Wicked Start to 2012

I was made aware of the this site called ‘WickedStart‘ which is such a cool idea.  I am constantly amazed at the sophistication of the products and material that you can leverage at little or no cost.  This site has been set up to help people who don’t have a lot of prior business experience, set up a business from scratch.  It is a comprehensive idea-to-launch guide where you set up the details on-line and it guides you through all the key steps to set yourself up successfully.  Having had a few interesting conversations with people in NZ over the last few weeks I can see that this site would benefit them enormously.  Kudos to the people behind this site.  I think it will help save a few people from themselves.


The lunatics are loose in the asylum

Here are a selection of excerpts in the news over the last 10 days.  Despite the fact that personal greed drove the global economy to the very brink of the precipice, it would seem that the certain sections of society still have no real links to reality and one could argue, why should they because neither society nor the law hold them accountable.

Dexia (Franco-Belgian lender) lent €1.5bn of capital to its two largest institutional shareholders so that they could buy shares in ………….. Dexia.  In a further interesting twist Dexia accepted its own shares as collateral for the loans.  “Byzantine doesn’t even begin to describe this structure” was the reaction of someone briefed on the situation.

Investment banks are using gaps in global pay reforms to persist with some of their most contentious bonus payment practices.

Despite UBS losing $2.3bn, UBS Executives said that it would not force them to rein in this years bonus payments, as it set aside nearly 90 per cent of its investment banking revenues for staff pay.

Olympus, the Japanese camera maker are struggling to explain the $687m payment to a third part ‘advisor’ on their purchase of Gyru.  This fee represented 1/3 of the total deal value.  The consulting company, registered in New York was suddenly de-registered and disappeared shortly after being paid.

High end London properties are increasingly sold off-market by vendors who do not like the thought of selling to a wealthier buyer. ( My god – what is wrong with these people?)

This doesn’t even begin to touch on the US economic & political woes who seem to impact everyone with the exception of the top 1% (by wealth) and the politicians. 

You would like to think that after a million odd years of evolution we may have evolved a little further.

Scams – My considered response to this wonderful offer

I was about to delete the email in the previous post but then I realised that I should take the time to respond to such a genuine once in a lifetime chance offer.  Here is my response – enjoy.


Dear Allen Mark Ede,

This is indeed a coincidence. It was only last week that I was talking with other members of our family about the death of Randolf. We knew he was part of the extended family because he actually married the illegitimate daughter of my grandfathers third cousin twice removed, who had an affair with Roma gypsy who lived in a far corner of the families estate.

It is wonderful to actually have the opportunity to get some of the money owed to the extended family by this unprincipled money grabbing prick who actually completely shafted cousin Boris in a business venture that involved co-ownership of a brothel specialising in sex with large breasted dwarves, but that is another story.

It is imperative that this matter is kept completely confidential because I know from frequent interactions with my family in Uzbekistan, (the Karimov’s) that my cousin Gulnara has been blackmailed by the decendants of the Roma gypsy family who are trying to locate some of Randolfs fortune. Under no circumstances can we let them know that you have access to Randolfs estate because it will cause considerable complications.

Because we need to act in all haste I would like to propose that I transfer by Western Union a retainer of US$50,000 to secure your immediate services and confidentiality. In return for this I would like to have the funds as described in your offer below, deposited into my personal bank account in Vanuatu no later than close of business Monday September 26.

All the best,

Wonderful world of Internet Scams

The following email arrived yesterday – what a tempting offer – LOL

From The Desk of Barrister Allen Ade.
15-16 Prince of Wales Terrace,
Kensington, London, United Kingdom.

Good Day Paul Draskovich,

I am barrister Allen Mark Ade, The personal adviser to late Eng. Randolf here in London.

I am the Personal adviser to the late Eng.Randolf Draskovich, hereinafter referred as ‘my client’ who worked as an independent oil magnate in my country and who died in a car crash with his immediate family on the 4th of Oct,2005

Since the death of my client in 4th of Oct, 2005, I have written several letters to the embassy with an intent to locate any of his extended relatives whom shall be claimants/beneficiaries of his abandoned personal estate and all such efforts have been to no avail.

More so, I have received official letters from our bank in the last few weeks suggesting a likely proceeding for confiscation of his abandoned personal assets in line with existing laws by the bank in which my client deposited the sum of US$8.5 million Dollars.

On this note I decided to search for a credible person and finding that you and my client bear similar last name, I was urged to contact you, that I may, with your consent, present you to the “trustee” bank as my late client’s surviving family member so as to enable you put up a claim to the bank in that capacity as a next of kin of my client.

