BennyEast.Com/Blog The official blog of Kenny West

22Mar/180

More or Less

Today the stock markets fell... It's a shit show if you ask me... hey, I didn't vote for him.

Anyway... The investments which I have control over, real quick, I have no control over my trust investments, so I just have to trust the bank and let that portfolio manager do his job.

My goal anyway, has always been to grow my own portfolio, which I do have control over, beyond the trust portfolio, so I'm just using that as a benchmark for comparison.

Today, while the markets did fall and the S and P 500 was down 2.5 or so percentage points... My own personal portfolio, which I have control over, was only down .5 percent.

Plus I raked in 2 dividend checks.

Here's the thing that gives me the advantage... I have no boss when it comes to investing.  Most money managers have bosses, either they have people above them in the organization who are pushing them, or they have clients...

For my portfolio?  I'm my own boss, as I'm the person in charge.  I do all the analysis, I do all the buying and selling, and I'm the only client... Since I'm investing all the money, and the only person who's money it is, I can be MUCH more patient with my investments... I'm a one man band, just like the way I make music... I'm the writer, producer, studio musician, engineer... The 10 dollars I made the other day from music streams is actually WAY more money because I have basically no costs.

If you're in a band and you are signed to a major label, and you have a manger, and a PR person, and a digital marketing firm, and studio recording engineers, and the list goes on and on... All those people gotta get paid.

Even if my music isn't nearly as good as professional recording... and I make 10 bucks, my costs weren't nearly what professional musicians are.  What's the difference between me making 10 bucks, and having no costs... Versus a pro musician making a million and 10 dollars, but having a million dollars in costs.

Profit is still 10 bucks.

:)

It's like, if you get a job that is an hour commute and you are making 3 grand more a year when you take that job over your old job that was down the street... Gas, time, car maintenance... Etc. etc.

You're spending that money you made.

It's a net zero gain. might as well have stayed where you were.

Anyway, the same can be said about investing... All these people take more risks... I lost .5 percent today, general money managers lost 2.5 percent.

And on top of that, most professional managers take a fee.  I know my trust fee is taking 1.25 percent to manage the trust.

That means, even if the trust manager is better than me by 1.25 percent, we still have the same batting average.

It's Spring, so, might as well use a baseball sports metaphor.

That 1.25 percent compounds year over year... Making it that I don't have to be nearly as good as the money manager to beat the returns.

Which is part of what I do, my last actual trade was in January when I boosted a position in one of my REITS to increase the monthly income to boost my cash.

Which is another thing I'm doing... I'm holding more cash.  Most people are all in... But.. I don't buy the hype.

I started trading back in 2006... I watched things go crazy town.

So anyway, basically the way I look at things is, you can do a lot of work, to make a lot more... But have higher costs...

This is the NYC/LA/Miami mentality... You work like crazy to afford all this super fantastic lifestyle....

Or, you can work less, and do less, and still reap the same earnings per share.

Personally, I don't understand the glitz and glam.  If you close your eyes and it tastes the same... What's the difference?

Why do all that extra work?

If you're going to make 10 dollars in profit either way, why have a million and 10 dollars in sales if your costs are going to be a million...

Just have 20 bucks in sales, and spent 10 bucks to make that 20.

You still made 10 bucks.

You're doing way more work, to still make less.

As the saying goes... Sometimes, less is more.

 

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21Mar/180

I Don’t Need To Be Discovered

I realized today, I don't ever need to be discovered.

A lot of people go out into the music biz, or, any career really... Looking for a "lucky break".

I don't ever need that.

Today I got another deposit from music streams.  I also got another dividend into my investing portfolio.

See, here's the thing... The way most fame works is... The person starts doing whatever it is they are doing...

Small changes happen...

Then they are catapulted into the craziness that is "big time".

This can happy for any career really.  Someone applies for a job that is WAY more responsibility than what they were doing previously.

That idea of making it... It's all really just a gap promotion... it just depends on how big the gap is...

