Sunday, July 20, 2014

The tide is rising!!!

The most interesting thing about this article is that it is the most emailed New York Times article today,  in an edition of the paper covering a terrible war, a frightening plane crash and a stock market charging through an all time high.  And yet the the article that people find the most appealing, the one we want to share most is about how we become the happiest by being social, by giving our time and energy to others.  Im sure few would argue that the free market is designed by us as a tool to attain happiness, and that seems to be our intention in using it.  When the dust settles though we quite often find that we have over-used the free market and have gone speeding past out happiness zone.  To get back there usually requires us to be more attentive to our family, friends and community, to live with all of their best interests in our mind.

In 50 years of ruling Spain the Caliph of Cordoba enjoyed loyal subjects, fearful enemies, respect honor, power and riches and this is what he had to say in hindsight...."“I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot: They amount to 14.”

When we use the free market well, we profit and we live well and fulfilled. The tide of this awareness is clearly rising...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bees make us more profitable!

"Farmers who planted their entire field would earn about $27,000 in profit per farm, whereas those who left a third unplanted for bees to nest and forage in would earn $65,000 on a farm of similar size."

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What would Gandhi eat?


Gandhi is known for his fasting for political reasons, but also he also fasted for health reasons, a practice that goes back thousands of years.

Today, I fast.  With the intention of 24 hours with only water...perhaps some miso soup for dinner.  This being the latest addition to the healing regiment/paradigm.  The research is pointing to fasting being a great way to re-bout the immune system while detoxing the system.  For me the sale was the fact that when we or animals are sick, we go hide under a bush and stop eating until we are better...fasting seems to be one of natures way to heal.  Many doctors are now starting to use fasting as part of their treatment plans for a number of diseases.

Gandhi spent his life experimenting with food.  His mantra was "Eat to live"...not Live to eat.  Gandhi learned what to eat so that he would maximize his potential and his experience.  His diet energized him, made him smarter,  made his body flexible and strong.  

The Virgin says compassion is a competitive advantage

Flying Virgin airlines from booking the ticket to disembarking at the end of the journey may be the most pleasant way to travel.  Why? The employee's ooze love of their jobs.  The prices, the food, the movies, all are so much fun.  But then I pause and say well, I'm flying...probably one of the highest carbon emitters - - and there you have it!!!  My decisions may not be the most environmentally friendly one, and Virgin is complicit, but at least they are working in the right direction.  In a world where we are all complicit, those who recognize our reality and operate with as much compassion as possible are the most successful!!!

"In business, as in nature, companies that want to survive aren’t mindlessly pursuing profits at the expense of people and the planet; they are smart enough to know that caring and cooperation are key. "

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

SEA (Socially and Environmentally Aware) Stock-picking

Investing has become such a complex process that most of us turn over our money MBA’s and Doctorates to manage. The paradigm encourages us to seek Alpha (performance better than the broad market index), which turns into a quagmire of buying and selling that leaves most people worse then the broad market index over 30 years. The potential lesson, is invest in the broad market and leave it and in the end you will more then likely end up with a higher return then anyone you know…easier said then done.

With that being said – if we take our investing to the next level and invest in companies that have clear plan for the long term with SEA corporate policies/principles, we set ourselves up for being even more profitable.

Where to start? Well SEA investing might not be as daunting and as complex as investing as we know it. SEA investing takes our natural born intuition, especially since we are looking for corporate characteristics that correlate to the human condition – who we are. Each of us has as much potential as MBAs and Doctors to identify good companies – in the same way we might make long-term friends or partners or plan for our children’s future or our own retirement.

Here are some guidelines through which I ran the company Costco (COST) – an operator of membership warehouses.

