Lessons from Bangalore Kidnapping

  • Stratfor just had interesting article on ways to minimize chances of being kidnapped.

    Having personal experience, I pay attention to articles like this…now.

    Last place I expected to be kidnapped was at the drive through window of my bank. Had I been paying more attention I may have averted situation entirely. (Failing to notice that no bank employee was at drive up window. Watching my mirrors to see bank robber with mask and guns coming toward my vehicle would have enable me to just drive off. Surprise factor would likely avoided any gunfire from robber. Picking up gun when he through first one through window. Turning it on him would have produced stalemate.

    I thought I was someplace safe…my mistake

    Like most victims, I had lot of things I could have done…had I been  paying more attention to my surroundings.

    Student in the Stratfor article was abducted from restaurant on his way home from university. His motor bike was his normal mode of transportation. But it was in the shop…which meant shop employees knew he would have to alter his mode of transportation home.

    Keys kidnappers use to identify potential victims:

    -Visual that victim is in higher economic bracket than most.

    -Career of parent that tips off economic status of family.

    -Anything that “tips” kidnappers that your status could benefit them.

    -May kidnappers have business or people that alert them to potential victims.

    Steps to minimize chances of kidnapping.

    -Always be aware of your surroundings. Are there a group of  people where they normally would not be? Anyone observing you? Someone suspicious parked across street?

    -Adjusting one’s personal routine. Don’t go home the exact same way every day, choose different side of the street, etc.

    -Identify choke points when traveling, on foot, public or private transportation. You may not be able to avoid choke points but if you know where they are, you know to be more aware of your surroundings.

    -When dropping off vehicle for repair, keep quiet about how you will be getting around. Don’t give the shop employees information they could use against you. Applies to any business you frequent. Less they know about you the safer you are likely to be.

    -When varying your routine, pay attention to restaurants or businesses you step into. Take a quick “read” on the business and the attitude of employees and customers. Is this business you would normally visit? If not, move on.

    -Pay attention when checking out of a store, or placing an order at fast food restaurant. Anyone hanging around close by? Anyone showing more interest in you than normal?

    -Be sure you know where you are and your surroundings before accessing your cell phone, email, or texting. When outside or in different place than normal, spend as much time glancing around your surroundings as you do on your cell phone. You can’t afford to spend 2 minutes ignoring your surroundings. Only takes few seconds for someone to put hand over your mouth, get you off balance and force you into a vehicle…especially if they have a knife or gun in your ribs.

    -If you find yourself in a kidnapping situation pay attention to all the little details. Nerves of your attackers, their dress, what are they paying attention to (often tip you off on a way to escape), try to engage them in conversation, or at least listen to them, to learn as much as you can. (This can be bad thing to do if kidnappers appear highly agitated.)

                   When I was kidnapped in bank robbery I quickly saw that kidnapper was very     nervous. Probably had not planned  on kidnapping anyone.  That knowledge enabled me to help kidnapper calm down by talking calmly and in low voice, and giving him some options. That eventually enabled me to escape. What worked in my instance would not have worked had the kidnapper been highly agitated. Key was getting a read on kidnapper so I could figure out what  could help me out of the situation.

    -Keep friends and family apprised of any potential threats you become aware of…including potential bad business deals.

    -Understand that any behaviors that make you stand out, like fancy cars, expensive private schools, etc., are things kidnappers look for. It doesn’t mean not having those things, just be aware where you are using them. Drive a nondescript vehicle through the worst part of town, not your Ferrari.

    Most kidnappings are for financial gain. But that doesn’t mean they can’t still go bad.

    Be aware of your surroundings.

Stratfor Daily Intelligence Brief: Sept. 1, 2016 Stratfor.com is excellent source of information about world events…presented without political agenda. There are universal lessons to personal security.

Major Banks Charging Negative Interest Rates

Lots of speculation on when major banks would start charging customers to keep their money in the banks. Appears it is happening much faster than most experts thought.

Earlier this week Dutch bank ABN Amro was first large bank to announce it would pass negative interest rates to customers as early as Oct 1. Then Royal Bank of Scotland, one of largest banks in UK sent letters to business customers that if could impose negative rates also.

Options for you

If you are with one of major banks consider moving some savings to smaller bank or credit union. For now, leave your checking account where you have it. Just start protecting your emergency savings.

Security Ideas for Strategic Planning

Was just reading interesting article on protective security measures by Scott Stewart in Stratfor. Turns out there are many similarities to Strategic Planning.

Author was in business of providing protective services to government officials, religious figures, royalty, business executives and ultra luxury individuals.