For most musicians, actors, whatever... you hear that classic story that they were one dollar away from having to call it quits... they were completely broke...

And then... Big time hits.

My thing is, I don't think it has to be like that.

My thing is... Why not just start at basecamp and climb, slowly, and steadily.

Why try to jump from the bottom of the mountain to the top?  Who has legs that long?

Maybe a handful of people... But the thing is you can get just as far just going slow and steady.

Most people are just too impatient.  They want it all now.

If you are able to make that happen, more power to you.  That's great!  But, the thing is, for most people, success doesn't happen.  And if it does, it's mediocre at best.  Or, you end up with a lot of bad blood.  Or, you end up falling back down from the top of that mountain.

Why risk all that?

So, my method of success is pretty simple... Build something slow and steady that flows on its own.

Right now, I have about 10 ish songs out there in the world.  I get a small amount of plays... It's slow and steady.

The thing is, it's just out there in the world, for people to find.  And, I'll just continue to upload more songs... Let people find them.  Let them be curious.  Let them say, who the heck is this guy?  He's not famous, he doesn't play anywhere live, he's not signed to any label...

Good.

That's what I like.

Right now, I get plays in France... But I also still wake up and go to my 9-5 job.

I don't have to worry about if my next song will flip, or flop... I won't have to worry about if my book will flip or flop...

I can make what I want, at the pace I want to make it... and there's no stress to worry about contracts or managers or labels.

Today I got a dividend in addition to a payment from music streams... Sure, it's not much now... But, it doesn't have to be.  I also went to work.

And I'll be getting a paycheck in about a week.

I also am not spending all of that paycheck.

I stay in a lot, or just do things that don't cost much money.  I go on coffee first dates... and never hear back from her.

I go to the gym.

I watch Netflix movies...

I don't really spent much money.

I then take the extra money that I didn't spend on bills and living expenses and put that into buying more shares in dividend income stocks.

I also use that money to pay for credits to upload new songs.

The thing I'm most focused on really are the dividend deposits rolling in.  I look at the 90 day deposit history and compare that number to the same number 12 months previous... 24 months previous.... 36 months previous.

My only goal is to keep that number going up.

As that number goes up, and my expenses stay flat...

I can then invest more of that free cashflow either into music related expenses, or book writing related expenses... Or, I can invest it into more shares of dividend producing stocks.

This in turn boosts that income number.

With this method, I don't ever have to make it... I can just keep making what I want, and do things how I want without ever having to be thrown into some overnight success category where I was at the bottom of the mountain the day before, and then the next day, my life is turned upside down.

Slow and steady...

And the thing is, that salary isn't going anywhere... Now that I've started that dividend income salary, it just keeps rolling in.

I've had some companies cut their dividends, or slash them... I've had some companies go bankrupt...

That's why I don't invest in any one investment more than once.  I diversify out horizontally.

I buy a set amount in any one stock, and never buy any more than that.

It probably sounds like a terrible idea to most money managers... but that's because most money managers aren't interested in the income... They want valuations... Why?  It all comes back to the same thing that I started with... They are trying to "make it".

It's impressive to take x number of dollars and double the value of the account.

It's not impressive to take x number of dollars, and keep the value of that account the same, but double the cash income coming off that investment every year, or 6 months...

The problem is, and I know this, because this is how my trust management fees are, is that they charge a percentage of the account value... If they charge 1 percent of x dollars, they get 1 percent of x dollars... if they grow that money to x 2 or x 3 or x 4...

They get to charge 1 percent of x 4, or 4 times the original 1 percent.

With my investments, I don't have anyone to answer to but myself.

All I care about is that cashflow every month coming in to cover expenses.

The more cashflow that comes in, the more I can buy and do...

I can use that money to "make it".

Isn't getting discovered basically getting a salary to then use to do the things that discovered people do?

If you can create the salary in a different way...

You discover yourself.

And this is why I don't ever have to get discovered.

I'm slowly discovering myself.  It's the same end result, but... You know, without all those strings attached.

