Far West Capital May 2011 Newsletter

Texas is the Best State for Business for the 7th Year in a Row

Isn’t it fun to just continue to kick California’s butt?  We think so. In its annual rankings of the best/worst states for business, Chief Executive Magazine has named Texas the BestStatefor Business for the 7th year in a row. Texas earned the title with strong marks in all areas important for business creation, and has the second-lowest taxes in the nation.A wide range of criteria, from taxation and regulation to workforce quality and living environment, were considered in these rankings. To see the full rankings, visit their website.

Austin native wins U.S. pole dancing champion

We are trying to do our part to de-stigmatize anything to do with “the pole.” Natasha Wang, an Austin native – Westlake High School and UT Austin graduate – recently won the U.S. Pole Dance Championship on her first trip to nationals and after 6 and a half years of pole dancing. To see a clip of the U.S. Pole Dance Championship, check out this blog post.

People who expect the post-Dodd-Frank regulatory regime to help consumers or make the financial system safer are kidding themselves and we have some ocean front property to sell them as well. In a recent article on Bankstock.com, Tom Brown, a banking-industry thought leader,explains why the new regulatory system headed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will be too complex and too intrusive. He notes that since the CARD Act (which imposes pricing and other restrictions on card lenders) was passed, average interest rates on credit cards have gone up, rewards programs have become stingier, and credit availability has shrunk in general. He also predicts similar effects on all kinds of consumer lending, from cards, to auto lending, to home mortgages when the CFPB is up and running.

Twelve lucky passengers got a delectable surprise on their commute on a New York City L train when a theatrical culinary group called A Razor, A Shiny Knife staged an ingenious pop-up restaurant on the train. The 6-course lunch, accompanied by a reading of The Great Gatsby, was plated by staff on the platform or train and then served to guests on custom-built straphanger tables. A new dish was served every third stop. To see how it was put together and executed, check out this entertaining video.

When we were in Europe recently, we would play two games: (i) spot the EuroMullet [side note – the mullet is quite popular in Italy] (ii) Spot the American, and that was easy – they are all about 20lbs heavier. Summer is quickly approaching. Have you already begun planning your summer vacation? If you’re traveling outside the U.S., take a look at this interesting list of “The top 10 complaints about American tourists,” which includes our assumptions that all residents would know English and the host country will have hamburgers on their menus. Whether the list is of real complaints or not, it’s a good reminder to be respectful of another country’s culture when visiting or just screw it, wear your cowboy hat and say real loud, “where’s the el bano, Pierre?”

As a leader in your company, thinking beyond your personal agenda is a recipe for the company to succeed. Here’s a great article with tips from Kubicek’s book Leadership is Dead called “5 Ways To Make Your Leadership Come Alive.” The five ways include:

1. Aim high
2. Be for others
3. Lead yourself
4. Be intentional
5. Look at the big picture

Want to read more articles and blog posts about ways to improve your business and become a better employee, entrepreneur or boss? We post on our Facebook page daily. “Like” us so you don’t miss it!

All businesses go through up and down cycles – Playboy Enterprises is no different. This picture shows Hugh Hefner and Playboy at the peak in January of 1969. He was about to expand into 37 countries and 25% of all men over the age of 18 bought his magazine every single month. How do you reward yourself? With a jet called Big Bunny. It even had an 8-track player. Sadly, during a down cycle in the 70’s, Big Bunny was sold to Venezuela Airlines and then later sold to Aeromexico. Big Bunny had her finally landing in 2004.

One more Playboy Quickie – The following schools have earned a spot on Playboy’s 2011 Top 10 Party Schools list:

1. University of Colorado at Boulder
2. Pennsylvania State University
3. Arizona State University
4. University of Western Ontario
5. University of Texas at Austin
6. University of Wisconsin
7. University of Georgia
8. University of Tennessee, Knoxville
9. University of Central Florida
10. University of California, Santa Barbara

If your dog could talk, what do you think he/she would say? We ran across this YouTube video that answered one dog owner’s question. Be prepared to smile and laugh.

Entrepreneur Magazinenamed Austin as one of the top cities in the country for entrepreneurs. The article cites the combination of Austin’s high-tech businesses, venture capitalists and angel investors, along with creatives coming together for everything from SXSWi to networking happy hours, makes this the perfect city for an entrepreneur. Austin is a city with endless resources to help entrepreneurs succeed.

