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Michael Martin
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Michael Martin is an instructor at the NYSSA , as well as a professional trader. His first book The Inner Voice of Trading was published by FT Press in September 2011.

His blog Martin Kronicle is at http://martinkronicle.com.

He is the Commodity Lecturer for the New York Society of Security Analysts, a member society of the CFA Institute and teaches the Certificate Program in Commodities Trading & Trend Following.

He is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and has been published in the Commodities Corner column at Barron's.

Entries by Michael Martin

The Truth About Viral Videos

(1) Comments | Posted November 10, 2014 | 10:51 AM

When is the last time that you watched a previously viral YouTube video such as ALS bucket challenge, Psy's Gangnam Style or Charlie bit my finger?

If you're most people, not since it went viral. Those videos caught our attention for reasons that could not be anticipated or calculated, only hoped for. We saw a huge spike in traffic in each video, and then the video suffers from a cataclysmic drop in traffic and interest.

The competition for eyeballs is enormous. Fact: According to YouTube, 100 hours of video content is uploaded to YouTube each minute.

Now imagine if your business depended on a video or yours going viral...

The motto is, according to Jake Larsen of VideoPower.org, virality is not a strategy to count on. "You can't run a business where its sustainability is hitting the lottery," he said. The point is that video going viral is unpredictable. "If it happens then great, but it's not something you can count on. Your goal should be consistent and steady traffic."

Larsen is a YouTube Ambassador. He was one of 10 experts selected by YouTube several years ago to help promote YouTube as an advertising platform. "We were some of the first to deploy those ads that you can skip after five seconds," he says proudly while counting off the successful campaigns he ran.

There are several ways to advertise on YouTube. But what's interesting about this one particular format is that if you are watching one of those videos with the five-second rule, and you skip the ad, the advertiser doesn't have to pay for it.

Best of all worlds. You don't have to sit through a mindless TV commercial and the advertiser isn't paying for viewers who could not care less -- less than five seconds at least. But what happens if they are captivated for more than 5 seconds, I asked him...

"If the viewer clicks off before the lessor of 30 seconds or 1/2 of the video, it's effectively free."

Trying to get a video to go viral is not a strategy any more than buying lottery tickets is the strategy to build wealth. It's random and unpredictable. Don't bet on it.

Biggest mistake that video creators make is that they often neglect to include a clear call to action (CTA). Sometimes the videos are super-high quality and everything. But if it's lacking a clear CTA at the end or during the video, it's likely to help only with...

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The Best Way to Build an Online Business

(0) Comments | Posted January 17, 2014 | 4:33 PM


So you finally resolved to start that blog or website this year to write about your passions in life and to share your loves, insights and maybe experience in order to inspire others. If it goes well, you might be able to turn that into a consulting business and attract potential clients from your writing.

The tried and true way -- the "build it and they will come" way -- was to author frequent posts consistently, and over time, build up substantial readership from all your social media efforts via Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and natural search (via SEO).

There's a better way to build a business, says Chad Hamzeh, author of Traffic Black Book 2.0 and owner of the acclaimed online advertising agency DSV2.

"You can't make your target audience do a Google search for you," he said, "but you can make them see your ad."

In this video intetrview, Hamzeh lays out the new way that clever business owners and marketers are starting Internet businesses.

"My advice is to test small in order to find some highly relevant traffic. Kill off what doesn't work and scale what does. It's the fastest way to get people to your site." What he describes sounds like an investment portfolio: Sell your losers and add to your winners. Hmm...

It's true, great written material is the central nervous system of your site or blog, and it's what makes for a valuable asset. But this model takes a great deal of time -- years -- to develop into a meaningful business. Don't count on traffic that you can run a business on, nor the riches you're dreaming about either.

Hamzeh echoes a lesson from his coursework: "You can actually design the marketing funnel, landing page, email subscription form, and advertisements before you have the material you want to sell even completed," he advises. "Why spend $4,000 designing a website or product you only have a hunch on? That's a big bet in terms of time and money -- and a vanity play. Get to the objections right away, and let the marketplace help guide your business decisions."

This might seem heretical to some SEO gurus, yet Hamzeh is not alone in thinking there has to be a better way than relying solely on SEO.

Mike Colella is someone who would know for sure. An engineer by education, he left his otherwise "cush" job at Intel several years ago, and with an enormous amount of persistence, hard work, and trial and error, became a self-taught expert in contextual advertising.

