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This CEO Writes 9,200 Holiday Cards to His Employees Every Year

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Sheldon Yellen, CEO of BELFOR Holdings, Inc., handwrites holiday cards to each of his 9,200 employees to express gratitude.

“He travels with a suitcase full of stationery. He also pens handwritten notes for thank-yous, anniversaries, and birthdays,” said Business Insider in a recent report.

According to researches and career experts, the most successful corporate managers are those who can thank and encourage their employees. Even before he was chief executive, Yellen has written a holiday and birthday card to every company employee each year.

“There is an inside joke with acquisitions that I ask prior to closing: ‘How many more people?’ — “since I am constantly calculating that in my mind rather than ‘What is the EBITDA [earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization]?’” said Yellen in an interview.

Yellen started doing this in 1985 after he was hired by his brother-in-law, and many of the employees felt he was getting special treatment.

“If nothing else, the cards would encourage people to stop by his desk to say thank you, he thought,” reported Business Insider. “And it worked,” he said. “It got people talking, we started to communicate more, and I like to think it helped me earn respect within the company.”

Yellen is not just doing this for the thank you – he writes thank-you notes, anniversary cards, holiday cards, and writes to his employees’ kids when they are sick, said Alexandra Gort, company director of marketing communications.

According to research, good employees will quit their jobs if they are not given enough recognition. Business Insider reported that “Yellen has found taking the time to write out a card for each and every person has created a culture of compassion throughout the company.”


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Ackman’s Hot Streak Continues, Dumps Berkshire, Says ‘We Can Be More Nimble’

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Ackman’s Hot Streak Continues, Dumps Berkshire, Says ‘We Can Be More Nimble’

Bill Ackman’s hot streak continues. This comes after he announced that his Pershing Square hedge fund has returned an average of 25% this year. It also trounces the average hedge fund return of -7%. Additionally, this reveals that it sold its $1 billion stake in Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. The fund first invested in Berkshire less than a year ago and only weeks took a larger stake in the conglomerate.

Completely exiting the Berkshire position surprised many on Wall Street, as Ackman has long admired Buffett as a mentor. He recently said that Buffett had built Berkshire “to withstand a global economic shock like this one.”

It appears that Ackman, like many, may have felt frustrated by the lack of activity from Berkshire during the recent market downswing. Berkshire’s cash balance has ballooned to $137 billion. Many, including Ackman, had likely expected a portion of that cash to be used to scoop up bargains during the late-February selloff. The said selloff took markets down nearly 30%.

Instead, Berkshire stood pat, and that appears to have been enough for Ackman to pull the plug on his investment. While discussing the exit, Ackman said that due to Pershing’s smaller size compared to Berkshire, “we can be much more nimble… and so our view was generally we should take advantage of that nimbleness, preserve some extra liquidity in the event that prices get more attractive again.”

Pershing Square’s success over the last two years had thrust Ackman back into the spotlight. This, perhaps, turned the chapter on a period where he became more famous for his misses than his home runs.

He was invested in Valeant Pharmaceuticals as it collapsed. He also famously squabbled on live TV with fellow billionaire Carl Icahn over Herbalife. Then, he gave a nearly 3-hour-long presentation explaining why he thought the company runs as a pyramid scheme. He finally exited his $1 billion short position at a loss.

Ackman’s current hot streak started last year, when Pershing Square returned 58.1%. This is its best annual return since the hedge fund was founded in 2004. After years of letting others make the firm’s investment decisions, Ackman took back the reins in 2018 with a back-to-basics strategy he learned from Buffett.

He returned the fund to a strategy that invests in simple, predictable, cash flow positive companies. He said, “It’s very hard to lose money by buying great businesses if you pay a fair price. For a while there, we forgot that our main job was to make money, so we woke up, and now we’re back in the money making business.”

Making money is exactly what Ackman did earlier this year. He did so with “the single best trade of all-time,” as what many calls it. He correctly predicted that the coronavirus would wreak havoc on our economy. Because of this, Ackman made a $27 million bet that netted his firm a $2.6 billion profit in less than two months as the markets crashed.

Now, his war chest is full again. It appears that Ackman is ready to buy should asset prices come down again.

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Oil Headed to $100? This Billionaire Says Yes

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Oil Headed to $100? This Billionaire Says Yes

At least one billionaire investor says he’d be buying shares in airlines right now. This happened only days after Warren Buffett had announced that Berkshire Hathaway has sold all of its airline stocks.

