Seventh Sense

The Misadventures of the Street Strategist Vol.5 

 

 Street Strategist Home Page

 Read a chapter  from the book and see the Table of Contents below

 In this volume the Street Strategist, the most famous unknown, the pavement philosopher of maximum imagination and minimum talent, of infinite comprehension and zero knowledge, of total opinion and minimal truth 

  • declares he is blessed with a supernatural gift, the seventh sense; 
  • analyzes the latest accounting rules on mergers and acquisitions; 
  • discusses the new life of goodwill the intangible; 
  • theorizes that perhaps assets and expenses are not that different; 
  • provides the fastest way to derive the Modigliani-Miller proposition in corporate finance and probably will receive a Nobel Prize for it; 
  • admits that he is a person you openly hate but secretly love; 
  • confesses that he is a generalizer of ideas; 
  • owns up to providing avenues of  open dislearning; 
  • lends his eloquence to the US president on the issues of the Iraq war; 
  • contemplates on his theory of egocentric altruism; 
  • unravels the mystery of 10:09:36; 
  • reveals an alleged origin of a John Mellencamp hit song; 
  • shares his desire to become a world-class financial evangelist for the masses; 
  • writes his thoughts on the passing away of the editor of BusinessWorld, 
  • and among other things wonders, “Did he have passion?”
     

Seventh Sense: The Misadventures of the Street Strategist Volume  5 is the latest compilation of the continuing chronicles of the Most Famous Unknown’s convoluted ruminations on the irrelevant, the immaterial, the insignificant, the negligible, and the obscure, as published in the longest column space in the country.

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The most favored columnist writes a tribute to his unknown editor

The Unknown Editor

R

aul L. Locsin was to me an unknown editor. There goes another Street Strategist paradoxical first sentence. Don't worry, you can count on the Street Strategist to sort out the paradox with extreme brilliance and scintillating logic. And now that I have caught your attention, I have earned the equity to proceed with this mandatory but inadequate tribute.

Mandatory

Mandatory, because after all it was Raul Locsin's BusinessWorld that hosted the genesis of the Street Strategist and allowed the self-styled maverick to spread his butterfly wings after having metamorphosed from being an unknown to being the “most famous unknown.”

Spreading the Street Strategist's wings is not merely metaphorical.

Simultaneously, it physically corresponds to spreading his wings in terms of column-inches.

In fact, obviously, the most popular question directed at me is, “How did you become a columnist for BusinessWorld?” while the second most popular is: “How could BusinessWorld give you such space?”

I could figure out a hundred perfect replies with respect to the first question, starting with “raw talent, original insight and a nose for the obscure,” but even in the height of eloquence I could not justify the second question.

It boils down to BusinessWorld's editorial judgment and perhaps, brinkmanship.

This is what I meant by allowing me to spread my wings both metaphorically and physically.

I bet there is no other newspaper in the country, perhaps in the world, that would have risked having in its op-ed pages a complete unknown with zero experience in journalism, zero experience as a corporate executive, zero fame as a member of society, zero experience as a politician, zero expertise as a professional and zero wealth.

In other words, I had none of the qualifications that BusinessWorld and other newspapers in the country would have required as a minimum of a columnist.

Thus, on this basis alone, my tribute to Raul Locsin and his BusinessWorld is mandatory.

Inadequate

However, this tribute is inadequate.

Of course, you can justify that no tribute is ever adequate, but this tribute of mine is really way out inadequate, that I have to make special mention of it.

Despite having been a member of the BusinessWorld, irregularly at first by writing three or four Letters to the Editor in 1997 and 1998, then semi-regularly in 1998, the regularly since 1999, I never came to know Raul Locsin as a person although I knew about him as a man.

Thus, unlike all those who have close personal daily contact with him, I had no such privilege.

Therefore, whatever I write will be inadequate, grossly inadequate.

BusinessWorld

I have heard about, but rarely read Business Day, the precursor of BusinessWorld.

I was very young then, and I don't read anything tangentially related to business.

I only learned by reputation that it was an opposition newspaper during those martial law days and I was captivated by the paradox of a business daily being a political opposition.

I have read a couple of columns, but except that it was considered anti-administration, my young mind did not fully appreciate what Business Day was or what it stood for.

I probably read less than 10 issues of the paper myself, though I keep hearing about it from my anti-administration friends as the opposition paper.

Of course, Raul Locsin as an editor was unknown to me then.

Business Day was largely a capital-based newspaper in a tabloid format and the outlying provinces had rare access to it.

So it was out of sight, out of mind for young men like me.

In fact, I never knew what happened to it, because after martial law, only newspapers with larger circulations caught the attention of simpleminded folks like me.

