10/26/18

Typical CEO Coaching Process

CEO coaching, Big Red Car?

Big Red Car here on a grayish morning. I wonder if the guy who has been praying for rain is happy yet?

Hey, stop praying for rain.

So, the Big Red Car gets a longish email from a pal who gives him a hard time about his subject matter on The Musings of the Big Red Car. Says he wants to hear what a typical coaching process looks like.

To get rid of him, I promise to do that.

I hang out a shingle under the name of The Wisdom of the Campfire because I like the picture of sitting next to a campfire and absorbing wisdom from others gathered next to it. It’s an easy picture as I lived it in places like the DMZ in South Korea or Grafenwohr in Bavaria when I was a young Army officer.

The Wisdom of the Campfire is the imagery of what I do. I want to be that guy at the edge of the campfire, with 33 years of CEO-ing, who can talk you through the process based not on theory, but on real world experience.

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10/25/18

Bombmakers and Baloney Bombs

Having been a combat engineer and dealing with explosives of all types, the making of improvised explosive devices is something with which I have some familiarity.

We used to receive training and give training on the use of conventional explosives — to blow up bridges, fortifications, airfields, buildings as part of the mission to aid the mobility of the friendlies and to impede the mobility of the enemy. Typical combat engineer stuff.

We also used to receive and give training on the construction of “improvised” explosive devices.

We used to learn all about the explosive chain :

 1. The charge (the explosive);

 2. The initiator (the fuse or blasting cap);

 3. The activator (what activates the initiator);

 4. The power source (what activates the activator); and,

 5. The container (what contains the finished assembly)

In addition, you may add something to the device, such as nails or bolts, to injure the victims.

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10/24/18

Canadian Softwood Lumber Tariff Revisited

Canadian Softwood Lumber Tariff — what ever happened?

Big Red Car here on a drippy and rainy gray ATX day. It has been raining for almost a month.

Today, we talk about what really happened by the imposition of the Canadian Softwood Lumber 20.8% tariff back in May 2017.

Of course, the Canadians and the Americans – National Association of Home Builders – immediately began to cry foul predicting that the price of a US home would go up by $9000.

The business press said “Trump is an idiot. This will cause a huge trade war.”

Now, of course, we have some firm evidence as to what did happen. In fact, after hitting a peak of $653 per thousand board feet, the current price of lumber is $313.40/thousand board feet.

That’s right lumber has gone DOWN after the imposition of the tariff. Here is the price of a thousand board feet of lumber from the inception of the tariff until today.

Chart

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10/22/18

America – Go Upcountry

Big Red Car here on a gloomy Monday in America (haha, Texas, really). The rains stopped and yesterday was sunny, but it’s gray today. Getting cold (58F).

Today, the country feels divided. Divided by things political and a number of important issues. We have mid-term elections in a couple of weeks and, today, early voting starts in Texas.

Image result for american images

Are we really divided? I don’t want to answer that question, but I do want to suggest that part of the solution is to go take a look at our country. Not your city, your neighborhood — the country.

If you live in a big state like Texas (On Earth as it is in Texas, y’all) then go around your state. If you live in a tiny state like Maryland, then you have to go to other states. Discover America.

How do you do it?

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10/21/18

Jeff Bezos on Decisionmaking

Big Red Car here with the skies clear and the sun shining. Let’s see how long that holds. We need to dry out here in the ATX and the Texas Hill Country.

So, your Big Red Car has always been keen on the science of making decisions. This is a topic first explored when in the Army and watching the decisionmaking techniques and practices of battalions, brigades, and divisions. Only once was I exposed to how a corps (3-5 divisions) makes decisions.

Today, we discuss the wisdom of the Bezos Style of Decisionmaking. He is a wildly successful founder and executive, so we should pay attention to how he suggests things might be done.

Image result for images jeff bezos

Jeff Bezos has strong and “different” views on the subject.

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10/19/18

Uber Uber Uber alles

The hype has begun on the Uber 2019 IPO – initial public offering of stock.

