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Do you communicate like a tree in the woods?

Attending investment conferences is very rewarding. You get to learn about some really cool companies that you might not have known about before getting on the plane, bus or train.

Who is making the next big widget…that guy right there. Who is creating the next big social media site…that lady right across the isle. As I sit there listening to powerful presentations, one after another, I have to ask myself…why have I never heard of some of these companies?

Yes, maybe I am not tuned in and missed some of the outreach from the company. In preparation for these conferences I spend time doing research and a lot of times I note limited outreach about that next big widget or social media site. Have you lost your way in knowing how to communicate? Do you think investors, media and consumers will just find you? Are you too busy to to communicate…is that really possible?

Communicating is easy…you have been doing it since you were born.  We like to make it hard, but all it takes is a plan. Ah, that word…plan. Yes, a plan will take time. You don’t need to recreate the wheel when creating a communication plan. Find companies in your space doing it correctly. You can learn from them. You might even be surprised to find out about resources you didn’t know you had that others are using in a better way.

Creating consistent outreach and communication is way better than doing nothing. Social media has opened up a whole new world of being about to reach out and give your messages, releases, video, etc. more legs. If we don’t know about you we can’t find you. I don’t believe hope is a good building block of a communication plan. Don’t make us wait for one conference per year to hear your message…plan now.

So…if a tree falls in the woods will anyone hear it? If this sounds like your communication plan it is time to start looking around.

My heart is breaking…we have to stop the madness

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families in Connecticut. You have lost the most precious thing to you in the world…loved ones. This madness must stop. As the parent of a 9 and 6 year old this has hit me hard. I pulled into a parking lot last night after work and cried. I was crying for those who have lost, but I was also crying out of fear and anger for those who could be next. We have the power to curb this. We protect businesses with multiple levels of security, but we leave our schools with minimum security. It makes no sense. The teachers, students and faculty are defenseless. Raise my taxes, ask me for money, let me contribute…secure our schools. We obviously can’t control the guns so lets increase the security. I will pay to prevent this because I will not stand here and watch people pay with the lives of their loved ones. This madness must stop now and we must stop it.


The XBRL path that makes sense for you…

Everyone likes choices.  These days you can get anything you want.  You want blue…someone has blue.  You want it to whistle…someone can make it whistle.  You want it to spin…someone can make it spin.   XBRL doesn’t have to be a four letter word.  You can now make XBRL do what you want it to and meet your needs.  Double bonus!

I have the privilege of working with people and their XBRL needs.  I understand every company is different as I haven’t found any two alike (they are like four leaf clovers).  I have found that companies seem to fall into three categories in the XBRL life-cycle:

  • Full service – this is when a service provider tags your document and delivers it back for your review based on an agreed upon time line.  Pencils down is in play.  This is the core offering of service providers.
  • Hybrid service – this is when a service provider tags your document and delivers it back to you using a SaaS or portal, which then allows you to drive the XBRL process.  Pencils down isn’t in play if you don’t want it to be.  This is a complete solution because you get the best of both worlds.
  • Self service – this is when a service provider sells you a SaaS and you tag and deliver from start to finish.  Pencils down isn’t in play as you are in command of the full process.

I have seen companies bounce between the three categories.  As service providers we have had to become very flexible with our offerings to meet the changing needs of every company.  Does your current service provider offer you multiple options?  Do they consult you on the every changing XBRL landscape?  They should.

No matter where you are in your XBRL life-cycle there is light at the end of the tunnel.  It doesn’t need to be complicated and there are people ready to assist you.  Drop me a line if you want to chat about XBRL…I am more than willing to jump on the phone to offer up some help.

Getting Micro in LA

I got a chance to take in some of the LD Micro conference on Thursday in Los Angeles.  This was the smaller conference before the larger event in December. While everyone kept calling it the smaller event it didn’t feel that way because there was a good buzz from the attendees.

