09 December 2011

Successful Outsourcing Begins With A Contract

In this Practical Software show, SEP group member Frank Vogelezang, Manager Pricing Office at Ordina, explains how contracts are the key to successful outsourcing. If you don’t define what is being measured for success, or what the expectations are, then you are only asking for trouble with misunderstandings. Where one person might determine an “incident” to be changing a password another might not.

Contracts can also be terrific places to create incentives to deliver great quality or beat schedules, by offering bonuses and other inducements. For example, in maintenance agreements it can be a great idea to pay bonuses for smaller number of over-all incidents rather than pay on a per-incident basis. If developers are getting paid for fewer hours worked, it is in their interests to build things right the first time and to take steps to reduce the number of support issues that could arise.

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You can find all the Optimistic Bear shows here: Software

You can find all the Entrepreneurs Northwest shows here: Entrepreneurs Northwest

30 November 2011

If At First You Don’t Succeed With Outsourcing…

In this Practical Software show, SEP group member Mike Anthony, Co-Founder & Advisor at IQity Solutions, explains how his first attempts at outsourcing failed. Attempts to find off-shore teams to handle all of his development needs led only to disappointment. However, in the end Mike has made outsourcing work by adopting a distributed model, which requires keeping core engineering talent locally. Having a local team makes it easier to have customer interactions and avoid issues with giving over critical intellectual property to third parties.

Mike keeps communication problems are kept at a minimum through the use of daily scrum sessions with both local and off-shore engineers. Short release cycles of 2 weeks make it easy to make sure things stay in alignment.

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You can find all the Optimistic Bear shows here: Software

You can find all the Entrepreneurs Northwest shows here: Entrepreneurs Northwest

25 November 2011

If You Have A Well-defined Box, Off-shore It

In this Practical Software show, SEP group member Keith Laidlaw, the CTO with GamingVC, explains how the most successful off-shoring projects he’s worked on involve products with well-defined requirements that are fairly static. Products which are dynamic, with constantly shifting requirements are difficult to manage with off-shore teams. Keith also explains how there are different types of off-shoring work-models which work better for varying development models. In one cases Keith brought the entire off-shore team on-shore for the duration of the project.

Unfortunately, Keith talks about how the whole outsourcing is changing as the costs rise. He is seeing some quotes for projects that are the same as hiring staff domestically. This has implications for the future of off-shoring altogether.

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You can find all the Optimistic Bear shows here: Software

You can find all the Entrepreneurs Northwest shows here: Entrepreneurs Northwest

24 November 2011

The Last Thing You Want For A Successful Software Project Is To Write Code.

In this Practical Software show, SEP group member Marten van der Tempel, a consulting partner with 4ton, shares the secrets he has devised to lead successful software outsourcing projects. It all starts with and objective and in-depth specifications, according to Marten, followed by a deep understanding of the customer. It not good enough to just know that you are writing software for accounts, but it is also critical to know WHY accountants need this software.

When it comes to specifications, being specific and detailed is important if you want a successful outsourcing experience. Marten also explains how visualizations or wire-frames, of exactly what the user interface should look like are even more useful than text specifications. Communication with people who may not speak your native language is hard enough and distance only makes things worse. Use as many screen mock-ups, wire-frames, and visualizations as you can. The worst thing you can do on any software project is to start writing code before the goals, end-users, and specifications are fully understood.

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You can find all the Optimistic Bear shows here: Software

You can find all the Entrepreneurs Northwest shows here: Entrepreneurs Northwest

22 November 2011

The Golden Rule Of Outsourcing - A Little Respect Goes A Long Ways

In this conversation - Raul Suarez - Systems Consultant at Manulife Financial explains how the key to managing successful off-shore projects lies in building relationships and treating the off-shore team with respect. Treat off-shore staff the same way you would behave to people in your own office. This applies to both communication and simple courtesy. Don't keep the off-shore people in the dark with problems you are facing and make sure to time some meetings at times that work best off-shore. The off-shore developers aren't just faceless coding automotons, but real people. Get to know them!

It also helps to have a defined process and lines of informal and informal communication.

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You can find all the Optimistic Bear shows here: Software

You can find all the Entrepreneurs Northwest shows here: Entrepreneurs Northwest

Can Time Zone Differences Actually Be An Outsourcing Advantage?

In this Practical Software show, SEP group member Brian Borg (the owner and lead QA engineer at OnPath testing mentions that the time-difference of off-shore teams can actually be an advantage in product development, allowing for around the clock work and faster turn-arounds.

Brian also points out that organizations have to really embrace it and change how they work, and communicate, to make outsourcing successful. If you aren’t willing to have lots meetings at odd hours and communicate like mad via electronic mediums then most likely your off-shore project will fail.

I would like to thank our SEP Practical Software show guest host volunteer, Sanjeev Nambudiri, who has been interviewing group members for these podcast shows, allowing us all to share our experiences with one another.

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You can find all the Optimistic Bear shows here: Software

You can find all the Entrepreneurs Northwest shows here: Entrepreneurs Northwest

16 November 2011

Does A Lack Of Local Talent Make Off-shore Outsourcing A Necessity?

