Porter reports on Rancho Santana – the Nicaraguan development started by Bill Bonner and Agora over 20 years ago that has turned into a world-class boutique resort featured in the New York Times, Forbes, Travel & Leisure, and Bloomberg. Why are investors and retirees so interested in this part of Central America? Porter and his special guest from Rancho reveal why Nicaragua is finally getting noticed as a place to vacation, invest, and live full-time.
Buck sits down with Kenneth Cukier, Senior Technology Editor at The Economist and co-author of Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think. Kenn explains to Buck why many of the doomsday scenarios surrounding artificial intelligence you hear from the likes of Tesla’s Elon Musk are dead wrong.
Entrepreneur, author, and business coach Bedros Keuilian joins the show to tell you why you need to unlock your leadership potential and make business decisions that move you forward right now. Bedros tells Buck how he almost lost his entire business because he didn’t man up and confront the problems right in front of him.
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Senior Technology Editor, The Economist
Announcer: Broadcasting from Baltimore, Maryland and New York City, you're listening to the Stansberry Investor Hour. Tune in each Thursday on iTunes for the latest episode of the Stansberry Investor Hour. Sign up for the free show archive at InvestorHour.com. Here are the hosts of your show, Buck Sexton and Porter Stansberry.
Buck Sexton: Welcome everybody to this week's Stansberry Investor Hour. We have an exciting show planned for you as per usual. Some housekeeping, some bits of business... This is usually in the podcast where I would introduce our fearless leader, Porter Stansberry, but it turns out Porter is down in Nicaragua right now. He is there at Ranch Santana to take part in the Agora Publishers roundtable meeting, so we'll be looking forward to hearing all about his adventures, and because it's Porter you know there will be adventures, and what he learned next week when he gets back here on the podcast.
But fear not, we are absolutely not going to let you go a full week without hearing from the wit and wisdom of Mr. Stansberry and of course yours truly, who is not in Nicaragua. I'm in Stanford, for those of you who like that part of the country. I'm here on Stanford University's campus as a visiting media fellow at the Hoover Institute, which I've gotta say is incredible. This place is amazing.
First of all, I should've gone to Stanford and second of all, the Hoover Institute is the nicest think tank I've ever seen, and I've seen some nice ones. I've worked at some nice ones. So fear not, dear listener, next week we will have Porter on the Stansberry Investor Hour, but for now we've resurrected an interview Porter did with the old Stansberry radio program with the fine folks at Rancho Santana in Nicaragua. We thought since Porter is down at Rancho this week you might be wondering, why Nicaragua?
Along with Porter's interview you're also gonna hear some side interviews that I did while out in Las Vegas at the annual Stansberry Conference this past September, which was phenomenal, by the way. I'm already looking forward to next year's Stansberry Vegas outing. You're gonna hear from Ken Cukier who's a senior technology editor at The Economist on why basically everything you've heard about artificial intelligence is wrong. It's a really interesting interview. That guy has got some great insights you'll wanna hear.
You'll also hear from entrepreneur and author Bedros Keuilian. Bedros is the author of the book Man Up and he's here today to talk to you about unlocking your leadership potential in business and in life. Now if you've been a reader of Stansberry Research for any length of time, you've heard us talk about Agora's 3,000-acre development on the pristine Pacific Coast of Nicaragua called Rancho Santana.
Today you'll hear Porter interview Marc Brown, former real estate director at Ranch Santana. Marc explains why Nicaragua is poised to follow in the footsteps of Costa Rica, and why the people of Nicaragua are one of the main reasons to go visit and even live there full time. Marc also tells you exactly what's going on at Rancho and in the surrounding area, and that makes this part of Central America such a haven for retirees, expats, surfers, and of course Stansberry readers.
In fact, the Stansberry family is going to be at Rancho Santana for the first time this coming February for the 2018 Stansberry Winter Investment Conference. Listen closely on how you can join the Stansberry family there as well. There will be investment experts like Steve Sjuggerud, editor of True Wealth, Meb Faber, chief investment officer at Cambria Investment Management who you've heard on this podcast by the way on episode ten, Carlo Kinnel from Kinnel Capital, and Stansberry's newest senior analyst, Austin Root.
Come with me and the Stansberry group to Rancho Santana this winter. You'll enjoy two mornings of new investment ideas from our expert speakers, five nights and six days at the new inn at Rancho Santana, and everything else the emerald coast of Nicaragua has to offer. When you dig into life at Rancho Santana, you'll find five beaches where you are often the only soul out there. A modern clubhouse with farm-to-table dining, multiple pools, horseback riding, hiking, yoga, an award-winning spa, world-class surfing, and best of all, relaxation.
Forbes calls Rancho "A new reason to go to Nicaragua right now." The New York Times says it offers "secluded luxury" and Food and Wine magazine says, "It's the inn to escape to in Nicaragua." This trip is being organized for Stansberry Alliance members, but we'd also like to extend the invitation to our vey special podcast listeners because you tune in so faithfully week after week. For the full details on the Nicaragua trip and to join us at Rancho this winter, February 4 through February 9, go to StansberryRancho.com.
Okay folks, let's get into some Porter time. With Porter down in Nicaragua this week at Ranch Santana we thought we'd help you answer the question, why Nicaragua and what is Rancho Santana? Rancho Santana is a world-class resort and residential community located on Nicaragua's Pacific Coast. It boasts 3,000 acres of rolling hills and two miles of rocky and dramatic shore broken up by five distinct beaches.
Listen in as Porter interviews Marc Brown, former real estate director at Rancho Santana, on why Nicaragua is the next Costa Rica, why he moved his family to Nicaragua and lived there for seven years, and the opportunity that exists at Rancho Santana for those of us with an open mind and an adventurous spirit. Here's what Porter and Marc had to say.
Porter Stansberry: So Marc, something that I just gotta start with, and that is how in the world did you end up in Nicaragua? That's pretty much the first question I ever get when I tell people I'm either going down there or I've been down there.
Marc Brown: Right, and it was sort of dumb luck more than anything else. I was working in the tech industry in San Francisco, but I grew up a surfer so that was really what my passion was and I was trying to surf all over the world, chasing waves. I ended up going down to Nicaragua and just had such a good time, saw that the people were really friendly towards folks coming in, and you could tell that the place was poised to kinda follow in Costa Rica's footsteps as far as land appreciation and tourism really starting to explode.