Professional protective security people certainly understand weapons and self defense. They realize that if they have to rely on these they actually have failed to do their job. True protective service entails anticipating situations and being prepared for them in advance to avoid confrontations. When confrontation is probable, goal is to structure confrontation on terms the protective service experts dictate.

Action is always faster than reaction. Just watch a football game. Proactive approaches involve “excellent situational awareness, thorough logistics planning, good security assessments, careful trip and individual site security advances, liaisons with counterparts and strict operational security. Protection teams can also employ powerful tools such as protective intelligence investigations, threat and psychological assessments of people with an unusual interest in the protectee, and countersurveillance detection teams.”

Leaders use the same approach when doing their strategic planning, whether it’s to address an emergency or a surprise in business, or to do the annual strategic plan, or long term plan based on business outlooks years out.

It’s already June, are you hitting your strategic plan for first half of year? What adjustments are necessary for second half of 2016? What are your plans for 2017 if economy holds strong? Starts to soften? Either nationally or just in your market or,selective market segments?

What’s Important to You?

World is in different place than ever before. That’s true with every generation over the history of time. Ah, but do you know what pitfalls are this time? Have you taken steps to minimize effect of disasters, natural or government induced?

What’s different this time?   Most countries are broke.

So what are most countries doing? And why do you care?

They are relying on printing presses creating a rapidly expanding money supply.  Historically this has happened to many countries at one time or another. We all know the boom bust times in various South American countries.

This time it’s happening at the same time to most industrialized countries at the same time. Think China, Japan, Great Britain, US, India, almost all of Europe and Africa. Governments are increasingly tied to each other in the ways they exchange money and honor currencies.

Japan and China own trillions of the US debt. Countries have huge amounts of actual US dollars. That means re-pegging the value of US dollar won’t work. In past we were tied to gold standard. That would no work in US this time around. Countries that hold trillions of dollars outside the US could still sell the currency for any amount they wanted and US could not stop it.

Back in 2009 US public and private dept was in neighborhood of $55 trillion. That debt had significant impact on US economy. Today, US public and private debt has climbed to $65 trillion. Total US debt is up 150% since 2000. Additionally rest of world has added another $57 trillion in public and private debt.

This is referred to as “hot money” lending. But does it matter? McKinsey points out that debt, around the world, is outpacing economic growth. When economic growth can’t finance all these loans, only governments are willing to step into the breach.

This debt can only be paid off in 3 ways:

-Paid off by the people, businesses, and countries that took on the debt.
-Inflation
-Declaring the debt null and void…destroying relationships with those who provided the money in the first place. This has been used by many countries over the history of the world…but never by a number of countries in a very short period of time. No one knows the effect if several countries started down this path.

Federal Reserve Richmond, VA branch recently reported that 61% of all liabilities in US are now guaranteed by the government, implicitly or explicitly. In 1999 the percentage was 45% (mostly Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). Today more and more of our financial institutions rely on the government to access credit.

Unfortunately, government guarantees are not shown on any government balance sheet…in US or elsewhere in the world. Governments are relying on massive currency and interest rate manipulation to fund themselves. World has never experienced anything like this by the major economic powers of the world.

Sooner or later this bubble will pop, like many others have over the years. But when?

Nobody knows. But what it means for your personal wealth is known. The biggest threat to your wealth isn’t a stock market crash. Instead it’s from confiscation and/or devaluation by our government. Think Greece last year that took 25% of savings from citizens bank accounts.

In the 1930’s people and companies suffered massive losses. But the actual wealth didn’t disappear. Wealth transferred from creditors to lenders. This time around we will have the above, but will also have major collapse in governments politically. The US government has pledged a large amount of the wealth of the citizens to other people…through all kinds of government programs. We are all familiar with Detroit bankruptcy. That will occur within America and many other countries…within a few years.  What’s a few years? Again, no one knows for sure, but within 10-20 years seems realistic.

Once inflation takes off it can have devastating effects quickly. Think back to the Carter years when inflation in US hit 20%.

US, and most countries of the world can’t sustain government spending that is vastly outstripping tax revenues coming in. Sooner or later the piper has to be paid.

Previously the world would have a 1930’s situation where loans would be called. Difference then and now? Governments were not the primary financiers of the world debt.  Banks and financial institutions had the primary role.  If government can’t pay all the people that have been promised money there will be riots on massive scale.

So what can individuals do?

