Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Aphorisms for the Millennial

Some Business Aphorisms
Murphy did not have the only Law
Fortunes You Have Never Gotten in Your Cookies

1      No is a good answer

Saying no is okay. Saying no is the positive statement. All too often not saying no and going forward is deadly. Saying no may be the most difficult thing to do, it should be done more often. Not saying no costs money, takes time, and engenders distrust.

2      Delay is the deadliest form of denial

Let’s have one more meeting before we agree. Let’s review it one more time. And the litany could continue. This is a corollary of “no is a good answer”.

3      Avoid ambiguity of expectations

Everyone did what they thought they were to do. And everyone was sorely disappointed with each other. Expectations were not met, in fact they were never discussed. It is critical to avoid any ambiguity of expectations. It is essential to have concurrence and then get it in writing with a plan agreed to by all and followed religiously on a periodic basis.

4      If all else fails listen to the customer

This is the problem of both engineers and marketing people. All too often companies just listen to themselves and worse “the market” which is some amorphous entity which does not exist. The worst thing to listen to is analysts reports. They are dated and generally have some agenda beyond understanding the true market potential. One must reach out and talk to customers and see what they really want. That means listening to them even if it is what you may not want to hear.

5      Prior planning prevents poor performance

Planning is a key part of business. Prior planning is the most key. Such questions as; what do we need when and what will cause the business to fail are also important issues to plan for. Failure can be precipitated by many factors and measuring failure metrics and having an action plant to counter them is an important part of the overall plan.

6      There may always be rocks from heaven

No one is immortal. The end may come silently, over a long time, or as we say with a rock from heaven. When the rock from heaven falls on a key person in a company the remaining players better have a plan ahead of time. All too often that key person is key because the others are not expected to be. When the rock falls the company falls as well. Thus it helps to have a strong a deep team and never have all of them too close together so that one rock can do them all in at once!

7      Listen to a burning bush that speaks

When one sees a burning bush, and then one hears it speaking ere are three possible responses; first, I may think I am crazy and just ignore it, second, I may feel fear and run away, and third, I may have some curiosity and listen to what it says. Burning bush moments happen frequently in life. Listening and then taking some action may be the better strategy. The burning bush moment may occur when one sees a new technology and when one then hears what the economics of that technology may do to an industry. It may also be when the stock market starts a downward spiral and one has a day or two to bail out. Listen and then act.

8      Any business whose profits exceed that of the cocaine business will soon be taken over by the Mafia or equivalent.

In business plans, new businesses always have very rosy financial perspectives. Also the profits of these new business are generally highly unrealistic from the outset. They may also be unsustainable at any level. Thus, care in assessing hidden costs and price wars must be taken into account. Entrepreneurs, especially ones who have little to no true experience will present plans with truly excessive profit margins, margins exceeding the best in the drug markets. If a business truly has such a margin and can be sustained by means less than shall we say legal, then there is a good chance some unsavory elements may move in and seek the opportunity.

9      Profit is revenue less expenses, and only cash flow counts

A small corner store in Brooklyn is a excellent example of understanding business. At the beginning of the week you count the cash, and at the end of the week you count the cash. If it has grown it is a good week, if not you are in trouble. Finance is not complicated unless you are playing games to hide bad decisions. Profit is only one of the factors to be considered, cash flow is the only factor to be considered.

10   If the Business is failing, do an acquisition

Whenever a business has problems, especially a big business, they do another acquisition. The market thinks of any lacks of performance due to the transition period, so there is time to hide the developing mess under the smoke screen of an acquisition.

11   Any start-up or even existing businesses, which have a company headquarters that looks better than the best law firm will soon go out of business.

This rule seems to apply everywhere. If one goes into a start up company and sees expensive furniture in an elegant office with lots of staff and amenities, they are spending money on the wrong thing. It is most likely the ego of the management that has gone wild not the success of the business. The problem also is that the Board has allowed this to occur.

12   You have to be at the bus stop if you want to get on the bus

If  you want to be on the bus to success you have to be a the corner stop when the bus arrives. That means that you have to get out to as many places as possible to ensure that you will be at the right place at the right time. Also if the bus takes you to some place you do not like, get off as soon as possible and try another bus.

13   Whenever a company builds a grand new edifice, it will soon collapse

Companies have the habit of reaching a point and deciding that they need their own new building. The then commence construction and loose focus on day to day execution. The CEO may be spending more time on the seat cover fabric than on the bottom line. One observation that seems to be very consistent through all economic conditions is that whenever a company decides to spend great amounts on a new corporate edifice most likely it occurs just before a great downturn. Just look at Time Warner, Bear Stearns, MCI, Worldcom, and lists of others. To avoid this plague one should stay in smaller offices or grow incrementally. The best example was the AT&T massive headquarters. By the way, Verizon is moving into that building now.

14   Always have a second exit

No plan is ever fool proof. Thus having second exits, a Plan B possibly, or another way to get around the mountain other than just climbing it is essential. Plan B is not defeat, it is a sign of wisdom.

