Tag Archives: markets

Rules of Nature

The Eye of The Storm

Have you ever been in a hurricane? I have, and one of the strangest things about it is the phenomenon that happens right in the middle of the worst of the storm – the eye.

You can walk outside and literally see the stars and the branches lying askew all around you…the air feels eerie and a sense of anticipation for what is left to come fills the air.

I can’t help but think we are witnessing a similar occurrence in the markets over the last couple of weeks.

Every now and again, I will glance at the screen and see the Dow up a few hundred points, followed by an irrational headline like: “Market Rises on Hope for Shorter Recession” or some such nonsense.

But, we all know that we are only partially through the natural consequences of what we have witnessed already.

Rules of Nature

For those of you who have been reading Paranoid Bull for awhile, you probably are tired of the “shoe-to-drop” metaphor, or before that the “trainwreck in slow motion” ones, so I’ll go for another one.

We are witnessing something like the end of an Ice Age. There has been a fundamental shift in the temperature of the environment which was previously calm and unrealistically muted to risk. The molecules and atoms moved more slowly at the lower temperatures, and the over-confidence of false-statisticians suggested that this temporary cold-chill was indicative of the indefinite future.

However, as we see in the weather, one of the few things that can be certain about the future is that it will look different than the present. Also like the weather, most systems in the world move through a wide variety of states: cold, medium, hot…slow, fast, zooming.

Right now our system has gone from cold to hot, from an appearance of risk mitigation to a reality of correlated, levered and volatile risks.

As the temperature rises and glaciers melt, this has an impact throughout the ecosystem: entire landscapes are transformed as water rushes with such velocity that it crushes anything in its wake.

And once the melt has begun, there is no going back.

The People Factor

The problem with our financial system is that unlike the natural order of a post-glacial natural ecosystem, our world is inhabited by human beings who are smart enough to have some semblance of an understanding of the world, but not smart enough to recognize their own limitations.

In addition, they are driven by passions and irrationalities that cause them to build cities on piles of snow…because if it hasn’t melted yet, it won’t.

These quirks of humanity also cause us to run with the crowd, and as the chaos of the system has emerged over the last couple of months, the emotional side of human behavior – especially that of fear – has set in.

People don’t know what to do, what to expect, which direction to run, and they surely don’t know what the landscape will look like once the ice has finally completely thawed.

As a result, we are caught in a state of fits and starts, with each pundit and pseudo-intellect looking over his or her shoulder at the next quasi-intelligent one wondering what the other one is thinking.

Keep Running

In this game of chicken, however, the one who stops running first will likely be caught in the flood.

I wish there was better news, and given the stars in the sky, one can almost believe that we are through the storm.

However, don’t forget that the patterns of nature are much more powerful than any we could hypothesize…and I haven’t heard of a one-sided hurricane or a partially melted glacier yet.

But Play

But don’t run in fear. Run because it is exhilarating, and enjoy the scenery and lightness in your step as you go.

A friend of mine recently highlighted the importance of ‘play’ in life…and I think even in moments like these, while we are reacting to a change in the landscape, we can find these rose-colored lenses in all that we do.

I for one am going to try, as I stop to catch my breath before the next leg of the marathon.

In The Air

Flying Is Inspiring
For whatever reason when I find myself on a plane far above nowhere, I feel like the creative impulses become more uninhibited.

It might simply be the fact that sitting in one place for so long allows the kind of self-reflection necessary for creativity, but I think instead it has something to do with the unfettered reality of being in the air – literally off the ground.

Going through the process of trying to figure out my first post-grad-school career move in the midst of the biggest market downturn in a generation has been a very intense process to date.

Even though failure is a necessary part of life and an even more understandable part of such trying times, having desired outcomes eliminated by others is never fun.

That this happens both in our personal relationships and in our careers is not a surprise – both are simply the interface of our hopes and expressions of commitment and the outside world.

Challenges Show True Colors
An interesting phenomena in the current environment is that peoples’ true character is being shown, for better or for worse.

Arguably an opportunistically minded employer should see today as a great time to find talent – even those with the most options are having this opportunity set constrained by the reality of a market downturn.

However, instead, many of these previously-shrewd types are hunkering for cover like the rest of the masses.

