With the unwelcome introduction of COVID-19 into the world, we have not only found ourselves in incredibly uncertain times with regards to healthcare and pandemic responses, we have also found ourselves facing economic uncertainty. This week alone, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco have temporarily closed all non-essential businesses. This includes film sets, bars, restaurants, gyms, salons, and so on, leaving many people temporarily out of work. It’s quite easy to feel concern for our economic future, so let’s break this down a bit shall we?
Over the last several decades there have been severe downturns in all sectors of the economy. The worst that I have experienced in my lifetime thus far, was back in 2008 which in essence was truly a depression. The banking debacle was caused by the ease of the credit market and the false valuation of the US real estate market by way of mortgage lending to unqualified borrowers with interest rates being based on inflated real estate values. I knew we were headed for a total disaster when I was getting my shoes shined by a wonderful man and he was telling me he just bought a house with 100% financing and easily qualified for a mortgage. It was later blamed on the sub-market of sub-prime mortgages. The bond traders loved having these higher than average interest rates that were touted as AA bond type with little risk. Everyone was at fault and the domino effect on every aspect of the marketplace was astronomic. After the market crashed, short sales were happening left and right and large pools of defaulted properties and defaulted loans were sold for pennies on the dollar. Loan rates dropped and the credit checks with more stringent requirements for borrowers were put back into place. A sense of normality came back into the mortgage market, while the bond traders got greedy and were left holding the bag.
Eventually, Henry Paulson, an American banker who served as the US Secretary of the Treasury was able to implement policies to save the banks in the US as a whole; while proactive investors during this time (who believed in America) were buying solid real estate or stocks in sound companies.
This crisis caused by global pandemic COVID-19, is a whole different animal entirely. By and large, the economies of the United states (and many of the economic leaders worldwide) were rolling along at such a high levels that there were really no real signs of an upcoming downturn; certainly, not an abrupt one. Who would have thought a virus would put our country (and the entire world) on its knees? No one quite knows what to do, which makes it feel debilitating. So, let’s talk about how to take advantage of this crazy downturn. Real estate for now will not, in my opinion, drop as quickly as the rest of the market. It would take more time to bring down the market to a level that would be worthwhile to pick up a bargain. Sellers largely paid too much for their properties and won’t be willing to let it slip away so quickly. There will be exceptions to this, but not in prime real estate areas. Therefore, let’s start by having a look at the stock market; the market hates uncertainty. It is my opinion that the stock market will continue dropping until a solution is in the wind, however, I believe that will happen sooner rather than later. The most important thing as a person, a neighbor, and as a potential new investor in these troubling times is going to be to stay calm. Should you be prudent, and stock up essentials? Yes. Should you obnoxiously hoard items and leave nothing for others? Of course not, and the same mindset goes for stock. Would you be comfortable if your neighbor had nothing? The world will not dramatically change, if people remain socially responsible and prudent. It is in these times of disaster, and yes, this is a global disaster, that leadership and a calm disposition is most critical.
Now, if you’re aiming to purchase stock in the downward slide (and it is my position that you should if you can), you don’t want to look back and say “wow, I could have purchased stock in Disney at $100 or less”, rather than looking at the price of stock as the sole decision making factor, look at companies that are well suited to come back quickly; the ones that have a solid balance sheet. There is great opportunity right now in the stock market. This downward slide in the market is likely to last a few weeks or months, but the market works on the future valuation of companies and once we get a handle on a direction and how to handle this virus, we are on our way back to stability.
On the macro side, we will undoubtedly see a downturn in the economy, and major economic indicators and statistics will start to trend downward. However, we will bounce back. If a simple statistic like national GDP suffer, quite frankly it is not the end of the world. Perhaps, the sector of the market which will suffer the most will be credit. With rates next to zero, bad companies have continued to borrow. Some of these companies will not survive unless there is staggering government assistance.
It is my hope that those with hourly wages, living paycheck to paycheck are given government support through programs or tax breaks. Equities on the other hand will certainly rebound. If you don’t need the money (and it’s understandable if you do), now is not the time to sell your stocks. When investing in equities you need a medium-term outlook; you are not there to pick the bottom of the market. Companies with strong balance sheets will undoubtedly survive., in fact they will thrive. Especially if we are stuck in our houses for a while, talk about pent up demand! Earnings outlooks for every company will be adjusted. Quite frankly, it’s already priced in. Now is the time to get back into the market, the rise up is often as vicious and fierce as the fall down. Stay calm, be kind, America is strong, and we will come through this.