In this Practical Software show, SEP group member Wei Tang, Engineering Manager at Teradata, talks about his experiences bring up off-shore teams. Like other SEP members we have spoken with Wei points out that communication is paramount. He also discusses strategies for overcoming language difficulties. Wei also points out that cost savings is not the only reason for off-shoring work anymore. According to Wei, outsourcing can be a critical part of a company’s effort to get the best talent around the world. Does this mean that the pool of local talent is insufficient?

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You can find all the Optimistic Bear shows here: Software

You can find all the Entrepreneurs Northwest shows here: Entrepreneurs Northwest

14 November 2011

Outsourcing Jujitsu –off-shore Teams Can Transfer Knowledge To You!

In this Practical Software show, SEP group member David Read, CTO at Blue Slate Solutions, talks about how to make outsourcing work. He points out that it takes longer than most people think to integrate new individuals into your team and projects. Communication is certainly critical, but the management methodology actually doesn’t matter that much. David suggests picking the best methodology for your culture since they all can work well with outsourcing.

David does raise a very interesting non-traditional way of using outsourcing as a means to acquire skills in your own team. There is such a wealth of trained talent abroad these days that it is often possible to find people who have deep experience in areas where your business wants to grow. You can hire these people as a means of doing a reverse knowledge transfer, having them educate your team in new technologies or skills.

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You can find all the Optimistic Bear shows here: Software

You can find all the Entrepreneurs Northwest shows here: Entrepreneurs Northwest

08 November 2011

Does Successful Outsourcing Require The Death Of A Private Life?

In this Practical Software show, SEP group member David Murch, Director of Engineering at Corporate Safe Specialists, talks about his experiences with successful outsourcing projects. David has a lot of great advice on how good outsourcing efforts require a culture compatible with such activity, and offers tips on how to build just such a culture. This does raise the question as to whether one of the cultural traits organizations need to adopt is the abolishment of personal lives, and accepting an environment where everyone needs to be available 24/7 to answer questions from their colleagues around the world 24/7?

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You can find all the Optimistic Bear shows here: Software

You can find all the Entrepreneurs Northwest shows here: Entrepreneurs Northwest

Can Outsourcing Work If The Client Has No Core Engineering Expertise?

In this Practical Software show, SEP group member Alexander Lesnevsky, Senior project manager at NAVIS, talks about his experience both as a vendor providing outsourcing services and being a customer of outsource services himself. Having a detailed vision, or specifications, for the desired work is important but it isn’t necessary for clients to have core engineering knowledge, according to Alexander. He has worked on successful projects where the customer specifically didn’t have any in-house software development knowledge.

Alexander also explains how pilot projects are an ideal way to assess outsource vendor capabilities. Don’t be afraid to look to small vendors. The size of the outsourcing firm is no guarantee of quality. In fact, Alexander has seen small outsourcing firms run circles around the big boys.

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You can find all the Optimistic Bear shows here: Software

You can find all the Entrepreneurs Northwest shows here: Entrepreneurs Northwest

01 November 2011

Is Secure Mobile Computing Just A Pipe Dream?

In this Practical Software show, SEP group member Hadi Nahari, the Chief Security Architect of Mobile and Software Platforms at NVIDIA, talks about the challenges and opportunities that developers face in the exploding world of mobile computing devices. Not only does the growing complexity of mobile devices increases the security challenges but consumer adoption decisions have implications too. If users don’t adopt technologies like Near-Field-Communications then we will be stuck using antiquated security systems.

Does this mean that secure mobile computing is a pipe dream as consumers choose to use ever more complex (and powerful) devices?

 Hadi also shares his thoughts on which mobile platforms are the most secure and offers predictions for the next big thing in mobile security.

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You can find all the Optimistic Bear shows here: Software

You can find all the Entrepreneurs Northwest shows here: Entrepreneurs Northwest

07 September 2011

A Skype View Of Developing & Testing Mobile Apps For Multiple Platforms.

In this conversation Patrick Hilt - Chief Mobile Handset Architect at Skype offers a fascinating insight into the role that mobile plays in Skype's plans including invaluable practical suggestions on how to approach the tricky issues thrown up while developing & testing apps for the multitude of smartphone platforms in use today. The podcast will benefit anyone who designs, develops or tests software for mobiles.

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You can find all the Optimistic Bear shows here: Software

You can find all the Entrepreneurs Northwest shows here: Entrepreneurs Northwest


02 September 2011

Developing Enterprise Apps - Current Trends & Future Challenges.

The interview is with Mr. Motasim Najeeb. Over a career of close to 29 years Motasim has worked for companies like Intel, WebMDs & Oracle & was recently the Chief Technology Officer of Sage Software. The conversation is focused on the development of Enterprise Applications & specifically ERP. Motasim takes an insightful look at the governing trends in these areas & provides a wealth of information about the impact the Cloud & smarter Mobiles are having on the product features, development strategies & customer adoption of Enterprise Apps. He also talks about the greatest challenges facing the more traditional ERP products & what they will have to do to grow. The podcast will be most useful to those involved in anyway with the design, development & testing of any Enterprise Applications.

