Matt Gornick

AAPL on Goldman’s Conviction Buy List and Apple’s Success

Posted in Financial, Uncategorized by mgornick on May 23, 2008

According to a Reuters article, Goldman, Sachs & Co. has added Apple Computer (ticker AAPL) to its Conviction Buy List.  According to GS Global Investment Research this means that Apple’s addition “[represents] investment recommendations focused on either the size of the potential return or the likelihood of the realization of the return.”  It may be a good time to purchase some shares of AAPL prior to WWDC in early June, where a new 3G iPhone and updated iPhone software are rumored to be announced.  They are increasing distribution to foreign countries as well as chipping away at Research in Motions (ticker RIMM) market share in the smart phone market.  Apple has captured 28% of the US smart phone market in such a short amount of time; newer devices, possible subsided prices, and developer applications will only propel the devices adoption into the masses.  The question I ask is why is Apple so successful?

Including Apple to a list of successful companies is a given.  The stock is up over 3,500% over the past decade and over a 1000% from 2001.  For may of their products they weren’t the first to come to market; they were the best.  This can be seen in their lines of iMacs to iPods to iPhones.  Today’s society has benchmarked them as hip, creative, and energetic.  Purchasing a competing product today is considered a social faux pas.  Apple’s marketing is genius; they make the best products and allow for competing brands to “attempt” to design comparable devices.  The smart consumers choice is simple, pick the product that the most people will associate me with “being cool”.

To expand on Apple’s strategy, they produce the best products.  Comparing Starbucks to Apple, they both create new products/services in a seemingly congested market.  The difference is that Starbucks’ competitors create knockoff products that are just as popular whereas Apple’s competitor can produce a technically similar product that can’t sell.  Take Microsoft’s Zune where it has similar design, similar features, similar price and yet people don’t buy it.  Gamestop is fazing out the device which for which ” Microsoft has sold only 2 million Zune’s since it launched the device in November, 2006. Apple, in contrast, sold 10.6 million iPods last quarter.”  The reasoning is simple, to be cool you need to buy an Apple product.

Apple has an addiction to finding what is wrong with current technology and media and turning it into something that people will love and covet.  They are reshaping the cellular industry and are on the cusp of changing the way people and technology interact.  Despite the lack of vigor into Apple’s home entertainment, they will be the leading provider of legal digital content being delivered to the home in a short period of time.  Not that they haven’t captured over 70% of legal digital music sales and surpassing Walmart as the leader in music sales, its that the market isn’t ready for such thorough integration of media into the living room.  Apple TV will bridge the gap for now, but I would not be surprised that Apple has other devices up their sleeves to meet the changing market in a few years.

Apple prides itself on cutting edge innovation and breathtaking design.  Their success is rooted in the fact that they look for problems with today’s technology then build tomorrow’s solution.

 

References:

http://www.reuters.com/article/companyNews/idUKBNG29300420080523?symbol=AAPL.O

http://www2.goldmansachs.com/research/rating.html

http://www.macdailynews.com/index.php/weblog/comments/15363/

http://arstechnica.com/journals/apple.ars/2008/02/05/iphone-owns-28-percent-of-us-smartphone-market

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/23/AR2008052301323.html

Finding the “Perfect” Gym Without Getting Taken

Posted in Health, Personal by mgornick on May 22, 2008

Fitness and health is an important part of living a successful life.  At some point or another, you will consider paying for a gym membership.  If you can afford it and you’re dedicated to staying healthy, a gym membership can open up some great possibilities in your workout.  Unfortunately, you need to find the gym that meets your standards and budget.  I have compiled some tips for finding the perfect gym without getting taken and pressured into any commitments.

1. Start by tapping your social contacts and finding out where your friends or coworkers workout.  Ask them the name of the gym, location, price, and most of all their opinion of the gym.  Start writing down this information in some organized fashion and move on to step 2.

2. You should have a list of 3 or more gyms that your people in step one liked and enjoyed.  Now go to Google Maps, type in your address, and search for “gym” in your area.  Take note of those choices that come up and begin doing research into your online gym finds.  Cross-out gyms that are too far or have bad reviews.  Those aren’t the gyms for you.