We will come back. We always do.
Los Angeles is a city that is constantly changing. Whether we are building new rail lines or new housing developments, we are always growing. This week some key changes are occurring and as you know, I always like to stay informed! Here are my picks for must-read articles of the week.
– Richard Maize
Starting a business — or even getting involved as a professional — when you’re young can be intimidating. You might have knowledge about business from school, books or practical advice from sources online, but there’s a big difference between understanding business fundamentals on paper and gaining wisdom through actual experience.
By the end of your career, you’ll have accumulated a wealth of knowledge and hundreds of lessons, but there are some lessons that you should learn early on — ideally before you turn 30.
This article by Jayson Demers of Entrepreneur.com outlines the 7 lessons everyone should learn before they turn 30.
Click here to read the full article.
Every week I make sure to read multiple articles from a plethora of news and tech websites to stay up to date with what is going on in the business world. This week I chose my top 5 to share with you!
- Venus Williams inspirational story of how and why she became an entrepreneur on top of being an Olympic athlete. http://www.inc.com/magazine/201702/jeff-haden-bill-saporito/venus-williams-cover-story.html?utm_content=buffer4abf6&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
- What are the best countries to start a business in? https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/287908
- Housing starts jump more than expected in the start of 2017.http://www.businessinsider.com/housing-starts-building-permits-december-2016-2017-1
- 15 things you never knew about Elon Musk. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/288010
- Don’t get sucked into the content trap! https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/287737
From delivering your groceries to helping you decompress after a long day, the latest advancements in artificial intelligence aim to make everyday life easier for humans. The latest news from the forefront of warehouse and home robotics technology indicate promising developments on the horizon. Just think, soon we could be having our groceries bagged by robots, then sitting down to dinner with a robot companion capable of much more than just passing the salt and pepper.
Ocado: The UK-based grocery delivery service, which logged 1.5 billion USD in 2014 revenue, is developing automated humanoid robots to assist with warehouse operations. “The ultimate aim is for humans to end up relying on collaborative robots because they have become an active participant in their daily tasks,” said Dr Graham Deacon, Robotics Research Team Leader at Ocado Technology. The robots will assist human mechanics in keeping the shipping facility running at optimum speed and efficiency. By evaluating the poses of their human counterparts, these robots will eventually be able to anticipate the needs of their human co-workers. If successful, Ocado’s humanoid robots will be the first to offer intuitive support in a warehouse setting. The company also filed a recent patent for robots capable of selecting and packing grocery orders, which could drastically alter the warehouse needs of large scale shipping companies.
Pepper: Japan based SoftBank Robotics Corp. recently sold 1,000 units of its much buzzed about home robot helper, Pepper, in one minute on its first day of consumer sales. Pepper aims to be a part of the family, offering conversation and even the ability to read and form emotions, thanks to sensors and cloud-based artificial intelligence (the algorithms for which have been closely guarded thus far). With a $1600 price tag, Pepper is a bargain compared to comparable robots, but is a robot companion a worthy investment? While it may be a novelty in its initial stages, SoftBank anticipates rolling Pepper out worldwide next year, with projected applications in office environments. Pepper could also pave the way for automated caregiver and nanny robots, with emotional intelligence being an essential component from taking robots from the warehouse to the home.
Due to hit stores in September, the next generation iPhone—presumably to be called the iPhone 7—has a lot of people excited for its latest innovations such as a waterproof frame and wireless charging capability. But one of its new features, the removal of the standard 3.5mm headphone jack in favor of making the new phone slimmer and sleeker, has at least 300,000 people outraged.
“Apple is about to rip off every one of its customers. Again,” reads an online petition that calls on the tech giant to restore traditional headphone jacks to its next phone.
Though the change is still only a rumor at this point, mounting evidence suggests that the headphone jack is history. But you need not worry if the rumor turns out to be true. The new iPhone will come with brand new Apple earbuds that will allow you to plug into your music by using the phone’s Lightning port.
Connecting headphones to the phone this way will actually help improve sound quality. By using the power from Lightning cables, headphones can power built-in amplifiers for a much smoother listening experience. A source close to Apple also indicated that the iPhone 7’s new Lightning audio system will also include noise canceling technology.