Discovering yourself is a stringless experience.

When you get discovered... There's all sorts of strings from the person or group, or organization that discovered you.

And nobody likes strings... Unless you're a cat.  I guess cats like strings.  But I'm not a cat.  So... I'll just discover myself... Slow and steady.

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19Mar/180

5 Year Plan

So, right now, most of the things in my life, I don't really want in my life...

Such is life.

All the shit... None of the shine.

5 years from now I'll be 40, and I'll get another 50k from my trust... It's just going to go to add to my dividend salary, so I'll buy another 50k in dividend producing income.

My brother and sister are like... "We're going to Disney World!"

This is why we're different people.

To me, it's capital to be used to make investments... to them, it's spending money.

I look at money in a different way... I see it as investment capital and something to use to create and make... Most other people are just like... Let's go shopping!

Anyway...

My plan is to continue to, one by one, get rid of all these little things in my life that I don't want.

5 years from now, I'm pretty certain a at least one, or possibly two of these 4 pets I currently have, will no longer be taking up time in my day.

Sure, they are cute, but... They are just a lot of work.  I promised my mom I would take care of them, so... I'll let them live out their days.

My basic plan is to just say no to the stuff I don't want, and yes to the stuff I do... What do I want?  More time to make music... More income... More dividend stocks.

What don't I want?

Basically everything I currently have.

I'd love to travel more... I'd love to have less responsibilities.

I'd love to sleep in more...

Cats don't let you sleep in.

Eventually I'll sell this house... I'll take all that money and put it into dividend producing stocks, that will just keep boosting my income.

I just want more income.  Less stuff, more flow of money...

More music.

Music and travel and income.

I go out too much.  I need to stay in more... I need more leftover capital at the end of each pay cycle to then buy more stocks.

Everyone's saving for their next vacation... I'm saving to boost my income from dividends.  The faster that goes up, and the less I spend, the more I can buy even more shares in dividend stocks and the more I can boost my dividends income...

Feedback loop.

The faster you make money the faster you can make money even faster.

And then, all my expenses will be paid for and I can stay in and work on music and books full time.

That was my dream since day one.

Now, of course no matter what on my 50th birthday I get my trust... And that's a lot more money that can just all be plowed into dividend income.

But anyway, here I am at home... Trying to spend less money.... and work on some music more.  I do have to run out to the store because it's apparently supposed to snow again...

So, I need to get supplies and what not.

But the more I stay in too the more I can sort and throw out and lighten my burden load.

Too many responsibilities.

Too much junk around this house.

The only thing I want more of is dividend producing stocks, and musical instruments.

But not too many instruments, I only need enough to get what I want done.

Anyway, so my 5 year plan is to keep pushing things in the direction that I want them, and steering away from the direction I don't.

I'm building up my second salary in the form of dividends.  And I'll just keep plowing more money into shares in dividend stocks that pay even more dividends... How much is enough you ask?

One can never have enough.

That's what I say.

Ideally, I'd like to get it it to the point where I'm spending only half of the money coming in and covering all my expenses, then the other half is going back into build up even more capital.

Anyway, we'll see... Just have to keep plugging away.  I'll get there one day.

But for now, it's a life full of trudging through the crap.

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18Mar/180

Resident Assistance

Last night I was at this annual charity even thing for a coworker.  I go every year.  They have one in the Fall and one this time of the year.

It was alright.  My only issue with it is that EVERYONE is married, or has some kind of significant other...

And then there's me... Always single.

But other than that, it was alright.  Drank beer, ate food, played the raffle stuff, didn't win... But to be honest, I don't ever need to win anything ever again in my life... I've already won... When you have a trust fund, you don't need to ever win anything else.  That's just kind of a given.

Nobody with a trust ever says... "I'm SOOO upset I didn't win that".  You already won.

Anyway, so... Yeah, the event... It's put on by the resident assistant director at work...

The resident assistant theme is a weird one with me... All my exes were RAs.  I don't know why.  Just seems to be a thing.