This might mark capitulation, but instead I think it highlights the danger of a human-driven economy: it is driven by psychology as much as any “reality of the matter”.

What I mean is that today even the even-keeled in the crowd have become part of the collective pessimism that is currently gripping our markets and economy.

That it has become the status quo is reflected in the experiences of my fellow graduates of Harvard Business and Law Schools, who arguably have a unique snapshot into the corporate psychology across our economy as we are welcomed into organizations for interviews, meetings and other gatherings.

The mood across these organizations is one of fear-of-failure at worst to wait-and-see for most.

Entrepreneurs Remain Optimistic
Thankfully, this is not a uniform experience, and unsurprisingly it is the entrepreneur-set that retains the most optimism. I have spoken to a number of venture capitalists as well as aspiring and current entrepreneurs over the last several months, and the outlook for this group remains upbeat.

Sure there is a sense of “cash-preservation” typified by the now infamous “Sequoia book” on the economy; however, this group also recognizes that there are likely an infinite number of problems waiting to be solved and a lot of really smart and creative people out there solving them.

This sense of innovation and optimism is what our nation thrives on, and it is what will ultimately inspire and drive the rest of the crowd out of the shadows and back into the eye-squinting light.

Social media, communications technologies, renewable energy, biotechnology, music, film…all of these areas continue to feature brilliant minds doing wicked-cool stuff.

Innovation Needed: Personal Finance
One area where innovation has only moderately occurred is in the area of personal financial management. Sites like Mint.com help people to manage their personal finances, but as too-many people are experiencing the current state of financial advisors is inadequate.

I think there is room for someone to create a service to help moderate-income people manage their personal finances and retirement accounts. With the out-flux of talent from the failed financial-services industry, a would-be entrepreneur has a legion of people to help with execution.

The cool thing about our country is that someone will solve this problem. And they will be another entrepreneur in a series of creative folks who have helped built our country and its ever-persistent economy. (Update: I met a guy from MIT last night who is working on a very similar idea…beautiful thing).

Landing
The plane is banking left and my batteries are low…until next time, be careful of the continuing-to-fall shoes and try to keep an eye on the sun.

What Is A ‘Bank’? Amex Is Now.

I just saw this article, and I realized that like many of our ordinary conceptions, the idea of a ‘bank’ has morphed significantly over the last few months:

American Express to Become Bank Holding Company

The Fed’s approval for American Express was similar to the decision it made in September to transform the country’s two biggest investment banks, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, into bank holding companies.

That move bolstered the two institutions after the collapse of another investment bank, Lehman Brothers, which became the largest bankruptcy filing in history. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley gained the ability to borrow federal money and build a stable base of deposits in hopes of reassuring investors and other banks.

As I have mentioned, I am now unfortunately bearish in the short-term as the dislocations in the credit markets continue to wreak havoc on securities prices, in addition to the fact that the economic slowdown is only just beginning.

One stat that really jumped out at me during my meetings in NYC a little over a week ago was that 65-80% of all corporate borrowing over the last few years came from non-bank entities.

Granted, many of these entities were SIV’s which had the implicit backing of big banks like Citi; however, a good deal of this issuance came from CDO’s, CLO’s and other non-bank entities, which are no longer able to lever-up to buy the assets they have been gobbling over the last few years.

Unlike Amex, Goldman, and Morgan Stanley, these hundreds or thousands of entities will not be saved by the Fed, and as long as they continue to contract to deal with stiffer margin requirements and/or investor liquidations, the selling pressure in the credit markets should continue.

The list of government interventions over the last few months has been too staggering to keep up with, but most smart people I know expect it will continue.

I continue to be a long-term optimist. But don’t be surprised if we have more bad days in the markets between now and then.

Looking back years from now concepts like ‘banks’, ‘hedge funds’, and many others will likely look very different than they did only a few months ago. Thankfully, our language is flexible enough to support these changes, and hopefully our decision-making will keep pace (On Language and Decision Making).

Jim Rogers On The Markets

I’ve been meeting with some very smart investors lately, but few sound as clear-headed and direct as Jim Rogers.

Here is a video on his views on where we are headed:
1) More downside
2) Inflation in the long-term
3) Bullishness on commodities

It is worth a watch:

On Uncertainty And Creativity

Perhaps this will now sound redundant, I will repeat: binary thinking is dangerous and more importantly it is inaccurate.

