Wednesday, November 4, 2009


It's been said that the only constant in life is change. That can be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on your point of view. Change is always interesting, even if it's not always fun. The Chinese have a curse that says "may you live in interesting times".

Well, we certainly are living in interesting times. I don't need to quote gloomy economic statistics here. I can do that elsewhere, and besides, they're everywhere. It's kind of like back in the late 90's when everyone was abuzz about the stock market. Everyone was talking about it. "How much did you make? How high can it go? How long can it last?"

Nobody thought about factoring in a guy named Alan Greenspan and the winch he was using to reign in the "irrational exuberance" with silken thread. Oops...! Pulled a little too hard. It was, to me, kind of like calling the cops to a party at 3:00 a.m., when everyone was already drunk and passed out. Haul 'em in anyway!

That was very real for me at the time, because I was trading options for the few months before the crash, making enough money that I thought I had hit the mother lode and closed my non-profit company that I had labored on for nine years. When I say non-profit, that wasn't the legal description, just a matter of fact.

I was good enough at it, that I taught my broker how to do it, figuring he would be able to give me a few inside tips. He did that, alright. Losers, every one of them. But he was making money, on both ends. It cost me plenty to follow his advice and it taught me a few things while I was being wiped out one fateful day: trust your own instincts and don't ignore the rules.

You see, I was trying desperately to recover for myself what I thought he had taken from me, and in the course of things, broke one of the cardinal rules of options play. Really, business in general. In the market, as the saying goes: bulls get fed; bears get fed; pigs get slaughtered. I got slaughtered. I over-leveraged and didn't protect myself, trying to wring every dollar of profit I could, winching ever tighter with a silken thread, and oops! Pulled too hard. Lost it all.

I mention all of this because it seems that we can't escape the bad news, and often we discount the effect of the media on the economy and our psyches. Collectively, we want to put a gun in our mouths instead of shooting the TV! Now, that's mind control. But that's the way we live our lives, for the most part. Waiting for someone to tell us it's all going to be fine and not to worry. We'll tell you when it's safe to go outside. We'll tell you when you can start spending money again, after we gave all of your money to the banks, politicians, financiers, lobbyists and shills that got you into this mess! Sit quietly and we'll take care of you and tell you when to take your head out of the sand.

Sorry, not my style! I've always been a risk taker, much to my wife's chagrin. If I see an opportunity, I check it out. If I get in, I get all the way in, because my instincts are usually pretty good, even if my application is lacking. Got into multi level marketing and pushed that, hard, for seven years. If you want to learn about facing rejection, get into an MLM. Climbed a corporate ladder in the moving industry and fell off near the top, without a net. Built the largest third party service company in the moving business on the West Coast. Went nationwide; went broke. Took a course on Real Estate Foreclosure sales. Laws changed, at least here in the golden real estate state. Bought a couple of properties the conventional way, because real estate is really the only "safe" investment. Values plummeted. Short sold one and wrecked our credit. Still losing money on the other. Went into architectural design and construction project management. Hardest hit sector of the economy!

It became a running joke with my friends that I should tell them what I'm planning next, so that they can get out!

Apparently, I just don't know when to quit. I just keep getting back up. I've been roasted, seared, charred and flat out burnt to a crisp. Hence the name. Rising Phoenix is about being reborn. Rising from the ashes. Starting anew. I've always been tenacious and success has always been just around the next corner. I can smell it and one of these days I'm going to taste it. Because, no matter what anyone says I can or can't achieve, at the end of the day, I have to go to bed knowing that there's a reason to get up tomorrow. Quitting isn't in my DNA. You might convince me to walk away, but you'll never convince me to stay down. I don't like the view.

So, what about you? Do you trust your instincts and have enough fighting spirit to fend off the bad mojo? Do you have enough faith in yourself? The way I look at it, life is all about give and take: you give it all you've got, until you can't take it any more. Life's too short not to try, and I'm too good not to succeed. It's what gets me up in the morning.

Yeah, I'm changing again. Change is good.

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