Approaching Business As An Investor

Aug. 17

I’m an investor with a lifelong obsession for cash flow. If you’ve been reading PPC Ian for a while, you probably already know that (from my posts about topics such as Lending Club). I recently started a new role, one where I’m able to combine my passions for investing, marketing, leadership, technology, and general management. My passion for investing seems to enter all aspects of my role. Today, I want to share some thoughts on how you can approach business with the investment mindset.

Think Long-Term

There’s a big difference between investing and speculation. Investing is all about the long-term. Investors think five, ten, and even twenty years out. Speculators, those trying to earn a quick dollar, actively trade in and out of stocks (and other financial instruments). I’m here to argue that the patient, long-term approach is fundamental to both investing and business. Some practical examples applied to business:

  • Treat people well and build long-term relationships that turn into friendships. It’s all about the people. You cannot carry the weight of the world on your own shoulders. Build long-term relationships, and build careers. Those very relationships will drive long-term results for you and the company.
  • Integrate technologies and build systems that offer long-term efficiency and gains. Don’t write sloppy code, don’t build short-term bandaid solutions. You may have to invest more money and time (at the sacrifice of short-term results), but your efforts will drive compounded results in the long-term.
  • Make smart decisions that provide predictable business growth over the long-term, not just the next few months. Do you want to experience super high-highs and low-lows, a roller coaster ride? Or, do you want to experience continuous, incremental highs over time? With the right long-term approach, you can smooth out volatility and create predictability. Those predictable investments are often the best ones. In parallel, there is nothing better than creating a solid, predictable business environment for growing one’s career and winning the trust of the investment community.

It’s All About Dividends and Cash Flow

I’m an investor who truly appreciates dividends. I’m of the "Show me the money" mindset. Those enterprises that consistently put cash in my pocket (in the form of growing dividends) are my favorites, and almost always turn out to be the best investments.

In business, nothing changes. Why are you in business? Aside from your top-level mission statement and charter, you’re in business to turn a profit, to generate cash. The quicker you turn a profit and the bigger the profit, the better. Whether you’re running digital marketing campaigns, analyzing a real estate opportunity, or making the case for a new hire, always understand the implications on your company’s cash flow. Generate increasing cash flow over time, and you’ve got a truly winning business.

Have a stockpile of cash on hand? Even if your business is privately held, you can pay out dividends. I have worked for several employers who have done just that, turning my career into a true investment!

Take Action When Others Are Not

In the investing world, industries fall in and out of favor. I like to take advantage of temporarily depressed industries, especially with big, sustainable dividends. When others are selling, I’m buying. That said, I’m also very careful not to catch a falling knife, so to speak.

From a business standpoint, I encourage you to face your fears head-on. Take advantage of those opportunities others are ignoring. Tackle the seemingly impossible. Is there a neglected are of your business, one that is really difficult and intimidating, or just plain mundane? Embrace those opportunities! Take a calculated risk when your modeling proves over-and-over that it is warranted. Don’t ever take the easy, safe route. Leaders forge their own paths and drive companies forward. Take action when others are not!

Note: I am not a licensed investment advisor and this article is not investment advice. This article is for entertainment purposes only.

Don’t Ever Burn Bridges In Business

Apr. 09

The other day, I received a strange phone call. I’m not going to go into details, but let’s just say that a professional contact/friend of many years called me and essentially burned the bridge. Now, I’m a a reasonably forgiving person, so the bridge was not really burned because I was able to save the day by being the bigger person. However, many people are not forgiving like me. I was surprised the person calling made this mistake, because it’s one that people typically learn (often the hard way) at some point in their career, never to make it again. Today, I wanted to write about burning bridges, and how you can avoid doing so! Please read on, today’s tips will greatly amplify your career and save you from the great challenges that burning bridges can cause. These tips will make you a better leader.

Challenge

First and foremost, what does it mean to burn a bridge? Basically, it means acting in a way that damages a relationship that was previously professional. It means you act in a way that creates an awkward situation, sometimes irreparable. A business relationship that was once sound is now in a state of disarray. In my experience, it just isn’t worth it! This stuff will always come back to haunt you in the future. Avoid burning bridges at all costs.

Tip 1: Even if you treated in an unfriendly way, do not react back with anything other than kindness. Throughout your career, you may not agree with everything that is happening. There may be situations that seem "unfair". Some situations may even test your emotions (especially if you have been working long hours, and are low on sleep to begin with). Never, ever react to this type of stuff. You may think you’re right, but sometimes you are not. Even if you are right, do not do anything drastic. The calm, professional businessperson always wins. Keep it cool, and avoid burning those bridges. Be the bigger person, the leader.