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You can find all the Optimistic Bear shows here: Software

You can find all the Entrepreneurs Northwest shows here: Entrepreneurs Northwest

09 August 2011

This Week on Bear Radio: The bear market caused the US debt downgrade, not the other way around.

In this week’s episode we discuss why most commentators have it backwards in blaming the market downturn on the S&P US debt downgrade. The S&P downgrade occurred BECAUSE the general economic mood is becoming more bearish instead of the reverse. The markets would have crashed anyway even if there hadn't been a downgrade.

Stocks had already been losing ground for weeks and there is ample evidence that the global economy has been slowing down. The US debt downgrade is almost irrelevant. The established trend (i.e. long before the downgrade) has been for investors to flee for the perceived safety in bonds of the largest industrial nations (i.e. Germany, US, Japan). Nothing has really changed, the process has just sped up a bit.

In the end, the US dollar is set for massive appreciation as the global economy goes into another tail-spin. Most of the world's private (and public) debt is denominated in dollars which creates unstoppable deflationary forces in an economic contraction as debtors are forced to sell whatever assets they have in order to raise the cash to repay loans. Ironically, all the debt everyone complains about is going to be the primary force that drives up the value of the dollar (and the subsequent crash in all asset prices).

We also talk about the idea that as volatility increases we can expect the unexpected with relationships between asset classes behaving in ways that no one would have imagined. The web of relationships between assets has become so convoluted with modern financial instruments and trading strategies that things will behave in surprising ways when markets are under stress.

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NOTE: Remember to tune into the Optimistic Bear weekly financial round-up every Tuesday at 9:00pm, Pacific Time. You can also listen to previous shows.

07 August 2011

Ideas are cheap - making them a reality is hard

I think that innovation, in and of itself, is over-rated. There have always been people who “think outside the box” and come up with new and interesting ideas. The crucial issue is making these ideas into reality. This is where the challenge lies.

Just look at big companies whose research groups came up with amazing ideas, but the companies were unable to capitalize on them (leaving it to new upstarts to found new empires).

The same thing with countries. There are some countries with LOTS of brain power, and super-innovative thinkers. Yet these same nations are unable to ever harness the brainpower of its citizens into winning commercial franchises. France, for example, comes to mind. I am constantly amazed at the ideas which that nation’s intellectual’s and engineers come up with, yet they rarely manage to build thriving new businesses on those ideas. Russia is another excellent case in point.

You need a vibrant economic and investment environment for innovation to truly thrive and get beyond the garage. I think it is no coincidence that the number of new innovative product introductions tank during recessions and depressions, when investment decreases. In fact, it is my contention that people who look for innovation as an economic driver have things backwards. Innovation doesn’t drive the economy, the economy drives innovation (or at least the successful commercialization of new ideas). Funding more scientific research won’t do much to help if the broader economy is on the rails.

In short, ideas are cheap and plentiful. It is the wherewithal to turn those ideas into reality that really counts.

27 July 2011

Practical Software: The How, Why & What Of Web Application Development.

In this episode of Practical Software Sanjeev Nambudiri interviews Patrick Nicolas – CTO at 24x7 Content & formerly at companies like Zvents & Resonate. Patrick dips into his considerable experience of Web Application Development & addresses a wide range of Qs ranging from the latest trends & tools to the architectural principles to apply & the pitfalls to avoid. It’s not just good enough to have a cool interface anymore - apps need to be able to monitor, store, and analyze vast quantities of social media information to understand trends and help users make decisions. If you develop Web Applications then this is likely a podcast you will want to come back to again & again !

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You can find all the Optimistic Bear shows here: Software

You can find all the Entrepreneurs Northwest shows here: Entrepreneurs Northwest

Practical Software: Cloud Computing With Azure - Podcast Interview With Clemens Vasters

In this episode of Practical Software Sanjeev Nambudiri interviews Clemens Vasters - Principal Technical Lead at Microsoft in the Windows Azure group. Clemens is an Enterprise software analyst and architect along with being a well known speaker at major software conferences, an author and an architectural consultant. In this "must listen" podcast for anyone considering the Cloud as a platform he shares his insights on the architectural issues involved in developing Cloud Applications as also developments within Microsoft's Windows Azure Cloud Platform.

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You can find all the Optimistic Bear shows here: Software

You can find all the Entrepreneurs Northwest shows here: Entrepreneurs Northwest


02 June 2011

This Week on Bear Radio: It’s lonely being a bear

In this episode we talk about how the ranks of Bears are being continuously depleted. Even Tim Ellis, the creator of SeattleBubble, has now bought a home. Are the Optimistic Bear and friends the only true bears yet living? Of course, the increasing levels of bullishness simply provide MORE reason for the Optimistic Bear to stay bearish. We also discuss the limitations (and outright futility) of technical analyses and even economics for predicting the future of markets. The sizzling economies of Australia, Canada, and China, are also talked about as we ponder when these bubbles are going to burst.