Accelerator, an Entrepreneurs’ Organization program, is an amazing resource for entrepreneurs. Although we [entrepreneurs] have a never-say-die attitude and we do whatever it takes to achieve our goals, we often (sometimes secretly) wish for advice, guidance and other entrepreneurs to help us with the small and big challenges we face. Accelerator was designed to do just that. This beneficial organization provides monthly meetings with your assigned accountability group, networking events with The Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) a dynamic, global network of more than 7,500 business owners in 38 countries, invaluable quarterly learning days, support and encouragement and so much more. We are members and on the board here locally in Austin and would be happy to introduce you to the organization, let us know if you are interested in applying.

In the spirit of Mother’s Day, CBS Sunday did a short segment on A Mother’s Worth: How much money would a mother make? Insure.com calculated what mom would earn in a year if she was actually paid for each of her multiple duties. Some of the duties/pay listed included:

Cooking: 14 hours a week x $9.53/hr = $6,938

Cleaning: 10 hours x $9.40/hr = $4,888

Daycare: 40 hours a week x $9.95/hr = $20,696

Driving: $6,285; Tutoring: $7,140; Shopping: $1,580

Other job descriptions include: budget planner, party planner, cutting hair, yard work, summer camps, home decorating and motherly concern.

Add it all up and mom should be earning $61,436 per year. We think this is a very conservative number! To all of the mothers reading our newsletter, thank you for all that you do.

The Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL Festival) is an annual three-day American music festival that takes place in Austin, Texas at Zilker Park. The festival attracts more than 75,000 festival-goers each day and adds nearly $83 million to the Austin economy. Twenty five percent of the attendees are from outside of Texas. In addition to food & art, most from local vendors, ACL Festival brings together more than 130 acts from all over the world to play rock, indie, country, folk, electronic and more on eight stages. Named after the legendary PBS concert series, the Festival is produced by Austin-based C3 Presents, who also produce Lollapalooza. This year, ACL Festival celebrates its 10th Anniversary on September 16-18.  Early bird 3-day passes for $165 sold out in one day as did the E-list 3-day pass for $185. The line-up was announced yesterday and it includes Stevie Wonder, Arcade Fire, Kanye West, Coldplay, My Morning Jacket, Fleet Foxes and Alison Krauss & Union Station, among many others. For the full line-up, visit their website.

We have been learning so much from our friends at Market Sense, Inc. here in Austin that we thought we would share a little nugget. If you don’t care about increasing sales or customer satisfaction, I would stop reading if I were you.

When you go on a sales call, how do you establish bonding and rapport? Do you look at little trinkets on the wall and then talk about them? Yeah, we used to do that too, most salespeople do. Does that really work?

In our experience when we have had salespeople do that to us and we have tried that, it has led to some seriously awkward moments.

If you want to have a genuine conversation, start out with something like, “how did you get into this business…?” Learn to identify their DISC profile and how body language can impact your ability to connect with people. We have learned many other ways to have a disarmingly honest conversation and if you want to know more, check out www.ms.sandler.com. But like I said, if you probably aren’t interested, for sure don’t contact Adam Boyd.

We all know we have big debt issues here in the USA and for sure Europe has issues but let’s focus on Greece. They are a microcosm of what can happen and it is scary. We find it interesting that Greece has been in default 150 of the last 200 years…who finances these guys? The fundamental problem is a lack of trust of their fellow citizens, which is pretty sad when two-thirds of their doctors report no taxable income. Is it no wonder their government can’t pay its bills? Some say the coming sovereign debt bubble will be the next big debacle to wreck economies and markets. Let’s hope our politicians have the guts to be proactive about this.

If you are like the majority of everyone we know, you have some sort of smartphone. What do you think about all the information that Apple, Google and the like collect about you? All the information about where you have been, what you have done, what websites you have looked at, etc. Ten years ago, Scott McNealy, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems said, “You have no privacy. Get over it.”  All your friends, all your conversations, all your contacts, all your locations…sounds a little big brother-ish. Guess we will have to wait and see when the Terminator comes to chase us down?

This is what the Navy Seal team looked like when they went in to get Bin Laden.

A couple of things to notice:
-50 caliber sniper on the right.
-Knee, knuckle and forearm protection.
-Various plastic/wire ties.
-Absolute identity denial to protect their families.
-Free choice of footwear.
-Fourth from the right has three artillery simulators and CS gas grenades on his belly. He’s the ‘shock and awe’ guy.

Can you imagine the look on Bin Laden’s face when these guys came through the door?

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