further strengthen its position as a global economic powerhouse.

Sacha Zackariya is CEO of the travel money and international payments companyChangeGroup.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Crazy Eddie & The 100 Million

Now that we are entering the Christmas season, just few more days and December is here, the wind rises electric, the snow is about to fall and the temperature is about to drop under. 

This season makes me wonder about my intense pursue of the Million euros in less than 5 years, all is set a great season of accomplishments is just waiting, this season also reminds me of the intense shopping spree that we all will be witness, it also reminds me of Con Artist Crazy Eddie  he built a family business that grew into a huge chain of electronics stores with rock-bottom prices.  It was also a criminal operation driven by lies and phony inventory.

In New York City in the 1980s, you almost couldn’t escape from Crazy Eddie.  The discount electronics stores were all over the Northeast; flip on a TV, and you’d inevitably catch an ad.  The wild-eyed character in those Crazy Eddie ads, who ranted about the “insaaaaaaane” deals, was hard to ignore.  But it wasn’t just aggressive marketing behind the company’s success.  From phony inventory to fictitious earnings, nothing about Crazy Eddie was as it appeared.

Eddie Antar opened his first electronics store in 1969 with his father, Sam.  From the start, he stocked the shelves of his Brooklyn store with the lowest priced electronics.  With those prices, Antar broke the fair trade laws that forced retailers to sell their goods at prices set by the manufacturers.  The deals, and the store’s loose atmosphere, attracted consumers.  Why shop at a stuffy department store when you could listen to a stereo at top volume and get it for a better price at Crazy Eddie? 

By 1973, the store was recording sales of more than $100 million.  Beyond that boom, Antar had little tricks for creating profit.  He hired nearly every member of his family and paid them off the books. He declined to report cash sales to the IRS and collected insurance claims for fires and floods that never happened.  His cousin, Sam Antar, handled the company’s crooked finances; he estimated they skimmed about $1 for every $5 that came in.

As the dollars piled up, the Antars expanded their empire.  By 1984, there were 39 Crazy Eddie stores across the Northeast.  Even people who didn’t shop for bargain electronics knew about the chain; endless commercials with an actor talking fast and frantic created a memorable brand for Crazy Eddie and carved out its place in the popular culture.

Antar also relied on his shrewd intuition to assess consumer interest in the latest technology.  When VCR’s and compact disk players hit the market, he made sure people knew to come to Crazy Eddie for the best deals.  Annual sales climbed to $350 million in 1984, but Antar wanted more.  He wanted to take Crazy Eddie public.  

Before the initial public offering, an auditor came in to take stock of the company.  The auditor didn’t realize that many of the boxes of inventory he saw piled to the ceiling were empty – or that the attractive saleswoman who climbed a stepladder to assist in the tally was calling down fictitious numbers.  The ploy to overstate the company’s assets worked and, in 1984, Crazy Eddie went public and sold two million shares at $8 apiece.  

This wild overstating of inventory became a profitable pattern for the Antars.  At the end of 1985, the family nudged the numbers $2 million above what actually existed in their warehouse.  Crazy Eddie stock looked terrific and rose to as much as $21 per share.

Antar made about $68 million by selling his stock.  Between that windfall, the brisk sales and all that was skimmed off the top, cash poured in quickly and at a tremendous volume.  To avoid paying taxes, the Antars took monthly trips to Israel – with huge amounts of cash literally strapped to their bodies.  The courier would land in Tel Aviv and deposit the funds into a bank; those funds were then wired to an account in one of a handful of countries where the family had dummy companies.  Slowly, the money was pulled out of Panama and deposited – at specific moments timed around an audit – into several Crazy Eddie bank accounts.  Of course, those deposits were booked as revenue.

The scam, and the Antar family, came apart in 1987.  Antar’s father and his two brothers, who held important positions at the company, were fired or resigned.  On top of a bitter family feud, the cash flow necessary to sustain the fraud dried up.  As other retail outlets adopted Crazy Eddie’s low prices, the market became saturated with cheap electronics.  At the end of the first quarter of 1987, Crazy Eddie profits dropped 93 percent. 

