Someone once stated, “We will all die one day.  The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.”

That statement played through my mind today as I attended the funeral of my friend and colleague, Dennis Shields.   Dennis, as many may know due to the inability of the media to let his family grieve in peace during a horrific time, passed away last Friday.

Since that day, article after article has been written, more specifically because for a time Dennis dated reality TV star, Bethenny Frankel.   Each magazine, newspaper, blog or entertainment website has published statement after statement of meaningless information.   What is completely disturbing is none of these articles talks about the man, the father, the husband, and the visionary.  The real Dennis Shields.  They all sensationalize the relationship, which is a fight for headlines, but none of them discusses the real person they are referring to.  How could they in actuality when they didn’t have the privilege of knowing him.

Many people spoke at Dennis’ funeral about him and how he single handedly touched so many.   It was absolutely amazing to see and hear not only by the number of people who attended, but by the words they said.  I found myself completely engaged in each speaker’s point of view.  You see, Dennis had touched everyone he had ever met.   Now, I wasn’t friends with him from childhood and I most certainly wasn’t his closet friend by any stretch.   But we had known one another for what felt like a bit more than the almost twenty years since we had first met.

Ever since that time we would talk about many different topics.  Not unlike stories shared by others today.  We would always discuss business and most often always talk about investment structures.  Dennis was fascinated with the structures I had been involved in creating and always wanted to discus how they worked and what made them unique.  He would always sense my reaction to these discussions and would preface the conversation saying  “ I was thinking about the…..”  and he would trail off into a description of a structure he had been thinking of and how it compared or contrasted.   But it wasn’t just the talk of investment structure or strategies that intrigued me when we spoke, it was the energy Dennis had.  He seemed to have boundless energy and always be embarking on a new journey that seemed to engulf his being.

Throughout some of the hardest times in my life, when people turned their back on me and/or didn’t want to even say hello to me; Dennis walked right up to me and started to ask about the situation.   He would start every conversation by asking the most simple question of all,  “How are you?”   Now, Dennis Shields did not have to waste his time talking to me.  We were friendly but we weren’t the best of friends.  But Dennis sought me out if we were at the same get together.  He would motion to go sit at a corner table and talk about the situation at hand.  He would give advice.  He would listen.  But most of all he would remind me of my fortitude and how I needed to continue the good fight.   Dennis would offer help although I never took him up on it, even though he continually thought of different scenarios.

Of all of the people I had ever known throughout this horrible time, Dennis was the only person who made sure to remind me about me.  Someone today mentioned that Dennis had the ability to see people better than they saw themselves.   That one could never be as good as a person as they were in Dennis’ eyes and we should try to be.   But moreover, Dennis always reminded me of what I had accomplished.   He had no reason to blow smoke at me based on who he was and what he had accomplished.  But when I was down, Dennis wouldn’t have it.  It was as if it was a foreign language to him and he wasn’t interested in learning it.  He quickly reminded me of the journey I had taken and the new beginning that lay before me.   Dennis saw the best in me that I didn’t even know to think about anymore.   He had the amazing ability to look past the rhetoric and see true potential and talent.

What is so uncanny is that there is no one else I have ever known that was at Dennis’ stature or held the positions he held that took the time to cultivate relationships with people who had lost there way or had faced adversity.   Dennis had a laser vision focus and could cut through the layers that slowed others down.   He broke down complex structures in moments and then always wanted to discuss how they fit into the balance of life.   While we often spoke of business concepts, anyone who knows Dennis, understands that there were many tangents in our discussions.  We spoke of life, family, children and the overall meaning of it all, typically over a meal one would refer to as the last supper.  (How ironic our last meal together is now, as for us it was).   Dennis always acknowledged that his view of the world, his relationships and decisions weren’t something most would understand.  But it worked for him and who was I to judge.   Dennis never judged me so I was not about to question him. It was actually refreshing to have a relationship with someone where judgment was not a thing.

