Monthly Archives: April 2013

Can’t Take It with Me

imagesSeveral folks have asked me about my current investment strategy; so I thought I would write it down.  This is not a promise about how I will do it forever.  It is not a recommendation about how other folks should invest.  It really is just what I am doing now.

I continue to buy new players.  I buy a handful of Fresh Faces each day; generally from lists provided by Gerrit Bes and Paul Steinbrueck.  Generally I work from the lists as a time saver.  I will sometimes take a look a Dennis Dittrich’s suggestions also.

The vast majority of my purchases are through insideEAV.  I am familiar with the other tools, but this one fits the way I think.  For folks with a less technical background, I generally suggest Avenue.io.   With a reasonable sized portfolio, a portfolio management tool is important; otherwise, the pain inflicted by your portfolio is too high. I have heard the complaints about tools making the game impersonal.  I disagree.  The tools free me from the routine purchase tasks, and allow me to have time to actually engage.  I am aware of the folks who misuse the tools and act like jerks.  Upon careful observation, I am confident that the tool is not the problem.

In the morning as my portfolio is loading, I check the Fresh Face graduates by looking at stocks that are 7 to 8 days old.   When I look at the Fresh Face graduates, the portfolio size is probably the biggest factor determining my buy/sell decision. I know that without investments, EA is just too tough & expensive; so a small portfolio means they are likely to quit soon.  Positive price graph, dividend size, and activity are the other factors that I consider.  I will buy 500 to 1,500 of these depending on my cash state and my guestimate of their potential.

The next thing that I check is for folks who own at least 1 of me.  I sort that list by Their shares – My shares to find the folks who have matched or exceeded my investment in them.  I max or over match all of those and typically anyone within 100 or so shares of matching my investment. I next run the sort to find everyone who has an investment in me and has at least 10 EA actions this week.  I buy some of all of those folks; typically 10 shares.  That is usually between 500 and 1,000 stocks depending on where I am with my portfolio upgrade.

I next run a sort for everyone where I have an investment who has at least 10 EA actions.  I buy some (usually 5 shares) of all of those folks if they are in the top 5,000 dividends.  If you are not invested in me & not in the top 5,000 stocks, there is not much point in additional investment.  As I approach 5,000 stocks in my portfolio, this becomes an issue to manage; since EA only pays dividends on your top 5,000.

If I have loose eaves left in the afternoon, I will typically work on maxing more of the high dividend stocks.  I believe that I am maxed in the top 250; so I just keep working down that list. I understand my current investment strategy does not maximize my income or wealth.  My net wealth is around 570M, and I receive 2.3M in daily dividends.  I am unclear about any incentive to dramatically focus on growing those numbers.

I notice that my regular investments also encourage folks to buy back.  I am convinced this is the reason for my slightly embarrassing price.  This also seems to drive my EA network score a bit.  The primary reason driving this is a hope that my investments provide income and encouragement to a wide range of players.  I remember how helpful regular investments were to me as I started.

A somewhat amusing story is related.  Someone complained about my small purchases pointing out that I had plenty of eaves to just max my investment in him.  A quick look at his divs and stock chart revealed that he was not the highest quality investment.  I told him that if I used his suggestion, that he wouldn’t see an investment from me for at least several months while I was maxing in higher scoring stocks.

Again I will tell anyone that is bothered by my purchases, it is quite easy to get me to stop.  If you will max your investment in me at 1,500; then I will match your investment within a day.  That makes the annoying investments from me stop…at least until Dups releases more Pie!

This strategy also explains why I deal harshly with folks who sell my shares.  Since I always invest back generously in my investors, I have had a number of folks who have tried to use my kindness against me.  They invest in me to produce a buy back; then they sell my shares.  I don’t understand that strategy.  EA is a game based on mutual success.  Folks who misunderstand this principle of mutual success often look like rock stars for a time; then their sins catch up with them. I noticed with amusement someone well known for selling his investors wondering why his share price continued to fall.

One thing that I am certain of with Empire Avenue, you can’t take the eaves with you.  You can take the pure gold of the relationships that you build into the world to make a real & positive difference out there.

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Fowl Food

eating-crowWell I was wrong and Dups was right.  You heard it here first!  Damn this crow is tasty!  Looks like the block feature on EA is imperfect but not changed.  With my post the other day, I fouled up but with a bit of honor or at  least an explanation.

Here is my story:  I have blocked folks, and when I did I read the message that EA posts.  The message was: “You will no longer see content created by TICKER and they will not be able to interact with you! Blocking also automatically sells shares and blocks this profile. ” I read well enough to understand that.