What I mean by this is not ground-breaking, although lots of wicked-smart dudes like Godel and Sartre have pointed it out in revolutionary sounding ways.

Perhaps best conceptualized in the garb of quantum-mechanics, my point is simply we can’t quite put our finger on the “truth” in any important sense. We can’t know everything about where an atom is if we know its speed, we can’t know what our politics “should be”, and we surely don’t know where our stock market will go tomorrow.

The best we can know is some probable outcome. We can make good guesses and act accordingly.

Where we get in trouble is when we think we are better than that.

It is the overconfidence that statistics gives us about an improbable world that is potentially damaging.

“Knowing” something to a “confidence-level” of 95th percent is surely helpful, but as the statistics-obsessed pollsters showed us in this election, even when the questions are binary and we work really hard at answering them, predicting the “truth” of the matter is hard.

The cool thing is that such uncertainty creates the space not only for mistakes, but it also, importantly, creates the space for innovation, creativity, and improvement.

And it is in this space, in the midst of the abyss, that we should seek to find in ourselves the inspiration to make a change in our worlds for the better.

Just what that picture looks like for each one of us will be different. I am surely still working on mine. But that is part of the fun of creation – it looks different every time.

On Humility, Creativity, and The Importance of Others.

Humility.

I just had one of the most profound conversations that I can remember with a guy who has taken an entirely different path through the same twenty-nine years we have been on the planet to arrive at the same place where I arrived tonight at an event with a bunch of “Internet” people down the street from where I live.

The discussion began exploring concepts similar to those underlying my post last week about Emotional Analysis Paralysis, in that we were discussing an idea presented in an existentialism course we both attended today, which basically suggests that:

Unexamined beliefs that are emphatically held onto, and for which reflection is actively denied, can unintentionally become “true” about ourselves in some very powerful and unfortunate sense.

And that accepting such beliefs without opening ourselves up to considering our rationales for them is a form of “bad faith” in life.

Such a dogmatic refusal to examine one’s beliefs can range from situations as simple as interpersonal relationships, to situations a complex as being the central banker of the world economy. Mr. Greenspan today acknowledged a change in one such belief in his world view in this article on Bloomberg: Greenspan Concedes to `Flaw’ in His Market Ideology

`Yes, I found a flaw,” Greenspan said in response to grilling from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “I was shocked because I’d been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.” Greenspan added he was “partially” wrong for opposing the regulation of derivatives.

“We have to do our best but not expect infallibility or omniscience,’ he said.

Part of the problem was that the Fed’s ability to forecast the economy’s trajectory is an inexact science, he said.

“If we are right 60 percent of the time in forecasting, we are doing exceptionally well; that means we are wrong 40 percent of the time,” Greenspan said. “Forecasting never gets to the point where it is 100 percent accurate.”

This humble admission by one of the most brilliant market observers in history reflects a basic truth about ourselves: we are fallible, and as a result we should always subject our beliefs to questioning and revision.

Creativity.

One of the challenges I have been wrestling with lately is finding a way to be creative in a world where: 1) chaos and massive uncertainty exists 2) I am limited and flawed and 3) inspiration is presumed to precede innovation.

The conversation not only elucidated a framework for humbly accepting certain of our principles as “true” only after examining their rationales (and in the context of a life-long process of constant re-examination), but it also wrestled with the tension between creativity as “work” versus creativity as “inspiration.”

I have been thinking about this lately in the context of entrepreneurial innovation, but also more generally as I seek to figure out just how I will make my mark.

One takeaway from our talk that I gleaned was that: hard work is almost always necessary for creativity, if for no other reason than to learn the tools of the trade – to play the guitar, to speak the language, to bring resources to bear.

But, I also took away that work is not enough. One must also create the space where inspiration can materialize.

I am still not sure if such a space is created through a destructive/Nietzschean questioning of assumptions, or if it is one that simply emerges from a more Buddhist-minded acceptance of one’s place in the world.

But maybe it is a bit of both – by destroying/challenging one’s stated understanding while at the same time accepting the world as it presents itself, perhaps one is able to create the space for inspiration and creativity to emerge.

The Importance of Others.

However, besides this internal and personal activity, another thing that has hit home in spades over the last few weeks for me is the importance of a supporting cast.