Antar sold his stake in the business in 1987.  It didn’t take the new owners long to discover that only half the amount of inventory listed on the books actually existed.  Within two years, Crazy Eddie declared bankruptcy.  When the SEC filed an action against Eddie Antar in late 1989, he fled the country.  He hid in Israel for two and a half years before being captured and extradited.  While on the lam, his cousin Sam Antar pleaded guilty to fraud and agreed to testify against his family for a more lenient sentence.  

During Eddie Antar’s trial, he said he disappeared to avoid his ex-wife's play for alimony.  His defense attorney argued that the mastermind of the con was actually Sam Antar – who received house arrest in exchange for his testimony.  The jury was not convinced.  Eddie Antar was convicted in 1993 of conspiracy, racketeering and securities and mail fraud.  He served eight years of his 12 ½ year sentence.  

Today, Sam Antar has a website where he maintains a blog, and calendar of speaking engagements.  Eddie Antar lives a quiet life in his native Brooklyn.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Superstorm Sandy will cost Millions but USD will go up!

Now that November is just around the corner we can feel the rain all around with the cold breeze of Winter heading with such an Intensity, that makes me feel relieved, once again time goes by and the purpose of the Million Euros in less than 5 years is meant to happen. All over the news we have the wrath of super storm Sandy which killed at least 33 people in seven states and left more than 8 million people without power.

In New York, the U.S. financial markets closed for a second day today, an unprecedented move for the stock exchange. In Lower Manhattan, the home of the financial district, a blowout at a Con Edison substation cut power to thousands of customers. 

Today after a brief chat at work I was asked to foresee the direction of the USD and I was prompt to assess that the USD will go up. There is logic behind my perspective which is that after a natural disaster in the immediate term or short term currency will go down but as soon as the damage is quantified more Investment is needed to rebuild and assess the reconstruction so by forces of nature local currencies will go up.

Throughout history, natural disasters have caused depreciation short/immediate term (and even appreciation long term) of currency because of a jolted economy. If you take part in currency investing then it’s imperative that you learn how to leverage your investments in uncertain times. 

Usually, currencies weaken right after a natural disaster because of uncertainty about how much economic damage was actually done, according to Barclays Wealth. However, currencies can strengthen again once other countries start funding relief efforts, but the currency can then weaken once internal banks try to alleviate economic hardship (by doing things like lowering the world interest rates).

It all depends on the specific country’s situation, so there are a number of different scenarios. The following examples illustrate what has happened in the last decade.

Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan – Yen

Japan recently suffered two major blows when it was hit by an 8.9-magnitute earthquake followed by a massive tsunami. According to, the Japanese currency fell right after the disasters, weakening up to 0.4% against the dollar. However, the Yen generally benefits from the uncertainty natural disasters leave behind, and repatriation (when assets overseas are turned back into Yen) could strengthen the currency.

The Yen did end up faring well and actually strengthened dramatically, and other than repatriation being a possibility, an Investopedia article suggests another reason could be that the Japanese “might have to liquidate part of their large non-Yen denominated investment portfolio to fund relief and reconstruction efforts in Japan.”
Regardless of the reason, in August of 2011, Japan tried to combat the surging strength of its currency that had not weakened much since the disasters in March.  According to Reuters, Japan had been warned that the Yen was so appreciated that it could possibly hinder Japan’s recovery efforts.  As a result, Japan sold 1 trillion Yen and got the Yen down to 80.20 per US Dollar from 77.10.

Earthquake in Haiti – Gourde

The Haitian Gourde experienced a surge right after Port-Au-Prince was hit with a7.0-magnitude earthquake in January 2010. According to The New York Times, Haiti’s currency strengthened by more than 25%, and for some purchases, the rate would be about 30 Gourds to the Dollar. There are a couple of explanations for this appreciation.
One, which comes from the same New York Times article and suggested by a former governor of the Central Bank, is that the decrease in oil imports was keeping more money in Haiti, thus preventing any drastic appreciation. Another contributing factor was reported by a different New York Times article a couple of months after the disaster, which mentions how an increase in money from abroad helped the Gourde resist depreciation.

