Sunday, January 8, 2017

My Less Connected Life

No one will ever look back on their life and think, "Man, I wish I spent more time looking at my phone. Things sure would have been better if I had known what was going on in social media."

There will be exceptions. For example, if I'm run over by a guy that posted, "Gonna go drive recklessly at the Virtua parking lot this morning #OutRunThat", yes, getting that warning might have helped. For the vast majority of us, presence is where it's at.

To that end, the system (not the resolution, the system) I'm setting up for this year has now hit two parts. First, when getting home, my phones go on the office desk in the bedroom. Not in the kitchen, not my pocket, but away from where life is happening. Second, when I go out, look for opportunities to leave the phones at home.

That second one is a fun one. I don't realize a compulsion until the object of its affection is gone. Try it and count the number of times you find yourself reaching for the device. It's probably not far off from any other addict's sensation. It certainly tells me I made the right decision.

The results are already readily apparent. I've had more time with the kids. I've gotten more reading done in the books and magazines I own. Saturday morning I sat with Katherine and went over her work from the week. We played, "Will it float?" Tonight I read with Layla. I find myself noticing, engaging with, and paying attention to Jackie more. While at Grandmom's, where I did not take the phone, I played with the kids. I haven't done that...maybe ever.

I felt present in my life, and I'm happier because of it.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Island Babies

My wife and I had a refreshing and reinvigorating trip to Hawaii. We have a 6 year old daughter, and a 3 year old daughter. Any good pattern recognition machine, like the human brain, might ask if that trip our time to generate baby number three.

Very early into the trip I concluded that an island is a great place to make the first baby. You're caught up in the magic, and you think, "We're so in love. This place is magical. Let's commemorate our love and this place. Maybe we'll give it the middle name Poipu so people know for sure where and when this kid came to be." Or maybe it's just, "I've had enough Mai Tais that this seems like a good idea." Either way, you can see how one could come back with a bun in the oven.

I have more trouble with the follow on babies. We were once again swept up in island magic, and very in love, but we also realized, "You know what more kids means? Less of this." I think we could take that Hawaii trip 25 times for the cost of a college tuition.

Or maybe we just needed more Mai Tais. 

Either way, it'll be just the four of us for a little while longer. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Chipotle (CMG) Buy

Chipotle has been on my watch list for a long time as a stock I always wanted to buy. We love the product, eating there often. We like their philosophy, eating responsibly. I admired the performance of the company. However, it seemed too pricey. Until recently. The E. Coli outbreak resulting in a walloping as the stock tumbled from the upper 700s to just under $400.

This price drop seems like an opportunity to buy while others are selling. Can we get a better idea of whether this stock is indeed on sale? According to analysis based on, "Fire Your Stock Analyst", we can.

We start by obtaining a history of revenue. I looked at 2010 through 2014. 2015 is not available right now. From that revenue history, we get the Year over Year revenue growth. It hung around 400M for 2011 to 2013, then in 2014 sales grew by 900M. Using that history, I assumed revenue growth of 500M through 2019. I knocked 2015 revenue growth to 0 to account for the sales impact of the E. Coli outbreak.

Next we estimate shares outstanding which has been holding around 31M for the past 5 years. I held the same values through 2019.

With Sales and Shares Outstanding estimated, we can calculate Sales/Share.

Next we calculate Price per Sales (P/S) by taking the price per share each year and dividing that by sales per share. The resulting P/S ratio is about 5 most years. I held the same ratio through 2019.

P/S * assumed sales gives us an estimate for stock price for the years we estimated. To be conservative, hack that in half by 50%. That gives you the target sales price.

This analysis resulted in a target price of $412. CMG is currently trading at $452.05. Close enough, that's the last information I needed to pull the trigger.

This purchase was funded with proceeds from a well timed INTC buy/sell based on the insightful article at  Ed's Stock Engineering

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The 2015 Focus

The focus at 509 Graisbury for 2015 is two fold. The first is to appreciate what we have. The second is to strive for even better. The second is only allowed after the first is complete.