So I went back to San Francisco, somehow convinced my wife to move herself and our two young girls down there, and we moved there primarily just to surf and enjoy the lifestyle. Didn't know really how long we'd stay down there and then started to get into the real estate business and ended up staying for about six, seven years.
Porter Stansberry: And in terms of all the different places that are down there, I don't know, there's maybe a half-dozen or so relatively successful communities that are now popping up all along the coast around San Juan Del Sur, which is this really charming little harbor town that is very close to the Costa Rican border and Nicaragua. In your mind, what really sets Rancho Santana apart from the other offerings?
Marc Brown: So it's a couple things. When I moved down there and got into real estate, I got into real estate independently, so I did real estate all up and down the coast and was able to take a look at all these different developments that you're mentioning, and for me about six, seven years of working in that business down there and looking at the different developments and watching which ones succeeded and which ones didn't. The key things to look at I think when you're looking at foreign real estate is one, you wanna find a spectacular piece of dirt.
So in this case the Agora guys that went down there, Bill Bonner and his buddies, and bought this property, it's almost 3,000 acres right on the water. That's one thing that sets it aside. Then the second and probably most important component is who's behind it. So we've all traveled in Mexico or Costa Rica or even the United States and seen where developers have started projects and then either ran out of vision or ran out of money and they just sit there with the rebar sticking out of the ceiling.
So for us having the Agora crew behind us as owners and developers of the property and they all have their own homes down there, have had family members buy, having them behind the development assures from an investment perspective as much as it can that it's gonna work out in the long haul.
Porter Stansberry: I can assure you that Uncle Bill is not gonna run out of money.
Marc Brown: Exactly.
Porter Stansberry: I say that about Bill Bonner who's been my business partner for 15 years now and I've seen him pour literally millions and millions and millions of dollars into Rancho Santana without taking out any money at all, so I know that Rancho Santana will certainly be around. Full disclosure, I'm a lot holder at a place called Los Perros. Marc, how much is my lot worth these days? What's the market like down there?
Marc Brown: Someone just listed one close to yours for $590,000.
Porter Stansberry: Wow.
Marc Brown: Yeah. So things are going up significantly. There's still a lot of room to go, though. If you look at from the perspective of a development curve we're still on the front end of that curve. At the very front end is where you look at some place like Haiti and say well I'm not gonna buy real estate in Haiti, but the people that do in the long haul, 50 years, 100 years down the road, they're gonna get in cheap today and 100 years down the road it might be worth something.
So Bill and these guys got in when the dirt down there was relatively inexpensive, and it's continued to appreciate over the last ten years, but we're still poised to see another big swing in appreciation from the roads being paved, there's a new international airport going in next door, there's a really nice high-end Four Seasons caliber resort that's gone in about ten minutes away. So there's still a lot of room for appreciation.
Porter Stansberry: Yeah. The resort that the richest family in Nicaragua, the Pelis family built is called Guacalito. That's just what we call it locally. Does it have a different brand name, a marketing name?
Marc Brown: Guacalito is the name of the overall development, and then within the development they've put in a resort called Macool, and that resort has probably about 40 hotel rooms. I mentioned Four Seasons 'cause I've been over there and I've looked in these rooms and they're every bit as nice as, say, the Four Seasons in Costa Rica.
Porter Stansberry: This golf course he built also is unbelievable. I think the number I heard talked about was a $300 million build out for Guacalito. I've seen it myself. I certainly believe that number is in the ballpark. I don't know whether it's high or low, but it's certainly that magnitude. The amazing thing to me, Marc, and I know you feel this way too, is I have been surfing down there since the late 1990s, and I can remember going through all these places when they were just cow pastures. The first time I was down there with Bill Bonner was probably 1997, 1998, and we were on horseback.
Now all this stuff is paved roads and beautiful first class apartments and houses and mansions. It's an incredible transformation. One last thing I wanna say and then I wanna get your feedback on this. When I first started going there the thing that struck me besides the quality of the offshore wind and the waves which are second to none, I know everyone is not in the market for a great surf destination, but it truly is an amazing surf destination which is what's driving all the rental value of these places.
But what kept me coming back besides the surfing was the people. They were poor, but they were incredibly family-oriented and they were incredibly hardworking and industrious. So their house might be a shack and it might have a dirt floor, but the floor is completely swept out and all the kids are in their school uniforms and they're all perfect, pressed and clean. That is what set Nicaragua apart in my mind from every other country I've been to in Central America. Has all of the development down there and the success of those places, has that changed the nature of the people?
Marc Brown: No, and I couldn't agree with you more. I tend to tell people that exact same thing when I'm talking to them about why Nicaragua. As cheesy as it sounds, that's sort of what I usually position it with people. The people were a big part of the reason that I ended up there and it's exactly like you said. I was going down there surfing and surfing other places, and when I went to El Salvador I got the feeling like, hey, I would never take my family down there on a vacation. It just felt really rough around the edges and unsafe.
Then we went to Nicaragua and that was a big part of it. Not only were the waves better than anywhere else in Central America, but the people were so friendly that you said, wow, I could take my family down here on a vacation and have a blast or even live down here for a period of time. So no, the people I think they really appreciate what some of the developments are bringing, so ourselves and the Pelis organization that you mentioned with the Guacalito program.
They're bringing in tons of employment, a lot of nice things for the local folks from healthcare which is what Rancho Santana has put in, a health clinic. Marc Ford who's a good friend of Porter's put in a community center across the street with his own money which has a baseball field, soccer field, basketball.
Porter Stansberry: It's some of my money too.
Marc Brown: Yeah.
Porter Stansberry: He hit us all up for that.
Marc Brown: So yeah, the people have not changed. If anything it's as strong of a feeling or a connection with those people as ever and even stronger because it's sort of a give and take, and most of the people that are going to Nicaragua it's the forward-thinking folks. People can go to Costa Rica where you can find a very similar type of environment, but it's sort of already developed, prices are much higher, there's a lot more commercialism.
You can go to Nicaragua which has got all the nice things that you're looking for from top notch restaurants and the development that we've talked about, but there's still a real cultural experience. There's still a great connection with the local people. So no, the people are the same as they have been and I think they always will be.
