Extreme Industry Make-Over

This is what seems to be going on right now, more than I’ve ever seen. As close to this as I can recall, was back about two decades ago, when the Chairman of Salomon Brothers (a 100+ year old Wall Street firm) invented the Mortgage Back Security (MBS) and the subsequent trading of the MBS. Prior to that significant paradigm shift, portfolio lending and modest volumes of whole loan sales were predominant in our industry. This gave way to easy access to virtually unlimited funds available for mortgage lending.

Abandoning their more traditional role as ‘deal-makers’ and businesses involved with securities underwriting; sales and trading; investment and merchant banking; financial advisory services; investment research; venture capital; correspondent brokerage services; and asset management – more than a decade ago we saw the beginning of the Wall Street invasion into our industry when DLJ bought First Franklin, and from that several Wall Street firms became more and more involved as owners of mortgage companies, warehouse providers and etc. Due to their relative short time-line horizon thinking, today as a major part of industry turmoil we’re seeing those more recent roles of theirs disappearing.

Another noteworthy transformation that came about a little more than a decade ago, as I recall, was the notion that retail originators – mortgage brokers, loan officers, loan agents, loan associates (or whatever label you chose to select) should be ‘commissioned sales/closer’ types. This shift created a new culture and attitude revolution, apart from the long-established character of the position as customer service, trusted advisor, underwriter/processor thinking individuals. This newly created commissioned concept, has given rise to a need for nationwide fiduciary duty legislation being considered, and the absolute return to good faith and fair dealing standards necessary to help protect the public.

Contrary to all the “Me Too” articles I see by most supposed industry Guru’s these days, it’s not all about ‘selling,’ it’s more like solve a problem or help the customer make a decision! Originators should not be taught to be a ‘closer’ – don’t kid yourselves, customers trust their interests are being considered first, not being handled by a commissioned sales/closer like the guy that sold them their last used car!

So last week-end I go to the local Garden Center and up comes a fresh faced twenty-something year old young man who asks “How may I help you Sir” – I go on to explain I’m think of tackling several projects in my yard and need to a buy a shovel! With a big grin he begins to ask me several probing questions, like what do I want to accomplish? I explain one thing I need to do is to dig a small 6″ deep trench for a sprinkler system I want to put in. His product knowledge kicks in, and he explains I need a flat nosed narrow shovel for that sort of a task, and shows me one. Also I tell him I’m going to plant a few fruit trees, he shows me a medium sized pointed nose shovel or easy hole digging. Then I mention, I’m going to pour some concrete for a small side patio and I pick up a wide flat nosed shovel for that! Three different shovels for three different situations. In fact, he’s the perfect candidate to hire as an LO! I just explained precisely what a retail originator does with a potential mortgage loan customer; needs good product knowledge and common sense coupled with a friendly customer service oriented helpful attitude. Customer interests are ahead of originators commission check and no selling necessary.

Auto Loan Interest Rates Just Went Up – Industry Worried

Most auto industry analysts knew it was coming, higher interest rates for new cars, indeed most consumers in the market for a new car probably also considered it. The subprime fallout has hit the US Auto Industry and auto loan rates just went up. Are you worried? Well if you are in the auto industry or even in the after market auto industry then you know this is indeed serious for your business or livelihood.

If you have a high credit score and golden credit then it may not be so bad, yet the truth is that most US consumers have some blemishes on their credit reports, whether it is theirs or from an Identity Theft criminal event. If your credit is not perfect and you think you are going to get a good interest rate or good deal on a loan – think again.

In fact, for the not so great credit folks you may find it hard to get a loan at all. What does this mean for auto dealers? Well one industry analyst stated that the estimated sales for 2007 should have been 16.5 million cars sold, but now most are revising it to 15.9 to 16.1 million cars. That is a huge difference of between 400,000 to 600,000 fewer cars. It means layoffs, factory slow downs and less profit. It will hurt the industry. Automotive News Magazine stated:

“NADA chief economist Paul Taylor predicted that U.S. sales of new cars and light trucks this year would roughly equal the 2006 mark of 16.5 million. Now Taylor predicts 2007 sales could dip as low as 16.1 million units. At the same time, some lenders have raised interest rates on vehicle loans to subprime buyers. Dealers in markets where subprime mortgage problems are most acute report slumping sales at their stores.”