I like this goal because, for me, 2014 had too little of the first and too much of the latter. It's a dangerous lack of balance, and if yoga has taught me anything it is that lack of balance leads to bad things, especially if you're trying to reach for something more.

I realized last year that aspiration that does build on a foundation of gratitude leads me down a slippy slope that ends with faulty relationships, dangerous inner monologues, and people asking, "have you thought about talking to a professional?"

This vacation was exactly what it needed to be. Quality time with my family, my girls, rest, recovery, fun, choc-a-bloc with reminders of all we have to be thankful for, and full of inspiration that the best is yet to come.

Here's to making this the best year yet, and realizing we already have what we need to make it so.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Simple Tip for Morale

Employee morale is a tricky beast, or so it seems. If you want to be an exceptional organization, it behooves you to pay attention to the latest and greatest teachings on what to do to keep those employees happy.

However, despite all the best propaganda from many HR organizations, the next step for many organizations is not Exceptional. The next step for most organizations, by definition, is above average, average, and bearable.

The good news for such places is that in order to improve morale, you don't need to invest millions in training your leaders. You need not bestow weeks of vacation time. Don't even burden yourself with the thought of modeling the latest and greatest ways of the latest and greatest exceptional organizations.

Just say Hi.

That's it. If someone is walking by you at work, regardless of your relation to them, and they say hello, say hi back. This gets even more important once you are a leader. The higher up in the food chain you go, the more your acknowledgement, or lack thereof, will impact someone.

Yep, the higher up you go, usually, the greater the stress. The more likely it is you get in your own head as you walk around. After all, a leader lives in the future as they create the vision. Just stay in the present enough to say Hi. Your team will appreciate it, or, at the very least, they're less likely to thing you don't care about them, and every organization has to start somewhere.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I Love the Weekends

I love the weekends that bring me no closer to material riches.
I love the weekends where nothing comes off the to do list.
I love the weekends the chores pile up.
I love the weekends the laundry outgrows the bins.
I love the weekends that leave me without leftovers.
I love the weekends where no new trees or shrubs are planted.
I love the weekends the car doesn't leave the driveway.

I love these weekends that fall short of grand ambition because it is quite often these weekends I spend making memories with my children.

Today Layla, 4 years old, and I decided to watch Cosmos. I've greatly anticipated watching this with her, hoping she will at least put up with it long enough so watching it with Dad becomes habit. Her liking it seemed like a bar set too high. So imagine my chagrin when I laugh and she mutters, "Shhh. I'm trying to watch Cosmos."

She asked me all weekends to be "Trainers." "What's that?" "I mean, ENGINEERS!" We went to the basement, where she knows all great engineering takes place. She watched me swap out a hard drive while she created the latest spinning machine for Katinka. We relaxed watching cartoons and I wrote.

Katherine, almost two years old, wandered the kitchen wearing her stethoscope, kissing all the boo boos on Jackie and I. She checked out our hearts "dum dum dum. dum dum." She checked out my knees, which also apparently go "dum dum. dum dum dum."

Weekends of ambition have their place, too, but how fortunate I feel to realize that I love the weekends I slow down long enough for these butterflies to land on me.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

It's Both

There’s a popular saying about work that does a great disservice to people. I know it misled me for many years after having been planted there by a teacher in high school. She remarked, “I don’t know about you, but I’d rather work smart than work hard.” 

The saying sounds very appealing. “Yeah, that’s right, I’m not going to be another dumb guy wasting my energy!” I think the sentiment contributes to a culture of people impatient for promotions, desirous of a shortcut to success, and ultimately tempting devious behavior when the shortcuts don’t pan out.

The truth of the matter is this. Working smart over working hard can get you positioned for success, maybe even advance you faster than others, but the person that works smart AND works hard will run right over you.

So yeah, work smart, but don’t forget that nothing work having comes easy.