For me that is many of you who read this blog, my other friends and family, and the people I come across in the world like the new friend I met tonight.

But, ultimately, I am convinced this will not be enough for true greatness.

Given our limited nature and the necessary recursive process – self-reflection, destruction, assertion, creation, repeat – that one must go through in life, I think having a partner is absolutely essential…at least for those of us who are not lucky enough to be gifted with the kind of child genius of a Picasso or a Mozart.

In response to the concern that I (and apparently many other people) have about being “too old” to achieve greatness, Malcolm Gladwell recently published a piece in the New Yorker in which he juxtaposed the lives of Picasso (and other “early bloomers”) with Cezanne (and other “late bloomers”) in hopes that showing that we “late bloomers” should not give up hope.

He emphasized just such a notion – the importance of a supporting cast – in this piece: Late Bloomers: Why do we equate genius with precocity?

“On the road to great achievement, the late bloomer will resemble a failure: while the late bloomer is revising and despairing and changing course and slashing canvases to ribbons after months or years, what he or she produces will look like the kind of thing produced by the artist who will never bloom at all.

Prodigies are easy. They advertise their genius from the get-go. Late bloomers are hard. They require forbearance and blind faith. (Let’s just be thankful that Cézanne didn’t have a guidance counsellor in high school who looked at his primitive sketches and told him to try accounting.) Whenever we find a late bloomer, we can’t but wonder how many others like him or her we have thwarted because we prematurely judged their talents. But we also have to accept that there’s nothing we can do about it. “

If you are the type of creative mind that needs to experiment and learn by doing, you need someone to see you through the long and difficult time it might take for your art to reach its true potential.

This is the final lesson of the late bloomer: his or her success is highly contingent on the efforts of others.

In biographies of Cézanne, Louis-Auguste invariably comes across as a kind of grumpy philistine, who didn’t appreciate his son’s genius. But Louis-Auguste didn’t have to support Cézanne all those years. He would have been within his rights to make his son get a real job, just as Sharie [the wife of a "late bloomer" author named Fountain] might well have said no to her husband’s repeated trips to the chaos of Haiti. She could have argued that she had some right to the life style of her profession and status–that she deserved to drive a BMW, which is what power couples in North Dallas drive, instead of a Honda Accord, which is what she settled for.

But she believed in her husband’s art, or perhaps, more simply, she believed in her husband, the same way Zola and Pissarro and Vollard and–in his own, querulous way–Louis-Auguste must have believed in Cézanne.

Late bloomers’ stories are invariably love stories, and this may be why we have such difficulty with them.

We’d like to think that mundane matters like loyalty, steadfastness, and the willingness to keep writing checks to support what looks like failure have nothing to do with something as rarefied as genius. But sometimes genius is anything but rarefied; sometimes it’s just the thing that emerges after twenty years of working at your kitchen table.

“Sharie never once brought up money, not once–never,” Fountain said. She was sitting next to him, and he looked at her in a way that made it plain that he understood how much of the credit for “Brief Encounters” belonged to his wife. His eyes welled up with tears. “I never felt any pressure from her,” he said. “Not even covert, not even implied.”

That we need others, and ultimately the love of *another* in life is becoming more clear as life goes on.

That we are recursively tracing our way along a strand of an infinitely complex set of possible outcomes in one fine-tuned dance that we call life is surely one of the few things we can know with certainty.

But just how we should dance, who we will share this journey with, and whether the tools, preparation and possibility will open up for us in just the right way are mysteries that only the future – or Someone much greater than me – could know.

In the mean time, I don’t think I could stop reflecting on these and other questions if I tried. Thank you for wrestling with them with me.

Consciously Navigating Da Nile

As this article on Naked Capitalism points out, some of the smartest pessimists out there are starting to get significantly more bearish lately.

I have hesitated to to publish some of this content, but I think it is worthwhile to consider positions like the ones discussed here: Roubini Foresees Possible Market Shutdown

After the Fed, ECB,, Bank of England, and other central banks took unprecedented measures over the last month to restore liquidity and recapitalize banks, Nouriel Roubini sounded slightly less gloomy. He had deemed that the authorities has avoided a systemic financial meltdown, but a nasty, protracted recession was in the offing.

