Are Kittens Dangerous for Your Legacy?
A friend of mine called me all excited about a new video he posted on YouTube. It featured scenes of humans helping animals. “I’ve tried all kinds of videos,” he said, “but this one got the most views. It’s up over thirty-thousand! When I posted a serious video about business that took forever to make and cost way more money, I only got like five views …”
“But what’s the point of it?” I asked. “Does it give your business any legitimacy?”
“No. It’s just what people want to see.”
In the book, Trust Me, I’m Lying, I found myself reading through the crazy tactics used by media manipulator Ryan Holiday to get lies reported by big-name publications and learning about how he was able to get no-name brands coverage by using the right gimmicks. The legit side of me was appalled by the terrible monster the media has become; the conniving side of me wanted to try these strategies to promote my own business. But then it hit me: what is the point?
Once we consume all the flashy gimmicks, fake headlines, and throw-away stories, what are we left with? A sick void. It’s that same sick feeling you get after eating a bag of M&M’s instead of a salad. That feeling that you’ve wasted hours online clicking on headlines like “Is Trump a Baboon?” or “Could Housewives Become Extinct in 2019?” – leading you to stories with no valuable content and a dozen more tangents that link to more stories with no valuable content.
Just Add Kittens … It Gets More Views
In a world where everyone has the ability to generate an audience, how do we resist the temptation to let outside opinions dictate who we become? Seriously, do we just tinker with different ideas until we get a million hits on YouTube? Is that what is to drive what we will be publicly known for?
Your legacy is your impact on the world and those you love. For your friends and family, they will remember how you treated them. All those small acts add up to a life well lived. But what about the public component of your legacy? You may argue that you don’t have to worry about the public side of your legacy because you aren’t famous and aren’t interested in notoriety. I think you should reconsider. If you have any social media account — Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter — you are sowing the seeds of your public legacy already, and it has a far-reaching impact. When you apply for a job, meet someone new, move to a neighborhood, go on a blind date, or meet with a potential client, guess what happens next? An internet search.
People who have never met you before want to know what you’re about. They want to know if they can trust you, and they will look for every clue online. They’ll see it all. Those Mardi Gras photos. Your political rant. That video series you posted about going on an all-pizza diet.
The Lure of Fame
Because we all want to be acknowledged by our peers and experience the chemical rush associated with seeing how many people reacted to our posts, it’s easy to get sucked into the fame-seeking vortex. I’m no stranger to it myself. I’ve noticed if I post articles on my personal Facebook page, no one cares, unless the article has a photo of me. And if I post photos of nature (especially mountain and beach scenes), I get a ton of likes. It’s easy to fall into the trap of grooming your online self to be the most-liked version for your audience. This just goes up the chain. Whether you’re presenting yourself to a few close friends on Facebook or have a YouTube channel with a following of several million, it’s all the same. People’s approval matters – a lot.
Although I would never insinuate that seeking connection with others is wrong, I would like you to ask a larger question: what is the intention of your interactions?
Being vs. Doing
There are two types of leaders. One wants to be great. The other wants to do something great.
The first seeks fame. She wants to be seen as special in some way. She wants her peers to think she’s smart or beautiful or creative or talented or maybe even supremely messed up (defined by problems, like being bipolar or dealing with struggle). Her focus is approval and how others respond either feeds or tears down her self-esteem.
The second seeks the pursuit of an idea or a calling. She wants her project to be successful. Her focus is the goal and her actions are dictated by achieving that goal. How others respond is still important, but only to further her cause. Martin Luther King Jr. isn’t remembered because he was handsome, a good speaker, and clever. Sure, he was all those things. But so are a lot of people. He is remembered because he furthered a cause. It was his dream of ending inequality that resonated with so many and became bigger than the man who represented it.
Your Public Mission
What is your cause? I’m not suggesting you become the next Martin Luther King Jr., but there are ways to make your public interactions align with your values and represent something more meaningful.
For example, let’s say your focus is on being a good grandmother and friend. Your cause, in this case, would be to spread love, support, and uplift. Think about how you can do that in both the online and offline world.