10,000 doctors every year are refusing to serve Medicare patients. That means many people won’t be able to get doctors appointments. What you can do? Doctors, not participating in Medicare are starting to charge patients monthly fee to see them. In effect doctors are signing up the patients they want to see to give doctors the income they want. These patients at least are assured medical opinions will be available to them. Start understanding medical coverage options in other countries…like Costa Rica or Panama (there are lots of others.) Those two countries have doctors that were educated in US and majority speak English. Last those countries are just few hours away and charge fraction of US doctors and hospitals.

Above is only one example. Many people have majority of their wealth tied up in value of their homes. What happens in major downturn when housing prices drop? In 2009 housing values dropped by over 50% in some markets. For most Americans that means there houses are worth far less than they paid. What can you do? Work to eliminate as much debt as possible, especially credit card debt and auto loans. If you can, pay off your house…or go to 15 year mortgage. Objective is to reduce debt so you can cover any remaining debt in a down turn.

Wages have remained flat in US for many years. How many? Depends whose figures you want to use. Assuredly since at least late 1990’s. Differences in years typically depends on rate of inflation that is applied.

To minimize this, acquire the things you need if times get tough. For some that’s food storage, for others it’s cash, or other products and supplies that are important to them.  If there’s run at supermarkets toilet paper becomes pretty valuable. Natural disasters have cleared the shelves of supermarkets many times. The economy doesn’t have to tank to cause major disruptions. People who have taken, even just a few steps, to prepare for emergencies that would affect them sleep better.

Most people live day-to-day. They assume things won’t happen. They listen and believe the media. Remember, no government cares much about their citizens. We are each just a number. Any of us that think differently aren’t thinking.

Millennials Now 1 of 3 American Employees

Pew Research Center reports that one in three American workers are millennials.

46% of millennials embrace business travel.

Millennials are looking for unique experiences. Many reject cookie-cutter chain offerings. They are looking for hotels that are trendy or at least well maintained. Millennials are looking for something unique.

So how can your hotel meet their expectations?

We all are hearing about massive data. What can you do if your hotel lacks technology to collect that data?

Collect your own data. That’s easy. After collecting data you have to act on it.

-Collecting month and day of guest birthdays allows you to send email birthday cards. Many services offer them. Better yet. Anniversary dates so you can offer them an anniversary package.

-Ask if there is any specific information their spouse loves to know about. Then provide it 3-4 times a year.

-Why are they in town? Knowing “why” enables you to better service them and know about return visits.

Jan, 26, 2016 Quote of the Day

“If the whole human race lay in one grave, the epitaph on its headstone might well be: “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Writer Rebecca West

Dame Cicely Isabel Fairfield DBE, known as Rebecca West, or Dame Rebecca West, was a British author, journalist, literary critic and travel writer. An author who wrote in many genres, West reviewed books for The Times, the New York Herald Tribune, the Sunday Telegraph, and the New Republic, and she was a correspondent for The Bookman. Her major works include Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, on the history and culture of Yugoslavia; A Train of Powder, her coverage of the Nuremberg trials, published originally in The New Yorker; The Meaning of Treason, later The New Meaning of Treason, a study of the trial of the British Fascist William Joyce and others; The Return of the Soldier, a modernist World War I novel; and the “Aubrey trilogy” of autobiographical novels, The Fountain Overflows, This Real Night, and Cousin Rosamund. Time called her “indisputably the world’s number one woman writer” in 1947. (Wikipedia)

——Ah, how many times people screw up because “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” Perhaps that thought should be a warning : Alert: Screw up about to occur.

Reflection…the best ideas in the world need time to germinate and stand up to the scrutiny of reflection. Maybe, perhaps, possibly, we might know if the idea is “good.” Truly good ideas are still standing the test of time several years later.

Ending Federal Deficit-Buffet’s Solution

Warren Buffet recently had excellent quote about the debt ceiling during an interview on CNBC:

“I could end the deficit in five minutes. You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.”

Quote of the Day-Oct. 2, 2015

“If we get fired, it is not failure, it’s a midlife vocational reassessment.”
P J O’Rourke

Patrick Jake “P. J.” O’Rourke  born November 14, 1947, is an American political satirist, journalist, writer, and author. O’Rourke is the H. L. Mencken Research Fellow at the Cato Instituteand is a regular correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, The American Spectator, and The Weekly Standard, and frequent panelist on National Public Radio’s game show  Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me.

Quote of the Day-Sept. 30, 2015

“Always set high value on spontaneous kindness.”
Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson ( 1709- 1784), often referred to as Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer.  Johnson was a devout Anglican and committedTory, and has been described as “arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history”.

Source: Wikipedia