It appears that Roubini has reversed himself with his latest remarks He now says systemic risks are increasing due to hedge fund margin calls, redemptions, and liquidations, and the authorities may be forced to close financial market

Similar negativity can be found here:
The Folly Of A Depression Thesis

In short we are setting up for what looks like an even Greater Depression, perhaps something similar to the 1873 panic. While the causes would be very different in practice, in principle they seem to be the same – malinvestment caused by “easy money” that, when business conditions turn, becomes “protected” by government – leading to Depression instead of an ordinary business recession and bankruptcy of those who overextended themselves. Now, as then, we have companies that have spent incredible amounts of money to buy influence – it was recently disclosed that AIG, for example, continues to pay lobbyists in an attempt to loosen regulation even though they are now surviving on money borrowed from The Fed!

Be prepared, get out of debt and position yourself so you can survive without the use of consumer or business credit of any sort.

If you have liquid cash, you will be in a great position to pick off property and other goods that people are forced to abandon as the situation worsens. There are many people who became fabulously wealthy as a consequence of The Depression, and all of them had one thing in common – they had cash when things got really bad, and were able to pick off assets cheaply in forced sales.

The difference between 2 years ago, when I was on the same page of many of these same writers and today, is that much of today’s contagion is being driven by forced selling of assets that are far below their intrinsic value.

I am not talking about the toxicity associated with the still deteriorating real estate market, financial companies, retail-based companies, or consumer credit companies.

Rather, I am talking about the fact that the bank-debt market is trading the $60′s right now for companies that are only 2-4x levered through the bank debt. Basically this implies that many of these healthy companies will go into bankruptcy and liquidate for something like 1-2x EBITDA.

Although I seek to avoid this financial jargon here, the translation is simply this: It is absolutely positively an inaccurate reflection of reality.

I am not one to speak in absolutes, but I can tell you that there is absolutely no rationale for such a valuation for many of the companies that are being “valued” in this way.

The reason for this price-action is completely tied to the forced-selling around asset-liquidations, hedge fund failures, and other “forced” selling action. This is a classic “technical” signal in a market, and although it is important to notice these for trading purposes, it should not be mistaken for a reflection of intrinsic value.

The VIX (a measure of volatility) hit another all-time high today intraday, suggesting that people are panicked, afraid and more importantly they are *uncertain* about the future.

This uncertainty creates a space for someone to fill in the void. They need someone – actually lots of someones – to step up and fill this void of uncertainty with some words of wisdom and common sense to settle their nerves.

Thus, although I think there is a distinct possibility that the uber-bears are right. I am consciously breaking ranks with them because I firmly believe that there is finally a possibility that they might be wrong.

It could be the case that we will find a way to stem the decline in housing prices (my suggestion continues to be to renegotiate mortgages to keep people in their homes), stimulate the economy (likely through more fiscal stimulus), and ultimately find a floor for the various credit markets that are continuing to go through contracting pains.

I am *not* suggesting that you leap into equity markets unhedged, but I am suggesting (perhaps as a broken record by this point), that consciously focusing on the positive will help us determine our future trajectory from here.

The choice of how to fill this void of uncertainty is ours to make. I am choosing to deny the doom – at least for today.

Another $Trillion Lesson

According to Bloomberg, projected losses in the corporate CDO market may approach $1T.

CDO Cuts Show $1 Trillion Corporate-Debt Bets Toxic

Investors are taking losses of up to 90 percent in the $1.2 trillion market for collateralized debt obligations tied to corporate credit as the failures of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Icelandic banks send shockwaves through the global financial system.

The banks that structured the securities and investors both failed to do “fundamental credit analysis,” said Janet Tavakoli, president of Tavakoli Structured Finance in Chicago. “They were using correlation models, they were using spread models, but they weren’t doing analysis on the underlying corporations.”

As the article highlights, this is yet another example of a situation where people relied on overly complex mathematical models rather than on simple common sense.

The problem with trusting the smartest-guys in the room is that even they are limited by their models and their understanding of the world.

I am not saying that the people who built the models are to blame, nor are the professors who established the theories underlying them.

Rather it is a the establishment of a system of overconfidence in these models, theories and individuals which are to blame.

We must take these failures as a lesson in humility for the future and integrate these lessons into our businesses and personalities so as to avoid repeating these mistakes again.