So the event is basically almost setup like a wedding is... You walk in, there's tables, people sit at tables... There's a DJ, there's the bar... It's in a firehouse banquet room.

There's speeches made... And then the Cupid Shuffle comes on and people dance.

While I was waiting in the beer line, I kind of started talking to this one girl behind me... We just chatted some.  But then I was off in another direction.

The next time I saw her we were dancing on the dance floor to the cupid shuffle...

Then off in another direction.

Then the next time I saw her... She was running with a rescue bag of some sort that she had retrieved from the firehouse next to the banquet hall.

I think I was just taken aback because, it didn't seem like the same person who I was talking with in the beer line.  She went from sort of... This random stranger to... Whoa, wait, what?

I guess you're expecting that when people act professional, they wear the getup.  They wear the proper clothing, the matching uniform to that job or task...

So, to see someone change their personality or demeanor, without changing their attire... I don't know, it's just kind of jarring I suppose.

But also sort of awe inspiring.

After the event there was a middle aged gentleman who was having either a cardiac event, or a second medical event related to an event he'd had a month before.

I wasn't really sure, and they didn't really want us to all stay and be onlookers.  It wouldn't have helped the situation anyway.

But just kind of watching her, I was just like... there's someone that doesn't take a break or clock out from their career.

If the duty calls, they are there...

That's kind of the resident assistant type of personality, which is like, they might not actually be required to be on duty, but they always are anyway.

I feel like there's just something attractive about that characteristic.

Well anyway, if I ever see her again at a future event, I'll just be sure to point out how I thought she should be recognized for what she did.

I just think when people do good samaritan type of things, they should be recognized for it.  I mean, sure some people don't care... But, I don't know, if you do a good thing, I think a thanks is in order.

I guess that's just my view.

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16Mar/180

Tickets!

SO, we've finally started using a new ticketing system at work.

I love it.

It's SOOOOOO awesome.  I love metrics and tracking things... And ticket numbers.

Here's my thing.  For years now, we never had a tracking system.  I've been using my own personal rudimentary ticketing system to track things.  It was just outlook tasks, and an autohotkey script.  It was trash.

We recently hired a new guy at my job as a new position, a net admin/sys admin.... Oh gosh, he's AWESOME.... Like, all the projects we've had on our list to get done for years... He's already started working his way through some of them.

And he just cuts through them like a knife through butter.

The thing is, he's just a super smart guy, and he's super nice too.  I like working with him a lot...

One thing he did, is he has a dry erase board in his office, and he has like notes and lists on the board in a project management based layout.

I love that crap.  It's just so awesome.

Oh and we've started having 2 meetings a week... Also great.  It's helpful to have the meetings.

Anyway, so one of the tasks this new guy did was help setup this ticketing system.  Now we're tracking everything using a ticket numbering system.  Which I've wanted for years.

I love the idea too that we'll be able to show reports and trends, we can see repeat issues, look at things in a more fundamental way and figure out how to prevent problems in the first place.

We can hopefully respond better and be more informed.  I like that the system shows history for people who have submitted before, so you can see if someone just keeps having the same issues over and over again.

We can build a knowledge base... It's just really good stuff.

We can also assign tickets to one another... and see who has what ticket.

It's just so much more organized.  I hate when things aren't organized and are chaotic.  I like when there's processes and procedures in place and things are done according to the processes.

This guy is all about designing and implementing things better... He came from a corporate environment, so he kind of gives a different perspective.

One of the best phrases that was said in one of the new weekly meetings by a different guy, not the new guy, but one of the people who has worked with us at the college for over 10 years is "Accounting is accounting.... Best practices are best practices... An accounting department is run the same at every organization, so should an IT department".  I agree.

This other guy (again, not the new guy)  is kind of part of our IT team now too.  He didn't really used to be... But now through some restructuring he was kind of thrown into IT off of administrative software...  I've known him since the first day I started working at the college... He's pretty good peeps.