Porter Stansberry: I got two more questions for you and then I'll let you – Marc is talking to us today from Tahoe, so he's got a really rough road. Surfing in Nicaragua, skiing in Tahoe. It's very difficult being the sales director at Rancho Santana, ladies and gentlemen. Question for you, and that is very sincerely for folks who are interested, they're really interested, but they can't envision calling up a buddy and just hopping on a plane to Nicaragua. They've never shopped for real estate overseas. They really don't even know what the first step is. How can you help guide them so that they can make informed choices about touring the country, getting a guide, seeing some developments, of course hopefully going to see Rancho Santana as well? How do they get started?
Marc Brown: Yeah, well you can do a couple things. One is usually people when they've made a decision that they're trying to diversify their assets, they may be afraid of what's going on in the U.S. a little bit and they wanna get into the foreign real estate asset class so they're gonna start looking at a country like Nicaragua. You've got a bit of a mental checklist in your head, and most people then I'll connect with them on the phone, walk them through Nicaragua as well as Santana, and usually we can check off most of those boxes in their head, and at that point you gotta go put boots on the ground.
You're gonna wanna go look at Rancho Santana as well as the rest of the country and get a good sense for it. The thing though that again sets Santana apart when you're evaluating the different developments or even different countries, like I said earlier you wanna find that piece of dirt that speaks to you that's beautiful and that's what these guys got in Santana. It would be cost prohibitive to buy almost 3,000 acres on the coast in Mexico, Costa Rica, or Nicaragua anymore.
So that component or that box is checked, and then again the second piece of really the evaluation process is who's behind it, and that's where Santana gets set apart from everybody else, and obviously I'm a little bit biased 'cause I wear the shirt and sell the real estate down there, but when I moved to Santana I was probably the most naïve buyer there was. I had no clue who Agora was. It was just gonna be the most comfortable place for my wife, and so for selfish reasons I only got to stay down there and surf every day as long as my wife and kids were happy.
But to finish answering your question, I think the way to go about it is to talk to people that are knowledgeable about the country, the real estate process, the laws, the developments and such, and then really focus in on finding a place that feels right but also who's behind it. Are they well capitalized? Why are they developing the property? Do they have homes and holdings themselves there?
That's where for folks that are following you, Porter it's the relationship with you and the relationship with Agora that allows these people to say, you know what? It's worth getting on a plane and going down and taking a look at this thing because Uncle Bill has got a place there, Marc Ford has got a place in there, Porter has got a place in there. My boss Matt Turner who's their general council just built a place that you could put on the cover of Architectural Digest.
So they're all in and that's why for me as an individual with my house down there paid for in cash, I'm always looking at it through those lenses as well from an investment perspective. I got two young daughters I gotta put through college, but it's the fact that it's a lovely piece of real estate, but more importantly it's these guys that are behind it. There's no debt on the property. They're building all these new amenities with cash. So to me that's kinda what sets it apart. You still wanna go do your entire evaluation process and look at other places, but I think that's what sets us apart is who's buying it.
Porter Stansberry: Marc, I gotta tell you, when your lawyer builds the Taj Mahal, and Matt Turner has been basically my lawyer for 15 years ever since I've been a partner with Bill, when your lawyer builds a house like that, a couple things go through your mind, one of which is I've been paying this guy too much. His house is truly spectacular and I would urge anybody who's even visiting Nicaragua to go check it out. It'll give you some good ideas for how to build your own home and the styling and all that.
But a couple things I would recommend, and Marc, you correct me if you disagree with this, which is if I was gonna be making a significant investment in Nicaragua, and that means for me if I was gonna be spending $1 to $5 million on land in Nicaragua, the first thing that I would do is I would fly to Managua and I would retain the best local law firm. Marc, I don't know if you have a law firm that you work with regularly that's local that has a good reputation that you would refer people to, or if that's something that you just don't get involved in because of the various liabilities.
Marc Brown: We've got a couple attorneys we work with. There's one primarily that I do all my personal stuff with. They do all the personal stuff for Bill and Mark and those guys whether it's their holdings inside Santana or outside Santana. So we've got folks that are strong attorneys, and I kinda go back to you can go – it'd be like if I went to Costa Rica, I'm not that familiar with Costa Rica so trying to find an attorney on my own could be a difficult process.
Again, and I'm not trying to push too hard on the whole Agora Rancho Santana thing, but again I think a lot of the people that go down there to look at Santana they probably wouldn't go maybe if it wasn't for you Porter and Bill and the attachment that these people have and the money that they already have down there.
So what I find most of the people that are affiliated with you and your organizations and also with Bill and his is they're coming to Marc Brown saying, "Okay Mar, we trust you because of your relationship and our relationship with these folks. Who would you use as an attorney?" And then we tend to use the same attorneys that I use for with your transaction or with Bill's transaction.
So you can find attorneys. I think it's just sort of again not creating the wheel. If one of the main reasons you're going down there is because of the affiliation with a Porter and/or a Bill, then you might as well sort of lean on what they can bring to the table. Obviously, you're not gonna talk to them individually, but that's where I come in… where hopefully Porter has got a level of trust with me and I know Bill does and I work for those guys.
Porter Stansberry: Absolutely. One of the things I really like about Marc is he sort of came to us. He was down there dealing with all these other places and he realized the troubles that those folks were gonna have and were already starting to have, and he came to us and Rancho Santana weathered the real estate downturn no problem at all. Because we have the capital and we have a great product as you'll see when you go down there. But definitely I would recommend having a good relationship with an attorney down there because the laws and the stuff, the customs, it's just a little bit different.
With everything being in Spanish, you gotta make sure that you've got a good lawyer and that you have a good relationship with him and can just simply communicate with him so that you have a great understanding and there aren't any unpleasant surprises. I've been on property in Nicaragua since 2004 and it's been great. Very, very low overhead, very low HOA fees, very low taxes. I've had no problems at all maintaining my title, any of that stuff. It's been a very good experience for me, but having a good lawyer down there for me was key to me having the confidence to make those transactions.
And then the second thing I would tell you, and this is my advice not Marc's, but what I would tell you to do is I would tell you to make sure you go down there and see at least two things. See at least the best there is in the country, and in my opinion there's no question that's Rancho Santana, and I feel very confident you can ask anyone involved in real estate in Nicaragua and they would all say the same thing. It's the oldest, it's the best financed, it's the most developed, it's the best. So go see it.
