Passion – It’s Not Just What Happens Between the Sheets


By: Chris Tell

Most of the really big returns made by investors and entrepreneurs come from companies which seem to have one unmistakable element.

We look at a mountain of deals and consequently the filtering process is very rapid. In fact over 90% of the deals that hit our respective desks are pre-filtered deals coming from our colleagues and internal networks. We look for some specifics in a deal; I’ve spoken repeatedly before about management, ideas, and execution. What I’ve not spoken about before, and for this I realise I should be chastised, beaten, ridiculed, and forced to watch an episode of the Kardashians, is PASSION.

Passion is the single fastest way to spur yourself to massive success. This is what makes it is possible to get up early, stay up late, remain inspired and engaged and to forgo other pleasures. It’s what keeps you going when from the outside looking in, the decision appears foolish.

Founders who see a problem and then build a business to solve that problem are very different from founders who simply say to themselves, “Hey, I want to be an entrepreneur so I don’t have to work for someone else.” The former are likely entering an industry which they may know something about. The latter may do OK, they may even do well, but they will rarely build a legacy, a titan, a formidable company which changes the way things are done or the way people act.

In other words, typically the “Unicorns” come from passion. What are unicorns? They are the investments that run thousands or tens of thousands of percent… Companies like Uber, Facebook, LinkedIn, The Body Shop… They are investments where a $10,000 stake changes your life, and your kids, kids lives…

Most every entrepreneur finds out that creating something is hard. You’ll work harder and longer than you’ve ever worked in your life.

Years ago when still in the corporate world, working for the man, I used to hate “mission statements”. They were, or seemed like a complete bunch of baloney trumpeted by empty suits. I think for the most part that’s still true in many large corporate organizations.

In a start-up or small company however that “vision”, that “mission statement” can be much more powerful. The mission, not the mere statement of it, is what makes a company great. It may not be written on a wall or even on any corporate documents, websites or the like but it is known by the company and those running it.

This may all sound cliché but bear with me. Man’s search for meaning and purpose is answered by a “mission”. Passion is the accelerator to that mission.

Meaning is an incredibly powerful thing. Without it we die. Literally. Many people die at age 25 and simply inhabit their bodies until they’re 80 or more at which point they slide into a box. It’s no way to live. Persistence is the stepchild of passion. It requires persistence to become great at anything. Persistence in anything will make you good but persistence together with passion can make you great.

It’s easy to see the start-ups where the founders are really passionate about what they’re doing. The energy created inspires those around them to help them.


Have you ever been in a room where you felt inspired about someone or some idea and were willing to help?

This is it. This is where a “mission” is important. This is where passion is important. A mission is also important because it is the what keeps those involved, involved when they could easily be doing something else which will likely pay them more, cause less headaches and be more “comfortable”.

Passion however is not enough. The idea needs to be sound, the team needs to be capable and the execution needs to be great. Put all of these factors together and you have a crack at a Unicorn.

Like him or loathe him Steve Jobs clearly had massive passion. His success is legendary. He was put up for adoption at an early age, dropped out of college after 6 months (something I recommended in these pages a few times), slept on friends floors, returned Coke bottles to collect the 5 cent deposits to buy food, then went on to start Apple Computers and Pixar Animation Studios.

“Find your true passion and do what you love to do,” said Steve Jobs. “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did.”

Another rouge… Tiger Woods success in golf is unparalleled. He calls his love for the game and “obsession, an addiction”. Sounds like the words of passion to me.

In every successful business person, athlete or generally happy person you will find passion. What’s your passion?

- Chris

“If you love what you do, there are no difficult tasks, only interesting ones.” – Adim Kotelnikov

3 Reasons Apple Should Run


By: Chris Tell

It’s a massive waste of time. I told Mark so but he wouldn’t listen; he still sat down to watch the elections taking place in New Zealand, his new found homeland.

No matter where you’re located in the world, if you watch TV – which I don’t – then you’re likely to find it pretty tough staying away from the media circus that follows election campaigns like a swarm of magpies circling a fish and chip packet.

It’s the same story with every country I find myself in. Politicians convincing those who are listening, which is regrettably a lot, that they’re as necessary as penicillin, and further promising all manner of absurdities. That these absurdities, or promises have the life expectancy of a veal calf never seems to phase the hoi polloi, who keep coming back for more each election year. This time “my guy” is going to fix things. Right!

You can’t complain about this. Sure they make me want to exhale liquid, but criticizing politicians for failing to deliver on promises is like criticizing your underwear for not making very good french toast. Taking a look at the lineup of political candidates from all around this ball of dirt leaves you with a niche group of sociopaths sporting the collective intelligence of a box of nails.

This got me to thinking about Apple (AAPL:NASDAQ).

About 2 years ago I severed the PC umbilical cord, ditched Microsoft software and delved into the world of Apple, purchasing a trusty little Macbook Air. Along with my iPod which I use for running, it’s the only Apple product I’ve come into contact with.

I’ve been impressed and am now amongst “the converted”. I can now watch mindless politicians such as this guy try to explain that Guam will capsize, all without my system crashing. Excellent! Honestly, I haven’t had any issues with the product at all.

It got me to thinking. Why doesn’t Apple run for office?