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NOTE: Remember to tune into the Optimistic Bear weekly financial round-up every Tuesday at 9:00pm, Pacific Time. You can also listen to previous shows.

29 May 2011

This Week on Bear Radio: The Bubble Returns

In this episode we discuss how the rash of tech IPOs and wild valuations are eerily similar to previous tech bubbles. Credit problems have only been swept under the carpet (evidenced by the fact that the US government now backs 90% of all mortgages) yet we see speculation rampant. We also talk about the value and limitations of technical analyses for investing. You don’t have to be right very often to succeed at investing. You just have to participate in the best investment opportunities and stay out of the market during the infrequent (but devastating) crashes.

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NOTE: Remember to tune into the Optimistic Bear weekly financial round-up every Tuesday at 9:00pm, Pacific Time. You can also listen to previous shows.

17 May 2011

This Week on Bear Radio: credit deflation – the unexplained phenomena

In this week’s episode we discuss how there isn’t a single school of economics that explains the modern phenomena of credit deflation. According to traditional economics theories the prices of goods and services will rise when the volume of money increases. However, we have seen cases in the last 30 years where prices fall even as the money supply grows. Whether you are a Keynesian, neo-classicist, Austrian or Marxist, not one of these theories can account for what has happened in Japan and is starting to occur in America. We also talk about how it feels like we are in a slow moving train wreck. The same dire economics stories dominate the news, such as the European sovereign debt issues, yet they just keep getting worse, month after month. It’s deja-vu all over again.

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NOTE: Remember to tune into the Optimistic Bear weekly financial round-up every Tuesday at 9:00pm, Pacific Time. You can also listen to previous shows.

06 May 2011

This Week on Bear Radio: The diversification myth and why investing today is riskier than e

In this episode we discuss the crash in the commodity markets and the amazing correlation which is occurring across almost all asset classes. Even BitCoin has been blowing another bubble. This correlation between assets, causing everything to move in lock-step, has made diversification almost impossible and created one of the riskiest investment environments in memory. We also talk about the certainty of improbable events and why it is sometimes good to panic.

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NOTE: Remember to tune into the Optimistic Bear weekly financial round-up every Tuesday at 9:00pm, Pacific Time. You can also listen to previous shows.

21 March 2011

This Week on Bear radio: It’s an inflationary world out there

In this episode Moses Kim explains that the rising prices in commodities and precious metals show that the US will be living in an inflationary environment for a long time to come. The massive US government debt and lack of economic competitiveness further ensure that the American dollar is only going to see lower valuations in the years ahead. Deflationists (like the Optimistic Bear) are mis-reading comparisons with the 1930s and Japan’s 20 year odyssey with falling prices. Precious metals, stocks, commodities, and emerging markets are the places to invest.

That said, Moses warns that Gold could be in store for a sharp, yet brief, correction.

You can find more of Moses’ ideas at:
http://expectedreturnsblog.com/

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NOTE: Remember to tune into the Optimistic Bear weekly financial round-up every Tuesday at 9:00pm, Pacific Time. You can also listen to previous shows.

14 March 2011

This Week on Bear radio: No one beats the Optimistic Bear in bearishness! No one!

In this episode we discuss how recent market volatility could have a bearish portent and how markets that keep rising for long periods without a significant correction are fragile. We examine how the rising price of oil could be viewed as either bullish or bearish for the future of crude prices. When it comes to understanding bubbles, the venerable Greenspan may actually have a good point: there is no good way to tell if there is a bubble until it’s over.

With so many bearish prognosticators turning bullish (even Mish has tempered his views) the Optimistic Bear declares his willingness to stand alone (or nearly so)! While not buying into the apocalyptic view, he remains firmly in the perma-bear camp, believing that major deflation is yet in store.

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NOTE: Remember to tune into the Optimistic Bear weekly financial round-up every Tuesday at 9:00pm, Pacific Time. You can also listen to previous shows.

The next shoe to fall: Reverse Mortgages

Slowly but surely we are starting to see cracks in the reverse mortgage market. Like all the new mortgage finance innovations of the bubble years, having a lender give a lump sum payment to an elderly homeowner for the privilege of collecting upon the death of the borrower sounded like a good idea. Unfortunately, we are now starting to see that many of the underlying assumptions of reverse mortgages were flawed.

In particular, it is now evident that home prices have fallen so much that many reverse mortgage holders are under-water, finding that the current market price of their home is worth less than what they borrowed. As the New York Times points out, this impacts any surviving spouses who had hoped to wind up with a little inheritance with the passing of their loved one.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/12/your-money/12money.html

Of bigger implications, however, is the fact that lenders are already starting to see situations where they are taking losses on reverse mortgages. The generous equity cushions lenders had thought they were leaving themselves have proven to be not so safe after all. When homes drop 40% or 60% in value even large equity cushions of 25% or 30% aren't sufficient to prevent losses.

Could losses from under-water reverse mortgages start to impact bank balance sheets?