But then I would tell you to do something that Marc would probably tell you not to do, which is I would say go see the worst. Go to the most troubled development you can find. If I was gonna put $1 to $5 million, what I would do is I would put half my money in Rancho Santana 'cause I know that's gonna work out just fine, and I would put a little bit of my money into these really troubled things where you can buy something for very, very low cost but that might take 20 years to sort out.
That's kinda the approach I like to take in a lot of different markets. Buy the very best and buy a little bit of the cheapest. If you happen to get lucky that can work out wonderfully for you, and if it doesn't work out you'll be okay because most of your money is gonna be in the most secure thing in the country which is Rancho Santana.
Marc Brown: Yeah. I actually agree with that, Porter. I've been down there a long time and all of my investments are not in Santana, exactly like you're saying. The majority of them are and my house is there and that's great 'cause I can take my family down there and we can have a great time and we can eat in the restaurant and take advantage of all the amenities that Santana has, but I've also got a few different properties sprinkled around either in different developments or even outside just sort of in the path of development in the future for 20, 30, 40 years down the road.
And again not to kinda hit the Bill card again, but I know that's what Bill has done. He's had us find other big pieces of real estate out there, that there's really nothing going on on 'em today, getting them for relatively inexpensive when you compare them to Costa Rica and Mexico and other places, and he's looking at it like a generational thing for his kids or wealth preservation, buying something like that as well and just holding on for the long haul.
Buck Sexton: Remember to join me, Buck Sexton, Steve Sjuggerud, Meb Faber, Carlo Cannel, Austin Root, and a few dozen other Stansberry readers and podcast listeners at Rancho Santana this winter, February 4th through 9th for the Stansberry Winter Investment Conference. Just go to stansberryrancho.com. You'll enjoy two mornings of investment presentations and new ideas from our expert guest speakers, five nights and six days at the new Inn at Rancho Santana, a VIP dinner, and everything that the emerald coast of Nicaragua has to offer. That's February 4th to 9th and capacity is very limited for this VIP conference. If you are at all interested in joining us, please go visit www.stansberryrancho.com today.
All right, our next interview on the Stansberry Investor Hour this week is with Kenneth Cukier, senior technology editor at The Economist. Ken recently appeared in front of over 700 Stansberry readers at the annual Stansberry Conference in Las Vegas to let everyone know that most of what you've heard about artificial intelligence is just dead wrong. I sat down with Ken after he got off the stage and this is what he had to say.
All right, welcome, everybody. We're down here in Las Vegas for a special edition of the Stansberry Investor Hour. I have Ken Cukier with me. He is the senior technology editor at The Economist and he's got a great talk that he's given. Ken, it is "Why Everything You Know About Artificial Intelligence Is Wrong", correct?
Ken Cukier: That is correct.
Buck Sexton: Okay. We'll start with what people think and what they're wrong about.
Ken Cukier: Sure. So I think there's five main areas where people are completely wrong when they think about artificial intelligence. I'll say what they all are really quickly and then explain each one super fast. So the first one is jobs, that it's gonna destroy us... secondly, that it's gonna destroy humanity. That's wrong too. That the idea that we're putting data around everything in society is gonna dull the experience of being human.
I think that's ridiculous. That we need to preserve privacy. I think there's more to the story than just that, and this idea of, well, what is true? So for all these five areas I think that there's this orthodoxy or dogma of how AI is entering into society and people like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates will perpetuate this idea that it's gonna be summoning the demon. I don't think that's right at all.
Buck Sexton: Why do they say that? You just named some of the individuals that are often quoted in media stories about particularly the looming dangers of AI, how it could end us all or it could create disruptions to employment that even compared to other technological revolutions, this time it's supposed to be different. So why do you have some of these luminaries of technology who like to give these sound bites that I think influence a lot of the thinking particularly on AI?
Ken Cukier: That's a great question. First, there's a lot of luminaries who say just the opposite, but because it's more dramatic in the media to say something outrageous than to say something bland.
Buck Sexton: More clicks. Sure.
Ken Cukier: Exactly. So we hear about that. I think that they're not entirely wrong. It's that they're taking that 0.001% possibility and expanding it to make it the totality of the issue. So it's true that AI could lead to the end of humanity. Elon Musk might be right, but the fact is humans are doing a pretty good job of that ourselves, right? As we know in Russia nuclear weapons are not as well protected as potato fields.
So you would want to actually rethink about all the ways in which we could actually perish as a species, and if you were to rank that compared to global annihilation, thermonuclear war, versus AI, I think AI would be lower on the list. But because it's more novel it gets more attention. Jobs is a difficult one, and sort of requires a different set of thinking. It is true that some professions are gonna be eradicated and eradicated quickly.
Other professions will crop up in its place. It'll take time. It's always been this way. I think that it's always the case that at any one given time you look at what's around you and it's hard to imagine what is gonna be there in the future because it doesn't exist. So we do know in the 1900s if you're a farm laborer and you were gonna leave the farm and work in factory and if the factory had a robot, what would you do next? Today there's people who make a living as video game designers. It's a very good living indeed, but you wouldn't have predicted that in 1900 or even 1950.
So today it's hard for us to imagine what the jobs of tomorrow will be, but I am certain – in fact economic history points in this direction – that in fact we will create those new jobs. Secondly, jobs don't really ever go away. It's very rare for a job just to be eliminated entirely. They tend to shift because with new technologies and new automation the tasks involved in that job change. So it turns out that over the last 50 years in the Bureau of Labor Statistics database of occupations, only one occupation, only one has disappeared: elevator operator. Every other occupation that exists is still there.
There's still people doing that job, even if the job is completely different. If you were a paralegal 25 years ago you were on an IBM electric typewriter taking the notes from your law partner and then typing it up. Today you're doing it on a computer. Yeah, it was labor saving. Did it mean that we needed fewer paralegals? Actually, sadly – no. In fact, the number of paralegals in the United States has increased over the last 15 years at exactly the time when we've been investing in software that was supposed to get rid of paralegals because law firms were more efficient.
Buck Sexton: So the proverbial buggy whip maker is now making leather driving gloves.
Ken Cukier: Precisely right. Well actually, there it's really interesting too because sure, if you were a stage coachmen you could then become, say, a black cabbie. You sort of get that in London. But what about the guy who was sort of sweeping the manure who is really low-skilled? All those jobs when horses went away were gone too.