3. By now you may have as many as 5 or more gyms that you could possible see yourself going to based upon location, price (if available), and recommendations.  Go to their websites and see if they offer a complimentary workout (some offer several days) and print out those coupons.  Now plan to visit each of these gyms.  A lot of times, a gym will take you on a tour of their amenities.  Take mental notes and write down questions for later.  Example, they may show you a rock climbing wall that you may be interested in using but it only opens after 5 pm.  This would be a big issue if you prefer your workouts in the morning.  Ask for as much paperwork on schedules, group fitness, and equipment that they have available.

4. Probably the most daunting task after the gym tour is when you sit in an office and they begin to start talking about membership offers.  Remember your goal is to physically try out the gym; not to sign up immediately.  If this discussion of joining lasts more than 10-15 minutes and the person is beginning to pressure you it may be a problem.  If the gym was highly recommended by a friend, ask to speak with a different representative.  If one is not available return on a different day when a different person can assist you.  If the gym was recommended on the internet and not a friend, you should consider walking away and crossing the gym off your list.  Almost all gym tour guides make a commission in signing people up and naturally forgetting that you want to “tryout the facility”.  If you are feeling pressured say something like: “I left my wallet [or money] in the car because I will not be spending any money today.  I’m simply wish to tryout your facilities”.  They might cut prices, give you free benefits, and other ways to convince you into signing up; just stand your ground with the above quote.  They should get the point and hopefully get you setup to try the gym for the day.  

5. When you’re finally in the gym and working out take special note to the equipment, people there, and your overall liking to the gym.  How was your first impression?  Do they have amenities that you like or are they lacking?  How were the costs (they will definitely tell you this)?  Are there people within your age group?  All these factor into a gym that you might want to be apart of.  

6. Decide and use your new membership to its fullest!

Healthy Lifestyle this Summer

Posted in Health, Personal by mgornick on May 19, 2008

“I will have the most fun of my life this summer and live a healthy lifestyle on top of that.”  That may sound to pie-in-the-sky, but it is important to hear yourself say it.  I am going to focus my goal of a healthy lifestyle this summer into tasks that I can look at (read my JP Morgan Success Story for specifics).  This will be a list to remind me what I should be doing each day/week to meet my goal of a healthy summer.

1. Eat Healthy: It is so often ignored and yet so essential.  Basics eat 3 mid-sized meals and 3 snacks per day.

    – Breakfast: bagels, cereal, toast, eggs, fresh fruit, oatmeal, yogurt, coffee

    – Lunch: Subway sandwiches, lean white meat sandwiches/wraps, choice of fruit, yogurt, fruit juice or green tea

    – Dinner: lean white meat meals, scrambled eggs, grilled chicken, pasta, fish, fruit juice or green tea

    – Snacks: granola bar, dry cereal, banana with peanut butter, oatmeal, water (always carry around a water bottle)

2. Exercise: Going to the gym might be hard, but it needs to be done to get that summer body in shape.  I want to go to the gym early before work or immediately after work.  Sometimes waking up early and hitting the gym may seem like a chore.  Force yourself to try it for a week (or even a day if you can’t muscle a week) and you’ll see how much time in the day you actually have.  Since you’re running and working out early in the morning, you’ll be more awake, more productive at work, and more energetic.  I would like to integrate the early morning workout 3-4 days a week and an after work visit to the gym the remainder of the days.  When going to the gym after 4 or 5 pm, you get to meet new people and you gain the social aspect of working out.  Yes you should be focused on getting in shape, but finding people of similar ideas and fitness goals in your gym will help you reach your own goals.

3. Participate in activities that I love.  This task is two-fold: find activities that you love and keep you active.  For example, I love to run, rock climb, hike, mountain bike, golf, swim, and toss around a frisbee.  Find those activities that you actually enjoy and won’t find a burden to participating it and do them.  Keeping these activities in mind can help you bridge the gap between coworkers, fellow students, or an acquaintance you meet at the gym.  