The clouds remain dark and the shoes are falling like rain, but like all storms, this too shall pass.

On Leadership (Video)

I ordinarily do not like to post simple links here on my blog (I prefer My Twitter page for this).

However, I wanted to share this with those of you who don’t use Twitter, as I think you should really check out this content if you have some time. Or rather, you should try to make the time to watch some of these videos from last week’s HBS Centennial Celebration.

The topics covered range from leadership, to the current crisis, to the future of capitalism and other topics:

The HBS Business Summit Video Content

Some of the featured speakers include:

Bill Gates,
John Doerr,
Jeffrey Immelt,
Meg Whitman,
Larry Summers
…and many more.

If you just watch 1 video, this is probably a good one. It is a discussion of leadership hosted by Charlie Rose, featuring 3 of the 5 above:

Leadership for the 21st Century

As Charlie Rose said in closing:

I wish that this could have been heard by people across the country. Discussions of confidence for the country and self, respect for people and laying out the challenges and what we should do…

And if you have time for two, watch the keynote with Bill Gates.

Bill Gates Keynote Address, A Conversation With Professor Jim Cash

Perspective Matters. Especially In Tough Times.

The Reality: We are facing real challenges.

I really hate to admit it, but I think there is more bad news on the horizon. The news coming out of the hedge fund industry is really troubling, and the issue with this industry’s challenges (like that of the banking industry) is that as these firms are forced to sell assets en-masse, values of securities fall in a disproportionate relation to their intrinsic value.

This phenomenon is very similar to the one that is occurring in the housing market: banks are foreclosing on houses, and selling them into a market where there are not enough buyers.

These pressures are likely to remain for awhile. And we should be prepared for this.

In addition, the pressure that the middle class in America is feeling from strained personal balance sheets in addition to a growing pessimism about the economy will likely cause spending to fall as: 1) people stop buying because they are worried and 2) people stop buying because they just can’t stretch any farther and no one will lend to them.

All of this is likely going to materialize slowly over the next few weeks and months.

Warren Buffett’s Pro-American stance.

However, now is not the time to dwell on these issues.

As I mentioned below (Dealing With Bad News), it is natural to retreat into a cave when bad news strikes. People don’t like to face the music and unfortunately this is materializing in the markets as investors stand on the sidelines in fear.

However, at least one investor – and arguably the best investor in History – is buying American stocks. And urging the rest of us to do so: Buy American. I Am.

If prices keep looking attractive, my non-Berkshire net worth will soon be 100 percent in United States equities.

Why? A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. And most certainly, fear is now widespread, gripping even seasoned investors.

….

Over the long term, the stock market news will be good. In the 20th century, the United States endured two world wars and other traumatic and expensive military conflicts; the Depression; a dozen or so recessions and financial panics; oil shocks; a flu epidemic; and the resignation of a disgraced president. Yet the Dow rose from 66 to 11,497.

Warren Buffett is stepping up in the way that few others in this country have done yet to point out in simple and clear terms: America has the best economy in the history of the world, and we can’t lose sight of all of the great companies and innovation going on here today and the strength of our economy in the long term.

Case in point, Google, a perfect example of the kind of innovation that makes this country great, has continued to grow as advertisers continue to recognize that the old media’s approach – pushing ads down people’s throat – has been defeated by Google and others who allow us to consume our content (and our advertising) in ever more flexible and personalized ways.

In addition to Google and new media there are exciting things happening in education, clean technology, biotech & healthcare, the entertainment industry, the power industry, biotech plastics, and many other industries.

So before you give up on our country while it is down, step back for a moment and think about it.

Optimism has real impact.

Someone I admire a lot told me today about a study that was done recently where 2 groups were given a set of identical household tasks to perform over a period of weeks. Group 1 was told nothing special about their chores. Group 2 was told that the tasks they were performing as a good form of exercise and good for their health by a group of healthcare professionals.

A surprising result ensued: those who *believed* their efforts were healthy for them lost weight, lowered their blood pressure and got healthier.

This was a study done by serious researchers at a major academic institution. The takeaway: our perspective sometimes matters as much as the reality.

I believe we are capable of facing the world, the good and the bad parts of it, and keeping our optimism intact. And right now our country needs us to do just that.