A Wall Street Journal article suggests that underwriters are whispering that the number is $120B – $120,000,000,000.

Of course, this is what’s called the “courtship” proposal — guys (the usual suspects Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs) looking for the assignment telling the prospective client what they want to hear to get the job; still it is a huge number.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has said the company is aiming for an IPO in the second half of 2019.

New CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, likes the big number and says, “Bring it.”

Why does this trouble you, Big Red Car, you ask? Let me tell you.

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10/18/18

Senators Writing Books

Big Red Car here in soggy Austin By God Texas, y’all. It’s still raining.

So, the Big Red Car has a bone to pick with Senators, Senators who spend all their time in Washington, District of Columbia writing books.

[Talking to you, Senator Ben Sasse.]

We send Senators to DC as part of the legislative branch to write laws, not books. But, some — talking to you, Bennie boy — just go up there and write books.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

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10/17/18

Hill Country Texas Flooding

Big Red Car here with a wet top, but feeling sympathy for the Hill Country.

Image result for llano bridge flooding images

The Colorado River Bridge between downtown and Coopers BBQ yesterday. Water still rising.

Same bridge during normal flows.

Image result for llano bridge flooding images

Stop praying for rain, y’all.

Updated photo 10-18-2018.

Image may contain: cloud, sky, ocean, outdoor, water and nature

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Stop raining.

 

10/17/18

Strategy Report Card – Better Next Year

Big Red Car here in rainy and flooding Austin By God Texas. The flooding situation is getting very serious in the Hill Country to the west of Austin. Lake Travis – an enormous body of water, 30 square miles in surface area – is full to overflowing. It is at the sixth deepest depth of water since it was inundated in 1942.

Image result for images hill country flooding 2018

Floodwaters topping Max Starcke Dam on the Colorado River by Marble Falls and upstream from Lake Travis. Lake Travis is a flood control dam — thank you, Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn.

So, today we talk about planning your strategy for CY 2019.

But, first, we have to take stock of how the strategy fared in 2018. Now is the time to begin that reflection.

Here is a guideline to begin the process.

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10/16/18

The Employment Agreement

Big Red Car here on another rainy ATX day. Whoever has been praying for rain, enough.

So, I get several emails from lazy folks who say, “Ahh, Big Red Car, yesterday you talked about Voting Trusts and referred to Employment Agreements. Can you give me some info on Employment Agreements?”

They didn’t bother to use the search function or they would have found it on the website. Over on the right side is the SEARCH function. If you had used it, you would have found a lot of information.

Also, if you had looked at the “Series by Subject” tab at the top, you would have found the whole list.

Not to fret, your Big Red Car organizes the info for you yet again.

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10/15/18

Voting Trusts

Big Red Car here on a rainy Monday in the ATX. [Whoever has been praying for rain locally – you can stop now.]

So, a founder calls me and says, “I read where you recommend a voting trust for a startup. Do tell?”

A voting trust is a good idea right from the founding of a company. It is something which should be in your founding documents:

 1. Articles of Incorporation;

 2. Corporate Bylaws;

 3. Option Plan;

 4. Founding Shareholders Agreement;

 5. Voting Trust; and,

 6. Employment Agreements.

[You do have the Big Six, right? Haha, half of y’all couldn’t find these docs even if you made them. Sorry, that was mean.]

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10/14/18

The World is a Dangerous Place

Big Red Car here on a glorious Sunday morning thinking about the strange doings in L’Affaire Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist who has come up missing in Turkey at the Saudi Arabian consulate under suspicious circumstances.

It is alleged that Mr. Khashoggi has been murdered by the Saudis for having written columns in the Washington Post critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, King Salman of Saudi Arabia, and the government.

Khashoggi is documented (video) as having entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on 2 October and was never seen exiting thereafter. His fiance was waiting in a car across the street from the consulate.

What is alleged is that the Saudis dispatched a fifteen man assassination squad who murdered him and dismembered him within the consulate.

