Marbury, Crackpots, and Judicial Supremacy

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I just returned to the United States after a short-term teaching stint at European University in Tbilisi, Georgia. It seems I’ve arrived home on the tail end of a controversy over the venerable Marbury v. Madison decision. According to luminaries at the Washington Post, anyone who questions the greatness of Marbury is a “crackpot” and unfit to serve in the national government.

Here’s how the Post describes the decision:

Decided in 1803, at the dawn of the new republic, Marbury v. Madison is the foundational case of American constitutional law. It represents Chief Justice John Marshall’s declaration that the Supreme Court possesses the ultimate power to interpret the Constitution and determine the legitimacy of acts of Congress.

Undoubtedly, this is the modern, mainstream interpretation of Marbury, but it also happens to be wrong. I wrote a law review article on this some years back for the Duke Journal of Constitutional Law and Public Policy, and expanded this article into a book: Judicial Monarchs: Court Power and the Case for Restoring Popular Sovereignty in the United States. Essentially, I argue that although judicial review naturally flows from principles of popular sovereignty, judicial supremacy does not. In fact, the modern concept of judicial supremacy would shock the Founding generation, including John Marshall himself. (Judicial review, as used in my argument, is the power of courts to review decisions of another department or level of government. Judicial supremacy holds that courts are the final arbiters of the meaning of the Constitution.)

It is hard to summarize the argument in a blog post, but Marbury simply took account of popular sovereignty and affirmed that the judiciary is a co-equal branch of government that must consider the Constitution when presented with an actual case or controversy. Most American judges and lawyers were schooled in the British system of parliamentary sovereignty where the courts could not review or strike an act of the legislature because Parliament was the ultimate sovereign. To read more into Marbury–judicial supremacy–undermines popular sovereignty and puts the Supreme Court in a position once occupied by the Stuart Kings and later the British Parliament: final arbiters of the law and above the people.

This more modest understanding of the opinion is borne out by contemporary reaction to the Marbury opinion. Although Jefferson’s Republicans and Marshall’s Federalists believed themselves to be in a battle for the survival of sound government in America, the Republican newspapers expressed little hostility toward the opinion. James Madison, the defendant in the case, paid even less attention to the decision or its ramifications. Madison put not a single comment in writing about the decision. Jefferson’s objections to the opinion were grounded in Marshall’s criticism of Jefferson’s decision to deny Marbury his right to the commission (issues one and two discussed in the opinion).The Republicans’ failure to criticize the Court’s discussion of judicial review is a strong indicator that there was little or no disagreement on this third point of the opinion. Jefferson was a champion of the people and principles of popular sovereignty that denied the legislature the exclusive right to interpret or modify the Constitution. Similar to the reasoning of so many state judges on the subject, Jefferson believed all three branches had a duty to regard the Constitution when performing their duties. And that’s all that Marshall really said in the opinion.

***

William J. Watkins, Jr. is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the book Crossroads for Liberty: Recovering the Anti-Federalist Values of America’s First Constitution.

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The Difference Beteween Amateur and Professional Traders

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The recent webinar we held with Pete Hiam, Sachin Vaze and Sam Elhelou was amazingly popular. I would encourage anyone who has not yet watched it, to do so, and to keep track of the common denominators between the three traders. In this brief blog post I will attempt to highlight one key fact: what sets these three traders (which we can consider “professionals”) apart from breakeven or struggling traders (which we can consider “amateurs”) is how they approach their work.

The Characteristics of FXRenew Traders

Many people are drawn to trading, just like many people attempt to become famour actors. However, very few succeed for any length of time and even less succeed on a long-term basis. The big question is: why?

Our recent webinar might shed some light on this. Pete, Sachin and Sam are very different traders from very different backgrounds and extremely different experience levels  (Sachin has 25+ years experience within investment banks, practically always in active trading roles, whereas Sam has zero experience within the sector and trades aroun a day job). They all work the markets in different ways. And yet they have all reached a level of consistency that is starkly different from chance.

This tells us a few things:

  • it does not depend on the trading strategy;
  • it does not depend on the experience level; 
  • it does not depend on the style.

Looking at what these 3 traders have in common, another picture emerges: they all have  what psychologist Ellen Winner defines as “a rage to master”. Elite performers in any profession all find ways of expressing inborn talents and traits through their work. This results in a “desire to study and perfect” through deep and sustained practice.

The trio spend significant time generating trade ideas, researching markets, and staying on top of developments world wide. There is much more time spent in preparation compared to the time spent actively trading and this is something that Ari Kiev and Brett Steenbarger also noted. Basically professional traders are always working on themselves, always refining what they do.They work on their personal mastery as a means to enhance their performance.

Finally, Pete, Sachin & Sam are able to “think in bets“. In day to day life, we fall prey to what Brett Steenbarger calls “resulting”: the tendency to judge decisions by their outcomes. In trading we cannot do this easily because there are too many unknown unknowns. It is possible to have a winning trade doing the wrong thing and to have a losing trade doing the right thing. So just like champion poker players, professional traders need to make decisions based upon odds. Consistent traders are skilled at identifying situations in which there is a favorably skewed reward relative to risk and are not perturbed by losses.

Amateurs vs. Professionals

Now in a more general way, allow me to highlight some observations that come from my years helping traders as a Coach and Mentor:

  • Amateurs stop as soon as they achieve something. Professionals realize that the initial achievement is just the first step in the right direction. I recall one particular student who left mentoring after a few good trades…only to return months later with a larger dent in his account.
  • Amateurs have a goal. Professionals have a process. Sam & I may sound like a broken record, but the only way to become consistent and actually get somewhere in your trading is to focus on the process and not the money.
  • Amateurs take one concept and apply it everywhere. Professionals understand their circles of competence. I see this frequently in traders that are more concerned about setups than anything else. They want to learn a setup and then they apply it every day, everywhere, on anything that moves. Obviously this is a fast track to the poor house.
  • Amateurs see feedback as criticism and take it personally. Professionals actively seek thoughtful criticism in order to eliminate their weaknesses. This happened in one particular occasion with a trader that just couldn’t stand it when I pointed out his eagerness to trade and was not accurately discerning conditions.
  • Amateurs treat simulators/demos as a game. Professionals realize that what happens in practice happens in live trading conditions.
  • Amateurs keep secrets and reveal very little (even to their coach!). Professionals pass on wisdom and advice – perhaps not all of it, but enough to really help others. 
  • Amateurs focus on being right. Professionals focus on getting the best outcome possible and following the process. If there’s one thing that really inhibits progress in struggling traders, it’s that darn emotional need to be right. Professionals don’t seek to be right and they couldn’t care less about being right or wrong.
  • Amateurs focus on the short term. Professionals focus on the long term. We could talk about chart timeframes, average holding period of a trade, or broader objectives. The pattern remains the same.
  • Amateurs show up inconsistently. Professionals show up every day. I had one coaching student who started well, but after one week started sending over his work with delays and after the second week was nowhere to be seen. I attempted a series of follow-ups to no avail. Without commitment there can be no real progress.

Over to You

On a more philosophical note, it seems to me that amateurs believe that the markets should work the way they want them to – and this plants the seeds of anger and frustration when a level doesn’t hold, a trend stalls, a trade gets stopped out, etc. They have a very hard time seeing anything beyond their own point of view.

