Self Proclaimed Professionals

What is the one single profession that you WOULD THINK one would need some sort of basic arithmetic & accounting skills considering they hare handling the “biggest financial decisions” of some peoples lives?

The CREA (Canadian Real Estate Association) publishes monthly reports on sales activity across the country. Consider the following:

– For the month of September they report roughly 37000 transactions (houses) processed through their system. (http://creastats.crea.ca/natl/index.htm)

– For the month of September they report the year to date sales totaling 340980. http://creastats.crea.ca/natl/index.htm

For the month of August they reported year to date sales totaling 325180. (http://www.crea.ca/canadian-home-sales-august)

My math (as verified by my calculator) calculates 15800 difference between August and Sept.

What happened to the other 21200 houses? Is there a phantom month that only exists in the world of Realtors between September and August?

Is this the consequence of allowing the “biggest financial decisions” of peoples lives be handled by the largest group of “self proclaimed professionals” who never made the grade to achieve anything higher in life?

Chart of Interest

GUARANTEED RESULTS! 200% more in savings!

One day two kids compared their savings – Tom had $15 saved in his little piggy and John had $13 saved in his little pig.

They decided to have a race to see who could save the most in a year as measured by % saved more than the other.

At month 1 Tom had $15 saved and John had $13. Tom had 115% saved more than John!

3 months later Tom had $40 and John had $28.. Tom had 143% more saved than John!

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6 months later Tom had $25 and John had $17 – both had gotten careless with saving and started to spend more each month than they were actually saving. But, nevertheless Tom had 147% more saved than John.

Finally at the end of the year they opened up the pigs one more time to see who had won. Tom had $16 and John had $8, Tom had set a new record AGAIN! He has reached a savings of a whopping 200% more than John! – things could NEVER be better for Tom financially according to the “numbers”

In 12 months Tom went from savings that were 115% of John’s to the end of the year where he had achieved RESULTS to an of amount 200% of John’s savings.

I think the example does not warrant too much more of an explanation.

Everyday clever marketers, salesmen, financial “gurus” and the like rely on this sort of manipulation of data to paint favorable pictures to prospective clients/business. It is this sort of stupidity amongst large numbers of people that ultimately leads to one things only – Losers end up losing MORE and the Winners end up winning AGAIN!

Like I have written about here previously – seriously consider the data before you end up on the wrong end of the “game of life”.

All roads lead to success – As long as you don’t hit traffic

Ryan Holmes CEO Hootsuite offered his opinion on the pursuit and value of an MBA. You can read it here.

I enjoyed reading this one earlier this year, and even though I didn’t entirely agree with his arguments about discounting the value of an MBA (I do not have one) I did agree with some of the underlying ideas about being able to use the cards life deals you to create opportunities and leverage in your own personal life and career where you would otherwise not expect.

The problem with Holmes ideas on dropping out of college, forgetting the degree and jumping straight into the “real world” to gain experience right away which will eventually lead to great success simply cannot be extrapolated into greater population. We all know of the epic stories of rags to riches that include dropping out of college and serendipitously finding success that defines famous names such as Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Micky Arison Steve Jobs and evidently Ryan Holmes. The truth of the matter though is that these sorts of stories are so rare in occurrence that we know these great “against the odd success stories” not by the stories themselves but rather by their names. While it is true that Holmes opinions are centered specifically around an MBImageA the underlying theme seems to be that many young and inspiring generations should seriously consider cutting short on real education and all it has to offer in exchange for trendy substitutes like career networking via social media “LinkedIn, Facebook etc.”  and informal internships.

I do think that there are some important ideas behind what Ryan Holmes has to say about achieving success and one of them has been a central theme to my own career growth since I left high school. Too many people these days are over defining their own planned paths to success, for example an aspiring accountant may consider a path to becoming a CA or CGA could only be reached through a clearly defined University Degree specializing in Economics, Business or Finance coupled with the relevant work experience in one of the big 4. In reality this is one of multiple paths to achieve the same result, it is possible to become a CA with a Degree in something completely unrelated and then take the relevant courses and obtain the work experience on their own term. Admittedly this 2nd option would be more time consuming but it opens up interesting opportunities that could be leveraged into the future, example if someone with an Engineering degree later decided to pursue Accounting. Once obtaining a CA designation they would be in an incredibly high leveraged position to land very lucrative opportunities with a combination of Engineering and Accounting.