Earthquake in New Zealand – New Zealand Dollar

In February 2011, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake impacting New Zealand killed at least 75 people and left the economy struggling. Following the disaster, the New Zealand dollar (nicknamed “the kiwi”) fell about 2% against the U.S. Dollar, according to CNBC. Bloomberg reported that at one point, the kiwi fell to 74.55 U.S. cents, which was its lowest level since late December. As can be seen, New Zealand did not experience an immediate strengthening of the currency that some other countries did after a natural disaster.

In fact, early and mid-March didn't bring much relief, as the country was still lowering its main interest rate to fight the economic problems it was facing. Late March did indicate some better signs for the currency, when it starting gaining due to the possibility of a construction boom. This could point to the potential that circulating more money within a country has for its currency.

Shall we buy USD?

It’s probably safe to say that every natural disaster has an effect not only on a nation’s general economy, but also on its currency making it even stronger.  This influence doesn't just impact the specific country’s currency; either — other countries tend to feel the effects, as currencies’ strength is measured against one another. Countries around the world have experienced similar phenomena, therefore It is to my regret to say that the main engine of any economy unfortunately comes from a natural disaster or war, I will test this idea by Investing promptly tomorrow on some newly made USD. 
Meanwhile keep positive, keep Investing it is just about to happen… 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Appetite for Investing Millions

Now that Fall is here and we are all trying to make the best out of it I have to say that the road has more curves than ever... this 2012 is giving me more headaches than I was expecting, but still when the rain goes the sun comes and that is when I come in.

With full force training almost everyday and living a life that fulfills my needs another article again and on the search of 5 Million Euro in less than 5 years that´s why we are all here right? I want to share the experience of one of my youth heroes Mr. Duff McKagan In 1994, Duff McKagan's pancreas exploded. The former Guns N' Roses bass player says years of drug and alcohol abuse caused the rupture, which left him sidelined for months. As he recovered from the incident at home and sobered up, he found himself with hours of free time and little to do. 

McKagan wandered into his basement one day and came across a file cabinet containing GnR's financials from the previous six years. While thumbing through the reports, he realized he had no idea what they meant. Then, he panicked.

"I couldn't make sense of it. I didn't know how much we had made or lost on the tour," McKagan recalls. "As a 30 year-old millionaire, how do I admit to somebody that I don't know what the fuck I'm doing?"

Now, 17 years later, McKagan is starting his own wealth management firm for musicians. The company, called Meridian Rock, will be headed by McKagan and Andy Bottomley, a British investor. Their goal is to educate rockers about their finances instead of pandering or lying to them -- no small feat in the music world, where businessmen, a.k.a. "suits," are often seen as the enemy.

McKagan, 47, says his epiphany in 1994 was a wakeup call. He enrolled in a basic finance course at Santa Monica Community College, which he says gave him a hunger for academia. McKagan moved to Seattle four years later and signed up for more classes at a local community college. "It took me twice as long as an 18- or 19-year old just out of high school to do the homework, but I got through it," he says. By the time he was accepted into in Seattle University's Albers School of Business, McKagan had become actively involved in managing his portfolio, which included everything from stocks and mutual funds to property.

A few months into his last year of business school, McKagan, who had left Guns N' Roses in the late 90's, formed a new rock supergroup, called Velvet Revolver. The band -- which also included GnR's Slash and Scott Weiland, the singer from the Stone Temple Pilots -- was a surprise hit. Velvet Revolver's album debuted at No. 1, and McKagan took a hiatus from business school to go on tour (he is still one semester short of graduating). When Velvet Revolver broke up a few years later, he played a short stint with the band Jane's Addiction, and then fronted his own outfit, Duff McKagan's Loaded.

It was around that time, McKagan says, that word started spreading that he knew something about managing money. He began getting regular calls from musician friends with questions about everything from whether to buy a house to where they should invest their money.Though McKagan has spoken publicly about the business of music and authored a column in Playboy on finance ("Duffonomics"), he is quick to downplay his investing expertise.

