Sunday, March 30, 2008



By: Joseph W. Norman

Last week I attended the RISE VIII (Redefining Investment Strategy Education) Conference at the University of Dayton. It’s an experience I first participated in last year and was fortunate to repeat this year, representing SUNY Geneseo’s Finance Club and Student Managed Investment Fund with a few of my colleagues.

To quote the marketing materials, “The RISE Forum has embraced the format of the world’s most influential and prestigious forum, the World Economic Forum, held annually in Davos, Switzerland. At that forum in Davos, they bring together political, business, labor, academic, religious, and media leaders. They conduct interview style panel discussions and they do not have formal presentations in order to encourage spontaneous and dynamic exchange among panelists and participants. Likewise, at R.I.S.E. the keynote speakers are not giving speeches.” Instead, they are resources in the forum’s interactive environment.

R.I.S.E. is the globe’s largest student investment forum, boasting over 2,300 participants from over 25 countries. The event rang in its prestige worldwide with a remote closing of the Nasdaq market at 4 PM on March 27, 2008. The distinguished guest who signed off on the close was none other than Christopher Gardner, the man behind the incredibly inspirational story which inspired the popular book and movie, The Pursuit of Happyness.

R.I.S.E. Co-Chairs and Program Directors:

Dr. David Sauer, Founding Director, Davis Center for Portfolio Management, University of Dayton

Dr. Bob Froehlich, Chairman, Investor Strategy Committee, Deutsche Asset Management, Americas, Vice Chairman of DWS Scudder, Moderator for all sessions at R.I.S.E.

The following are key insights from the three day conference:

Leadership Perspective:

Christopher P. Gardner, Owner & CEO of Christopher Gardner International Holdings

“I wanted to become world class at something.”

“If that don’t get your fire going, your wood must be wet.” – A saying Chris’ uncle used to say to him

“It’s not a black thing. It’s not a white thing. It’s a green thing.” – A mantra Chris repeated to a southern oil tycoon when he met him in person for the first time. The man immediately closed all his other brokerage accounts and solely did business with Chris after their meeting.

“This ain’t even about you.” – Dr. Maya Angelou to Chris when talking about his life’s extraordinary turn of events since the release of his book and movie.

NOTE WELL: In Christopher’s eyes, his number one success is not his tremendous business success, but rather breaking the cycle of poor fatherhood in his family.

Life Lessons from Retail Distributors:

James S. Hamilton, Consultant, Federated Investors, Inc., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

David McDaniel, Senior Regional Vice President, DWS Scudder Investments, Austin, Texas

Van Pearcy, President, Van Pearcy Financial, Branch Manager & Financial Advisor, Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. Midland, Texas

Career Tips by James Hamilton

1. Learn how to work hard AND smart

2. Have fun, enjoy what you do, and be enthusiastic

3. Be like a sponge in every job you take

4. Learn how to ask the right questions and in the right way

5. Work hard enough so you don’t get fired

6. If you don’t like what you do or who you do it for…QUIT!

7. Communication skills; learn them and practice them ALL THE TIME.

8. Relationships. Make a list of your ten best friends. Who are they? How do you keep in touch with them? Note: People want to know that you care.

9. Focus. You have to focus on what is important. Talk to the people that you work for. Ask them, “What am I doing that is important to the bottom line?”

10. In sales, you have the freedom to succeed.

Tips on Sales by James Hamilton

1. Know the company you work for REALLY WELL.

2. Know your products REALLY WELL.

3. Know the application of your products. How do you use them?

4. Know your customers REALLY WELL. Resource: Harvey Mackay’s 66 questions for your customers.

5. Know your customers’ books. How do they make money?

6. Learn how to have fun with your BEST customers.

7. Track your 50 best customers and yours and their progress.

8. Attitude is the MOST IMPORTANT thing! Make it a good one!

Book Recommendation: What Color is Your Parachute? By Richard Nelson Bolles

“Friendship first, business later. Make it a point to help others.” – David McDaniel

“People want to help you succeed. And then once you experience success, you need to give back to the community.” – Van Pearcy

Van Pearcy’s Steps to Success:

1. Write your goals down.

2. What steps do you need to take to accomplish your goals?

3. You cannot set goals if you don’t know where you are today.

Van Pearcy’s Secret Formula to Success:

“The harder you work, the luckier you get.”

Notes on the Economy:


Dr. Frank Hatheway, CFA, Chief Economist & Senior Vice President, The Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc.

Thomas R. Keene, CFA, Editor-at-Large, Bloomberg News

Dr. Finn E. Kydland, 2004 Nobel Laureate in Economics, University of California, Santa Barbara

David Rosenberg, Chief North American Economist, Merrill Lynch

“Focus more on history than on econometrics…the current environment domestically seems to be a mix of the 1970s and the Japanese recession.” – David Rosenberg

NOTE: Rosenberg’s book recommendation: Subprime Mortgages: America’s Latest Boom and Bust by Edward M. Gramlich

“Minor recessions happen a few times a decade while major recessions take place once a generation. Due to my capacity at the Nasdaq it would not be right to make predictions, but there is much uncertainty in respect to the markets.” - Dr. Frank Hatheway

NOTE: Hatheway’s main role at the Nasdaq as Chief Economist is to design the trading system which facilitates the market. Book recommendation: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

“The biggest mistake you can make is survey the middle players. You must see what the outliers are doing in a market…Three words that will kill you in money are ‘hope,’ ‘paradigm,’ and ‘synergy.’ When I see those words in an article I run away as fast as I can.” - Thomas Keene

NOTE: Keene’s book recommendations: The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes and Manias, Panics, and Crashes by Charles Kindleberger, Robert Aliber, and Robert Solow

Notes on the Markets:


Harry S. Dent, Jr., Founder & President, HS Dent Foundation

Patrick Dorsey, Director of Stock Analysis, Morningstar, Inc.

Ronald H. Muhlenkamp, CFA, Founder, President & Portfolio Manager, Muhlenkamp & Company, Inc.

Charles V. Payne, CEO & Principal Analyst, Wall Street Strategies, Inc.

Tobin Smith, Founder & Chief Investment Strategist, ChangeWave Research

“We have been in a bubble boom since the 80s and I see big changes on the horizon. The real estate bubble is peaking, which can be compared to the housing bubble in Japan, and we are on the verge of an important transition.” – Harry Dent

“You need to start to look for opportunities in this market. American International Group (Symbol: AIG) is trading at book value and there are opportunities amongst the financials. You need to figure out what is priced in to the stocks. What is discounted? There are even opportunities in mature tech companies like IBM and Cisco.” – Patrick Dorsey

“If you don’t know who you are, Wall Street is an expensive place to learn. Keep an open mind and don’t defend forecasts.” - Ronald Muhlenkamp

“There are three lessons from 2002 to 2007: 1) Leverage magnifies outcomes but does not add value. 2) Leverage can’t improve investment fundamentals. 3) You cannot create an investment structure which adds substantive upside without creating downside risk.” - Tobin Smith

“There are opportunities in global infrastructure plays.” – Charles Payne

Life Lessons:

“In life, your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness.” – Tobin Smith

Joseph W. Norman, Co-Founder and Editor in Chief of Notable and Newsworthy can be reached at or 607.743.8569. He offers speaking engagements and personal coaching and is always up for a "business lunch." To receive the weekly eZine, The VIP Profiles, email or visit