Far West Capital February 2012 Newsletter

Now this is just awkward: when an overly-excited fan at the New York Giants victory parade is asked by a NBC NY reporter who she is most looking forward to seeing that day, she eagerly screams out “Sanchez!” As in, QB Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets. Maybe she was paying more attention to the commercials than the actual football game…



Across the pond, Queen Elizabeth II is living proof blue blood is thicker than water. On February 6, Elizabeth II kicked-off the celebration of her Diamond Jubilee, marking a 60-year reign as queen, at a nursery school in the UK. This year, Accession Day was the beginning of a year-long celebration that will feature visits to Commonwealth nations throughout the world by members of the royal family. Festivities will culminate in the summer with a four-day UK bank holiday weekend in June. The Queen thanked well-wishers and re-dedicated herself in service as a symbol of unity and continuity for the British Isles and its Commonwealth, repeating a pledge she first took when she was 21-years old. Although we prefer presidents to princes, we still admire the Queen for keeping such a formidable commitment for that long.



Valentine’s Day was yesterday, but did you know the whole month of February is dedicated to the heart? Since February of 1963, organizations like the American Heart Association have used the February to raise awareness about heart disease, which claims millions of American lives each year. Show some love by visiting the Million Hearts Facebook page today to learn about heart-healthy foods, read stories of heart disease survivors, and find charities and events near you.


America’s leading business schools are beginning to actively recruit service members. The increase is attributed to the GI Bill and other federal programs, which fork over as much as $55,000 to veterans looking to pursue advanced degrees, as well as new commitments, from some of the nation’s most lucrative companies, to hire former servicemen. A disciplined leader and team-player who can handle high-stress situations—it doesn’t get much better than that when it comes to a business executive! If you ask us, these elite business schools could learn a thing or two from the veterans themselves.



What inspired us most about Manuel de los Santos was not that he refused to let a tragic accident take away the joy he found in playing sports, albeit this fact is amazing.  We were truly impressed by Manuel’s capacity to use old skills, as a baseball player, to adapt to a new challenge, as a golfer. Check out his amazing story here.



Just in case blogs and Twitter pages don’t already keep you glued to your computer and mobile devices, there is a new social media tool out there with the goal of making “deeper, longer-lasting, more personal kind of storytelling,” possible online. The new web tool has been dubbed “Cowbird,” symbolizing the fusion of the “slow and grounded” nature of the website with the fast and lively character of the Internet sites we are accustomed to today.  Cowbird allows users to craft interactive stories using high-quality videos, full-screen photos, audio clips, and other digital imaging media. Projects can then be sent and shared with family, friends, and other users. There is even a feature that connects you with other Cowbirds by finding similarities in user stories. We aren’t sure if this brainchild of computer scientist and artist, Jonathan Harris, is going to catch on, but his new application could be a memo that maybe it’s time we stop trying to reduce our lives down to 140 characters and a timeline.




Got a craving for tomatoes and chocolate ice cream? Or perhaps its peanut butter and pudding that gives you your fix? When Austin food writer, Addie Broyles, wanted to unearth the secret behind our weird food fetishes, she sent out the call on Twitter, asking people to respond using the hashtag “secretfoodpleasures.” As it turns out, pregnant women aren’t the only ones jonesing for weird treats like pickles and ice cream—she received replies from people who confessed to eating tamales wrapped in white bread, saltine crackers dipped in lemon frosting, and just about every other random food combination. Cookbook author Deborah Madison, who wrote the book “What We Eat When We Eat Alone” with her husband Patrick McFarlin, believes when we indulge in these strange foods, we are tapping into food memories, and this experience takes us back to a time we are fond of. So what if the person in line in front of you just ordered a sour cream and jelly sandwich? She could be reliving the #happiestdayofherlife.



How much is your website browsing privacy worth? Google says $5 a month. In the attempt to find out how everyday people use the Internet to help it improve its own products and services, Google is offering a $5 Amazon gift card when you sign up and download the Screenwise browser extension, which monitors every website you visit. Participants are then eligible for another $5 card for every three months that you stick with the program until you reach a $25 max. This initiative is in strange timing when Google has been in and out of hot water for their privacy policy recently. Would you opt-in for a fee?



Merle Haggard is an American country music singer, guitarist, fiddler, instrumentalists, songwriter, and arguably the hardest-working man in the country. In a recent Men’s Journal interview, the 74-year-old singer said, “I would have liked so retire some time in the past 16 years, but then you look at your expenses and the people you’re employing. All the money just flew out the window.” With nine albums released and hundreds of concerts played, even surgery for lung cancer in 2008 didn’t set him back; he was back on the road seven weeks after the operation. In the interview, he says he wishes more Americans shared his work ethic. “I don’t think young people have a handle on what they’ve lost,” he says. “This country was built on three shifts every 24 hours, and now we’re talking about working three or four days a week. There’s nobody who wants to do the stoop labor, and there is a whole bunch of it to do.”



Hyundai is a smart company when it comes to their offerings and perks. The company started a car buy-back program in 2009, under which the company offered to buy back the car from any Hyundai owner who involuntarily lost employment within one year of purchasing it. Hyundai paid up to $7,500 for the differences in trade-in value and remaining balances on auto loans. This initiative formed the “Hyundai Assurance” program still used today, long after the buy-back program ended. Seeing Hyundai’s success, General Motors tried a similar program but the way it was set up (the company made payments for customers instead) was not successful. This is a good example of successful and unsuccessful trigger strategies.



The NY Giants won the Super Bowl this year, but if you were following the team, you know they were in danger of not making the playoffs earlier in the season. In their pre-game show, ESPN featured the story of how the team turned it around. The team chaplain asked a friend to come in to talk to the team. The speaker gave a poker analogy to motivate the Giants and gave each player a poker chip to remind them of their goal: to be “all in” and give everything they had to the team’s effort. After the talk, the Giants went on to win all of their games, including the Super Bowl. The speaker’s poker analogy is a great reminder. Are you “all in” for your team?


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