I don't have a lot of sympathy for people who find their homes are being foreclosed upon when their spouse passes away. After all, these people managed to benefit from having the bank over-pay for the value of the home. At least the lender can't force anyone to make up the difference from the market sale price and the balance owed.

If the treatment of other distressed properties is anything to go by I wouldn't be surprised to see many lenders delay in the foreclosure, and sale, of reverse mortgaged properties as well. Banks have shown a great aversion to having to take write-downs on mortgages by selling for low market values and I doubt attitude will change with reverse mortgages.

24 February 2011

Yes, job search discrimination exists – get over it!

I know the frustration people feel in the job market. It took me nearly a year after Microsoft let me go in July 2009 to find full time employment again. It’s hard not to get depressed when no one returns your phone calls for informational interview requests and the only thing you receive from submitting job applications are form letters.

I began to wonder if all my experience and training was for nothing. How could I support my family working as a hamburger flipper? Is the world just intended for the very young, willing to work for peanuts as they begin their careers? Have I finally hit a wall where my lack of a college degree will prevent me from finding a good job ever again?

One recruiter at a well-known technology firm (who I got to know as a friend through my podcasting efforts) told me there was no point in my ever sending in a job application to his firm even if there was a perfect opening for someone with my background. My lack of a degree would automatically divert my application to the dust bin, according to my friend.

Is life over?

I just wouldn’t let myself dwell on those thoughts. Instead, I would drag myself out of bed every day, telling myself that this could be the day I find a job! I reminded myself that every job I ever had ever found came through roundabout methods. I’ve never led an orthodox life (or career) so why should I start now? When even my friends tell me it is pointless to apply for jobs on-line I simply resolved to go around the gatekeepers and become friends with the hiring managers themselves.

Eventually, my determination finally paid off. I am once again gainfully employed as a program manager at a software firm AND I have built a network of professional connections I wouldn’t have even dreamed possible when I was at Microsoft. Nevertheless, it took a LOT of effort and a willingness to jump into new things with both feet (again and again) to get me here.

The keys to my career salvation were twofold: 1) my willingness to work for free and 2) starting podcast shows as a networking tool.

Instead of sitting on my hands collecting unemployment insurance (and sending out resumes), I would reach out to local cash starved startups and offer to work for free, or for a promise of stock (which almost certainly would never amount to anything). This allowed me to keep my skills current AND to meet interesting people. When I do apply for jobs there is no embarrassing gap in my resume since I can legitimately tell people I have been working, and even go into great detail about the interesting work and accomplishments I have racked up. I was doing more interesting, and innovative, work at these startups than I ever did in my whole career at Microsoft! That alone was a very empowering feeling.

I also made it a goal to make at least 4 new professional connections a week, and my efforts at creating podcast shows helped immensely with this goal. I would invite business people, recruiters, and all manner of people I wanted to build friendships with to be guests on my podcast shows and to my surprise MOST PEOPLE SAID YES! I have interviewed nearly 200 people in the last year and a half, most of whom have become good friends.

Not one of the interviews I have been on came through submitting job applications. All of my interviews resulted from making connections with people in the industries and businesses where I wanted to work.

I know how hard the job market is these days, but I am able to tell people that there IS hope. Creativity and a willingness to work hard can make all the difference.

If you would like to learn more about my strategy for using podcasting to get a job check out my 10 minute video:
http://bit.ly/podintro1

23 February 2011

This Week on Bear radio: The conservation of risk and the illusory safety of hedging

In this episode we talk about how financial hedging can actually lead to bigger risks by encouraging imprudent behavior and endowing a false sense of security. The whole AIG debacle proved you can’t always rely on insurance (which is what hedging is, after all). Try as one might, it is simply not possible to eliminate or even minimize risk. You can only succeed in changing where the risk lies. Instead of the risk of an actual crop failure the risk now is that the insurer will make good on a claim. We also debate whether the people movement revolutions sweeping through the Arab world are bullish or bearish for the global economy. It can definitely be said that there is no historic correlation between commodity prices and geo-political unrest. For just one example, oil prices have both risen and fallen (aside from short term spikes on major news) substantially during major periods of upheaval and wars in the middle east.

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NOTE: Remember to tune into the Optimistic Bear weekly financial round-up every Tuesday at 9:00pm, Pacific Time. You can also listen to previous shows.

21 February 2011

Defying European Creditors Iceland says yes to deflation

The Icelandic President's decision to veto yet another attempt to nationalize debts of defunct private banks not only shows that there are at least SOME politicians in this world who listen to their constituents but that a whole nation is voting to stop the inflationary insanity of debt creation in favour of deflation.

Instead of kicking the can further down the road, nationalizing the obligations to British and Dutch depositors of private banks which lent foolishly, Iceland is clearly saying that it is better to just take the hard medicine now and write off the debt.

In big and small ways the world is slowly waking up to the reality that the massive speculative debts built up over the last 30 years will simply have to be purged.

