Archive for August, 2006


Ah, the sweet sounds of my son cutting the grass.  Great music to blog by.

The markets are reacting to a particularly bad round of economic data, best summed up by the surprisingly soft employment numbers of Friday.  That has pushed the 10-year bond up to quite high levels and means for the average Joe a drop in interest rates of almost .25% on the 30-year fixed.  We’ve been doing deals in the 6.375% range again, rates not seen since early spring.

Anyone out there ever completely overhauled a business?  Because it’s not nearly as much fun as it sounds like it would be.  There has been an endless round of business books, “strategic thinking”, business consultants, etc., and we are still only barely getting started.  Olivia, the Empress of Impressions, has made an enormous difference and makes my day every 24 hours, but she’s only one person and can’t do everything.  There will, it appears, be more hires.  Logos.  New business cards.  Possibly new lender and broker affiliations.  New website.  And a partridge ♫ in a pear tree.

Apropos of this, Jeanette and I spent a couple hours yesterday in Barnes and Noble (it’s one of our favorite dates) looking through new books and deciding if we want to buy them, which we nearly always do somewhere else.  Some of the new books out there (well, fairly new) that we looked at are Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat, about which I read a scathing review a while back that soured me on reading it.  Apparently the premise is that technology makes everything seem closer together, equalizes wages and living conditions, competition, etc., and at the risk of saying duh too often, I can’t believe those little factoids escaped anyone sentient, but there are a lot of people out there.

I browsed The Long Tail, by Chris Anderson, and it’s one of those books you want to read because it makes you seem really, really cool at parties.  It’s not one you want to buy, though, because it’s pretty well one and done; you’re never going to read it again.  Probably the entire book can give you some perspective on how your business ought to change to take advantage of technological and digital realities – as in, Barnes and Noble is likely doomed, because although it makes a great library, most people are going to be buying their books in the future from bookstores that carry more than 10,000 titles, i.e. Amazon.

Hit of the night is the very popular but still probably underrated Guns, Germs, and Steel from UCLA professor Jared Diamond, a history of the world as seen through the prism of inevitability.  Lots of really fascinating stuff in there, and this one is a buyer for sure.

We also looked at Pregnant for 100 Years, The Anatomy of Peace, and about fifty other titles not so memorable.  You should try it.  It’s good for the soul.

Bring Me That Horizon!

Okay, so it isn’t Monday, but Wednesday.  Sue me.

We’re reorganizing the Chris Jones Group.  Wells, the Overlord of Wow, after two-plus years of wonderful service and sincere friendship has become so successful doing newsletters that he is moving on to run his own shop as a loan consultant and client-service coordinator, called Caring For Your Clients.  We not only wish him the best, we can absolutely guarantee that he will be successful.  He is one of the most talented and disciplined of men.  We look forward very much to seeing what he comes up with in the future.  You never know with that guy.

Ray, the Supreme Director, has also gained a reputation in the lending community as being the best loan processor in the business, a reputation that is well-deserved.  Accordingly, several other loan companies have approached him about doing work for them, a couple of them waving giant fistfuls of cash.  Instead of going to work for any one group, Ray has determined that it would be best if he became his own shop as well, so he is now Clear to Close, specializing in getting your loan to the table.  He will continue to be the processor of choice for the Group, and he continues to add marvelous things to the Experience.  He will now also become filthy rich, which we here all agree is a good thing.

One of the virtues – perhaps the only virtue – of naming The Chris Jones Group after Chris Jones is that I never have to change my business cards.  This is, in fact, the main reason I did it this way, after having 11 different companies on my resume over 15 years.  So The Chris Jones Group continues, of course, and continues in the same line.  However some reorganization is necessary, since Chris Jones long ago figured out that he couldn’t do this all by himself.  Let us therefore introduce to you the new members of the Group, and give you a snapshot of the organization as it currently exists:

The White Queen is Jeanette Jones.  Middle of last year, the Group incorporated as an LLC, and Jeanette, having examined the books, decided that her best value could be achieved by taking the checkbook away from Chris.  Having done so, she supervises the marketing department and evaluates the Group’s performance in its key areas of influence.  And if I just lapsed into business-plan-speak, forgive me.  It’s been a long week.

Chris Jones continues as the Resident Magician.  He acquires new powers daily.  It’s hard work, and he has made great progress.  One day he hopes to be elevated to the rank of Djinn.

We’d like to introduce to you our Directress of Impressions, the vibrant and fascinating Olivia Votaw.  She comes to us via some very interesting work in California, and brings fluent Spanish to our list of weapons here.  She will be supervising all the events (like our Client Appreciation Barbecue on August 12 at 4pm, you’re invited and can RSVP here), generates our Pontificating Potty Post, and is currently scouring the client base for those that belong in the Raving Fan Club.  Busy gal, as you might imagine.  You’ll love her, we confidently predict.
Tod Hansmann, who is one of our Raving Fans, has joined us as the Group’s Electronic Organizer, though this may not be his official title.  Tod functions as the CIO for the Group (and, in fact, the entire IT department) and is in charge of the comprehensive web redesign, coming to your PC (or Mac) quite soon now.  Most of what Tod will do is automate the systems here, which ought to allow us to do more work faster and more accurately.  Some of that is already happening, as we’re grateful, but we’re still in the early stages of some very big things.  Watch this space for more.

And lastly, the Three Musketeers are Alexander, Nicholas and Crispin, my eldest sons who have been contracted to produce content and design for the Potty Post (what is this Potty Post, you ask?  How did you get here if you don’t know what it is?  Never mind.  Click here and we’ll send you an episode).  If you’re concerned that there might be some decline in quality because of outsourcing to a 14, 12, and 10-year-old, then you haven’t met my sons.  And if you have met them and you’re still concerned, note the following: they started in May.  If anything, the Post has been better (and come more often) since then.

A word about the future: it’s cloudy.  Nobody knows what is in it.  As the chief strategist for the Group, I have been reluctant to set a clear course, not having a vision for the future that contained a great deal more than what was already here in the present.  But some things are irresistible, and the destiny of the Group is one of those things.  We are always going to be involved in lending.  We will be branching into real-estate investing (indeed, for some of our clients we’ve been doing this for some time) and into education and seminars, among other things.  The Chris Jones Group Experience is going to grow, and there are big, big things on the horizon.

Drink up, me hearties.  Yo ho.