  1. Is the company public - YES

  2. Does the company sell products that are healthy and constructive to people - YES

  3. Does the company charge a reasonable price for their product - YES

  4. Does the company minimize its negative impact on the environment - YES

  5. Does the company treat all employees like partners - YES

  6. Does the company provide fair opportunity to labor and sellers -YES

  7. Does the company donate at least 5% of its annual profit to charity - NO

  8. Does the company’s executive team receive a reasonable compensation – YES

  9. Are the company’s assets greater then its liabilities – YES

  10. Is the company profitable (does the company show a trend of or toward profitability in the last 5 years) – YES

Based on this analysis I would say the only thing that stands out is Costco’s Philanthropy. I believe that SEA companies should be donating at least 5% of their profits back to sustainable charity unless they are clearly redirecting their philanthropy in other directions.

  1. Public companies provide the easiest and most liquid access as investors, unless a private company is offering private investment perhaps in the form of venture capital or private placement.

  2. My Dad shops at COSTCO – a person who boycotts Walmart and has his own vegetable garden, and turns his nose up at anyone with more then 4 cylinders in there car. In my experience Coscto food is high quality and although may not be Whole Foods potential, it provides food and other retail products of a higher quality then most others.

  3. From filet mignon to flat screen TVs, Costco has some of the most competitive prices for the highest quality products

  4. Here is an example of the steps Costco is taking to be an environmental steward - - Based on a quick scan of a google search, in the last 5 years Costco is making great strides in its environmental impact.

  5. This article echo’s much of what is said about Costco on the internet - and

  6. There does not seem anything on the web implying that Costco treats its vendors unfairly or sells products which are produced by unfair labor conditions

  7. In 2012 Costco gave away $23.5 Million in cash to charity. Only about 1% of its profit that year

  8. Costco paid its executive team $20 million last year. Yes a lot of money, but also a lot less then other corporations of that size, which tend to average around $35 million


  10. Yes, and has also outperformed the S&P 500 in the period since it became public

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Day 28

A few days ago was the 28th day of radiation and chemo therapy.  For 25 of those days the radiation was targeted in the area around the tumor, with the intention of targeting any possible cancer in the nodes or surrounding tissue as well as the tumor.  The last three days the radiation was "coned down" to target the tumor directly.

The treatment went smoothly, with the most obvious side affect being a bit of a raw bum and a much more active digestive system(not to be confused with diarrhea).  If anything there were times where I felt like I was a bit hung over...more-so in the beginning of the treatment.

The question now hangs in the air - how the the cancer respond to the treatment.  Since the affects of both the chemo and the radiation are still active, the question won't be answered until I am scanned again in a month.

The other question in the air that keeps getting answered, is am I doing everything possible to cure the cancer and the answer is that I am doing everything possible to heal!  Curing is to get rid of the immediate symptoms, while healing is getting to the bottom of the root cause, so that the symptoms do not reoccur.  The chemo and radiation have been critical to the cure, but only play a small role in my healing.

A doctor recently told me that the source of all disease is the brain.  He admits that he is in the business of curing that disease, but he does not elaborate on preventing the return of the disease.  That is advanced strategy in this day and age, particularly in the science community.  Homeopathic and other healing methodologies are exploring the frontiers of healing. These frontiers are difficult to quantify and quantification is what we look for when making decisions about our well being.  But the good news is we are all living on the frontier.

Take stress for example.  A tangible feeling.  A feeling that doesn't feel good.  A feeling where the source can be identified...if we pay attention.  A feeling we can get rid of.  There is not much argument out there against the fact that stress can lead to disease.  With some patience and some diligence we can decrease our stress and subsequently begin the healing process(or perhaps the process of prevention).  There is only upside - peace of mind and healthy body!!!

The Path of Kyosei

"Many companies around the world believe that they have a moral duty to respond to global problems such as Third World poverty, the deterioration of the natural environment, and endless trade battles. But few have realized that their survival actually depends on their response. Global corporations rely on educated workers, consumers with money to spend, a healthy natural environment, and peaceful coexistence between nations and ethnic groups. This reality is to me a great source of hope: at this watershed period in history, it is in the interests of the world’s most powerful corporations to work for the advancement of global peace and prosperity. To put it simply, global companies have no future if the earth has no future."...