After I blocked folks, I never saw them again on Empire Avenue.  That left me with good confidence about how the block feature worked…just like EA said.

Recently with all the changes on the Avenue…virtually all of the changes excellent, I saw something troubling.  I ran into one of my block victims in the EA general community.  I did some snooping to be sure that it actually was the account that I had blocked.  I know folks have created new accounts that look a lot like old ones.  It was the very same account that I had blocked.  My assumption (yes I know assume…) was that EA had forgotten to extend the block functionality when they reinvigorated the communities.

Dups responded quickly to my post saying that nothing was changed. I growled that I could see folks who were blocked in the communities.  He said true, not great, but not changed.  I guess that I just had not run into anyone that I had blocked previously.  Dups owned that the messaging explaining blocking was errant.  Even beyond that, he changed the messaging within a day to reflect the way that blocking actually works.  He promises that a cleaner implementation of blocking is on the way.

Here is the new Block message:

Blocking will prevent direct communication by TICKER and you, including direct messages and shout outs. All shares owned of each other will be sold. Please note, currently you may still interact with blocked members on Empire Avenue Communities and you will still see each others content in various applications including Missions. You will not be allowed to unblock for at least one (1) Week.

Good job by Dups.  He was right.  I was wrong.  He even fixed the broken message.  Thanks.

Being from Southeast Texas, I recommend salsa with that crow just in case you run into a similar situation.

Yellow means Yield

parker_ln_nb_at_sutherland_dr_02 (1)Empire Avenue is making a ton of changes here recently.  I highlighted many of the admirable changes a few days ago with this post.  In general, things seem to be improving.  I heard a bit of concern about losing the savings feature, but that didn’t seem too major.  I did hear and subsequently notice a change that caused me a bit more concern.  EA has changed the way the block feature works with little or no notice.

When you click Block on a profile, this dialogue appears:

Are you sure you wish to block (e)TICKER?

If you do, you will no longer see content created by TICKER and they will not be able to interact with you! Blocking also automatically sells shares and blocks this profile.
While this dialogue remains, it is currently inaccurate.  In the Groups of Empire Avenue, blocked players can see each others’ posts and otherwise interact.  For me this is a minor item.  The players that I have blocked are for reasons within the game:  mission stealing, selling me, spamming  or rudeness.  I don’t really have a concern about group interaction with those folks.

I am aware of some situations on the Avenue that have escalated beyond discourtesy into threats.  In those instances, blocking was used to create a safety net for the victim.  The change in policy or implementation seems to tear at that safety net.  I am not a huge fan of the change, but I am actively concerned that there was no notice.  I suspect that the number of folks affected is small, but the impact for them may be large.

Were you aware of this modification?  Do you care?  Should EA create a standard change procedure that always notifies us of changes?  Will this have any impact on the way you interact on the Avenue?

Street Sweeping

images (8)Does Empire Avenue promote bad social media habits? Have you ever “Liked” something that you didn’t really like?  Have you ever “Publicly Recommended” something that you would never encourage?  Have you shared something and felt like you needed a shower afterwards?  Have you ever posted a bunch of stuff because your score was down; then hoped that nobody blew up your feed by doing stuff like that?  I have done all of these.  I really do understand that most of this is about my questionable choices.

In a discussion group, I posted this: “EA does reward spam. The number of posts that you make counts. I am personally sorry about that. I wish the algorithm was smarter and could discourage oversharing.”   What do you think?  Wrong, too harsh, true, too true… I got a reply that at some limit EA does not  reward you, but of course, no one knows the limit.  If that is accurate; then it is as good as no limit at all.  The game does not penalize for too many posts; so more is better.  If you have a question about that, I can point you to some profiles.  I see folks with hundreds of posts everyday, and really big network scores.  Does anybody really think that posting hundreds of times every day on a platform is really a good practice that should be rewarded?  Let me know if I misunderstand something here.

And while I am on the soapbox growling, what about the increasing practice of posting exactly the same content in exactly the same form to every network? Some content certainly ought to be shared on multiple streams, but I can’t be the only one who thinks the real explanation for this behavior is game play.  I understand that makes for great dividends, I get that it is automatic and super easy, but I am not sure that makes for building an excellent Social Media Empire.  If EA is Social Media Rocket Fuel, seems to me somebody needs to check the navigation.

So much of what EA does to encourage and reward developing our Social Media Networks is awesome.  I have learned so much about so many different platforms.  I have met amazing people.  I gained a ton of experience in Social Media in a very short time.  It’s such tremendous tool, but this part feels a bit off kilter.