US Automakers will be hurt worst as they are struggling to regain market share from the advancing Toyota and Honda Brands, worse the first Chinese Autos will hit the first Chinese Auto Dealership in the US, in New Jersey by mid-2008. The question is how much more pounding can these companies take and what will this do to consumer confidence as we dip into the next downward trend in the US Business Cycle.

Why did all this happen? Well, when automakers want to sell more cars and when there is an abundance of retained earnings or easy to get to ‘large amounts’ of capital, this combination can spark a bubble. As long as things are good, no one says anything until things are not good anymore – then a quick tightening must occur to prevent a bubble pop, sometimes it’s handled correctly and at other times it’s too late. Please consider all this and think on it – because history always repeats.

Building the Case for the Relationship Networking Industry

The Compelling Evidence

Consider the following:

1. From a recent article in Fortune Magazine, “The Trouble with MBAs”: “When Jack Welch gave a guest lecture at MIT’s Sloan School of Management in 2005, someone in the crowd asked, ‘What should we be learning in business school?’ Welch’s reply: ‘Just concentrate on networking. Everything else you need to know, you can learn on the job.'” Like him or hate him: when Jack talks, big business listens.

2. Time Magazine’s “2006 Person of the Year: You” is an acknowledgement to the internet as a populist movement and the power that we, as individuals, now wield over the worlds of politics, entertainment, etc.

3. Educational Institutions are developing curriculums for networking education like the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)’s Social Computing Lab which has recently received a $124,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to fund a new course offering to 90 students for the upcoming Fall, 2007 semester.

4. High gas prices are causing more individuals and small businesses (which, according to the Small Business Administration accounts for 50% of U.S. private nonfarm gross domestic product) to rely upon the internet for online networking to do business, conduct meetings, etc.

5. Web 2.0, “new media” and mobile networking are gaining in popularity due to several factors:

* TeleComms are investing more money into technology infrastructure this year (Sprint: $7 Billion, Verizon: $5 Billion) as well as being acquired (Alltel’s recent $24.8 billion acquisition by private investment firms)

* On the wave of the infrastructure boom, larger social networks like MySpace and Facebook continue to amass their followings while a flood of new start-up networks are vying for market share.

* Generation Yers (or Millennials) embrace this new technology more readily than their counterparts from other generations and the oldest of them are now entering the workforce (see my article from last month: Networking with the Millenials: The End of the World as We Know It?)

6. Media giant Yahoo.com just recently hired two economics and sociology professors: Preston McAfee and Duncan Watts to head their research department and find opportunities in the areas of social networking and online markets.

7. According to an article in Canada’s The Chronicle Herald, social networking sites are beginning to overtake pornographic-related sites as the most popular web destinations.

8. The increasingly-accepted paradigm of “Markets are Conversations” (from The Cluetrain Manifesto by Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls and David Weinberger is being supported by the fact that large corporations like U.S. Television Network NBC is planning a launch of their own social networking site.

Mobile TV, an Industry Already In Crisis?

Although clearly in its infancy the European mobile TV industry is already in crisis, BT Movio’s recent move to cease its service and that supporting Virgin’s Lobster phone less than a year after launch having sold less than 10,000 handsets. Perhaps it’s a technology problem as suggested by the European Union, who recently approved DVB-H as the common pan-European technology for mobile TV.

There are of course fundamental differences between DVB-H technology and the DMB technology as used by BT Movio, however perhaps the fundamental issue facing the mobile TV industry is one of consumer demand.

There are two, connected and as yet unresolved issues facing the mass consumer adoption of mobile TV, being: content and usability.