Professionals realize that they have to work with the markets as they find them, and are always looking for alternative points of view. I do believe that this is tied to the capacity of being honest with yourself and “confessing” your vulnerabilities. Bringing out hidden frustrations, real motivations, pain, and learning to simply accept your feelings and not judge them, is a big part of spiritual maturity and goes a long way towards discerning “what you think you see” and “the way things objectively are”.

These were just a few reflections that came to mind whilst reviewing the webinar recording, but surely there are many more lessons to be picked up. So please feel free to use the comments section below this blog post to keep the conversation rolling.

About the Author

Justin Paolini is a Forex trader & Coach. He is a member of the team at  www.fxrenew.com, a provider of Forex signals from ex-bank and hedge fund traders (get a free trial), or get FREE access to the Advanced Forex Course for Smart Traders. If you like his writing you can subscribe to the newsletter for free.

The post The Difference Beteween Amateur and Professional Traders appeared first on FX Renew.

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Great Project Leaders Aren’t Born, They’re Evolved

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Taking on the mantle of a project leader is a daunting task and one that carries with it, its fair share of responsibility. From getting the budget correctly allocated to making sure that the tasks you shared out are being carried out correctly, you’ll find yourself in a number of roles throughout the life of the project.

While it is a significant amount of work and effort, seeing a long-term project through to completion and seeing it done well, ranks up there with one of the most satisfying job-related feelings in the world. Of course it’s unlikely to be all smooth sailing but that shouldn’t put you off stepping into a role that is both terrifying and exhilarating.

You can be the most organised and efficient team leader on the planet but there’s no getting away from it: sometimes projects do go wrong. It might be because of one thing, or a collection of problems that escalated and then snowballed out of control. Whatever happened, the secret of being a great project manager is looking at your role, admitting your mistakes and making the one change that makes all the difference next time around.

So how do projects veer so dramatically off the rails? In the first instance it might be because in the rush of excitement about getting the job started, no clear, achievable goals were set. Without specific targets in mind, the team strayed off course, often heading in different directions and a project led like this is bound to run into difficulties.

Overcoming this issue is straightforward enough, but possibly the least interesting part of the project. However, by setting good foundations that’s where strong projects grow and thrive. Take the time to set out objectives and time frames and make sure everyone is on board and working towards the same goals. Consider using some kind of project management tools to share online tasks with and tick off completed elements as you go. Have everyone make sure they know how to use them properly and more importantly, update regularly.

Being accountable to each other as part of a team helps produce a sense of mutual responsibility and bonds your team together over a shared vision to see tasks ticked off and the project moving steadily and safely forward.

Where possible build some flexibility into deadlines so that even when an element of the project lags behind you aren’t left panicking that it will pull everything down with it. Whether you choose to share this flexible schedule with your team is entirely your choice.

Being part of a team should require a spirit of cooperation but all too often project workers slip silently away into their silos and work secretly on the parts of a project they like best. While they may get satisfaction out of completing set tasks you’re not always guaranteed individuals are playing to their strengths. As tempting as it is to assign tasks to whoever asks for them, particularly if they’re friends, get a clear idea in your mind about your team’s strengths, individually and corporately and give out tasks according to ability, rather than personality.

Getting a hard job done well is far more beneficial than keeping one or two people happy. The only real way of doing this correctly is by getting to know your team and doing some research into their previous performances on projects and their general aptitude for the job. You might not be able to see appraisal files but taking time to sit down with them, with their colleagues and their line managers will give you a well-rounded picture of who it is you’re working with and where they would fit in the life of the project.

As with everything in business, communication is key. It’s all too easy to find yourself head down, busily keeping up with your tasks but taking time to communicate regularly with project team members will help on a number of levels.

Firstly and most practically, you’ll be able to see what stage you’re at with your work and get an overview of progress. Secondly, but equally as importantly, if you’re stuck on a project you’ll be able to thrash out a solution together and achieve your personal and corporate goals much more quickly.

Make sure you’re meeting weekly, face-to-face in order for your team to feel connected and valued as members. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions about how things are going and be prepared to give honest but not overtly critical feedback.

If you’re a team member rather than in a managerial role, then failing to communicate with your colleagues and your project leader is a project in danger, according to business start-up experts. When you’ve hit on a sure fire way to cut out the middleman, saving money, time and manpower on a project and no one takes the time to hear your ideas, that’s when your motivation sinks through the floor and that insidious spirit of resignation takes effect. Great leaders will always take time to listen to staff and even better give kudos to a team member who hits on a way of making the project run more smoothly.

While communicating with your team and letting them know how things are going is the right approach, caution is due when it comes to over-communicating. By this we mean burdening your direct reports with too many details, that’s what you’re there to take care of. Your role is to shoulder all the burdens of clients changing their minds about small and large details, pressure from the managing partners and worries over budget. As tough as that sounds, you won’t get the best out of your team if they’re all worrying and not working. By all means share the headlines as and when that becomes necessary but the micro-detail falls to you to take care of

Consider too, the communication you have with your client and stakeholder groups. Be the main funnel of their queries and the lead communication point and then filter questions down to your team if need be. Deadlines will slip, budgets will change but great, open and honest communication will go a long way to softening the blow of any bad news.

Inherent to every project is risk. You can’t avoid it or run away from it and nor should you want to. Without an element of risk some of humankind’s greatest achievements would never have been carried out. Embracing, managing and preparing for risk are the ways to deal with it. Have a plan and a back up plan, in case the plan fails.  Taking the necessary precautions and knowing the appropriate response, even before a problem arises is the action of a project manager at the very top of their game.

Let your colleagues have sight of the contingency plan, but put yourself in charge of implementing it should the unexpected happen and that risk not quite pay off.

It’s not easy to admit to anyone, least of all yourself, that the project you’re working so hard on, seems to be going in the wrong direction for whatever reason but when this does happen it’s time to hold your hands up as soon as possible.

There will be hard times on any long term project, times when it seems that around every corner lies another problem that needs dealing with and overcoming. It can be quite draining to continually be the firefighter but keeping a cool, calm head will get you through.

Sometimes the only course of action is to halt the project in its tracks and like a great ship, gradually bring it round in a different direction. It requires strength and no small amount of determination but when it needs to be done, it needs to be done. Better to make the necessary changes now than have to face the wrath of a client and your own senior managers later down the line when it’s all too late.

You might have managed hundreds of projects in your career, or this might be your first go round, however experienced you are there’s one thing that you can always do and that’s learn from your mistakes on the job. The managers that we all want to work with are the ones that have learnt the hard lessons and know how to avoid the pitfalls. However keen you are and however much you want to impress, a steady pair of hands trumps impulsiveness any day of the week.

When it comes to brilliant project management take your time in the planning stage, making sure to get the basics just right before building upwards. Pick a great team, get to know them and play to their strengths. Finally be a leader, not a manager. Find a way of communicating with your staff on every level. Make time for them and help bring out their best qualities. This will set them and you aside as a team who gets things done and gets things done professionally.

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Why Startups Are Good For You

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When thinking about jobs and security, it might be quite tempting to imagine yourself climbing the corporate ladder. Needless to say, in this setup, you will most likely work within a very particular system, and you will be expected to reach out for very particular goals and perhaps even have to take on a specific company culture.

To many, this might feel okay, like there’s really nothing wrong with it. And so, as a result, there are quite a number of people who choose to devote their entire lives to the large companies, the kind that really give the impression of longevity, because at the end of the day, when it comes to career life, you think the only thing you’ll ever want is a place at the top.

But of course, you know this isn’t the complete picture.