15   Attila the Hun could get a job as a grief counselor

Selecting management personnel is a difficult tasks but the most critical in any company. All too often the same bad person ends up in the same job that he managed to mess up the last ten times. It is amazing to see patterns repeat over and over again. One would not hire Attila the Hun as a grief counselor if one did a brief check on what he did prior to seeking this position. It is critical to check what people did why the left where they left and if your company wants to have that person, perhaps you do, most likely you don’t.

16   A deal is not a deal until the money is in the bank, for a week

One should no count on something that is one’s sole perception of what could occur. All too often after a meeting with a customer, a vendor, a banker, we all ask each other how did it go and what chance do we have. The answer is that there is zero chance until the deal is done. That means signed, delivered and the money collected. Signed deals are not done until they are done, again money in the bank.

[1] Copyright © 2018, The Telmarc Group LLC, all rights reserved.

Monday, July 16, 2018

This is Why They Are Called Daylilies

This is why they are "day"lilies. Watch as they open-close then open anew. Also did not see any of my critters flying by. I have a chipmunk who gets annoyed if I interrupt him. He then sits up and lets me know it!

Beware of CRISPRs

We have been following CRISPRs for a few years now and one of our most referenced papers was on CRISPR and Cancer. That was four and a half years ago. Yet even then we were concerned as to certain errors that could result.

In a recent Nature paper the authors note:

CRISPR–Cas9 is poised to become the gene editing tool of choice in clinical contexts. Thus far, exploration of Cas9-induced genetic alterations has been limited to the immediate vicinity of the target site and distal off-target sequences, leading to the conclusion that CRISPR–Cas9 was reasonably specific. Here we report significant on-target mutagenesis, such as large deletions and more complex genomic rearrangements at the targeted sites in mouse embryonic stem cells, mouse hematopoietic progenitors and a human differentiated cell line. Using long-read sequencing and long-range PCR genotyping, we show that DNA breaks introduced by single-guide RNA/Cas9 frequently resolved into deletions extending over many kilobases. Furthermore, lesions distal to the cut site and crossover events were identified. The observed genomic damage in mitotically active cells caused by CRISPR–Cas9 editing may have pathogenic consequences.

Simply stated there may be errors that result in deleterious effects. This paper is well worth the read.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Happy Bastille Day

Allons enfants de la Patrie
Le jour de gloire est arrivé
Contre nous de la tyrannie
L'étendard sanglant est levé (bis)
Entendez vous dans les campagnes mugir ces féroces soldats
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras, égorger vos fils, vos compagnes
Aux armes citoyens !
Formez vos bataillons !
Marchons, marchons, qu'un sang impur abreuve nos sillons

Always worth remembering. Except perhaps for Robespierre!

Daylilies in Bloom

Yes these are daylilies, a one day wonder.

Friday, July 13, 2018

An Interesting Observation

G.H. Hardy was a brilliant mathematician, and also had great insight. He wrote in his book, A Mathematician's Apology, the following:

I shall assume that I am writing for readers who are full, or have in the past been full, of a proper spirit of ambition. A man’s first duty, a young man’s at any rate, is to be ambitious. Ambition is a noble passion which may legitimately take many forms; there was something noble in the ambition of Attila or Napoleon: but the noblest ambition is that of leaving behind one something of permanent value—

Here, on the level sand,
Between the sea and land,
What shall I build or write Against the fall of night?
Tell me of runes to grave That hold the bursting wave,
Or bastions to design For longer date than mine.

Ambition has been the driving force behind nearly all the best work of the world. In particular, practically all substantial contributions to human happiness have been made by ambitious men. To take two famous examples, were not Lister and Pasteur ambitious ? Or, on a humbler level, King Gillette and William Willett; and who in recent times have contributed more to human comfort than they?  

Physiology provides particularly good examples, just because it is so obviously a ‘beneficial’ study. We must guard against a fallacy common among apologists of science, the fallacy of supposing that the men whose work most benefits humanity are thinking much of that while they do it, that physiologists, for example, have particularly noble souls. A physiologist may indeed be glad to remember that his work will benefit mankind, but the motives which provide the force and the inspiration for it are indistinguishable from those of a classical scholar or a mathematician.

There are many highly respectable motives which may lead men to prosecute research, but three which are much more important than the rest. The first (without which the rest must come to nothing) is intellectual curiosity, desire to know the truth. Then, professional pride, anxiety to be satisfied with one’s performance, the shame that overcomes any self-respecting craftsman when his work is unworthy of his talent. Finally, ambition, desire for reputation, and the position, even the power or the money, which it brings. It may be fine to feel, when you have done your work, that you have added to the happiness or alleviated the sufferings of others, but that will not be why you did it. So if a mathematician, or a chemist, or even a physiologist, were to tell me that the driving force in his work had been the desire to benefit humanity, then I should not believe him (nor should I think the better of him if I did). His dominant motives have been those which I have stated, and in which, surely, there is nothing of which any decent man need be ashamed.

This may sound a bit outdated in today's world, but is has a certain ring of truth. We should not neglect the past assuming that it is irrelevant.