16 February 2011

This Week on Bear radio: Commodity prices tell the story-inflation is everywhere

In this episode Brad Rundbaken explains how commodity prices are the canary in the coal-mine pointing to the rising inflationary pressures resulting from all the stimulus and bail-outs. Changing cycles in weather patterns are also exacerbating pricing pressures on food stuffs. Conveniently, policy makers don’t include the prices of commodities in their inflation calculations, making it easy to deny that problems exist. That said, Brad urges caution in the market right now since things seem to have reached an overbought state. We close our discussion by pondering whether the internet age really has made a difference in modern mass revolutions (such as those occurring in Tunisia and Egypt) or whether popular uprisings today are just repeating the same pattern as those done long before the age of Twitter.

You can read more of Brad’s ideas here:
http://trendocracy.blogspot.com/
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NOTE: Remember to tune into the Optimistic Bear weekly financial round-up every Tuesday at 9:00pm, Pacific Time. You can also listen to previous shows.

09 February 2011

EPNW: The philosophy of organic marketing – where marketing and life fit into balance

In this episode Jim Hodgson explains how blogging has helped him find new meaning in life, and focused his thoughts to allow him to achieve previously unobtainable goals. Jim has went from being vastly overweight to a triathlete and outdoorsman (recently trekking up Kilimanjaro). We also discuss Jim’s concept of “organic marketing”, which seeks to pull people in who are interested rather than blast the universe with useless spam. Sharing details on the internet about yourself, or business, can go a long way to winning over customers. Not only do customers want to know about the product, but they also love to feel a connection with the people or businesses they work with.

You can check out Jim’s blog about philosophy and achieving goals here:
http://jimhodgson.com

Information on organic marketing can be found here:
http://hodgsonco.com

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NOTE: Check out the complete podcast directory of discussions with entrepreneurs. If you would like to be a guest on Entrepreneurs Northwest, to talk about your business venture, contact Michael Surkan.

06 February 2011

EPNW: How many impossible things do you do before breakfast?

In this episode Joel Runyon explains how he realized it was only his own fears and excuses that prevented him from achieving his dreams. Instead of using excuses for a lack of money, or time, to avoid pursuing his passions, Joel has begun training for triathlons and pursuing the career in internet marketing he always wanted. Anyone can achieve impossible things if they only try. Unfortunately, most people give up on their impossible dreams before they even start.

Sure, failure is possible (and virtually inevitable on occasion), but if we don’t even try to achieve our dreams then we will never discover that we can do things that are considered impossible.

You can check out Joel’s blog of impossible things here:
http://www.joelrunyon.com/two3

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NOTE: Check out the complete podcast directory of discussions with entrepreneurs. If you would like to be a guest on Entrepreneurs Northwest, to talk about your business venture, contact Michael Surkan.

03 February 2011

This Week on Bear radio: Why health care reform is driving up your medical bills

In this episode Patrick Killelea explains how the US health care reform legislation actually provides incentive for insurance providers to charge even more. Restrictions on the amount of profit that can be made make it attractive to pay more for care and treatment to ensure a higher over-all bill. This might explain why Blue Shield has increased Patrick’s insurance premiums by 73% this year alone. It’s things like this that drive a guy to the streets in protest, which is exactly what Patrick did this week.

You can check out Patrick’s latest adventures in fighting the health insurance companies as well as his excellent financial news information at:
http://patrick.net/

If you are interested in deflation, check out the Deflation Study Group on LinkedIn (open to all LinkedIn members):
http://linkd.in/deflationsg

You can also listen to my in-depth Deflation 101 podcast.
http://bit.ly/deflation101

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NOTE: Remember to tune into the Optimistic Bear weekly financial round-up every Tuesday at 9:00pm, Pacific Time. You can also listen to previous shows.

28 January 2011

EPNW: Patents make the world go round

In this episode Jim Haugen explains that patents are the lifeblood of any tech company and that it is always better to think about what might be patentable (or not) before the first piece of code is written. A little expert advice before a startup begins developing their product can save a lot of potential grief in the future. No one wants to be in a situation where they discover they have built a product which infringes on someone else’s intellectual property or that they are unable to protect their own ideas with patents. Jim also elaborates on why patents are not something you undertake with a do-it-yourself kit. A huge percentage of patents are rejected and It takes experience to know how to create filings that sail through the process.

You can check out more about Jim’s patent firm at:
http://www.seattlepatentgroup.com/
Download the sound(right click and save as link) : Download

NOTE: Check out the complete podcast directory of discussions with entrepreneurs. If you would like to be a guest on Entrepreneurs Northwest, to talk about your business venture, contact Michael Surkan.

26 January 2011

This Week on Bear radio: Cycles and Pre-destination

In this episode we discuss the idea that societies, and economies, are governed by both short and very long cycles of social mood and sentiment. If this theory of cycles (like those proposed by Kondratiev) are correct, then there is very little policy makers can do one way or the other to change economic outcomes. The grandiose visions laid out by the US President’s state of the union address are irrelevant to the economic and psychological prosperity of the nation. The ideas offered by the President’s political opponents are likewise irrelevant for improving the economy. These generational cycles also imply that the cause of the recession and “financial crisis” is deeper than a lack of regulations or risky investment behavior. It was the general bullish attitude of society which inevitably led to lax regulation and excessive risk taking. The next time there is broad bullish sentiment throughout society (80 or 90 years hence) then regulation will inevitably become lax and risk taking will again reach excesses.