I have a dear friend who passed away from cancer a couple of years ago. She was a grandmother, and one of the last things she ever said to me was: “I’m so sick of the negativity in this world. I never talk about doom and gloom around my kids or grandkids. How could I do that to them? They need hope for the future.”
Her way of showing love and support was by sharing only positivity with her family. And she continued with that theme online – only posting uplifting messages and staying away from stories of lack.
My cousin and his wife lost their 2-year-old son a few years ago and, on the week of his passing, their family spends each day doing an act of service and remembering him. On Monday, they go out for his favorite food. On Tuesday, his siblings write notes of remembrance, and they visit his grave. The rest of the week sharing your artwork or involving others in creative thought exercises.
It’s easy to default to the norm of posting photos of cool places you traveled and reposting cute quotes or recipes. But what makes these posts meaningful to you? Are there ways to deepen your connection with those you care about?
Posting with Your Legacy in Mind
Sure, silly videos are fun. So are quizzes and games. A news story here and there is great. But what do your posts, as a whole, say about you and your personal mission? Take some time googling yourself. Look through your posts on Facebook or Instagram. Is this the kind of person you want to be perceived as? Who in your life do you care most about? Do your posts connect with these people? Or are your posts mostly spam or junk or trying to impress people you haven’t spoken with in years (if ever)?
As with anything, the most important part to your online legacy is intent. What is the intent of your posts? Do you want to look cool for your friends? Do you want to make everyone jealous about the vacation you just went on? Or look like you’re doing awesome things too? Is your intent to get the most likes? (Time to start adding some cute animals to your videos!) When your intent is less about keeping up with your peers and more about making sincere connections, it will change your paradigm. It may lead to less attention on the whole, but it will result in deeper one-on-one connections and a feeling of true engagement.
Escape the Matrix
Certainly, social media is a tool for connection, but you may want to consider how much impact you want it to have on your life and legacy as a whole. In other words, at the end of your life, do you want people to say, “Gee, Hermit Dan sure posted a lot of great anecdotes online! His pictures of crazy cookies are something I will always treasure”? Or do you want them to remember actually seeing you – in the real world? Perhaps the best use for social media is to invite people to dinner parties, real-world meetups, or even a video chat.
These genuine real-life connections are what build friendships. Your online posts are passive billboards that may attract attention, but, when all is said and done, I’d rather have a few close friends who I’d do anything for (and vice versa) than millions giving my video about animals a thumbs up.
And if I promote a noble cause that resonates with massive amounts of people, it’ll be the cause that matters. Not the gimmicks I use to obtain fame for myself. At least that’s my hope. The lure of fame is pretty strong, and the temptation to do something solely for the novelty of it – to get more clicks – is a trap I hope to avoid. Only time will tell.
Here’s Why Bitcoin Won’t Replace Gold So Easily
What a week it was.
First and foremost, I’d like to acknowledge the horrific mass shooting that occurred in Las Vegas, the deadliest in modern American history. On behalf of everyone at U.S. Global Investors, I extend my sincerest and most heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families.
The memory of the shooting was still fresh in people’s minds during last Tuesday’s Hollywood premiere of Blade Runner 2049, which nixed the usual red carpet and other glitz in light of the tragedy. Before the film, producers shared poignant words, saying that in times such as these, the arts are crucial now more than ever.
I had the distinct privilege to attend the premiere. My good friend Frank Giustra, whose production company Thunderbird Entertainment owns a stake in the Blade Runner franchise, was kind enough to invite me along. Despite the somber mood—a pivotal scene in the film even takes place in an irradiated Las Vegas—I thought Blade Runner 2049 was spectacular. Even if you’re not a fan of the original 1982 film, it’s still worth experiencing in theaters. Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch’s synth-heavy score is especially haunting.
CNET recently published an interesting piece examining the accuracy of future tech as depicted in the original Blade Runner, from androids to flying cars to off-world travel read the article here.
Still in the Early Innings of Cryptocurrencies
Speaking of the future, I spoke on the topic of the blockchain last week at the Subscriber Investment Summit in Vancouver. My presentation focused on the future of mining—not just of gold and precious metals but also cryptocurrencies.
Believe it or not, there are upwards of 2,100 digital currencies being traded in the world right now, with a combined market cap of nearly $150 billion, according to Coinranking.com.