 

Changing Starbucks: Schultz Second Act for Success

Posted in Financial by mgornick on May 19, 2008

Starbucks has had its chance at being one of the most popular and recognized coffee brands in the world thanks in part to Howard Schultz.  In the past few years, Schultz has been a Chairman at Starbucks and let another person take the CEO reigns.  With no suprise, Schultz has returned as the CEO and his goal is simple: “[transform] coffee from a commodity into a social experience.”  Now is the perfect time, as its stock, NASDAQ:SBUX, once brewed at $40 and now is a sour $17 and yearly earnings are meager.

Is it time to buy SBUX stock?  Not yet.  The US is in a recession and people, more specifically the younger wealthier generation of customers that they target, are spending less on luxury goods.  Eventually, I know SBUX will regenerate its growth and appeal due to Howard Schultz’s style and taste for success.

Looking at Mr. Schultz’s day in a Fortune Magazine interview, he “gets up between 5 and 5:30, and naturally the first thing [he does] is make some coffee … At work the first thing I do is read the flash report, which is our roadmap of what we do that day. We manage day-to-day in our business. I’m proud that we are so nimble — we have great information flow to make that happen.”  Starbuck’s flash report is very similar to the JP Morgan Secret to Success story, I posted about earlier.  It doesn’t surprise me that knowing what you need to get done and executing it leads to success.  I would bet that Schultz has a list of things he wants SBUX to accomplish in the near future and eventually long term.  This allows himself and his colleagues to prioritize, organize, and execute.

Another positive trait trait for success that Mr. Schultz displays is the ability to change and adaptability to new trends.  Starbuck’s wants each cafè to have a local feel and community design, hence the social experience.  According to the Wall Street Journal, an employee from Long Beach, CA complained that he could produce better artwork than what was being displayed at the local Starbucks.  Schultz response was to “put his own pictures up … Don’t ask for permission; ask for forgiveness.”  This mentality of execution without the hand holding of upper management will allow Starbuck’s to create a local community of art, coffee, and social gathering.  The particular quote of “Don’t ask for permission; ask for forgivenes” is powerful in the sense that to be successful, sometimes you need to delegate work and trust your employees.  This is true for any startup; if you insist on doing everything and double checking your friends/employees/partners work then you will be too slow to take on new trends in your industry.

Schultz has the right idea to turn Starbucks around and has the proper lifestyle for success.  He was quoted for saying that “he was just depressed … and [in turn] launched a personal turnaround routine, consisting of what are now six gym workouts a week and a daily health shake of fruit and cottage cheese.”  Healthy lifestyle, wakes up early, makes his list of things to do; sounds like the makings of a successful person and a changing company.

References:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121115607637802259.html?mod=hps_us_pageone

http://money.cnn.com/popups/2006/fortune/how_i_work/frameset.exclude.html

Secret to Success from JP Morgan

Posted in Personal by mgornick on May 19, 2008

I’ve heard this story from multiple sources; it may be fiction or it may be fact.  Regardless it gets the point across of a tactic that few actually follow to be successful.

The following excerpt is quoted from (http://personalmba.com/quotes/jp-morgans-guaranteed-formula-for-success/): 

One day, a man approached JP Morgan, held up an envelope, and said, “Sir, in my hand I hold a guaranteed formula for success, which I will gladly sell to you for $25,000.” 

“Sir,” JP Morgan replied, “I do not know what is in the envelope. However, if you show me and I like it, I give you my word as a gentleman that I will pay you what you ask.”

The man agreed to the terms and handed over the envelope. JP Morgan opened it, and extracted a single sheet of paper. He gave it one look and handed the piece of paper back to the gent, pulled out his checkbook, and paid the man the agreed-upon $25,000.

The paper read:

  1. Every morning, write a list of the things that need to be done that day.
  2. Do them.

Something so basic, simple, and brilliant is so often overlooked.  I try to wake up in the morning and produce a list of things I want to do.  When it comes to the execution of those tasks, I get side tracked, or remember another task to do, or an exhausted, or simply find a reason to postpone the task.  To alleviate some of these common failures in execution, I came up with some tips.