You see, if you understand that there’s more to life than just the need to fuel your ambition, if you understand that life is something that needs to meaningful rather than just being financially abundant, then you’ll also be more than willing to acknowledge that maybe, not all the answers lie in a corporate setup.

Maybe, a startup is good idea for you. Here’s why.

It’s a culture of responsibility.

When you join a startup or you begin a startup, you’re basically telling yourself to be more responsible. Why is this, you might ask? Well, if you think about it, when you begin a startup, you can look forward to the fact that you are your own boss. Contrary to the experience of when you work for a company like HP technology, you will only have your own self (and your best friends, perhaps, with whom you’ve built your startup business) to rely and depend on.

That being said, that actually means you get to exercise more responsibility in the way you run your startup. At the same time, you also get to exercise more freedom in the way you think up various solutions to the specific problems to which you direct your startup. What this means is that the startup you build is actually helping you to be more accountable, not just in business, but in the rest of your life, as well.

It’s an opportunity for more opportunities.

What will you get to do when you get into a startup? At best, you’ll actually be engaging with those many other startups like yourself, people who think the way you do, people who also orient themselves towards the overwhelming need to address problems that are present in society.

Now, with these opportunities to engage with like-minded people, what would you expect as the result? Very basically, you’ll also have even more opportunities to bring your ideas to life in your own startup business, particularly because other startups will be more than ready to help you in many things, such as promotions, product trials, and other similar matters.

It’s an invitation for real innovation. 

When you visit AliExpress what do you notice? It’s much like a site that actually has everything you need, right? You can think of AliExpress as something that began as a startup, too. It probably started with a single person who had a vision. “What if there was one place online where I could get all my gadget needs (and then some?)” From this vision, there was probably a gradual but sure expansion. What started out as an improbable and crazy idea was actually fleshed out as the AliExpress that you know today.

Such is the nature of startups. It all begins with a seed of creativity and vision. It begins with the capacity to look around you, see what’s problematic, or in other words, to be able to identify one specific point of irritation. What is it that irks you? As you identify this, this now becomes an invitation to do something further; given that that’s your point of irritation, what would you do to remove it? And what would it take for you to begin the solution now? Therein lies the seeds of innovation, and they are best found in the startup culture.

It’s your chance to work in an refreshing atmosphere.

Here’s a picture of how people in startups work. While people in the corporate atmosphere have to endure corporate suits and burdensome shoes, people in startups get to wear whatever they’re comfortable wearing to work. In startups, too, you don’t have to think about where you’re going to have your next meal, because most startups have this as one of their best perks.

Given this refreshing atmosphere, what you’ll understand about the startup culture is that more than your skills, your looks, and your output, the real resource in the company is you – your unique personhood is what you’re bringing to the company, so it’s also the best version of that you that should always be nurtured.

With these above reasons, it’s safe to say why young adults are slowly making the shift from corporate ladder to startup culture. Maybe you should think about it, too.

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Working In Marketing As A Second Job

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Starting a business is difficult enough, but starting out alongside full time employment is incredibly difficult. However, it can be equally rewarding and can lead to you being able to take more control of your life and focus entirely on what may become your sole income. Unlike working full time in a 9 – 5 job as most people do, running your own business provides challenges, uncertainty and difficult learning curves which need to be overcome in order to succeed.

That all said, so long as you have a realistic outlook and you are able to push through the challenges, it can be one of the most rewarding things you may achieve in your lifetime. It is also possible to give you increased flexibility to a degree simply not possible when working for someone else.

There are however, various different types of business that you may look to start up in your quest for business success. Although it is in theory possible to set up and succeed in any business venture alongside a full time job, there are some which are more likely than others to prove fruitful, profitable and ultimately, successful.

It is important to remember though, that if you undertake any degree of freelance or contractor-type work, you maybe required to sign up with a UK umbrella company. Finding the best umbrella company is important too, as it may enable you to keep more of your earnings and remain on the right side of the UK Government’s IR35 Employment Legislation.

Website Development and Marketing.

A popular choice of second job which many people in the UK manage to run alongside their day job is website development and marketing. You will need to be a capable website developer which will mean understanding and being able to read and write different languages of code. This may include coding languages such as HTML, Python or otherwise.

However, web developers can charge sometimes as much as £100 or more per hour meaning that with just five extra hours of work per week, for example an hour in the evening on each working day, Monday to Friday, you could increase your monthly income by as much as £2,000.

Pay Per Click Second Jobs.

Website marketing includes many skills and disciplines. This ranges from pay-per-click (PPC), to search engine optimisation (SEO) to social media marketing. These roles can command hourly rates of usually up to £40 – £50 per hour. They will all entail different tasks however and you will need some experience in your preferred area of marketing practice.

For example, if you want to work as a PPC campaign manager, you will need to know how PPC works, how to optimise campaigns and what is needed to maximise your client’s profits.

SEO as a Second Job.

If you work on a SEO, you will need to be able to pay close attention to detail and will need to have a solid grasp and understanding of the ranking algorithms of Google as well as other search engines such as Yahoo, Bing and Baidu. Furthermore, you will need to be able to devote perhaps a little bit more time to your clients than you may need to with other forms of online marketing.

This is because the SEO rankings on search engines is often determined by the smaller details. You will also need to know how to write engaging and well-optimised content, how to use a variety of content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress, Drupal, Shopify and others.

Using Social Media to Supplement Your Income.

Social media marketing, much like SEO requires some specific disciplines. Whilst in cases of social media marketing you can plan quite a lot of your work and your social media posting schedules in advance, you will need to do a lot of competitor analysis and will need to understand your target customers and audiences well enough to be able to properly and effectively engage them. Hence, understanding brands and brand messaging when working in this fiend is paramount to making a success of it.

Other Popular Second Businesses.

In addition to working in online and digital marketing as a second job, there are various other popular choices when it comes to supplementing your income through a business of your own:

Food and Drink Businesses – There are more and more food and drink brand popping up all around the UK. a particular area that is thriving in the health food sector. This includes the likes of companies who sell supplements and other ways in which people can supplement and improve their lifestyles and general health. This could include selling juices as part of a juice cleanse programme for customers.

However, should you wish to set up such a business, you should enquire about food safety, hygiene and other food licensing laws to ensure you don’t get caught out and fined or taken to court.

Repair and DIY Jobs – With the majority of the working population out at their places of employment between 9 and 5, it is more than likely that small jobs that need doing and fixing around the home can be done outside of regular working hours. This means that not only can you charge a little more due to the inconvenience, particularly in the case of emergency repairs (such as leaks and broken windows), but that you can do these jobs after finishing your day job.

Call Centre Jobs – You may not be aware but many call centres allow workers to work remotely and with many call centres being open 24/7, this allows people the opportunity to work from home during the later hours. It may be as easy as getting a work phone form your second employer and answering calls between a fixed set of hours. Bing able to do this from home means that as soon as you are home from your day job, you can begin the evening job for a few hours each day after work.

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Start Your Own Airbnb In The UK

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For young aspiring entrepreneurs at the drawing table trying to discover what you’re passionate about, you will most likely agree that being your own boss, making your own hours, setting your own rules, and living on “easy street” is the primary objective. But the fact of the matter is, running a startup is more than being your own boss, the hours you will work will be insane, the industry you choose makes the rules, and there is nothing easy about it.

And if you thought that launching a trendy startup had to involve some life-changing product, you may as well scratch that off the whiteboard as well while you’re at it. By definition, a startup is simply a young business that is just now getting its proverbial feet off the ground. There is no set of rules saying you have to invent the next hottest trend in tech to be a startup; there is no magic number of partners needed; it’s innovating an existing idea and making it better.