Tip 2: Always leave on a great note! Leaving your company for a new job? Give proper two week’s notice. Be very cordial and helpful. Document everything possible. Treat your co-workers with respect. Don’t brag, keep it low-key. What about the situation where you are leaving but didn’t expect it to happen? Stay calm, and be incredibly positive and cordial. We’re in a very small world here in digital marketing (and technology overall). You will run into everyone again. And, it’s just the right thing to do, be that great professional.

Tip 3: Have a thick skin. In the world of business, things happen. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Have that faith and inner peace. Don’t worry if things seem "unfair". Don’t worry if things are not going your way. The very thing that is not going your way could create incredible opportunity for you in the near future. You never know what is right around the corner. Have a thick skin, and carry on. Always do what’s best for the business and you cannot fail!

Tip 4: Find great teammates and rely on each other. Sometimes you will be a mentor to others. Sometimes, others will be a mentor to you. Build that strong team. Build that support network. When you surround yourself with great leaders, you cannot go wrong. There is true strength in numbers.

Tip 5: Think about the long term. Business is all about the big picture. Act in your best interests and your company’s best interests from a long term perspective. Take time to think before doing anything!

Tip 6: Be humble. There are a lot of high-powered professionals reading this blog. Smart, successful people got where they are for a reason. They are great at what they do! No matter how smart you are, however, remember that you can always be wrong from time-to-time. By staying humble, you will always be in that mindset of avoiding danger. Treat every single day like it’s your first day at work.

Tip 7: Be ready to forgive yourself and others. Stuff happens. People make mistakes (including you and me). Remember how I started this post? If you can be the bigger person and build a practice of forgiveness (of course if circumstances allow for it), you will make the business world a better place. You will also amplify your own quality of life. That said, you can forgive, but that doesn’t mean you need to forget. When someone burns the bridge, you can always reserve the right to remember what happened.

Hope these tips help, everyone. It’s all about the people. Forge those world-class business partnerships and they will pay dividends for years (and decades) to come!

Image of Challenge © iStockPhoto – iqoncept

It’s All About Learning

Dec. 30

Are you learning each and every day? If you’re in the world of digital marketing and customer acquisition marketing, you should be!

Learn Lead Earn

With 2015 approaching, I wanted to share a guest post that I just wrote for the 3Q Digital Blog. My guest post highlights ways in which you can Learn From Your Digital Marketing Agency.

I truly enjoy working with great agencies. Even if you manage your customer acquisition in-house, it’s always ideal to have a second pair of eyes auditing your campaigns. The best teams often include a combination of in-house and agency employees working together in tandem. My guest post offers advice on how you can collaborate with and learn from your trusted agency partners. I hope it helps you maximize your learning in 2015, since it’s all about learning!

Image of Learn Lead Earn © iStockPhoto – almagami

Acquisio Gives Back To The Kids

Sep. 28

I’m a tremendous fan of the digital marketing career path. Those of us who work hard in digital marketing are able to build truly exciting and rewarding careers. I’m also a tremendous fan of giving back. When you have built a rewarding career, you’re in the driver’s seat to give back. Nicole and I recently participated in (and donated money to) the 20th Annual Lupus 5k, for example.

Today, I wanted to highlight a company that has truly gone above-and-beyond, Acquisio. Each year, my good friend Marc Poirier, Co-Founder and EVP of Business Development, participates in the Make-A-Wish Foundation 48-Hour Ride. This year, Marc personally raised $10,945. In total, Acquisio raised $37,702. Simply amazing!

I wanted to take a moment to congratulate Marc and the entire Acquisio team. They are true leaders in our industry from a technology standpoint, and also a generosity standpoint. Their hard work will truly make a difference for the kids. Do you have any team charity events planned? No matter how big or small, no matter whether you are donating money or your time, every little bit counts! And, it’s a great vehicle for team building!

If you’d like to contribute to Marc Poirier’s Make-A-Wish campaign, you can still do so! I was actually a little bit late this time, and my donation went through just fine. Please consider donating to Make-A-Wish, make a difference in a kid’s life today!