The re-broadcasting of standard terrestrial television over mobile TV will simply not be compelling enough to drive mass consumer adoption at meaningful price points. This point is directly connected with usability, simple analysis of the way in which consumers use their mobile phone today shows that unless the consumer is sitting down they don’t actually look at their phone.

By performance to date, one feels that the mobile TV industry needs to conduct rather more independent and in-depth consumer research before making investments of hundreds of millions of dollars into technology – even though the European Commission thinks it’s a good pan-European standard.

Furthermore, it is not clear whether the mobile TV industry will be driven by mobile operators, mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) (such as Virgin and BT) or broadcasters (such as Sky).

Written by Andrew White, Partner at Piran Partners LLP, leading consultants to the European telecommunications industry. For further information and our white paper on this subject visit our website.

(c) Piran Partners LLP, 2007.

Andrew White is a founder of Piran Partners LLP, a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) consultancy based in London, who assist both third parties gain MVNO agreements and also wholesale teams within mobile network operators to better support MVNOs.

The Laws of Attraction Will Enhance Your Teaching Skills

Do you remember that one teacher or coach that really made a difference in your life? Was there someone who really cared and inspired you to achieve more than you thought you could? What does it take for a teacher to make a profound difference in the life of a child?

Whether you teach piano, coach a Little League team, or instruct a classroom of fourth graders in a public school, you can use the Laws of Attraction to inspire each student to achieve their goals. If you do not know what the Laws of Attraction are, you need to read some of the many books on the subject–it will change your life! To put it simply, the Laws of Attraction state that your thoughts will attract and bring to your life the things that you focus on the most. Therefore, to get the laws of attraction to help you become an amazing teacher who brings the best out of each student, you must be very focused about the goals you have for each student and for yourself. An effective way to do this is to keep a goal and appreciation journal for your students. Write down the following information on each individual:

What general qualities do you really appreciate about the student?

What goals do you have for this student?

What goals does the student have for himself or herself? If you do not know, you need to communicate and understand what the student wants to achieve with his lessons.

It is important to include in your journal your thoughts about your own teaching skills and goals. What skills do you have that help your students the most? What would you love to achieve in the future with your teaching job?

Remember, according the Laws of Attraction, you will achieve everything you want if you continue to pay positive attention to that goal and truly believe that it will happen.

Now, to start the Laws of Attraction in motion for you and your students, review your goal/appreciation journal for each student every day. Put all your focus on the positive! Paying constant attention to what a student is lacking in skills will cause the Laws of Attraction to work against your teaching goals for that student and negate any progress you are making! As you review your journal and focus on each student, mentally wish them success in their learning adventures.

Law of Attraction – How Does the Secret Law of Attraction Explain Unemployment?

Even before the boom of the current economic depression, numerous people had already suffered from terrible situations because they were literally jobless. Does the secret law of attraction apply to this circumstance? The answer is YES!

An Understandable Situation

Not all bosses are kind and generous. Thus, not all employees are lucky enough to spot a good boss. There are several of them who feel uncomfortable in their respective workplaces. Add to it the fact that there are bosses who play favorites! This leaves you without any other choice but to quit your job. Now, your grudge against your boss is very understandable.

On a yearly basis, thousands of students graduate from different universities all over the world. They have one main goal and that is to land on their dream jobs. With this big number of graduates, only a handful of them are absorbed by the existing companies. Less than half of the total number enjoys competent wages and benefits while several of them receive meager salaries. What a torture!

People flock in companies to apply but only a few of them are hired. The main reason is that the firms don’t have much of a need for rookies. They still have their long-time employees. The retirement age is around 60 so that only emphasizes why the problem on unemployment continues to escalate.

The Law of Attraction in Action

This universal law reiterates that good and bad things happen as the outcome of one’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. If you decide to align your energy with the negative force, then, you are likely to suffer from sorrow and depression. Meanwhile, aligning your energy with the positive force means inviting good vibes into your system. Simply put, you are the one who creates your own realities. If you believe in the possibility of one thing, you will get it. However, if you limit your vision because you have doubts or you simply don’t feel like believing in it that much, then, you just receive limited wealth.