Adora Cheung, co-founder and CEO of Homejoy, said in an interview with Forbes that “Startup is a state of mind.” She should know. Homejoy was named one of the Hottest U.S. Startups of 2013.

The Idea Behind Airbnb.

In 2007, two financially strapped friends, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky, decided to rent out rooms in their apartment to designers visiting San Francisco for the International Design Conference after all the hotel rooms in the area were booked up. As is the case for many startups, Gebbia and Chesky never intended on it becoming the successful business it is today; they only wanted to earn some extra needed cash to pay their rent.

The two soon found that it was pretty profitable and they began sharing their idea with other people who rented apartments. Gebbia and Brian called their small business endeavour “Air Bed and Breakfast,” with the word “air” signifying the air mattresses offered to guests to sleep on. And though the accommodations seemed less than appealing compared to a comfy hotel room, guests absolutely admired the two for their great food and wonderful San Fran tours they provided.

The rest is history. Today, we know it by the name “Airbnb,” a global company that operates as one of the world’s largest online marketplace and hospitality service. It can be accessed via the Internet or mobile application. Working similarly to Uber, anyone who feels their house or apartment is nice enough can post available rental space on the Airbnb website and mobile application, naming their own price, while Airbnb providing potential guests with the recommendations.

The company has a secondary £600,000 insurance policy to cover any damages done to homeowners’ or apartment renters’ property. It’s common for many homeowners, in particular, to take out second mortgages on their homes in order to renovate their house specifically to get into the Airbnb business.

What If You Don’t Own a Home?

Some if not many of the readers may not yet own their own home, and a lot of times apartments have strict rules about renting to people that are not listed on the renter’s lease. What makes this business venture such a beautiful idea for young people is the possibility of hitting two targets with one stone (we won’t use “birds” since that is nice): if you purchase a property with the sole intention of becoming a professional Airbnb host, you will also be purchasing yourself a home. That’s if you’re comfortable living under the same roof with complete strangers on a continual basis.

If your credit is up to par, you have an okay paying job, and you’re willing to apply for a mortgage, starting your very own bed-and-breakfast shouldn’t be too difficult. And the awesome thing about hosting for Airbnb is that the company will do the marketing, provide the website and mobile application platforms, and cover you with its insurance (though it’s advisable to get your own insurance as well).

What Should Your First Step Be?

You’re in a perfect position to do things just right. And being that you entered purchasing a home with the intention of making a profit, you should be willing to invest in a nice property in an area where having guests coming and going doesn’t bother people in the neighbourhood. This means you have to think strategically when searching for the location.

As for the mortgage, calculate based on your earnings how big of a mortgage you can afford, as well as factoring in possible loans, grants, and help from friends and family. Remember that, as an investment, the nicer your home and the quality of furnishings you provide will dictate how much you can charge guests for rent. It goes without saying that the nicer it is the more you can charge.

What Kind of Host Should You Be?

As an Airbnb host, you can fashion your place and services however you wish.

How Do You Get Paid?

Furthermore, as stated above, you can charge your guests any amount you please. Airbnb takes only 3 per cent from your rents. Within 24 hours, Airbnb will release your money to you. For new hosts, there is a 30-day waiting period before the host can cash out. The following payment options are available for hosts:

  • Direct deposits, which normally take up to three business days
  • International wires or bank-to-bank transfers, which normally take three to seven business days
  • PayPal, which is usually no longer than a day
  • Western Union, also no longer than a day
  • Payoneer debit card, one business day as well

What Areas in the UK Are Best to Be an Airbnb Host?

Not every location is suitable for running an Airbnb. You should think about hosting for tourists, honeymooners, conventions, and other things that fall around those same categories. According to Airbnb, cities such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Liverpool, and Manchester are leading markets. Then there is the Lake District, Cornwall, Bristol, Canterbury in Kent, as well as other popular places in the United Kingdom.

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The State of African-American Entrepreneurs

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How are African-American entrepreneurs doing? There are nearly 2.6 million African-American owned businesses in the U.S., employing nearly 1 million Americans, according to the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency. The same study reports minority-owned firms overall experienced significantly higher growth than the average business between 2007-2012—a period including the Great Recession.

Here’s a closer look at the average African-American entrepreneur, according to a recent Guidant Financial survey of current and aspiring small business owners. (Read what the study revealed about Hispanic business owners.)

African-American small business owner profile

Gender

  • 62% male
  • 38% female

Age

  • 18-29: 6%
  • 40-49: 28%
  • 50-59: 25%
  • 30-39: 22%
  • 60-plus: 19%

Education

African-American entrepreneurs have varying degrees of educational attainment. About one-third (32%) have a high school diploma/GED. Some 26% have a bachelor’s degree, 21% have an associate’s degree, and 22% have a master’s degree or higher.

Motivation

Why are most African-American entrepreneurs motivated to launch businesses? These entrepreneurs are more likely than the average business owner to say they were dissatisfied with corporate America (22%). However, the vast majority (62%) wanted to “pursue their passion,” 53% were “ready to be my own boss,” and 30% say that opportunity presented itself. Just 12% say being laid off or outsourced motivated their startup.

Location

The most popular states for African-American small business owners are

  1. Texas
  2. Georgia
  3. California
  4. Florida
  5. North Carolina

Industry

The most common industries in which African-American small business owners start businesses are:

  • Business services—13%
  • Health/beauty/fitness—9%
  • Food/restaurant—9%
  • General retail—7%
  • Other—28%

Other Articles From AllBusiness.com:

  • The Complete 35-Step Guide for Entrepreneurs Starting a Business
  • 25 Frequently Asked Questions on Starting a Business
  • 50 Questions Angel Investors Will Ask Entrepreneurs
  • 17 Key Lessons for Entrepreneurs Starting A Business

How are African-American entrepreneurs doing?

Despite the rapid growth of African-American-owned firms in general, there are still many challenges for these entrepreneurs. For example, just 57% of those Guidant surveyed say their business is profitable—lower than the average for all survey residents (68%).

African-American business owners are also less likely than the average business owner to have employees: 46% are solo entrepreneurs, 41% have two to five employees; 7% have between six and 10 employees; and 6% have 11 or more workers.

Particularly concerning, the average annual receipts for African-American businesses is just $58,119. That’s compared to an average of $173,552 for minority-owned firms in general and $552,079 for non-minority firms.

What’s behind these issues? One problem is financial. A whopping 80% of African-American entrepreneurs in the Guidant poll say lack of capital is their biggest business challenge. This is 10% higher than the average small business owner in the survey. The next biggest challenges, marketing/advertising (31%) and time management (23%), are mentioned far less often than capital.

If they did get additional capital, half of African-American entrepreneurs would use the money for expansion; 61% would use it for equipment, 54% would use it for marketing/advertising, 36% would use it for staff, and 30% would spend the windfall on technology.

The challenges African-American business owners face are reflected in their lower confidence in the political climate for small business. Their confidence level is seven out of 10, compared to eight out of 10 for business owners as a whole.

RELATED: Minority Business Loan Programs

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How to get 1,6 million customers: Mike Rome’s crash course on building a growth team

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How to get 1.6 million customers: Mike Rome’s crash course on building a growth team

One thing many high growth startups have in common is the growth team — a multi-disciplinary group tasked with moving bottom line product metrics.

Unlike traditional marketers that focus on acquisition, they are tasked with iterating on the product to improve things like retention, referral, and average revenue per user.