Make-A-Wish

Maui 2014, It Was Amazing

Sep. 07

"At the Sheraton, they treat you like a King," one of my good friends from Stanford once said. Well, this has never been more true than at the Sheraton Maui at Black Rock. Nicole and I just got back from a fabulous 7-night vacation and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. We try to visit Hawaii every year, and this year’s vacation was one of the best. (We actually visited the Big Island of Hawaii last year for an amazing 7-night stay at the Marriott Waikaloa Village. Unfortunately, I was so busy at that time that I never got around to blogging about it. Not this time… It’s time to talk about incomparable Maui, Hawaii…)

Kaanapali Beach, Where It’s At

I love Kaanapali beach. A truly magnificent setting, Kaanapali beach is home to some of the best hotels on Maui. Kaanapali is special for a multitude of reasons:

Sheraton Maui Buffet

Breakfast Buffet at Sheraton Maui

  1. It’s quiet but also offers a lot to do, all within walking distance.
  2. The waters are calm enough for a novice/intermediate swimmer, but also offer some waves for more advanced swimmers (I really enjoyed boogieboarding last time I was on Kaanapali). You experience a diverse array of wave conditions spanning this incredibly long beach. Right near Black Rock, for example, waters are generally calm with amazing snorkeling. Further down, however, waves are large enough for boogieboarding and surfing.
  3. The hotels are literally right on the beach. The ocean is right at your fingertips. Nicole and I enjoyed a few pool and beach days. We’d get a cabana at the pool and rotate between going in the pool and the ocean. (Cabana days are a great way to relax, more on these later…)
  4. The beach boardwalk path allows you to walk the entire beach, connecting all the hotels and attractions. A stroll on this path never gets old. The scenery of the Island of Lanai (just across the water), the incomparable sunsets (unlike any sunset I have ever seen), or simply the waves crashing will truly make your day.
  5. For those that really love shopping (like Nicole and myself), Whaler’s Village Shopping Center is amazing. I enjoyed shopping at one of my favorite stores, Tory Richard. They also offer outstanding restaurants like Leilani’s (more on this later).
  6. For those that like earning loyalty points at their favorite hotel chain, you’ll find many major brands such as Sheraton (where we stayed this time), Westin (where we stayed last time), Marriott, Hyatt, and more. I was delighted to earn Starwood points while relaxing in paradise.
  7. There is so much here and so much to do, but it’s also incredibly relaxed and quiet. I mentioned this back in point number one but want to reiterate because that’s the true magic, in my opinion. And, given the number of hotels and attractions, it’s hard to believe, but incredibly true.

Highlighting Our Favorite Experiences This Time In Maui

As I get older, I have come to realize that it’s all about special experiences. Special moments spent on vacation with your loved ones are worth every last penny, and are the times in life that I truly cherish. Over the years, I have learned that these breaks are mandatory to recharge my batteries, and stay healthy. I encourage you to also take time for yourself! In the spirit of priceless memories, I want to transition into some of my favorite moments from our 2014 Maui, Hawaii vacation.

Cabana Days

PPC Ian Sheraton Maui Cabana

Maui Pool Cabana Day

The Pool at Sheraton Maui offers an array of cabanas for rent. Knowing that the sun in Hawaii is strong, cabanas offer shade while enjoying the pool and ocean. Not to mention, they offer a bit of privacy, better cushions/comfort, and come with great food and drink service. Nicole and I enjoyed two different cabanas on this vacation, one facing the pool and one facing the ocean. We really enjoyed these lazy days of resting at the cabana, swimming in the Sheraton’s "lazy river-style" pool, and enjoying the ocean. The Sheraton offers cool oversized drink containers that can be purchased and refilled with your favorite beverage. I enjoyed my fair share of lava flows, a delicious tropical mix of Pina Colada and Strawberry Daiquiri in one delicious drink. As incredibly busy marketing professionals, I feel like these days allowed us to recharge our batteries. Getting a healthy dose of UV rays was also very welcomed and refreshing.

Surfing Goat Dairy Farm

Surfing Goat Dairy Maui

Ian and Nicole at Surfing Goat Dairy Farm

We have seen so many amazing things on Maui over the years. Each time, we search for new and special attractions. One of this year’s favorites was Surfing Goat Dairy. Maui (and the Hawaiian Islands in general) attract some of the best farmers around. Not only are the conditions pristine for farming, but the talent is unparalleled. This year, we were captivated by this boutique goat dairy farm. We especially enjoyed feeding the goats and sampling the goat cheese. Our tour guide was really great and even took a picture of us with a cute baby goat in our lap, too cool!