What a 10 Year Old Can Teach You About Law of Attraction

We live in a vibrational universe and the Law of Attraction acts on those vibrations. The vibrational seeds of creation are your thoughts and they are very powerful. Your positive feelings let you know when your vibrations are a match for the outcomes that you desire.

So, if you are thinking about what you want, but feeling about its absence…what are you creating? Your negative emotion is the dominant vibration, which creates more lack or absence of what you desire.

When you don’t have something that you want, how can you be happy? I am not called the Joy Genie because I grant wishes, but because I know how to get happy. And getting truly in a vibration of joy is one of the fundamental ways to make sure the Universe grants your wishes. This is because the Law of Attraction responds to the vibrations of thoughts, not the words.

So, if you are thinking, “I really want to take a beach vacation in Maui”, but your vibration is one of lack, you aren’t sending the right message.

You are not a match for what you want, if your emotions are a match for the empty and deprived feeling of wishing, but not having.

To become a match for your beach vacation, or any desire, you have to be feeling good. If you have been doing a lot of reading and studying about Law of Attraction, this may not be a new idea. But, I’ve noticed that folks have a hard time really grasping what this looks like.

Here’s a story from my friend, Sue,that might illustrate.

Their family is walking down a city street. Sue and her husband, Jake, are discussing the details of financing the car they want to buy. They are reviewing cost factors and how to tighten the budget a bit to cover the monthly payments. They are a kind of excited about the car, but also anxious about the costs.

Internet Gambling Laws in the US Will Soon Take a Dramatic Turn

The U.K. introduced sweeping changes to its internet gambling laws with the passage of the Gambling Act of 2005. The stated purposes of the act were very noble: to prevent gambling from being a source of crime and disorder; to ensure gambling would be conducted in a fair and open manner; and to protect children from being harmed by enforcing the legal gambling age of 18 years. In practice, of course, the act led to a surge in on site operators moving to the country and a corresponding increase in tax revenues as a result.

In the U.S., the situation is much different. Gambling is legal under Federal law but prohibited in many states, with some local exceptions. Legal gambling states include Nevada and New Jersey, although many states have passed laws that legalize gambling in certain municipalities as well as on Native American lands. Internet gambling laws, on the other hand, have effectively prohibited operators from doing business within the states.

In 2006 Congress approved an act that dramatically affected the internet gambling laws and effectively proclaimed the industry illegal. That act threw the industry into turmoil, and drove virtually all of the U.S. based operations out of the country. Sites operated out of the U.K. and the Bahamas now garner a majority of this profitable business. But numerous faults in the 2006 legislation and the feeling that Congress has more important things to worry about have now pushed the country to the brink of legalizing the industry.

If the U.S. is to proceed with the legalization of gambling over the internet, congress must first do away with its awkward attempt at making it illegal under the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (more easily referred to as UIGEA). The purpose of that act was fairly simple: make it illegal for banks, credit card companies, and other payment processors to transfer funds from gamblers to online casinos and from those online casinos back to the gamblers.

You must understand, however, that the preference of lawmakers has always been to prohibit online gambling. But concerns about the constitutionality of such a prohibition as well as the mind boggling problems associated with enforcing the ban have consistently killed any possible actions along those lines. So Congress chose instead to try to attack the problem by preventing the flow of capital between the gamblers and the casinos under the UIGEA.

Now, thanks in no small part to the national financial meltdown, Congress is poised to reverse its approach to internet gambling laws and scrub the problem-plagued UIGEA. Under a couple of proposed House bills including one sponsored by Barney Franks and Ron Paul, Congress now appears poised to legalize and regulate the industry.

How to Run a Baking Business From Home

The idea of being self employed may be appealing but you may be second guessing your ability on how to start your own small business from home. However, many people have found their niche on how to run a small business from home including baking.