Obviously not all of these cryptos will survive. We’re still in the early innings. Last month I compared this exciting new digital world to the earliest days of the dotcom era, and just as there were winners and losers then, so too will there be winners and losers today. Although bitcoin and Ethereum appear to be the frontrunners right now, recall that only 20 years ago AOL and Yahoo! were poised to dominate the internet. How times have changed!
It will be interesting to see which coins emerge as the “Amazon” and “Google” of cryptocurrencies.
For now, Ethereum has some huge backers. The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), according to its website, seeks to “learn from and build upon the only smart contract supporting blockchain currently running in real-world production—Ethereum.” The EEA includes several big-name financial and tech firms such as Credit Suisse, Intel, Microsoft and JPMorgan Chase, whose own CEO, Jamie Dimon, knocked cryptos a couple of weeks ago.
To learn more about the blockchain and cryptocurrencies, watch this engaging two-minute video.
Will Bitcoin Replace Gold?
Lately I’ve been seeing more and more headlines asking whether cryptos are “killing” gold. Would the gold price be higher today if massive amounts of money weren’t flowing into bitcoin? Both assets, after all, are sometimes favored as safe havens. They’re decentralized and accepted all over the world, 24 hours a day. Transactions are anonymous. Supply is limited.
But I don’t think for a second that cryptocurrencies will ever replace gold, for a number of reasons. For one, cryptos are strictly forms of currency, whereas gold has many other time-tested applications, from jewelry to dentistry to electronics.
Unlike cryptos, gold doesn’t require electricity to trade. This makes it especially useful in situations such as hurricane-ravished Puerto Rico, where 95 percent of people are reportedly still without power. Right now the island’s economy is cash-only. If you have gold jewelry or coins, they can be converted into cash—all without electricity or WiFi.
Finally, gold remains one of the most liquid assets, traded daily in well-established exchanges all around the globe. Every day, some £13.8 billion, or $18 billion, worth of physical gold are traded in London alone, according to the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). The cryptocurrency market, although expanding rapidly, is not quite there yet.
I will admit, though, that bitcoin is energizing some investors, especially millennials, in ways that gold might have a hard time doing. The proof is all over the internet. You can find a number of TED Talks on bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and the blockchain, but to my knowledge, none is available on gold investing. YouTube is likewise bursting at the seams with videos on cryptos.
Bitcoin is up 350 percent for the year, Ethereum an unbelievable 3,600 percent. Gold, meanwhile, is up around 10 percent. Producers, as measured by the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index, have gained 11.5 percent in 2017, 23 percent since its 52-week low in December 2016.
Look Past the Negativity to Find the Good News
The news is filled with negative headlines, and sometimes it’s challenging to stay positive. Take Friday’s jobs report. It showed that the U.S. lost 33,000 jobs in September, the first month in seven years that this happened. A weak report was expected because of Hurricane Irma, but no one could have guessed the losses would be this deep.
The jobs report wasn’t all bad news, however. For one, the decline is very likely temporary. Beyond that, a record 4.88 million Americans who were previously sitting out of the labor force found work last month. This helped the unemployment rate fall to 4.2 percent, a 16-year low.
There’s more that supports a stronger U.S. economy. As I shared with you last week, the Manufacturing ISM Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to a 13-year high in September, indicating rapid expansion in the manufacturing industry. Factory orders were up during the month. Auto sales were up. Oil has stayed in the relatively low $50-a-barrel range, which is good for transportation and industrials, especially airlines. Small-cap stocks, as measured by the Russell 2000 Index, continue to climb above their 50-day and 200-day moving averages as excitement over tax reform intensifies.
These are among the reasons why I remain bullish.
One final note: Speaking on tax reform, Warren Buffett told CNBC last week that he’s waiting to sell assets until he knows the plan will go through. “I would feel kind of silly if I realized $1 billion worth of gains and paid $350 million in tax on it if I just waited a few months and would have paid $250 million,” he said.
It’s a fair comment, and I imagine other like-minded, forward-thinking investors, buyers and sellers will also wait to make huge transactions if they can help it. Tax reform isn’t a done deal, but I think it has a much better chance of being signed into law than a health care overhaul.
- 1 of 1884