First and most obvious you need a list of things that you need to do for that day.  Take the list and reorder in order of priority.  Example, studying for my upcoming Multi-variable Calculus Final has higher priority than catching up on my RSS feeds or reading the newspaper.  Once the tasks are in order, break them into smaller subtasks that can be crossed out when complete.  Example, the task is to study for my final so my subtasks can be to reread Chapters 5,6,7; go over lecture notes; study homework assignments 14 and 15; study online quizzes.  This level or organization helps keep you moving through the task; studying for a final can take days (or hours if you’re like me and every other college student) so breaking it into bite-sized chunks of subtask will give you the satisfaction of completing necessary items as well as accomplishing the large goliath of a big task.  I have found this basic addition to JP Morgan’s success has helped me stay focused on my end goal as well as focus on specifics that I may have forgotten if I didn’t write it down.  

I will be starting my reread of David Allen’s book, “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity”, and posting about some ideas that I can refocus on. 

Technology Adoption in US

Posted in Personal by mgornick on May 19, 2008

According to a PC Word article, “20% of the United States has never sent an email and 18% lives without internet access”.  

I find that new technology adoption in the United States is given to the young privileged citizens of America.  The PC World study found that “one-half of those who have never used e-mail are over 65, and 56 percent had no schooling beyond high school.”  Obviously older people are less likely to jump on a new technology bandwagon.  Fortunately, I see this spectrum of users changing specifically to my college campus.

A professor told my class that 5 years ago, every student studying Computer Science was using some derivative of Microsoft’s Windows.  Today as I look around in my classes, all my professors, close friends, and fellow students are more inclined to use Apple’s Mac OS X or a flavor of Linux.  Surprisingly, it has only been a recent trend toward other operating systems and other computing platforms.  I no longer take notes in class; I read the lecture slides (PowerPoint) before class on my iPhone and print them out later for reference.  Most of my friends don’t take notes and simply save PDF versions of the lecture on their portable devices.  The adaptability of my generation (18-23 yrs) to new trends in technology is more common than earlier generations.

I spoke to a retired friend of the family about upgrading his computer.  Instead of buying the next deal from Best Buy, he is asking my opinion about Microsoft Vista and what he needs his new computer to do: Sending email, organizing pictures, surfing the web, typing letters, etc.  I pointed him in the direction of a new Mac because of the support that the Apple Stores give as well as the integration of the applications.  If I would have told him that 5 years ago he would have laughed, today he is counting his pennies to buy a new Mac.

Obviously the younger the generation the more integrated technology will become apart of your life.  In my life, I manage email, stocks, pictures, upcoming homework, starting companies all from my iPhone.  To a certain degree, adoption of new and upcoming technology can make yourself more productive, efficient, or just crazy.  So far, I try to look at the technology and see how it can solve a problem in my everyday life; only then will I consider making it a part of my life.

 

Links:

http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/146019/20_of_us_has_never_sent_email.html

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Stock Market Investing

Posted in Financial by mgornick on May 18, 2008

Investing in the stock market is one of the smartest or dumbest moves you can make.  A lot of people, myself included at times, have a difficult time making decisions or making dumb ones.  For example, Visa IPO came to the NYSE a few months ago.  I was looking to buy some shares pre-IPO for ~$44 per share.  I passed that up, as well as $54, $64, $74.  After roughly doubling, I decided to buy some stock in the mid-80’s.  

If we all were economists, this wouldn’t be a problem.  I was making a rational decision based upon the knowledge I had at the time and choose to hold my money instead of risking losing it.  The risk of losing my money simply outweighed the risk of investing and hitting it big.  This is the problem, I always say that the money you invest into the stock market should be considered as lost.  Yes this is horribly pessimistic, but it puts you in the mind set into how much risk you are willing to take on: “only invest what you are not afraid of losing.”  If I had followed my own recommendations, I would have doubled my investment.  Instead, I took the irrational of the two choices because I choose to wait with my purchase.  