But despite the benefits of the new system, some fans are unhappy because they fear having to leave their favorite standard headphones behind or spend more money to be able to use them.
Though its products sell supremely well, Apple has been known to upset customers with many past feature changes. Back in 2012, the company removed the 30-pin charge connector that was used in all its products to that point in favor of the 8-pin Lightning charger its products use today. Though many people were upset about having to stop using their old charging cables, everyone eventually adapted to the better system. Apple’s computers also lost their optical drives some time ago. More recently, the company removed all but one port from its 12-inch MacBook Pro. The remaining port triples as a charger, USB, and device connector.
Like it’s done before, Apple appears to be paving the way for the future. Several overseas Android phones are also making use of new USB port technology in place of traditional headphone jacks to deliver higher quality digital audio to their users, signaling that headphones jacks are simply becoming outdated. Apple may just be the first company to make this change in the United States.
Fortunately, a number of options are available to help you if you’re among those people wishing to use your standard headphones with the new iPhone. Firstly, it is highly likely that standard headphone jack to Lightning port adapters will hit the market at the same time the new iPhone does. They should be available on Amazon or eBay very cheaply. For a more sophisticated option, you may plug your traditional headphones into a Bluetooth audio receiver, which will beam music to you from your iPhone 7 with exceptional sound quality.
Socially conscious, social entrepreneurship, and corporate sustainability. We hear these words together a lot, and with good reason. Social entrepreneurship requires businesses to be socially conscious—and, if deemed so appropriately, these business will likely have corporate sustainability, or long-term value through a “green” strategy supporting the natural environment and considering every dimension of how a business operates in the social, cultural, and economic environment.
Socially conscious business models have garnered a lot of attention lately. This is evident just by walking through the doors of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship in New York City, an entire coworking space, community, and launch pad built specifically for entrepreneurs starting socially conscious businesses. However, this shift toward social entrepreneurship isn’t limited to startups and small brands. Even large, well-established companies like Patagonia—which was founded on a three-pronged mission “to build the best products, do no unnecessary harm and to use business to inspire solutions to the environmental crisis”—have made socially conscious business practices the platform of their organizations.
Even companies that have long been considered “traditional,” (translate, stuck in their ways) have been taking broad strokes to become more socially conscious. Daily Finance cites Walmart, Waste Management, and Unilever as three of five surprising companies that have gone green—the final focused entirely on “altering its business model with a focus on sustainability.” The takeaway? Socially conscious business practices are no longer just a “perk” or selling point for PR purposes. In my mind, both from a business and profitability standpoint, and from a moral standpoint, being socially conscious should be a requirement.
And while progress is being made on this front, it seems like we’ve been talking about this for a long time, with very little progress toward consistent change. This is evident in what I see day-to-day—the small oversight of people failing to recycle during their lunch hours—so I can’t imagine the kinds of socially conscious infractions I’d see if I took a peek behind closed-doors of large companies. Perhaps the scare tactics aren’t being used effectively enough. I can think of one in particular that’s worked well on me: We are at a tipping point today, because by 2050 we will be beyond our resources as a plant. This is scary. I could live to see this day if I don’t start making changes right now; if we don’t all start making changes right now.
According to World Wildlife Federation’s Jason Clay in his TED Talk How Big Brands Can Help Save Biodiversity, it’s even simpler than that: Inspiring 100 key companies to go sustainable will be enough to convince global markets to shift and make significant changes to protect the planet that our consumption has already outgrown. Clay’s roundtables are already getting big brands to agree on green practices before their products even hit store shelves. The point is, as business owners we all need to make a commitment to making socially conscious practices a part of our business, in the same way we make accounting, marketing, or human resources a part of our businesses. Whether its using solar and wind power to run manufacturing; sourcing our products from vendors who respect the earth, people and animals; or providing our employees with the benefits they need to live well at and away from work, we need to commit to making these changes and be completely transparent in doing so.