Ocean Vodka Tour

Have you enjoyed Vodka on Hawaiian Airlines? Chances are you have had Ocean Vodka, the official vodka of the airline. While this Vodka producer has been around a while, they only started doing tours a few years back. I was incredibly impressed with the vodka (delicious), the facility, and more than anything the vision. Ocean Vodka was started by the son of a long-time construction family on Maui. He had a unique vision: Create the best vodka around from hand-harvested cane sugar, while leveraging his family’s construction background in building a world-class facility. He found a way to create a special product, build a dazzling facility/operation, incorporate his entire family into the business (even his mom was working there), and achieve true success. These are the types of businesses that impress me the most; Ones that develop top-notch products, and live the dream while doing it.

Dinner At Leilani’s and their Hula Pie

Leilanis Maui Hawaii

Dinner at Leilani’s Maui

The food on Maui is unparalleled. Nicole and I enjoyed dining out at a variety of restaurants. We enjoyed following Yelp which took us to Paia Fish Market in the surfer town of Paia. We enjoyed casual dining at the Sheraton pool while watching the sun set. We enjoyed Kimo’s, an old favorite in downtown Lahaina. We enjoyed the lavish breakfast buffet each morning, offering everything you could ever hope for. Most of all, we enjoyed Leilani’s, a staple of Whaler’s Village. The fish at Leilani’s was so good we want back twice! Tip for those going: Bring back your receipt from the first night and you may be eligible for a free Hula Pie, one of the best deserts I have ever had. The fish and fresh fruit/vegetables on Hawaii are the best in the world, in my opinion.

Chilling In The Ocean

I recently wrote a blog post about the calming power of running called Running Is Clarity. Well, there is an equally calming force out there, the ocean. I enjoyed swimming in the ocean at the end of many days. I’d go out, swim around, tread water for a bit, and see the sights. All the hotels on Kaanapali beach look so incredible from the ocean. It’s so calming in the ocean, and a wonderful way to relax and unwind. If I lived in Hawaii you’d probably find me starting and/or ending each day with some chilling and thinking out in the ocean.

The Road To Hana

There were so many delightful highlights on this year’s Maui trip that I could go on for a long time. However, I’ll continue with just one more, The Road To Hana. if you’ve been to Maui or heard about Maui, you’ve probably heard about The Road To Hana. It’s famous! This incredible road is truly windy and breathtaking. You better bring your best driving skills to The Road To Hana, as its very windy, with many one-lane bridges. We had so much fun seeing the picturesque landscape, stopping to hike and see the sights, and enjoying the beautiful nature that is Maui. We especially enjoyed stopping to hike to waterfalls, and also exploring a beautiful tropical botanical garden.

Sheraton vs. Westin, Two Special Kaanapali Beach Hotels

PPC Ian Banyan Tree Maui

Chilling At The Banyan Tree In Lahaina

Are you thinking about taking a trip to Kaanapali beach? Are you a fan of Starwood properties but unsure which to choose? Having stayed at both the Westin and the Sheraton, I’m here to say that you really can’t go wrong with either, although we slightly prefer the Sheraton. They are both tremendous properties. The Westin offers a super fun waterside (it’s really fast and tall), the Westin name, a central location towards the middle of Kaanapali, proximity to Whalers Village (it’s literally right next door), cool birds (especially flamingos) right in the lobby, and more. However, it’s more of a high rise feel, rooms seem smaller, and self-parking can be incredibly competitive. The Sheraton (the original/first hotel built on Kaanapali) offers a relaxed lower rise feel, very expansive grounds, the best beach on all of Kaanapali, an open feel to the buildings, better/newer rooms, and location near picturesque Black Rock. I only have two areas where the Sheraton could improve: We didn’t get a preview of our hotel bill under the door the night before checkout and they didn’t restock the bottled water in our room. Overall, we slightly prefer the Sheraton, and hope to visit again very soon. Please note that Starwood also offers the Westin Villas further up the coastline (you need a shuttle to get there), but we have not yet visited (other than for dinner) so I’m unable to compare the Villas in this post, but hope to visit one day in the future.

Thanks for reading! Do you enjoy Hawaii? Any unique experiences in Maui?

Want to read about some of our other Hawaii adventures? Make sure to check out some of these blog posts:

More Pictures From Maui, Hawaii

Sugar Cane Maui

Ian and Nicole Maui

PPC Ian Sheraton Maui

PPC Ian Maui Hawaii Tropical Plantation

Maui Sheraton Beach

Maui Hawaii Waterfall

Maui Hawaii Sunset

All images in this this post © PPCIan.com