Well the rise of the automobile led to the rise of the motel and the restaurant because now people are traveling around and needed lodging and food for the night. It's for that reason that the guy who was sweeping up manure then was a dishwasher at the hotel and at the restaurant. These sorts of flexibilities and fluidities and liquidities in the job market happen all the time.
Buck Sexton: We're speaking to Ken Cukier – who's the senior technology editor at The Economist – about his talk, "Everything You Know About Artificial Intelligence Is Wrong", although after this talk I think a lot of it will be right and that's part of what we're doing here. Tell me a bit about some of the areas of AI that people can look forward to that will make their lives easier, better, faster, more efficient.
Ken Cukier: Okay, so the first one is going to be going into a store. If you go into a retail store like Amazon's Go store today which is just an experimental store, you don't have to actually pay at the till. It'll know who you are and what you're taking and then you leave and it'll basically charge your credit card. So it'll be a little bit of an improvement for people and so you could say, well, that's a good thing.
But the real interest is what's going on behind the scenes there. What you really want is low-priced food, right? So how do you get low-priced food? Well one of the ways is if the supply chain of the store is very, very good, that they have just enough steak when there's a sunny day and everyone is gonna be having a barbecue and it actually sells through and there's no perishable food when there's clouds.
So they've optimized it perfectly. That's a genius for AI because it's so hard for stores to get that right, and they usually have to discount things and they have to throw out food and there's wastage and it's terrible for the planet and consumers pay for it, they just pay for it indirectly.
AI is going to optimize all these aspects of society, and the real value of it is gonna be invisible to people in the same way that we don't say there's a computer-based bank or computer-based retailer or computer-based airline. Computers have just found their way into absolutely everything that happens in society, yet we've improved ourselves and we don't actually have to focus on the computer. It's just a given. So AI is taking computing and making it far more efficient than it ever could before 'cause it can do things without the active instruction of a human being. It can infer from a large body of data what to do instead.
Buck Sexton: I know one of the parts of your talk down here at Stansberry in Vegas has been about the privacy concerns that AI presents to people. I just wanted you to give folks an overall on that.
Ken Cukier: Sure. So I will confess I have shall we say unorthodox views in terms of privacy, and I do think it's the sort of thing that in 50 years everyone is gonna look back and say of course that was what you would do, that's correct, and today it seems a little bit off in the same way that in the 1600s if you were doing bloodletting – you'd say well that's the standard of care, and it took several centuries later to realize actually, no, you wouldn't want to actually deplete the patient of his blood because maybe his natural defenses would help him.
So in terms of privacy it is true that there's some spheres of activity that actually need protection. We don't really need to explain more about that. There's intimacy and there's harms of disclosure of that information, but a lot of the privacy law actually restricts the uses of data in a way that most people would be okay with, but still they don't see the consequences of the law not actually allowing data to be used in that way. So let's take an example of going into a hospital.
You would think that every interaction that happens to you – what works and doesn't work – gets aggregated and fed back into a system so that the next patient who came in could benefit from what worked under your condition and what didn't work, so that healthcare would improve. But that doesn't happen, and the reason that doesn't happen is because privacy law actively obstructs the collection, storage, sharing, and re-analysis of that data.
That's crazy, and the only reason why that's happening is because 35 years ago when they created the framework around the law they never imagined that the cost of collecting the data would be so low, and that the analysis, the statistical techniques that you could use to get the findings from the data would be so superb, because it was an era in which you had mainframe computers and batch processing and it was really costly.
So we created this huge edifice, this huge regime around privacy protection that embeds all of these technical assumptions, almost all of which are completely gone, in the same way that nobody has a mainframe computer anymore except in your pocket, and it's called your iPhone. So we need to redo the law. If not, we're idiots as a society, and I don't think we're an idiotic society, but I do think it takes time and people like me to step forward and to push things in the way that it needs to go.
Buck Sexton: Ken Cukier, senior technology editor of The Economist. Thank you so much for your time, sir. We appreciate it.
Kenneth Cukier: Great. Glad to be here.
Buck Sexton: If you wanna see Ken's full presentation along with presentations from over two-dozen investment and business experts from this year's Stansberry Conference, just go www.stansberryvegasvideo.com. Next up is entrepreneur, author, and business leader Bedros Keuilian. Bedros is a true rags-to-riches story. A self-made entrepreneur, Bedros escaped communism and came to the U.S. He's been called the hidden genius behind many successful brands, businesses, and authors, and is the founder of the wildly successful Fit Body Boot Camp franchise. Bedros sat down with me after his presentation in Las Vegas to discuss living your passion, finding your purpose, and being a leader in business and life. Here is what Bedros had to say.
All right, Stansberry friends and family, we've got another fantastic guest here on the show. We're joined by Bedros Keuilian. He's the founder of Fit Body Boot Camp and author of the book Man Up. He's going to talk to us about leadership. Bedros, thanks so much for joining us.
Bedros Keuilian: Thank you so much for having me.
Buck Sexton: All right, so what do people need to know about leadership?
Bedros Keuilian: It's real simple, man. Whether you plan on leading a company, a conglomerate, or your family, leadership is always the problem and leadership is the solution, and not enough people choose leadership and instead let circumstances make the life decisions for them and they end up suffering for it.
Buck Sexton: And so this applied in your personal and professional life how? I mean you're a CEO, an entrepreneur.
Bedros Keuilian: Sure, but before having a successful fitness franchise and writing a book and mentoring New York Times bestselling authors and entrepreneurs, etc., I was the guy who was having anxiety attacks and essential tremors in 2013, 2014 because I had a small group of employees who were running a mess in my business. My franchise was about to go out of business, which we had just franchised the year before in 2012, and it's because I was an ineffective leader.
I was indecisive. I would always question, "Should I fire that person? Should I not? Do we market this way in Entrepreneur magazine or go all-in on social media?" The more indecisive I was, the more circumstances would end up making the decisions for me, and those were never in your favor. I later learned through a very godawful experience, one of my employees who I should have fired 14 months earlier ended up actually costing me $640,000 in lost franchise fees that we never recovered.
And so on that day when I found that out, and of course she quit before I could fire her, created this mess and then quit, I said, "Bedros, it's time to man up." And I decided to man up and become an effective leader, and people tell me, "Well, can I just become an effective leader overnight?" No. It's not a light switch. It's more like a dimmer switch that over time you become decisive, you begin to communicate clearly, openly, honestly instead of assuming things or being passive aggressive.