Should EA help by altering the algorithm for calculating network scores?  An update to the algorithm seems in order where there are diminishing returns and then perhaps even a penalty over some limit.  Some have disagreed saying basically different strokes for different folks.  Help me check my math.  If you are following 500 EAvers each posting 100 times a day, that might be 50,000 items floating through your stream per platform.  Although exactly where to draw the line is certainly debatable, that we EAvers (yes I am guilty) overshare seems undeniable.  At these volumes, real engagement seems unlikely.

I suppose in the end it becomes a question of staying true to your brand in the face of temptation from the Avenue.  I’m not mad at anyone, and I am only a little bit jealous of some of those scores.  Perhaps everyone else is just more adept at managing their streams.  I think I need to do a bit of recalibration to decide what is really important.

Please coment gently.  I promise I was talking about me…not you.

Empire Avenue Tips Two

ImageIn the new users forum, I am still posting tips.  Not everyone follows that Facebook group, and a few folks mentioned that they found my ideas useful.  Please leave any suggestions that you have in the comments.

1.  Create a WordPress account.  I am not really prepared to argue the merits of the various blogging platforms, but you need a WordPress account to effectively play on the Avenue.  Since a WordPress hosted account is the only blog platform that can connect directly as a scoring network, it merits special consideration.  Many missions ask for a WP Like, Comment, or Share.  You need an account to do these missions.  You can create content for your blog simply by reblogging content from other sources…that is two button clicks for those that haven’t tried it.

Empire Avenue will provide some scoring for just commenting, liking, and otherwise interacting with other folks’ blogs.  If you create blog content by writing or reblogging, EA will provide decent scores.  If you create content and drive interaction (with missions or spectacular content or blackmail), EA will provide great network scores that will rock your dividends.

2. EA uses your top 5 networks to calculate the dividends that you pay to your shareholders. Even if you are not active on that many SM networks, it is probably a good idea to go ahead and create/connect at least five. It will definitely encourage folks to buy you. Who knows, you might even find a new platform that you enjoy.

3.   Some folks don’t play nicely. Some have bad manners, some are nasty, and some are complete scoundrels. Empire Avenue allows you a couple of tools to manage those folks.
You can quiet the rude folks by muting them. On their profile page where you recommend or add to other lists, you can click the Mute button. This will keep anyone from seeing their posts to your profile wall. There is also a mute option on the shouts that are on your wall that works exactly the same.
If you have more serious trouble, consider these options. You can Report the offender to let EA know of your trouble with this person. btw, I have no idea what if anything they do with this information. Go to the Profile page of the offender and look in the bottom right corner and click the yellow Report button. Directly beneath the Report button, there is the Block option. When you Block someone, you automatically sell your investment in them. If they are invested in you, those shares are sold also without commission to the person you blocked. You can’t run their missions or have any other interaction with them on the Avenue. Of course this does not apply to other sites. You can unblock a person after a week if you would like.

4.   Lots of eaves are nice. The game can be really fun, but the people you meet are what is really important. Everyone needs to take a break now and then; so don’t get too concerned about your game.  Take time to let someone know you care; so for Heaven’s sake…get off the silly computer and have a great day in the real world away from Empire Avenue!  If you are going on an extended holiday ( I heartily endorse this); then you might want to consider purchasing vacation from the EA store.

5.  Be cautious about running a buy me mission. If folks know that you do many, they have no reason to spend their own eaves to buy your stock. We will just wait for your mission to buy you. Occasionally when you are trying to hit a milestone, needing to stop the bleeding, or just wanting a lift…ok. There is nothing immoral or unethical about a buy me mission; just not a smart strategy if you do it too often.

6.  When you are investing, check the portfolio of your potential investment. If they are not investing, they won’t stick around. The game is too tough to play with just eaves from doing missions, and too expensive to play with just bought eaves. The only exception is a few Social Media rock stars who don’t play, but their Social Media activity produces awesome dividends.

7.  When I make a buy/sell decision with 7 day old stocks as the Fresh Face status is lifted, the size of the portfolio is a great predictor of future growth.  If they are investors,  they are engaging not just with the platform; but also engaging with people.  They will tend to stick around.