"The more I think about it, I think Chad has cut through the fluff and got right down to what really works with online display advertising in TBB," Colella told me recently. "I think he's spot on. The guy invests over one million a month in ad spend for two clients," meaning that his clients have display advertising budgets with performance-driven goals. "Understanding what Chad is teaching is the key to making ad spend-return a positive ROI for any business."

Colella founded Adbeat several years ago, and according to Drew Kossoff of RainMaker Ventures, is "regarded as one of the smartest advertising minds on the planet." Adbeat's sole purpose is to provide competitive intelligence to Internet marketers and advertisers.

Want to know exactly what and where your competition is advertising? Adbeat will not only tell you, but it will show you the creative. Finding this out, one can start to sense that Hamzeh is on the mark about creating the product after you start advertising, which seems both counter-intuitive and certainly counter-emotional.

Black Swans:

The SEO model also has some inherent risks as well. Google changes its algorithm very frequently -- much more than you might think. As such, you could lose a meaningful stream of traffic... and there's not much you can do about it. Therefore, SEO could be the new "SOL."

"I think a better idea is to test the market's appetite for what you think is a good idea for a few hundred dollars of advertising." Losing $500 is better than losing $4,000 in investment -- not to say anything for the time it takes to build it out. Then what do you do once you have no money left.

"The whole 'build it and they will come' model of SEO isn't necessarily dead," he said in the interview, "but it's much harder to rely solely on natural search engine traffic to get by."

Culturing Internet Pearls:

First, it's very hard to write well, so you have to put in the hours to develop your craft. Many writers believe that they "make their money" in the rewrites or revisions. First drafts go in your Moleskin notebook, they you have to culture the pearl in the revisions. This may take five revisions that take between one to two weeks, especially if you're working another full-time job.

Even if you're a skilled writer at this point, it might not be the competitive edge you think it is. To say that the competition for valuable search terms (also called "keywords") is brutal would be a gross understatement. You can't count on a material amount of natural search traffic from Google, Yahoo! or Bing, for example, for a great while.

Plus, there are many factors to ranking high in SEO-land. One is to get popular blogs to point to your site. This tells Google that your site is relevant. Truly benefitting from the link-juice takes you several years to have any staying power, and Google is a fickle lover.

With paid traffic, you get both scalability and consistency, and you get it immediately. You can't get that with SEO or natural search, which is both seasonal and temperamental. The rankings on what are known as Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) change daily. What's more alarming is that if your post does not appear on any of the first three SERPs, no one is going to find you by digging into the 13th page of results pages. In space, no one can hear you scream.

It's better to shoot from the hip and collect the data as a test. Then go back and refine what you're doing with the data in hand. Don't think of the money you spend as wasted -- the data is very valuable. It's actually an investment.

For the most part, it's a waste of time try to fancy things up before the launch. "Let the market dictate what you're doing and how you'll do it," he states. "You might like a certain color and style and size of font, but you'll find out that the one you least like is the one that gets you the best conversions -- and in the end that's the metric you should focus...

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Video: Watch Guy Kawasaki Go APE on Publishing

(0) Comments | Posted December 10, 2012 | 5:28 PM

What happens when you are fortunate enough to have a book published, but when you get a 500 unit ebook order, your publisher cannot fulfill the order? Seems plausible that it could happen to a no-name author or a self-published author, but not Guy Kawasaki...

But that's exactly what happend and that experience led him to a head-scratching moment where he found himself quoting his late, great friend Steve Jobs... "There has to be a better way." That way is what he and co-author Shawn Welch call "artisanal publishing," and they've condensed that knowledge into a new book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur - How to Publish Your Book.

"It used to mean something when you had a book published by one of the big six publishers in New York, but not anymore," Kawasaki said. "Self-publishing does not mean 'vanity publishing' anymore, and technology has made the process more democratizing."

Kawasaki and Welch began studying every aspect of self-publishing and what a perspective author needs to successfully execute in order to write, publish, and entrepreneurially market a book. He suggests that the author has to become what he refers to as an APE: author, publisher, and entrepreneur and that the author must not attempt each role serially, but concurrently in order to have a successful launch.

In this informative interview, you'll also hear why Kawasaki, who wrote The Macintosh Way, decided to forgo using Apple's iBooks Author and opted for Kindle Direct Publishing via...

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How to Launch a Mobile App

(0) Comments | Posted October 11, 2012 | 3:03 AM

With all the buzz around the newly released iPhone 5 and the anticipation of the upcoming iPad Mini, you might be thinking about creating a mobile app or certainly downloading a few. And that's just with Apple's iOS. There are other platforms that are just as popular such as those...