You become a person who no longer reacts emotionally and you send off that text or email you later regret and instead you respond strategically to situations and as an entrepreneur, as an investor, you are going to have stressful situations when the poop hits the fan, and whether you react or respond determines whether people follow you or think that you're an ineffective human. Finally, you've got to lead from the front. In other words, you've got to be disciplined, not hit the snooze button in the mornings, not chase the day where your team sees that, hey, this person says one thing but does the other.
Buck Sexton: I think in a lot of those turnaround shows that you see on TV, and one of my favorite ones is Kitchen Nightmares, there are issues that come up about product and about marketing and they'll say, "Well, Kitchen Nightmares is an easy example because the food will be bad or the menu will be too big." But when they drill down more it tends to be a recurring theme or the same story over and over again, which is that there's no individual who's really in charge, that the manager thinks the head chef is in charge, the head chef thinks the owner is in charge, the owner thinks...
And when they're pressed on that issue, and you can extrapolate this to any number of other private enterprises when they do these shows, these turnaround shows whether it's a bar, a restaurant, a company, there tends to be an excuse I often hear which is, "Well, I'm trying to be collaborative. I wanna make everyone feel like their ideas are included and I don't want them to feel like I'm jamming anything down their throat here." How do you tell people to parse between being a leader or to separate that idea of being a leader from being either too heavy-handed or either just being an absentee?
Bedros Keuilian: You know I'm so glad you brought that up. Most people think that leaders are someone who has to be heavy handed and "Hey, I say and you do." That's not necessarily the case. There's two types of leaders. There's the "want to" leadership and there's the "have to" leadership. The best type of leader to be is the "want to" leader – in other words where people want to work for you, where people want to help take your vision and bring it to fruition.
The "have to" leadership is, "Uh-oh, I have to do what he says otherwise I'm gonna get fired. I have to do this even though I know it's wrong, but he said and I'm afraid of him", right? The heavy-handed leader. And so first of all we've all gotta become the "want to" leader. How do we become the "want to" leader to have people who want to work for us? Well, we've gotta be open. We don't want collaboration. The reason you're the leader is you made a string of good decisions over a long period of time and you have a good gut over everybody else.
However, when I say this is the outcome we want, and this is what I think we should do, does anyone have a reason why we should do something different? I'm open to it. Even the newest member of my team can say, "You know what? I think we should take the franchise this way. We should start advertising on Twitter instead of just Facebook."
Show me the metrics. I always want proof because I can argue with, "Hey, you're brand-new, you've been here 92 days, what do you know?" Show me the proof. If you can show me the proof, I have enough courage to say, "I was wrong. You were right. Lead the way to Twitter." So an effective leader does not have to be collaborative. I am not collaborative, but I am open to input if you can show me evidence of the right direction.
Buck Sexton: And how do you try to engender leadership qualities in those who are your subordinates but who have their own employees that they're responsible for? What are the ways that you try to encourage other than just from your own personal example the appropriate balance of leadership and corporate activity with everyone else that works for you?
Bedros Keuilian: That's a really good question. So my company is very top-down management, and so I'm the CEO, then I have two vice presidents, and then we have 11 departments which means we have 11 department leads, and average department could have anywhere from two to six team members in it. The department leads effectively, the number one thing that we teach them is decisiveness and communication. That's it. If you can get down those two things, decisiveness and communication, because we want them to make decisions.
I know every decision you make is not gonna be right, but I want you to make a decision, communicate it with your team, communicate it with the people above you that this is a decision I'm making. If it's the wrong decision we'll know soon enough and we'll course correct. If it's the right decision, high fives, go for it. Here we go, we're making money. And so the only two things you need to teach people is decisiveness and communication. If they can get those two things down, they're on their way to becoming effective leaders.
Buck Sexton: Bedros Keuilian, founder of Fit Body Boot Camp and author of Man Up. Bedros, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
Bedros Keuilian: Thank you, sir.
Buck Sexton: We wanna send our thanks to all the listeners who've been writing into the show and leaving comments on the Stansberry Investor Hour iTunes and YouTube pages. Your reviews and comments go a long way, and we love reading them. Just search for Stansberry Investor Hour and subscribe, please, to the show on iTunes or YouTube or wherever you find us in podcast land, and of course you can always write directly to us by sending an email to [email protected] All right, this is where I usually say, "Porter, bring the noise" but instead I'm gonna have to bring it myself. We'll get into what's on Buck's mind.
All right, what's on my mind this week? Two things. One is very much in the category of breaking news, and the other is from the history side of our discussion. So let me start with the news, the terrible news out of Texas with this mass shooting that occurred, 26 people killed, and this has set off yet another series of the blame game in the media for who can we point a finger at for the responsibility for this heinous act.
This gun control discussion that comes out of mass shootings is the same talking points, the same recycled bad ideas from the left, from the statist progressive side of the political spectrum time and time again. It just does not matter to them that we have tried some of the things that they advocate – including an assault weapons ban – and had no impact. In fact, there's evidence that it was ineffective, entirely ineffective at preventing shootings with rifles. They call them assault rifles.
Many of you listening who have any familiarity with firearms know that an assault rifle is just a semiautomatic rifle with certain cosmetic features usually including a folding stock and a curved magazine although not always, and it can have other features that are cosmetic – a carrying handle. This is what makes an assault rifle even though an assault rifle is just a semiautomatic rifle. In the case of an AR it's a 556. In the case of an AK variant, remember you can't have an AK-47 'cause it's automatic, but an AK variant which people refer to that, they really mean an SKS which isn't an AK.
I'm getting too deep into the weeds here in firearms. The point is, semiautomatic rifles are in wide circulation. There are millions of them that are currently owned by legal, lawful gun owners, and this particular individual Devin Kelley was in violation of federal law because of his domestic violence conviction. So he wasn't allowed to have a gun – he had it anyway. Under federal law he faced ten years in prison just for having a gun, and yet here we are having the gun control debate once again.
It is frustrating, but I'll just leave you with this because I know many of you are quite knowledgeable about the subject of the Second Amendment and you as people who – if you listen to this show you're very aware of the news cycle. This is an incredibly erudite and in-touch-with-what's-going-on audience, so I would just say that keep in mind the opposition to firearms is largely now a cultural signifier. It is not about opposition to guns for the purpose of preventing crime or even mass shootings, so much as it is about opposition to the people and the political party that is supportive of gun ownership, and I could go on at length about why I came to this thesis.