Mike Rome

Mike Rome leads growth at Eat Street, and in his career has helped acquire millions of users for a number of startups. In this discussion Mike shares how he approaches growth, his methodology for prioritizing experiments, the components of a good growth team and more.

The 5 levers for growth

DI: You’ve talked about the intersection of growth and product. When you say things like “the product is the marketing,” or that a lot of the levers that you can influence from a marketing perspective actually live inside of the product itself, what do you mean?

Mike: One problem with all the data out there now is the noise degrading the signal. What you really want to do is operate above the blizzard. You want to figure out the metrics that actually put you on a path to sustainable growth.

I like Dave McClure’s “Startup Metrics for Pirates” which talks about 5 levers for growth: acquisition, activation, retention, revenue, and referral. We can just run through the definitions really quick.

Acquisition:

Acquisition is essentially marketing. How do we get people to this thing that we build? How do we get people who we think we might be solving a problem for with this new solution to this thing?

Lots of people do this. When they are thinking through growth, they’re thinking about the channels they could potentially tap to acquire customers.

When I’m looking for success in an acquisition channel, the two things that always matter are scale and unit economics.

Scale means “can we find a sufficient amount of customers relative to whatever the goal is?” Unit economics is the cost to acquire them relative to the value that they create. We talked about that generally as LTV.

Like I said, most teams do this. But many companies lean too heavily on acquisition or marketing as an engine for growth.

Activation

Activation means once we get people to this thing that we have, how do we get them to do what we want. Depending the size of what you’re selling, it might be a purchase if it’s an easier sell. If it’s something way more expensive, it might be a sign up or even watching a video or something like that

Retention

Retention is how to get them to continue to come back and do what you want. Probably the most important of them all, because it’s the most indicative of a good product.

Revenue

Revenue is how you get them to engage in some sort of monetization behavior. And there’s ways to do that beyond bringing people to your site and letting them buy what they think they want.

Referral

The last one is is referral. How do you get them to have such a great experience that they become the marketers for you?

The really big takeaway: of these five levers, only one of them is marketing. All of these other things happen once people get to the product itself.

People don’t spend enough time trying to study, reflect on, and experiment with those product levers, and ultimately they’re a much more ROI-friendly way of growing. If you already have people coming to something and you’re able to use the resources you have in-house to build a better product to raise order values or encourage them to become marketers for you, you get a lot more like bang for your buck.

Growth Process

DI: I would imagine that a lot of people who do marketing would say “I stand up referral campaigns. I build funnels to activate.” They might think this sounds the same as what they do now. What are some of the process or competency differences that you think distinguish growth from marketing?

Mike: Sure. I think you’re hitting on this idea of putting growth process before tactics. Which is one of the bigger differences I’ve seen.

Early on when I got into tactics, a lot of it was informed by who’s just yelling the loudest in their content marketing on social media. You’d read something and be like, “Oh, that sounds interesting, right? We should go try that.”

The danger and putting tactics before process is unless you have a way of continually starting and finishing tasks, it’s very easy to get left behind. Everyone who’s listening to this podcast is going to be resource-constrained. If you don’t have a process to thoughtfully prioritize and have conviction around what you’re doing, you’re just going to waste too much time.

Our process at a high level is to start with a brainstorm around those five letters that we talked about — acquisition, activation, retention, referral, revenue. We try to go for unbridled ideation and think of things hat you don’t even think will work.

Maybe they’re just marketing channels that are less intuitive. Sometimes that stuff gets really interesting because they’re generally less crowded less saturated stuff. Once you do that brainstorming to get all the ideas down, I would pair it with some sort of quantitative audit to assess potential impact.

It’s okay if you’re just starting up and you don’t have any internal data to reference to inform what tactics within those levers you might hit first. Secondary research works — there’s stuff out there, maybe future competitors in the space or general insights that have been written about either the problems you’re trying to solve or even solutions that exist.

Looking for growth opportunities

DI: If they do have data, what are you looking for to assess impact — things like bottlenecks? Is that what you mean when you say doing an audit of what they already have? What should they be looking for?

Mike: I think one of the dirty little secrets of trying to grow something is that often the best things are just fixing stuff that’s broken.

A lot of people hear this term growth or growth teams, and it’s a sexy notion. But the reality is a lot of times we’re just finding hiccups in the product and taking things away or just making things work as we thought they would work, across all platforms or all browsers.

Outside of fixing stuff, we’re looking for where inputs and outputs not equal. How do we spend a low effort on high-potential, high-impact, high-confidence tasks?

We use something called ICE scoring to prioritize. ICE is just an acronym for impact, confidence, and effort.

So after brainstorming and doing that audit, you have all these things you want to test or these new product ideas as it relates to activation, retention, etc.

For every single idea, you should start with impact. Ask, “If this thing were to work, what’s the impact? What’s the payoff?”

You can put together a quick and dirty model. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just go through the exercises and figure out what’s important.

Next is confidence. It’s great if you find an idea and you’re like, “Wow. If this works, the impact is huge.” If you don’t have a lot of conviction around the impact though, and there’s not a lot of primary or secondary data to support what you’re saying, it’s probably not the first thing I would do. Confidence matters just as much as impact.

The last thing, the most important thing when you’re starting up, is effort. What’s it going to take to actually test this new idea? Can I do it myself? Can someone on my team do it? Do I need a developer? Do I need a designer? Do I need multiple developers?

The Holy Grail is the low-effort, high-impact, high-confidence ideas. And that’s where you want to start.

The reason I would weigh effort so much is in the early days, momentum is everything. If you think about the formula for growth, it’s number of experiments you can run multiplied by impact multiplied by success rate.

So you have these three inputs and really only one of them is in your control, and that’s the number of experiments you start and finish.

And the reason starting and finishing so experiments is important is because that’s how you learn. Most of the things you’ll do don’t work. You don’t get demoralized. You ask yourself ask yourself “Why didn’t this work? What was our hypothesis that was disproven and how does that re-inform our priorities? How do we move stuff around based on what we’ve learned?”

The more tests you can start and finish, the quicker you learn, and the quicker you learn the higher your success rates. And that’s when you get that flywheel spinning.

Baking growth into your organization

DI: What would you say to somebody that says, “Hey, this all sounds awesome. I would love to try to implement something like this for my team, but I have folks who come from a different sort of mentality?” How do you try to make something like that happen inside of an organization?

Mike: It’s really important when you have those conversations not to think that that you have all of the answers. Starting from a place where your path is the only path is a bad idea.

I recommend this path just candidly because I’ve seen it work for me. But I’m always mindful that our process is a living process. It’s broken. We are changing it all the time and trying to get better.

And so I would ask questions. “Why do you think that the best approach?” It’s important to try to persuade people that you’re just trying to develop a better mechanism for how to move forward.

Everyone thing every realizes is there are a thousand different things they could be doing. So I’ve told people that process is piece of mind. It gives you confidence in what you’re doing and not doing. And looking at it from that lens is really helpful.

The other thing is to realize it’s only part of the equation. There’s still the need for brand marketing. In my job today, I spend a half my time on marketing and customer acquisition and the other half on product. But my side is very data driven.

The other part of customer acquisition for our company is brand-focused. I’ve learned they complement each other super well. If you execute on creative, whether it’s TV or radio or out of home, they can really lift up direct response and what my team does. So they’re symbiotic.

The risks of “faking” growth

DI: It seems like if you were to start on the product side, get some wins, demonstrate the process works, and then ask for a seat of the table around acquisition, that might help.

