Monthly Archives: October 2014

Marcus Lemonis The Profit and My Desire to be an Entrepreneur

If you haven’t seen the CNBC show “The Profit” then you absolutely must. Marcus Lemonis is a business genius and he is learning and becoming smarter every single day with every single new deal he makes. The show’s basic premise is that Marcus comes and visits a potential business and determines if he can make a deal with the owners to become and active investor in the company and teach them how to become very profitable.

Since discovering this show I have absolutely fallen in love with it. This guy actually has my dream job. Part of the reason I chose the jobs that I did over the years was to expose myself to multiple different industries. To learn how they work, and to satisfy my deep curiosity for how a variety of businesses operate and become successful.

My dad is a sales guy through and through. He left the coal mines to strike out on his own because he just couldn’t take being in the mines anymore. He wanted to determine his destiny and knew the sales path was it. As long as he believed in the product he knew he could sale it. Recently one of my dad’s friends mentioned that my dad could sell ice to an eskimo. It is kind of a compliment to someone’s sales ability to say that, but I know my dad could never really sell anything he didn’t believe in and people respect him for it and trust him deeply.

Since I was a teenager I have been influenced by my dad immensely and have sought out other experienced business men and women that I could learn from. If I wasn’t making connections with business owners I was reading about them. I’ve read business classics such as Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason to more modern books such as The Millionaire Next Door, and hundreds if not thousands of others. For all intensive purposes I am one of the world’s experts on business without having ever actually started my own business. I say that not to puff myself up with pride, but to actually berate myself for waiting forever to start my own business to put all I know to the test.

The truth of the matter is that some people are just born to lead. They have to do their own thing. They must be in charge and they must determine their destiny. And most importantly, they must be in control.

That is one of the constant themes in the show. These business owners are full of pride, both to their benefit and to their detriment, the classic double edged sword. Marcus himself is a so called “Type A” personality. Someone who needs to be in charge, and wants it done his way. As I watch the show I see it over and over again. Will the prideful business owner let their pride fall down and allow Marcus to call the shots, or will they let their pride keep them from turning their business into something really great?

Which brings up one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned in the business world. It is repeated in all the business literature over and over and yet I really don’t believe people really get it. The ability to lead is also the ability to follow. To learn to lead one must first learn how to follow. Over and over again it is repeated and falls on mostly deaf ears.

Marcus focuses on three things: people, process, and product. Out of the three, people is far and above the most important thing. Yet you can have great people and still get the product and process wrong. That is the opportunity Marcus looks for. The chance to work with great people and improve their product and process by investing his money into the business to change it for the better.

I think we can all recognize that people is the most important thing. Think about your years as an employee or even a business owner. Some of us have left great jobs that had horrible bosses. And some of us have stayed in horrible jobs because we worked for great people. Business owners number one complaint is that they can never find good people to work for them. And as my dad always said, “All business is people business”.

So where do we go from here? I am still thinking about why I haven’t started my own business. My excuse is that I haven’t found a good idea, but I have tons of ideas. Perhaps my excuse is that no idea is good enough. Or that I might be happier just being an employee. It has worked this long. Why not just keep progressing in my career, and keep jumping to different industries when I get bored?

Maybe my biggest fear is that I would get stuck in something I would come to hate. However, I do think that is just another excuse. I am trying to cross a bridge I haven’t even come to yet.

At the end of the day, I pretty much have no choice but to do it. I have spent the better part of my life, starting as a teenager, studying what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. I am more prepared than practically any other business owner that starts a business. Another lesson is that a leader has a strong proclivity for action even without a lot of information to go on. I suffer from the classic “analysis paralysis” disease.

The time has never been more ripe then now. I just need to take the leap. Starting a business will certainly be the biggest personal development course I could ever take in my life. It will certainly be eye opening and help show me what I am really made of. It is my greatest challenge yet, and there really is nothing to it but to do it.