We talk about how NO political leaders are championing the idea of state or municipal bankruptcies as a method to cure long-term budget problems. There are NO political leaders suggesting that the major financial institutions like CityGroup should just go bust and that bond-holders and depositors should lose their money. Instead, policy makers whine about deficits, stimulus, education and social safety nets.

Lastly, we explore the fact the Bitcoin is now reaching a new high, in alignment with other markets, with bearish implications.

Download the sound(right click and save as link) : Download

You can find all the Optimistic Bear shows here: Optimistic Bear

You can find all the Entrepreneurs Northwest shows here: Entrepreneurs Northwest

24 January 2011

Linked:Seattle members on YouTube - in their own words

NOTE: Don't forget to register for the February 16th Linked:Seattle meetup. You can find details and register here: http://bit.ly/lsmeetup

Tables are available for anyone wishing to promote their company with brochures or a small display. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a meetup sponsor please you can find more details at http://bit.ly/lssponsor. Early sponsors will be mentioned in a group announcement.

Listen to Linked:Seattle members are share their experiences, and tips, of working with the community to help their businesses and careers.

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Corinne Cavanaugh of http://www.freeseattlesocially.com/linked.html is coming to the February 16th meetup.



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Carol Mason Mortarotti of http://carolmortarotti.com - helping businesses with mobile and social media marketing.



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Kelly Clay from www.lockergnome.com interviewed Linked:Seattle meetup attendees on January 20th, 2011.



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Michael Surkan and Susan J. Moore discuss how a little preparation can turn the large Linked:Seattle meetups into successful social networking events. You can find details and register to upcoming meetups here: http://bit.ly/lsmeetup



NOTE: Click here for a list of all the Linked:Seattle radio show recordings. You can also check out my own "Entrepreneurs Northwest" podcast shows (http://bit.ly/epnwfeed).

SEP: Does code review automation really improve quality?

In this episode we discuss automated code reviews. Have code review automation tools grown up, and matured, to the point where they lead to REAL quality improvements? Should all software teams be using automated code review tools?

You can check out more information of our show guests here:

St├ęphane Vaucher
http://ca.linkedin.com/in/vaucher

Chris Mefford
http://www.linkedin.com/in/csmefford

Download the sound(right click and save as link) : Download

You can find all the Optimistic Bear shows here: Software

You can find all the Entrepreneurs Northwest shows here: Entrepreneurs Northwest

20 January 2011

Job Search Tales: Help yourself to a job by helping recruiters

In this episode Jay Kraker, Lesa Keller and Olivier Taupin explain how the Star Performer initiative offers job candidates a tremendous opportunity to build relationships with recruiters by helping them. The Star Performer group on LinkedIn helps match recruiters with job seeking volunteers who make it their job to help them fill their openings. It doesn’t matter if the best candidate is someone else. Building relationships with recruiters is invaluable for helping job seekers ultimately find the role they want. This is a win-win program. The recruiters get a dedicated assistant who plugs their openings on LinkedIn and candidates get to build the relationships they need.

You can learn more about the Star Performer program by watching this video:
http://bit.ly/staradviser

You can sign-up for the Star Performer program here:
http://bit.ly/startrain1

Download the sound(right click and save as link) : Download

NOTE: Please contact Michael if you are interested in being a guest on "Tales from the job search trenches" podcasts. Michael would like to discuss your job search strategy, and brainstorm ways to improve it with you.

19 January 2011

This Week on Bear radio: A moment of Minsky

In this episode Steve Keen shares his knowledge of economics to not only debunk the reverence paid to economists by policy makers but to explain that the titans of the economic theory are misunderstood. Keynes wasn’t the advocate for stimulus spending as many assume and Karl Marx actually had a lot of great insights that are conveniently swept under the carpet. Steve goes on to provide a tutorial on the life and ideas of his hero Hyman Minsky, explaining how this was one of the few who understood the sheer unpredictability that underlies all economics. We also discuss the how there is nothing special about the Australian, Canadian, or Chinese economies other than the fact that they have been able to breathe new life into their economies by blowing bigger bubbles. The end result is inevitable: global deflation.

You can read about Steve’s book “Debunking Economics” here:
http://debunkingeconomics.com/

You can read Steve’s blog posts on economics here:
http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/


Download the sound(right click and save as link) : Download

You can find all the Optimistic Bear shows here: Optimistic Bear
You can find all the Entrepreneurs Northwest shows here: Entrepreneurs Northwest

If you are interested in deflation, check out the Deflation Study Group on LinkedIn (open to all LinkedIn members):
http://linkd.in/deflationsg

You can also listen to my in-depth Deflation 101 podcast.
http://bit.ly/deflation101

NOTE: Remember to tune into the Optimistic Bear weekly financial round-up every Tuesday at 9:00pm, Pacific Time. You can also listen to previous shows.

