"Give us all your money," said the largest of the three men who snuck up behind me at the entrance to the Orlando Marriott World Hotel. It was 1:30 AM, pitch dark, and the area was abandoned.
I had my wallet out to pay the taxi driver, brimming with $5,000 in cash, my winnings at the blackjack tables at the just completed SALT conference in Las Vegas. He took off like a shot, and I was left standing there, alone.
I turned around, put my wallet in my back pocket, took off my horn rimmed glasses and said, in my most intimidating, "I'm going to kick your ass" manner possible, "Trying this on a Marine with post traumatic stress is a really bad idea." The three would be muggers backed up as fast as they could and disappeared into the swamps.
It's all about attitude.
I mentioned the incident to the hotel staff while checking in. They were horrified, apologized profusely, and gave me a triple upgrade to the presidential suite with a $100 room service credit.
Welcome to Orlando!
I was making a 24 hour pit stop in the Sunshine State to give the good news about where the financial markets will be in 2030 to a conference of top performing independent investment advisors. After knocking their socks off, I felt I had just made several lifetime friends.
I even got to trade war stories with a fellow Dessert Storm pilot who flew OV-10 twin tailed Broncos. Once, in Kuwait I was with a Marine ground unit that came under fire. The NCO said, "Don't worry, the Broncos are inbound." When I heard the BRRRRRR of its M60 machine guns, it sounded like music to my ears. I thanked him for his service, and saving my ass.
This being the heart of the Deep South and the former confederacy, I was questioned about my California politics. I told my audience they had a choice. They could listen to Fox News all day, read the conspiracy theories in the Drudge Report, and live in a permanent state of anger.
Or they could work with a guy with inside access like me, gain insights into the administrations actual thinking, and learn what they are really going to do. I hand out ticker symbols too. I suggested that the latter generated a better investment return for clients, and most agreed.
The reality is that most of the country agrees on 99% of everything I told them. It is only the media (better ratings), fundraisers (more money), and politicians (more votes) who are driving us to our corners, and the internet gives everybody flame thrower.
I also get the opportunity to influence the course of events in my own small way. The White House Staff, The Treasury Secretary, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, the Secretary of State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Director of the CIA don't spend time with me because I wear nice Italian suits and tell funny jokes.
You can almost count on one hand the number of people around who have been refining a global economic and political view for nearly half a century.
I also said I really loved their key lime pie and pecan pralines.
It was one of those non-stop days. After a scant four hours of sleep I was up at 7:00 AM for breakfast, delivered a 90 minute keynote speech at 8:00, and followed that up with a Global Strategy Luncheon with some of my oldest most loyal and newly enriched readers.
One made more than the 68% last year following my Trade Alerts. Then I hauled my lunch guests back into the conference to listen to me participate in a panel discussion.
I ended the day meeting with my own national staff in my greatly upsized suite, who flew in from around the country. Mad Day Trader Jim Parker was happy to flee Chicago for a day. Nancy of operations was there as fresh faced as always, as was Doug the Web developer, who we are now calling "the lumberjack," since he has a beard and lives in the middle of nowhere in remote Vermont.
We devised a series of new groundbreaking products, which you will be hearing about shortly. Such is life on the cutting edge of online financial education. Oh, and prices are going up too, as befits our industry beating performance.
I caught an early dinner with an old hedge fund buddy from Tampa, discussing the current state of the world. Then it was back to the hotel for an extended drinking session with the staff, who are indispensable in helping me run my global media empire.
No rest for the wicked.
By the way, I am writing all this to you from first class seat 2C on Virgin America flight VX 305, nonstop from Orlando to San Francisco. It is a perfect day, and we have just crossed the vast expanse of the "Big Muddy," Mark Twain's home waters, known to you all as the Mississippi River.
I mentioned to the pilot that with my frequent flier points and platinum status the crew should have lined up and saluted when I came on board. They laughed. Then I asked if he noticed the old Strategic Air Command B-52 bomber at the airport entrance.