You never know if one day event is going to be a hit or a miss, but this one was a hit.  I got a chance to chat with the Chris Lahiji, the organizer of LD Micro, at the end of the evening.  Outside of getting to see for myself that people were engaged with the content, speakers and event throughout my time there…it was when I was speaking to Chris that it really resonated.  Attendees kept coming up thanking Chris for the great event and what did Chris do…he graciously accepted their kind words, but also introduced them to others.  In my 20 minutes of standing with Chris he made at least 5 connections of people who needed to speak with each other.  Note, I said needed as Chris seemed to already understand what each person wanted based on his relationship with them and he was able to connect people based on their needs.  It was networking 101 at its best and it is clear Chris is a master of his domain in this area.

I suggest if you have interest in the small and micro-cap world that you take a look at attending the December event in Los Angeles.  You don’t have to ask those of us that live in areas like Ohio twice to be in California in December.  The weather won’t be my focus while I am there as much because I will be engaged with the content and connections around the event.

The ‘name and shame’ rule = collaboration

Ever trip on one of those articles and wonder why the heck you are reading it?  That happened to me this morning as I started to read the Inside Investor Relations article on IR departments and the SEC minerals rule.  By the time I got to the end of the article I was glad I read it.

While the rules can be confusing the consequences aren’t.  Being on this list is not something any company wants to do.  Anyone that knows me knows that one word I love to use is collaboration.  This article screams of collaboration and points out how IR departments need to be working with PR, CSR and compliance to ensure everyone is on the same page.

While I hate that we have to ‘shame’ people to work together I am glad this rule is causing companies to take a broader look at themselves.  A lot of times we get so focused just on what we do in a company that we don’t stand up to realize how rules, laws and guidelines affect those around us and how our companies are looked at by investors, customers and the general public based on said rules.

The first report on the new rule doesn’t need to happen until May 2014, but go ahead and start collaborating now between departments…only good things can come from looking past your cube walls.


A little R&R, content and connections are good…I think

I headed to NY earlier this week and took in a day at the Rodman & Renshaw conference. There were over 150 presenting companies at the event looking to talk about their company and potentially find new investors or coverage. I got to attend a handful of presentations and overall the content provided by the companies was good. There is that word again “content”…I just can’t get away from it (nor do I want to).

The PowerPoint decks, websites, handouts, etc were all part of the content provided to us in these presentations. Attendees were taking it all in and then making the mad rush to speak to the presenter at the end like at most conferences. We have been trained to do it this way and I kept asking myself was this a good use of the presenters and attendees time? I assume yes or they wouldn’t do the conference, but in the end how much content can one person take in from 150+ companies (or the 20-50 you want to see) and when does it stop resonating. How would you like to be the last presenter on day two?

My time was well spent connecting with people I hadn’t met or seen for some time. Any chance you get to network is great as connections drive our business lives.

I walked away from this conference like I do from others wondering what was next. Would what I learned drive me to take action? Did presenters see value? Was it worth their time? Is there a better way to deliver this content?


When did you get your first dose of investor education?

Interesting read from the SEC on their financial literacy study.  After reading this and reviewing the study it got me thinking about when I got my first dose of investor education.   The answer came very quickly for me.  It was when I was twelve and my grandmother decided it was time to let me look at the other side of the newspaper…the one she was reading that had helped her and my grandfather make money buying and selling stocks.

I got a good teaching that day.  There was no Internet involved.  We didn’t have the benefit of breaking news delivered to a handheld device.  Nope,  I learned how to read stock from the black and white news print that day.  I was taught how to watch for trends and traps.  I learned there are good days, great days and pretty bad days.  I walked away from that day a bit confused, but also amazed at what I was just taught.  The main learning point was that there is an art and strategy to doing all this and that you have to learn the art before you can master the strategy.

From that day forward I got to look at the other side of the newspaper and I haven’t looked back since.

When did you get your first dose of investor education?