Then, I heard about an obscure newspaper called BusinessWorld in the early 1990s when I learned that one of our professors was, and still is, a columnist.

I had no access to the newspaper, but we get to read the columns of our professor as his secretary sometimes cut it out for the bulletin board.

At the time, I didn't know it was the successor to Business Day and that Raul Locsin edited and published it.

Raul Locsin was an unknown editor to me then.

Letters

To the uninitiated, like me, Business Day was a nothing more than a defunct martial law opposition paper, and BusinessWorld was just another thinly circulated newspaper which I didn't even read.

I began paying special attention to BusinessWorld because of its online version which I think was one of the earliest to be set up in the country.

It was this Web presence that equalized the status of a reader in the capital and the reader from the far-flung provinces, or countries.

As such, my ignorance of BusinessWorld was largely intact until late 1996 or so, when I wrote a Letter to the Editor, which it promptly published.

I wrote two to three more in 1997, and one in early 1998.

I was extremely amused. BusinessWorld was the only newspaper in the country that published my letters to the editor, and thus, in return I read the newspaper with special attention.

Again, this was online because I had no access to the printed copy.

The Manila Times, however, printed one of my unsolicited feature articles, and record-wise, I have had more letters printed in Hong Kong-based Asiaweek than in BusinessWorld.

It was sometime in 1997 and 1998 that I learned of BusinessWorld and Raul Locsin's status in the press world.

It was all secondary information from what was available in the press, internet, and later on from business people I met.

It soon emerged to me that here was an extraordinary paper run by an extraordinary person.

Thus, Raul Locsin was an unknown editor to me then.

Strategy Myopia

Then in June 1998, BusinessWorld published my unsolicited piece that soon became my magnum opus: Strategy Myopia.

The response to Strategy Myopia overwhelmed the amateur writer in me and I have chronicled this in my book of the same title.

Even after five years, Strategy Myopia still amuses newcomers. Last week, I met a businessman who is active in the chamber of commerce who read his friends copy of my book.

He has never heard of me, and has never read a column of mine although he reads BusinessWorld once in a while.

But he ordered three copies through my friend to be given to his friends who would appreciate such gifts.

In fact, as of 6 a.m. on the day I am writing this piece, I got a message from somebody who had his first taste of Strategy Myopia: “I am overwhelmed by the intensity of your articles. I missed a lot! You are probably one of the youngest influential free thinkers around. I'm not surprised, you are predestined for greatness.”

Of course, I wouldn't have had these amusing misadventures with readers if not for the chance that BusinessWorld gave me.

Without the editorial support of BusinessWorld, I wouldn't have been writing regularly, and wouldn't have compiled my articles into a book, and would have remained a closet writer.

Yet, even at the time the article Strategy Myopia was published, Raul Locsin was an unknown editor to me.

Columnist

I sent three more similarly kilometric nonsense over the next few months.

Right after I wrote The Accounting Wizard in which I invented the accounting codes and rules that proved extremely valuable to non-accountants worldwide, in August 1998, executive editor Leticia Locsin offered me to become a columnist.

Thus, on the strength alone of my track record of four unsolicited articles, I became a columnist.

Of course, I didn't' realize the full impact of being a columnist. In the first place, all I had to do was to write my piece and e-mail it to the executive editor.

The act was nothing unlike sending a letter to a pen pal.

Thus, being a columnist was not much different from what I had been doing before - sending my unsolicited articles to persons I have never seen.

Then, there is the fact that I lived in place so remote that BusinessWorld arrived one day late, if ever a copy came.

Thus, I didn't even get to see my picture or article on paper.

Therefore, it was all just a website to read. Not much different from reading my own homepage.

Furthermore, I had no daily interaction with people who read my column.

I have few friends of less than 10 who read my articles, e-mailed me sometimes, and that was about it.

I received reactions from faceless people by letters and they are nothing but pen pals.

Effectively, I did not feel I was a columnist, there were no palpable reminders of being one, and most of all, I was even a stranger to the BusinessWorld family itself.

Even at this stage, Raul Locsin was an unknown editor to me.

Irony

And so it came to pass that I had become a columnist for BusinessWorld.

I knew a little thing about the newspaper, and they knew nothing about me.

At the time, I had never met anybody from BusinessWorld, and they had never seen my face – up until the time they requested me for a photo.

At the time, I didn't know personally the editors and the publisher and they didn't know of my work and educational background until I became a columnist when they requested it as a matter of policy.

In fact, I could have been the madman in the book The Professor and the Madman, and they wouldn't have known about it.

At the time, I was not a subscriber of BusinessWorld and never to got see the paper in print.

At the time, I had not visited the offices of BusinessWorld and they have not visited my office or my home, either.

More importantly, Raul Locsin was an unknown editor to me.