He said he did, and that he had worked on the birds as a senior tech in the old days, charged with arming the nuclear warheads on the cruise missiles. He was amazed when I told him the Germans designed the Stratofortress during WWII so they could bomb New York.
They never built it, but the Americans did when they found the plans at the end of the war. Out of the original fleet of 500, 75 still fly, and the Air Force intends to keep flying them until 2050, when they will be 100 years old. No kidding. A lot of Air Force pilots still say it was the best plane ever designed.
Got to love Boeing Aircraft (NYSE:BA). Made in the USA.
I recounted my own stories of flying on nuclear armed missions from Anderson Air Force Base on Guam in the Pacific to North Korea, only to turn around ten minutes before we entered their air space.
We did this every Monday-Thursday, dropped conventional 500 pound bombs at a Western Australian missile range on Fridays, and took the weekends off to drink beer on pristine Tauragi beech, mindful of the armed Japanese soldiers still lurking in the jungle nearby. This was 1973.
There were no windows for the ten-hour flight. Even the front windshield carried removable steel blast shields. Good thing they always carried a spare coffee maker.
The message to the Kim Il-sung regime was clear. Be nice, or we fly the extra ten minutes. President Teddy Roosevelt (I met his oldest daughter Alice, no kidding, again!), wisely called this "walking softly, but carrying a big stick." Well, maybe not so softly.
The flight out was uneventful. I noticed that the older passenger next to me was wearing an $8,000 Brioni jacket identical to mine, so I complimented him on his taste in clothing. He turned out to be the head of the Neurology Department at the University of Arizona Medical School, so we spent three hours discussing the ins and outs of Obamacare. It turned a long flight into a short flight.
Bottom line? It's going to work, give the health care industry a long overdue shake up, unleash free market competition, and improve the quality of care for all, while reducing the costs. But it may take a decade to work out the kinks. Expect a lot of disruption until then.
I added that it was also creating the investment opportunity of the decade. He said "Oh?" and I gave him a handful of ticker symbols Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD), the iShares Biotech ETF (NASDAQ:IBB), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), and HCA Holdings (NYSE:HCA). These doctors, so smart, yet so useless when it comes to managing their own money.
I asked if these views were controversial in ultra red state Arizona, and he said "yes." But at a certain point, people of all political persuasions just want the facts so they can get on with their lives. So true, so true.
We then talked about what a great guy Barry Goldwater was (another bomber pilot, B-25's), and how his political career was ended by an unfair Johnson smear campaign (the little girl counting down the petals of a flower until a hydrogen bomb went off in the background).
Some things never change.
As is my way, I then convinced him to give me a complete physical while remaining in my seat. Was hiking 2,000 miles a year in the mountains with a 60 pound pack killing me? Was it doing more damage to my poor aging body than it was worth?
He gave me the once over. At 45 beats a minute, I had the resting heart rate of a teenaged Olympic athlete. My blood pressure at 110/70 was fabulous. Even the big toe that I froze in a high altitude blizzard last winter and was still black would get better ("That toenail really looks like it wants to come off") (the other first class passengers are now looking over curiously). The knees would get better over my summer break. He said whatever I was doing, I should keep doing it.
It looks like I will be around for a while.
The passenger in the other seat next to me was a stunning 6'1" blonde from Atlanta. After Stacy read my website through the onboard Wi-Fi, she handed me her business card with her cell number scratched on the back.
I'm not the player I was in decades past, but it is still nice to get this kind of attention when you are Social Security age. Now I know why they call them Southern Belles.
We just crossed the snow covered High Sierras and have begun our descent into San Francisco. It's time to fold up my laptop and fasten my seatbelt.
I'm sorry, this is turning into a bit of a ramble, but it is a long flight. This is my life, a never-ending series of utterly fascinating conversations about everything with everybody. It seems there is now a shapely brunette in the seat behind me who also wants my business card.
See you at my weekly Global Strategy webinar on Wednesday.
OV-10 Bronco Light Attack Aircraft