For those business owners who aren’t easily scared, or don’t think they have the infrastructure to support such a shift, perhaps it’s more impactful to talk about the benefits of social responsibility to the business itself. In addition to just being the right thing to do, socially conscious practices are also profitable. Earlier I mentioned the correlation between social entrepreneurship and corporate sustainability. Sustainability—closely linked to profitability—is one of the tenants of social entrepreneurship. Our minds are focused on “not running out” because that is exactly what we are so close to doing. It’s just plain, good business sense to use methods that will conserve our resources (be they people or products) and save us money in the long run. And there are plenty of companies that started out small and have accomplished just that. Look where they are now, in most cases beating out those who are slow to change: Patagonia, mention above, has seen double digit growth annually over the past five years; and Al Gore and David Blood’s Investment Firm, Generation demonstrates the success of a deliberative investment model committed to reducing environmental and social damage, by showing greater returns and less volatility than the standard investment house approach by a significant percentage.
The real kicker for me, though, is the recently discovered, and rarely discussed link between the environmental destruction of our planet and human trafficking, which is outlined in abolitionist Kevin Bale’s book: Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World. Many of us are unknowingly supporting the perpetuation of modern day slavery through our daily consumer habits, just by purchasing from companies who haven’t fully vetted the practices of their supply chains. So much so, that the interactive website Made in a Free World was founded to allow anyone to compile information about their consumer habits and estimate the correlation of those habits to the promotion of slavery. This organization is currently building a revolutionary tool for companies to directly address slavery in their supply chains, along with a movement to partner with companies who are actively building “a free world,” by practicing socially conscious business.
As far as appearances are concerned, from corporate to cultural measures and everything in between, we live in a world that cares about social entrepreneurship and corporate sustainability. It’s time we start consistently acting on that feeling.
Originally published on Huffington Post
Why haven’t you gotten that promotion or raise? Why does your boss give you extra attention, but not in the way you’d like? There are modes of behavior that are not in the employee handbook which can radically affect the way you are perceived by your CEO at work. Though these traits are not in themselves fireable offenses, they won’t make you a popular person to your CEO (or your fellow coworkers) either. Luckily, once you become aware that you may be guilty of these actions, it’s easy enough to curb these bad behaviors if you can be honest with yourself.
Mind Your Bad Attitude
An employee’s work product is a huge part of what sets them apart from their coworkers. Company culture is a huge part of what creates a successful or unsuccessful environment for a business, and a person’s attitude can create a positive or negative atmosphere. We all have days that aren’t ideal: lose a client, an account, or don’t hit revenue targets. It happens. The difference between an employee who gets negative or positive attention from the CEO is how the employee handles bad news, and stressors.
Honesty vs Oversharing
Let’s face it, no one wants to see fifty pictures of your cat. At work, there should be a certain level of friendliness but please, keep it professional, especially if you work in an industry that requires discretion. If your loose lips run amok at the watercooler, you may sink your own ship come promotion time. A person who can’t tell the difference between what should or shouldn’t be shared at work (or company functions), comes off as untrustworthy. Who wants to share information with a person who shares all information?
Share an appropriate number of pictures. There is no need to go all or nothing, but know your audience. Your CEO could be a dog person.
Are You Being Micromanaged? There Is Probably A Good Reason
To be fair, some micromanagers are born and their helicoptering can’t be helped regardless of how perfect your work is. For the purposes of this article, let’s concentrate on you. Ask yourself honestly: have I been dropping the ball, missing deadlines, turning in sloppy work, or coming to meetings ill-prepared? If you answer “yes” to any of those questions, you may need a micromanager. Nobody wants to admit he or she is failing in their roles, but many targets of micromanagement fail to ask the aforementioned questions. If your CEO is hovering and using you as a helipad but no one else, it may be time for you to be honest with yourself about your performance at work.
Emotions Can Affect Your Credibility
Life happens, so we are not suggesting that having emotions from situational incidents or struggles in your personal life isn’t ok. What we’re talking about is whining, pouting, rage, storming out of meetings, or overreacting to x. There is one surefire thing that no CEO (or anyone) enjoys in an employee: a moody, constant complainer. If your moods change with your current situation, if you get slighted easily, or if you bring every single complaint about the weather, your significant other, etc to every conversation with your CEO, you’ll start looking like the boy or girl who cried wolf. They will automatically discount your complaints as your modus operandi.
Your Boss Isn’t Your Friend
Some bosses and employees are friends, but that isn’t always the case. Don’t overshare, ingratiate yourself, or expect for the end of your tenure at the company to mean that you’ll be taking trips to Hawaii with your CEO. First and foremost, they are your boss — responsible for your paycheck, and your upward mobility. Your actions outside of work are just as important as how you act at work. A CEO will not groom you to be their next manager if you cannot show decorum, restraint, and grace in every circumstance and situation.
