Podcast Schmodcast

Recently, I was interviewed on the Leadership Podcast, and I think the conversation was great. I really enjoyed it. We discussed subjects that would be very valuable for anyone who is considering a business sale. Take a listen and feel free to forward to anyone you think might benefit from this discussion.

Happy Hours

If you’ve been a long-time reader of these emails, you’ll recall I’ve hosted many happy hours/get togethers in downtown Chicago. Don’t call it networking! To steal a phrase from my late friend Spencer Maus, it’s a party! The last few years have been a bit of a challenge, but I hope to restart my (near) monthly happy hours in the new year. If you are in downtown Chicago, or otherwise get downtown from time to time and are interested in gathering with fellow business creatures, let me know!

Less than Two months to Pitchers and Catchers

Early warning! The crew here is about to invest in Cubs’ season tickets. Four of ‘em! This means you might hear more from my harried admin, the hair combing intern, Mr. Quills my comfort porcupine, and if he behaves, my inner tyrant. That’s right, boys and girls of all ages, even those of you with hesitant loyalties, the fabulous Cubs ticket giveaways are schedule to return to the airwaves in 2024. This means we’ll have to dust off our cantankerous but beloved ticket giveaway algorithm, GIMMIE!. Pray for us. If you’re new to these emails, the ticket thing is straightforward. I send an email, you reply in the affirmative, and I let that aforementioned algorithm (GIMMIE!) decide who wins, and some lucky winner gets 4 tickets…for free! Since physical tickets have gone the way of the dodo, you’ll need to use the MLB app. Oh, and I’m upping the inventory this year, I’ll have upwards of 40 games! That’s right, we’re making a big investment this year. And, well, yeah, it’ll give me a lot of fodder for more emails. If the ability to win baseball tickets appeals to you, click this to let me know.

Artificial Intelligence cum Danger

If you’re new to these emails, or otherwise need a refresher, I wrote my ticket giveaway algorithm years ago, but I have no idea how it works, and worse, it achieved self-awareness. We named it GIMMIE! Given all the recent noise about artificial intelligence, everyone needs to remember that GIMMIE! was the first true AI program. That wasn’t my intention, but son of a gun, it became the world’s first sentient mathematical formula. My inner tyrant, however, is laughing at me because it likes to point out intelligence really isn’t GIMMIE!’s milieu, danger might be more apt. I retort that the danger is hardly artificial when GIMMIE! is summoned from its basement lair.

Predictions

If you are interested in Bill’s prognostications for 2024, don’t ask. I don’t do predictions. I subscribe to the reality of “something else.” What do I mean by that? No matter what we predict, something else, often unforeseen, will happen. Predictions aren’t worth the bits and bytes needed to convey them. A few short years ago, for example, all in the world looked like smooth sailing. Let’s examine the recent past.

In February 2019, I ventured halfway around the world and delivered M&A related presentations in Malaysia and Dubai. What fun, but I had no idea of the outcome. Did I bomb? Or was I a hit? For over half a year, I had no idea. Then in October 2019, they invited me to do it again! I was a hit! So, we scheduled my grand return for February 2020. And that’s when I allowed myself the luxurious thought that I would do this every year…for the rest of my life. Maybe I could visit other countries, too!

A few weeks after finalizing my grand return, I was on a late November flight to Seattle for Thanksgiving. The carrier offered a credit card with all sorts of free miles. Ordinarily, I ignore these entreaties, but when I noticed the miles could be used with affiliated airlines, including the carrier I was to use for a trip halfway around the world, I signed up. I thought perhaps I could use these miles to bump up from steerage into business class. Things were looking up!

At the same time, the sad, pathetic basketball team at my alma mater (DePaul) had picked itself up from the mat. I recall sitting in the hotel in Seattle, tirelessly working on the update to my M&A presentation, and breathlessly following a DePaul game via the Internet. We won that game, and through November and most of December of 2019, DePaul appeared to be headed back to the big time. We ran out to a 12-1 start, and these were not the usual early season creampuffs. We went on the road and beat Iowa, Minnesota, and Boston College, and then knocked off the previous season’s tournament runner up, Texas Tech, at home. We were thisclose to being ranked! Then the Big East season started, the bloom was off the rose, and DePaul sunk back to mediocrity.

In late January, some sort of virus began to make the news, I fearlessly did that second trip to Malaysia and Dubai in February, and then…the world ended. The Big East called it quits at the halftime of the Creighton – St. John’s game, the NCAA tournament was cancelled, we were ordered to stay home, people horded toilet paper, and we all trembled in fear. And things got bad. People were terrified to leave their homes. People were terrified if they heard someone cough. On the plus side, my neighbors finally cut down that overgrown pine tree that was bumping into my house.

The reality of 2020 was completely different from anyone’s predictions…including mine. Right before the pandemic and just before I flew on that final trip in February 2020, I was in talks to do an M&A event in Amman Jordan! We all know what unfolded through the rest of 2020. Needless to say, my Jordan trip did not occur. And what happened on the traveling M&A evangelist front for the next three years? Nothing.

A Return Engagement

After a three-year hiatus, my Malaysian friends have finally restarted the international speaking tours and have invited me to do my thing again! I will return to southeast Asia to deliver two-day M&A seminars! This time I’ll be in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. Here’s to hoping we all are finally back to normal…whatever that is!

How Predictions Really Work

Since we raised the specter of predictions in this email, we’ll wrap up with some last thoughts about the nature of prognosticators. Back in the dark ages when I was in college in the 80s, a professor relayed his rather glib explanation of how some people get to teach economics at universities. They put together a very detailed analysis of what they think will happen in the economy, and fearlessly send their predictions to hundreds of schools. They’re really going out on the ledge, right? They’re indelibly stamping, for all to see and examine, their views about what will happen in the economy, right? Sure, of course. Then they write up another analysis that comes to the opposite conclusions and they send that to hundreds of other schools. No matter what happens, they’re right! They then write another analysis of the future and send that to half of the schools that got the correct guess. The other half get the opposite analysis. This winnowing strategy is used numerous times, and eventually someone at the one school that has been the recipient of an uninterrupted string of perfect predictions says, “We need to hire this guy! He’s completely nailed the last 7 or 8 economic developments. He’s a freaking economic Nostradamus!”

To that end, I am more interested in reviewing predictions from years past, as opposed to thoughts for the coming year. Let’s just see how good those past forecasts were before we consider the merits of future predictions!

William R. (“Bill”) Snow, a FOCUS Managing Director, is an experienced M&A professional with over 30 years of professional experience, including almost two decades as an investment banker. His work includes business sales and capital raises for middle-market companies as well as buy-side services for acquirers seeking middle-market companies. Mr. Snow’s clients have included water works manufacturers and value-added distributors as well as firms focusing on packaging, medical supplies and equipment, automotive parts, drink dispensing equipment, security, apparel, refined fuels, and more. Contact Bill at [email protected].

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