Dennis touched me in a way most people had never and it wasn’t until we were both further a long in our lives that I began to realize just how in tune he was.   He was already brilliant and used to make observations about things in my life and compare them back to his.   But he always tried to make sure I was ok and that I realized just how special I was.    That was so rare in life that I think I have only met another couple of people like that.  The interesting thing is, Dennis didn’t have to be my friend, he chose to be.   He didn’t have to care about my well being, he chose to.  He didn’t have to make sure I realized what I had the potential to accomplish.   He chose to.

There are times in your life when you remember where you were for a certain occurrence.  Or you know what you were doing.   I can tell you I was so dumbfounded that I lost track of the time and my day as a whole when I found out Dennis had passed.   I was literally in shock, as I could not believe someone so good had been taken from us so soon.

So if the goal is not to live for forever, but create something that will, Dennis Shields was a champion.  He had created an amazing family, an extensive group of friends old and new and built amazing businesses from the ground up.   Dennis was so fond of his kids he always got them into a conversation even if it was something business related. While he has created multiple businesses that will endure the test of time, he most shining achievement is that of his children who will each continue where he left off.

Good-bye my friend.

 

 

 

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If you don’t pay attention to the Twitter rants of many tech company CEO’s, you most undoubtedly have followed Elon Musk, the brazen tech guru behind Tesla’s battery powered automobiles. Mr. Musk has often answered analysts, taunted other analysts or simply gone off the proverbial deep end by saying things on Twitter most CEOs of a public company wouldn’t dream of tweeting.

Much to many people’s surprise yesterday Mr. Musk announced via Twitter his intention to take Tesla private.  With that announcement shares in Tesla went up approximately ten percent after trading reopened from the halt due to the pending news.   Obviously, many who have short positions in the stock were slightly frazzled by the move.   Musk has long criticized those who have been consecutively shorting Tesla.  Was this the solution to finally squeeze the shorts? Was Musk’s announcement actually legal under securities laws?  Is this a viable option for Tesla?  All good questions…..

First, if one wanted to squeeze a short position, any direction the company can take itself that would result in an increased share price would certainly put pressure on a short position.   So, from that aspect check the box for finally getting somewhere on the annoying shorts. (But that will most likely be short lived)

Second, the legality of Musk’s tweet based on prior rulings from the Securities and Exchange Commission seem pretty in line with Regulation FD.   The company can most definitely utilize Twitter as a form of announcement for company news and statements.  This was solidified by other companies in the information age who utilized social media as a form of press release.   Gone are our grandfather’s days of actual press releases and filings with the specific regulators.  Of course if Musk does not have the financing lined up which he stated in his tweet then the tweet would be an issue in regard to securities regulations.  Obviously, if there is a specific piece of news or strategy on behalf of the company, it must file the appropriate filing.   But, one would guess all the more reason not to be public right?   Third, and more importantly what would Tesla the private company become?

Well, lets kick the rock down the road apiece shall we?   Becoming a private company would mean Tesla would not have to disclose important competitive information.   Obviously that is a major reason for it to want to be a private company.   In the businesses that Tesla is in, keeping information confidential would give it back a competitive advantage over would be competitors.  It would no longer have to make the normal quarterly disclosures it now makes about financials, employees, legal issues and most importantly how many cars it produced and delivered.  So for starters, it would actually stop the trend of analysts focusing on each and every tidbit of information from the company.

Additionally, it would stop the normal quarterly focus on performance.   Public companies have increasingly been forced to plan on a quarterly basis when it comes to their business plans, as their earnings get judged in the current public system; quarter-by-quarter.   Focusing a business plan on multi-year strategy that reports quarterly is somewhat problematic.   Investor / shareholders do not have the same overall planning interests as management and long term holders.   This creates a dichotomy in the underlying plans of the company.   Management cannot focus on the long-term goals of building out a strategy and seeing it to fruition, most especially in a technology company, as it needs to refocus each ninety-day cycle and try to please the world.   Decisions that can be right for the next quarter may not be right for the next year or several years.    Remember, sometimes building something takes time.   Most shareholders or investors forget that by the time we have all heard about a company or the company is public it has gone through multiple levels of evolution.   But in the information age the new paradigm is to get to the market first and be dominant. Which can sometimes be problematic when focusing on quarterly results.