"I'm not a financial planner -- I was just trying to figure this out for myself," he says. "I didn't want to be 60 years old and broke, having made all this money in my twenties...that was my simple goal."

How to be a Rocker and a Money Manager

But the mere fact that his friends were looking for advice from a guy with just a few years of schooling under his belt led him to have another epiphany. Most rock stars know nothing about their finances. Some don't want to know -- but others are kept in the dark, or are too self-conscious to ask simple questions. And yet, they were comfortable talking about money matters with McKagan, who was one of their own -- so what if he could bridge the gap between the musicians and stocks?

About a year and a half ago, McKagan met Andy Bottomley, a former banker who says his early stage venture firm, Imprimatur Capital, counts investors like Paul Tudor Jones' Tudor Investment Corp. Bottomley is a music aficionado (he counts indie acts Sonic Youth and Sebadoh among his favorites) and the two hit it off immediately, so much so that they decided to form Meridian Rock together. Though the company is still in its early stages -- McKagan and Bottomley are currently interviewing money managers in both Europe and the U.S. -- it has won industry backers like Peter Asher, the former A&R man for the Beatles' Apple Records and producer of several James Taylor records.

There are already scores of wealth managers, both at small boutique firms and large bulge bracket banks, who cater to high net worth individuals like musicians. What makes Meridian Rock different, McKagan says, is its understanding of the industry.

For example, he says, most bankers overestimate the "window" in which music acts are guaranteed income, which he places at three to five years. The musicians themselves are equally clueless, he adds. "You think the money is going to keep coming," he says. "When you get that big contract, or your record goes platinum and you're selling out concerts, you don't see that it's going to end."Anyone who's ever seen Behind the Music or Cribs knows that rock stars aren't generally frugal creatures. But they are rarely told, in blunt terms, when they need to cut back, which is one reason why so many go into debt.

"A lot of business managers and attorneys are nurturing that, saying, 'You're the greatest, this is never going to end, the next album is going to be greater,'" says Rick Canny, who manages McKagan's band. "A manager's responsibility is not to tell you, 'In a couple years, you're done.' That's the best way to lose a client."

Musicians tend to surround themselves with intermediaries who make their financial decisions for them. McKagan says Meridian Rock's advisers will talk directly to the talent, in plain and simple terms. The company's three tenets, he notes, are righteousness (i.e., not screwing people over), transparency, and education.

While he admits that not all rockers will be interested in the service, he believes that many want to learn more about finance, but are afraid to admit how little they understand."If they're anything like me when I was thirty, they're too embarrassed to ask," he says. "I didn't know what a stock was, what a bond was." Today, McKagan knows a great deal -- and he has an appetite for Investing just like me so welcome to the Jungle baby it´s time to Invest!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