8.  Newcomers, be patient and thoughtful as you get the opportunity to run missions. Focus on building community and spreading your message (and receiving others’ messages). Practice restraint and don’t start running fully self-serving (i.e. Buy my stuff) missions until you are well on your way to buying back those who have supported you. Put some effort into identifying what makes missions easier to do and you will see much better results! Identify clearly what the mission is about in the description – leave NOTHING to doubt. This is doubly so if your mission is one where some people may not feel comfortable. Never EVER try to trick someone with or into a mission…from Casey Fahey

9. In EA scoring, not all networks are the same in value for creating dividends. I DO NOT know why this is the case, but you can check the network leader boards. Evidence suggests that Instagram, 4Square, FaceBook, and WordPress are probably the leaders for dividend production. LinkedIn has surprisingly little impact. A similar moderately interesting fact is that IG, 4S, & WP are relatively easy to ‘game’ if that floats your boat.

10. Try to avoid selling your investors.  Jeff Mayernik had a fresh face that he maxed out buy 96 of shares and then sell them an hour later.  Important safety tip – If you pull a stunt like that, you are probably going to find yourself blocked.  Folks will talk about you, and folks will not trust you.  Your share price and engagement are likely to suffer.

Bonus tip:   If you are struggling with a network and need to improve your score, find a few folks who will work with you. SM is a reciprocal world. Find 5 or 10 folks who will do something in exchange for the same. I will like/retweet/comment/favorite or whatever 5 of yours every day if you will do the same for me. It is really great if you can actually find folks with similar interests.

Bonus tip #2  Jeanne Lynn asked me how to find who owns shares in you, but you don’t own any in them.  On your Profile page click the the tiny arrow next to your Avatar in that blue bar. Select Shareholders; then click the Shares Owned sort twice. On all those sorts, a second click changes between ascending/descending.  This will show folks who have invested in you, sorted by the number of shares you own of them.

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Road Repairs

public_rocket_fuelOne of the really popular pastimes on the Avenue is complaining.  Is Empire Avenue going to survive or are they just going slowly down the drink?  Are they spending too much time with GamrRank? Why don’t they ever reply to support tickets? Why is this or that feature broken?  Why didn’t they implement that great idea that I gave to Dups? I am sure you can come up with even more, but really that is not my point today.  I think that sometimes we focus on our frustration because we are passionate about this platform.

Passion is great, but there is a danger that passion blinds.  I am not going to talk about my love life; even though that could provide numerous amusing examples.  I am entering my tenth month; so I am neither old nor new.  I am past the beginning honeymoon excitement, but I have not lost hope like some of the folks who started with the intriguing site beta.  I am a bit jaded by promises not kept, but I see signs of progress on Empire Avenue.  I think the road is getting smoother.  I thought that perhaps recounting a few of those might provide some eye opening perspective.

1. Mission Throttling/Captcha When I started on the Avenue, I was poor!  I know just like everyone else,  but the only realistic way to make eaves was to do missions.  I did a ton.  I dreaded that random, discouraging, horrible message…”We have noticed…” I am pretty sure that what Dups meant was that he hated me and wanted me to be poor forever!  Every time I was in mission time out or my own personal EA hell, there would be a fistful of really big missions that were super easy to do!  I waited and stewed.  I heard that it was to eliminate the scripts that harvested eaves, but I was convinced it was an evil plot to make me quit.  Moving to a Captcha solution is much better and more fair.  Cheers for Dups promising and delivering on this one!

2. Mission Warning to Thieves Posting a warning on the mission screen to discourage theft   I am still concerned about thieving…wait…just positive stuff today…The warning seemed to have a really positive impact at first.  Although it may have diminished a bit, still a step in the right direction.  Cheers for the EA team.  At least they understand there is a problem and seem to be looking for the right answer.

3. Dups Engagement  These days we often see Dups engaging the community in FB as well as EA forums.  He usually is taking a beating…why don’t folks tag him with a compliment occasionally?  He keeps coming back, listening, and explaining.  He even replied to a suggestion by saying thanks, but I need to see how this fits with our overall strategy, a wise answer instead of the easy one.  Give Dups credit here.  He takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

4. Community Redux  I am a bit unclear about the big plan for communities, but I do see some differences.  If nothing else, give EA credit for identifying they had a problem.  They seem to be trying to clean things up a bit and getting ready for something of a relaunch.  The credit here is being smart enough to realize that the real engagement was happening off site and trying to figure a way to bring it back.

5. Buy Screen Update  I see some cosmetic changes in the buy screen, but the huge thing I appreciate is that it does not hang endlessly like was typical before.  I am unclear if the screen or the underlying code for buying or user close or what.  I really don’t care what or how they fixed it.  I am smiling because I can buy stocks in the morning without waiting forever.  I bet this was a big one that most folks don’t even think about now that it works.  Good job EA team.

6. Leader Board Improvements  I noticed some cosmetic changes to the leader boards.  The indexes getting dropped saddened a few folks, but here is hoping that more meaningful boards are on the way.  I am personally looking for a Share Price, Net Wealth, & Portfolio Wealth for players before their first anniversary!