Perhaps unbelievably, the billionaire also sees an opportunity in tourism and hotels and says oil will head much higher.

Naguib Sawaris, chairman and CEO of Orascom Investment Holding and the only non-North Korean to hold a telecom license in North Korea, said during a recent appearance on CNBC that he sees plenty of opportunities right now.

“With every crisis there is opportunity,” Sawiris said. “You can go and buy an airline today for $1 if you are assuming the bulk of the debt.”

Most US-based airline stocks are down 50% this year, and air travel has plunged more than 95%. This took place as the coronavirus pandemic has brought the travel and tourism industry to a grinding halt.

Hope exists that as the country starts reopening and eases restrictions, the travel and tourism industry can start to recover.

Sawaris says that President Trump’s decision to reopen the country is “one of the few times” he has been right. He also said that there is too much uncertainty around the possibility of a potential cure for the country to remain locked down.

“They might not find the cure, they might not find the vaccine, so how long are we going to be in prison in our homes?”

$100 Oil in 18 Months

Sawaris says that the recent price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia was a “calculated” move not against each other. However, he also believes this move serves as a coordinated effort to cripple the shale industry here in the United States.

He also believes that even if the OPEC+ nations, which includes both Saudi Arabia and Russia, had reached an agreement in March to cut production, both countries knew that oil prices were still going to fall as demand plunged across the globe due to the coronavirus. He said a deal in March would have meant lower oil prices. However, he pointed out that “it would have not fallen to this level.”

There are expectations that prices were going to continue falling. With this, both countries ramped up production when the existing agreement ended on April 1. There’s no other reason for this than to try and drive American shale companies out of business.

“I think it was calculated,” he said. “I think they knew that this was going to happen and they still wanted to do it because, by killing a competitor, the price will rise beyond 50 or 60 dollars.”

Sawaris went on to say that he expects oil prices to head much higher.

“I actually believe that 18 months from now oil will hit $100,” he said.

However, as John Browne, former CEO of British Petroleum points out, oil prices could stay low for a lot longer.

“The prices will be very low and I think they will remain low and very volatile for some considerable time,” Browne told the BBC in a recent interview.

“This is very reminiscent of a time in the mid-1980s when exactly the same situation happened – too much supply, too little demand and prices of oil stayed low for 17 years.”

Editor’s Note: What’s your take? Will oil prices push towards $100/barrel in the next 18 months? Or is cheap oil here to stay? Leave us your thoughts below.

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Uber and Hyundai Are Planning to Offer Flying Taxi Rides by 2023

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Hyundai/Uber Flying Taxi Source: Hyundai
By Cat Ellis

At CES 2020, Uber and Hyundai showed off a full-size mock-up of a flying taxi that both companies hope will be ferrying you above congested city streets by 2023.

The electric plane, called Uberdai, will carry a pilot and three passengers up to 60 miles, at speeds of up to 180mph, slashing journey times and helping get cars off the road. Eventually the craft will be automated, but for now the two companies are focusing on manned craft.

The flying taxi market is starting to get pretty lively. Last year, Boeing began test flights to test the safety of Boeing. Next, an electric aircraft with passenger pods designed to travel up to 50 miles, and Bell Helicopter unveiled the Bell Nexus, which the company hopes will “redefine air travel”.

The difference with Hyundai’s plane is its partnership with Uber, which is a name synonymous with ride-sharing throughout much of the world, and already has the infrastructure in place to offer flights as an option alongside trips by car, bike, scooter, helicopter and even submarine.

Ready for lift-off?

Uber has been aiming for the skies for several years now, teaming up with various aerospace companies to build a fleet of mini aircraft. At the Uber Elevate Summit in June 2019, it revealed a concept created in collaboration with Jaunt Air Mobility – a business that’s aiming to create a fully autonomous aircraft by the end of 2029.

This design was a cross between a helicopter and a plane, with a rotor to get it off the ground, and wings for gliding once airborne to conserve power.

“It’s called the compound aircraft, and what it’s doing is really trying to get the best of both worlds of hover and high-speed efficient flight,” Uber’s head of engineering Mark Moore said at the event.

Uber intends to launch its first swarm of flying cars in the US and Australia in 2023, with schemes planned for Dallas, Las Vegas and Melbourne. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more over the coming months. 

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