They clearly know how to get things done. They promise and deliver and have brought products into the world which people willingly pay for and desire. They’ve employed entire suburbs of people, and the turnout for their product launches are spectacular.

iPhone 6 Launch Hong Kong

Taken in Hong Kong a couple days ago: customers queuing for the new iPhone.

Why not indeed?

Technology has advanced at an unbelievable speed since I was a wee tot wetting my pants, so I ask myself why has politics not advanced at all? We still continue to parade these podium donuts out with the inevitable disastrous results. No wonder sales of Tylenol and Xanax are going through the roof.

Let us for a minute consider 3 stereotypical political campaign promises, and deal with them one by one:

  1. Provide jobs
  2. Reduce taxes
  3. Provide better quality services and products

Provide jobs: Firstly, government doesn’t provide jobs, plain and simple. They can get out of the way to allow for job creation, as Peter Thiel tries to explain to this TV anchor, but they most certainly do NOT create jobs.

Secondly, the so called “jobs” they do create are “created” out of a monopoly position and/or are unnecessary and a net deficit to society. Every government job could likely be done by the private sector better and for a profit. Side thought: I know I’ve already made some readers irate so please do me a favour and send your hate mail to:

Apple, on the other hand, employs nearly 600,000 people in the US alone, and has created countless more jobs on the periphery of their products.

Reduce Taxes: Taxes will go down. OK, for anyone capable of 5th grade math, which excludes a large swathe of the population, this is basically saying that the cost of government to the consumer will go down. Unless you’re based in one of the rapidly growing markets of the world take a look around you and see how this one is playing out.

Apple, of course, doesn’t tax customers. We can see that the cost of Apple goods has remained pretty consistent with inflation, so while it hasn’t reduced it’s cost to consumers it hasn’t increased them either.

Provide better quality services and products: Oh boy. Where to start? Healthcare, schools, infrastructure, police. Then there is the incredibly tedious, mindless waste of time paperwork in order to get anything done.

When was the last time you had to fill out government paperwork?

If it’s anything like that which I’ve experienced, it likely involved a stack of documents, in paper not digital format. Let’s compare this with anything which Apple puts out. Anytime you fill out something on your iPhone it uses witchcraft to correct your poor spelling, it syncs with your other devices seamlessly thus helping those of us who regularly leave things lying around… as we’re able to find documents, emails, websites, effortlessly… and it fits in your little pocket. Try that with a stack of government paperwork.

Better quality of products: The first iPhone out was 7 years ago and was reputedly an 8GB model for $599. At the time it was an amazing device. Today’s latest version is arguably twice as good, with 16GB to start, will launch a rocket if you could actually figure out how it all works, and costs less than 10% more at $649.

I think on those 3 campaign topics Apple beats any of the candidates I’ve seen anywhere. They deliver.

When last did your government deliver to you something that amazed you? No, drone strikes, privacy breaches, vote rigging or smoking crack do not count.

Apple, on the other hand, deliver to people all over the world videos of Asian men falling off motorcycles, sports results, and women playing with themselves in Ohio. In short Apple, like Google and a hundred other private companies out there actually know and understand their market and clientele. Politicians, on the other hand, simply profess to be working for their clientele and market but clearly don’t have a clue.

Based on the above I feel pretty confident that if we put Apple in charge they’d run a country for the better. For starters parliament or it’s equivalent wherever you are living would be replaced with a war room full of innovators, excited, energetic smart people looking to create not destroy.

A side benefit would be that those little men who currently screw so much up would be forced to go find a real job.

Who’s with me?

- Chris

“We may have to force people to get together in terms of picking a particular type of technology and starting to build to that technology, as opposed to everybody exercising their right to buy their own system, you know, at will.” – Michael Chertoff,  2nd US Secretary of Homeland Security under George W Bush, and Co-author of the US Patriot Act, possibly the most destructive piece of legislation ever written

What a Simple Cambodian Girl Taught Me About the Entrepreneurial Spirit


By: Chris Tell Today’s article comes from  a gentleman I’ve yet to meet, even though Mark and I know his brother well. Josh Galt is an extreme athlete who has traveled the world extensively and has built himself a life and lifestyle out of his passions, which in his case entails riverboarding some of the […]

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Decision Making – Part Deux


By: Chris Tell A little while ago I shared 6 ways to improve decision making. In response I received a number of comments, the most insightful of which I’d like to share with you today. My main point in the previous article was that information, together with a strong filtering process, form the basis for […]

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Round 2 for the Japanese Yen


By: Chris Tell Today’s article is compliments of our friend Mark Schumacher at ThinkGrowth. Mark has been a reader and subsequently become a regular bouncing board for us with respect to publicly traded equities, market sentiment and the like. I always value his thoughts and it is a rare occasion that we disagree. Enjoy! ———— […]

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Ready to Profit From a 25 Billion Dollar Mobile/Social Media App Industry?

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 7.48.30 PM

By: Chris Tell Then go nowhere near this baby. The penny stock mafia are at it again. Even with my vigilance about not having my email address floating around the cyberwebpipes I still get spammed. Here’s the copy: Ready to Profit From A 25 Billion Dollar Mobile/Social Media App Industry? Nudg Media Inc.
 (publicly listed: […]

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