Mike: I think that’s a great idea. It’s also important to stress that they have their job, which is to get people to the site, and you have your job which is to make sure the product does what you sold.

One of the big mistakes I’ve made and I know is common is that it’s really easy to fake growth. The number-one way to do that is to find channels where you can acquire lots of inexpensive customers without being mindful of the unit economics on the other half of that equation of successful customer acquisition.

It’s equally important to start with the product and to worry about levers and retention to make sure you’re ready for marketing. If you haven’t built something that enough people want and ideally are willing to pay for, it won’t work.

You want to get enough people using the product to see if some of those activation retention metrics are improving; you just want to know if you’re steadying the foundation. A lot of times the foundation isn’t steady, and when people get into customer acquisition it’s intoxicating to see lots of app downloads or lots of views or even purchases but, you know, those are one-time purchases. If people aren’t coming back, that’s the biggest mistake.

DI: You see that a lot with startups who have investors setting expectations around consistent growth period over period, and now you have to keep plowing increasing amounts of money into it to continue to show what they’re expecting, even if your foundation is shaky underneath.

Mike: Absolutely. You have to acknowledge that even even if you have really great investors and backers, your incentives are never perfectly aligned.

If you look at the unit economics of how most investors or funds make money, it’s not because they have lots and lots of wins. It’s usually one big whale that carries the fund.

So they have an incentive to figure out who’s going to boom or bust as fast as possible. They want to figure out if they should spend their time and energy with a business or even put more capital into it. As a result there is a lot of pressure to spend money to drive scale, even if it doesn’t make the most sense for the business.

I’m lucky, in that we’ve got really awesome investors, and we can have these kinds of conversations about what’s responsible. But there’s always pressure to spend faster and you really want to make sure you’re spending in a way that’s sustainable.

Innovation accounting vs. traditional accounting

DI: We run into that in an innovation context where organizations are used to measuring success the same way they measure the success of the core business. There’s a strong tendency to want to show immediate results and to make it look bigger than it’s ready to be. that whole that concern around premature scaling. But it takes time to iterate and find product-market fit.

Mike: One of the best pieces of advice I would give to folks who are part of larger organizations and working on an innovation teams is you have to have buy-in from the top that this is going to be a long and demoralizing road and, if people don’t have the stomach for it, it’s just tough.

It’s very exciting at the beginning. But what really drives success is the people and teams who can persist in the trough of sorrow. It comes down to determination and commitment because of all the startups that I’ve studied or been a part of, there’s always that slog. You have to have that buy-in from the top.

Someone told me the other day that one of their best qualities was they take bad news very well. I think that’s actually an amazing competitive advantage. You’ve got to be excited enough about the problem you’re solving to keep going. If it can’t hold your attention span, or the attention of your organization, it’s really tough.

How to execute the process

DI: Getting back to process — what does that look like concretely? Can you think of examples of focusing on things that weren’t acquisition related and were able to generate meaningful upside for the organization?

Mike: Sure. So in the early days before we had good language around this, again we were really resource constrained like most of the people probably listening to this.

We were hitting the database and seeing where users were getting hung up. Or going to a coffee shop and user testing a signup flow with people. Talking to users and digging into the product. You can talk to customer service people and figure out where people are getting frustrated.

You obviously have to have good tracking in place to mine for good inputs in the database. All the steps mapped out. In our case it was medical fundraisers. So activation was getting people to start fundraisers and make some money for the fundraiser up front.

We had enough events in place within the products to look at all of those steps and just see where it was broken, and those were always great examples of just not having enough innovative ideas for how we could improve the flow. Mostly it was things not working as we’d communicated or intended for it to work.

How to run experiments faster

DI: Talking about the experiments and speed and number of experiments that you’re running is the one metric that you’re able to really control. Are you running a bunch of experiments at the same time to move one metric? How can organizations move faster and control that one variable?

Mike: It’s a million-dollar question. I think tracking is really tough and it’s hard to know what the optimal things you should be doing at once are.

I think sometimes people get hung up trying to start and finish an experiment and definitively know what it means.

Take acquisition. In most cases you just need to know if there’s something there, or if it’s a hard pass. Assuming you get some results, and you know there’s scale, that’s probably sufficient. So you don’t always need to have absolute certainty about something — often directional certainty is sufficient.

That’s really important when you’re resource constrained. Even for me — I work for a later stage startup with hundreds of employees and tens of millions of dollars in revenue — I’m still super resource constrained. I don’t always have the luxury of running 5 product experiments at once.

DI: People that think of testing probably think of Amazon’s hundred shades of blue. But unless you have scale, it’s going to take way too long to find wins that way, especially since most experiments fail.

Mike: Yeah. I think early on that’s good advice. If you’re only changing this one thing and it’s very early and you have a small subset of customers, you’re probably not testing ambitious enough things.

Don’t worry about this idea of not knowing your goal; you want to acquire twice as many customers or you want to improve the signup flow by 50%. You’re not looking for a five percent relative improvement, you’re looking for a 50% absolute improvement.

If you adopt that mentality, you have the freedom to change more things. You just have to get content knowing that even though you’re better off, you might not be exactly sure why things are working and that’s OK sometimes.

DI: I’ve told our team before — lacking causation, I’ll take correlation. I don’t know if this is actually causing it, but it seems to be correlated and that’s good enough for me for now. Let’s deploy and move forward.

There’s also a team member education piece to this, where you’ll run the test higher up in the funnel — on your registration page for example — and if it works and you see a 15 percent lift, they’re thinking that’s going to trickle down to a 15% bottom line bump.

But it usually doesn’t work out that way. Any change that you make changes the way people interact with your product. Their behavior is going to be different.

Mike: Yeah, there are people a lot smarter than me on A/B testing. Evan Miller writes some really thoughtful things around what to pay attention to when you’re testing different experiences.

I think you have to be OK with some of this ambiguity and not knowing if you want to move forward fast enough.

It’s a delicate balance though. How do you make sure you’re using data to have conviction around what you do next, while operating above the blizzard of data?

Good enough data

DI: For us, often clients have the reverse problem where they don’t have any tracking set up, at least not at the event level. They track sales or registrations, but not all of the events that lead up to that. So we usually we usually have the reverse problem.

Mike: Well I think the larger takeaway here is, when it comes to starting something even if you don’t have data, that’s fine. Go make data. Go talk to potential customers. Don’t sit in a conference room and ideate with a bunch of the executives who aren’t going to be the user of the product.

I don’t think this whole idea of “we don’t have analytics set up” or “we don’t have users” should get in the way of putting in the work. Go talk to talk to people. Even if it’s bad news. The best feedback you can get when you want to build something is figuring out it doesn’t work. Figure out why and improve.

DI: I was having a conversation with our creative director about design thinking. We often do “how might we” exercises that are similar to the unbridled ideation you were talking about.

He said a lot of UX is about pattern recognition, and is dependent on the inputs you have. Someone cold off the street can throw out ideas, and it’s better than nothing. But they’ll be less informed than if you do some research in advance of a workshop. If I know what my customer says and how they use my product, you have much better inputs and the session is more productive.

You mentioned the potential risks of becoming prescriptive and looking at what other people have done and just copying it. At the same time, those are inputs I can bring and say, “Hey, this product or completely unrelated industry solved a similar type of problem by doing x.” Does that make sense at all?

Mike: I think it’s a really powerful point. I think again, especially when you’re starting, don’t get hung up on not having certain inputs. And don’t get hung up on this idea that you need hundreds of pieces of input.