Zark7. New Awards  As things have grown along the Avenue, the initial awards were left behind by the leaders.  EA has done a bit of adapting…things like an award for 500,000,000 (e) in Net Wealth that I noticed on a profile I watch carefully.  Let’s mark this one a hopeful work in progress.

8. New Pie  This seems to be easy and required to continue to grow the game for the top of the leaderboard.  Now that I have caught up a bit, I can say it is a great thing.  I was worried about catching diabetes with so much pie flying around there for a few weeks.  I did think it was extremely awesome that EA provided a pie upgrade to go along with the last [X]Pendapalooza event.

9. Mission Dashboard Creating a dashboard where you can see and manage all your missions is a great improvement.  Fewer wasted clicks and errors in creating missions are a welcome result of this innovation.  This is a great start to making missions easier to create and manage.

10. Owning the Problems  In the few months that I have been around, there has been a sea change in the attitude from the EA staff.  I used to see ignoring, defending, explaining, and denying as the primary communication from EA.  Dups gave back eaves when he saw missions that did not act as promised.  Dups owns they stink at replying to tickets. Dups restrains promises.  Dups has lead this effort.  It feels like a real commitment to me.  I believe EA wants growth and improvement.

a. New User Onboarding  I have not set up a new account; so I only have rumors on this one.  I hear there are significant improvements.  I notice fewer accounts without avatars; so something is better there.  If that process is smoother, more folks will survive the chaos of initiation.

The Empire Avenue team is small.  They seem to be listening and trying diligently.  I know that everyone has a list of suggestions and concerns.   I am glad to listen, but what I am really interested in today…What have you noticed in the past month or few by way of  repaired bumps on Empire Avenue?

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My Team Stinks

600x480_astrosAs April begins, Houston is alive with our Springtime awakening.  The flowers bloom, the birds sing, and the sports menu is out of control!  Basketball’s March Madness reaches its pinnacle.  The professional golf & tennis tournaments are Houston happening today.  Planning is underway for the NFL draft, and Spring college football fills the air with rumors and innuendo.  Now for the bad news: baseball season begins.

Many folks find the beginning of baseball is a cause for celebration.  I’ve heard that it’s a great time; because every team is undefeated and full of hope.  The problem is…I follow the Astros.  Today they are undefeated.  In fact they have the honor of hosting the first game of the season.  We even have a new place for our cellar dwelling team.  The bottom of the American League West.  ARod earns more individually than the entire Houston Astros team.  Hope does not spring forth this spring.

So what is a fan to do confronted with such a situation?   The truth is that we generally lose when we face a hopeless situation. I am big on sports analogies for life, and I know that in life many of us face hopeless situations.   Some would tell you full speed ahead and ignore the facts.  Butting my head into brick walls is a skill set I have honed.  That makes a favorite saying of mine…it feels so good when it quits hurting.  I probably stole it from an old country song.  Some folks tell you that whatever you believe will happen.  I have found that facts are hard things that we must deal with honestly.

http://www.tennisworldusa.org/Meet-95-year-old-Artin-Elmayan-the-worlds-oldest-ranked-player-articolo6200.htmlI do get that attitude can influence a situation.  I understand if all you see is doom & gloom you are likely to find it.  I also think there is a place for an honorable effort even when the results are not likely to be what we desire.  I play tennis, and some folks are better players.  They are faster, stronger, in better shape, and this chaps me to admit…but younger.  I have a suspicion this circumstance is not headed in my favor, but I can still enjoy playing tennis.  A friend once told me that if you never lose it says more about the quality of your competition than the quality of your tennis.

We are not always going to win.  That is true for our sports teams.  That is true for our own athletic endeavors.  That is true for our lives.  We can do our best and enjoy the process, but that does not mean victory in the end.  My Astros are likely to set a record this season…for the most losses ever by a MLB team.  Mets fans prepare to rejoice.  I can still enjoy my team.  The stadium is awesome, the beer will still be cold, my buddies will still be fun, and a real upside is the tickets will be easy to get.  I can worry the young guys on the tennis court, but fewer will fall in defeat.  I can enjoy the exercise, the competition and the camaraderie.

When we face tough circumstances, we need to focus on the process.  Rather than focusing on the end goal, set smaller intermediary steps that we can accomplish.  Find that enjoyment one small step at a time.  With a realistic attitude, we might even get surprised by finding a bit of hope…perhaps even a surprising victory.  Here’s hoping the Astros have a great season….not expecting a pennant…but hoping!

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