I can tell you this – in shortened version – having gone through many different iterations of a gun control debate after a mass shooting, I have heard all the arguments on both sides and what really comes across is for many on the left, for many Democrat politicians, for many who are just anti-liberty in their political proclivities, they think that those who are supportive of gun rights are the wrong kind of people.
That's what this really comes down to, that there is a major cultural significance of being a Second Amendment supporter means you tend to be pro-military, pro-America in the sense of patriotism. You tend to be pro-life, you tend to be from rural or predominantly red states, and you just go down the line. You tend to be Christian, tend to be male, although there's a tremendous amount of female support for gun rights depending on what part of the country we're talking about.
But these are the signifiers, the political signifiers that are always a part of this discussion and are really driving it now, and that's how you can have journalists from the main media outlets – CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, everything but Fox – who will make a mockery of themselves when it comes to the facts of guns and gun control. They'll get key things wrong. They'll say things that are quite honestly idiotic and it doesn't really matter because what they're showing is not that they have become knowledgeable about the issue of guns and gun control and gun violence.
What they're showing is they don't like people who own guns, and they have an emotional need to blame violence like what happened in Texas on the NRA which some members of the media have recently called a terrorist organization, which is just insane, or just those who support the Second Amendment and believe in the right to bear arms.
So that's a short version of a very long conversation that we'll be continuing to have I'm sure on this show, because it will be something that is in the news. There's no way to stop evil people from doing evil things – whether it's with a car, an explosive, a firearm, or a knife. There are any number of ways.
Now the other area of focus for me this week is the centennial. Other shows won't talk about this, but I wanna tell you it's really important. The centennial of the Russian Revolution. This is when, this week is the 100th anniversary of when the Bolsheviks seized power in St. Petersburg, when the beginning of the nightmare that was the Soviet Union took effect, and I can tell you this right now, unless you have studied this on your own you have not gotten a full and accurate picture of the ideological roots of communism and the full scale of the atrocities of the Soviet Union.
Unless you have taken, and I'm sure many of you have, but unless you have taken it upon yourself to read in this area, you will not know the extent and depravity of dekulakization, which was the elimination of an entire class of people within the Soviet Union. The liquidation – which is a gentle way of saying the extermination – of people based upon where they fell in the class structure of Soviet Society. Kulaks were, these were individual farmers and they were eliminated as a policy by the state, and the famine in Ukraine which was also state-based policy, and the several million who perished under horrific conditions in the gulag.
And the numbers I should note are less than they would be, because it was a common policy in the gulag to let somebody out when they were on death's doorstep so they wouldn't be officially counted in the statistics. So wait until it was clear somebody was going to die from an infection or from exposure or from starvation and then just kick them out the front gate and let them die in the snow.
The full scale and extent of the Soviet Union's atrocities against its own people as well as those outside of its borders is still a subject that is considered taboo on the left, and that is because there is an ideological affinity between the contemporary American progressive movement and the communism of the Soviet Union. This is not an overstatement, it's not an outrage – this is fact, and it's why if you go back and look at the intellectual history of this country and of some of the intellectual movements that defined Western civilization in the mid- to late 20th century, you will see that there was a deep bond of affection between the American left – yes, the now Democrat Party – and the Soviet Union.
For the best explanation of this I would recommend, and I rarely come on air here and recommend books for you to read, but if you have not read Robert Conquest's The Great Terror, I cannot recommend it more highly. He's an American English historian and Conquest just set the record straight so that everybody knew that the Soviet Union was a bloodthirsty extermination regime and that there was no workers' paradise. It was all a myth. That the brutality of the Soviet state was a function directly of the ideology of the Soviet Union – collectivism, socialism.
Yes, that's right, it was socialism before we started just referring to it as communism, and because of that collectivization individual rights were eliminated and destroyed and there was nothing that could not be justified, no heinous act, no atrocity that would not be justified in the Soviet Union under the rubric of this is necessary for the revolution. This is necessary to create a workers' paradise. And anything that went against this was counter-revolutionary, and if you were a counter-revolutionary in any way, shape, or form, you were to be exterminated.
This ideological history is essential. It is not taught to your children. If you have kids who are college age or within range of that, I can assure you that it is highly unlikely that they have even read Robert Conquest. It is also unlikely that they would've been given any real sense of the ideological roots of the Soviet revolution, of the Bolshevik seizure of power 100 years ago this week, and how as some historians have described it, it was the single greatest calamity in the history of the world. The beginnings of the greatest calamity, the greatest man-induced catastrophe in history has its 100th anniversary this week.
You can directly trace the extermination, the murder, the enslavement, the destruction of 100 million people to ideas, ideas that seized the minds of a small minority within what was Russia at the time, and then through their own machinations and brutality of the Bolsheviks were able to defeat the opposition, seize power, and inflict this evil idea of communism, of collectivism, of socialism on their own people and then the virus spread well outside their borders as well. 100 million people killed. It's worthwhile to take a moment this week and remember that, and if you're looking for reading on this, Robert Conquest. I cannot recommend it more highly to you.
If you are not somebody who's really familiar with the lies and the cover-ups and the nonsense peddled by academics and the media and intellectuals in this country about the Soviet Union and the history of being complicit and covering up in this country for the Soviet Union, read Robert Conquest's book. It is a sledgehammer to the left's lies, and that is the best possible way that I think you could commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Soviet seizure of power, which is this week.
All right, this week on the mailbag I'll be handling it solo 'cause Porter is down in Nicaragua. I'm not saying that he's probably surfing right now and catching a mean tube. Is that what you call it when you're surfing? I don't know the surfing terminology. I do know that no one actually ever said "cowabunga" really, but that became something in pop culture that people said about surfers like, "cowabunga." But I'm sure Porter is having a great time down there and excited to have him back next week.
I'll be handling mail in the meantime, and I just wanted to thank everybody who listens to the show and writes in over the last couple of weeks. You're sending us phenomenal commentary and we love hearing from you and reading every single letter, so please do. Just take a moment, whatever your favorite segment is, what you wish we would spend more time on, less time on, but don't be mean because if you tell Porter that he needs to spend more time stretching and less red meat eating he'll be very upset. Arianna will yell at you on this podcast. That will happen sometimes if you write in and you're getting too saucy. Just letting you know.