Just take inspiration in knowing that everybody loves fresh baked goodies. It reminds them of their childhood and it can be extremely comforting. So if you have a talent for baking, it would certainly make sense to turn it into a business idea.

Plenty of people like to eat freshly baked food especially in the morning for their breakfast. Unfortunately, not many people actually like or have the time to bake themselves. This is where your baking business from home would come in extremely handy.

A legitimate work from home business idea may cause a higher level of uncertainty than an already established business model. A business startup might require a lot of effort from you.You might need to study the market, getting the right equipment, and charging the right price. It is also worthwhile to consider what kinds of baked goods you will supply or will specialize in depending on your location and target market.

Baking businesses are no different from other small home based ones. They have to be thoroughly researched and you need to figure out how your target market is getting their needs met right now, are they satisfied with the products of competitors, are they getting quality goods and how much is the current price for the same baked goods the other baking stores are offering. If these needs are met, then it’s more likely that your business will earn and attract more customers.

If you have decided on what kind of bakery goods you are going to supply, then you can now determine the different bakery equipment and facilities that you need. If you choose to specialize in whole grain breads and/or pies and specialty cakes, you may need to acquire dough dividers, molders, rolling pins, cake pans.

You may need to invest on a baking oven and a laptop where you can also market your goods. Think of a name for you home baking business and register it. The cost of licensing is only minimal and it will allow you to maintain a business bank account as well as take advantage of wholesale supply discounts.

15 Easy Steps to Starting Your Own Small Business

The title is a little tongue in cheek, because starting a business is never easy. It takes a lot of hard work, commitment, enough capital, and paying attention to details in order to get a business off the ground these days. When I decided to start my custom home planning and drafting business, I tried hard to find a good startup guide that would lay it all out for me in a logical order. I couldn’t find anything in the library that had all the steps clearly listed without a lot of confusing fluff and filler. So, motivated mostly out of frustration, I decided to write one good article on this subject based upon my experience and make it available to others. So far, I think I’ve only just scratched the tip of the iceberg and composed a bare-bones outline at best, but I hope it will accomplish what I intend, which is to help others get pointed in the right direction.

Before you spend one dime on starting any business, talk to a few experts first and decide if entrepreneurship is right for you, especially in the field in which you intend to go. Go to your local library, or do a Google and Yahoo search on your business on the Internet. Be thorough and research every aspect of starting a new business in your chosen classification. This will give you a good basis from which to decide if you want to pursue it. Starting out, there is usually more money going out than coming in, and generally, you work long hours without a steady paycheck. Make sure you include your spouse in this decision. If you both are not passionate about it, and are just seeking a steady paycheck, then think again. The bottom line is that you need to like what you do, and you have to be dedicated and focused, or you will fail.

Evaluate yourself honestly and make a pro-and-con list of business ownership. What do you share in common with successful entrepreneurs? Are your financial reserves large enough to carry you for the first year? Do you have access to capital from banks or investors to carry you through the rough times? Do you possess the technical and management skills necessary to operate the business? Can you handle your customers and your employees? Nobody can cover all the bases, so consider all the ways you will have to compensate for your weaknesses by outsourcing these things to competent subcontractors or employees. Maybe you are a good artist, rather than a sharp business person, so team up with someone who can handle the left-brain things, or visa-versa.

Since I live in the United States, this guide is intended to address the procedures required in this country. If you live in Canada, Europe, South America, or elsewhere in the world, this article may not be very relevant to your exact situation, or address the specific conditions in your local area. In that case, please use this as a general planning guide to become familiar with some of the tasks and obligations most businesses require to launch a successful venture in this country. Chances are good that if you can start a business in the U.S., you can start one anywhere. Select the relevant information that applies to your business and disregard the rest. For example, the sequence of steps laid out in this article is in perfect order for most businesses, but you might find your business varies from the norm under your particular circumstances. You may even be able to ignore some steps altogether, but overall; most of them should be helpful in the order that they are listed to plan your enterprise.