I find this possible for the fuller reasons that you bear a similar last name with my client making it a lot easier for you to put up a claim in that capacity. I propose that 35% of the net sum will accrue to you at the conclusion of this deal in so far as I do not incur further expenses.

Therefore, to facilitate the immediate transfer of this fund, you need, first to contact me via this email signifying your interest and as soon as I obtain your confidence, I will immediately appraise you with the complete details as well as fax you the documents, with which you are to proceed and i shall direct on how to put up an application to the bank.

HOWEVER, you will have to accent to an express agreement which I will forward to you in order to bind us in this transaction. For quick and cordial communication I will appreciate you to forward your personal telephone number and fax.

If you are interested, you can contact me on Email:barrister.allenmarkade@yahoo.co.uk

Upon the receipt of your reply, I will send you by fax or E-mail the next step to take. I will not fail to bring to your notice that this proposal is hitch-free and that you should not entertain any fears as the required arrangements have been made for the completion of this transfer. Like I said, I require only a sole confidentiality on this.

I guarantee that this will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law.

Best regards,

Barr. Allen Mark Ade.


The 4-Hour Work Week

By pure chance I picked up this book when I was in Waterstones a month ago and decided to buy it as the title intrigued me.  I subsequently read a couple of weeks ago when I was in Italy.  For anyone looking to change the direction of their life and to figure out a way to live your life, embracing the things that you love to do, then this book by Timothy Ferriss is the one you need to read.

The fundamental principles of the book are;

  • You don’t need to be a millionaire to stop work and pursue your dreams.
  • If you lost your job tomorrow, what is the absolute worst thing that could happen.  If you really look at this seriously you will understand that it is never usually as bad as you imagine.
  • Focus on your strengths and experience.  If you focus to improve your weaknesses, they will be improved but they will still be weaknesses.
  • Focus on the key things that make a difference, outsource everything else.  You will be surprised how easy and cost-effective that can be.
  • Get over your fear.
  • Live more, work less.

The book is full of practical advice, reference material, url’s and examples of people who have done exactly this.  Possibly the easiest way to get insight into the topic is to visit the website and then go to Tim’s blog.  There is a huge amount of information as well as video clips of a number of people who are now pursuing their dreams.


Death of the American Dream

Read a really interesting article in the FT this weekend about the reality of the American dream.  When you understand this,  you also understand what is behind some of the politics in the US and why this country has such deep, almost irreversible challenges.

This is not about long term recession, it is related to has been called the  “Great Stagnation” which is a long term decline in the fortunes of most Americans, particularly the middle classes.  The foreign picture of  ‘middle class America’ is a result of watching TV shows like Desperate Housewives or Weeds, but the view of manicured lawns and teenagers all driving expensive autos to schools applies to less than top 10% of the population.

The annual incomes of the bottom 90% of US families has essentially been flat since 1973 – having risen by only 10% in real terms over the last 37 years. 

In the last economic expansion which started in January 2002, ending in December 2007 the median US household income dropped by $2,000.  This was the first time where most Americans were worse off at the end of a boom cycle, than at the start.  Now, Americans have a smaller chance of swapping a lower-income bracket for a higher one than in almost any other developed economy – even Britain on some measures.

Perhaps the late George Carlin was right –  “It’s called the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

Football, Emotions, Depression

By living in Holland, it has been interesting to watch the impact of the World Cup on a significant segment of the Dutch population.  To be completely fair, the Dutch team did really well to make it into the final and to bring the game to within a few minutes of the additional 30 minutes of extra time, before losing to Spain.

It is no secret that I have never experienced any emotions tied to NZ (country of my birth) winning or losing at any sport.  I am completely ambivalent, which could also explain, that outside of the World Cup final and the finals of certain Olympic sports, I never watch sport  on TV.  I don’t actually watch TV, but that is a separate subject 🙂

What I have found to be really fascinating is the almost abject depression of some colleagues and friends, because Holland lost.  I simply don’t get it.  I don’t understand why you would get depressed about an event that has no material impact on your life, whether the team wins or loses.  No direct material impact at all.  Taking a very hard clinical look at it, you have 11 men who are already paid far more than they could ever conceivably justify, kicking/chasing a small inflated leather sphere around a grass paddock.  Even though they lost, the Dutch team gets a ‘bonus’ from FIFA of 19 million euros, some of which is shared with the players.  Note the word bonus.  This is on top of what they are already being paid to play.

For me, the only reason that could create serious depression, is the realisation of how hard you work at  your job and how little you are paid compared to this group, to perform an activity that brings no material benefit to anyone but themselves and that in some way, you are helping to finance that.  Now that is depressing!