Sunday, June 24, 2018

Does my face ring a bell?

This past week, the was invited to help our vendor and sponsor 8x8 with their "ringing of the bell" ceremony at the NYSE. It was an amazing experience. 

And it got me thinking about...........bells. 

Joe: "Have we met before?"
Sam: "Well, your face rings a bell." 

To "ring a bell" can mean to awaken a memory. 

Bells such as the type used in churches are large and loud. Their sound can be heard from a great distance. Bells sound a single, clear note so their sound is distinctive and not easily confused. 

Before electric sirens and amplification systems, bells were a valuable means of signaling people and alerting of important events.

Accurate clocks and timepieces were not always as available as they are today. Bells were used to signal people of the start of events such as a church session, the start of school, or a celebration. The bells acted as a reminder of the start of the event for people who had an out of sync timepiece or no timepiece. Someone would literally ring a bell as a reminder. 

As an aside bells were later used on clocks to mark the hour. A large clock usually in the town square could be heard throughout the town. This clock acted as a master time reference for the town. The hourly bell ringing gave people an opportunity to synchronize their respective timepieces, and early watches required frequent adjustment.

There are many bells that ring to remind or instruct us to do things: doorbell (open the door), telephone bell (pick up the phone), school bell (come to class), toaster bell (take out the toast), and the clothes dryer bell (take out the clothes). So, if something such as a face, a name, a number, or a date "rings a bell," it causes you to remember something.

I can remember that "ringing your bell" had to do with the affect of getting "clocked" by a impact to the head. In the case of boxing, a "bell ringer " would be a knockout where the bell was rung to signal the end of the fight. It was often illustrated as such in old cartoons. 

Or the reference to the carnival sledgehammer strength meter where the hammer strikes the fulcrum and launches a metal hammer up a vertical slide and ultimately hitting the bell at the top. Just as with boxing, the winner is a bell ringer. It's not a big stretch to see how this morphed into its current sexual vernacular or even financial stock market reference.

Bells have been around for about 5,000 years, and have obviously been used to convey information and to remind people to do something.

We spent two days at the NYSE. A wonderful evening private party on the trading room floor, and then, the "ringing of the bell" ceremony the next morning at 9:30 am (sharp). I admit it, this experience was a big deal for all of us. 

The history of the NYSE is connected to the history of business in America. I met some amazing people who have worked at the NYSE for 10, 20 years or more. And I asked everyone the same question: 

How can you possibly predict the market?

And here it comes. The same answer, from almost everyone that I asked. In some form, the answer to my question of how to predict the stock market was the same. 

"You cannot predict the market. You cannot predict how a stock will perform. But you CAN predict how people will FEEL about HOW THEY THINK a stock will perform". 

The stock markets (NYSE or NASDAQ) do not really track the performance of a stock, or track the value of any company stock. 

What the market does track, however, is how PEOPLE think about a certain stock. It tracks how they FEEL about what they think might happen to the stock price of a specific company.

And when a CEO's compensation is connected to the price of a stock, the stock price is all that matters to that leader. A CEO can take steps to increase the price of the company stock (and their paycheck) sometimes at the peril of the employees, the shareholders and the community. 

And that is when the bell went off in my head. 

Trillions of dollars are exchanged each day on the NYSE. These trades are not based on how a stock or how a company will really perform. It is all about how people think - how people WILL think - about a stock or a company. 

It is all about people guessing what people will be thinking (guessing) about what will happen next. 

The value of a company's stock is not the value of the company. The stock market simply tracks the "opinion of a guess" of a future value. And it tracks the past opinion of a past predicted value. Got it?

I have to admit it, this trip to the NYSE really struck a cord with me. Maybe my next blog will be about pianos and guitars. 

Ringing the Bell

No comments:

Post a Comment