To Make Millions It's More Important to Be Kind than Clever

It seems that everything is happening all at once, and the idea that when you are ready it comes feels better than ever, finally I have some time this month to go back and fully train and exercise and it feels so good to be back while still on my purpose of One Million Euros in lees than 5 years  lately I have been enjoying my little ones more than anything we only live once so let´s do it all,  yesterday I found a story over the Internet that involves a young man, his dying grandmother, and a bowl of clam chowder from Panera Bread. It's a little story that offers big lessons about service, brands, and the human side of business — a story that underscores why efficiency should never come at the expense of humanity.
The story, as told in AdWeek, goes like this: Brandon Cook, from Wilton, New Hampshire, was visiting his grandmother in the hospital. Terribly ill with cancer, she complained to her grandson that she desperately wanted a bowl of soup, and that the hospital's soup was inedible (she used saltier language). If only she could get a bowl of her favorite clam chowder from Panera Bread! Trouble was, Panera only sells clam chowder on Friday. So Brandon called the nearby Panera and talked to store manager Suzanne Fortier. Not only did Sue make clam chowder specially for Brandon's grandmother, she included a box of cookies as a gift from the staff.
It was a small act of kindness that would not normally make headlines. Except that Brandon told the story on his Facebook page, and Brandon's mother, Gail Cook, retold the story on Panera's fan page. The rest, as they say, is social-media history. Gail's post generated 500,000 (and counting) "likes" and more than 22,000 comments on Panera's Facebook page. Panera, meanwhile, got something that no amount of traditional advertising can buy — a genuine sense of affiliation and appreciation from customers around the world.
Marketing types have latched on to this story as an example of the power of social media and "virtual word-of-mouth" to boost a company's reputation. But I see the reaction to Sue Fortier's gesture as an example of something else — the hunger among customers, employees, and all of us to engage with companies on more than just euro terms. In a world that is being reshaped by the relentless advance of technology, what stands out are acts of compassion and connection that remind us what it really means to be human.
As I read the story of Brandon and his grandmother, I thought back to a lecture delivered two years ago by Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of, to the graduating seniors of Princeton University. Bezos is nothing if not a master of technology — he has built his company, and his fortune, on the rise of the Internet and his own intellect. But he spoke that day not about computing power or brainpower, but about his grandmother — and what he learned when he made her cry.
Even as a 10-year-old boy, it turns out, Bezos had a steel-trap mind and a passion for crunching numbers. During a summer road trip with his grandparents, young Jeff got fed up with his grandmother's smoking in the car — and decided to do something about it. From the backseat, he calculated how many cigarettes per day his grandmother smoked, how many puffs she took per cigarette, the health risk of each puff, and announced to her with great fanfare, "You've taken nine years off your life!"
Bezos's calculations may have been accurate — but the reaction was not what he expected. His grandmother burst into tears. His grandfather pulled the car off to the side of the road and asked young Jeff to step out. And then his grandfather taught a lesson that this now-billionaire decided to share the with the Class of 2010: "My grandfather looked at me, and after a bit of silence, he gently and calmly said, 'Jeff, one day you'll understand that it's harder to be kind than clever.'"
That's a lesson I wish more businesspeople understood — a lesson that is reinforced by the reaction to this simple act of kindness at Panera Bread. Indeed, I experienced something similar this past week, and found it striking enough to devote another blog post to the experience. I can just say by now that a couple of extraordinary (and truly human) gestures have come to me and they have  won my loyalty.
"What is it about business that makes it so hard to be kind?" I asked at the time. "And what kind of businesspeople have we become when small acts of kindness feel so rare?"
That's what's really striking about the Panera Bread story — not that Suzanne Fortier went out of her way to do something nice for a sick grandmother, but that her simple gesture attracted such global attention and acclaim.
So by all means, encourage your people to embrace technology, get great at business analytics, and otherwise ramp up the efficiency of everything they do. But just make sure all their efficiency doesn't come at the expense of their humanity. Small gestures can send big signals about who we are, what we care about, and why people should want to affiliate with us. It's harder (and more important) to be kind than clever.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Everything to preserve the "€" and still make Millions

After a busy last month in which I traveled to beautiful places like Holland, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, and Spain, I had the pleasure to reunite with a very good friend and family and get that spark of energy always needed on any project. One Million Euros in less than 5 years welcome to my journey.

 The sun is shining it is still summer! During my Holliday I experienced certain feelings and emotions of Victory! and I have to say that even when the media is full on topics related to the € crisis I have to be honest and say once again with full confidence that there is no crisis we have some countries from the Euro area with some amazing debt but that is not by any mean a crisis and the sole existence of the euro is not at risk as the media wants us to believe, finally some common sense came to light  today when  European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said the central bank would do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said " the central bank would do wathever it takes to preserve the euro. He is right in a sense but it seems to me that the market is a whole casino. The market goes up because the comment of a person Wow! no reports, no rap sheets, no revenues, no profits, no, no, no. None of that. The comments of a mortal human suffice the confidence of Investors, at the end we are only humans Awesome.

"His comments were a bit of a game changer because they put the power back in the ECB to buy Spanish and Italian bonds," said Paul Zemsky, chief investment officer for ING Investment Management. "That caused a great turnaround in sentiment."