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Too Bad These Guys Don't Run the Banks & Brokerage Firms

(0) Comments | Posted August 13, 2012 | 3:22 PM

Among the best books written on the subject of investing are Reminiscences of A Stock Operator, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, and the Market Wizards series of books penned by author, trader, and analyst Jack Schwager.

His books have a life all their own among aficionados...

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Richard Sandor: A Legend in Financial Innovation

(0) Comments | Posted April 24, 2012 | 6:05 PM

Richard Sandor is not a household name but he should be. He is quite frankly one of the most important people in finance today given his 40 years of innovation. He is widely regarded as the "father of financial futures" for his pioneering work in interest rate futures.

Sandor...

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A Backstage Pass to a Show You Wouldn't Believe

(0) Comments | Posted April 20, 2012 | 10:11 AM

If you want an honest and painfully truthful story memoir about what happens inside the branch of a typical stock brokerage firm, you must read the new book by Josh Brown titled, Backstage Wall Street: An Insider's Guide To Knowing Who To Trust, Who To Run From,...

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How to Avoid a Ponzi Scheme

(2) Comments | Posted April 17, 2012 | 4:36 PM

Financial fraud seems to have proliferated in recent years as volatility has increased and as markets go down. In fact, when the market drops and assets levels fall, clients seek to redeem their investments and those redemption notices put schemers on the ropes because they have to come up with the money to return.

That's how Madoff was caught. It wasn't from a whistle-blower, but it should have been.

Now with MF Global under the gun for misusing $1.2 billion in client funds, it's apparent that you not only have to be aware of fraud, but incompetence as well. That's hard to handicap especially in the MF Global situation since Jon Corzine was a former chairman of Goldman Sachs as well as the former governor of New Jersey. MF Global has roots that go back to the 1860s. Another firm, Britain's oldest merchant bank Barings PLC, collapsed in 1995 due to fraudulent trading. The bank was chartered in 1762.

But having Corzine in jail or banned from the securities industry for Failure to Supervise is the door prize when you're a farmer whose missing all his allocated capital for hedging or an emerging fund manager who had a promising career as a Commodity Trading Advisor or Hedge Fund manager.

There has been plenty of testimony regarding MF Global, but no charges have been filed against anyone yet. That may change soon as the prosecutors consider immunity for several key witnesses, especially Edith O'Brien, the firm's former assistant treasurer.

Investors who are victims of crime or financial fraud might have an easier time dong background search in trying to avoid Ponzi schemes before making investments than guessing which bank, Future Commission Merchant, or broker/dealer goes bankrupt.

Kathy Phelps, Esq., co-author of The Ponzi Book with the Hon. Steven Rhodes, is an expert in financial fraud and Ponzi schemes. "Obviously, the best thing to do would be to avoid a Ponzi scheme in the first place, so I advocate completing a great deal of due diligence prior to handing over any funds," she told me during a recent interview. "You'd be surprised how much is actually available to the public."

Phelps represents trustees in such cases and estates when there are funds to recoup from financial fraud.

Surprising or not, there are a great many resources an investor can use to comprise their due diligence before making an investment.

Phelps suggests the following checklist before making an investment:

A simple Google search on James Davis Risher of Sanibel Island, Fla., would have turned up a treasure chest of information. He plead guilty last year of making off with $22 million in investor funds before getting caught while he was boarding a plane to Bermuda. His accomplice in the scheme, Daniel Joseph Sebastian, was found dead April 4 days ago of an apparent suicide. Risher, 61, has since been sentenced to 19 years and 7 months.

Both men targeted retired teachers and boasted of 14 to 24 percent annual returns possible through their fraudulent investment vehicle. Had any of his victims done a basic background check of his name "James Risher," prior to making an investment, they would have seen that he'd been incarcerated for 11 of the last 19 years.

There not always that easy to spot, but as you can see, there are plenty of resources to get some basic information before you invest so that you can ask better questions about the managers who are seeking your investment...

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An Exclusive Gotye Interview

(6) Comments | Posted April 13, 2012 | 4:13 PM

Based on the critical success of his hit single "Somebody That I Used To Know," multi-instrumentalist Gotye has been gaining a great deal of momentum around the world.

The song off his new album Making Mirrors has reached No. 1 in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and the U.K. It has currently been certified eight times platinum (560,000-plus units sold) in Australia.

That's not all... "Somebody" has gotten more than 150 million views on YouTube. That's not exactly the number of views associated with someone you'd refer to as an indie rocker.