Allow me to simplify this even more. A few years ago I attended a workshop, 6 of us met at the same point to meet the organizers. The venue for the day was approx 20 blocks away. We were told to meet at the venue in 30 mins. and that transportation was provided to us to get to the venue – options were keys or helmets. The first 2 people to arrive would receive preferential seating and anyone that arrived late would not get in. 4 of us took the keys and drove and 2 of us took helmets and hopped on bikes. Guess who arrived first… 4 guys got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic and even though they were taking the most conventional approach to “quick and convenient” transportation to arrive at their destination/goal in the end they got caught up in the masses of people with the same conventional idea consequently plugging the system. The 2 guys that hopped on the bikes took the less conventional approach but they thought a little more strategically than the rest of the group and utilized what resources they had to gain a maximum advantage over the rest. Needless to say, the organizers here created this scenario in advance to underline their ideas that was presented to us throughout the day. The 4 guys that arrived late? They got in…. but the point was made.

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Another example takes us back to the days of the cave men, at some point in the evolution of humans we discovered other ways of creating fire. Imagine a situation where two neighbors lived across a vast canyon from each other in their respective caves, one had the latest invention in hand – a lighter. The other did not have a lighter, he still had a piece of flint. Winter was falling upon them fast that night and their survival came down to being able to start a fire with the goal to produce enough heat to survive the cold night! One guy started his fire in less than 20 second, do you really think his neighbor across the canyon watching the fire come to life with the magic of a lighter would just throw in the towel and give up because he didn’t have a lighter? His fire took 2 mins but nevertheless he still achieved the same result as his neighbor with the lighter and in many ways re asserted his position as equal to his neighbor even though it may of appeared to be unequal to begin with.

The point here is there are many times every single day when we can easily achieve the same results as others even when we might perceive our positions to be unequal to begin with, the key here is to maximize and properly leverage the resources, tools, backgrounds, experience etc. that we all possess and see how we can use them to our own advantage.

The alternative is all too common these days, giving up and settling for less.

Ignorance is bliss

Have you ever watched an ant farm? There is something intriguing about watching thousands of little black specks march around in some sort of organized chaos to continuously build and expand an empire in relative terms, to me this is natures best answer to the definition of  the age old term “ignorance is bliss”. Every ant marches religiously without failure to fulfill the one and only roll he was destined to from day one, provide resourceful input to a greater colony that has only one sole purpose – protect and support the Queen.

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The whole system as a whole is amazing and it is replicated by nature amongst many different species including the most relevant ones of all – humans. The function of high density colonies has been instrumental in the evolution of life throughout the ages, without power in numbers it is doubtful life would of evolved much further beyond primordial pools. The central idea behind population colonies seems to be the same, large numbers of members working in masses to support a small centralized figure, in the ant farm this would be the queen. But what about us humans?

Clearly we cannot compare ourselves to ants, we are at the very top of natures pyramid of life – but the closer one starts to examine how cities, population centers and or own social economic structures to more one may start to realize how parallel our lives actually are to that of the ant.

This idea proves itself more and more true the closer one finds themselves to the center of large cities. Allow me to give an example, the notion of owning a piece of land (REAL Real Estate) for the majority of city dwellers has long since been replaced by new definitions of Real Estate – one where the majority will spend the majority of their lives indebted to banks and lenders just for a chance to “own” what really amounts to nothing more than a box stacked amongst a big pile of other concrete boxes – no land included, and without land how can it be called Real Estate??

In the world of finance those at the top are served by the greater masses of those who buy into these boxes, speculation is the fuel that runs the show. Colonies are built around promises of sophisticated lifestyles, sophisticated investment strategies all centered around sophisticated pre-fab template design condos keeps the whole show running Millions of people running aimlessly, working between 1 hour commutes just to get that next “carrot” and have feelings of “sophistication and accomplishment” while they hand over 80% to the bank and prepare to do it all over again for another month. These sorts of colonies are beautiful business models, ingenious creations and efficient models on behalf of the financiers, lenders and developers that create them – the whole thing is as interesting to examine as an ant farm is to watch. Of course it all depends on the ignorance of those involved at the bottom to keep it all alive. 

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Call me the black sheep here, but I can’t see anyone else winning here besides the fat cats sitting at the top. Don’t get me wrong here either, cities and high density areas provide opportunities and create wealth where they may otherwise not exist. The important question to ask oneself here is which side of the opportunities and wealth are you on? Are you supporting someone else further up the food chain or are you capitalizing on it yourself.

Something to think about it while chewing on that carrot.