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Friday 29 May 2015

2016 – WHAT TO DO?

The question at this turning point in time and a year away from the next Presidential Elections of 2016 is do the people of this nation have the determination, drive, and willpower to seize the reins of power and return the country to its place as a beacon of light and inspiration for the world? A nation that is powerful, yet benign? Do we have the courage to stand up for what we believe or will we continue to cower in the corner and hope no one sees us?

One way to develop courage is to consider what will happen if we fail to act. When considering action, I always do a best/worst analysis. I ask the following four questions about the prospective action:

For More: 2016 WHAT TO DO

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Thursday 28 May 2015

Bullish on Stocks? Think about this for a moment

One of the most important things you can do as an investor is to try to seek out smart arguments that lay out the opposite side of the views that you hold. In other words, if you’re bullish, you should seek out smart bears, and vice versa.

And if you’re so sure that stocks are just going to keep going up and that anyone who voices caution is a moron — then at least think about this

Someday, financial markets will again decline. Someday, rising stock and bond markets will no longer be government policy – maybe not today or tomorrow, but someday. Someday, QE will end and money won’t be free. Someday, corporate failure will be permitted. Someday, the economy will turn down again, and someday, somewhere, somehow, investors will lose money and once again come to favor capital preservation over speculation. Someday, interest rates will be higher, bond prices lower, and the prospective return from owning fixed-income instruments will again be roughly commensurate with the risk.

Thank You

Tuesday 26 May 2015

Iran is no peace partner and no ally to the West

Everyone today would love to see a deal with Iran, but let’s face reality folks. Iran is no peace partner and no ally to the West and will never be as long as the mullahs are in power.

It is a fact that no matter how much the Iranian propagandists try to sell Iran as a country with a very vibrant society, eager to embrace the West, Iran’s record of press freedom and human rights is dismal and its sponsoring of terrorists the world over – starting with Hezbollah – is second to none.

Just take a close look at Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei when delivering speeches in front of  hyped-up citizens pumping their fists in the air and chanting “death to America.” and see for yourself.

For More: Iran is no peace partner and no ally to the West

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Monday 25 May 2015

Start Up Ecosystem In Lebanon

I recently attended the First Lebanese Startups Conference in New York City and I was frankly pleasantly surprised by the top caliber of speakers and the spirit of Lebanese entrepreneurship.

30 speakers, 25 startups, 50 investors and 250 entrepreneurs and professionals at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. A real inspiring event to be remembered.

Beirut is clearly rapidly shaping up to be a powerhouse for startups in the Middle East. It has many of the key elements: A highly entrepreneurial culture; incubators and accelerators; venture capital; and access to growth funding. In part because it is the most liberal state in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, and has a western-style banking system bequeathed to it by the French a long time ago, Lebanon is uniquely poised to generate startups which aim both at the Arab world and the wider world at large.

For More: Start Up Ecosystem In Lebanon

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Thursday 21 May 2015

What makes a maverick

We work with lots of mavericks in here at Blackhawk and define mavericks as willfully independent people.

We work with mavericks at work; talented, honest people who can see the holes in the arguments and are rule breakers. They are the top performers in the company but are useless at interacting with people effectively. This sometimes leads to accusations of bullying – even though the person isn’t a bully. They are great at what they do but are often on the verge of being sacked.

We also work with maverick business owners. Ambitious business owners with big goals, very focused on their core skill (training for example) but need focus and clarity and strategic direction to grow their business. We also help them become more credible and build their reputation.

For More: What makes a maverick

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Tuesday 19 May 2015

Raising money for your cause

Being in the fundraising business – for profit and non-profit alike – for years now, I believe the best way to raise money for your cause using social media is to first and foremost know your audience.

Who are they, what do they want to read/learn more about, what resonates with them, what will motivate them to act? Examine the personas of your donors first and reach them where they are, using the methods that they prefer. Stop thinking about where you want them to be and what you want to say to them. Think about where they are online and what they want to hear from you.

For More: Raising money for your cause

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Friday 15 May 2015

How do you gain attention for your Non Profit

This is clearly a question every non-profit Executive Director thinks about every day as funds  for non-profits have been steadily declining for the last 2 years given the harsh economic realities we’re all still going through.

So these are a few tips I thought I would share with you all.

Whether you are an NPO or not, an integral part of any good marketing plan is defining your goals. When you know what it is you want to achieve, creating distinct marketing campaigns and tactics become much more clear.

The goals of non-profit organizations can be as diverse as the myriad of organizations  the mselves. There are, however, a few major goals across the board.

Thank You

Thursday 14 May 2015


Having spent the last three decades of my life in the money world, I am frequently asked what are the smartest investing tips I would offer people looking in retrospect for someone starting his money career today….

Well here are my basic tips – some trivial , others much less obvious – for anyone wanting to build something not just of value but most importantly of meaning too.

1. It is not easy. Even some of the legendary investors like Jesse Livermore says it took him 5 years to learn. Warren Buffett began when he was 8 and learned the Graham approach when he was around 22. So it took him 14 years. Why should it take anybody less? There is no ‘silver bullet’. Investing is hard work and overnight success is indeed 15 years.