Not bad for a guy who didn't speak a stitch of English until the age of 6 or so. Gotye was born Wouter (Wally) De Backer in Bruges, Belgium in May 1980. He moved with this family to Melbourne at the age of 2. Where'd his name come from? (Hint: think Gaultier.)

His parents knew some English, but he contends Flemish was the predominant language in the house for many years. Gotye himself still does interviews in Flemish when the need arises.

He's landed a musical guest spot on SNL this weekend with host Josh Brolin. It's been announced that Kimbra, the female vocalist also featured on "Somebody," will perform with Gotye. If you're a fan of ABC's Grey's Anatomy, you've heard Kimbra. She's 22.

Gotye will be performing at the Coachella Music Festival in Indio, Calif. on April 15 and April 22 -- he's playing both dates. In between, he'll be at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Franciso and the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.

...

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To Invest Like Warren Buffett, Learn How to Sell

(0) Comments | Posted April 3, 2012 | 4:04 PM

If you want to learn how to invest like Warren Buffett, you've got to learn how to sell investments effectively. So says Steve Sears, the long-time Barron's columnist and author of the new book The Indominable Investor: Why a Few Succeed in the Stock Market When Everyone Else...

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New World Consciousness: We First Capitalism

(7) Comments | Posted June 10, 2011 | 4:18 PM

Simon Mainwaring wrote his new book We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World as a reaction to what he was seeing in the world. "I was struck by the desperate need for...

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The Magic Red Carpets of India

(1) Comments | Posted May 25, 2011 | 12:44 PM

I've been to India twice for business and I've spent a total of 6 weeks there traveling around the country with colleagues. During our trips, we spent some time Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, but most of it was spent in Mumbai. The people we met were fantastically bright, polite and very...

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Alissa Finerman Has No Regrets

(0) Comments | Posted May 12, 2011 | 5:12 PM

2011-05-12-alissafinerman.jpgAlissa Finerman has no regrets about leaving Wall Street and moving to Los Angeles. The former bond trader and Wharton MBA got burnt out from the corporate life and felt passionless at work. "The first indication that it was time for change...

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The Inconvenient Truth of Vermont's Oil Speculation

(6) Comments | Posted May 3, 2011 | 12:26 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote an open letter to the President about high oil prices, according to a Huffington Post article "Bernie Sanders Demands Action From Obama on Wall St. Oil 'Gambling'" written by Zach Carter.

"Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) demanded on Thursday that regulators impose limits on...

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Inside Mixergy's Head

(5) Comments | Posted January 12, 2011 | 11:31 PM

Andrew Warner is one of the most prolific interviewers on the internet. His Show, "Mixergy - Home of the Ambitious Upstart" has a new guest almost every day. I'd say that Mixergy is one site where you can get a better-than-MBA education. Warner's guests are insightful: each guest seems to...

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Jazz Guitar Legend Mike Stern's Big Neighborhood

(2) Comments | Posted December 23, 2010 | 4:08 AM

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I had a chance to speak with jazz guitar legend Mike Stern in Los Angeles while he was in town to play a few nights at the amazing Catalina Jazz Club. His band mates for the show were Dennis...

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America Needs The 4 Hour Body: A Look Inside The New Book by Timothy Ferriss

(0) Comments | Posted November 26, 2010 | 5:01 PM

After choking down those extra two slices of pie with the homemade whipped cream for Thanksgiving, you are probably thinking that you can get away with at least one more massive ass-attack holiday before some form of corrective action to melt away the malignant flab.

That annual ritual...

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Ally in Wonderland

(19) Comments | Posted November 19, 2010 | 1:37 PM

As a financial person, I keep a keen eye on trading and the markets, but my mind in meditation and yoga. Most of the headlines, if not full of vitriol, are about some form of struggle. So it's refreshing, if not surprising, to see someone killing it and...

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Big Oil Has Replaced Big Tobacco in the Bulls Eye of America's Vitriol

(0) Comments | Posted August 9, 2010 | 1:05 AM

Despite giant pay packages, I wouldn't want to be a CEO of an oil firm if my life depended on it. Everyone hates you. You have to deal with some of the most unsavory people in the world who steal, bribe, reneg, and lie to you, all-the-while demanding signature bonuses,...

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Goodbye Gordon Gekko

(4) Comments | Posted July 30, 2010 | 2:09 AM

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Here's the scene. You're in the interior of a large, and loud institutional brokerage firm. It's utter mayhem and organized chaos, with paper flying and Institutional salespeople shouting over one another and at each other. One of the administrative assistants picks up...

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