Tesla, unlike other companies has an audacious plan from a swashbuckling CEO.   While most tech companies want to disrupt a market, Tesla is trying to change the use of energy in every day products such as automobiles and homes.  No easy task unfortunately.    So in order to achieve these goals, Tesla has to have a multi-year plan and not be hamstrung by the focus on quarterly reporting.  That also goes to the question of market capitalization and valuation of Tesla and its assets or technology.   To structure much needed financing over the years Tesla has had to utilize stock as collateral or currency.   So management is always focused on maintaining a decent stock price instead of being focused on executing a long-term business plan.   Being private would allow the team to focus on the business not the market prowess.

So all in all, being private would help Musk and Tesla achieve some good things.  But, don’t go celebrating just yet.  Many shareholders may not agree that $420 a share is the right premium for them to sell their shares as it is just shy of twenty percent (20%) from the current traded price.  Most die-hard Tesla shareholders are looking for a larger return on investment.  Additionally, in order to achieve this Musk would have to prove that he could pull off and repay what would may be the largest corporate buyout in history.   At the $420.00 figure, this deal would most likely been in the ballpark of $60 billion.    But, Musk has taken on the impossible or highly unlikely before.   Stay tuned…….

 

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A Letter to President Trump

July 17, 2018

Dear Mr. President; Let us start by saying thank you.  We at the Ribotsky Institute are proud of the way you are running our country.   Our economy has definitively gotten better. There are more jobs and we are a stronger power in the world today by far under your tutelage than that of your predecessor.    Your […]

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NASCAR, just not what it used to be……

July 8, 2018

With the NASCAR racing season underway something is painfully clear, the brand’s identity and appeal to fans is waning.     Why you may ask?  Well ever since one can remember or at least for the past fifty plus years, NASCAR has been the premier racing group in the United States.   NASCAR enjoyed market dominance and millions […]

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History has been Made…

June 14, 2018

Not only has President Trump done what his predecessors couldn’t or wouldn’t do; he has over delivered by signing a deal with North Korea that is the beginning of a new chapter for the world.

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Real Information and how it Died

May 27, 2018

Reliance on market data and survey data that comes from the populace who are not just listening but permanently wired into the constant data stream could put markets at risk.

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The Information Age – The Cold Irony…

April 22, 2018

There are many stories recently about hackers gaining access to personal information on the Internet. That plus the use of personal information by certain companies who prey on unsuspecting users who are on Facebook or other social media, is taking center stage of late.   All of these situations point to one specific fact, our online security […]

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The Lost Decade

April 5, 2018

The market is certainly taking the road less traveled these days. Down 500 points one moment, up 300 the next. Market pundits are dumbfounded and quite confused to say the least. What is going to happen next? Some say an upward trending market and then there are those that are sounding the alarm.   Just when […]

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The Hypocrisy of the Digital Age…

March 23, 2018

One will never forget the invention of the compact disc, which was a digital solution to an analog world.   Music went from being stamped or etched into a record, to being magnetically recorded on cassette tapes and then digitally encoded to a compact disc. Tapes led to the introduction of the first “Walkman”.   The portable […]

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The Bubble Explodes Again….

March 13, 2018

Several market pundits have recently reported on a topic that is not something everyone wants to openly discuss. That is the ballooning amount of debt in the world has reached monumental proportions.   According to one study the overall amount of debt outstanding is over $200 Trillion.   (Yes you read that right) That number is so […]

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