For More: Smart investing

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Wednesday 13 May 2015


I am an oil trader and financier; a business which has been a huge economic beneficiary of the sustained increases in oil prices, drilling, refining and related processes. As such, the amount of wealth created in energy-related investments has been enormous and, not surprisingly, a vast majority of individuals have overweighed portfolios in energy with the expectations that “oil prices can only go up.” Of course, this sentiment is certainly understandable when you look at the performance of the energy sector versus the S&P 500 since the turn of the century.

Not surprisingly, the recent plunge in oil prices, and related energy stocks, has sent investors scurrying for cover. Previous “complacency” has turned to outright “panic” as portfolios, and retirement plans, have been crushed by plunging asset prices.

For More: Investing in the public markets

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Tuesday 12 May 2015

Will the Internet ever change the face of Finance

The importance of traditional financial intermediation services, and hence of the smaller banks that typically specialize in providing those services, tends to increase during times of financial stress. Indeed, the crisis has highlighted the important continuing role of community banks and the smartest finance people out there all agree that the big banks aren’t really focusing as much on the lending business as smaller banks. For example, less than 10% of Bank of America’s assets come from traditional banking deposits. So a shutdown by banks is really far from cataclysmic.

While banks once dominated business lending, today nearly 80% of all such loans come from nonbank lenders like life insurers, brokerage firms and finance companies. Banks used to be the only source of money in town. Now businesses and individuals can write checks on their insurance companies, get a loan from a pension fund, and deposit paychecks in a money-market account with a brokerage firm.

For More: Internet ever change the face of Finance

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Monday 11 May 2015

How Killer Serial Entrepreneurs Operate

I talk to and meet close to 500 entrepreneurs a year – from the true maverick game changers to the guys as arrogant and dumb as can be -

I believe what differentiates a killer serial entrepreneur from the rest of the crowd is frankly how they operate – no matter what product they are offering.

With around 30 year experience on Wall Street backing over 125 companies worth in aggregate over 10 billion dollars during the time period, I thought I’d share with you some of my thoughts in this regard.

For More: Killer Serial Entrepreneurs Operate

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Friday 8 May 2015

What Gets Deals Done

I am frankly flabbergasted by the number of time-wasting bullshit artists – who really think that by just connecting with us through social media or on Skype, sending us an Email or plainly calling us out of the blue – will get our full attention in jumping on the business bandwagon.

Well folks… I can tell you that we have learnt a lot over the years about what works and what doesn’t in the deal making world.

Let me share with you some priceless tips if you ever want to be considered as a serious player in the high stakes world of trading and finance and transact business with us.

For More: What Gets Deals Done

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Thursday 7 May 2015

Taking on the Big Boys

Thanks to the Internet, entrepreneurs today across the board can disrupt slow moving industries like never before.

This process is also creating billionaires the world over faster than any time in history and I believe this is just the beginning.

It is clear the winners in the business world today are very quickly becoming those that know how to adapt and innovate, not those with the deepest pockets as anyone with the right commitment and burning desire to succeed can turn a good idea into a functioning business overnight, and find customers all around the world.

So when somebody approaches me with a new business idea, I ask them three questions to evaluate the idea:

For More: Taking on the Big Boys

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Tuesday 5 May 2015

Game Changer

I meet with hundreds of entrepreneurs a year…from the smart operators to the ones as dumb and conceited as a rock to the real “game changers” out to change the world.

I have always been particularly intrigued with this last group of people.

Here are some personal thoughts as to what makes them unique in their own way in case you’re still wondering what differentiates a “game changer” from the rest of us.

Game Changers have:

1. An uncanny vision – One thing that is happening today the world over is the widening gap between rich and poor. The game changer is the one who can connect the dots better and faster than most people out there and pushes the next billion people towards financial inclusion, strategically and socially.

For More: Game Changer
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Monday 4 May 2015

The Power of your Message and the Growth of your Non-Profit

Managing a nonprofit is already more than a full-time job.

For your supporters, your organization’s blog is a window into your world. It showcases what matters to you, how you’re achieving your mission, and provides insight into the type of organization you are or want to be. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a critical marketing tool to spread knowledge of your work and the issues you prioritize to millions of potential supporters.
So what do you do to have your Non-profit’s message or blog at the forefront of all?

1. It all starts with fundraising

Behind every successful and influential organization is a team of people finding the money to fund great work. While your blog shouldn’t only be a vehicle to support the development team, every post is a good opportunity to turn a casual observer or activist into a donor. Make sure your blog contributors – whether within or outside your organization – are fully aware of this. After all, money is the fuel of it all.

For More:  The Power of your Message and the Growth of your Non-Profit

Thank You,

Friday 1 May 2015

Are we Facing an Economic Disaster?

I strongly believe that central bankers’ actions have put the global economy today in a very dangerous position.

Interest rates are too low. As a result, we’re seeing a replay of the mid-2000s – when interest rates were too low given economic growth, and as a result, the bubble in US subprime property was inflated. And when it blew up, it triggered the global financial crisis.

I am afraid a similar thing is happening today. Even though the US economy is growing, interest rates are lower than they’ve ever been. It’s hard to argue that current conditions justify that level of emergency intervention.

For More:  Are we Facing an Economic Disaster?