Contact

At the time, I sensed it but the full impact came years later: The editors of BusinessWorld basically took a leap of faith with me.

Basically, it was too easy for me to become a columnist, and therefore I really did not appreciate this blessing because I did not have to work hard to earn it.

So, I never took it like some badge of courage.

This may come as a surprise for my readers, but I have never met the Locsins, nor their staff before I became a columnist.

There is some sense of irony here because the pair are quite well-known and well-connected in the industry, the government, and the community in general that anybody who is somebody in the country has to have met them once at least.

Here I was, an anointed one, residing in the opinion pages, fast becoming a usurper of column-inches, and was becoming a familiar face to the readers as a part of the close-knit BusinessWorld family, yet haven't met any of the staff or editors.

Finally, I had the chance to personally meet them.

I think it was the 13th year of Business Day/BusinessWorld and Leticia Locsin e-mailed me that if I was around that day, it was my chance to meet them.

It so happened at the time I was traveling in California, but I tried to rearrange my schedule so I could come to the cocktails at the Peninsula.

So I arrived from LA in the morning, slept a few hours in Hong Kong, and rushed to Manila and arrived at around 4 p.m.

Straight from the airport, I reached the Peninsula by 6 p.m. and couldn't find my name tag in the visitor's list.

It was good that Joice Macalindong, Leticia's editorial assistant, recognized me and introduced me to Leticia Locsin who exclaimed: “You look different than what I expected you to be.”

I came in a business suit and she was probably expecting a street-based costume.

I met some staff members for the first time, including Liza Solano, the online managing director who was the first to catch my Strategy Myopia article for publication.

I also met other columnists for the first time, who wouldn't believe that my red face was caused by sunburn at San Diego's Sea World and not by the red wine we were having.

There was even a columnist who asked me what my department was.

I didn't understand him at first, until I realized he thought I was a BusinessWorld staff member.

I sheepishly replied, “I'm a columnist, Street Strategist.”

Well, there goes my supposed fame. Even a fellow columnist didn't recognize me.

And then Leticia took me aside and introduced me to the man himself: “Raul, this is Thads Bentulan.”

A nod, a handshake, and that was all. They had many visitors and it was hard to fix his attention.

That meeting occurred one year after I had become a columnist and two years after Strategy Myopia.

Even at the time, Raul Locsin was an unknown editor to me.

Respect

On a daily basis, Leticia Locsin handles the op-ed pages, and in her absence, I honestly don't know who closes the paper.

When Raul Locsin won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for journalism, I could not join the chorus because I did not know him personally.

This what I mean by I know the man, but not the person. Raul Locsin was the only editor I knew who was known as the editor of a newspaper.

Let me explain this.

With the other newspapers, the readers hardly know who the editors are.

Even today, I have to look at the masthead of the newspaper to find out who its editors are.

I know who its major columnists are but I don't know its editors.

With Raul Locsin, he was known and was famous as the editor of BusinessWorld which ironically does not have its own editorials. BusinessWorld was Raul Locsin, and Raul Locsin was BusinessWorld.

If you try to think about it, there is no other newspaper in the country with such a strong brand recognition of the newspaper vis-a-vis its editor.

How many broadsheets are there in the country, and how many of them are known by their editors?

Armando Malay comes to mind, but his paper was not as successful as BusinessWorld.

When I started with BusinessWorld, I did not fully appreciate how respected it was.

Well, I could say it is respected because I write for it but even without such self-serving statements I came to learn of its reputation from other sources.

For example, I have met foreigners, in the magazine and newspaper business in Hong Kong and Singapore, who use BusinessWorld as their reputable source of news about the country.

They made these comments without knowing I am connected to BusinessWorld.

And personally, I never tell people I am connected with the paper.

In fact I have written in The Reluctant Journalist that I initially refused many offers to write for another Asian magazine because that would mean declaring to them a possible conflict of interest that I write for BusinessWorld.

I did, in fact, initially refuse for more than a year such an opportunity. That's how I valued my connection with BusinessWorld.

Thus, I have seen from afar how foreigners view BusinessWorld as the only non-sensational paper in town.

I have learned firsthand to respect the newspaper I had been writing for.

The editorial independence of BusinessWorld and its dislike for sensational headlines make it a sober and serious source of information and news.

Incidentally, the Street Strategist column is probably an exception because of my utter propensity for sensational treatment of obscure matters and ideas.

Pride

Despite not being part of the mainstream editorial policy of this newspaper being a sensationalist of obscure ideas, I take deep pride in being connected to this newspaper, and with Raul Locsin's editorial resolve.

Indeed, BusinessWorld is probably the only newspaper being sought by the readers, the executive, general manager types.

In the Chinese communities throughout the country, BusinessWorld is a must reading, such that I learned from a few readers that Chinese businessmen read my column than my own family ever does.