There’s plenty of reading out there around picking up UX patterns. And from a user testing perspective, it takes a small subset of users to figure out what things would satisfy 80 percent of the product needs.

Don’t get hung up on the idea that your inputs aren’t good enough. Just go find any inputs. If you’re curious and you’re bringing inputs to the table that are rooted in actual user feedback, not just from your head but from talking and listening to a potential customer, that’s useful.

Paul Graham talks a lot about how users have lots of the answers. Nine times out of ten, I can’t think of a better use of time than just going and listening to some users and studying them, either using the product or reacting to you talking through a product.

Building a growth team

DI: Let’s talk about team. I know it looks different depending on the stage of an organization, but in order to execute on growth, it seems like you need more than just a person with a marketing mind. What skill sets are necessary?

Mike: Curious people are a big deal. You want to find people who are comfortable with bad news. They’ve got a lot of persistence and determination — the whole idea of a rapid rate of learning is the reward and that’s enough. I think all of those are really good things.

In terms of the makeup of an early team, you should have people on the team who are essentially the customer. It’s hard to build something if you’re not the customer and you have to guess at what the customer wants. Be the customer because then you can move a lot faster. You can just think about how you would create value for yourself.

When it comes to actual skill sets, it’s good to have a developer to execute on experiments. And you need some design help. Design matters.

I think technical marketers are important — people who are really into direct response marketing. They’re good because they’re generally detail-oriented, so they can double as product managers.

They also have empathy for developers and designers to respect what they’re asking them to do. It’s really easy for someone to say a couple of sentences and create five weeks of work for a developer. Knowing what you’re asking and why that’s hard is important. It’s just good for the morale of the team.

You also need someone with some analytics background. Have someone who is a truth seeker and is going to keep you honest.

I think if you just find people who are excited to build shiny new things instead of building things that actually solve a real and deep problem, that would be difficult.

Getting developer resources

DI: One of the issues with growth teams has been getting access to developers because so many teams are resource constrained. How do you recommend advocating for getting resources when you’re just getting started?

Mike: When it comes to getting developer time, you have to find someone who’s excited about the opportunity. You need to find a developer who gets fired up about the work. You can’t understate the importance of being excited about the problem. At some point it’s going to get hard. And if you’re not excited about the problem, it’s tough to keep going.

When you’re trying to get buy-in from the top, explaining the value the work could create for the business is a good approach. Just let the facts do the talking. It forces you to be really well researched and prepared. It’s not very hard to show that working on x versus y could have a financial benefit to the business.

Figure out who you’re trying to get buy-in from. What are the things that make them look good? What do they care about? It’s tough, but politics matters. Especially if you’re in a larger company.

Growth models

DI: One of the tools that we’ve been using a lot more in the last year is a super granular growth model. Trying to visualize and quantify all of those levers, figuring out the six steps during activation here and the three different referral loops inside of a product.

Now, instead of saying let’s spend three months on this feature because is’t next on the roadmap, showing how something will influence a variable and doing a sensitivity analysis is really helpful in making that case.

Mike: The reason detailed models are are very helpful is it opens your eyes to the road ahead. Getting a sense of awareness before you start and a degree of humility is going to help you. You want to make sure everyone has the stomach for what’s ahead and then is still excited.

I took a look at it. You sent it over to me a little while ago and I was super impressed. I mean, a lot of that stuff was more savvy than some of the stuff I’m using, so hats off.

DI: Everybody gets it from other people. That was that was all Brian Balfour. It’s incredibly helpful for vetting potential investments as well. Founder says, “I’m raising $1.5M and our plan is to get to 50,000 customers over the next twelve months.”

And I ask, “How do you plan on getting there?”

And they’re like, “Well, there’s this bucket of money and we’re going to do word-of-mouth and we’re going to do paid marketing.”

When you show them the model, they start to realize that getting to 50,000 is going to take a lot more work than they thought. When they talk about doing content marketing, you have to find out how many articles you’re going to have to write to rank. What’s the monthly search volume on all of those and your expected click-through rate, etc. They start to realize they need to really buckle up and plan on hustling.

Mike: I couldn’t agree more.

Creating a growth culture

DI: You talked about process and you’ve talked about team. I know you’re a big believer in culture too. Once you’ve got the team together, what are some recommendations for instilling a culture of growth to make this this stuff stick?

Mike: A great shortcut is to find people who fit the mold. There’s certain things you can’t teach. You have to find people who are determined, who are okay being wrong a lot, who are curious and truth seekers.

Setting the precedent up front helps too. Making sure people really understand how difficult the road ahead is going to be and are bought in. I don’t mean to talk about it negatively because I love it. But the learning curve is just ridiculous. You grind it out for six months and hit some hard times. But you come up for air you just you’ve built this new skill set and that high rate of learning never stops. There are certain people who just have an appetite for it.

Ask some tough questions in the early days to make sure people are doing this for the right reasons. Get people who aren’t just here because it seems like a cool idea. It needs to be something more — people really need to believe in the idea.

DI: I know you have a reputation for keeping people’s enthusiasm levels high throughout the slog. And you also have a reputation for modeling behavior — getting your hands dirty instead of just barking orders. Were those deliberate choices?

Mike: I’ve always appreciated people that are still in the trenches. That carries a lot of weight for me.

The other thing is that lately I’ve just been trying to get out of the way a little more. We’ve been at it for a while; the team’s been a formal team for several years now. And I think sometimes you need to get out of the way.

I think about all of the best growth ideas that have happened on growth teams that I’ve been a part of and not one of them was my idea, and so getting comfortable with that idea is something I’ve been working on.

The thing I’m always focused on bringing to the table is just making sure there is a culture of meritocracy, where best idea wins and it doesn’t matter who it comes from. Use ICE scores, make sure people have the tools and time to execute, and get out of the way.

Originally published at digintent.com on November 19, 2018.


How to get 1,6 million customers: Mike Rome’s crash course on building a growth team was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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The Rise of Stablecoins & What Are The Different Types Out There

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2018 has seen a huge increase in stablecoin projects as everyone seems to be trying to dethrone Tether (USDT) at this point. But why the sudden interest and what are the difference between them? Here are my initial thoughts on the topic:

What are Stablecoins?

Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies which are pegged to an asset that has a stable value such as gold or fiat money (USD). For example Tether (USDT) is a stablecoin designed to be pegged to $1USD for each of its coin. How it does this depends on the stablecoin’s design.

Why The Sudden Growth in Stablecoins?

In my opinion the sudden growth in stablecoins is attributable to:

  1. The Volatility in the Crypto Market

People realize that if they wish to use crypto as a way of transferring money or purchasing goods it is not possible if the value of the underlying crypto is so volatile. An online shop owner won’t want to receive money in crypto to then realize it has dropped 10% in a day which would hurt their profits. So a more stable form of crypto was needed.

2. The Rise in Non-Fiat Crypto Exchanges and Tether (USDT)

Anyone that works in finance would know that to take deposit and work with USD brings about a lot of regulations and headaches. Hence when new non-fiat based crypto exchanges popped up such as Binance, they quickly grew in popularity as account opening was much more simple. As a result investors/traders needed a stable medium to trade their cryptos and at the time there was only USDT leading to it remarkable growth. This was evidence that there was a demand for stablecoins from the community.

3. Successful Asset Raise of Basis

In April 2018 the cryptocurrency startup Basis successfully raised $133M funding from top venture capitalists when they did not have a working product at the time. This definitely got people’s attention and proved that not only was there community demand but also knowledgeable investors were interested in this space as well.