12 January 2011

This Week on Bear radio: Iceland as the model for economic recovery

In this episode we discuss how Iceland’s decision to simply allow its banks to go bust may have been the wiser choice. Iceland’s economy is now growing again and the economy is re-setting itself. By contrast, nations like Ireland and Greece are taking on even MORE debt (in the form of bail-outs) to prop up their economies yet there is no end in sight to their economic demise. Sometimes it is better to just let the dead wood die and get started with a clean slate. We also discuss how currencies would function in a truly free market and what role, if any, central banks should have in such an environment.

Download the sound(right click and save as link) : Download

You can find all the Optimistic Bear shows here: Optimistic Bear

You can find all the Entrepreneurs Northwest shows here: Entrepreneurs Northwest

When facing insolvency banks will always choose to delay and pray

Not that any more proof were needed, but here is ANOTHER article which points out how US banks are still playing tricks with their financial statements by delaying foreclosures and delaying the need to write down losses.

The commentator in this article (the estimable Messr Mish Shedlock) rightly points out that "Delays cost banks money and they know it". However, it is ALWAYS preferable to defer a loss until later if the alternative is to go bust today. The fact that a loss delayed may be greater later down the road than if it were addressed today is beside the point. When your only choice is to delay and pray or go bust immediately, the choice is clear.

If I were the executive at a bank that was facing insolvency if I took the write downs from all delinquent loans, I would ABSOLUTELY decide to delay forcelosure as long as possible, even if I knew the ultimate cost of delay was "higher". At least I can keep collecting a paycheque and bonuses until the bank finally collapses. And who knows, perhaps a miracle will happen and housing will recover making everything peachy again.

http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2011/01/us-banks-report-phantom-income-on-14.htm

NOTE: Remember to tune into the Optimistic Bear weekly financial round-up every Tuesday at 9:00pm, Pacific Time. You can also listen to previous shows.

10 January 2011

Michael's in the Times again! This time talking about podcasting for jobs.

Randy Woods has posted an article about my strategies for using podcasts as part of a job search tool in his blog on the The Seattle Times. He does a great job of explaining why podcasting is so useful as well as outlines the easy to follow-tips for making them.

http://blog.nwjobs.com/hireground/2011/01/podcasting-your-way-to-a-new-j.html

Don't forget to check out my video on how to use podcasting for jobs and business.

http://bit.ly/podintro1

NOTE: Please contact Michael if you are interested in being a guest on "Tales from the job search trenches" podcasts. Michael would like to discuss your job search strategy, and brainstorm ways to improve it with you.

05 January 2011

The Message Matters: Internet Marketing 101

Here are a series of short podcasts I recorded that outline how to create EFFECTIVE internet marketing programs through LinkedIn and podcasting.

In episode 1 I explain what social networking is and how companies can use it for marketing. While companies should definitely use Facebook and Twitter, the real focus should be on podcasting and direct marketing.



In episode 2 I outline how every internet marketing program begins with on the “soft” side by generating content, which can be blog articles, white papers or (and most especially) podcasts.



In episode 3 I talk about “hard” internet marketing. This is all about how LinkedIn can be used for highly targeted (and effective) direct mail campaigns.


NOTE: Check out the complete podcast directory of discussions with entrepreneurs. If you would like to be a guest on Entrepreneurs Northwest, to talk about your business venture, contact Michael Surkan.

This Week on Bear radio: Being rich is a state of mind

In this episode Robert Gignac offers advice on financial planning. Be careful to choose financial advisors who don’t have an vested interest in selling particular products. It is also important to find advice from people who really explain the various products and options without assuming that consumers understand the different between annuities, dividends or tax-free retirement funds. Robert explores how your goals and state of mind are the key to real happiness. Just having a lot of cash doesn’t inevitably make one happier. We also discuss the differences in health care systems and investment options for Canada and the US, sharing our own experiences with each system.

You can check out more of Robert’s ideas (and his book) here:
http://www.richisastateofmind.com/

Download the sound(right click and save as link) : Download

You can find all the Optimistic Bear shows here: Optimistic Bear

You can find all the Entrepreneurs Northwest shows here: Entrepreneurs Northwest

04 January 2011

EPNW: Kick start your path to entrepreneurship with a franchise

In this episode Thomas Wolter explains that starting a franchise can be a simpler and more reliable path to successful to entrepreneurship than starting your own firm from scratch. Franchises come with a proven business model and a turn-key operation (not to mention guidance) to get started. Franchises aren’t just about retail food. Thomas shares his suggestions of some great franchise options which are both inexpensive, and tailored to different expertise and personalities. There is a wide assortment of franchise opportunities, with options right for almost everyone.

You can check out Thomas' information on franchising options here:
http://buyafranchiseunlimited.com/

Download the sound(right click and save as link) : Download

NOTE: Check out the complete podcast directory of discussions with entrepreneurs. If you would like to be a guest on Entrepreneurs Northwest, to talk about your business venture, contact Michael Surkan.