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Friday
Jan132012

You would have gotten fired just 10 years ago if you'd proposed to do what Blackstone just did!

It’s both surprising and—in some ways, at least--not surprising to learn about what a prominent firm did this week in the way of making a fancy maneuver to avoid a possible future bullet aimed at it. Likely prompted by the rough political charges of Mitt Romney’s high-office rivals that he and Bain Capital used to work as bad guys in the world of commerce, the management of the Blackstone Group took preemptive measures to calm their own nerves: that for whatever reason, sometime, somehow, someone will decided to portray their firm as a shifty operation.

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Wednesday
Jan112012

In the Euro debt crisis, is Germany able and willing to bail-out Greece? 

I have to admit, it's a trick question--and that's because there are most likely two very different answers. In terms of the first part--Is Germany able--does it have enough money--to cover Greece's debt crisis?--the answer is a quick yes--the Germans have an ample ability to "save" Greece from the crisis it faces. Don't doubt that answer for very long. On the other hand, the last part calls for a different response...

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Monday
Jan092012

The powerful lessons Kim Jong Il teaches us: On cool stuff, economic systems, and feeling smug in America.

The consumer psychologist inside my head has been reflecting for a few days now on the recent death of North Korea's recently deceased dictator, Kim Jong Il. He is infamous for leading an enormously repressive regime, one that had a terrifically adverse, oppressive effect on North Korea's good citizens; indeed, the standard of living in that country stands in dramatic contrast to the prosperity of it's thriving, prosperous neighbors and, quite literally, relatives to the south--you'd have to have been living under a rock for the past twenty years to not be aware of the stark, absolute poverty of Kim's domain. This effect was a direct reflection of Kim Jong Il's economic as well as consumer policies--and, yes, even the personal practices of Kim himself--which speak to a shameful legacy that I think is instructive to even prosperous people like you and me. There are at least three lessons to be learned; let me tell you what I think they are...

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Friday
Jan062012

Calling all techies: 12 cool gadgets for you in 2012, but only if you have a lot of dough--$8,302.95 to be exact!

PC Magazine recently ran a list of must-have items for people who love the latest in high-tech gadgets. I you have money or just like to kick the tires and dream, here's the 12-item list of things the PC Mag people think you'll want to consider...

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Tuesday
Dec272011

How to value the presents you get at Christmas: It's what's in your head that counts, not under the tree.

What people think is true--versus what actually is true--are frequently two different realities. Almost everyone you and I know is pretty sure that the more expensive of two items is valued more than the less costly one. Consider for moment how this works in real life: What's more to be prized, an original painting or a canvas rendering of the same artwork? Similarly, is a diamond ring more beautiful than its identical "twin" made of cubic zirconium? Of course, we all think we know the answer--we say, there is a difference! Or so most people believe! But hold the phone: I'm here to tell you that what most people think is wrong!

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Thursday
Dec222011

What NOT to do at Christmas is sometimes more important that what TO DO: No-no's of the season!

End-of-the-year holidays are fraught with a lot of challenges: finding the time to shop for gifts for others, what to get, how much to spend, how to celebrate, who to give to...the list of things that can go awry is potentially a long one indeed! I'm going to help with some pointers that I've come across recenly that you may like to know...

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Tuesday
Dec062011

It's not your father's Santa any more: Instead, get a life lesson from the man who used to deal in dreams.

If you didn't know it, there's class of institutions of--if not higher, at least--specialized learning: Ones which teach people how to pose as a store Santa Claus. The oldest such school is The Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Michigan, where the tuition to attend is $415 if you new--for a refresher course, it's a bargain rate of $365--all for a three-day program. That there are such places isn't too unexpected, but what's being taught these days is new--and by contrast very unusual compared to how things used to be. Let me explain...

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Friday
Dec022011

If you're in business, be sure to learn the lesson Talbots & Netflix amazingly ignored and paid a huge price for.

You can make almost any mistake in business and recover--except for one: Not taking care of the customer. It almost seems like an old, tired bromide. Nonetheless, it is breath-taking to witness the arrogance--or it might be just simple ineptitude--for failure to have remembered the most sacred rule in business...

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Monday
Nov212011

Do Occupiers make any kind of sense at all? Answer two simple questions and you'll see for yourself.

The two questions are pretty straightforward: Would you rather be the King of England in 1263 or who you are today? And, the second one: What country would you otherwise choose to be born into as a poor person? How you answer these two questions tells the tale of what you really think and believe about the OWS gang, whether you're at heart an "Occupier" or a free-market capitalist...

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Friday
Nov182011

Hey, my kids want to sell you something—and I’m their sales rep! Thoughts on fund-raising at the office.

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal ran an intriguing story in the Personal Journal section on “Parents’ plea: Buy from my child.” It was all about how parents help kids sell fund-raising goods at the office. And what a terrific topic it was, especially since it touches most of us in ways sometimes too many to count. It got me to thinking about what’s good as well as not so good about the matter. Here are some of my thoughts…

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