We also wanna thank people like Gary, Jose, Carlos, Chris, Mike L., Mike W., Terry, Godfried, Craig, James, and Mike H. among many, many others. A lot of Mikes writing in. Mikes, we appreciate it. Since Porter is out this week, like I said, we'll save the big investment questions for the next episode. I am your humble political and national security analyst here, and so I'll be taking some that fall into that category as well as general thoughts about the show.
So here's what people have been saying about the Stansberry Investor Hour. All right, this letter in the mailbag courtesy of Michael H. "Porter and Buck, aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii. My family and I are loving the Stansberry Investor Hour podcast. Both the guests and commentary on current events are insightful and a joy to listen to. It's our new Friday treat that we listen to on the way to school in the morning, entertaining and informative. Thanks for putting this out and keep it up." Well, Michael, thank you so much. Really appreciate that. Very kind of you.
We have paid-up Flex Alliance member Ben writing in, "Porter and Buck, thank you for continually producing excellent content which I've been enjoying for many years. As a former listener to Stansberry Radio Hour and the current Buck Sexton Show, I was very excited to find out about the Stansberry Investor Hour podcast and you have delivered in every episode thus far. I look forward to each new episode that comes out. I do have a question for both of you. If you could pass one law or rule to help course correct our country, what would it be? Thoughts? Thanks again for the show. I hope they keep coming for many years," and this is from Ben.
Great question about the one law or rule, and I would say first one that comes to mind is term limits, which we'll never get because the people who would have to pass laws about term limits don't want term limits. That would be number one on my list, and then I do like the regulation for – federal regulations that for every federal regulation that is passed, they should have to cut two. I'd even go with cut three, just 'cause why not? They have to start paring down all these nonsense regulations.
I've been out in California all week and I almost wish that there was a hidden camera show that was following me around. I've just gone to the store a few times to pick up sundries, get some milk and some water to keep in my hotel room here. I'm actually on campus, but I'm staying in kind of a campus hotel, and they don't have plastic bags here, and I know this isn't a federal law, but it's a California law.
So what ends up happening is whenever I go to the store they give me a brown paper bag and I walk out of the store with it and it falls apart and stuff sprays all over the street and cracks and breaks and everything and people say, "Oh, hold it from the bottom." You know what? I don't wanna have to hold it from the bottom. They give me a bag with a handle on it, I'm gonna use the handle.
Stupid federal regulations are everywhere and stupid regulations of all kinds. So anything we could do to pare those back I think would be fantastic, but term limits number one. Term limits would change the whole game.
Number three coming in this week in the mailbag from Marcus R. "Hello, Porter and Buck. I wanna thank you for the work you're doing on the Stansberry Investor Hour podcast. It has rapidly become my favorite podcast and there are about seven shows I regularly tune in to, ranging from general financial news to bitcoin to precious metals. The two of you come across as genuinely having a great time, and the shows are informative and fun to listen to. Thank you for improving my drive time, financial education, and entertainment simultaneously. Porter, your hunting farm sounds great. I think you should do an Alliance member raffle for a hunting venison dinner meeting sometime."
Well, I cannot speak for fearless leader Porter Stansberry, but it does sound like a really cool idea. The Porter homestead, Chez Porter, is phenomenal I can tell you. If you enjoy bird hunting, deer hunting, he's got 100 acres and it is just full of all the great stuff you'd wanna go out there and hunt. So that's up to Porter, but I think it's a great idea personally.
Also on whether we're having fun, I love doing the podcast every week. It's a joy for me because honestly in my day-to-day work, which is primarily politics and also a lot of national security because of my CIA analyst background, I'm researching areas that I already have an expertise in. With this show every week I get to play the role of both expert and student because I'm learning about finance, I'm learning about markets.
This is just not an area I've ever worked in and to have access to the research that all of the Stansberry team puts out, I read it all the time. I'm going through my inbox and reading Stansberry's research 'cause one, it's fascinating to me, and two, I need to know what's going on and learn what's going on so that I can hang with these guys more on those issues. So it's great for me because I get to share expertise but also pick up really worthwhile knowledge in the markets and financial side of the equation.
So I'm learning just like many of you at home who are either relatively new to investing or still picking up tricks of the trade. I know there are a lot of people who are Stansberry members and readers who are experts and just wanna keep fresh on all the latest analysis, so they know a lot more than I do, but I'm learning as I go. So it is fun for me and it's great to get a chance to hang with all the Stansberry family folks, Porter and all the rest. So if it comes across that I'm having a good time that's good news because I am. I've spent a lot of time doing media and radio.
Some of you may have seen me in recent weeks going on Fox to do analysis on terrorism. I do that and then on every day three hours on nationally syndicated radio I'm on, gosh, I don't know, 120 stations across the country now as well as having a podcast for the Buck Sexton Show. It's called Buck Sexton With America Now, so if you're interested, by all means download that podcast, too. We cross-pollinate shows. I try to get as many people from Buck Sexton With America Now to check out what Stansberry is doing and vice-versa.
All right, so now we have the – oh, that was our last letter for the week that we're gonna handle 'cause I'm realizing we're running out of time on the show. Just wanna let you know if you have a question for us write to [email protected] and if we use your question on the show we'll send you some Stansberry Research swag. Love us or hate us, just don't ignore us. When I say that now I miss Porter 'cause Porter is not here right now.
Next week on the show we'll be back in the studio with Porter and special guest Grant Williams. Grant is the author of Things That Make You Go Hmmm and co-founder of Real Vision TV, the world's only video on demand channel for finance featuring exclusive content and interviews from the world's largest hedge fund managers and economists like Jim Grant, Kyle Bass, and Jim Rogers. All right, everybody, have a great rest of your week. We will see you next time on the Stansberry Investor Hour.
Announcer: Thank you for listening to the Stansberry Investor Hour. To access today's notes and receive notice of upcoming episodes, go to InvestorHour.com and enter your email. Have a question for Porter and Buck? Send them an email at [email protected] If we use your question on air we'll send you one of our studio mugs.
This broadcast is provided for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered personalized investment advice. Trading stocks and all other financial instruments involves risk. You should not make any investment decision based solely on what you hear. Stansberry Investor Hour is produced by Stansberry Research and is copyrighted by the Stansberry Radio Network.
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