Often, CEOs won’t bring these issues up in your one-on-ones. Maybe they think you are a lost cause. Ask yourself honestly if you are guilty of some or all the above, and if you aren’t sure, the answer is most likely a yes.
Originally published on Huffington Post
Technology made specifically for your home has found a nice niche over the past two years. Many products have hit the market that automate functions and monitor your home while you’re away. Several voice activated products have caught public interest but the Amazon Echo in particular has solidified its future.
The Amazon Echo is the first new product of its kind to get a dedicated commercial – let alone during the Super Bowl.
Amazon dubbed the commercial as the “#BaldwinBowl” and after a week the YouTube version has amounted over 18.7 million views. The product had already been on the market well before the commercial but the promotion really helped the public see the value in the “smart speaker.”
The product works simply out of the box: take the Amazon Echo out of the box and plug it in. Then you’ll hear the awakening of your personal assistant, Alexa. She’ll prompt you to begin the setup process of connecting the speaker’s Wi-Fi network on your phone or tablet, as well as your home network in the Alexa app. Within minutes your smart speaker will be ready to go. The setup is simple but the possibilities are endless; this is an Amazon product that really brings convenience to your life at home.
The speaker will light up whenever it hears its name called and it’s a good listener – seven noise-cancelling microphones are hidden within. The Echo’s dual downward-firing speakers create an “immersive sound,” and current consumers say that they don’t usually raise the volume above about 60 percent. The speaker has been reviewed to fill a room well with sound.
The most interesting part about the Amazon Echo is that it’s always evolving. The capabilities it has now weren’t the core functions in the product’s earlier days.
When the Echo launched, the speaker could naturally read off weather reports, set timers and alarms, and managing your to-do list and shopping list. Obviously, the company added a very accessible pathway to shop on Amazon. Alexa can also read curated news from popular sources like NPR, BBC News, CNN and others. The ability to choose which categories and sources that interest you can be done from the Alexa app.
The Amazon Echo now has over 135 skills and climbing. There are so many commands that Alexa can comprehend and carry out, but its home services create an all-in-one controller for any homeowner.
Apps like WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Insteon, and other smart home devices are all compatible. Use your Echo to turn on the lights before getting up in the morning or setting your coffee pot the night before. Alexa will even order Domino’s and Uber for you if you asked.
The Amazon Echo isn’t a stagnant product; instead, Alexa is continually adding skills and capabilities. This smart speaker is a product that can truly make your life easier at home without lifting a finger.
Richard Maize is a man of many interests and talents. He has been successful in real estate, and investment banking, in addition to his many philanthropic endeavors. But his latest business achievement is a little more light hearted. Richard Maize started a food truck. But not just ANY food truck, Richard started the one and only Richeeze Melts. Richeeze has only been on the road for just under a year, but already they are the talk of the Los Angeles area. They won the award for best bacon sandwich at the last Big Bite Bacon Fest in Long Beach, CA and they have racked up rave reviews on both Facebook and Yelp.
The idea all started when Richard Maize combined his passion for business with his passion for good food, more specifically, grilled cheese. Being one of his all time favorite foods, when Richard was presented the idea to invest in a grilled cheese food truck, he knew he had a winner on his hands- as long as everything was done right. It’s simple, it’s delicious, and the combinations are endless. When they started planning the execution of the business he had to have the best; The best team, an eye catching logo, and most importantly the best ingredients. Grilled cheese may be simple, but the trick to making the best melty sandwiches in town comes down to the details. Richeeze uses homemade bread made by a local family owned bakery in Culver City, the highest quality cheeses, thick applewood smoked bacon, and REAL lobster chunks. When you order a sandwich from Richeeze you can be sure that you are getting the real deal, every time. Not to mention that Richeeze is still affordable, a feat that is unheard of when using such high end ingredients.
Starting a successful food truck is no easy task, finding the right truck alone can be a challenge and many don’t turn a profit until after the first year but with Richard’s extensive knowledge of running a business, Richeeze started to turn a profit within the first 3 months, and shows no sign of slowing down in the year to come. There has even been talk of opening a second truck just to keep up with the demand!
For menu and location information please check out www.richeeze.net
& don’t forget to Smile and Say Richeeze!!