No contest.

I have long since resigned to the fact that if you don't know me as writing for BusinessWorld, then you are a mid-level executive with no ambition in your career, while I expect those at the top to be following my column.

Therefore, I always tell my friends and classmates who don't follow my column: “It's okay if you don't read me because you are not that high up in your company yet. But I expect your president to know me more than you do.”

This is my way of saying, BusinessWorld is the paper that is read by the chief executives of the country and if you are not reading this paper you are not yet in the position of corporate responsibility.

Such is the power of Raul Locsin's fierce but sober editorial independence: We know who are reading and who are not reading BusinessWorld.

There is a specific high-level readership.

Yet, even I was already a columnist, Raul Locsin was an unknown editor to me.

Paradox

Raul Locsin was probably the most reputable editor in the country not giving in to sensational misleading headlines, and probably the only editor whose reputation was carried by the newspaper.

The trust of the readers in BusinessWorld was their trust in Raul Locsin.

This one-to-one correspondence is not obtaining in other newspapers.

However, the paradox of Raul Locsin was that, to me, at least, despite having written for his paper for five years, I never talked to him, I never corresponded with him, and never heard from him despite the potentially dangerous articles I wrote about actions of bureaucrats and powerful persons.

In fact, it is because of this absence that I began to respect what editorial independence was all about.

When the powers-that-be phoned and wrote letters to the editor complaining about my series of articles regarding controversial issues, I never received a word from them.

The only word I got from anybody at BusinessWorld was about space and deadline.

Raul Locsin, despite being known to everybody in the industry, and to many of the country's powerful and the elite, was unknown to me.

I didn't even know what he thought of my column.

From hundreds of readers I heard, but not from Raul Locsin. Since my articles are basically for entertainment, he need not to worry about its editorial content.

Paradoxically, and ironically, after five years of writing for his paper, I never talked to Raul Locsin.

I've met him only once.

I've met Leticia only once, and the second time was last Monday when I visited the wake of Raul.

I still don't have a subscription to BusinessWorld and I seldom get to read my columns on paper.

And I still haven't visited BusinessWorld's offices.

And during the wake, I hardly even recognized Joice who bears the brunt of my weekly deadline incursions.

If not for the wake, I wouldn't have met their staffers.

Now, you know why I said that my tribute will be inadequate.

So every time you read the Street Strategist, keep in mind that I am as much a stranger to BusinessWorld as I am to the reader like you.

They don't even have my new cellphone and home numbers, only my e-mail address.

Such is my extremely privileged relationship with Raul Locsin and his newspaper.

And don't forget, I didn't even know Raul Locsin at all.

However, given the nature of the Street Strategist, it all seems so conveniently and comfortably natural and logical.

Yet, one doesn't have to know the person to know the man.

The man was his reputation.

His reputation was his work.

His work was his paper.

And his paper is for everyone to read, to judge and to learn from.

And since what you read is what the paper is, then the paper is the true reflection of the works and the principles of the man.

To read his work, to know his work, is to know the man. You don't have to know him as a person to respect the man.

Take it from the Street Strategist, five years of writing the longest columns in the newspaper that carries the man's principle, and not even a word with the man himself.

Yes, to me, he was an unknown editor.

Yet, even if I didn't know the person, I knew the man.

(Thads Bentulan, May 29, 2003)

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Table of Contents

 

Chapter

Page

Seventh Sense
January 2, 2003

11

A God of Distorted Images
January 9, 2003

21

The Acquisitions Specialist
January 16, 2003

27

Goodwill the Intangible
January 23, 2003

35

A Theory of Assets and Expenses
January 30, 2003

43

Deriving the MM Proposition
February 6, 2003

51

Openly Hate, Secretly Love
February 13, 2003

63

The Generalizer
February 20, 2003

69

The MM Proposition and the Nobel Prize 1
February 27, 2003

79

The MM Proposition and the Nobel Prize 2
March 6, 2003

89

Open Dislearning 1
March 13, 2003

99

Open Dislearning 2
March 20, 2003

107

Evil Transcends
March 27, 2003

117

Lending Eloquence
April 3, 2003

127

The Absence of Deceit
April 10, 2003

139

Egocentric Altruism
April 17, 2003

149

10:09:36
May 22, 2003

155

The Unknown Editor
May 29, 2003

165

Strategy Myopia: Five Year After
June 5, 2003

177

Did He Have Passion?
June 12, 2003

181

Returns of the Day
June 19, 2003

187

Financial Evangelist 1
June 26, 2003

197

Financial Evangelist 2
July 3, 2003

205

Financial Evangelist 3
July 17, 2003

217

The Strategy of Crescendo
July 24, 2003

225

Postface

235