Far West Capital March 2011 Newsletter

We love it when an esteemed actor wins an Oscar and then goes out and makes a film that is just about “gettin’ paid…” The best line ever was Michael Caine after his box office bust Jaws 4: “I have never seen it, but by all accounts, it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific!” There’s nothing wrong with that at all. It just proves the old adage… “It is not about the money…It is about the money.”

Speaking of the Oscars…at the Oscars this year, was it us or did nobody shave? What is the cutoff age for coolness in facial hair?  Tom Hanks shaved!  Don’t think that you can pull that look off post 45 or so?

You really have to admire the straight talk from Wells Fargo CEO, John Stumpf. Here is what he had to say about the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

“If you set someone up on Hennepin and 7th, and had them put up a sign and say, “Tell me what caused the downturn of 2008,” they’d be standing there for five more winters before someone said, “It’s those darned debit fees.” But they would say within three seconds that housing has something to do with it. Dodd-Frank has a big section in there about debit fees and not a word about housing. So, politics is alive and well in Washington.”

Glad to see someone with the guts to take a stand.

The truth is brought out in this video by none other than Stephen Colbert: big companies are taking longer to pay, small business lending has not accelerated that fast and big companies have more cash than ever. We recently attended the Obama administration’s Startup America Initiative at SXSWi here in Austin, and all of the panelists agreed that entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the economy and that the Administration was here to help. The words were all very good, and the specifics were very light, except one, “…government is going to make health care much more competitive…” Hmmmm?

I just finished reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. All of us give in to resistance and avoid our “calling.” This book shows you in no uncertain terms what to overcome and how to do it. If you are a person that wants continued improvement in your life, don’t miss it.

Everyone on our operations team has a very simple goal as the outcome of their daily work product: 100% Happy Clients and 100% Clean Deals. Striving to get it 100% is an absolute requirement in our business. Does your operations team have a clear, simple mandate?

Mardi Gras (the French word for Fat Tuesday) was on Tuesday, March 8.  Mardi Gras is the day before Ash Wednesday and is the last night of eating richer, fatty foods (and drinking fun libations) before the ritual of fasting for the season of Lent. The season of Lent is a Christian tradition, known as a period of sacrifice leading up to Easter. However, more and more people (religious or not) tend to give up something for Lent.

At Far West Capital, we blog a lot about setting goals, incorporating beneficial practices in your business, etc. However, we don’t always focus on giving up certain things in order to improve your business and/or yourself. Sacrificing for the greater good is normally rewarding. Common things to give up include: fast food, alcohol, smoking, using profanity, chocolate, sugar, caffeine, shopping, texting, Facebook (yes, even Facebook can be addicting), and watching television. Have you thought about giving up stuff to improve your business? This could include giving up checking email throughout the day (maybe just doing it first thing in the morning and in the late afternoon), taking an hour for lunch (take 30 minutes instead and go home 30 minutes early), participating in office gossip, self doubt and self loathing, complaining, working on the weekends… Have you given up something for Lent?

We recently funded a deal with Probe Manufacturing, Inc., (PMFI.OB), a global electronics design, manufacturing and services company headquartered in Irvine, CA. As a result of a successful 2010, Probe Manufacturing is in the process of expanding its customer and supply base, both nationally and internationally, as it executes its strategic plan of becoming a global electronics company. We’re looking forward to watching Probe Manufacturing grow and succeed.

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day and it will be celebrated by Irish communities (and others) around the world.  Here are 5 fun facts about the celebration of Ireland’s patron saint from The Telegraph.

1. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, although he was born in Britain, around 385AD. His parents Calpurnius and Conchessa were Roman citizens living in either Scotland or Wales, according to different versions of his story.

2. As a boy of 14, he was captured and taken to Ireland where he spent six years in slavery herding sheep. He returned to Ireland in his 30s as a missionary among the Celtic pagans.

3. Legend has it that he used the native shamrock as a symbol of the holy trinity when preaching and brought the Latin alphabet to Ireland.

4. Miracles attributed to him include the driving of serpents out of Ireland. However, evidence suggests post-glacial Ireland never had any snakes in the first place.

5. Wearing green, eating green food and even drinking green beer, is said to commemorate St Patrick’s use of the shamrock – although blue was the original color of his vestments.

Hug-A-Hero is a new toy that helps comfort thousands of children whose parents are serving overseas in the military. Hug-A-Hero dolls allow kids to feel like they are hugging their mommy or daddy – the dolls are imprinted with a photo of the child’s parent in uniform. The dolls are free to kids and help them cope while their parents are away. Currently, there’s a waiting list of 800 military children.

You can get more information or provide a doll by donating on their website www.operationhugahero.org.

South By Southwest (SXSW), the annual film, music and interactive festival in Austin, is ending soon, and it will be interesting to see the final numbers of the impact and attendance of the conference since it has grown every year. According to this infographic featuring stats from 2010, the total economic impact, from spending at restaurants to the goods bartenders bought from the tips made from SXSW visitors, was $113 million. Check out the infographic for more interesting stats.

What do you want to do before you die? This month, Artist Candy Chang created this interesting chalkboard art installation on a wall in New Orleans that posed this question. Passing people used the chalk available on the wall to add their responses. Responses are being documented and some will be included in a book. Once the wall becomes too full, the board will be erased to be filled again. What would you write on the wall?

Our definition of “super saver” has evolved with the times, and this infographic illustrates what characteristics we think qualifies a person as a super saver today. From the car we drive to the coupon apps we have on our smartphones, the characteristics are an interesting way to look at how we save today. How do you define a super saver?

If you need help on a “sagging” product, try to get Charlie Sheen to help. Ray Broguiere, owner of Broguiere’s Dairy, said the farm was inundated with phone calls from curious customers following Charlie’s tweet of himself holding a bottle of Broguiere’s Dairy chocolate milk last week. And with celebrity tweets going for as much as $10,000 a pop, it’s the deal of the century. Ray told news stations, “I’d never be able to afford this kind of publicity. I’d be happy to give him free chocolate milk whenever he stops by the farm.”

At FWC, we see all kinds of companies, big and small. While all are in the game to make money, most keep a good balance between being fair and greedy. This consent order signed by World’s Foremost Bank and the FDIC is an example of greedy. World’s Foremost Bank is in Sidney, Nebraska (pop. 6,682) and is a unit of Cabela’s (stock symbol: CAB).

This is a not only an example of poor management but pushing the profit envelope too far. As former bankers, we can only imagine the headache and legal cost of this deal. We wish them well and hope this makes them stronger. As you go about implementing your own business strategy, make sure it is fair to all concerned. This simple concept might save you a lot of headache down the road.

How do rich and famous people lose a house to foreclosure? The old fashion way – they get behind on their payments. Nicolas Cage has lost two houses to foreclosure – one in the French Quarter and the other in the Garden District – worth a combined $6.8 million. As a wise man once said, ”it’s not what you make – it’s what you spend that counts.”

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