These comments signify that another long term refinancing operation will take place, the ECB cheap lending program aimed at preventing the Credit crunch is back on the table, this pseudo-crisis remains a significant headwind for global markets, as investors have been growing increasingly convinced that Spain will need a bailout.

The country's borrowing costs remain unsustainably high, with Spain's 10-year yield hovering near 7%, after touching an all-time high of 7.75% Wednesday.
And with bailouts on the table for both Spain and Italy, investors are worried about the odds for a Greek turmoil Citigroup analysts said there's a 90% chance that Greece will leave the euro currency in the next 12 to 18 months, since the new government hasn't been able to effectively put an austerity plan in place.

While Draghi was driving the rally, investors also had a fresh batch of corporate earnings to contend with, with the most anticipated numbers of the day coming after the close, when Facebook FB reports its first set of results as a public company. 

Finally the euro popped in response to Draghi's comments, rising more that 1% versus the dollar. The greenback was down versus the British pound, but up against the Japanese yen.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The five money principles to make a Million

Finally able to write again, the stories, the songs and the experiences from my Vacation will stay forever, I had the opportunity to travel around Amsterdam, Poland and the Baltic states with a good friend of mine and colleagues from work. It was just great! Now eventually going back to the routine thinking that it can always go better, to my surprise just when I got back I was contacted by Alan Akina founder and president of 101 Financial, a financial education company based in Hawaii.  Alan Akina has been helping middle income families to get financially educated, organized, out of debt, and on with the better things in life for the past 10 years.  Alan also host the Financial Fitness segment on FOX affiliate KHON 2 Morning News.

Alan Akina recently  wrote a book on personal finance for the working middle-class that he gave away for free. He believed that my audience would really enjoy it because it’s a unique take on managing our day-to-day financial lives.  The book is simple and easy to read.  In fact, anyone can read the book in less than an hour.  Perfect for my busy readers. So here is a review I wrote after my 40 minutes of reading the book,
When Alan says it is a simple book, he tells the truth. The thing about it is, it’s not just that it’s an easy book to read; the concepts that he presents are very simple. And when you’re trying to understand money, sometime simple is best.
Alan begins the book by divulging some elements of his childhood. He grew up poor, had divorced parents, often moving from home to home. He gives a very touching story about his grandmother and her influence on his life (what I enjoyed about this is how is really highlights the profound impact just one person can have). He talks about his struggles with money and how he overcame them, and how those struggles inspired him to teach others what he learned.
The book focuses on 5 basic concepts revolving around money:
  1. Money in (income)
  2. Money out (bills)
  3. Money we owe (debt)
  4. Money we grow (investments)
  5. Money we share (charitable giving)
It really doesn’t get easier than that. What I appreciate about these concepts is that it breaks down money management into easy to explain ideas. As a parent trying to teach my child about money, these 5 principles are simple to explain, even to my 5 year old. They make sense, are logical, and are presented in a progression that makes you have that “aha” moment about your finances. You finish the book not confused about how to manage your money; rather you finish the book thinking “I can do this”. It’s a nice feeling.
But I think my favorite part of the book was how interactive it is. I read the e-book version of the book, and to break it up, there are links to downloadable worksheets, YouTube videos of Alan presenting his ideas on a Hawaiian affiliate of Fox News (where he has been presenting financial news for years), and sidebar stories of people he’s helped with his advice (I’ always enjoy success stories). Now that I have the book saved on my desktop I can go back and reread it or download the worksheets, especially when I need to get back to the basics with my finances specially now after my vacation which let my credit cards dry
This is a book that gives a broad overview of financial management. That financial management includes emphasizing the importance of avoiding or getting out of debt.
A word of caution about this book. For those who already have a fairly strong understanding of managing their day to day finances, this book will be too simple. In fact, it may seem oversimplified and it’s probably not the best choice to add to the personal finance section of your library.  But if you know someone who did not receive a proper financial education or is struggling with understanding the basics of financial management, this is a great place to start. Besides it is a perfect start to make the Million Euros in less than 5 years that I’m confidently looking for.
You can Download the book for free in this Link:
The five money principles everyone needs to know
keep smiling summer is all over us and we control the heat!