He was, apparently, set up by being told to return four days later after an earlier meeting. In that interim, the Saudis dispatched their hit squad. The hit squad departed immediately after Khashoggi went missing.

The Saudis deny all allegations – in fact, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman himself made the denials, which greatly elevates the stakes – and say that Khashoggi left by a rear entrance which was not covered by a camera. [OK, so he didn’t hook back up with the fiance waiting across the street in the Mercedes?]

The Turks, who claim to have a recording and video of Khashoggi’s last minutes taken through his Apple watch (a technology which the American NSA has kept secret for years), say that the story is fiction. The Turks also note that the local Turk staff was given an unscheduled day off on the day Khashoggi was scheduled to come get some papers. WTF?

In any event, Khashoggi, who was seeking paperwork (proof that he had been divorced from a previous wife) to be able to marry a fiance, Hatice Cengiz, showed up and disappeared. These facts are not in dispute.

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10/11/18

The Founder Note Receivable

Big Red Car here musing about how founders can get paid for the uncompensated work they do in launching their business.

A startup may cycle through bootstrapping, friends & family, angels, syndicated angels, seed VC funding, Series A/B/C/D funding.

At some time, they will be able to pay themselves some kind of living wage – the question is when?

Today, the Big Red Car shares an idea whose time has come: the Founder Note Receivable.

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10/11/18

Labor by the Numbers

Big Red Car here looking for some labor love. Nah, I’m way overstocked in love, but I do want to talk about how the labor picture looks in the United States.

The top line shout out is — low unemployment, wage gains, and more job openings than people to fill them, but the real picture requires us to look a little deeper. So, we shall.

Image result for images labor day

OK, I get it. It’s not labor day, but we’re talking “labor” right? If you have a job, every day is labor day.

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10/10/18

Execution Advantage

Talking about execution advantage, y’all.

Big Red Car here on a slightly grayish day in the ATX. ATX just hosted the famous ACL festival and had Paul McCartney in town crooning. Ahhhh, on Earth as it is in Texas.

Image result for paul mccartney images acl

Sir Paul rocking it in the ATX at ACL at age 76 years young. Big deal in Austin, but just another day in the Live Music Capital of the USA.

So, I have been thinking about the advantages a company — startup or otherwise — has in executing its strategic plan. One of the most overlooked advantages is simply being good at executing their day to day operations.

What got me thinking about this was two things – some comments on the Amazon Advantage and a comment from a Berlin based venture capitalist, Max Niederhofer. I call him Mad Max.

He recently wrote an interesting piece which merits your review: Fear and Loathing in Venture Capital <<< go read this Read it and leave a comment. Tell him the Big Red Car sent you.

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10/9/18

CEO Shoptalk – Mistakes

Rainy day in paradise, so we talk about mistakes today.

If you are a CEO for more than twenty minutes, you will make a mistake. Sorry. Truth.

Mistakes fall into four general categories:

 1. Foot faults, like using the wrong fork with shellfish;

 2. Minimal consequences to someone on the team faux pas;

 3. Adverse consequences to a client or critical stakeholder; and,

 4. Burn the house down mistakes.

So what do you do?

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10/5/18

Elon Musk and the US SEC – Shortsellers Enrichment Commission

Big Red Car here, following the unending saga of Elon Musk of Tesla fame and his continuing dialog with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Just want to [say] that the Shortseller Enrichment Commission is doing incredible work. And the name change is so on point!” Tweeted by Elon Musk.

Is this the smart play?

Image result for images elon musk smoking weed

Elon Musk taking a toke to release his inhibitions?

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10/4/18

ISIS – Total Destruction

ISIS? Yes, today, we talk about ISIS.

Big Red Car here, y’all, on a lovely bright Austin By God Texas day. Ahhh, on Earth as it is in Texas!

So, in the furor of recent events, a big story has been missed: The US and its coalition partners have the last pocket of organized ISIS resistance surrounded and they are methodically and systematically eliminating them.

US leadership, air power, artillery, supplies, and allied bayonets. A smart way to fight.

This is big news.

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