His ideas are good too... He basically interacts with other colleges a lot because he runs our portal software so he talks to all these other colleges and the other portal admins, so he's along the line of thought that is... There isn't a "personalized" way to do stuff.  I agree.  It's universal.  Air is air.

An IT department is the same no matter where you work.  Best practices are best practices.  Just like an accounting department is an accounting department.

If you don't have a ticketing system, it's not best practices... You need a ticketing system.

It's not "that's just the way we do things around here..."

Instead... It's just, wrong.  Basically.  It wasn't that we were doing things all along with "our own flair"...

No.

We were just doing them wrong.  All along.

Plain and simple.

And I basically was just like.... Oh my god FINALLY someone else agrees with what I've been TRYING to say for YEARS...

But no one would listen to me.

Sigh.

No one ever listens to me really... it's okay I'm used to it.

Haha.

Anyway, I don't have to be an unheard voice anymore... There's no subjective way to run a helpdesk.

There are global IT standards and best practices.

We're brining in this IT auditing company too to go around and look at every part of how we do things....

Again... FINALLY.

Accounting is accounting...

Anyway I love tickets.

Here's why.... People can basically say anything they want.

So, I mean, someone can state any fact.

With a ticketing system, we can then say... Okay hold on, let me go look that up.

SO, someone could say... "I have had this same problem with my PC 10 times in the last year!"

We've had people say stuff like this.

Before, we couldn't really say much because we never tracked anything... So, we just have to kind of react to that person without any solid data driven based decision.

It's a terrible way to work.

Now, we can say, okay, let's look at your ticket history.

And now you can say... "According to this, you had 2 requests... and one wasn't related to your PC at all..."

Accounting is accounting.

It's all really coming out of the portal systems.  So, the guy who we now have within IT has some really fancy reporting where he can look up things like vendor billing...

Someone the other day actually pointed a bill at us and said... "You guys have always paid this..."

The portal admin was just like... Let's have a look!

He made a report, and... We never paid it.  It had always been paid by someone else.

Data.  Facts.

There's no "personalized way"...

Track it.  Run reports.

Show people that the statement they made is either correct, or incorrect.

Accounting doesn't lie.  People do.  I have no time for people who don't cite their statements with a source.

Again, accounting doesn't lie.

Neither does a ticketing system.

Anyways, so it's amazing.  I look forward to more of this... My only hope is that we keep going in this direction.  I hope that we don't start to go back to how things were before where it was just like... everyone kind of running around not knowing what the left hand or the right hand are doing...

HOPEFULLY, it's a change that sticks around for a while...

Everything gets entered in the ticketing system.  Everything gets tracked.

Nothing is done "on the side".

It's not a "personalized touch"... It's just wrong.  There's a right way to do IT, and a wrong way... There's no, "this is just how we do things around here".

It all starts with a ticketing system and tracking every request that comes in and logging it all, and then running reports to analyze the reports.

Anyway, so I'm excited!

DATA DRIVEN DECISIONS!  TICKET HISTORIES!  REPORTING!

Yes.  Doing things in an industry standard way.

Oh, back to the new guy real quick... I'm also learning a LOT of new things from this new guy... He's just an all around really knowledgeable guy and he's also really cool to be around.  He's very empirical.

Like, he won't say... "I hate that".  He leaves his personal opinions at home.

He just states facts.  I love that.

As far as I'm concerned he was a solid hire.

Especially now that the new ticketing system is all setup.

I think one of the VPs at the college had the best wording the other day when she was commenting on the ticketing software... "You're finally coming into the 21st century".

I was just like... "Yes we are.  Yes we are."

What's sad about it is when I worked helpdesk when I was a student in college, we had ticket tracking software... at that college...

In 2004.

It's 2018.

Soooo, 14 years later just to get back to where I already was 14 years ago.

But hey, better late than never.

My only fear is that we have some friction and resistance to trying to make things better.

People don't really like change.  So, it's hard when change happens.

Just have to stick with it and show that there are benefits to doing things best practices and industry standard instead of the previous way.

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