Latest Finds for Programming

This is probably going to happen a lot. I have these tabs that I am keeping open so I can eventually start hitting these resources for programming. The easiest thing for me to do is bookmark them, but then I would probably forget about them. To keep a record of my progression I think it might be helpful to keep track of the links I am following here, and look back one day to see what I used, what I didn’t, what was useful, and what wasn’t.

Structure and Interpretation of Programs

This one was recommended on a forum as a great book to read to learn things that help give you the big picture of what computers are used for and what they are capable of. In other words, a book for computer scientists that “programmers” ignore.

That is one interesting thing I have seen on the forums. People argue that there is a difference between a programmer, a software developer, and a software architect. The other argument is that everyone programs, but not everyone can really think strategically about how to program something from the very base of things. In other words, understand machine language, compilers, and object oriented programming. Compilers take the high-level programming language code and translates it into machine code or an assembly language. Depending on the environment you are working it, it could be absolutely imperative to know exactly how that works and how it will affect your outcomes.

I also liked this Chart for Learning a Programming Language. The one section that is for kids includes a link to using Python to program a video game. If you saw my last post I mentioned I decided to focus on Python as my first language. Ruby is probably going to be my second language. I’m trying to focus on the fun languages that other programmers mention. I just recently saw a forum post that said a programmer was super happy to get away from .Net applications and start programming in Ruby. I think Paul Graham was the one who mentioned that the programming languages of the future will be the ones the best programmers choose to use today. I think part of that equation is how much an individual program enjoys a certain language.

Udacity was also a recommeded place to learn computer science, specifically this Intro to Computer Science course. The course materials are technically free, but you need to pay $199/month to get an instructing coach. This also gets you a certificate at the end. It says it is a 3 month course if you put 6 hours a week into it. I can see myself putting 12 hours a week into and it still takes me 3 months, but in either case it would cost me $600 to get this intro to computer science class in that may be equivalent to college credit. I have to research it more though.

I just keep thinking what the future me will think of all this planning I am doing. I know one thing is for sure. Nothing to it, but to do it.

Beginning Programming, The Mountain is Massive

Literally where in the world do you begin? So much out there and if you are trying to teach yourself vs. go to a school… well, it’s just downright scary.

I landed on this page where the guy pretty much lays out what each of the more popular programming languages does and the kind of language you use depends on your job function…

Which Language Should I Learn First?

I also found Lifehacker’s Learn to Code: The Full Beginner’s Guide and the great thing is that it comes in PDF format.

Stanford has a highly recommended course you can take for free online simply called Introduction to Computer Science. Its a basic methodology class that will hopefully teach me more about algorithms and the real basics of programming in general.

And when it comes time to really dig down deep I found this free resource of over 500 books on GitHub. Free Programming Books Seems like they aren’t really in PDF format for the most part but I can always just send them to my kindle because they are one big page of text.

And so I had to pick one language to start with. The best recommendation I got was to start with the easiest language possible because the first language will most certainly be the hardest. While Ruby on Rails has always grabbed my attention the real winner is…

Python!!!

Its what appears to be a simple 13 hour beginner course offered at Codecademy so that’s where I am going to start. Like all things it will take time but I will try to give an update once I am in the middle or at the end of the course.

The Rule of Opposites

I am currently reading The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham and I thought this concept deserved some attention.

The rule of opposites is basically this…

“The more enthusiastic investors become about the stock market in the long run, the more certain they are to be proved wrong in the short run”

Buy low, sell high is the best strategy for any type of arbitrage, but our emotions end up making us do the exact opposite of that strategy. We get excited when we see stocks going up so we buy them on the way up. Then we let fear rule when we see stocks going down so we start selling.

The smart investor will actually do the opposite. Start selling stocks as their prices rise, and buy stocks that have fallen in price. Simple theory, hard to practice.

The flip side is the same. When everyone is predicting an awful bear market you have to think twice. Bear markets simply mean stocks go on sale.

As Jason Zweig would put it, “Considering how calamitously wrong the “experts” were the last time they agreed on something, why on earth should the intelligent investor believe them now?” Being a contrarian is one of the best ways, if not the only way, to profit in the stock market.