For my future stock purchases and sales, I don’t want to encourage acting on impulse, but a certain degree of risk should be assessed and acted upon before an opportunity is lost.  If I was to by a $100 dollars worth of stock and I was unsure, I should invest half and hold the $50 for a future purchase date.  This mentality will allow me to take on more risky investments as well as maintain money to buy future investments.  Next time, I will pick the “rational” of the two decisions.  

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Eating Healthy

Posted in Health by mgornick on May 18, 2008

“You are what you eat” – Unknown

Summer weather is finally upon us and I find it that eating heathy is an intricate part of summer fitness.  I’ve been drinking tons of water, Vitamin Water, Pomegranate juice, green tea, etc. to stay hydrated and healthy.  Instead of coffee in the morning, I’ve been drinking the Vitamin Water Energy which has 300 mg of caffeine (to get me going in those early mornings).  I’d drink water throughout the day and carry around a water bottle.  During lunch/dinner/snacks I have been drinking juices and green tea.  Specific to green tea, I’ve found that I’ve been healthier and more relaxed.  Green tea has 175 mg of antioxidants to boost the human immune system and it has low calories and tastes great!  

Eating healthy is sometimes more difficult during the summer (especially for college students such as myself) because of the less available food.  If you are playing golf, at the beach, hanging out with friends, you have to eat what is convenient.  Unfortunately, it is more often junk food than not.  To counter this summer eating tread, I’ve been trying some different combinations of food to keep me in shape and perfect the “beach body” look.  

Quick morning: Oatmeal.  Simple, cheap, and good.  Add honey and bananas to regular Quaker Oats oatmeal.  Chase this meal with some Vitamin Water Energy or Coffee and jump start your day.

Berry Fruit Lunch: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and a carton of Dannon yogurt.  Takes about two minutes (need to wash and cut fruit) and is packed with vitamins and nutrients.

Snacks: Yogurt with granola, banana, dry cereal.  Pick a snack and drink some green tea and you won’t fill up on snacks prior to a meal.

Some of these food ideas are simple, but most people overlook the basics.  This summer I want to eat healthy in order to feel great.  I’ve heard a quote that “Fitness is 10% exercise and 90% of what you put in your body”.  I want a fit and healthy body so naturally I should fill it with the best.

 

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Take on Exercise

Posted in Health by mgornick on May 12, 2008

I find that exercising is my best stress relief.  It can be a long day at school, work, or just life and I can always seem to clear my mind and relax via physical activity.

In a Fortune article, Bill Gross the CIO of Pimco says that

“the most important part of my day isn’t on the trading floor. Every day at 8:30 A.M., I get up from my desk and walk to a health club across the street. I do yoga and work out for probably an hour and a half, between 8:30 and 10. […] After about 45 minutes of riding the exercise bike and maybe ten or 15 minutes of yoga, all of a sudden some significant light bulbs seem to turn on. I look at that hour and a half as the most valuable time of the day.”

Bill Gross seems to get it right and considering he’s managing $200 billion dollars a day, I’ll take his advice. A lot of people say that they don’t have time to workout/lose weight/eat healthy.  I figure if multi-billion dollar hedge-fund managers can do it, so can I.  Exercise does not have to be a burden or something dreaded.  Put on your economist hat and get in the mindset that you are increasing your mental and physical utility.  10 minutes of exercise may prevent you from pulling out your hair and also help you achieve that 6-pack.

http://money.cnn.com/2006/03/02/news/newsmakers/howiwork_fortune_032006/index.htm

Defining Success

Posted in Uncategorized by mgornick on May 12, 2008

I figure since I’m blogging about a journey to a successful life, I should define what my ideal successful life entails.  I’m sure this vision will change ever so often, but I think some starting points will be helpful.

My Successful Life:

1. Socially successful – great family, friends, colleagues.  Having the piece of mind that other people have your back when the going gets tough.

2. Physically successful – healthy, fit, active.  Able to go to the gym every morning, go rock climbing, mountain bike, surf, go for a run on a sunny day.

3. Financially successful – afford the lifestyle I want.

 

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