Stablecoins Are Split Into 3 Types

Based upon the stablecoin’s design we can split them up into 3 major types:

  • Fiat-collateralized
  • Crypto-collateralized
  • Non-collateralized

Fiat-collateralized Stablecoin

This is the most straightforward version, it is the concept that for every coin in produced it will be backed by the equivalent fiat currency placed in a trust. The production and liquidation of the coin is handled by the coin’s issuer.

Price remains stable because if you can buy the coin for less than $1 you can go and exchange it with the issuer for $1 and vice versa. Only problem is that it relies on the issuing party being properly regulated and honoring deposits and withdrawal as they should.

How The Coin Issuers Make Money: Coin issuers are definitely not doing this for free and how they make money is to take the deposits that you have given them and make financial investments. The investments should be low risk and highly liquid assets so they can give you back the money as needed.

Pros: Easy to understand and use.

Cons: Centralized nature

Risks: Highly reliant on the coin issuer and that if their investments are mismanaged or if the issuer’s company is mismanaged, it can take the coin down with them.

Popular Fiat-collateralized Stablecoin Issuers:

  • Tether — USDT
  • TrustToken — TUSD
  • Gemini — GUSD
  • Paxos — PAX
  • Circle — USDC

Crypto-Collateralized Stablecoins

As the name suggests this version uses other cryptocurrencies (e.g. ETH) as collateral for the stable coins. However because the cryptos value themselves are not stable, they need to use a set of protocols to ensure that the price of the stablecoin issued remains at $1.

The protocol themselves can vary between the crypto-collateralized stablecoins but all are likely to have potential stress points/weaknesses to them. The most likely one would be if the crypto used as collateral drops in value, what happens? For this you would have to analyze the stablecoin in question.

How The Coin Issuers Make Money: Again this can vary between the crypto-collateralized stablecoins but the most common business model I suspect is that they have a two-coin model: one is the stablecoin and the second is to govern the stablecoin. As a result the coin developers are likely to profit off the governance coin in some way. (I’ll cover the popular crypto-collateralized stablecoins in separate articles).

Pros: Embraces decentralized concept

Cons: Only as strong as its protocol designs, likely to have stress points and weaknesses

Risks: Reliant on protocol design as well as the governing body (which is usually those that hold the governing coin). Also collateral is subject to a volatile asset (crypto) which is an area of concern regardless of protocol design.

Popular Crypto-Collateralized Stablecoin Issuers:

  • MakerDAO
  • Havven

Non-Collateralized Stablecoins

This is a very different design to stablecoins as it is not backed by any collateral. It operates in the way our fiat currencies work in that it is governed by a sovereign such as a country’s Central Bank. If you think about the USD, since the collapse of the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1973, the USD isn’t pegged to anything as well and is managed by the US Federal Reserve.

Similarly in the stablecoin space you can achieve the same result by having “seigniorage shares”. Without getting into the details of how the seigniorage shares work (I’ll cover this in a separate article). It is essentially creating a system that will mint more coins when the demand pushes it above $1 and buy it back when it falls below $1.

How The Coin Issuers Make Money: Again this varies depending on how they construct their coin. Likelihood is that they will have coin(s) in their seigniorage shares that will allow them to turn a profit and incentivizes them to maintain the system.

Pros: No collateral risk, mimics how currencies operate in the real world

Cons: Reliant on its “sovereign” funds

Risks: Insufficient fund to maintain its peg aka sovereign risk. Just like real world currencies (think “Black Wednesday/Bank of England Run”) sovereigns can default and this could happen for this type of stablecoins as well.

Popular Crypto-Collateralized Stablecoin Issuers:

  • Basis
  • Carbon

Final Thoughts

As Stablecoins continue to develop we are likely to see different iterations and implementations around it. But honestly in my opinion as long as it can do the job of maintaining a relatively stable peg of $1USD we don’t really need that many variation of it. Hence likely we are going to see weaker projects die out and some consolidation in this space. Who knows we might even see one coin to rule them all?

PS. As mentioned in the article I will be doing articles that dives deeper into how some of these stablecoins operate.

The post above is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Any and all information perceived through such posts, through either audio, visual, verbal or written means, should be considered the personal opinions, strategies and examples of the author and reflect his or her judgement as of the date of publication, are subject to change, and do not constitute investment or trading advice. No representation or warranty is made by the author respect to the accuracy, applicability, fitness or completeness of the contents of any information. The author of these posts shall not be held liable to any party for any direct, indirect, implied, punitive, special, incidental, or other consequential damages arising directly or indirectly from any use of the contents, which is provided as is, and without warranties of any kind whatsoever, express or implied. Any links or references to third party providers are for informational purposes only and are not warranted for content, accuracy or any other implied or explicit purpose.

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The Rise of Stablecoins & What Are The Different Types Out There was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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WorkLife — You Need Balance

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Work-Life — You Need Balance

Why is it an essential factor in a career choice?

The so-called experts would tell you to work hard until you’re 60 so that you can chill for the rest of your life. It was not a straightforward suggestion from a specific person, but I heard the same old story from various people at various points in my life.

When I was in school, my mom encouraged me to work hard and get good scores in 10th and 12th grade. I didn’t chill at all during those two years. The pressure from family and school kept me occupied. I went through it without a second thought only to find out that nothing changes in college.

Now you start running for grades, again. This time not just for two years but four. Along with that, you had to learn skills that will get you a job. Guess what?! Those CPGAs are not enough!

In addition to semesters, there were internals, externals, record notebooks, re-tests, and projects. Arggghhh…You get it, right?

You hoped that things would change when you enter the workplace. You thought that things would be under control, but, wait for it!!!! The haunting reality peeks in.

Work-life balance is a screwed up phenomena in Indian IT industry. I hear horror stories from my friends who are working in top companies that exploit them by making them work for 13–14 hours every day and even on weekends.

Even those who consciously decide to leave on time are subjected to random comments about “not working enough” or “leaving on half a day.” In contrast, I hear stories from my friends abroad where people cringe if someone stays at the office for long hours.

As mentioned in the introduction, I expected things to change at the workplace, but again with these random comments and unwritten rules, you end up working long hours, taking in the pressure. This time if I give up, the habit will be stuck with me for years.

Why is it important

It is What Keeps You Sane

The human mind is not bound to work long hours. Constant breaks and enough sleep is what keeps you sane and refreshed for next day.

It is What Takes You to the Next Step

By properly managing your work time, you will have time to improve the skills that will lead you towards your next step. There are a lot of complementary skills you need to develop over time to become a great wizard at what you do.

It Makes a Happy Family

The more time you spend with your family, the happier it is. My father has been working 14 hours every day for the past 30 years. He has the financial stability to support me at all odds but not the emotional stability to support me because he has no clue who I am.

It Gives you Time to Focus on Other Hobbies

Focusing on other hobbies than your actual domain is the birthplace of new ideas. Time spent on the gym or other physical activities will keep you energized. Time spent on art forms will refresh your mind.

It lets you Reflect Your Day

Something that is more important than learning new things is taking time to reflect on your everyday events. Tracking your day will let you course correct the path towards your goal and let you create the kind of life you want.

I think I had sold you the idea of having a work-life balance and convinced you to pursue it. In the end what matters is the experience and memories you derive out of your life and not the number of hours you spent working!

You will have time to think, only if you have

time to Breathe.

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WorkLife — You Need Balance was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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